Monday, December 30, 2013

The colors of money

Hidden in plain sight are the test colors for the new Lockhaven. Presumably some or all of them will bedeck the facades of our buildings. This is the back of 3026, warped by the panorama effect. You will recognize the colors as today's designer colors of many new condominium complexes in the area. They are the colors of MONEY!

Evan A. Sugden



Friday, December 20, 2013

Survey for Lockhaven tenants

What is important to you?
Tell us for a meeting with Lockhaven’s owners!

Our tireless work has paid off!  The Lockhaven Tenants Union (LTU) is meeting with the new owners of Lockhaven Apartments early next year!  This meeting came about through the efforts of the LTU, Tenants Union of Washington State, and the offices of Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata.
Now, we need your help!!!  Please complete a short survey!!!
    •    WHO: Current and former Lockhaven tenants
    •    WHY: Survey results will be used to help us in negotiations with the new owners of Lockhaven. This is your chance to tell us what is important to you. You matter!
    •    WHEN: Complete survey by January 10, 2014.
    •    WHERE: Online (email LockhavenTenants@Outlook.com for URL)  or get at a paper survey at the Lockspot Cafe (3005 NW 54th St).
    •    Questions: Please email the LTU at LockhavenTenants@Outlook.com  
or call Eliana Horn at 206-722-6848 ext 114.
    •    Any personal information you share with the LTU will be kept confidential.

Happy Holidays!
Lockhaven Tenants Union


Community. Dignity. Strength in numbers.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

LTU flyers wrongfully removed from Lockhaven

LTU produced the flyer attached below to raise awareness about what is happening at Lockhaven and posted it on doors throughout the apartment complex.

Today these flyers were wrongfully removed by person(s) unknown.  Management and GRE Lockhaven should be aware of the following law:

Under the Seattle Housing and Building and Maintenance Codes, (SMC 22.206.180), Seattle landlords are prohibited from preventing or discriminating against tenants who are organizing in their buildings. Organizing activities include passing out and posting flyers and information to your neighbors and in common areas, creating connection with your neighbors and inviting them to get involved, and holding meetings that are unattended by management or agents of the landlord in the building. If the landlord takes any undue negative action against a tenant who has participated in one of these organizing activities, it is automatically assumed to be retaliation and is illegal. If you would like more information, or want to report retaliation by your landlord for organizing in your building, contact the Department of Planning and Development at 206-615-0808, or you can file a report online at Filing A Complaint.


Friday, December 6, 2013

LTU Pickets Goodman & Developer Friends At Greed Fest

Thursday night, with temperatures dropping below freezing, three LTU supporters held signs and handed out Save-Lockhaven fliers. The event was the "Multifamily Conference", held at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center, Pier 66, Seattle. Scheduled to present for Goodman Real Estate was Don Fosseen (now part owner of Lockhaven), speaking about the "biggest deals of the year". (Could the Lockhaven multifamily roust-out have been one of the big ones?) We reached several dozen conference-goers and handed out quite a few fliers, including some to the Center staff. From those who glanced at the flyer, we could see it was generating interest at various levels and presumed that word of the action would eventually reach our friends at Pinnacle and perhaps even John Goodman himself, although we did not see any familiar faces there. At about the time the traffic was trickling down to zero, the building management politely suggested we leave. We were too cold but to oblige, having accomplished our mission. Special thanks to Stina for media production and all our supporters at the Tenants Union of Washington State.

Evan A. Sugden






Thursday, December 5, 2013

Lockhaven reroofing


 On Nov 27,  this notice was posted from management to selected Lockhaven buildings:

"Dear Lockhaven Resident,

The removal of the old roof material has now been removed from your building, and weather paper has been put in place. The next, and final step, is the installation of the new roofing material. This project will begin Monday, December 2nd. The work will begin for 5 different buildings, and the plan is that all of them will be complete within a 3 week timeframe, before the holidays. Work will be between the hours of 8:00am-5:00pm.

Due to the nature of the installation, please make sure that all of your books, decor, etc. are secured well so nothing falls off of walls and shelves."


If you have any damage to your personal property due to this construction, or see any violations of building codes,  please call the

City of Seattle Code Violation Complaint Line at 206-615-0808




Saturday, November 30, 2013

Response to management re: Nov. 14 "open house"

Remaining Lockhaven tenants found another letter from the Management taped to their doors last Friday, November 22 - the company’s recap of the Open House meeting on the 14th. The best outcome for most of us was a “timeline”, a table of buildings and the corresponding month in which “residents may expect to receive notice that renovations will soon begin” (italics mine). A step forward in “transparency”, perhaps, but not the information we deserve. The latter would be a solid commitment to dates before which renovations will not commence and/or especially a commitment to dates before which we will not receive (legal) termination notices.

The letter also makes an “Incentive” offer of 1-month free rent for those returning to renovated units. Presumably this means current tenants, although it’s not clear if this would apply to former tenants as well. In any case, a kind gesture but takers on this offer are not likely to be many, with projected new rents being twice the current rate. Would moving twice, OUT and then IN again, be worth a month’s rent? Help in storing belongings is also offered with no specifics. How convenient that Goodman Real Estate manages the nearest storage facility! Are we supposed to infer something here? A month of free storage also?

 Contact information for the new relocation specialist, Kerry Lynch was also given. We are thankful for this service, but Kerry’s work is certainly cut out for her! Those of us who have already been searching are finding local rental rates pretty depressing. And we have already said goodbyes to ejected Lockhaven neighbors who have given up on Ballard and fled to places as far away as Edmonds, Olympia, and Vancouver.

Evan Sugden

Friday, November 22, 2013

More security lapses: Will management act?

The following note was sent by our neighbors Alexandra Sawyer and Tom Lehmann to Lockhaven management about some truly alarming security lapses:
We live in Lockhaven's 3028 building, which is currently having the siding redone and is about to have the roof replaced. Despite considerable disruption over the course of construction (including several Satudays in a row where the crew has been pounding away at our bedroom walls by 8:00AM, a near-daily metal sawing operation established outside our kitchen window, and general disarray of the premises), we have tried to be patient with the transition and make the best of it. 
However, three issues have recently come to our attention that must be addressed immediately to ensure our building's security:
  • The front door to the 3028 building no longer engages when closed, unless it is pulled shut with a firm tug. Since most folks simply let the door swing shut, it is effectively left unlocked for most of the day. (This was not the case until recently, it appears that the lock is malfunctioning.) Please send one of the staff out to take a look and repair the door as appropriate. 
  • A rock has been left in the building's back door to prop it open several times over the past 2-3 weeks. The siding crew is set up outside the back door and sometimes uses the inside outlets for their power tools (which is understandable), but they need to then remove that rock and close the back door so our building remains secure. Please ensure that they do so.
  • In the course of writing this email, we went downstairs to do laundry and found that the ground-level basement window was wide open with an extension cord coming through. It is 8:00PM and pitch dark outside - no crews are here working. It is unacceptable to have the building left unsecured in this manner, especially given recent reports of a break-in and bike thefts in the basement of another building (3048). 
Please address these issues immediately and follow up to let us know how they have been resolved. Certainly, the other tenants in 3028 would appreciate notice as well. 
 
 

Roof work and misinformation

Apparently at the open house hosted by Goodman Realty on Nov. 15, false information was given out regarding roof work. Our neighbor Julie Miller writes:

I thought I'd just keep you all in the loop that I wrote a letter of complaint to Anissa at Pinnacle this morning. I got home last night to find a note on my door saying they would be replacing the roof of our building (3024) starting today and hopefully finishing up 12/12 (quite doubtful since they still haven't finished the siding project on my building despite starting 2 months ago). This is the first I had hear of the roof on our building needing to be replaced. At the meeting at the Senior Center I asked the people doing the renovations if they knew anything about the roof project and they said this is not the time of year to work on roofs. I know it isn't shocking or anything new, but it is disappointing because it impacts the holiday/s. 
Thank you for all that you have done to help make the move out a little less stressful. I know the only reason they have made the changes that they have (such as the tentative timeline & relocation specialist) are because of the pressure from your group!
This morning I did in fact see  roofing material staged on top of 3024. Conditions for any kind work on the roof are particularly treacherous at the moment with workers having to cope with slick, frost-covered shingles:


In other construction-related developments, more tenants have been suddenly deprived of their parking spaces:



Is this the kind of management future tenants of Lockhaven will be getting for their doubled rents?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Letter to Seattle media

I've sent this letter to the Seattle media. Note that this is from me personally, not the Lockhaven Tenants Union:

Dear distinguished luminaries of the Seattle media,
David Stoesz of the Lockhaven Tenants Union here.
Lockhaven Apartments have for decades provided modest, affordable, well-maintained housing to a diverse community. Imagine a clean, decent place to live near the heart of Ballard that even a retired person living on Social Security could afford. Many residents have lived at Lockhaven for decades, cultivating friendships and gardens. It's also home to tenants with Section 8 vouchers, and is one of the few places low-income tenants can afford to rent. This summer Lockhaven was sold to Goodman Real Estate, a company well known to local tenants’ rights activists for its pattern of clearing out existing tenants, doing slapdash renovations, and jacking up rents, The Downtowner Building in the ID being a prime example.
It didn't take long for it to become clear that this pattern would be continued at Lockhaven.
In September, Goodman Real Estate issued blatantly illegal 20-day vacate notices to tenants in three buildings, and also extended deceptive buy-out offers, both of which actions were blocked by the city. These setbacks have stopped neither their sloppy renovations, which have left us living in garbage and destruction, nor their plan to get rid of existing residents. It's clear that the city's sanctions mean nothing to Goodman Real Estate, a company that, according to its own website, has a market value of over $2.5 billion.
We've gotten far too used to hearing about our favorite coffee shop, bar, or bowling alley being closed so a developer can try to squeeze out a few more dollars per square foot. We've gotten far too used to that sickening feeling of inevitability as our city is reshaped by greed, with no regard for history, community, or economic diversity. We've gotten too used to the idea that it's OK to price out the elderly and the disadvantaged.
So who's behind Goodman Real Estate? The founder and chairman of Goodman Real Estate is one John Goodman. Lockhaven is now managed by Pinnacle Family of Companies. Founder and chairman of the board of Pinnacle: John Goodman. Mr. Goodman should know better. He is a native Ballardite and a graduate of Ballard High School.
And yet what he says with his actions to elderly and disadvantaged tenants is, "You don't belong here. This isn't your city anymore. Because there isn’t enough money in it for me." It's a message we have too long endorsed with our silent complicity.
Goodman Real Estate has 2.5 billion dollars. We, the Lockhaven Tenants Union, have a Facebook page, a blog, and the scant free time of busy working people trying to preserve their community. And yet we have had remarkable success in getting our story told. We have had stories on KOMO, KIRO, Q13 Fox, My Ballard blog, Real Change, the Ballard News-Tribune, and other outlets. Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant have provided invaluable support and guidance.
But we need more. All the tenants of Seattle need more. This is not a passing human interest story. This is part of a bigger pattern. We need the continued interest of the media to look into John Goodman and other developers who get millions in tax breaks to construct "affordable housing" while destroying the affordable housing that already exists. We need the city to provide better protections for tenants and for every citizen who believes that the human rights of the many should not be trumped by the property rights of the few.
Below you will find a letter we sent to John Goodman last week. In this letter we call on him to reverse course and partner with us to find a better way forward. John Goodman stands at a fork in the road. One way leads to the destruction of a beautiful urban community and the continued economic homogenization of the city. The other leads to a new vision for housing that preserves both legitimate profit and the good of the community. He has a chance to be a hero here. To be clear, we want him to be a hero, and would love to help him build a reputation as a housing visionary.
Please help us hold him accountable for the road he chooses.
Best regards,
David Stoesz
 
Under this, I included the letter we sent to John Goodman.
 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A break-in, other suspicious activity?

 

There certainly has been a change of atmosphere around Lockhaven as our well-maintained gardens and grounds have been obliterated by scaffolding, noise, garbage, and bare walls hanging in unsightly strips as John Goodman prepares our homes for new, richer tenants. But have you also noticed an increase in suspicious activity? 
  
Our neighbor Eric Van Steen reports a disturbing incident:

On Sunday night, between 11pm and 6am, the back door to the boiler room that is attached to the laundry room of 3048 was broken into.  Since there was only a slide lock in the boiler room the thieves were able to enter the laundry room simply by sliding a bolt.  They then proceeded to cut a pretty substantial bike lock and make off with three high end mountain bikes that are stored down there.  These are not cheapie, leave outside bikes, they are worth some money.  Oddly enough, there were two other, similar mountain bikes which weren't locked which were moved aside and left.  Seems to me like this was planned as they needed to know how to access the laundry room from the boiler room of a separate building and they had to know to bring bolt cutters with them and they specifically targeted the three better bikes (you wouldn't know just looking at them).
Those bikes are also not the easiest thing to get through doors and such, so they probably needed a couple people with them.
The boiler room was 'secured' with a small pad lock and the door has a huge hole in it, covered with a board screwed into place.  Access from the boiler room to the laundry room (and therefore our entire building) is as simple as sliding a bolt (if it was even engaged), then the entire building is open to the outside.
I have been noticing an increased amount of suspicious activity around the building ever since Pinnacle took over and the work on the building started and I just wanted to send this note that we should increase our vigilance around the buildings and reporting suspicious activity when we see it and make sure that your building is actually secure and not just open to the outside via a different route.  My girlfriend was in the basement collecting laundry around 10.30 or 11.  I don't want to think what would have happened if the bike thieves were down there with her or walked in on her.
Eric also writes that he's noticed:
  1. Shopping carts.  In the last 4 years, I have not seen one on the property.  Since September I have seen 3 or 4.  There was actually one parked next to the access ramp on Sunday afternoon.  It was gone the next morning.
  2. I have noticed the gray garbage bins have been left open a couple times, (3 or 4 times) when I have gone out in the morning.  Nothing alarming, just different and doesn't seem right.
  3. Many more random people wandering around the property, of course I don't know everyone, but there seems to be more people I don't recognize

Thanks for the report, Eric. This is not to engage in scaremongering, and we certainly don't want to raise unwarranted suspicions against people such as workers who have a legitimate reason to be here. But we should definitely keep our eyes open, watch our for each other, keep sharing information, and immediately report suspicious activity to the police.

Ballard News-Tribune on the latest from Lockhaven

"The tenants are still mad. The new owners are still fairly unresponsive to concerns."

This story does a great job summing up the mood at the Goodman Real Estate open house. Read the whole thing.

The current view from Lockhaven


Friday, November 15, 2013

Goodman Real Estate open house a bizarre affair


Well, that was strange.

Goodman Real Estate held an open house at the Ballard Senior Center Thursday night to explain their plans for Lockhaven and offer the services of various "relocation specialists." The evening consisted of about a dozen employees of Goodman Real Estate and Pinnacle Family of Companies standing around and fielding questions from Lockhaven tenants.

It was much less well attended than the event organized by the Lockhaven Tenants Union in October. About 20-30 tenants were there, almost all of them associated with the Union. The main piece of information the Goodman people shared was the dates when we all be driven from our homes. Find your building's address here to find out when you'll get a 20-day vacate notice:






By their own admission, these dates are not necessarily to be believed. As it says in black and white, "dates subject to change." Does that mean we could lose our homes sooner than that? Or later? It's apparently impossible to tell.

One of the questions that raised was so-called "key money," which is basically a cash incentive landlords offer tenants to move out. They claimed this is not legal, which is odd, since they actually made such offers back in September. One of the questions they refused to answer was about the name of the contractor doing the renovations on the outside of the buildings. For the record, that contractor  is American West Contracting:


At one point, a group of tenants was questioning GRE employee Josh Obendorf, who began to lose his composure and act in way that some of us found unprofessional and condescending. In response to this, we have sent a letter to Mr. Obendorf and cc'd his boss, John Goodman. This entire interaction was witnessed by a reporter for the Ballard News-Tribune and caught on camera.

Here's the letter we sent:

Dear Mr. Obendorf,
We are writing to express our disappointment with last night's open house for Lockhaven residents. 
At a basic level we are disappointed that the purpose of the evening was to help people "relocate." We don't want to relocate. We want Goodman Real Estate to not drive us from our homes in the first place. 
But we were also disappointed and disheartened by the conduct of you and the other employees of Goodman Real Estate and Pinnacle Family of Companies. You were strangely unforthcoming about basic information we have a right to know, for example the name of the contractor responsible for the appalling and unsafe conditions we are being forced to live in. You and other employees became flustered and emotional while evading these questions, and your attitude became at times openly contemptuous. When a tenant mentioned a ladder and scaffolding blocking the entrance to his building, you snapped, "It's a good thing there are two doors then, isn't it?"  
We thought the purpose of the open house was to give clear and accurate information in a respectful way. If you hoped that the evening would placate Lockhaven tenants and convince us that your intentions are honorable, then it must be considered a failure.  
We hope for a more respectful and constructive dialogue in the future. 
Best regards, 
The Lockhaven Tenants Union



KIRO News story about Lockhaven


Missed this when it came out, but there was a story about Lockhaven on KIRO News this past Monday. It's a good story as far as it goes, and a couple of our neighbors did a wonderful job describing what they're going through. But it was an incomplete story. No mention was made of the Lockhaven Tenants Union or Goodman Real Estate. Instead, it was presented as part of the unavoidable trend of rising rents. There is nothing inevitable about driving people from their homes, and this isn't something that's just sort of happening. It something that's being done by a specific person: John Goodman. And we are very much not passive victims of this action. We have resisted with great success, and will continue to do so.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

"Please do not drive us from our homes"

The following letter was sent to John Goodman today on behalf of the Lockhaven Tenants Union. Lockhaven management and Various other members of Goodman Real Estate were cc'd.


Dear John Goodman,
Please do not drive us from our homes.
Your website says that you "specialize in distressed, underperforming, or mismanaged properties." Apparently you see the Lockhaven Apartments as falling into this category, and, having purchased Lockhaven this summer, you are currently proceeding with plans to dislocate all tenants from their homes, perform largely cosmetic renovations, and raise rents by as much as double. 
Lockhaven has existed for decades as a well-maintained complex of buildings, and is home to many elderly and low-income residents who have lived here for decades, and have invested their own love and labor into the grounds. It's blooming with flower gardens and pea patches cultivated by these residents. Wander the grounds on a sunny day and you'll see laundry drying on clothes lines that have stood since the 50s and signs urging you to help yourself to tomatoes. Distressed? Mismanaged? No. In fact all the things that Seattle often claims it wants to be—affordable, green, and sustainable—Lockhaven already is.
John Goodman, you have a reputation for philanthropy. You are also a native Ballardite and graduate of Ballard High School. You are our neighbor, your house/private marina a five minute walk from Lockhaven. It is because of your character and your background that we are confident you would not want to harm your neighbors. If you proceed with your plan to dislocate us from our homes, you will harm not only your neighbors and your community, you will do real and lasting damage to your reputation and to your company's reputation. The story of Lockhaven is attracting wide-spread attention from the media, the community, and elected leaders. It is a story that resonates with a city struggling with a housing crisis.
John Goodman, you have a fantastic opportunity to be a leader on this crucial issue. In addition to asking you to not dislocate hundreds of Lockhaven residents, we further call on you to partner with us and find a solution for Lockhaven that can serve as a model for the future of affordable housing in Seattle. We acknowledge your right to improve your property and to profit from it. Let us help you find a way to do that preserves Lockhaven and does not erode the special character of the neighborhood you love.
As a first step toward this vision, we call upon you to immediately withdraw plans to kick us out of our homes, and to inform us of this decision in writing.
We look forward to hearing your response soon.
Best regards,
The Lockhaven Tenants Union

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Real Change story


Hey, we made Real Change! Big thanks to that paper for this write-up.

If we have any minor quibble, it's that the story makes us sound a bit somber and elegiac. We are not somber and elegiac. We're fired up and ready for battle. The exposure is great though. Thanks, Real Change!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

About those two letters from Goodman Real Estate


Sorry to have gone silent for so long. The flu and life in general conspired against regular updates to this blog, but we're back and will try to do a better job keeping you informed about Lockhaven developments.

As you know, residents received two letters from Josh Obendorf of GRE, the first dated October 31 and the second November 6. The first letter attempted to explain away as a mistake Goodman Real Estate's illegal attempt to drive residents from their homes with 20-day vacate notices in September, described some of the repairs they're doing, and introduced us to a "relocation specialist." The second letter is an invitation to an open house at the Senior Center on Thursday, 11/14 from 6-8 pm.

A few things about the first letter:

  • Their admission of wrong-doing expresses regret only that what they did was illegal ("Not in accordance with the City of Seattle's Tenant Relocation Program").
  • This admission totally leaves aside the fact that they intentionally tried to dislocate tenants with 20-day notices. There was no mistake in this intention. What they did, and continue to do, is not only illegal in some cases, it's wrong.
  • Is it believable that a multi-billion real estate company was unaware of the law?
  • This sentence is truly extraordinary: "As a company with deep roots with Ballard, we believe that Lockhaven is a unique, irreplaceable series of buildings that should be part of the neighborhood fabric for decades to come." This is about as flimsy and hollow as spin gets. You don't show appreciation for a community by driving them from their homes. 
  • It's amazing how shamelessly Orwellian they are in their appropriation of the language that's been used on this blog and in the media to describe the damage they're doing: "Neighborhood fabric," "unique," "deep roots in Ballard."
  • Why would we care about the renovations they're doing when these renovations for the benefit of the newer, richer tenants they want to put in our place? Other than the fact that we are still living in conditions like this:
Ladder blocking the entrance to 3026
  • It is clear that their plan to get rid of us is very much in place: "Unfortunately, most tenants must relocate slowly and in phases over the next 5-15 months."
  • The reference to "most" tenants implies the existence of a so-called "protected list" of tenants who will not be forced out of their homes. I left a voicemail for our relocation specialist about this, and got a voicemail back assuring me that all will be made clear at the Nov. 14 meeting. 
  • They want us to know they totally understand our pain: "Relocation is not easy."
  • There is no return address or phone number. Instead we are directed to talk to relocation specialist Kerry Lynch at a "24/7 hotline." The 24/7 part seems to refer to the fact that you can get to her voicemail whenever you want.

Still, the letter is positive in the sense that John Goodman is more fully showing us his hand. His admission of wrong-doing gives us hope that he will realize his entire plan for the destruction of our community is wrong.

 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Coverage of last week's meeting in My Ballard


My Ballard has a nice write-up of last week's meeting at the Ballard Senior Center.

The reporter has been in touch with us and is committed to covering this story as it develops.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Johnh Goodman: “I will be a good steward for the property.”




It's turning into a banner day for press coverage.

Peggy Sturdivant of the Ballard News Tribune goes deep with an extensive interview with former Lockhaven owners Earl and Denise Ecklund. The bottom line is they never expected the Lockhaven community to be destroyed by John Goodman and Goodman Real Estate:
The Ecklunds knew of John Goodman, his Ballard roots, his home nearby. Knew, “he has a charitable side and an aggressive business side.” They recall his words, “I will be a good steward for the property.” 
They offer a truly chilling analogy (italics mine):
What’s happening with the tenant evictions prompted Earl to tell me a story about a middle manager he’d encountered who was called Neutron Dave, for his impersonal tactics. The nickname referred to the effects of the neutron bomb, which left buildings standing but the inhabitants dead.

What makes this piece particularly heartbreaking is the picture it paints of the Lockhaven's history as a family-oriented, people-first business. It also explains how we got our gorgeous rhododendrons:
On-call every day. Earl Sr. would arrive in his suit, and change into his work clothes as needed. Earl’s mother Ruby kept the books and did the clean-outs of apartments between tenants. After she was widowed Earl’s sister lived above the property management office. Earl’s older brother Ralph was a botanist and horticulturist who turned the grounds into his rhododendron species garden, but ‘allowed’ his brother to mow the grass.

We can only repeat what we've said before: We believe John Goodman does indeed have a charitable side, and that it can co-exist with the need to turn a profit. It's not too late to pull back from the brink. Don't kick us out of our homes. Do it for the Ballard you love, Mr. Goodman. Be the good steward you promised you would be. Make your legacy one you can look back on with pride. 

Lockhaven on KPLU this morning


This great piece by on KPLU by Ashley Gross features your neighbor Evan Sugden. The piece hits on a few great points, one of them being the larger story of how high rents are driving people out of the city. And, closer to our own situation, Evan, a university biology instructor and beekeeper, talks about how the Lockhaven has enabled him to live in a modest, sustainable way, and also about the gardening he's done on the grounds at here. Which is a wonderful example of the investment of love and labor residents have made at Lockhaven, and exactly the kind thing that makes this place such a unique community.  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Who wants a bumper sticker?

 

With all the angst and negativity, we wanted to do something simple and positive to show our love for the Lockhaven. So we're making these bumper stickers available for free (while they last) to any resident or community member whose heart is true and full of love for the Haven men have called Lock. We're also giving them out to neighborhood businesses along with information about what's been going on here since we were sold to Goodman Real Estate.

Drop me a line and tell me what building you're in, and I'll leave one at your door: LockhavenTenants@Outlook.com.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Word of the day: Disconnect

John Goodman of Goodman Real Estate


Here's a key passage in a story by Peggy Sturdivant that came out in the 10/16 issue of the Ballard News Tribune about a homeowner who was apparently duped by a developer who's doing something far different than he promised with the property he purchased from her:
The fact that Douglas had to read about what was happening to her former home in the newspaper and that Lockhaven residents learned about renovations and rent increases through eviction notices highlights a disconnect between the residents, the developers and the City of Seattle government.

Bingo! Disconnect is the word. When John Goodman of Goodman Real Estate decided to purchase the Lockhaven, it seems that he didn't do much to discover what he'd acquired. Not a collection of buildings, not a certain number of square feet to be leveraged for maximum profit, but a community of human beings. Human beings uniquely invested in the property and each other.

We know that John Goodman has a record of philanthropy and civic involvement. Just ask the Ballard Boys and Girls Club, which he has generously supported. John Goodman is also a Ballardite through and through. He graduated from Ballard High and lives right down the street from us. We are therefore confident that he will see that the value of the Lockhaven is not only in its walls and windows, but in its unique community. And that he'll also see how the Lockhaven is part of a larger fabric of life in Ballard, a neighborhood founded on the thriftiness and caring of its working-class Nordic roots.

We are confident that a real Ballardite would never want to destroy a beautiful part of what gives the neighborhood its character, and that the disconnect we are experiencing is only temporary.

Let's find a better way forward together.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Statement of solidarity from Kshama Sawant


Here is a statement of solidarity that was sent to us by Kshama Sawant. Note that this doesn't constitute an endorsement of our group for Sawant's campaign, as we have been far too busy with other business to take up the complicated issue of endorsements. But I will say, speaking strictly for myself, that the campaign has seemed very sincere in their outreach to us. Their approach has from the beginning been not "here's why you should vote for our candidate," but rather, "how can we help you?" The most impressive instance of this was when campaign manager Ramy Khalil showed up at a meeting of the Ballard District Council to speak on our behalf. And Kshama also seems to be only one making rent control and tenants' rights a topic in this year's elections. Here's her statement:

Kshama Sawant, candidate for Seattle City Council, stands in solidarity with the Lockhaven Tenants’ Union in their struggle to defend affordable housing, both for inhabitants of the Lockhaven Apartments and for all residents of Seattle.
Goodman Real Estate’s recent illegal attempt to evict tenants with a 20-day notice is only one of the more blatant attempts by big developers to destroy affordable housing in Seattle. Senior citizens living on fixed incomes, youth, people of color and all those struggling to get by in this economy are being pushed to the margins as rents rise faster in Seattle than any major metropolitan city, according to the New York Times.
It is high time working people have a representative on the city council to fight for their interests, not to grease the wheels for big developers looking to line their pockets at the expense of working people. Kshama Sawant’s opponent Richard Conlin has received the maximum legal contributions from Goodman Real Estate owner John Goodman and his wife, along with the max contributions from the multi-billion-dollar company’s president and his wife. We cannot expect Conlin or any establishment politicians to truly take a stand to defend the rights of renters and the working class.
Kshama Sawant is calling for rent control to cap increases in rents along with other measures to support the low-income people of Seattle. This would make it much harder for developers to brush aside residents from established neighborhoods to make a quick buck. But simply electing Kshama is not enough. The Lockhaven Tenants’ Union is an inspiring example of people in our community coming together to take a stand. It will take a movement to make Seattle affordable for all. Together we can make it happen.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Huge turnout for our first all-tenants meeting

Seattle City Council member Nick Licata and Lockhaven resident Sue Taylor

More than 80 Lockhaven residents and community members jammed into the Ballard Senior Center last night for an informational meeting moderated by John Fox of the Seattle Displacement Coalition. An extraordinary panel of experts and advocates was on hand to answer questions and offer support:



 
A LOT came out of this meeting, and we hope to post more details later. But one thing that struck me as I watched members of the Tenants Union of Washington chatting with Dulcie O'Sullivan of the Department of Planning and Development, was how our struggle has become a nexus and a rallying point for something much bigger than us. The effects of our actions have already started reverberating throughout the city. Eliana said that many of the low-income tenants she counsels have heard about and been inspired by our organizing efforts.

The Lockhaven fiasco is part of a pattern of cities being remade according to the dictates of developers who don't care about community, quality of life, or anything else that impedes them from sucking the maximum amount of money of their properties. Even if that entails treating human beings like garbage to be disposed of. 

Another note from the meeting: What we're now calling the steering committeebasically the people who have been printing up flyers, talking to the media, doing this blog, etc.need you. We invite any Lockhaven residents who want to be involved to attend our smaller organizational meetings and help us out. Strength in numbers! If we didn't get your contact info last night and you'd like to help, please write to LockhavenTenants@Outlook.com.

How far we take this is up to us. The meeting made it clear that our allies are everywhere.

Speaking of which, a HUGE thank you to the Ballard Senior Center. This meeting would not have been possible without them. The Center has from the beginning been incredibly supportive and generous. We love you, Ballard Senior Center!

Onward!
 
Dulcie O'Sullivan chatting with members of
the Tenants Union of Washington State
John Fox and Ryan Weatherstone
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Terrible picture of our panel. Left to right: John Fox, Nick Licata,
Eliana Horn, Dulcie O'Sullivan, and Ryan Weatherstone
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Tremendous showing last night at the Ballard District Council meeting

Wow.

What an amazing showing at the meeting of Ballard District Council last night, both in terms of numbers and the eloquence with which people told their stories. Over a dozen Lockhaven tenants were there, and everyone single one of us spoke up against the illegal attack on affordable housing. By the end of the Lockhaven tenants' testimonies, I had tears in my eyes. Thank you to all who spoke. Your direct and honest words made me proud to stand among you.

Equally heartening was the support we were given by Council members, including a woman (unfortunately I didn't get her name) from the Ballard Historical Society who offered to cede her time to us. Ramy Khalil, the campaign manager for Seattle City Council candidate Kshama Sawant came to the meeting specifically to lend his support to us. He used his time with the microphone not to stump for his candidate, but to speak up on behalf of Lockhaven residents. Thanks, Ramy!

Among those on hand to hear our message were City Council member Sally Bagshaw and State Representative Reuven Carlyle. Credit must also be given to the Lockhaven property manager, who showed up and said she was there to listen. We may be on opposite sides of this, but her presence there showed real courage. None of what we're doing should in any way be construed as a personal attack on her.

This is the one of the statements that was given at the meeting on behalf of our group, and also distributed to attendees:
The Lockhaven Apartments have for decades provided modest, affordable, well-maintained housing to a diverse community. Imagine a clean, decent place to live near the heart of Ballard that even a retired person living on Social Security could afford! Many residents have lived at Lockhaven for decades, cultivating friendships and gardens from which they freely share flowers and tomatoes with their neighbors. All the things that Seattle says it wants to be—affordable, sustainable, and diverse –the Lockhaven already is.
This summer the Lockhaven was sold to Goodman Real Estate, a company well known to local tenants’ rights activists for its pattern of clearing out existing tenants, doing slapdash renovations, and jacking up rents, The Downtowner Building in the ID being a prime example.
It didn't take long for it to become clear that this pattern would be continued at Lockhaven.
The new owners issued blatantly illegal 20-day vacate notices to tenants in three buildings, and also extended deceptive buy-out offers, both of which actions were blocked by the city. These setbacks have stopped neither their sloppy renovations, which have left us living in garbage and destruction, nor their plan to get rid of existing residents. It's clear that the city's sanctions mean nothing to Goodman Real Estate, a company that, according to its own website, has a market value of over $2.5 billion.
We've gotten far too used to hearing about our favorite coffee shop, bar, or bowling alley being closed so a developer can try to squeeze out a few more dollars per square foot. We've gotten far too used to that sickening feeling of inevitability as our city is reshaped by greed, with no regard for history, community, or economic diversity. We've gotten too used to the idea that it's OK to price out the elderly and the disadvantaged.
The message from developers like John Goodman to these people is "You don't belong here. This isn't your city anymore. Because there isn’t enough money in it for me." It's a message we have too long endorsed with our silent complicity. 
We call on the city to provide better protections for tenants and for every citizen who believes that the human rights of the many should not be trumped by the property rights of the few.
Thank you for listening.
(Because there was a question about this, a quick clarification that the message from John Goodman above is not a direct quote, but rather what he is saying through his actions.)


 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

"To get rid of as many tenants as expediently as possible"

The following, written by one of your neighbors, beautifully expresses the anger that so many of us feel about what's happening to our city and our neighborhood:
I suggest that Ballard and Seattle in general wish to do away with the moderate to low income rental tenants. Yes, and among them, especially the elderly and persons of disability. Where will these discharged persons go?  
I understand that a landlord has the right to turn any tenant out at any time, but in Seattle the tenant may be eligible for relocation assistance. This does not detract from the Lockhaven landlord’s first activity: to give everyone in a particular building 20 days notice to evacuate under an eviction letter. This displays the true motive of the new owner, which is to get rid of as many tenants as expediently as possible without regard to where or how these will find future accommodations. Not his problem, right? So the law says, partially. 
So let’s get rid of old and disabled people, let’s throw out the low income people as well. We don’t need them. They're a drag on our economy. Ballard is the hot place to live. Condos galore, just come and choose one at rents of $2000 or more.
So if any of you recall or are in touch with the history of Ballard, can you remember what this community initially promoted? Yes, it was hard work, caring for your neighbor, friendliness and opportunity to grow and live where people knew one another.  Do you remember this or are you listening only to your headsets and getting ready to move into a super condo apartment with your friends?
So it seems Ballard is poised to ghettoize the moderate to low income, disabled and elderly.  Who would have thought that a community founded on thriftiness and caring would come to this?  
All this occurs to me in reference to the 19th annual celebration at the Nordic Heritage Museum of the life of the courageous Swedish Diplomat Raoul Wallenburg who saved the lives of thousands of Jewish people during WW II. Where has Ballard gone to get so far from its roots?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Great piece in the Ballard News-Tribune



Thanks to Peggy Sturdivant of the Herald Tribune for the most complete and thoughtful account yet of the battle for Lockhaven. It includes this chilling passage: 

In the pre-dawn hours of September 10, Jett Terrell heard footsteps in the stairwell but reassured herself that only residents had keys. When she opened her door the next morning she found a 20-day eviction notice taped to her door, “Your last day of residency will be September 30th.”

Wow. Great work. Check it out.

Also, you've probably seen the super stylish, hot pink flyers announcing our October 14th meeting. Thank a million to Carol Cooper for distributing them.




Sunday, October 6, 2013

Hey, what are you doing this Wednesday?



A group of us are planning to go to the Ballard District Council meeting this Wednesday (Oct. 9) to represent Lockhaven tenants and tell the council about Goodman Realty's illegal attack on affordable housing. 

The meeting takes place at the Ballard Library at 7 p.m. We're going to meet at the flag pole at 6:30 and walk down together. Please join us! It will be fun (well, as fun as a meeting can be), and you'll meet some of your neighbors and come away with a warm glow of empowerment. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

We have a meeting time



Hey folks, thanks for your patience while we tried to find a good time and place for  a full meeting of Lockhaven tenants. We now have that time and place:

Monday, October 14 

6-8:30 pm

Ballard Senior Center


We'll have a brief statement of what's happened so far, an address from a representative of the Tenants Union of Washington, and a chance for you to ask questions and tell your stories. We have been in touch with several tenants' rights lawyer, and hope to have one there to help us sort out our options.

There will be flyers distributed to announce this meeting, but in the meantime, please share this info with any of your neighbors who may not have internet access. Some people have already submitted agenda items on this blog and on our extra fancy Facebook page. Keep 'em coming. This is your meeting.

Also, please remember that Seattle law explicitly protects the rights of tenants to organize and have meetings without management present. No one should feel any fear about attending and standing with their neighbors.

More details as we know them. Looking forward to meeting those we haven't met already. Oh, and a HUGE thank you to our friends at the Senior Center for generously allowing us to use their space.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Q13 Fox coverage



Another great story last night, this time on Q13 Fox.

Thanks to Sue Taylor and Charles Groeger for appearing on camera and speaking up about what's going on at Lockhaven.


Watch it here.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

We were on KOMO News tonight



Excellent piece by Lindsay Cohen on KOMO News this evening. We particularly appreciate how Lindsay took the time to talk to us over the course of a couple days, and gathered some of the documents involved. Also, it's fantastic how the story is framed by the anchor as a case of illegal landlord activity.

No news story is going to capture the totality of our story (this one left out the construction mess), but this was a very good story indeed. See it here.

Fantastic job by Beverly Gibson (again) and  Jana Bratton in speaking up for us on camera. Go team!

The great cover-up

3015 on Sunday and 3015 today.


Workers have been back the last couple days covering bare walls with JumboTex weather seal paper. Problem is, they've been applying the paper directly over rotten and missing wood. Multiple tenants have confirmed that no work was done on the rotted-out areas. It's almost as if the plan is to simply cover up the damage for the sake of the TV crews that have been here lately (King5 on Sunday, KOMO today). This covering up of rot has taken place on at least two buildings, 3014 and 3015.

It's hard to imagine that the newer, richer tenants Goodman Real Estate is hoping to attract will be pleased to live in walls rotting from the inside.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Flyers distributed, local businesses supportive

 
 




A couple of us were out on Sunday distributing flyers to local businesses and booths at the Ballard Sustainability Festival. We were pleased with how many people had already heard about us from My Ballard.blog and King 5 News, and how supportive everyone was, including the crowd that had gathered on a very muddy lawn at the Ballard Commons to hear Mayor Mike McGinn speak.
 
We emphasized that we aren't simply complaining about our own individual situations, but rather trying to draw attention to the larger issue of what kind of city we're becoming, how we treat the most vulnerable, and what we allow the most privileged to get away with. No one begrudges the new owners of the Lockhaven the right to improve their property and to profit from it. It is rather how they have gone about it, with no regard for the law or even basic human decency.


Our flyer on the counter of Annie's Art and Frame



 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

We're now on Facebook


So there's apparently there's something called "Facebook" that young people are into? We don't pretend to understand it, but if you want to be our friend in "that way," you now can.

So when are we meeting?


More than a few people have asked when we are going to have an actual meeting of the Lockhaven Tenants Union. The answer: soon! We hope to find an evening next week. We will most likely have it at the Ballard Senior Center. To make the best use of everyone's time, we want to make sure we have a solid agenda, and have someone from the city or some other expert on the law present to answer your questions.

Do you have something you would like to add to the agenda? Please write to LockhavenTenants@Outlook.com or leave a comment on the blog.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Awesome! Coverage from King 5!


Well, this is very cool.

King 5 came out to see us on this very rainy Sunday and talked to our neighbors Tavish Donahue and Beverly Gibson. Anyone who has talked to Beverly knows she's quite the raconteur, and she definitely gave the reporter an earful:

All tenants will now have six months to relocate so the property can undergo extensive renovations, including new amenities like granite top counters, two new fitness centers and a yoga studio.
“That’s sick, it’s ridiculous,” said Beverly Gibson, who’s lived at the complex since 2008.
Kudos to Tavish and Beverly for speaking up for all of us. Nice going!
 
Unfortunately, the story fails to mention the Lockhaven Tenants Union by name, but I've written to the reporter to tell him about us, thank him for his excellent work, and urge him to stay on the story, as it's part of a much larger story about what kind of city we're becoming, and what we're allowing developers to get away with.
 
If you missed the segment, you can see it here.
 
Onward! 
 
 
 
 
 
 

To sign or not to sign?


I'd like to highlight a comment left in an earlier post by Haymarketgal:

The current Lockhaven management wants us all to sign for a Tenant Relocation Assistance packet. The City of Seattle's web site says: "A tenant household has 30 days to apply for relocation assistance after receiving the Tenant Information Packet." So, if you don't apply within 30 days of signing for the packet then you lose any possible eligibility unless you get an extension. I wonder what's the upside vs. downside of signing for the packet sooner rather than later. I know what the upside is for Pinnacle, but what about us? What's our downside?
I myself did sign, but wondered about my decision, and don't have an answer to this very good question. If anyone has any info or opinions, please drop us a line or leave a comment. 

Condition of walls becomes dire with heavy rains


The walls of 3015 have been stripped bare for about a month. Under the bare wooden slats is the interior drywall, which is becoming slowly saturated by water with the heavy rains. Though 3015 may be the worst example, other buildings are similarly exposed and dilapidated. I spotted some birds today attempting to nest in the exposed wall material of 3014.

Just now, we talked to a few residents out taking photos and videos of the state of the buildings in the rain today, documentation which they may share with the city. If you've got your own photos, videos, and stories, please send them in. (YouTube links would be best for video.)

What's going on? One theory is that the owners want the building to be condemned, so they can tear it down and build a new one. This is only speculation. But the owners are certainly treating their new investment with inexplicable shabbiness. If the buildings become uninhabitable, it would definitely help them get rid of us faster to make way for newer, richer tenants.

There have been reports that the owners have been fined by the city, but we have been unable to confirm this. Please leave info in the comments or drop us an email: LockhavenTenants@Outlook.com.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Coverage in My Ballard! Also, comments issue fixed.



Thanks to MyBallard.com for this write-up. We've gotten 100+ Facebook mentions from this piece, and some Twitter  action as well. The writer, Danielle Anthony-Goodwin, has pledged to stay on the story, and ends her piece with this invitation to all of us:
If you are or know of a tenant from Lockhaven Apartments email us at tips@myballard.com and let us know your thoughts.

Know of a building code violation? Want to tell her about how losing your home will affect you or your neighbors? Drop her a line.

Thanks also to our neighbor "haymarketgal," who instructed me how to enable comments for everyone. Try leaving a comment now. She had tried to add this comment to the previous post:

Yes, thank you for your efforts. I was afraid something like this would happen when I heard that Earl and Denise had sold the place and even more afraid when I found out the "Pinnacle Family" was the new owner.
I've lived in my Lockhaven apartment for more than four years. In a more just and cooperative society the first right of refusal when Earl and Denise decided to sell would have gone to the tenants with tax incentives to help us become owners as part of cooperative housing or a condominium conversion. I'll stop dreaming now.
You can stop dreaming, haymarketgal, but don't stop sharing information. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Flyers!


This evening we distributed this flyer to all Lockhaven buildings, as well as to all the cars in the parking lot. (Note that this activity is specifically protected by city law: "Organizing activities include passing out flyers and information to your neighbors.") We had some great conversations with our neighbors, many of whom shared details about what's been going on, and what they know about the new owners. If you have information or stories you'd like to share, please send email to LockhavenTenants@Outlook.com. The more information we amass collectively, the more powerful we are.

Some people have said they've been unable to leave comments on this blog. I think you need to sign in with a  Google account to do so. Sorry for the inconvenience. If there's something you really want your neighbors to know, send it in email and  I'll post it here.

There's no info yet about any scheduled meetings. Please check back again. And if this is your first time visiting this blog, welcome!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Garbage and destruction

 
UPDATE: Just talked to the Lockhaven manager. She says that they hired someone to clean up the garbage strewn about, and some of the loose papers have in face been cleared. This does nothing to address the larger problem of the condition of the buildings. She says construction is supposed to start back up this week, and that there will be multiple crews working on the site at once to expedite the process. I explained that we tenants--being given the boot while the buildings we live in hang in tatters--feel that we're under attack, and that we have trouble trusting owners who have already tried to illegally evict nearly two dozen tenants.

----

Replacement of the siding on some buildings at Lockhaven was begun about a month ago in a chaotic and slipshod fashion. No contractor's name was ever displayed, and the project proceeded seemingly at random, with some buildings ripped apart and then abandoned before other buildings were finished.

Construction has now apparently come to a complete stop, leaving us with unsightly strips hanging from many some buildings, garbage strewn about the grounds, Styrofoam particles ground into the soil, and construction materials piled up in random corners. With the rainy season upon us, how long will the ownership leave buildings exposed to the elements? Management as of this writing has ceased responding to emails and calls.


 
 
 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Know your rights

The right to organize

Who is in the Lockhaven Tenants Union? You, if you live here and want to join. Please check back here for info about the next meeting. We've only just begun, so you haven't missed very much.

And don't be afraid.  The right of tenants to organize is expressly protected by Seattle law:

SMC 22.206.180(7): Prohibited acts by owners
Under the Seattle Housing and Building Maintenance Codes, Seattle landlords are prohibited from preventing or discriminating against tenants who are organizing in their buildings. Organizing activities include passing out flyers and information to your neighbors, posting information in common areas, creating connection with your neighbors and inviting them to get involved, and holding meetings that are unattended by management or agents of the landlord in the building. If the landlord takes any undue negative action against a tenant who has participated in one of these organizing activities, it is automatically assumed to be retaliation and is illegal. If you would like more information or want to report retaliation by your landlord for organizing in your building, contact the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) at 206.615.0808.

The right to compensation

Tenant Relocation Assistance Law mandates that if the Lockhaven owners kick you out, you may be able to get 3000+ bucks if your household earns less that 50 percent of the median. Here is a PDF with details about this law.

And more

You've got more rights and power than you might think. Find out more:



Our story

The short version of our story: This summer, the Lockhaven Apartments were sold to the Pinnacle Family of Companies. Shortly thereafter, construction on the siding of some buildings started. This construction has been done in a shoddy and unsightly fashion by a no-name contractor. Walls of some buildings have been ripped off and left hanging in strips for weeks at a time, and garbage and equipment has been left strewn about the grounds.

20-day vacate notices were then issued to the tenants of three buildings (all the tenants of one building, and half the tenants of two others). That's right: With no warning, these people were given less than three weeks to get themselves and all their belongings out. A complete lack of empathy added to the stress of this situation. When asked about it, Lockhaven management freely admitted that the plan is to displace ALL residents, renovate the units, and raise rents by as much as double. But it turns out that those initial 20-day vacate notices were blatantly illegal, and the new owners were compelled to rescind them. The plan to evict all of us is apparently still intact.

The Lockhaven is home to many elderly residents who have lived here for decades, cultivating gardens and friendships. This is their home. The Lockhaven is the last bastion of affordable housing in Ballard for them, and for all of us. What Pinnacle has planned is nothing less than the destruction of a community. 

But a group has formed. This group. The Lockhaven Tenants Union. We will share information, address legal concerns, and provide help to those who need it. We have power when we stick together.

This is the short version. Details, documents, and resistance to follow.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Welcome

The purpose of this site is for tenants of the Lockhaven Apartments to share information and empower each other. We are strong when we stick together.