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:

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

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!

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


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.