Lessons Learned from the Beach

Haystack Rock

I love technology  –  it has made the real estate business easier in so many ways. With smart phones and tablets its easy to stay connected with other brokers, clients, appraisers, lenders, etc. Its been a crazy market over the last 24+ months and often its necessary to respond immediately to offers and counteroffers (as well as the occasional clients who expect 24/7 connectivity).

I’ve just returned from a week in Cannon Beach  – its definitely my happy place. Technology makes it easy to stay connected, even when you travel, but I held to my commitment to only check email and voice mail twice a day. I enjoyed a fabulous week that was work and stress free.

I love living downtown, and its always good to be back home, but after a few days back some of my observations were troubling. At the beach you see a cell phone in nearly everyone’s back pocket, but that’s where the phones stayed. Adults were walking and talking to one another or talking to their children. Everyone says hello when they pass on the sidewalk and stop to pet any dog within reach. In restaurants parents didn’t hand their phones to their children to be entertained  –  they were included in the conversation. Out on the beach dogs are running, kids are fling kites, parents are building sand castles and exploring the tide pools with their kids and making s’mores around beach fires at night. Everyone unplugs at the beach. You walk everywhere in Cannon Beach and I felt very safe, almost carefree, as a pedestrian. There are no traffic lights, just stop signs. Drivers yield to pedestrians and not once did I worry about being hit by a driver talking or texting. (I did notice the fine for cell phone use while driving in Oregon is a lot heftier than in Washington which could explain a lot.)

Its always an adjustment back into everyday life after vacation, but I really enjoyed the break from technology, even if for just a week. At the beach no one was staring at their phone on the sidewalk (or shouting at the phone like walkie talkies), no one bumped into me (or a sign post) because they were texting while walking, and I never had to dodge a distracted driver in the intersection. Technology is amazing but with our increased dependence on it we have become less aware of our surroundings and more focused on the tiny screens we carry in our pockets. My post-vacation commitment is to work on integrating some of the relaxed beach lifestyle into my day-to-day work routine. It may make the transition back to work more  palatable while I trade feeling the sand between my toes for feeling the sidewalk beneath my feet (at least until I can return to the beach).

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Downtown Bellevue’s Awesome Parks

We are fortunate to live in an area where there are so many local parks. The cities of Bellevue and Kirkland have both done an amazing job of retaining land and creating waterfront and urban parks for residents and visitors to enjoy. I live on the north end of downtown Bellevue, so McCormick Park is one of my favorites (and my dogs). Every fall I look forward to the amazing display of color that comes from this little maple tree in McCormick Park. mccormick-park.

Its Your City

BELLGATE  - sculpture by Lee Kelley

Small things can make a big difference and making even a small effort every day can have a big impact on the quality of where you live. Next time you’re walking to dinner or the movies, spending time with your kids in the park or walking your dog, take a minute to make a difference.

  • There is no Poop Fairy! Make it a habit to pick up more poop. Certainly clean up after your own dog but carry an extra bag on your next dog walk and pick up someone else’s dog’s poop.
  • Report it if you see a problem. Did a truck lose some of its gravel load in the street? Has overgrown landscaping blocked a sidewalk? Is a clogged storm drain overflowing? Its quick and easy to report problems using the MyBellevue app on your phone. Touch the “new request” button to report a problem or to request a service.
  • While the City of Bellevue does a great job maintaining the city’s parks, landscape and maintenance staff can’t be everywhere all the time (see Poop Fairy above). Lend a hand  –  if you see trash left behind, pick it up and place it in the closest trash can.
  • SLOW DOWN! As Bellevue’s residential and employment population grows so do the number of pedestrians on the streets. As a courtesy and to keep our streets safe, slow down, pay attention, look twice before making that right-turn-on-red and NO cell phone use or texting. The city is full of people young and old, bike riders, children and pets  –  keep everyone safe.
  • Get to know your neighbors. Watch out for one anther, children and pets. You could discover a new friend, baby sitter, dog walker and maybe something new about your neighborhood.
  • Volunteer. Check with local non-profit organizations and the City of Bellevue website for volunteer opportunities.
  • Unfortunately one of the hazards of a growing city is an increase in homelessness. Next time you see someone who is obviously homeless, make eye contact, smile, say hello. Acknowledgement of another person can make their day. Carry $5 Starbucks cards and occasionally hand them out  –  the ability to buy a hot drink or sandwich for someone who doesn’t have the means to do so could make a big difference.
  • Shop local. Support the many locally owned stores and restaurants throughout Bellevue. Visit area farmers markets.
  • VOTE! There’s no better way to make your voice heard.

A New Downtown Fire Station

fire-engine-sign

Flickr/Andrew Siguenza

As downtown Bellevue grows, so does the need for expanded life, fire and property emergency response. The Bellevue Fire Department, after completing an extensive study to examine how to meet the city’s current and future needs, has proposed construction of a new Fire Station 10. The City Council has approved funds for property acquisition for Fire Station 10 in the 2015-2021 Capital Investment Program. The proposed site for the new station is on the west side of 112th Avenue NE and NE 12th Street, just north of McCormick Park. The 2.82 acre site will not affect McCormick Park.

Downtown’s residential population is expected to increase to 19,000 by 2030 and the city’s employment base is expected to grow to 70,000+ by 2030. The Fire Department’s goal is to reduce the target travel time to the increasing number of high-rise residential and commercial buildings and ensure quick response times for the nearby neighborhoods of Northtowne, Bel-Red, Northwest and West Bellevue and Wilburton.

Construction of Fire Station 10 is scheduled for 2019 and will take approximately 18 months with an occupancy date in 2021. For more information about Fire Station 10 visit the City of Bellevue’s website at www.ci.bellevue.wa.us.

New “Downtown”Post Office

post officeThe new Bellevue Main post office is scheduled to open at its new Wilburton location ( 12224 Bel-Red Road) on Monday, September 12th (former location of the Land Rover dealership). The current downtown location, scheduled to close on Saturday, September 10th, will reopen on Monday September 12.
There’s no question the current post office is long overdue for either a major rehab or new location, but it is disappointing there will no longer be a post office in downtown Bellevue. I live downtown and its very convenient to be able to walk to the post office to deliver business and personal mail or holiday packages. Hopefully the new facility will have easy access and ideally more than just two windows open at any given time.

Completing the Downtown Park

Downtown_Park_Circle_VisualizationThe 30 year vision for Bellevue’s Downtown Park is finally scheduled to be completed this year. Along with completing the circular promenade, the existing children’s play area will be expanded and replaced with an “Inspiration Playground”, a play area designed to accommodate children of all needs including those with development, physical, cognitive or sensory disabilities. The playground is funded in a partnership with the Bellevue Rotary.

The southern half of the Downtown Park will close in mid-July for construction and completion of the circular canal and tree-lined promenade. An enhanced entrance and water feature will be created at the south entry to the park along with terraced seating, stairways and pathways and enhanced landscaping. Parking will be revised as well, removing the current parking lot off NE 2nd Street and expanding the parking area off 100th Avenue NE.

The Downtown Park is similar to New York City’s Central Park  – it’s an incredible feature for residents and visitors and an asset to a city that continues to grow and be a great place to call home.

Oh Rats!

rats

image courtesy of flickr by Julie Meynard

While I acknowledge many people see rats as great pets (my son had a pet rat when he was young – Rodney was very smart) rats and other rodents can be a problem in urban areas. Restaurant and residential dumpsters along with city parks and open spaces, provide ample dining and nesting opportunities for urban wildlife – rats, bunnies, raccoons and even the occasional coyote.

Urban wildlife should come as no surprise in any city. Their fear of humans has lessened over the years as development has encroached on their habitat. Cities and local health departments do their best to manage the health and sanitation issues and damage rodents can cause, but “it takes a village” to manage the problem. Along with restaurants and hotels, urban condominium communities need procedures for keeping garbage areas clean and emptied regularly and budget for a pest control plan. HOAs may need to implement restrictions for bird feeders (rats love bird seed and can climb an exterior wall to reach a feeder on an upper level deck) or feeding pets outdoors. Eliminating the the food source will go a long way in reducing the rodent problem. Outside your home, common sense/courtesy should prevail – in a park or other public area put litter in a trash container. That biodegradable apple core you toss on the ground because it will “go back to nature” will attract rodents of all sizes in a nano-second .