Features Jul 8, 2015 at 4:00 am

Exploring the City's Unknown and Underused Public Spaces

The view from "Secret Beach," off 39th Avenue East just north of Denny Blaine Park. The Stranger


Bhy Kracke park - also great at sunset for views of downtown!
This is piece is a fantastic basis for a summer project, especially for someone like myself that enjoys being out on nice days but never really having a plan for making use of them. Thank you, Eli!
Those fuckers eating dinner on their private patios. The gall!
Thanks for this, Eli. Public space must be used before private greed takes it over: http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news…
No mention of the 130th Street beach landgrab? http://savethene130thbeach.com/
I checked the map, they missed one.
@5 yikes! thanks for posting that. People = shit.
All Washington beachfront, below the high-tide line, is public.* The access roads are just to get down to the shore, proper -- to avoid trespassing. But once ON the beach, the public is free to enjoy all the sandy bits along the shore. Spread out!
Keep your kids and dogs off the residents' front porches: stay water-ward of the highest logs and tide residue. Think of it like any residential street -- past the tide line is their front lawn, but below that, it's a public sidewalk. The water is a public road! They have no special right to it, unless you are creating a nuisance. Be sure to pack out your trash,
and no amplified noise. If there's no access road, kayak in with a cooler! Enjoy the whole length of the beaches, Public! Don't let them make you feel like trespassers. It's all yours.

*With a few exceptions [e.g. federal **, military, Port], which are clearly posted. And another tip: don't forget marijuana is still illegal on federal land. Have fun!

Great article!! I'm really hoping to see the Stranger do some coverage on the NE 130th Beach situation. Two land grabbers not only stole an 82-year old beach from our community based on a procedural mistake/technicality, but also filed a $113K lawsuit against the city for the "damages" they experienced as the city would not allow them exclusive use of "their" beach. That's YOUR tax dollars they are demanding, even after they stole this beach from us, and got it for FREE themselves, with NO taxes to pay. savethene130thbeach.com is the support site along with the FB page "Friends of NE 130th Beach"
@8 That might be true other places, (CA, FL) But it is absolutely not true in Washington State. We still have private waterfront all the way down below the low tide line and the only way you can legally access it is to float over it in a watercraft or have tribal fishing rights. Its a shitty shitty policy, but one that the courts so far have refused to touch.
Martha Washington Park- but don't tell anyone!
Seattle also has 9 public beaches staffed by professional lifeguards. Please swim safe, and swim at beaches with lifeguards!
They exist (and are being improved) thanks to a 1996 city-council resolution that goes something like this: Wherever a public street dead-ends at water in Seattle, the space between that dead end and the water is public property. Your property!

That makes it sound like it's illegal to own property between a dead end and the water, and that the public can walk through the yard of anyone who has a house on such land. But that's not the case. The 1996 resolution (29370) didn't establish a blanket rule that all places where streets end at shorelines are public property; it designated 149 locations (that were already city land) as street ends, and established a policy for the use and improvement thereof. Municipal Code relies solely on this resolution in defining street ends. If you look at the city's website, there are plenty of places where streets end at the water and aren't designated.
Wonderful! Thanks for the tipz.
Beach access isn't resolved. We're not Oregon where they all belong to the public, but there is an argument. See https://digital.law.washington.edu/dspac…
We need someone to get busted for trespass on a beach and then take it to the Supreme Court of Washington.
These street ends have existed for decades. No one has campaigned for closing them off. It's just that the city does not have the funds to maintain them unless they raise the taxes of those who desire to visit them as a general public benefit..I suggest that those who want these spaces maintained, policed and marketed should asked to be taxed so that they can enjoy what they fear has be denied them.
If you looks closely you can find most of the access roads on Google Maps :)
...and you can avoid pissing off rich people by knowing exactly where their property ends with the King County Parcel Viewer .

This is definitely not true! Some tidelands are public, but a lot in Washington state are private! Keep an eye out for "No trespassing" signs when you're trying to get to a specific beach, because some will be public, but others private.

My family owns private beach and tidelands, and always has to kick people off our property who think they can just walk up on our front yard, because it's a beach.
@19 just because you see a No Trespassing sign doesn't mean it's private. Wouldn't it be better to put up a sign that says "Public up to this point, but the lawn is private"?
@19, oh, you have to kick people off, do you? Poor baby. You have the First World Problem of the day.
Awesome! Yes, like @9, please do a story on the NE 130th street beach being taken by the adjacent landowners after 84 years of public use. It was donated to the city for public use and now has a lovely chain link fence with no trespassing signs. The city and our tax dollars had just built a staircase right down to it for easier access. It was a wonderful community gathering space, plus a great spot to stop for a swim if you were traveling on the Burke Gilman Trail. Check out the facebook page for more- https://www.facebook.com/groups/28463586…
Screw Seattle. What about Tacoma or Olympia. So tired of hearing about Seattle.
There's a fun string of geocaches that runs down the pocket parks on Lake Washington.
Are you kidding @23? The Stranger is a newspaper about Seattle... Don't like it, don't read it.

As for the article, I find a lot of beaches along Lake Washington aren't used except the major ones. There is a rocky little beach with a pier at the south end of Lake Washington BLVD park and I never see people there. It's my go to place.
@23 -- Tacoma and Olympia have their own papers, dingbat.
@22 -- your link didn't work. what's the full name of the FB group? we can try finding it.
@20 Um you're right, if it just says No Trespassing. I guess there are different types of No Trespassing Signs, I was thinking of ones that I've seen that say "No Trespassing, Private Property."

@21 And I guess your First World problem is that you think people give a shit about what you think. IDK. But anyways, would you let people stand in your front yard, who you've never met, and just let them hang out? Why should my family have to do that, just because people are entitled to think they have access to my family's property?
@28--the Facebook group is "Friends of NE 130th Beach". Please also see the petition at http://savethene130thbeach.com/. There are over 2700 signatures! Thank you for your support!
Yep--Seattle's got some nice beaches and parks!
I was quite disappointed to see no mention of these guys' amazing book they devoted so much time to: http://www.reasonstogooutside.com/ They visited every park in 3.5 years and beautifully documented it in a field guide coffee table book. Get outside!
This is like something from the Seattle Times travel section. What the hell is going on at the Stranger these days?
As many have pointed out, the 130th beach situation flies in the face of this, to the great detriment of Northern Seattle. It is exactly the sort of social justice issue the Stranger pretends to be a champion of, but since it is happening north of the ship canal, I highly doubt they give a shit.
Not secret anymore, thanks to this revealing article. I guess we can expect more crowds.
The federal law says all navigable waterways are highway. This goes to and past the mean high tide. No beaches can be private, but some can be leased for commercial applications. The public has to bw granted access around these areas. Look up the federal wetlands and tidelands act.
@40 Go for it, but don't be surprised when you are arrested for Trespassing. That navigable waterways thing only applies if you are in a boat. What you are looking for is called Public Trust Doctrine, and so far, courts here have refused to touch it. Washington state very much has private tidelands to past the low low water mark, and will until a court rules them illegal. (No, I don't own tidelands, but nor am I interested in being the test case)
Public Beach stolen from We the People because of an 82 year old legal technicality.

I recently walked the mile down the stairs to where 130th meets the Burke Gilman Trail at the Shore of Lake Washington. The little beach there has been fenced off by privateers, pirates, sleazy 1 percenters. Essentially, a public beach that has been in use for nearly a century, has been claimed by a patent troll lawyer and a construction contractor who have property on either side if the beach. they fought it in court and won. Seattle has the right to claim 'eminent domain' for use of the public good.

To find out more details search for 'Save Our Beach". You'll be infuriated.
@39 - I know, right?... Luckily Eli Sanders didn't mention Howell Street Beach. That would have been terrible for Howell Street Beach if it were in the article. Hopefully no more people will find out about Howell Street Beach!


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