Are Landlords Trying to Kill Small Businesses on the Ave?




The executive director of Scarecrow Video is one of the officers for the UDP ratepayer advisory board. Are you seriously trying to tell us that Scarecrow is the "deep pockets" trying to kill off small business in the U District?


the city itself is killing small businesses just fine on its own..


My biggest impediment to getting to the Ave is not transportation, it’s navigating the bodies lying on the street and the urine on the sidewalks.


So you spend almost the entire article writing about turning The Ave into a mall, as if that will somehow save the businesses during a pandemic. Maybe it will help. Maybe it won't. But you are an idiot if you think any of these businesses can operate with anything like the business they did before Covid-19 hit the states. They just can't. They all operated with huge numbers of customers. If you go into one of the great Thai restaurants, you will find yourself in a very small room, with lots of other people crammed together. They simply can't operate that way during a pandemic. Nor can the bars. Think about the Big Time. Hundreds of people standing around, with no room to sit down, on a Tuesday, at 8:00 in the evening. They can't operate that way now. It is unhealthy. No tiny addition of outdoor space will help. Most of these places are 100% takeout, because serving a handful of sit-down customers (all spread out) is just not worth it. If you've every actually spent time with a small business owner, you know that when times get tough, you let everyone go, and go back to doing all the work yourself (which means growlers, crowlers and take-out).

Then you spend the last couple paragraphs explaining how capitalist owners are trying to push out the little businesses, so they can build luxury housing. You are too lazy to even list all of the owners, let alone interview them. You decry the zoning on the Ave -- saying it will lead to a mass exodus of the small businesses, but you don't explain why. Maybe because, as of now, there are no plans to change the zoning on University Way. The zoning changes you fear will forever change the character of The Ave don't actually apply to the Ave. That could happen in the future, but Noam Chomsky could become president, too (tis the age of old folks). The point is, you are decrying something that hasn't happened, and probably won't happen. It is quite likely that The Ave actually will have more restrictive zoning, and becomes an historic district, making it difficult to change the buildings in any meaningful way.

Which leaves, then, the interplay between landlord and tenant -- a relationship you failed to explore while you were too busy jacking off to your writings about capitalism. This matters. This could be improved. But to do that would require actual reporting. Getting off your ass and interviewing landlords and tenants to see how they are handling this shit, and then figuring out ways to avoid the problems they face.


@3 The Seattle you see on TV is pretty scary, huh? You should try going outside more. Put on a mask, and go outside.


I think it's more that many landlords have been used to car traffic driving customers, and have not yet adapted to what the ST light rail station in the U Dist will mean in terms of customer flow.

Think back to when the ST light rail station opened at Husky Stadium, everyone EXCEPT THE STUDENTS STAFF AND FACULTY were shocked that bike users suddenly skyrocketed.

Same with the ST light rail station next to UW Tower. It will suddenly drive people from Northgate and Sea Tac to the U Dist. But very very few will use cars.

Change is hard for people. It makes them fear. Most people invested in property only see the very low rents and low usage rates for retail that exist today, they can't see how drastically it is going to change.

By the way, most young people WHO ARE AT HIGH RISK NO MATTER WHAT THE MEDIA TELLS YOU won't be getting COVID vaccines until much later. They don't belong to the traditional high risk categories.

But they should get it, because we all know students love to party. And party means not doing everything right, and then you wake up and wonder where you are and what you did.


Pedestrian malls are a uniquely 70's urban renewal-y sort of concept. And I've yet to see one that succeeded.

The Ave is dismal enough without taking traffic off of it.


@5, nah I live a mile away. There’s no reason that buying rice from HMart should require explaining Reagan era social policies to my 11 year old. What @7 said.


"And when it happens, it will give science enough time to impose the behavioral and logistical regimes that could conceivably have the virus under control by fall of 2021."

As @4 explained, those "behavioral and logistical regimes" are why small businesses on The Ave are struggling. The only way we can stop practicing those "behavioral and logistical regimes" are if we get a vaccine against COVID-19. That's the answer. Having a president who will work with the CDC, instead of constantly retaliating against the CDC for it constantly being right when he's constantly wrong, will certainly help us obtain a vaccine sooner and distribute it faster, but only the existence of an effective vaccine will restore businesses on The Ave.


@4 Well said.


Small businesses are very much represented on the UDP board -- Mr. Shiga and the owners of Shultzy's, Sweet Alchemy, and Cedars for example. Also the founder of Jet City Improv and the VP of the Neighborhood Farmers market association.

The UDP's position on this project was also clearly explained in their board meeting notes for September:

"UDP staff continued to ascertain business support for the “Summer on the Ave” group’s evolving proposal on a partial close down of the Ave between 43rd and 41st. Mark decided to withdraw UDP support for the proposal based on four significant issues: 1) a lack of significant support by the businesses in and directly around the two block area (we were uncomfortable with the representations by the group about the degree of support they claimed – it did not match our understanding); 2) the “Summer on the Ave” committee did not include significant representation from the businesses themselves – out of the 10 individuals on record as the “Summer on the Ave Committee”, only one owns/operates a retail establishment in the affected area and that individual is not a restaurant operator; 3) a lack of an operating plan that identified necessary resources, space management, security, and marketing; and 4) SDOT’s decision to reroute busses from 50th to below 41st in order to meet the proposals concept of a bus free zone from 41st to 43rd (to the best of our knowledge, little or no outreach by SDOT or the “Summer on the Ave” group had actually been made to the businesses and riders affected by this much larger reroute)."

Full board notes available here:

Encourage anybody with concerns about the nefarious intent of this organization to read a few months of board notes. I was quite impressed by what they are doing to offer proactive support to those struggling in the community.


@7 You refer only to this country, I assume, because pedestrian malls work very well in Europe.


@7 There are many pedestrian malls that have worked. In fact, if you want research or videos on it feel free to @ me in the comments. Obviously a very famous one is Burlington, VT. Times Square is now another one. In the Pioneer Square neighborhood Occidental square was also converted from road space to pedestrian space. You are right to say that a fair share have failed or that the motiviation behind them in the 70s may not be correct anymore. But that does not mean that giving space to pedestrians, ever, is going to "fail" because of your preconceptions on what a pedestrian mall actually is.

Here is a fuller list: