Ballard: 'Now I Don't Know What You Would Call It'
Ballard residents and locals from surrounding areas (and two from Clinton, Whidbey Island) crowded into the Leif Erikson Lodge in the heart of the neighborhood for KUOW's Week in Review summer tour stop.
Based on their reaction to the panel's discussion, most share concerns of the new normal in Ballard: development, and the aches that come with it, like transportation, parking and housing affordability.
We grabbed three from the audience to help us understand a little more about the flavor and trials of the historically "Norswegian" part of Seattle.
It wasn't hard to find passionate people to talk about the neighborhood, which would probably come as no surprise to locals.
"If you walk the streets people will say hello to you, it's a pretty friendly community. I think that's one of the best things," said James Tisdel, longtime resident of Ballard.
Raymond Williams has been a resident of Ballard for about seven years. He loves the overall feel of the neighborhood: low-key, but still with things going on.
He first came to Ballard because living on Capitol Hill became too expensive. But he found that the affordability struggle has followed him.
"It's totally seeped in. I think I will be priced out of Ballard soon," Williams said.
"I went to the rent control debates that happened earlier this week and that was one of the things that they brought up -- the fact that there's a lot of displacement happening. And I personally feel that if you build more apartments, the price isn't going to come down because they are catering towards the top renters."
James Tisdel has been a longtime resident of Ballard. Seventeen years ago, he said, the neighborhood was like a small hamlet -- few restaurants besides famous Ray's Boathouse near Shilshole.
"During those years [with] the development of condos and apartments it's become a very thriving city with a lot of younger people. We were the young people when we first got here and there was nothing to do. Now we're the older people and there's lots to do!" Tisdel said.
The influx of cranes has led to what Tisdel said is the biggest issue facing Ballard right now: parking.
"If you talk to most locals, the big deal is getting parking availability for all this development. That's what I think is going to get even more challenging as we go on," he said.
Tisdel was a supporter of connecting Ballard to downtown Seattle with a monorail and was sad that the idea was killed.
Alice Poggi has lived in Phinney Ridge since 1978. She said her neighborhood's development in just the last couple years, with the construction boom that came with recovery from the recession, is the biggest change she has seen.
"The new height the buildings are going to has really changed the character of the neighborhood," Poggi said. "The character is gone from the building, the streetscape has changed, and of course the traffic is impossible, parking is impossible."
She said that Ballard is important to Phinney Ridge because that is where many of Phinney's residents get their services. "It used to be a city close to our neighborhood, and now I don't know what you could call it."
Poggi described the development regulations in her area as "loose" and said that developers coming in aren't interested in maintaining the neighborhood's family feel.