Wallingford, Seattle and Earthquakes

Like Nepal, and unlike California, we live in a tectonic plate crumple zone. Here are 3 maps that zoom into our neighborhood, showing the risks. At a broad level, California and Oregon are shoving us into Canada:

West Coast

Unlike California, we are in a confusing crumple zone with faults all over the place

That crumple action means you can expect one of 3 types of earthquakes here. The most frequent and least serious type are like the 2001 Nisqually quake- deep underground with movement that will knock over brick chimneys, topple TV’s, and maybe collapse aging viaducts or a building in Pioneer Square. The second type is a magnitude 9 mega quake that will happen when the Cascadia Subduction Zone off the coast moves, similar to what happened in Japan. If that goes you will feel very long lasting and powerful waves from side to side, with most of the danger being to older, taller structures, plus tsunami flood zones along the coast. Finally, the most dangerous type of quake here in Seattle is a shallow quake nearby, most obviously along the Seattle Fault, with violent shaking leveling older buildings in large numbers:

Washington State

Fortunately subduction quakes are far enough away from us that they won’t decimate us like they will the Washington Coast

The Seattle Fault most catastrophically ruptured in AD 900, causing West Seattle to rise up by 20 feet relative to Wallingford and triggering tsunamis in Puget Sound. Regardless of the type of quake, Wallingford is fairly lucky compared to other parts of Seattle. We are not in a slide zone and are not on top of an old lake bed that is likely to liquify during the quake, so we won’t suffer from the worst amplified shaking:

Seattle Earthquakes

There’s a 10% chance that in the next 50 years Wallingford will have an earthquake that shakes us with more than 1/2 the force of gravity

In theory our earthquake communication hubs are Lower Woodland Park, the Good Shepherd Center, and History House down in Fremont. I expect my communications hub will be my back yard plus a transistor radio, or if things get really ugly then the satellite radio in my car, and my camping gear will help with the rest.

The building boom in Seattle has its blessings, because prior to 1980 there were no earthquake building codes in Seattle at all, and it wasn’t until 1992 that the Seattle Fault was discovered. As we watch 45th and Stone Way get plowed under, it’s worth being thankful that those old single story brick buildings are being torn down before being subjected to a major earthquake.

My understanding is that our public schools are up to code except for Lincoln, which is slated for a rebuild in 2019, but many private schools are not up to code as there’s no system forcing upgrades like there are in public schools. We went on a tour of a fancy private school and were surprised that nobody even knew if their charming 100 year old brick building had been retrofit. Even the real estate agents I speak with say that earthquake readiness doesn’t register with buyers, much less renters.

In general, retrofits are a lot less effective than new construction. Retrofits bolt houses to foundations and roofs to houses, but they typically don’t insert shear walls and other stuff that happens in new construction. So if you live in a charming old bungalow you may wish to befriend the Amazon employee in the modern McMansion next door so that they will let you in after the big one hits and it’s 40 degrees and raining outside.

Here’s standard preparedness things to be aware of:

  • Make sure everyone who stays in the house alone knows how to turn off mains for gas, electricity, and water
  • Attach stuff to walls so it doesn’t topple
  • Have first aid supplies and a fire extinguisher at the ready
  • Retrofit your home if it hasn’t been done already
  • Be ready for a week of being unsupported by society- no groceries, no fresh water, no medical care, no electricity or communications

Nearly one million people have been killed by earthquakes since 2000. Here is the list of quakes that have killed at least 20,000 people in the last 15 years:

Date Location Deaths Magnitude
3/11/2011 Japan 20,896 9
1/12/2010 Haiti region 316,000 7
5/12/2008 Eastern Sichuan, China 87,587 7.9
10/8/2005 Pakistan 86,000 7.6
12/26/2004 Sumatra 227,898 9.1
12/26/2003 Southeastern Iran 31,000 6.6
1/26/2001 Gujarat, India 20,085 7.6


Finally, I want to pimp a book that’s probably the best read I’ve had in the last 5 years. It’s a detailed account by the Seattle Times science reporter on how northwest geologists figured out our earthquake risks here. Here it is:



Updating Play Equipment at John Stanford School

Lucie Campbell and Greg Lewis wrote the following in the hope you can help them with a new playground at JSIS as part of the neighborhood matching fund process:

The south Wallyhood playground at JSIS serves 460 children every day and also is a popular playground for the surrounding neighborhood.

Community members and parents are kicking off a project to replace the nearly 20-year-old play equipment. Just for fun we wanted to share a few “old” photos from the playground – maybe you remember these days in Wallingford:

jsis long ago

Photo from 20+ years ago

jsis 1997

Photo from 1997 when the current equipment was installed

The equipment needing to be replaced was installed in 1997 and has supplied hours of fun to thousands of local children. But, it also has been re-welded several times over the years. Five years ago, a net climbing tower was added to the southwest area of the playground and has been a great addition…BUT the main equipment is ready to be replaced for the next generation of play. In the last 6 years the number of kids playing at JSIS playground has grown over 40% and this small playground needs more play space.

We are in final stages of applying for a grant from Seattle’s Neighborhood Matching Fund / Large Projects Fund and hope to gather support to move the project forward. (Note: The Seattle School Budget has zero funding for playground updates at our local schools – these projects are 100% volunteer run and funded by grants and donations.)

Here’s an inspirational “glimpse” at what could be chosen to replace the old equipment:

jsis possibility

Disclaimer: this is not the final choice, just one of the great ideas being considering if funds allow


As part of the playground planning, volunteers are working on ideas that include:

  • Replacing the old play equipment to allow greater capacity and more diverse play activities.
  • Making space safer and improving the flow of play by removing concrete walls & railings
  • Adding landscaping & art elements to liven up this space that sits right next to I-5.

One thing that really strengthens the team’s grant application to the Dept of Neighborhoods is to show many names that support the project. In particular we want to include names of people who might have skills to lend to the project (landscape architects, construction experts, manual labor to landscape and install new equipment). We need professional help with the artistic elements and the concrete removal and work.

If you have skills to lend, time to volunteer, or ideas, contact Wallingford resident Greg Lewis or post here. Or, even easier, just add your name to this growing list of community members who want to help in various ways:  www.SignUpGenius.com/go/60B0B45ABAC2CA02-jsis1

Stay tuned for further updates.  The grant application is due next week!

Remember “You Draw It” from the Sunday funnies? Well, now you can have that kind of fun again with Move Levy plans! Below are 2 pictures of the intersection of 50th, Stone Way, and Green Lake Way- one showing the way it works today, then a second with Cycle Tracks ready for you to design. You get to design 5 turning movements working in concert for cars and bikes:

Green Lake Way Bike Lanes

Below is the You Draw It version with cycle track entry points added. You can change any of the roadways, but they must connect to existing roadway lines at the limits of the picture. Cycle Tracks must connect to bike lanes on Stone since that’s where most people go. Throttling the intersection by adding a 6th signal just for bikes is considered cheating and will disqualify the answer. Use Copenhagen Turns, bike boxes, change the order of signals, put in a roundabout, add a draw bridge, Have Fun!

Green Lake Way Cycle Tracks

Here is a printable PDF version for you to play with. Print out it out, design the roadway the way you want, then scan and send your solution into Wallyhood at [email protected]. If we get a few good replies, we’ll post them!


Helpful & Healthful Programs at WCSC

Wallingford Community Senior Center is chock full of fun, informative and health-related programming in May! It all kicks off with our Spring Pancake Breakfast on Sunday, May 3rd – All ages welcome! Bring your friends & family for a hearty breakfast to support programs at WCSC. Learn some Spring Cleaning techniques at the “Less Stuff: More Possibilities” workshop on May 6th, attend the many health-related presentations we’re offering this month and participate in an exclusive dance class with the world-renowned Pilobolus Dance Troupe on May 14th!

Spring Pancake Breakfastpancake 9
Date: Sunday, May 3
Time: 9 am – 12 pm
Cost: $5 adults / $3 kids.

Celebrate the season by sharing a hot, freshly prepared breakfast with others in the community. Enjoy pancakes, French toast, ham, vegetarian sausage, beverages, and more! This event is sponsored by Windermere Real Estate, Seattle – Lakeview.



medicare 1Medicare Presentation
Date: Tuesday, May 5
Time: 10 – 11:30 am
Cost: Free

Get all your Medicare questions answered in this presentation on the costs and benefits of different Medicare coverage strategies. With Jim Yragui, Independent Insurance Agent.



Organization, De-Cluttering, Less Stuff: More Possibilities!organization
Date: Wednesday, May 6
Time: 1:30 – 2:30 pm
Cost: $3 members / $5 public

Learn ideas for sorting, prioritizing, and organizing spaces in apartments or homes; closets, bedrooms, kitchens, family rooms, attics, basements, garages, etc. Learn a simple system for dealing with mail, paperwork, and filing. Learn how and when to donate, sell, and give away items. With Karen Clifton, proprietor of “Unstuff Your Life.”




cpr 2Citizen CPR Training
Dates: Thursday, May 7
Time: 1 – 3 pm
Cost: Free. Donations for the Medic II Program appreciated.

Learn the latest valuable information about life-saving CPR techniques. Studies have shown that prompt bystander CPR more than doubles a patient’s chances of long-term survival. Though this is not a certification class, this training includes hands-on practice and discussion. Adult participants only. Taught by the Seattle Fire Department’s Medic II Program.



make the most of your dr visitMake the Most of Your Dr. Visit

Date: Friday, May 8
Time: 1 – 2 pm
Cost: Free
The dynamics of the patient-doctor relationship are changing. Today, it is more of a partnership where both parties bring their own agenda and work together towards a common goal. Learn tips and tricks to build this type of relationship with your doctor! With Audra Juraska, Health Coach at Iora Primary Care.




Internet basics 4Internet Basics
Date: Wednesday, May 13
Time: 1:00 – 2:30 pm
Cost: Free
This class will introduce you to the internet and show you how to use search engines, choose search terms, and evaluate websites. This class includes an introduction to online security. Must be comfortable using Microsoft Windows. This free workshop is led by the Seattle Public Library.




pilobolusPilobolus @ Play Dance Workshop
Date: Thursday, May 14
Time: 1:30 – 2:30 pm
Cost: Free

Experience new kinds of movement, creativity, and connection with world-renowned Pilobolus teaching artists! Designed for older adults with no experience in dance, the class is fun, interesting, and accessible for any level of physical activity. Participants will also receive a ticket to see Pilobolus perform at the University of Washington and get to meet the dancers!

More May programs to come! Look for an update in a couple of weeks…

For more information about these and other great programs at Wallingford Community Senior Center, visit our web site: www.wallingfordseniors.org , email us at[email protected] or give us a call at 206-461-7825.


The Wallyhood Calendar is updated with these events and more:

From 10 AM to 1 PM this Saturday is a gardening party at the Good Shepherd Center. Tara Macdonald wrote this up for Wallyhood:

Historic Seattle would like to invite you to visit the Good Shepherd Center gardens. For nearly 40 years the grounds around the Good Shepherd Center have been extensively maintained and developed to create a welcoming, serene, and interesting place for both center visitors and the community to enjoy. For those who have witnessed the changes to the grounds over the years, from the time it was a home for girls to the present, we would like to welcome you to share your stories.GSC Poplar

Some of you may be watching the changes taking place now and may be interested in what is yet to come. Our gardener is always happy to discuss the progress being made to keep the gardens beautiful. One new development is our volunteer work parties. Although utilized in the past, it has been several years since we have sought help and now the generosity of volunteers is very much needed. By volunteering you can help maintain a community asset as well as have an opportunity to ask questions. You will get to garden, which some of us consider a treat in itself.

You can also learn more about the gardens and the diverse and unusual plant collection, such as the Weeping Gray Poplars (Populus x canescens, a hybrid of White poplar and European aspen – Jacobson 2006, Trees of Seattle). To our knowledge these are unique to Seattle. The newly emerging leaves appear entirely white and seem to appear as pearls or lace against the backdrop of the brick building. They are remnants from when the building was still a home for girls. Although lovely trees, they are not recommended for home gardens as they have a habit of spreading quickly. Instead, you should take advantage of the Good Shepherd Center grounds to admire them.

Please RSVP to Tara Macdonald at the e-mail address below if you can join us:

[email protected]

At 7 PM this Friday the Meaningful Movies features “TARGETING IRAN” (71 min, Andy Norris, 2013). The movie “examines the many political, historical, economic, military and cultural aspects of the U.S./Iranian tensions that are not often discussed in the mainstream media.” Expect to hear a lot from Noam Chomsky.

This Sunday there’s free green home tour from 11 AM to 4 PM which looks like fun. Only a couple homes in Wallingford unfortunately, but many in nearby neighborhoods:


Next weekend is the Tilth Edible Plant Sale, so even though spring has long since sprung, hopefully you have a few slots left to grow stuff.

Cass Turnbull hopes you can help her save a beloved house:

I hope someone who is reading this is the person, or maybe knows the person,  who can save the house and garden at 4625 Eastern Ave North. It’s important. It’s keeping me up at night thinking that a developer is going to raze the garden, chop down her Heritage Trees and bulldoze that wonderful house–the likes of which will never be made again in Seattle—in order to build two or three MacMansions of the sort which are, unfortunately, commonplace. Marilyn’s Wallingford house  is a sort of legend among neighbors. People have wondered for many decades who owns that house, and what is hidden by the overgrown trees and shrubs. It has the air of a mansion in a romantic novel and it has cast a spell over many people. Other folks, the less curious sorts,  don’t even notice that something is there.

Bittman Exterior

The house is reasonably good looking and ample in size but not huge. It is a monument to deferred maintenance. The copper downspouts have been stolen, the irrigation doesn’t work, there is a tarp over the greenhouse, the walkway is buckled, a concrete retaining wall leans outward toward the ally.  But that neglect also means that everything is still original. The gutters are made of wood. The shingles are wood. There are original appliances in the kitchen. The outside is nice but the impressive part is inside–there is a painted mural and leaded windows, incredible wood work, vaulted ceilings, and bay windows in the study that open outward.

Bittman Interior 3I only got brief looks inside the house because Marilyn Bechlem, (only the second owner of the house) was an extremely private woman. Even those neighbors with whom she spoke regularly were never allowed inside. As I entered the living room for the first time, I stopped, looked around and said, ‘wow’. Marilyn said, ‘People always say that.’ I took in what I could while following Marilyn to the underground garages to get to the water shut off (I was going through a secret passage!). She took me upstairs to the bedroom so I could see if we could improve the view from her tiny balcony (a real balcony!) And after the diagnosis she finally let me inside to sit and talk to her because she could no longer walk the garden with me. By then I had become inordinately fond of her for some unknown reason. I did manage to make myself tell her that, though she might not know it, it was nevertheless true that she was a special person.

Long before seeing the inside of the house  I had fallen  in love with the garden, which was why I had been hired. It had been totally overtaken by invading holly, laurel, Oregon grape, blackberries, and vines. Beneath it all hid a collection of perfect,  60 year old ornamental shrubs and trees. My crew and I  worked there one day a month for over a year to dig it out. It was the secret garden and it was my job to restore it to Marilyn’s satisfaction—not an easy task. It was both hard and delicate work. Marilyn liked the overgrown look and was quite protective of every plant that the original owner, Mrs. Bittman,  had planted there. Marilyn, a spry 84 year old,  knew where each plant was and would walk fearlessly through the tangle on uneven ground to show us things and to check on our work. She could hear a comment made 15 feet away. So it was quite a challenge.

Bittman TreeDuring my tenure, I liberated two-story camellias, a ‘waterfall’ of rhododendrons, kerria, quince, the biggest silverberry I’ve ever seen, silktassle, purple smoke tree, spindlebush, a huge witch hazel, wintersweet, the biggest osmanthus, strawberry tree, stransvesia, and many more plants  including several  I could not identify. I discovered and cleared the path back to a hidden wooden gate, I found a very large birdbath, cleared around the greenhouse, and pruned a way back to a charming wooden shed. I wish I had taken photos. As I returned each month the garden slowly revealed  it’s hidden splendors. There was of succession of bulbs in the spring: avalanche lilies, fields of crocus, snow drops, and huge patches of hardy cyclamen (corms the size of tennis shoes). I talked Plant Amnesty arborists into donating a day of big tree work, $6,000 worth of work, for the giant sequoia, the coast redwood, the two copper beeches, the red oak, the three magnolias, two dogwoods, the snowbell, blue Atlas cedar and deodar, the gingko, the dove tree, the biggest tan oak in the city, and the most fabulous redbud I’d ever seen. It had moss covered trunks leaning horizontally over the field of foxglove, its trunks covered in tiny licorice ferns.

The garden still looks quite rough, as I was forced to stop by the occasion Marilyn’s passing. I felt robbed that she was gone and my time with her and the garden had come to an end. Truth be told, I was heartbroken. My intent throughout the process, besides keeping Marilyn happy, was to save the existing garden by bringing it back to good enough order that the next owner would not take a chainsaw and indiscriminately cut everything back. I hope I achieved that. And now, if only I can find the right new owner for garden and house, I will be able to sleep again.

Marilyn’s house is a block away from Seattle Tilth/The Good Shepherd center. It is due to go on the market any day now and it will probably sell in a couple of weeks. My real estate friend Cynthia said it could go for anywhere from $1-$3 million. Plus it will need many, many expensive repairs to restore it. So it needs the right buyer to save it. For them it will be a labor of love. But this is an easy place to love, I know I did. So I hope you are that buyer, or know someone who will be that buyer, and that you will contact the historic preservation people to express desire that it be preserved as a landmark:


Cass Turnbull, Marilyn’s gardener  206-783-9093

The real estate agent representing the seller is Patty Allen, 206-227-9139.

The real estate agent who will represent the buyer is my dear friend, Cynthia Creasey of Lake & Company. Cynthia specializes in ‘gardens that come with houses’. Her number is 206-276-8292

A few more photos are available here: http://www.shannonandpeter.com/BittmanHouse/



Hashtag-1Wallingford’s first recreational marijuana store, Hashtag, formally opened its doors for business on Monday at 3540 Stone Way.

Unlike many of its brethren throughout the city, the door isn’t manned by a burly door guard checking IDs, providing an immediately more open atmosphere. So too does the airy space, flooded with lots of natural light.

Selections include several strains and growers along with edibles and equipment. Prices per gram appear to start around $15, from what I could see.

The establishment joins a number of medical marijuana locations already in the neighborhood. If you plan to visit, remember that all marijuana stores operate on a cash-only basis.


Since I can’t say I’ve ever tried it (I know, I know), I’ll admit this article would be a lot better if written by someone who knew a bit more (by which I mean anything at all) about the noble weed. Maybe that person can help us out in the comments?
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