by Yves Colon
Teresa Malone’s small kitchen table looks across 90th Street at Soundview Playfield, a lush, green, park with baseball diamonds, tennis courts and a playground. Whitman Middle School shares the fields with community groups, families with toddlers and baseball players.
“I love the neighborhood,’’ says Malone. “Who else gets to live across this beautiful park? There is a real sense of community here. I get to see kids walking to school, singing songs. That’s the beauty of neighborhoods like this.‘’
The kitchen table is crowded with bills that have to be paid, letters to be answered, along with other correspondence. That table is the outpost from where Malone sits and manages her life, along with the life of an older sister who has dementia and cannot care for herself.
“It’s been a hard road,’’ says Malone, 62, who moved to the Crown Hill and Olympic Manor neighborhood about five years ago, shortly after losing her condo in Bothell during the sub-prime mortgage crisis.
Malone got some bad news the first week of June. She will have to move again – in the not too distant future.
The duplex she shares with her two cats, Ollie and Rudy, won’t be there for long. Though the sale is not finalized, the duplex owner, she said, told her they had sold to a developer who has bought two adjoining properties and plans to build there.
Malone recently retired after 35 years with the Seattle school district. With rent at $1,400 a month, and health care benefits costing nearly $700 a month, Malone stretches her income with part-time work as a special education substitute teacher. Not too long ago, she was supplementing that with gigs at Seahawks and Sounders games. She had to give that up when she became her sister’s caretaker.
Her lease ends this July. The landlord, she said, has offered to let her stay in the duplex for another year in exchange for a small reduction on her rent. After that, she may sign a month-to-month lease.
“When I think about moving, my head can explode,’’ Malone says.
A bird watcher, Malone dreads moving to a studio without access to the outdoors for her two cats. She likes townhomes, but fears she will not be able to afford one unless she moves out of the city. That prospect frightens her because public transportation is not as readily available. It would take her twice as long to get her to her part-time work, she says.
Malone will have to move because the home she rents is being sold to a developer and will be torn down and replaced with new townhomes.
Her neighborhood, Crown Hill, was rezoned as an urban village back in the mid-late 90’s. Recently, city officials announced an expansion of the Crown Hill Urban Village, to include parts of Loyal Heights, Whittier Heights, Olympic Manor and Greenwood. Malone’s situation is a foreshadowing of what is to come with the largest upzone of single family properties in the City.
Two years ago, 22 townhomes replaced a church and an adjoining property at the corner of 90th street and 15th avenue. New townhomes are going up now in several spots throughout the neighborhood. Many of the new additions are lovely, creating more density while preserving the community feel.
The Crown Hill Urban Village Committee for Smart Growth, however, would like to see the City prioritize some planning and infrastructure to accompany the increasing density of the community. The group has been recommending that the planned growth be encouraged through incentives along busy arterials such as 85th and 15th, leaving intact residential neighborhoods like the one where Malone lives.
Malone grew up all over Seattle. At one time, she says, the family lived near the Woodland Park Zoo, where she remembers learning to walk in the aviary. She has grown to like her new home, too, though it is slowly losing some of that old-Seattle feel. An older couple that used to live next door has already moved away, she says. The city is changing, she says, but she feels those changes are squeezing people like her out.
“They will ruin it if they keep doing it like this,’’ she says of city officials. “ The city is allowing this to be done. It’s on their shoulders.’’
She looks across the street at the park, and smiles. She believes that packing condos and townhomes among single-family homes will change the neighborhood. And all of it won’t be so good.
“There’s going to be expansive condos, wealthier people,’’ she says. “We have to take care of the people living here so we can have a community worth living in.’’
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Crown Hill Urban Village Committee for Smart Growth is a partnership between Crown Hill Neighborhood Association, Crown Hill Business Association, Greenwood Community Council, Whittier Heights Community Council, and the Olympic Manor Community Club and many interested neighbors participating from around the Urban Village and proposed expansion area. Our goal is to influence the zoning and planning for growth in the CHUV so the outcomes are positive for our community and those who live in it.