Nordic Film Festival Comes to Seattle

You heard it here first- the Nordic Heritage Museum will present the fourth annual Nordic Lights Film Festival next month, the weekend of January 18-20. The festival will include documentaries, short & feature length films from Iceland, Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. The festival kicks off with a reception at SIFF at 6pm on Friday, followed by a film called Beyond starring Noomi Rapace from The girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Two Movie Tickets In Front Of A Take Clapperboard And A Reel Of Movie Film

Both Saturday and Sunday festivities begin at 10:00am, and have some wonderful films of note lined up, such as Silence, a drama about the 2nd World War, and how Finland was among one of the only nations to take home their casualties to be buried in their homeland, and Teddy Bear, a Drama from Denmark about a body builder from Copenhagen who has never known love. After his father finds a companion in Thailand, he goes on a quest to find a woman of his own.  Tickets can be purchased ahead of time for single day passes ($10), or entire weekend passes ($55).

No Charge November – Free Extra Leaf Collections

It’s half way through November and if you’re wondering how you’re going to cram all those leaves out front into your yard waste container, we have a solution! Through the month of November, Seattle Public Utilities is coming to the rescue, and collecting excessive bags of yard waste left by your container free of charge. They’re warning that the excessive bags should be filled with only leaves, and should be packaged and contained properly.

Seattle Public Utilities usually charges around $3.20 per gallon bags collected, but this month they’ll pick them up for free to help prevent drain blockage and flooding issues that could occur in the fall. Leaves can also be placed in your home compost piles, as their compost experts have determined that under most circumstances, you will not have to worry about contaminants such as gas or oil affecting the leaves. If you’d like to help the community and Seattle Public Utilities, sign up with their adopt-a-drain program to help clear Seattle drains of debris.

Seattle Apartment Vacancy Rate at All Time Low Now, but Will Ballard be Overbuilt?

Ballard Hjarta IIAccording to a Seattle Times article, apartment vacancy rates in Seattle are at an all-time low. In the past few years, the Seattle rental market, especially in Ballard, has shifted from a tenant-market to a landlord-market. What does that mean for people searching for apartments? High rents.

Using the basic economic theory of supply and demand, there hasn’t been much new supply. The amount of new apartments is one-third of what was offered in 2009. Additionally, demand is higher, MUCH higher. People who can afford houses are fearful to buy, so they are staying in apartments, despite the evidence that it may be more affordable to buy. Additionally (and this is my own theory), the economy is picking up, meaning more young professionals can afford to move out or live with fewer roommates than before. Demand has skyrocketed and that has caused the Seattle vacancy rate to be under 5%! The higher rents are definitely noticeable in Ballard.

Fortunately, Ballard is working hard to meet that demand. It is impossible to not see the cranes that dot the horizon as you look across Market or look up 15th or 24th. Tenants should feel some rent relief in the next year or so. However, some are worried that Ballard may be overbuilt. In my opinion, I think people will continue to flock to the neighborhood. But I’ve said that in previous posts. What do you think?

If you’re interested in seeing what’s available in the apartment market in Ballard and the surrounding areas, use the search tool here.

Is North Ballard Seattle’s Best Kept Secret?

Trulia recently released a report analyzing neighborhoods that locals look at but out-of-towners frequently look over in the daunting home searching quest. These would be considered a city’s best kept secret. According to the report, summarized in the Seattle P.I., Ballard’s zip code of 98117 is Seattle’s best kept secret. Encompassing Loyal Heights, Crown Hill, North Beach, Whittier Heights, and Greenwood, the 98117 zipcode offers quietly upscale homes without the expensive prices. Personally, I live in the 98117 zip code and think it is a fantastic neighborhood. It offers lots of restaurants and stores, yet still has a neighborhood feel to it.

What do you think? Do you think 98117 is Seattle’s best kept secret?

Seattle Funding Precinct – Liaison Attorneys

When there is a public safety issue or a chronic neighbor nuisance, it’s not always most efficient or effective to call 911. Sometimes, it’s best to go through a precinct-liaison program. Up until now, Seattle budget cutbacks have prevented funding to such programs.  According to a Seattle Times article, the Seattle City Council has restored funding to allow four attorney liaisons in  Seattle’s five police precincts.

For the Ballard area, your precinct liaison attorney is Jana Jorgensen. Starting in mid-February, you can contact her as a resource to solve neighborhood issues, like nuisance properties, feuding neighbors, and gang activity. Additionally, she lives in the North precinct, so she has a vested interest in the public safety issues of Ballard and the surrounding neighborhoods. With a precinct liaison attorney, it increases the police capabilities, using legal means to solve community issues. You can contact her at 206-684-7765 for your community needs, starting mid-February. To view the precinct-liaison attorneys in the other precincts of Seattle or for more information, please visit the Seattle Times article.

Free Ballard: Not from Seattle’s Snow

Free Ballard! After this weekend’s snowstorm,  Ballard doesn’t need to be freed from the snow. While snow hit neighborhoods across Seattle, Ballard received a mere dusting of “corn” snow by Monday morning. Here’s a picture I took before I left for work this morning.

There isn’t even enough to make a snowball. However, I would still advise people to walk and drive with caution. The roads can be slick and icy, as it is cold.

While I was receiving invitations on Sunday to join snowball fights in Ravenna, Ballard looked like this:

Ballardites, how did you fare in the first Seattle snowfall of the season? How does it look now? Leave your comments or pictures here.

Seattle Christmas Lights in Ballard and Beyond!

In today’s Seattle Times, there is a handy guide on where to see some fantastic holiday light displays in the Seattle area. For those of you in the Ballard area, you don’t have to go far. Check out the displays at these addresses:

  • 9234 13th Ave NW – This house has a fun display, with Santa on the roof, a skiing snowman, and a handmade forest!
  • 351 NW 52nd St – Using over 18,000 lights (WOW!), this property owner has a train, a 25-foot star, candy canes, a snowman, a Christmas Tree, and the list goes on and on…
  • Olympic Manor – This is a no-brainer for most Ballard residents but take a drive or walk through Olympic Manor to see some lovely light displays celebrating the holidays. The entrance is on NW 85th St. and 22nd/21st Ave NW or at NW 90th and 24th ave NW.
  • NW 75th St and 21st Ave NW – I was driving around the neighborhood and spotted a house around this location that definitely embraced the holiday spirit. If you have time, swing by and check this house out.

If you want to know where you can go outside of Ballard to see fantastic holiday light displays, check out the Seattle Times guide.

Post in the comments if you saw or made a great holiday display!

Embrace your Inner Ballardite at the Annual Yulefest

I’ve only been a Ballard resident for five years. Every once in a while, when I stand in the shadows of the new residential developments, I forget who originally settled Ballard: The Scandinavians. So, it’s great to have museums, like the Nordic Heritage Museum, especially when it holds Nordic celebrations. This weekend, the Ballard museum is hosting the annual Yulefest, according to the Ballard News-Tribune.

The Yulefest is a museum tradition and a fantastic event for the holiday season. There will be Scandinavian musical performances, with fiddlers, dancers and more. For the kids, there will be lots of crafts and activities, as well as a visit from Santa. The fest will also offer traditional Nordic food, including traditional Scandinavian sandwiches, krumkake (a Norwegian waffle cookie), lefse (a Norwegian potato flatbread), and the popular hot, spiced wine, glögg, as well as Nordic beers.

Yulefest is this weekend on Saturday and Sunday from 10am-5pm. For more information, check out the Nordic Heritage Museum website. Stop by for some Ballard fun. Skål!

Lady Bug Cafe and Red Mill Totem House Open in Ballard

Two restaurants opened in Ballard this past week. I plan to check out both in the coming weeks. The first one is the Lady Bug Café, replacing Rizzo’s French Dip on 73rd and 15th. It’s impossible to miss as the exterior is painted to look like a ladybug, with fire truck red and big black dots scattered across. Cute, eh? According to MyBallard, The Lady Bug Café will offer coffee and breakfast-to-go, opening before sunrise at 4:45am. It will also offer sandwiches and soups. If you liked Rizzo’s French Dip, don’t worry. The Lady Bug Café will have the same owner, Mark Hackett, who received his training in New York City.

The second restaurant opening up is Red Mill Burgers, replacing the Totem House near the Ballard Locks. Along with burgers, it offers fish and chips and clam chowder. I’m happy to hear that there is a business in the Totem House. I dearly missed the Totem House when it left. Red Mill Burgers should serve as an excellent lunch and dinner temptation for Stone Gardens climbers, visitors at the Ballard Locks, and those walking up from Shilshole. I can’t wait to check it out!

My Favorite Christmas House in Seattle

Christmas House

Christmas House

This house would make Clark Griswold green (like a Christmas tree) with envy if he ever visited Ballard.  Every holiday season I make it a point to go by my favorite Christmas decorated house in Seattle.  Before I do, I actually worry that the Ballard area house won’t be decorate: that they moved away, that they are getting too old, or they are just too tired to do all that work for one more year.  But every year, when I turn right from NW 85th Street and head north on 8th Avenue NW I can see the glow from the house almost 4 blocks away.  I can almost see the electric meter spinning out of control as a drive up to the house.  How the grid can take the power needed to light up this house – I will never know.

To the owners, I can only say thank you for decorating your house in Christmas lights every year.  It truly is my favorite Christmas house in Seattle.

And to everyone else, don’t just look at the pictures, drive by.

I did see a for sale sign by the house, but I am hoping it was for the neighbor’s house.  Because next Christmas, I want to come back and see it again.