Monday, March 29, 2010

February Real Estate Report

Steady as she goes

Good weather has always been considered a big plus when it comes to selling a home, and environmental conditions may have played an improbable-but-positive role on the local real estate scene in the first couple months of the year. Economic conditions, not so much. Nevertheless, Madison Park’s real estate market seems to be fairly stable, and the under-$2 million market seems downright robust compared to last year. These are the sales results in Madison Park for the month of February:


Sales: 7
Median Sale Price: $1,508,286
Average Sq. Ft.: 3,433
Average Price per Sq. Ft.: $507.16
Average Days on Market: 206
Average Discount from Original List Price: 9.7%


Sales: 1
Sale Price: $975,000
Sq. Ft.: 1,537
Price per Sq. Ft.: $634.35
Days on Market: 67
Discount from Original List Price: 0%

This compares to the two home sales recorded in Madison Park during February 2009, as reported by the King County Assessor. It’s interesting to note that the house sales this year varied widely in terms of their time on the market. One home sold after being listed for only three days—and at 100% of the list price. At the other end of the spectrum, a $1,600,000 house in Broadmoor sold after 673 days on the market—and at a 20% discount from the initial list price. Of the eight sales, three homes sold in less than three months, while three of the houses sold after over a half year on the market (each of these in Broadmoor).

The most expensive home sold in February was a $3,900,000, 3,200 sq. ft. Washington Park residence located on Lake Washington. The least expensive house was a $679,000, three-bedroom home located north of Madison Street. So it is still possible to buy into Madison Park for under $1 million.

But just barely. March’s inventory is pretty sparse on under-$1 million house listings. Of 51 listings, there are only five that are in that price range—and two of these, just barely so ($975,000). The median price (the point at which half are priced lower and half higher) is $1,895,000, which is pretty much where it’s been for the past year or so. Most of the inventory is in Washington Park and Broadmoor. Although the rest of Madison Park constitutes more than half of the total residences in the neighborhood, there are only 13 houses listed for sale in the “North of Madison, East of Broadmoor” section, representing only 25% of total listings. These houses are not cheap, either, with a median price of $1,295,000.

There were 15 new listings, including 12 houses, since our last report. There are currently 71 listings in Madison Park, including 18 condos and one duplex. The by-far most expensive home on the market is this impressive-if-austere sawn Texas limestone house (466 39th Avenue E.). The Stuart Silk-designed 6,600 sq. ft. residence was built in 2009 and sits serenly on Lake Washington (Windermere Real Estate’s handy mortgage calculator reports that you can buy this house with monthly payments of only $55,399, assuming a 5% interest rate and 20% down).

The least expensive listed house is this 1926 stucco 770 sq. ft. two-bed/one-bathroom bungalow at $579,000:

I think the general mood among local real estate agents is pretty positive, although many of them are known for their professional Pollyannaism. Nevertheless, the picture in the Park seems to be fairly sunny. Pendings continue strong (15 properties were listed as pending sale as of March 19), and agents report that there are a lot of people looking—at least compared to this time last year. Good cause for cautious optimism.
[Upper photo: This 1930's Tudor listed at $1,750,00 is located at 1120 36th Avenue E.; middle photo was uploaded from the Stuart Silk website, hyperlinked above; lower photo uploaded from Redfin, also hyperlinked above. Special thanks to Wendy Skerritt of Windermere Real Estate-Capitol Hill for her assistance in compiling market statistics from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.]

Thursday, March 25, 2010

McGilvra’s new principal says ‘I’m loving it”

Though she’d only been on the job for seven weeks, I thought it was about time for me wander down to the old school and find out what the new principal has to say about her unanticipated mid-school-year assignment. Fortunately for me, Principal McShane was a good sport when I suggested it was time for us to have a chat. And when I sat down with her earlier this month to get her impressions, I found her to be engaging, energetic, and generous with her time. She was even candid, though I still did get an occasional admonishment: “please don’t put that in your blog.”

First of all, regarding the pronunciation of her first name, Birgit. “It’s pronounced as in birdJET,” she tells me, noting that the name (it’s Danish) was always a problem for her when she was in school. She arrived in America from Denmark when she was five and was sent off to school knowing little or no English. She’s a product of the Seattle Public Schools (Roosevelt High School) and lives in Ballard with her husband in a house they’ve owned for many years. She says she doesn’t mind the commute to Madison Park, but the getting up early to head off to work was a bit of a challenge in the first few days. She’d been retired for three years when the call came from the School District: ‘Would you be willing to come back and take on the principal’s role at McGilvra?’ She said yes, and she admits to no regrets so far.

Unsurprisingly, McShane was circumspect about the circumstances under which she learned that her days of sleeping in late were over. So I didn’t press her for an answer to exactly how long before her arrival at McGilvra on Monday, January 25, she knew she would be replacing DeWanda Cook-Weaver, who had vacated the principal‘s office the previous Friday. As we reported at the time, Cook-Weaver suddenly took an extended “leave of absence” only five months into the school year—with no public goodbyes. The issue was then (and still is) a “personnel matter” that the School District is unwilling for legal reasons to discuss.

McShane told me that she is a forward-looking person and doesn’t see any reason to focus on what may have happened before she arrived at McGilvra. The school is known for having strong parental involvement, and I wondered if McShane has found that at all disconcerting. Far from it, she told me. “Parental involvement is paramount to having a successful school. In fact I don’t know how you’d do it without that support.” She noted that her experience includes taking on the principal role at Daniel Bagley Elementary, a school that at the time had only a few active parents. She said she immediately began working to change that, and by end of her tenure there she felt that the school had one of the highest levels of participation by parents of any elementary school in the City.

As for McGilvra’s parents, she says she is pleased with them and hopes they’re as pleased with her. “I believe they are happy to have an experienced principal” in the interim role, she told me. “They’ve been wonderful, very welcoming.” She said that she’s had the same reception from the teachers and staff of the school.

But it’s the kids that she is enjoying the most, she told me. She says that one of the real fun parts of the principal’s job is taking on lunch and recess duty “because I get to be with the children.” On her first day in the lunchroom, however, she said it was difficult for her to communicate with her charges because of the noise level. She solved the problem with the introduction of a P.A. system, which has really helped with the interaction. “I have fun with it—and I hope that they are having fun with it as well.”

After seven weeks has she discovered anything that has shocked her about McGilvra? “Nothing at all,” she told me, adding “but I usually don’t get shocked.” She did say, however, that the intensity of parent involvement could have been shocking to someone who had not already experienced something like it in a previous position. She commented that she began her career as a Head Start teacher, and parents are highly involved with their children’s education under that model. With that background, she said, she’s developed a philosophy about being successful that starts with the idea that “parent involvement is not a threat.” What a teacher—or a principal—needs to do with parents, she noted, is “build trust.”

I asked PTA co-President Bob Steedman what the parents’ reaction to McShane is after her first few weeks on the job. “We’re enjoying her being here,” he said, noting that the parents have found her to be personable, professional, and very approachable. “She really took the bull by the horns” when she arrived, he told me. “She communicates well and has already resolved a lot of issues that we were having.”

Steedman reports that the teachers and staff of McGilvra seem to really like McShane, especially because she listens and then acts on their concerns. He also gives her solid marks on discipline. In his view, McShane knows how to lay down the law as principal, making the rules and expecting the students to follow them. “But the kids really respect her.”

Steedman’s bottom line on McShane: “She’s great, she really is. I wish she could stay.”

But that’s not in the cards. McShane is officially retired under the State teacher pension system and could not remain on “active duty” into the next school year. When she took on the “interim” principal role, McShane expected it might be an assignment of only a few weeks. Sometime before I interviewed her, however, she said she got a call from the School District in which “I was invited to stay” through the end of the school year. She said that she and the District agreed that she's a “good match” with McGilvra.

The process is now underway, however, to pick a principal for the new school year. A committee appointed by staff and the Building Leadership Team (BLT), composed of teachers, parents, and staff, will advise the District on the new hire. That role will include interviewing the candidates and recommending some of them to the Superintendent. McShane told me that while it is probably not impossible that a principal from another Seattle school could be a candidate, it is more likely that the candidates will be from outside the District or Seattle assistant principals or head teachers who hold principal credentials. The process is expected to last into April.
Will McShane be sad when it’s all over? She’s not saying, but I suspect it will be a regretful departure on both sides. “I love the action of being in school” she told me, “and I feel I can still offer something. McGilvra’s a wonderful place in which to work."

Monday, March 22, 2010

New meaning for the term ‘spec house’

The a 5,800 sq. ft. Georgian Colonial-style mansion sits prominently on a prime piece of Washington Park real estate, 821 34th Avenue East . Completed late last summer, the four-bedroom, four-bathroom house features 12-foot ceilings, seismic framing, a 200 sq. ft. walk-in closet, a sauna that seats 10, a 1,800 bottle wine cellar, and classic cut-crystal Bohemian and Murano chandeliers. It’s a $5,650,000 spec house.

The developers of the property are uncomfortable, however, with my applying that term to their masterpiece. By definition, ‘spec house’ simply refers to a house that has been “built in anticipation of finding a buyer, that is, speculatively.” But the practical implication of speculative development for much of the housing market right now is a glut of unsold houses nationally that continues to depress housing values and undermine the financial stability of many community banks. Thus ‘spec house’ has taken on some very negative connotations in the lower end of the market.

Speculative development, however, has been a prominent feature of the Madison Park housing scene for many years, as older homes—often debilitated houses and cottages—have been replaced one lot at a time with much bigger, modern dwellings. We reported last summer that spec houses represented a fifth of all the residences then listed for sale in the Park (exclusive of Broadmoor, where speculative building is not allowed). So there’s nothing new or noteworthy about developers building houses in our neighborhood without having specific buyers in mind. What is perhaps a bit different about the situation today is the extent to which there are several very large, very high-end spec houses for sale here, all located in Washington Park and priced at more than $3.5 million.

The Georgian Colonial is the most dramatic of these houses. It was built by Old World Elegance LLC, whose three principals, real estate broker Wayne Boswell, financier Danny Campbell, and architect Milan Heger, say they wanted to create a high-craftsmanship home in keeping with the essence of the Washington Park neighborhood. I recently toured the property with Heger, who told me that the house was “customized to our concept of what the new owner will be like: a person who respects history and culture, has joie de vivre, loves travel, and loves to live with references.” The concept was to create an old-word, European feel in a house with all of the modern amenities. “We never conceived of this as a spec house. It has been built with an idea in mind of who is my typical architectural client.”

Before he began designing the house, Heger said, he studied many of the early-twentieth century colonials on Capitol Hill in order to connect the historic Georgian style to that of Seattle. All of the interior woodwork and molding, he noted, was custom designed and milled to specifications. The red mahogany which encloses the home’s living room is Forest Stewardship Council certified, although not everything in the home is green. “We went green wherever it made sense,” Heger commented. In addition, many of the home’s elements are ergonomically designed, he noted.

The house features lots of marble, including the floor of the impressive entry foyer, and extensive use of tile work. The first floor “powder room” has, for example, a huge carved-marble sink, intricately inlaid tiles, and Venetian burnished plaster (which contains particles of marble). The master bathroom on the upper floor is definitely a showpiece, with a woven-pattern tile floor, and a shower that could probably accommodate six easily.

The house has a chef’s kitchen, a large entertainment room, a fitness center with steam room, an over-sized laundry room which can double as a staging kitchen for event caterers, a large home office, three decks, and the obligatory detached garage. There’s a grand wooden staircase off the main entry, a wireless backup to the wired security system, a residence-wide sound system, and a leaded-glass-windowed wooden wine-cellar door that was salvaged and refurbished from the original house that sat on the site.

Well, it’s quite a production, and one that will definitely not appeal to everyone’s taste. But Heger’s partner, Wayne Boswell, professes unconcern about ultimately selling the property, which has been on the market for about a year. “We’re looking for the right buyer to come along who will appreciate the value,” he told me. “We’ve created something special. I’m certain we’ll be successful.” He noted that the principal motivation for selling this house is to be able to do the next one. “We’re neighborhood oriented,” he added, “and Washington Park is the only place we want to be.” And he adds, “We don’t have any bank financing.”

Another “custom” Washington Park property currently on the market is this 6,330 sq. ft. house at 602 34th Avenue East completed late last year by Babylon Gold LLC, which has developed other luxury properties in the area. Listed at $3,750,000, the five-bedroom, four-and-a-half bathroom house features a gourmet kitchen with Calcutta marble counters, a home theatre/media room, multiple laundry rooms, wine cellar, and vaulted ceilings. It has been on the market 145 days.
Like most of the high-end spec houses on the market in the Park, the builder put a lot of attention into the details, making a strong attempt to integrate the interior with the house's exterior.

The one high-end spec house in Washington Park that has excellent views is the 6,990 sq. ft. “two-storey traditional” at 1217 39th Avenue East (shown below), built by a longtime Washington Park resident. Listed at $4,290,000, the house has five bedrooms, six bathrooms, a butler’s pantry, mud room, wine cellar, nanny’s quarters, media and billiard rooms, and an “open-concept” kitchen. It has been on the market 270 days.
This is the view from the master suite:

By my count there are presently five spec houses for sale in Washington Park and one spec house on the market north of Madison Street. At least one spec house has been sold this year and one has been withdrawn from the market by its builder, unsold. I am told that the owner is hoping to “wait the market out.” Another spec house has apparently been foreclosed upon by the bank that provided the financing, though that house is still on the market.

So obviously not every speculation works, even in Madison Park—which raises a question about what it takes to be successful when building a house for an unknown buyer. Real estate agent Guy Tobin of Madison House says he thinks it’s essential for spec builders “to get the details right” and not create something that is out of line with the other houses in the neighborhood. Jane Powers, a broker at Ewing & Clark, agrees, saying that quality construction and detailing are essential to success. “A spec house should be special,” she adds, “but not odd.”

Then, of course, there’s the issue of timing the market correctly. At least three spec houses are still in some stage of construction in Madison Park—and when they’re completed it may signal the end of speculative building in the neighborhood for some time. Financing is tough, the market here remains precarious, and developers have good reason for caution. For though it may not be true that timing is everything, it certainly is something.

[Photo credits: Georgian Colonial house photos by John G. Wilbanks Photography, courtesy of Old Word Elegance, LLC. 34th Street house interior photos by Buck Usher or Usher Creative, courtesy of Ewing & Clark. 39th Street house view shot courtesy of Redfin.]

Thursday, March 18, 2010

We could be living in Monroe Park

If you were paying attention earlier this week and cared to do so, you could have celebrated the 259th anniversary of the birth of James Madison, fourth President of the United States, born on March 16, 1751. It’s unlikely that many of us regularly reflect (if ever) on the fact that Madison Park was named—at least indirectly—for the Father of the Constitution. Though our connection with the President is a fact, it certainly didn’t have to be that way. We could just as easily be living in a lovely lakeside community named for the author of the Monroe Doctrine. Here’s the story of why this is Madison Park.

As all the histories of the area confirm, Judge John J. McGilvra (that’s him below) built the first homestead in what is now Madison Park. In 1864, during the Civil War, McGilvra either built or substantially improved a road from downtown Seattle to his 420-acre estate on the Lake, which he called Laurel Shade. According to McGilvra’s biography on Wikipedia, the road was known then as the Lake Washington wagon road, and from the beginning it was the only direct route from the salt water of Elliott Bay to the fresh water of the Lake. That’s still the case today.

But it’s not true, although many website histories make the claim, that McGilvra named the road that he had built “Madison Street.” The naming was actually done by Arthur Denny, a City founder and its first surveyor. According to photographer and historian Paul Dorpat, author of the “Seattle Then and Now” series, Denny needed another “M” street after having already named a Seattle street for his brother “Marion.” As longtime Seattleites know, the convention for remembering downtown East-West street names is the mnemonic “Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest.”

This method for remembering the order came later, certainly. The naming came first; and it was Denny’s idea to pair Seattle’s streets by the first letter of their names: Jefferson, James, Cherry, Columbia, Marion…” But then what? After naming these first five, Denny needed another “M” in order to keep the alliteration going. He had already used one president, Jefferson, for a street name. Why not another? Two possibilities existed at that time: Presidents Monroe and Madison.

Dorpat says that the answer was “obvious.” But I don’t see why. There is a SW Monroe Street in Seattle, but that clearly came along much later (it is far south of downtown). Denny could have easily chosen Monroe. But for whatever reason, Madison it was. And Denny was able to go from there to complete the string: Marion, Madison, Spring, Seneca, University, Union, Pike and Pine.

About sixteen years after the building of the road, McGilvra deeded about 24 acres for a park at the end of the road. In early pictures, the park is captioned “Madison Street Park,” and that was apparently how the Park got its name: the park at the end of Madison Street. Eventually it became simply Madison Park, and the growing community that surrounded it became the Madison Park neighborhood.

So that’s the story of why we’re not living in Monroe Park. Now you know.

[John J. McGilvra picture courtesy of the Museum of History and Industry, middle picture of Laurel Shade courtesty of the University of Washington Libraries collection, lower picture of Madison Street in 1932 courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives. Compare to the 1939 picture posted earlier on this blog.]

Monday, March 15, 2010

Butt ugly? You be the judge

We have a suspicion that for many civil engineers, the above illustration of what the new SR 520 floating bridge might look like as it transverses Lake Washington represents a thing of beauty. For it’s well known that civil engineers are more likely to be in the “function over form” camp than the other way around; and the new bridge does, after all, accomplish its principal mission of moving more vehicles from east to west and then back again than is true of the current bridge. So on that score alone, we suppose, it’s a job well done.

But here’s what the bridge looks like today, as viewed from the same Madison Street pier location:

Though it’s not a bridge deserving of any design awards, at least its profile is a relatively low one. But what about that new bridge? Is it likely to be a blight upon the water, as some opponents believe? And then there’s the bigger issue of whether the new bridge will even accomplish the purpose of improving cross-Lake transportation in the long term.
We’ve covered the 520 issue in some detail on this blog, but there’s much more to come. Since our last report, the bridge’s proponents have ramped up their efforts to convince the public that the project in its present form is a grand thing (see posterous), while the opponents have been equally vociferous in their outrage (although they apparently took their website down). The Legislature has also gone on record with a recent action approving a bill to allow tolling on 520 to begin in 2011. The majority of State lawmakers, apparently, would like to see work begin on the eastside approaches to 520 even if the design of the west side has not been finalized.

MEETING NOTICE: We will have another opportunity to hear about all of this at an upcoming community meeting to be held at Park Shore on Monday, March 22, from 7 to 9 pm in the chapel. The speakers will be Fran Conley, Coordinator of the Coalition for a Sustainable 520, and Ethan Raup of the Seattle Mayor’s Office, where he is Director for Policy and External Affairs. Meanwhile, you can learn more about the anti-Option A+ position here.
[As an aside, it is interesting to note that the beautiful and still utilitarian Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco was not designed by a civil engineer, but rather by a liberal arts major! The story is told in an excellent book, The Gate, by John Van Der Zee, which I highly recommend.]

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Beavers beware! Broadmoor to dredge

Though they’ve been given a couple-week reprieve so they can finish out their breeding season, the Madison Park beavers may soon be in for a rude awakening. Broadmoor’s plans to dredge around the golf club’s water intake pipe (shown above) have been approved by the City with the only restriction being that the project may not begin before April Fool’s Day. As reported previously on this blog, Broadmoor has a longstanding right to take water from Union Bay. The golf course utilizes pumped water from this source to help keep the grass green during the summer. The intake pipe for the irrigation system is located just off the pier at the 37th Avenue E. road end, within 40 feet or so of a beaver lodge which appears to be inhabited. As many neighbors have reported, beavers are very active in the vicinity.

To be fair, Broadmoor’s dredging plans have been scaled back significantly from what was originally proposed. The golf course had asked to be allowed to do a deep dredge within a twenty-foot radius around the intake site. After public complaints about the potential disruption to the natural habitat, Broadmoor agreed to limit the project's scope. Under the revised plan dredging will occur only in the area up to 17 feet to the west of the intake, up to five feet to the south, and up to six feet to the east. The depth of the dredging will be limited to six feet. There will be no dredging to the north of the intake so as to minimize the impact on the beaver population.

As noted in the City’s “analysis and decision” concerning Broadmoor’s dredging proposal, beavers are a protected wildlife species under Washington State law. However, “restrictions on development activity within the vicinity of a beaver lodge are not regulated,” according to the Seattle Department of Planning & Development’s analysis. Under terms of the State Environmental Protection Act (SEPA), the City issued a “Determination of Non-Significance,” thereby allowing work to go ahead. Broadmoor’s contactor must still obtain several other permits, including one from the State's Department of Fish & Wildlife, before dredging can commence. I was unable to get a return call today from the contractor to confirm whether all of these permits are now in place.

Residents of the area, including the beavers and herons, can expect to endure two to three weeks of construction activity once the project gets underway. A barge-based crane will utilize a clam-shell dredge to collect dredge spoils from around the intake site. The spoils will then be dumped onto a shuttle barge which will convey the residue to a storage barge located in the Lake, about a third of a mile to the east. The dredge spoils will ultimately be trucked to a new home somewhere in Maltby, Washington.

Gene Brandzel, one of the neighborhood activists who oppose Broadmoor’s dredging plans, is unhappy with the City’s decision. “After declaring the beaver a protected animal under Washington State law, today's decision has no scientific information that confirms that the revised dredging plan protects the beaver,” Brandzel told me. He notes that while the City said it would consult with “experts” concerning the potential impact on the beavers, there is no indication in the approval who was contacted and what those experts may have said. He questions whether the Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife has decided the plan protects the beavers. Unless that is the case, he said, “What alternative is left other than to appeal the City’s ruling? Someone has to step up for the beavers.”

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Arboretum to remove 34 mature trees as prelude to constructing the “Gateway to Chile”

Described by the Seattle Parks & Recreation Department as “the first major new exhibit in the Arboretum in almost 50 years,” The Pacific Connections Garden is an ambitious 14-acre project that will eventually feature five eco-geographic “immersion” forests within Washington Park: one each for Australia, New Zealand, China, “Cascadia” and Chile.
Located at the south end of the Arboretum, the Garden is about to enter Phase II, with construction to begin late this spring on the “Gateway to Chile” section. A significant number of existing trees will be removed in order to make way for the 72 Chilean trees that will be part of the new garden, located on the east side of Lake Washington Boulevard E., just inside the entrance to the Park.

This construction phase also includes the restoration of an existing park feature, the Holmdahl Rockery, which has become overgrown.

The Japanese Garden was the last major new exhibit to grace the Arboretum, so The Pacific Connections Garden, which is a large component of the Park’s twenty-year master plan, is much anticipated. It’s purely coincidental that the Chilean garden will be developed in the wake of the massive earthquake which recently hit our South American neighbor. As the Parks Department notes, the timing of the tragedy “imbues the project with special meaning to Seattle as we respond with the rest of the world to the crisis.”

Funding for the project comes from both public and private sources. The Arboretum Foundation contributed $290,000 toward the $450,000 construction cost, with additional funding provided by the Parks and Green Spaces Levy.

“Gateway to Chile” will display Chilean species such as Fuchsia magellanica, Chilean Fire Bush, and Pilgerodendron uviferum, a tree that can grow to be 500 years old--or so we are told. The Arboretum is inviting those interested in learning more about the project to tour the site tomorrow, Wednesday, March 10 at 5:30 pm (meet at the south end of the parking lot of the Washington Park playfield, 2500 Lake Washington Boulevard E.). There will be an additional opportunity to hear about plans for the project at a public meeting next Tuesday, March 16, at 6:30 pm in the Graham Visitor Center. More information about the project can be found here.
[Illustrations provided by the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation and the Arboretum. Map by the PI. Upper illustration by Mike Kowalski, courtesy of The Berger Partnership. Lower illustration courtesy of The Berger Partnership.]

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The crime stats were not so bad

The Seattle Police reported the City’s 2009 crime statistics a few weeks ago, and the numbers were not good. Violent crimes were up 12% year-over-year, while property crimes increased by 7%. But what’s the story for our part of town?

The short answer is that the trends our Charlie 3 beat of the SPD’s East Precinct appear to run counter to the City as a whole. This, in spite of the fact that I’d been reporting during the year that crime here was actually on the rise. That was true for the January through September period, but the fourth quarter showed a substantial decline, reversing the earlier trend line.

In line with the overall trend for major crimes, both burglaries and car thefts were down in the fourth quarter relative to the third quarter numbers:

Our area has very few violent crimes in any given year, with only 90 such crimes (homicide, rape, robbery and assault) reported during 2009. But this was actually a 16% decrease from the 107 reported in 2008 for our beat. There were no homicides and only one rape reported in each year.

The total number of reported major crimes in Charlie 3 was down during 2009, with only 571 reported versus 639 in 2008, a 19% decline.

Here’s a comparison of the major crime trend lines for Charlie 3 for the past two years:

So, while the crime situation did appear to be headed in the wrong direction during much of 2009, the cycle of crime last year was not that different from 2008’s. And the news for the year as a whole actually turned out to be fairly positive.

I’ll try to resist posting anymore “the sky is falling” crime reports (unless absolutely warranted).

[Photo of March 3 arrest on Capitol Hill by D G H on]