All posts by Wendy Hughes-Jelen

The New Legend of Smallfoot

Here in the Northwest the legend of Bigfoot runs rampant. The nearly 100-year old story is actually repeated on many continents with different names.

Now there’s a new kind of footprint, and I think we should call it “The Story of Smallfoot”, since it’s not a legend of lore, but reality. This new footprint should be smaller than a human’s, instead of the size of Sasquatch’s foot. Your “carbon footprint”, according to Wikipedia: “is a measure of the amount of carbon dioxide or CO2 emitted through the combustion of fossil fuels; in the case of an individual or household, as part of their daily lives;

A carbon footprint is often expressed as tons of carbon dioxide or tons of carbon emitted, usually on a yearly basis. There are many versions of calculators available for carbon footprinting.
This is directly related to the amount of natural resources consumed, increasingly used or referred to as a measure of environmental impact. Carbon dioxide is recognized as a greenhouse gas, of which increasing levels in the atmosphere are linked to global warming and climate change.”

There wasa great personal story in the Seattle Times today that I enjoyed and appreciated. I recycle and try to reuse things, too, but I admit not to the extent of this family. Read Simple Steps Reduce Carbon Footprints

Can you think of 3 ways to reduce your carbon footprint, today?

I can…

  1. Try to buy more bulk foods, so I can use reusable containers and use less packaging, that ends up in the recycle bin, but it would be better to not have used it at all
  2. Plant a garden to grow salad and other vegetables. It is hard for me to commit to this, this year, since I will be moving at the end of August – but I can dig up my plants and take them with me to start my deck container garden at the new place.
  3. Public transportation is real difficult for me. But I have started parking in a central location and walking to a bunch of different shops at once, for exercise and also to save the gas/hassle of parking in different spots. Last Thursday I had a massage appointment and I also need to go to a pet store, so I parked at the pet store, walked 10-12 blocks to my appt., then walked back and did my shopping (I had Sophia with me so we got some good exercise!). It only took about 15 minutes each way and I got my walk in for the day. I am going to try to do that sort of thing more often.

Spotlight On : Green Lake

This weekend has been great weather! Yesterday I took my dog to a large Italian greyhound playdate in Northgate and then about 10 of us met at Green Lake. It was jam-packed with people. We did find parking near the Small Craft Boating Center, but the walking path was crowded with people and dogs.

Recently a friend of mine tried to find a home to buy in this neighborhood and its surrounding environs. Their cap was $500k. That’s a lot of money. But it doesn’t buy you nearly as much as it used to. She said every house they looked at was a fixer, and she didn’t think she should spend half a million dollars and have to do a lot of work on top of it. I agree – but market forces are market forces. Green Lake is a high-demand area. It’s proximity to downtown, the University District, and the benefit of a 2.8 mile walking trail around the lake, not to mention all the great shops there, makes it a very popular place to live.

I noticed one open house sign as I drove around the lake. I didn’t have time to stop. But it made me wonder – are there more condos for sale in this area, or houses?

I searched NWMLS in a 1-mile radius around Green Lake. I turned up 77 houses and 24 condominium listings. But within those SFR (single family residence) listings, 12 of them were townhomes. Townhomes are truly the newest and most affordable type of housing in the Seattle area. The townhome listings around Green Lake range from 2 to 3 bedrooms, 1 or 2 car garages, and start at $340k, and go up to $650k (not quite as affordable).

Unfortunately my friend was already living in a townhome in Mountlake Terrace and wanted to get closer in and into a house with a yard (they have a dog and will be having kids soon no doubt). After looking for several months they finally found something – in Lake Forest Park, only 4 miles away from where they lived in MLK. Not exactly what they were hoping for, but they were ultimately happy with their decision. It was a newer home, with a single owner, and was in good shape. And it was a lot bigger than their townhome.

For me personally, I have done the house with a big yard and am ready to “downsize” into a townhome. What’s funny is the townhome is actually 200 square feet more finished space than our house, and comes with a 2-car garage, something my husband has always wanted. But even with nice neighborhoods like Green Lake, we choose to stay in West Seattle, where we have lived for nearly 10 years. The new High Point is a great community and we drive by our construction site often to see how it is coming along (it’s not supposed to be done until August).

Green Lake, like Alki Point on a sunny day, is very busy and I personally don’t think I would want to live there. But for some people, they love the water! See my selection of Green Lake real estate listings. Let me know if you would like to tour any of these properties!

Turn on the TV to find a furry friend

Turn on the TV to find a furry friend

The Humane Society for Seattle/King County in Bellevue will launch a new pet-adoption feature on cable television Monday and sponsor a low-cost spay-and-neuter day Tuesday.

The pet-adoption service, a partnership with Comcast Digital Cable, will air on the company’s ON DEMAND service. Comcast is already allianced with animal nonprofits in Denver, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Atlanta. Comcast will air dozens of video profiles of cats, dogs and other pets ready for adoption from the Humane Society, which is currently operating at full capacity. The videos show pets with staff members, who also talk about each pet’s personality and describe its ideal adoptive home.

The profiles can be accessed by going to the “Get Local” section of the ON DEMAND menu; an option titled “Pet Adoption” should be available Monday.

Those who don’t have ON DEMAND can view the pet profiles online at through the Pet Adoption link.

Adoption can cost anywhere between $20 and $100, depending on the animal. All dogs, cats and rabbits from the Seattle Humane Society are spayed and neutered; dogs and cats are implanted with microchips so they can be traced if they are lost.

For Feline Fix day, low-income cat owners can make appointments to have their felines spayed and neutered, which will cost $15 for males and $25 for females; free microchip implantation and registration is also available for all cats undergoing surgery. Appointments can be made by calling 425-641-0080.

In order to qualify for surgery Tuesday, cats must be at least 4 months old. FVRCP vaccinations, which protect cats from common viruses, are available for $10.

Earth Day and Green Spaces

Earth Day has been happening for 37 years now and it is more relevant now than it has ever been before. Having grown into an environmentalist over the last 10 years, Earth Day has special meaning to me. Normally I would be out working on a nature project somewhere, or perhaps teaching a workshop. Not this year. This year I was holding an “open house” – at my own residence!

Trading Green Space for Green Design
I recently toured The High Point, a new in-city development taking shape on the former Seattle Housing Authority “ghetto” land that was covered with old WWII housing and low-income tenants. Having been involved in affordable housing issues since becoming a real estate salesperson in 1999, I have closely followed this project, from its conception, to its successful funding, and now into the construction phase. All that remained was actually driving thru the new community and looking at it up close.

It was exactly 10 AM on a Tuesday morning when I happened by the Polygon Homes sales office, which had just opened. Polygon is one of five builders in Phase I of High Point construction (Iused to work for Polygon Management, when they managed apartment communities in the Puget Sound area). I introduced myself to the girl in the sales office (Ulyana) and asked to see a couple of townhomes just to get an idea of interior finishes and quality. I knew High Point was a Built Green (TM) development and had won many awards for its environmentally sensitive design and construction. I was impressed.

When I walked through the 3 bedroom 2.5 bath Dakota townhome, with 2-car garage, bonus room, storage, and laundry on the top floor, I immediately saw the solution for my own private problem. Our house is 10 blocks east and 12 blocks south of High Point. It was built in 1929, remodeled in 1966, sat on a quarter acre of a lot of yard work, and we were living on borrowed time when it came to maintenance issues that were bound to come up with a home the age of ours. Steve’s been working a lot of hours the last few months, and frankly has little interest in home maintenance and upkeep. I’ve been slaving in the yard for years, with a lot of pain for almost the entire 5 years we have lived here – they have been treating me for rheumatoid arthritis for 2 years and some weeks are good and some are bad. And whenever I am just sitting and relaxing I feel as if I should be out working in the yard or gardens.

Doesn’t everyone dream, for just a brief moment, to throw away all the responsibility and go live in a hotel? A brand new townhome in a condominium meant no yardwork, no home repair, and little other responsibility when it comes to work or travel. Oh, it was so tempting.

I mentally moved in. It didn’t take long for Steve to do so, either, and we wrote up an offer at the end of March. I was drawn to the modern, efficient construction and design, finish work, and the proximity to pocket parks, walking trails, and everything else I love about West Seattle. I really loved the idea of no more yard work. All of my friends have asked me but what about your garden? My answer? I will garden in pots. And shop at the farmers market. If I ever got desperate for that much gardening again, I could always get a p-patch later.

We received an offer today from a neighbor who also is a developer. He will subdivide our property and build another home here. I will miss my slice of country in the city. We’ve done a lot here, creating a certified backyard wildlife habitat and 5+ year pesticide-free zone. But not really. I am really looking forward to the new place and being part of such a vibrant, worthwhile, mixed-income community. When I am ready for my next volunteer project I am surrounded by opportunities – to work with the elderly, the infirm, or the young. And I will definitely be active with the HOA – both for our immediate condo community and also the master community. Steve is just looking forward to a garage and no more home maintenance.

It is okay to trade green space for green design. We will be reducing our physical footprint, and also contributing to a denser city – which is a big part of saving our big open green spaces…by not participating in suburban sprawl. Both our purchase and the sale of our home to someone who will build here contributes to a denser Seattle. And the development where we are moving to has been built responsibility and with the Longfellow Creek Watershed and Mother Nature in mind. It’s a win-win situation!

Welcome to Green Spaces Real Estate blog. It’s always been my personal and professional interest to figure out ways to live responsibly and greenly within my environment. This blog is really a blank slate where I can write about everything related to life and living – things to do with your dog, good walks to go on, fun parks to visit, innovative and green ideas for the home and garden. I have been serving as a resource for so long on these topics and this blog is a way to finally catalog it all and make it available on a wider scale. If you have suggestions or things you would like me to check out and maybe write about, please let me know! Post a comment. I’d love to hear what you would like to know more about.