Monthly Archives: April 2011

Celebrate Star Wars Day at the Pacific Science Center

May 4th,, the Pacific Science Center in Queen Anne will be celebrating Star Wars Day, which means you can join in on some Star Wars trivia or get $2 off your admission to the exhibit Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination if you are brave enough to dress up as your favorite character! The exhibit, which opened on March 19th, features movie technology, costumes, props and models. Check out the exhibit May 4th and see a space-themed laser show and enjoy extended exhibit hours. Please visit the official website for more information on Star Wars Day.

City Council Approves Seattle Center Chihuly Exhibit

In 2008, the Seattle City Center in Lower Queen Anne got approval for a $567 million plan to renovate.  Plans included a new ice rink and amphitheater, among other things and the center had 8 proposals to fill 1.5 acre area at the bottom of the Space Needle.  A proposal for a 55,000 sf Chichuly exhibit was one of them.  The Chihuly exhibit will be a paid entry, drawing an expected hundreds of thousands of new visitors be a big money maker for the Center.  In fall of last year, the Seattle Center approved the Chihuly exhibit and early this week, signed a 5-year lease agreement with a base rent of $350,000 a year.  The Dale Chihuly exhibit is set to open in April of 2012.  A subsidiary called Center Art will build and operate the exhibit, covering all costs.  The decision to put in the Chihuly exhibit has faced plenty of opposition, too.  Many think that the Center should be more kid friendly and less “no touching”.   Some Seattlites wish they would have had a say in what will be replacing the Fun Forest.  I’ve never been to the Tacoma Chihuly exhibit (nor would I drive down to see it) so I’m looking forward to being able to see his works close to home.  I can’t say whether or not the exhibit was the best choice for the Seattle Center, but I guess time will tell.

Easter Egg Hunts in Queen Anne

Children in Queen Anne will be out in full force in search of the elusive easter eggs with goodies inside!  The Children’s Museum in Seattle Center will be hosting an Easter Egg hunt this Saturday and Sunday beginning at 8:30 a.m.  Admission is $4.00 per child.  In addition, the Queen Anne Community Center will host a Spring Egg Hunt tomorrow, April 23, at 10:00 a.m. for children ages 2-10.  Please be sure to bring something to hold the eggs.  Enjoy!

Foreclosure Fairness Act Signed into Law

On April 14 Governor Gregoire signed into law on HB 1362, known as the “Foreclosure Fairness Act.”  (Read Full Text here)  The law, which will go into effect on July 13, provides the means for borrowers to force mediation with their lender before a neutral third party.  Under Washington law, a borrower must receive a “Notice of Default” from the Trustee in their Deed of Trust to set in motion the Trustee’s Sale or foreclosure process.   Under the new law, a Notice of Default may not be issued until the borrower has been afforded the opportunity to engage in mediation. 

The mediation can afford the borrower the opporunity  to reach a resolution with the lender in the form of a loan modification, short-sale, deed in lieu of foreclosure or other compromise as agreed upon by the parties.  If the borrower responds timely to the mediation option, they are given up to an extra 90 days to conduct the mediation before the Notice of Default can be issued.  

As an attorney who has represented borrowers in short sales and wrongful foreclosure actions I think there are two ways to look at the new law.  The positive view is that Lenders must have a representative physically present at the mediation.  Additionally, a lender representative with decision making authority must at least be present by telephone during the mediaiton.  Having a live body with access to the decision maker is half the battle and a huge source of frustration to borrowers who spend hours on the phone being transferred between departments.  This could lead to a more timely and streamlined process for borrowers to negotiate with the bank.

On the down side, one could argue that this just adds more delay to the inevitable.  Many will argue that the market will not turn around until the market truly bottoms out and the banks have foreclosed and re-sold the properties belonging to people who simply bought more than they could afford.  Adding 90 days to the process could prolong the sluggish status quo.

I think the law is a good idea because I have seen first first hand how difficult it is to communicate with a lender when there is no mandatory forum in which to communicate. So many borrowers have the means to get back on track but they lack a clearly identified  decision maker to contact in the early stages.  Hopefully the new law will give borrowers the forum they need to explain their individual circumstances and receive the attention and consideration they deserve.