West Seattle, Washington
That’s 13-year-old Liam Etheridge. His dad Mark Etheridge, an Admiral resident, sent the photo with this note:
After seeing how effective the crosswalk flags are at some of the crosswalks in West Seattle, my son Liam and I decided to try and make the very dangerous crosswalk at California Ave SW and SW College St in the Admiral District safer. This is a busy traffic area and also a heavily used pedestrian crossing.
We investigated the local website for pedestrian news, bought the safety flags ourselves, designed a mounting system and bought the hardware.
On Sunday, 12/28, we mounted the holders and installed the flags. Within an hour we watched people using the flags and showing obvious approval of the new addition.
On Monday, 12/29 two of the eight flags were already missing. My son and I had learned from the pedestrian website to expect some attrition of the flags so we weren’t too concerned. By Tuesday, 12/30, all of the flags were gone except for one that we found thrown in the Blockbuster parking lot across the street.
I have to say I expected far better of the West Seattle community. This was supposed to be, among other things, a lesson for my 13 year old son on the benefits of community service. Instead, it became a lesson on the less fortunate aspects of human nature.
Liam and I have resolved to try again with one more stocking of the crossing flags. I cannot afford to continue to buy flags just so a few idiots can steal them and spoil things for the rest of the community.
And what possible use would anyone have for seven small orange flags? Are they practicing semaphore signals at home?
We received Mark’s note this morning; before we could publish it tonight, he sent this followup:
In a strange update to the story, two of the eight flags have returned, and highly decorated. One has a pretty good sketch of a bus almost running a guy down, complete with the “55” on the bus (correct route) and the caption “Don’t be this guy.” The other has a really messy green painted peace sign. Now my son and I are intrigued with what may happen next.
Here’s a map of the intersection in question. The city supplies flags for several crossings in West Seattle (including Yancy/Avalon, California/Dakota, and California/Dawson), and this is now one of several more where flags have been privately supplied by citizens trying to do a good deed.
(city graphic from 12/1 open house on the Fauntleroy Way proposal)
Another “we’ll decide by 12/31/08” delay: First it was the Alaskan Way Viaduct – now, on a smaller scale, we just got word from SDOT spokesperson Marybeth Turner that the Fauntleroy Way “rechannelization” decision isn’t going to be made by year’s end (as in, tonight) either:
Due to the recent severe weather, SDOT has shifted resources to focus on assessing impacts and clean-up after the storm. Because of this, SDOT is delaying making a final recommendation on the traffic lane configuration on Fauntleroy Way SW until the end of January. We appreciate the community interest in this project and we will send out another notice as soon as a decision has been reached.
Previous coverage includes:
Dec. 14: city posts Q-A on project’s webpage
Dec. 1: city “open house” about the proposal
November 15: In-depth WSB followup with a city engineer
November 13: First word that the restriping was being proposed
Followup to our report from the mayor’s post-storm briefing this morning: Just in case you wanted to watch for yourself – we uploaded the mayor’s entire 16-minute briefing, in two parts. We were sitting in the front row in the briefing room, and acoustics were decent, so you can hear reporters’ questions clearly, too. While our video just shows him, two other city officials flanked him at the briefing, though neither spoke at the podium – Grace Crunican, director of Seattle Department of Transportation, and Timothy Croll, director of solid waste for Seattle Public Utilities. First part above, 10 minutes long, includes his opening statement plus some questions; second part below, 6 minutes long, continues with questions – click ahead for that and also a bullet-point list recapping what was announced today:Read More
POTHOLES: As reported here, the city has crews out fixing those, and we asked for word of any West Seattle sightings. Brian just e-mailed, “I saw a crew of 3-4 working on fixing potholes on 35th by the fire station around 2 pm this afternoon.”
BUS SCHEDULES: In previous discussions of the challenges Metro and its riders faced during the snow, talk turned to the “partial-holiday schedule” that is in effect for this entire week (except tomorrow, which is a Sunday schedule). We first called attention to it on Christmas Eve after Metro’s Linda Thielke, who had been sending WSB info and answering our questions (as well as dealing with a host of other media outlets), e-mailed to say that she was concerned local riders didn’t fully realize this schedule change was ahead. Subsequently, some have been asking, when was that schedule change decided, and how was it communicated? We sought clarification, and here’s Linda’s reply:
Metro began communicating about the partial holiday schedules for Nov.
28, Dec. 26, Jan. 2 and Jan. 19 in September, when the new timetables came out for Sept 2008-Feb. 2009 service.
We had also identified an additional 8 days in 2009 when we wanted to run that kind of a schedule, if it seemed to work on these first four days. All were identified as historically low-ridership days; and will include the week between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve in 2009. The specific notification about those days will occur when the timetables for those periods are published.
Once the snowstorm began hammering our buses that were on the road, our vehicle maintenance staff said they would be very hard-pressed to run full service this week. They needed time for repairs and backlogged maintenance. We were already scheduled to run Sunday service on Thursday, Jan. 1 and partial holiday on Friday, Jan. 2, so the decision was made early last week to operate partial holiday schedule on Dec. 29, 30, and 31.
Agree it was short notice, and last week most people were more focused on the holidays and the actual snow on the ground than on what their bus would be doing the next week. Here’s what we did to get the word out:
–News release went out Tuesday, Dec. 23 and was also posted on county home page (it was mentioned in PI story on Wednesday, Dec. 24);
–Posted on the Regional Public Information Network (RPIN) on Dec. 23 and sent out via email/text msg to all RPIN subscribers;
–Mentioned as much as possible in live radio/TV interviews Tuesday through Sunday;
–Called out in e-mail to West Seattle Blog at 12:49 pm on Wednesday, Dec. 24;
–Audio announcements made on buses Dec. 26, 27 & 28;
–Rider Alerts posted Dec. 26 at the bus stops most impacted and all the buses;
–Updated information on Metro Online starting Dec. 26 (had to wait to see if we would be past the snow routing by Dec. 29);
–Another news release and phone calls to dailies and broadcast outlets on Sunday, Dec. 28.
We’d suggest that if there is a more helpful way that the information could have been delivered to you as a bus rider, this is probably a great time to suggest it. Here’s the form for sending feedback (the left-side menu on that page includes other options for contacting them); you will also want to let your King County Councilmember, Dow Constantine (who also chairs the Transportation Committee and has participated in earlier comment threads about this), know what you think – his contact info is here.
P.S.: One last county note, not bus-specific (except for the fact that the Customer Information hotline will be out of service because of it): This Friday is the first of 10 “furlough days” that King County government is implementing to help deal with its budget trouble. That means most county offices/facilities will be closed. Here are full details.
With 2009 just hours away, you may have your New Year’s resolution(s) ready to go; for many people, every year, the top of the list tends to involve getting your body moving. Today we welcome a new WSB sponsor who can help you with that: Jackie at Fusion Studio. As with all new WSB sponsors, we offered Jackie the chance to share details about her business – here’s what she wants to share: Flexibility and strength go hand in hand. At Fusion Studio, these principles are tailored to fit each client’s needs. Jackie works with a variety of individuals, with goals such as weight loss, post-rehab, core strengthening, and flexibility. She explains, “My training style is a mixture of resistance and yoga, which I find complement each other. Being in touch with our bodies can be hard work, but it should also be fun. Achieving a balance in our bodies directly translates to our lives.”
Jackie has worked as a Personal Trainer and Yoga Instructor for 5 years. At Fusion Studio, she is committed to teaching people how to tap into their inner and outer strengths and push beyond their normal limitations. “Shocking your body in a positive way is how you bring about change,” she says. Jackie has donated her services to fundraising events for ArtsWest and Schmitz Park Elementary as she believes strongly in giving back to the community. Contact Jackie today at 206-257-9640 to set up your FREE fitness assessment. This gives you the opportunity to learn about her training style and see if she can help you with your fitness goals.
WSB welcomes Fusion Studio to our sponsor team, which you’ll find listed on this page along with information on how to become part of it – growing your business while supporting West Seattle’s 24/7 community connection for news, information, and discussion!
Last night we mentioned a TV report on photos and video made public from several recent armed robberies at stores in Highland Park, White Center, and South Delridge, as well as South Seattle. Today we have the video and photos so we can share them with you here as well – this is a high-priority series of robberies that law enforcers are working to solve as fast as they can. The video above (which WSB uploaded to YouTube to post here, after receiving the clip directly from Seattle Police) is from the Gas Depot robbery (South Delridge) on December 11th, one of two stickups that night blamed on the same robbers; the other was at the Lucky Seven in White Center. Note how quickly it all happens – in the span of less than 30 seconds. Also believed to be the work of these robbers, about half a dozen other heists including the one five days later at Country Deli in Highland Park. To see a flyer with photos from the two December 11th robberies, go here. If you have any idea who these robbers are, there’s now a CrimeStoppers reward – 800-222-TIPS.
ORIGINAL 10:57 AM POST: We’re in the mayoral briefing room, 7th floor, City Hall downtown. The mayor promises a post-storm update, starting any time now. The trash-collection maps that have just gone up on easels near the podium are a hint at some of what will be discussed. You may find this on live TV somewhere, as all the stations are here (KOMO does a newscast at 11 am and its crews in particular have been doing more stringent equipment checks). If any stunning revelations emerge, we’ll add updates here – otherwise, stand by for a summary afterward.
11:05 UPDATE: The media packet just handed out pre-briefing says the city’s changing its salt policy and will use it in the future under certain circumstances. It also says “additional private contractors” will be hired for snow removal. They’re also speeding up the sand clearing from city streets.
11:23 AM UPDATE: After about 15 minutes, the mayor ended the briefing even though the questions hadn’t ended – including declining to answer a question about the Alaskan Way Viaduct. One of the last things he said was that those who have missed two weeks of trash pickup (including many in West Seattle who had Monday and Friday pickup dates) will get a rebate. He didn’t say exactly how much – so we are going to try to chase down a Seattle Public Utilities representative to ask for details. One striking thing he did say: The policy for priorities of street-clearing during snowstorms will not change – side streets will be on a “as we can get to them” basis – he reiterated that you have to be able to get to a primary arterial in order to get somewhere.
11:33 AM UPDATE: Just talked to Andy Ryan of SPU, before leaving City Hall – he says the details of that rebate have NOT yet been worked out – we’ll let you know as soon as they are. He also reiterates that if you have Monday-Wednesday pickup and they do NOT get to you by the end of today, be SURE to report it to the city because the special catch-up runs are still happening tomorrow (New Year’s Day) and they will be responding to those “you missed me” reports.
12:09 PM UPDATE: Sorry the “no comment” option was briefly on for this story – sometimes when working via Wi-Fi (as we were, at City Hall) that happens if an update “times out.” Fixed now, commenting is re-enabled. Also adding some of the collateral from the news conference – first, here is a city graphic of how trash collection will unfold over the next few days – click it for the full-size version:
We also are processing our video – look for a separate wrapup post with that – first, here’s the full text of the news release (not linked online so we’re cutting and pasting from what we got in e-mail):Read More
We saw them last night, and more than a few WSB’ers e-mailed after seeing them this morning: Lighted signboards at various spots around the West Seattle Bridge saying RAMPS CLOSED 12 AM-8 AM 1/2/09. We just checked with Marybeth Turner at SDOT to get the details: She explains, “Seattle Public Utilities is closing the ramps so they can clean the drains on the bridge. This is important to avoid potential hazards that could occur from ponding.” We’re still seeking more specifics on exactly where the closures will happen, in case you have to use The Bridge during those hours (in the short run, planning to use the low bridge may be your best bet), and will add whatever else we find out. 1:24 PM UPDATE: An official news release has just come out, and it has the specifics:
The Seattle Public Utilities will close many of the on- and
off-ramps on the West Seattle Bridge for drain cleaning, from midnight
on Thursday, January 1, to no later than 8 a.m. on Friday, January 2.
Drivers will still be able to access the bridge eastbound from
Fauntleroy Way SW and Harbor Avenue SW, and westbound from I-5, but
should plan their route considering exits from the bridge that will be
Metro Transit buses and emergency vehicles will be let through closed
ramps, but other drivers are advised to use the low-level Spokane Street
Seattle Public Utility crews will clean the drains on the bridge to
reduce the potential for hazards due to ponding.
Closed on- and off-ramps:
The Delridge Way SW on- ramp
SR99 northbound exit
First Avenue S exit
First Avenue S on-ramp
Harbor Ave SW off- ramp
SR 99 southbound to West Seattle Bridge
Delridge Way SW exit
Avalon Way SW exit
Admiral Way SW exit
-Across the bay, Space Needle fireworks are planned, as usual, unless really bad weather gets in the way. (The day after Thanksgiving, it was too breezy for the downtown fireworks that accompany the lighting of the Macy’s star, so here’s hoping the weather doesn’t get in the way of tonight’s show too – per the TV preview, the Fire Department makes the call. Last year, a computer glitch threw things off a bit.)
Just for the record. The National Weather Service crafted its late-night forecast to say it was expecting the strong wind to start around midnight; we’re just noticing it now, at 2 am. (Reference link which hopefully won’t be needed: Seattle City Light power outages are usually listed here.) 3:02 AM NOTE: 3 am NWS observation at Alki Point – gusting to 43 mph.
Mostly land use and real estate notes that we want to share now that storm-related news is ebbing:
EASTRIDGE CHRISTIAN ASSEMBLY BUILDING FOR SALE/LEASE: This is a recent appearance on the list of major West Seattle commercial properties on the market: Eastside is offering its Triangle location (39th/Oregon, across from West Seattle Bowl) for $2.6 million, or a $10,000/month lease. Here’s the listing; here’s the flyer.
LOCATION SET FOR KENNEY/4502 42ND DESIGN REVIEW MEETING: In one of our earlier non-snow news items, we mentioned that the Design Review Board meeting for The Kenney‘s redevelopment project and 4502 42nd SW, first set for 12/18 but canceled by snow, has been rescheduled for January 8th. The location’s been set now too — the city couldn’t book any of its usual West Seattle venues and asked if we had suggestions; West Seattle Christian Church (WSB sponsor), barely a block from one of the projects on the agenda, has come through and will be the venue. As mentioned in our earlier coverage, you can preview the presentations that will be given about those projects on 1/8, since they’re both on the city website: The newest proposal for 4502 42nd, which will be reviewed at 6:30 pm, can be seen here; the one for The Kenney, which follows at 8 pm, is here.
ANOTHER DESIGN REVIEW MEETING SET: Also from the city’s “Design Review/Upcoming” page, the next meeting for 2743 California SW (a medical/office building on the narrow site immediately north of PCC) has been set for 8 pm January 22. Here’s our report on the previous review last April; here’s the official project page on the city website.
(added Wednesday afternoon, surveillance photo from Gas Depot robbery earlier this month)
This story posted online tonight by KING features both surveillance video of robbery suspects and an interview with a man identified as a West Seattle convenience store owner who chased them out of his shop. The story is a little meanderingly told and we can’t tell which store (perhaps you recognize the owner who was interviewed?), but these seem to be the same suspects sought in the Highland Park/White Center robberies earlier this month (and a South Seattle stickup reported earlier this week on SPDBlotter). We had asked Seattle Police and King County Sheriff’s Office previously for any visuals that could be shared to help solve the crimes; if any of the images from tonight’s TV story are obtainable through police, we’ll get them and share them here. WEDNESDAY LATE-MORNING UPDATE: We have received those items and will be adding them soon.
(“Snowmare” scenes: December 23 video by WSB contributing photojournalist Christopher Boffoli)
Just a few hours ago, we had the chance to join neighborhood-preparedness advocate Cindi Barker of Morgan Junction in an impromptu City Hall conversation with City Council President Richard Conlin regarding Snowmare ’08, particularly the communications challenges and shortcomings. But we also talked about an incredible example of communication that worked: During the conversation, we were able to show him a few examples of how WSB’ers shared information with each other (in comments following coverage like this), when detailed, official information was difficult or impossible to find. Previously, Councilmember Conlin had told WSB yesterday that hearings and reviews were in the works, and we promised you we’d share the detailed list of those events as soon as it was available. It just hit the inbox; read on:Read More
Several new sponsors have joined WSB in the past few weeks – but our traditional “welcome” messages have been on hold while we focused on 24/7 weather-related coverage. Now – during a lull in the weather woes – it’s time to start welcoming those new sponsors. So today we warmly welcome one of WSB’s newest sponsors, Chill! Located in Morgan Junction, Chill is West Seattle’s seven-day-a-week massage therapy shop and modern apothecary, with evening appointments available Thursday through Saturday. Chill offers many types of personalized massage, including Sports, Pregnancy, and Hot-Stone massage. You can also choose from shorter sessions of Swedish massage, Reflexology, or a seated massage at the rejuvenation station, for those short on time but long on stress. Still giving holiday gifts since Christmas and Hanukkah were a bit snow-challenged? You can get gift certificates by visiting Chill‘s website (here’s a direct link to that page). Chill’s Massage Therapists are licensed professionals adept at providing excellent body work in a comfortable environment. Try Diana’s Signature Chill for a luxurious vacation; it combines an hour of soothing Swedish Massage with a half hour of foot Reflexology. Then take home some of their mood mists to keep the Chill going all week long. Chill‘s in a convenient spot at 6969 California SW (map); call 206-724-9555 and find them online at chillwestseattle.com – where you can even book appointments online! We’re happy to welcome Chill to the WSB sponsor team; the latest lineup is here along with info on how to become part of it.
Turns out the Alaskan Way Viaduct Central Waterfront decision isn’t going to be made by that frequently promised end-of-year deadline after all. Here’s the joint statement issued by Governor Gregoire, King County Executive Ron Sims, and Mayor Nickels:
“Representatives of Washington state, Seattle and King County, with input from key stakeholders, have made great progress on a recommendation to replace the aging Alaskan Way Viaduct by 2012. Since our last viaduct oversight committee meeting, there continues to be extraordinary stakeholder response to the list of potential viaduct replacement options.
“As a result of the continued overwhelming response and input on replacement options from stakeholders, we have asked our respective transportation teams to continue their review. Once this information is in hand, and working closely together, a final recommendation will be made to the state Legislature in January.
“The replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct will have a lasting affect on Seattle and the Puget Sound region. We only have one chance to do this right. It is imperative that we find the best option that addresses not only financing, but also solves safety, economic, capacity, and environmental concerns. I have heard from many businesses, small and large, local municipalities, elected officials, and residents that all have a stake in the future of this critical transportation system. We owe it to the residents of the Central Puget Sound to make the right decision.”
In our continuing quest to get answers to lingering questions, we asked the Seattle DOT about two things — what’s going to be done about the excess sand on the roads, and what about those raised lane markers that are no longer in place – here are the answers, from Marybeth Turner:
Our night crews are sweeping streets. We have six sweepers out each night. We started sweeping Saturday night in cooperation with Seattle Public Utilities to keep drains unclogged to avoid flooding. We will continue sweeping until we have covered all the streets we sanded. We follow the same priority as responding to snow–major arterial streets first. Also, we are giving priority to requests from Metro Transit and other agencies. It is a slow process–it takes more than one pass to pick up the sand. The sand is recycled–filtered and cleaned–by a private firm–for reuse.
Lane markings, including the raised buttons, took a beating during the storm. We will be addressing these during our annual street marking maintenance program. In general, the marking requires dry pavement. We will give priority to areas where the lack of markings is a particular safety concern.
She says you can report those areas of concern to 684-ROAD or by using the same online form you’d use for pothole reports (choose the “minor paving repairs” option) – find it here. P.S. The mayor’s having another media briefing about storm response, 11 am tomorrow. We couldn’t get to the one called on short notice Christmas Eve, but we’ll be there for this one.
This first came up in the WSB Forums today, and we just got it confirmed by James Rasmussen, the Duwamish Tribe‘s Longhouse and Cultural Center director, so we could post official word – the longhouse’s grand opening (on the eastern edge of West Seattle) is finally happening this Saturday (Jan. 3), 10 am. (added Tuesday night) Location: 4700 block of West Marginal Way; here’s a map. Rasmussen says the event will last about 2 hours, starting with a 10 am ribbon-cutting, including speeches from various digntaries and “a thank you from our chair Cecile Hanson.”
Two items from the WSB Forums that you should know about if you haven’t seen ’em already:
DON’T THROW SHOES, DONATE THEM! “Bob Loblaw” came up with a great idea to improve on social-network suggestions about throwing shoes on Inauguration Day (example here). Bob writes, “While I’m all for throwing shoes at the Federal Building on January 20, as is being planned on Facebook and elsewhere in ‘honor’ of our outgoing president, I’m starting to think it’s a waste of shoes. Any interest in a “shoe drive” that day instead? I’d be happy to load up the car with new children’s shoes and run them to a local charity in honor of our incoming president.” Interested? Here’s where to join in – he’s looking for ideas, suggestions, support if you’re up for it.
THE BEST OF 2008, AS YOU SEE IT: Yes, we will probably write the inescapable “West Seattle 2008 in review” item tonight or tomorrow, as we did, in ever-evolving style, in 2005, in 2006, and in 2007 (when we published several “Top 7 of ’07” lists). But much more interesting: What’s on YOUR best-of list as 2008 ends? WSB Forum members are discussing it here.
Just got a call from Ronna Charles Branch at UPS, even before we had finished combing the latest comments and e-mails (following up on the WSB discussion yesterday) for lingering questions to send her: She said they’ll be open tomorrow after all to keep catching up — that includes delivering ground packages as well as air. (Originally, UPS was going to be closed 12/31 as well as 1/1.) We passed two UPS trucks while en route to and from The Junction this past hour, so be on the lookout – they’re out there.
We haven’t yet heard of any plans for a big-splash formal announcement, but it had been promised time and time again that the decision on a replacement for the Alaskan Way Viaduct‘s “mile in the middle” Central Waterfront section would be made by year’s end. That’s a little over 37 hours away. Still enough time to put yourself on the record, suggests Le’a Kent – she’s the West Seattleite who spoke most loudly on behalf of the peninsula at the public forum two weeks ago (as we reported here). She e-mailed WSB this morning to suggest sharing decisionmakers’ e-mail addresses one more time — saying, “I realize there is not complete agreement from all West Seattleites about what the decision should be, but I think we need to get our voices out there” — so here are some contact methods/addresses for starters (let us know if you have one to add):
Governor Gregoire, it’s a web form:
Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels
The National Weather Service’s latest forecast has a “wind advisory” in effect from 6 pm tonight till 7 am tomorrow. Read it here (that is the fixed link for the metro-area forecast, by the way, usually updated at least 3 times daily). As of right this moment, Cliff Mass hasn’t posted his daily update, but he did write last night about how he and others failed to accurately anticipate yesterday’s “wind event.” 12:15 PM UPDATE: Today’s update is now posted – and he’s not as worried about the end of the week as some forecasters you might have seen/heard.