City councilmember in Pigeon Point to hear road-closure concerns

February 20, 2010 at 4:37 pm | In Pigeon Point, Puget Ridge, Transportation, West Seattle news | 15 Comments

(Updated at 6:10 pm after a conversation with the developer whose project’s at the heart of this)

ORIGINAL 4:37 PM REPORT: In the bright jacket, that’s West Seattle-dwelling City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who chairs the council’s Transportation Committee. Rasmussen bicycled up to Pigeon Point this afternoon to listen to neighbors’ concerns about effects of the 6-week road closure that starts on Monday so that a developer can run a sewer line to new-home sites on 23rd SW. First reported here 10 days ago, the closure not only will close a major route between North Delridge and Pigeon Point/Puget Ridge, it also will reroute Metro’s 125 bus (details here), which in turn means parking restrictions on nearby streets that are not in the construction zone. Most galling to neighbors – as noted here last night, when the signs went up yesterday, they covered an even longer stretch of nearby streets than had been announced by SDOT – and that’s what has neighbors most concerned. Jim S wrote in a WSB comment last night:

It’s frustrating to say the least. It feels very much as if the city has sold out Pigeon Point for a developer’s utility upgrade to the arterial. I understand that Riser Homes are paying the full ride on the sewer and storm drains on 23rd and that cost is considerable, but this has affected a far wider swath of neighborhoods than the average street closure. Closing virtually all parking on two of the three major streets in the Pigeon Point neighborhood without consulting the neighborhood is very unfair. It is a thoughtless, cookie cutter fix to a problem that required a more measured equitable solution.

This afternoon, Rasmussen met with about a dozen residents, coordinated on short notice by Pete Spalding (at right, below, with Rasmussen at left – note the “no parking” signs lining the road in the background).

It’s not just a matter of nowhere to park and driving a detour route, neighbors say, it’s also a safety issue – as hundreds of drivers detour, there’s concern they may go racing down streets where there’s not usually heavy traffic. And there’s a big-picture issue here: Notification. Everyone agrees that the homebuilder did what was required – notifying neighbors in the immediate area – but, as discussed at the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting last Wednesday, what’s required, may not be enough. In our video clip, you’ll hear Rasmussen wonder if there’s any way to hold off the project now, so that a meeting can be held with neighbors first:

There was no public word of the impending closure till signs went up on Delridge a week and a half ago; the signs seemed to suggest Delridge was closing for six weeks; a WSB’er named Pete (not Spalding) contacted us to ask what we knew. We checked with SDOT, which explained the developer’s plan – this Feb. 10th story resulted – and got him to add “23rd SW” lettering to the closure signs; the information about bus and parking restrictions followed, and Pigeon Point neighborhood leaders have been working round the clock to try to make sure residents are getting accurate information. They’re expecting SDOT reps to be in the area to monitor the situation on Monday morning, first commute period after the closure is scheduled to happen, if the plan doesn’t change in the meantime. (We also have e-mailed the developer to ask for comment.)

ADDED 6:10 PM: Got a fast response from Jon Riser, the aforementioned developer, who called after receiving our e-mail. He says, “This is a process that’s been going on for a long time. We submitted a traffic control plan back in November – it’s not a small, little, quick, throw-out-a-permit thing to close the road. It’s been a drawn-out (process) that’s involved Metro, city engineers, and my own traffic engineers. This is the plan they came up with that they felt was the safest.” He says he’s talked with Councilmember Rasmussen and that holding off construction isn’t an option – “I don’t see us not starting on Monday” — Riser says this phase of the project will be costing him $10,000 a day; “the contractor’s lined up and this all has been rolling for weeks.” But, he adds: “What I do want to do is, during the first initial closure, try to adjust some of this …” such as, seeing if buses can “turn directly onto 21st,” and adjusting some of the no-parking zone on 23rd for residents who face “some serious parking problems.” He adds, “Adding signs, removing signs … whatever we can do in the first day or so. … (And) we’re trying to get a couple police officers to be on site to help. … I’m trying to do what I can.”

15 Comments

  1. Was there a meeting with any council members last night? I missed that information somewhere. I also sent a post regarding a new contact with the SDOT. According to the Mayor’s office, Carolyn Jensen is in charge of the project at this time. We have left messages with her, but not received any response.
    I was relieved to hear Tom Rasumssen’s response and hope that we can do something to delay this project until we can get everyone involved able to discuss this further. There has been no notification, except from the blog. We received a hand delivered letter from the developer the day after the blog posting a few weeks ago and apparently there was another delievery today (which we did not receive.) None of them have mentioned anything about parking! I was told via email to contact Jon Riser later today. We’ll see if he follows up on his word.
    Please post if there is to be any other meetings.
    thank you

    Comment by mary — 4:56 pm February 20, 2010 #

  2. Mr. Riser returned my call immediately. He too wants to minimize impact on the neighborhood. I will go into the office Sunday morning to see if I can reach department staff to get some solutions underway asap. I am concerned about the impact on the neighborhood and transit operations.

    Comment by Tom Rasmussen — 6:20 pm February 20, 2010 #

  3. Nice bike,

    Comment by velo_nut — 6:42 pm February 20, 2010 #

  4. The more that I think about this whole thing, the more it seems to me that a critical piece of the puzzle is missing: Due process in terms of *community* involvement. It appears that all of the agencies involved followed S.O.P, but that’s what’s so troubling — that S.O.P on something as major and lengthy as this could completely bypass (sideswipe?) the people whom will be most affected by this. Perhaps, as this piece mentions, provisions to loop the neighborhood IN on decisions like this don’t exist right now with the current systems, but they should.

    Developers should be forced to acknowledge just how many “average Joe” citizens their personal financial ventures will affect, and make *reasonable* contingency plans for them. As far as I can tell, there’s absolutely NO contingency plans for the hundreds of Pigeon Point families and households that this affects! Where, exactly, are they supposed to put their vehicles during this re-route? (Squeeze all of them into 19th street?) That is completely unviable when this many people are involved.

    What about about all of the children who walk to/from school (at the Cooper/Pathfinder building) across these normally quiet residential streets? There aren’t even crosswalks across Genessee, where a score of busses will be turning back and forth from dawn to midnight. That’s a disaster waiting to happen, if you ask me.

    Comment by Kryptonite — 9:02 pm February 20, 2010 #

  5. I think the point is that SDOT is the public agency that should be the one involving the neighborhood.

    Comment by eileen — 10:03 pm February 20, 2010 #

  6. Eileen, I agree — but did they drop the ball here, or didn’t realize they even had it?

    Comment by Kryptonite — 10:55 pm February 20, 2010 #

  7. Is there a map that describes the work zone and is the new sewer being installed under the centerline of the road as is often done? (the turn-by-turn bus re-route pdf gives me a headache) I’ve worked through a fair number of sidewalk/street closure approvals with SDOT downtown and I can say that staff generally does a good job pushing contractors to minimize impacts. I can’t see public involvement in the process really helping much in most cases.

    I think SDOT staff may not be as focused on minimizing impacts to residential parts of the city where there sometimes just aren’t nearby parking alternatives. The biggest question I would ask is: “Is there some way to do the work in chunks that at least minimizes parking impacts?” The street would still be closed to some extent and doing the work in say 50 or 100 foot chunks would lengthen the schedule but it might allow people to at least park closer to their homes.

    Comment by ScottA — 2:12 am February 21, 2010 #

  8. ScottA, if there is, it hasn’t been made available to us, and I haven’t seen one go by on the Pigeon Point mail list either. I have only basic proficiency with Google Maps but even if I was a whiz and could make one representing what’s been announced so far, it may well change, since the neighbors/developer/Councilmember R are all now working to see what can be done. If there’s no word of any major changes by day’s end, I will do my best to crash something out that at least shows the driving route, since that will affect people beyond those who live on the affected streets … TR

    Comment by WSB — 7:39 am February 21, 2010 #

  9. what about residents who are disabled and unable to park/walk several blocks away–particularly with groceries, etc? Does anyone know if there were any contingency plans considered for these folks?

    Comment by nancy travis — 11:13 am February 21, 2010 #

  10. In reading the blog, I’ve seen that the permit requested from Riser says that arterial streets must remain fully open from 7-9am to 4-6pm on weekdays. If so, why isn’t this info listed on the signs on every street of P.Point? Does anyone know if this is accurate info?

    Comment by nancy travis — 11:28 am February 21, 2010 #

  11. The saga continues:
    Am I the only one wondering why/how 23rd’s closure got by the neighborhood with out a meeting in place first? And now Tom is trying to “reel” one in after the fact? I can’t help to think that the quickness of all of this was decided swiftly for $$ or a pay off. Pigeon point is not the only “neighbors” affected by this think of the ones that live actually on 22nd/23rd come pay us a visit Tom I am sure you would get some more feedback and ideas.Like oh what about mail delivery and garbage pick up? and the elderly that have to huff it up to 21st to try to catch the bus…

    The bottom line is… now this is old news..and the work is still going to happen regardless of the impact and inconvenience to the neighborhoods. I think the process for filing for a permit should be looked into. regarding impact to usage/ traffic volumes and the amount of time to give warning. Expand the time to notify the neighborhood “respectfully” JD Riser told me statutorily he only needed to give 5 days notice by requirement. He also said due to the impact he would give “10″ days notice..I think the neighborhood should receive payment of a inconvenience fee. We all have to adjust to the developers needs…

    Comment by 3dogslater — 12:00 pm February 21, 2010 #

  12. 3dogs, I asked CM Rasmussen’s staff about this on Thursday – specifically the notification issue – and they were going to look into it – as I wrote somewhere along the line, this has been an issue for other projects, like the gas-line work in Westwood – immediate-area residents got flyers, but the traffic implications affected many more people. I suggest (which you probably have done already) e-mail to city councilmembers – CM Rasmussen is particularly relevant to this issue not so much because he lives over here but because he now chairs the Transportation Committee.

    Comment by WSB — 12:06 pm February 21, 2010 #

  13. I still do not get this….I’ve been a pigeon pointer for a dozed years now, and have seen School Busses, Fire Fighting Ladder Trucks make there way through the neighborhood without incident…

    My other thought….if our rightly elected officials are always looking towards utilitarian ethics (best for most) in decision making, why not just kill the bus service until Jon finishes digging up the street?

    Comment by School Bus — 6:50 pm February 21, 2010 #

  14. best for most ? the buses aren’t exactly empty… there are quite a few people that take the bus… maybe you’re offering to give them a ride ?

    Comment by who do you think you are ? — 9:45 pm February 21, 2010 #

  15. Stopping bus service is just as unthoughtful for those who ride the bus as it is to those without parking. That justs deflects the inconvienience.

    Comment by Pigeon Pointer — 10:05 am February 22, 2010 #

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