By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Within a few minutes of the scheduled start of tonight’s North Delridge Neighborhood Council meeting, more than 25 people were in the small meeting room at Delridge Library – more than double the usual NDNC turnout. (Our photo shows only about half the room.)
Read on for highlights of that discussion and other issues/matters talked about tonight:
DESC PROJECT DISCUSSION: No new information on the proposal (discussed at a ) was offered – the point was to gather community concerns, as council chair Karrie Kohlhaas explained.
First concern from an attendee: “We don’t know all the facts.” Subsequently, a few of the known facts were listed – the number of apartments, the fact it’s expected to be a four-story building, with 24-hour staff, that the residents are “high-risk,” that the building is still more than a year and a half away from reality, even at the most optimistic timeline. What does that mean? one attendee asked. Answer: “At risk of dying on the streets.” An attendee identified himself as a DESC employee “here in an unofficial capacity,” but offering to help with answers if needed; he explained the Housing First concept (here’s how it’s detailed on the DESC website).
Other concerns: Is there any way to stop the project? Would sex offenders be allowed? (It was acknowledged that DESC’s Bill Hobson verbally agreed not to allow them, during the community meeting two weeks ago.) What services would be available for them? That was voiced regarding commercial services/amenities – the longrunning concern that Delridge has no grocery store – as well as social services – on behalf of the entire Delridge Neighborhoods District, its district-council chair Mat McBride worried that local social services are taxed.
What about safety? asked another attendee. The DESC employee in attendance said, “We know the criminal backgrounds of our tenants,” but “they are not excluded based on that.” Another concern: Since this area would be allowed to accommodate 77 low-income housing units, and this project would bring in 75, does that stifle other future development proposals that might include a few low-income housing units? The Delridge neighborhood plan came up – does this project fit into what it envisioned for the future?
The current concern about potential Metro Transit cuts came up. Would there be enough bus service in the future to serve 75 residents without cars?
(Other concerns emerged later – if the project does move forward, educating local residents about it, and its residents. Not long afterward, the shortage of emergency medical services in West Seattle was mentioned, and the fact the DESC residents might need more such services. “Our clients have had hard lives, and a lot of them die at an early age,” the DESC employee acknowledged. Then: “Will our property values go down?” asked a man. The DESC worker said he thought an analysis had been done elsewhere and would try to get the data.)
“Everything I’ve heard so far is rational,” said the DESC employee who was on hand. He advised attendees to go out and visit other DESC project sites (which McBride has mapped online here), to look for similarities and differences to the North Delridge neighborhood.
“So, we know the concerns – is there a plan of action?” an attendee asked council leaders. NDNC’s Patrick Baer said, “That’s what we’d like to hear from you – what do you want, to help you understand this better?”
NDNC’s Kirsten Smith said another meeting with DESC would be organized, since the same small room was maxed out at the first one two weeks ago, and an estimated 20-plus people were turned away.
Southwest Precinct Community Police Team Officer Jon Kiehn pointed out to those on hand that NDNC leaders are “just volunteers, citizens like you” – so, don’t expect them to “do something” – if you want something done, pitch in and help.
The bottom-line concern, as one woman summarized it: “This facility will define our neighborhood” if it goes through.
OTHER COMMUNITY CONCERNS: NDNC leaders also asked those in the room about “current community concerns.” One thing mentioned, police/911 weren’t getting enough calls about problems in Delridge. When to call 911? “If there’s somebody you think needs to be caught – something that needs to be addressed right now,” Officer Kiehn offered. “But if it’s graffiti you noticed a week ago,” that’s when the non-emergency line, 206-625-5011 would be appropriate. Overall, “If we are not making calls and letting police know something’s happening,” chair Kohlhaas said, “they won’t know … We’ve been told, if in doubt, call 911. … If we’re not giving them that data to log, they’re not getting the funding for additional police in our area.” She added that she has heard about businesses being afraid to call 911, a sort of intimidation. Baer suggested there’s a need for “undercover vice” activities in the area. “Seattle Police Department is very reactive,” answered Officer Kiehn. “We have to have people telling us what’s going on. … It benefits the community for the community to be telling us what’s going on. … That crime didn’t happen if you don’t call it in and we don’t eyeball it.”
Another concern: Pedestrian safety. Smith pointed out that NDNC can help facilitate an application for city grants, as it has previously.
Outreach was listed as a concern too – an ongoing one for North Delridge – “engaging neighbors,” having more meetings with more attendees and more involved citizens.
And ongoing transportation concerns – the lack of east-west transit connections enabling Delridge residents to get to central West Seattle to be able to take advantage of the services there.
“Please don’t let this be the last North Delridge Neighborhood Council meeting you come to,” implored chair Kohlhaas toward the end of the meeting (the NDNC meetings are time-restricted because the library closes at 8 pm).
A few other items:
LOGO NEEDED! If you are, or know of ,a graphic designer “who wants something for their portfolio, we are looking for someone willing to donate their skills to make our logo,” said Kohlhaas. The winning designer gets an I (Heart) Delridge T-shirt and $50 in gift certificates to local businesses. They will want to use it online, on letterhead, maybe eventually on T-shirts or for other “outreach items.” (Interested? E-mail email@example.com.)
NEXT ADOPT-A-STREET: 10 pm July 23rd, meet at the community center, tools and bags provided.
DELRIDGE DAY: This one-day festival is set for September 17th – same day as likely grand opening of Delridge Skatepark – vendors needed, donations needed, volunteer help needed. NDNC is putting it on for the first time; Amanda Leonard is the point person.
CANDIDATES’ FORUM: Karl de Jong talked about the candidates’ forum organized for July 28th at South Seattle Community College‘s Brockey Center, 6:30 pm ice-cream social (with candidates serving), 7:30 pm forum with candidates and issues from everything major on the ballot. Visualizing Increased Engagement West Seattle is what the organizing group is calling itself – watch for more on this and a few other upcoming events later tonight. “This is important stuff, and unless we come together as a community and voice our concerns, we’re going to continue being treated the way we’re being treated,” de Jong said.
NDNC meets the second Monday of each month, outside in summer (tonight it rained, so the meeting was moved back to Delridge Library).
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