Delridge DESC housing proposal: Community members dig up details

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Delridge residents concerned about the Downtown Emergency Service Center‘s 75-unit “supportive housing” project have obtained more information about the project via public-records requests, and we have a few new details too.

Four months after news of the proposed apartments in the 5400 block of Delridge first came to light at a North Delridge Neighborhood Council meeting (WSB coverage here; next-day followup here), documents posted by citizen researchers indicate the agency is close to key dates for greenlighting the project, such as a projected December 1st closing of the deal for property on Delridge. Public-funding decisions are being made; as reported here last week, the city Office of Housing says it has approved “up to $4.45 million” for the project, right after the state announced an award of $500,000.

The county is considering a grant as well; the advisory Joint Recommendations Committee was scheduled to make a decision at a meeting last week, but postponed it after hearing from Delridge residents who attended the meeting on Mercer Island to comment on the project. One of them, Karrie Kohlhaas, summarized some of the concerns that were voiced regarding the neighborhood’s characteristics:

*North Delridge is classified as a “food desert” with no walkable access to a major grocery store and no easy or direct bus service to a supermarket;
*N. Delridge lacks basic “day-to-day” amenities normally found in a developed neighborhood;
*The neighborhood is isolated in multiple ways… from topography (steep ridges bordering both sides of the neighborhood), to public transit (single route traveling only N-S).
*There are 3 gas stations/convenience stores within a block (2 of which are directly across the street from the proposed site)—something DESC Executive Director Bill Hobson has stated publicly is a negative influence on his clients.
*A preschool is on the same block as the proposed project and another school is 2 blocks away.

We talked today with county staffer Cheryl Markham, who confirms information originally reported by neighborhood advocates, that another JRC meeting is now set for 9:30 am November 17th to decide the DESC proposal, also on Mercer Island. She says the funding amount under consideration is $538,000. The final say on JRC recommendations rests with County Executive Dow Constantine, she says. She says county staffers plan to visit the Delridge site to investigate some of the concerns that were voiced, and will consult with city staffers, then will report back to the committee members (who are listed at the bottom of this page).

A key document has been made public in recent days on the website for the Delridge Community Forum, a citizens’ group which organized a meeting about the project last month (WSB coverage here). That document is DESC’s state application for funding, which reveals many details about the project – the links are all here. It even includes the purchase/sale agreement for the property on which DESC is seeking to build the project; the agreement is dated March 31st, more than two months before this plan came to light publicly.

Separate from Delridge Community Forum, an anonymous researcher started a website as “A Concerned Delridge Neighbor” (here’s our report from last week) and has just added new information to her/his site as well. The author calls out one specific aspect of the information in the aforementioned state application, regarding a waiver of city rules regarding how much subsidized low-income housing can be built in one area – here’s the new writeup on the “neighbor” site.

Some residents had been making the point that adding 75 more very-low-income residents to the area appeared to be against a rule prohibiting the concentration of extreme poverty in one area. And one document in the state application would seem to acknowledge that – a letter saying the city is waiving that rule, based on a future expectation of “market-rate housing” in High Point reducing the percentage of low-income residents in the general area. Here’s a screengrab of the excerpt:

The entire letter is about halfway through “Part 3” of the state application documents. It is dated July 21st, which was less than a month after DESC held its first and only, to date, community meeting – with a turnaway crowd at the Delridge Library branch – on the project. The application documents also contain a memo explaining why a waiver was being requested. Under the numbers DESC was originally quoted, it says, 76 more low-income units would have been allowed in the area – one above what the DESC project calls for. The revised numbers, say the documents, allow 63 – twelve fewer than DESC wants to build. But if 80 future High Point homes to be built for purchase instead of rent are added in, the number of allowable low-income units goes back up to 79, four more than DESC’s plan.

Other numbers laid out in the application: The land is to be purchased for almost $800,000; the project would cost $8.2 million to build, from a total projected project cost around $14.5 million.

In addition to the county funding that will be considered later this month, tax credits for the project are to be considered next year (a mechanism for raising investment money, as explained here); the building design will have to go through the city Design Review process, projected in the state application documents as happening this month, though no meeting is set yet, and DESC executive director Bill Hobson told WSB all they have so far toward that process is “very preliminary elevation sketches of the building.”

FOOTNOTE: Tonight, the Delridge Community Forum website added another document – DESC’s city application for funding. We will be reading it after publishing this story; you can see it and the other document links here.

66 Replies to "Delridge DESC housing proposal: Community members dig up details"

  • chas redmond November 2, 2011 (11:05 pm)


  • westseattledood November 2, 2011 (11:47 pm)

    Yup, it is certainly looking that way.

  • Brandon Node November 3, 2011 (7:18 am)

    Thanks for this great summary.

    Someone mentioned to me that the land costs for a commercially zoned propery of this size are stunningly low (under $800,000). Could this indicated that the neighborhood is in economic distress? Can anyone shed light on this? If you know anyone that works in commercial real estate, please reach out to them for some insight.

    Here is a more specific link about tax credits in Washington State:

  • seattle transplant November 3, 2011 (7:33 am)

    Office of Housing is banking on “when the additional market rate for-sale units” are developed in High Point. That sounds like a risky proposition to me.

    First – We are still mired in a significant housing slump, driving down prices of homes and stifiling construction. While there are positive signs, it will take YEARS to get back to the point where significant construction and emegration is taking place in High Point.

    Second – Haven’t we learned throught the credit crisis, and reckless government spending, that we cannot continue to plan present spending on spectulative forward forecasts? The assumption that “High rent” housing will be built in an area so go ahead and “over-populate” the low end of the specturm is a poor one, to say the least.

    My daughter(s) go to pre-school in this neighborhood. I don’t live there, but I go there every day and I don’t believe this project is in the best intrests of the community, especially given the information that has been made available.

  • AEL November 3, 2011 (7:50 am)

    Local concerns about poverty concentration seem to have numbers to back them. What is the city’s response? Nothing. Is the city refusing to acknowledge in hopes that we will go away? Why do I feel lied to? O yeah, because I was lied to.

  • Delridge Neighbor November 3, 2011 (8:01 am)

    If you are still convinced that this is NIMBYism, check out the census data at the Concerned Neighbor site:
    It is alarming. If you care about social justice, if you care about your neighbors “down the hill”, if you care about the welfare of the vulnerable population planned for the project, take the time to learn the facts.
    Good intentions do not make this a good project. Please send emails TODAY to the Office of Housing and public officials, before it is too late to stop the sale of the property. This project can still happen in a better place. Stop the freight train.

  • Brian November 3, 2011 (8:25 am)

    The mayor is more concerned about the protesters downtown than supporting the communities which need him the most. How can we move forward with this project when it is so clearly the wrong place for this service?

  • Tuesday November 3, 2011 (8:49 am)

    This is not surprising at all. Someone is ramming this through no matter what restrictions are brought to light. They won’t even follow their own rules. Welcome to a world where the few rule the many. But don’t worry, I’m sure they know best.

  • RL November 3, 2011 (9:12 am)

    My guess is that city is banking on this being an area without any wealthy/influential residents to complain or cause a fuss. Bravo to those who have done the research to illuninate what a poor location this is for a DESC facility. I hope everybody else is also voicing their concerns to city, county, and state officials.

  • Laurie November 3, 2011 (10:07 am)

    Plan now. Take off work on Thursday morning, 9/17 and let’s take a trip to Mercer Island for the next JRC meeting.
    Seriously, this wouldn’t be happening in Wallingford or Madison Park.

  • nr November 3, 2011 (10:12 am)

    As a resident of Delridge I am so impressed with how this diverse community is representing itself and researching how this project may influence the area. The fact that people are able and willing to travel to mercer island to voice concerns that represent those of the community is appreciated by those of us that are unable to do so.

  • John November 3, 2011 (10:30 am)

    “Delridge Neighbor” adds to the chorus of posts regarding information dug up by “aconcxernedelridgeneighbor” with,
    “If you are still convinced that this is NIMBYism, check out the census data at the Concerned Neighbor site:

    Fair enough and with no shenanigans.

    But three questions should be addressed in these denials of NIMBYISM;

    1) As all this (non-NIMBY) opposition is based solely on the issue of census data, would opposition to DESC be withdrawn if DESC revised the capacity to the allowed capacity of 63?

    2)”Seattle Transplant’s” claims of, “it will take YEARS to get back to the point where significant construction and emegration (sic) is taking place in High Point,” is just plain wrong.
    As I write this dozens of new homes are being constructed in High Point. I have emailed photos taken this mourning to WSB showing the activity, which I have requested WSB post to this piece.
    What will be the non-NIMBY response to this?

    3)Tracy’s piece presents the timeline explanation of how DESC started the process with the existing data and before the new data that has been touted here. What response do these opponents to DESC have to this explanation?

  • mcbride November 3, 2011 (11:41 am)

    Point of order – opposition is not based on the issue of census data. The issue of census data is that officials within the City of Seattle were disingenuous at best and outright lying at worst when dealing with the public they serve. That they seemingly bent or broke rules designed as safeguards for the public, willingly and intentionally. Let’s be clear about that.
    Opposition, in the context of the current discussion, is disagreement with the proposed location of this project on merit alone: this location is a poor choice for both the neighborhood and the clients it will serve. Statements supporting this assertion are consistent, and issue neutral (akin to saying “You should not place a free-range chicken farm next to the freeway, for reasons that should be obvious”).
    Regarding response, NIMBY is a dirty little word (acronym) designed to slander and draw attention away from issues and place it on individuals. As someone who regularly dedicates time to neighborhood activism and community engagement, I loathe that term (I can handle the fact that I disagree with you, and I will tell you so, but good on you for taking a stand). The fact is, there are a number of individuals outside of the immediate area of the proposed facility who disagree with the intended location – not its philosophy or intent. Let’s keep the discussion where it belongs.

  • LA November 3, 2011 (11:55 am)

    Kudos Mcbride. Anyone who is able, please go to the meeting on Mercer Island on the 17th. Let’s keep this up. They DO hear us. They might not be acknowledging it much, but we are doing right by our community by continuing the fight.

  • I guess I\\\\\\\'m heartless November 3, 2011 (11:56 am)

    Yes, there is construction going on in High Point, I just took a drive up there (I wanted to confirm for myself) none of it is taking place in the census tract (107.01) that DESC wants siting. Check out this map:

    The light blue legend of the map is “Under Contract” the land is undisturbed and also happens to be the boundary, for census tract 107.01 ending right along High Point Drive SW.

  • bkn November 3, 2011 (3:06 pm)

    My main concern is this project going next door to 1 no make that 2 Elementary schools at Boren (1,000 kids)! Putting “recovering” sexual predators, criminals, and drug addicts next to a school is just INSANE! And our local governments are paying the freight (BTW this is our money).

  • Karrie Kohlhaas November 3, 2011 (3:09 pm)

    Dear John

    The fact remains that current census data shows this project is in violation of the poverty dispersal policy. Using old census data is not justification to overpopulate one area of the city with people in extreme poverty.

    Reducing DESC’s project by 12 units would seem to put the project technically in compliance with the Poverty Dispersal Policy (for now), but it does not put it in compliance with the INTENT of the policy: to ensure that extreme poverty is not concentrated in one area.

    Census data shows that there are significant numbers of families living in extreme poverty and distress who are not even included in the policy equation because they are not subsidized by the government.

  • Karrie Kohlhaas November 3, 2011 (3:19 pm)

    Dear John Part II,

    A few other reasons that have been stated to question this project:

    • North Delridge is classified as a “food desert” with no WALKABLE access to a major grocery store and no easy or direct bus service to a supermarket, something mentioned repeatedly by experts is very important for this population.

    • N. Delridge lacks basic “day-to-day” amenities normally found in a developed neighborhood (pharmacy, bank, grocer, medical, etc.)

    • The neighborhood is isolated in multiple ways…

    • from topography (steep ridges bordering both sides of the neighborhood),
    • to public transit (single route traveling only N-S with no direct access to amenities in West Seattle or Westwood village). Some decision makers for county funding cited the importance of both of these points in deferring their vote on funding this project last week.

    • There are 3 gas stations/convenience stores within a block (2 of which are directly across the street from the proposed site)—something DESC Executive Director Bill Hobson has specifically stated publicly is a negative influence on his clients.

  • John November 3, 2011 (5:43 pm)

    Who classifies Delridge as a “food desert?”
    Many other West Seattle neighborhoods are also a “food desert” if walkability is the criteria. See Highland Park, South Park, View Ridge, Arbor Heights, Morningside Heights, The Arroyos, Fauntleroy, Beach Drive, Alki, Cooperstown (North Delridge), High Point and much of Gatewood.

    Many other West Seattle neighborhoods are also bereft of “basic “day-to-day” amenities normally found in a developed neighborhood (pharmacy, bank, grocer, medical, etc.)” Ditto above list.

    Many other West Seattle neighborhoods are,”isolated in multiple ways…
    • from topography (steep ridges bordering both sides of the neighborhood),
    • to public transit (single route traveling only N-S with no direct access to amenities in West Seattle or Westwood village).” Ditto many of the above.

    Please point to another neighborhood that does not have a convenience store or gas station? Off-hand, I can name, Gatewood, Alki, Westwood, Fauntleroy, Arbor Heights, Highland Park, Morningside Heights, High Point, Alki, Admiral, Morgan Junction, The Junction…

    “mcbride,’lets be clear that many posts do base opposition on the census data, just re-read them.
    And if you bothered to read Tracy’s piece above, it is clear that this process was started with what was current census data.
    If you have dealt with Seattle zoning regulations, you would certainly be aware of many inconsistencies and lack of transparency. That is one reason why we have the freedom of information request process, which I appreciate.

    Regarding NIMBY, I cite American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language Fourth Addition, -Slang “One who objects to the establishment in one’s neighborhood of projects, such as incinerators, prisons, or homeless shelters, that are believed to be dangerous, unsightly, or otherwise undesirable.” This definition fits many DESC opponents to a “T.”

    “mcbride’s” definition of NIMBY as, “a dirty little word (acronym) designed to slander and draw attention away from issues and place it on individuals,” appears as slanderous as his unique definition.
    Besides, I was carefully quoting and referring to “Delridge Neighbor’s” use of the N word. Please check the quotations.

    For further indication of false charges, just read
    “bkn’s” above claim of, “Putting “recovering” sexual predators.”
    This truly ignorant, slanderous and consistent with NIMBY innuendo.
    And if I self-identify as a IMBY, how would that square with your personal definition?

    The assumption that some people outside the area are also opposed, does not in any way lessen the many NIMBY responses.
    People here seem happy to write that they are against the type of social safety nets that help those with disabilities, and they can be people, “who regularly dedicate(s) time to neighborhood activism and community engagement.

    Lastly, as I was waiting in line at DPD today, I overheard someone describing another development project of 25 single family homes on the East side of High Point Drive.
    Those making the argument about the current census are playing the same game they accuse the officials of playing…they are using data that likely will not be accurate by the time DESC’s project is complete.

    I do appreciate it when we do keep the discussion where it belongs and would appreciate it if those “who disagree with the intended location – not its philosophy or intent,” respond to the many outrageous and false statements made by the NIMBYS.

    Now, keeping in mind the dictionary definition of NIMBY, I will happily entertain non-NIMBY reasons for opposition to housing for those less fortunate, those with disabilities.

  • Delridge Neighbor November 3, 2011 (7:10 pm)

    Hmmm…. for anyone suspecting that the Office of Housing is withholding information, I encourage you to look over the funding application posted on the Delridge Forum website:
    I need more eyes on this. It appears to me that the Office of Housing has (deliberately?) failed to include many items that should be included according to the table of contents, including information about project schedule, development budgets, project financing, and the now infamous “waiver letter”. If they have nothing to hide, why are they not providing all of the information requested in the public information request? The law states that they must provide it, or a reason why they are not providing it.
    Things that make you go hmmmm. I have emailed the hard working neighbors who volunteer for the Delridge Forum to double check that they didn’t fail to post something, but my fish-o-meter is going off. A project that is a good use of $14.5 million should be able to stand public scrutiny.
    What is the Office of Housing afraid of?

  • John November 3, 2011 (9:49 pm)

    Delridge Neighbor,
    Delridge Forum needs to be extremely specific in their Freedom of Information Requests. If they are not receiving all of the information as noted above, they should specifically make a formal request for each of those items.
    Until they do, they (and you) are just spreading innuendo and paranoia.
    Just the facts, Mam.

  • ray November 3, 2011 (10:15 pm)

    wouldn’t the fact that north delridge is only 63 housing units away from being a neighborhood that has more than 20% of its households in extreme poverty mean it is already imby?

  • Delridge Neighbor November 3, 2011 (10:21 pm)

    John, I think asking for the funding application is pretty clear. It is a discrete package of information. However, I have asked Delridge Forum to verify that the files are indeed missing and to request them again if they are.
    I feel that when time is of the essence, the Office of Housing may need a nudge to get the information out to the neighborhood “promptly” as the law requires.
    Truth be told, I am surprised that multiple requests would be needed.

  • Delridge Neighbor November 3, 2011 (10:35 pm)

    And please, check the posted information for yourself. Let me know if you find anything that is there that I missed, or other information that is missing. It is a lot of information to sift through.
    Thanks to neighbors who are making the effort!

  • John November 3, 2011 (11:10 pm)

    “Delridge Neighbor”
    Why play password? Just make the formal request yourself.
    And truth be told, we are all dealing with a highly entrenched government bureaucracy that has many seemingly irrational practices. It is never easy getting information and it is not unusual for it to be incomplete or just plain wrong. Fortunately, you are not being billed at $200 per hour.
    Besides all of this is just playing “gotcha” with an inherently leaning private and protective system.
    As my long post above remains unanswered, the question is on what non-NIMBY issue does your fierce opposition remain?
    This whole line of argument is based on finding out that our government is far from perfect.
    As I asked before, aside from all of this “gotcha” stuff, what is the opposition response if DESC just reduces the capacity to the presently allowed
    63 units and simply waits for the new housing in the works to catch up, and then adds another 12 units? I am sure that they are as adept at this numbers game as anyone else (and far more adept than I am).

  • Wendy November 4, 2011 (2:07 am) goes to a picture of the map of new area that Polygon Homes, who has been building in High Point since February, has exercised a right to purchase. As a Realtor living and working in High Point I estimate 3-5 more years before we may have all of High Point built out. The ratio of subsidized housing has been 4 to 1 since 2009 with the completion of Phase 2 rental units built by SHA. The intent is for it to be an even split at the end with a total community of 1600 units. Note, a lot of “owned” housing is also rented out instead, due to financial hardship requests.

    • WSB November 4, 2011 (5:46 am)

      The project to which Wendy refers has been on the Design Review docket for a bit at 6410 High Point Drive SW – as “administrative design review,” which means no public meeting. The project page on the DPD site is here; – it mentions 35 impending units.

  • Delridge Neighbor November 4, 2011 (9:29 am)

    Good news! I just got word that the missing Office of Housing files were mistakenly in the wrong folders. I am actually relieved that this is the case. There are good reasons to question the placement of the project, but I do honestly believe that the Office of Housing staff are good people trying to do important work.
    Thanks to neighbors for fact checking! I apologize for jumping to conclusions. Lack of response from OH to what I consider to be valid neighborhood questions has made me a bit suspicious.

  • John November 4, 2011 (10:18 am)

    6410 High Point Drive was indeed what I was referring to, but 35 not 25 units! These are at the Eastern undeveloped edge of High Point.

    I am delighted and proud of the incredible and formerly unthinkable transformation of High Point.
    Sometimes the government and social agencies do make wonderful improvements to our communities. I remember some of the concerns before the old High Point was razed, some people are just opposed to change, even for the good of us all.

    “Delridge Neighbor,” thank you for your post!

  • mcbride November 4, 2011 (4:27 pm)

    John, I’ve been giving your comments a lot of thought. Specifically, your invitation that those who do not support this project (for whatever reason), submit their argument, personally, to yourself. Initially, I wrote it off as hubris. Upon further consideration, I entertained the idea that you may actually hold a position of decision-making capacity in this discussion, and thus your invitation is sincere.
    Census opposition is the latest chapter in the DESC discussion. It is new information, important because it ascribes hard data to assertions that folks have been trying to communicate since the project was first announced – this is a fragile community. I invite you to conduct the additional research and reading that you espouse (enter DESC into the search function of the blog, which will yield 11,700 results, or start back in June and read your way forward:, where you will find that concerns regarding the fragility of the community are farther ranging than census data. Current census data in this case refers to a decade old body of work which was about to be replaced. You can wrap the letter of the law around this one, but it’s a thin blanket in a cold breeze.
    NIMBY is a slang word used to denigrate. I don’t like it. Feel free to self-identify. I still won’t like it. Use it to generalize/denigrate differing viewpoints into a blanket group with negative connotation, and I will in turn give your viewpoint all the credit it deserves. Supporters of this project have just as viciously attacked detractors as the detractors have of the project itself. Proponents state that services for the disadvantaged are good and necessary. Detractors state that they do not want this project, under any circumstances. Who’s wrong? Neither and both. But if you state your position in the form of an attack, you are contributing to the problem, and that applies to both sides.
    Regarding your specific challenge, allow me to begin by agreeing with you. This project has merit. There are documented returns on investment from city resources. It’s a pioneering treatment step that may help reverse disastrous decisions of the Reagan era. The funding exists and the project will be built somewhere. In return, I ask you to consider that, while we agree that the facility can and should exist, the proposed location is the wrong decision for the community that it will be placed in, and the population it will serve. The community is fragile economically. The land is outlined for a different purpose in the neighborhood plan. The negative social elements are not being addressed to the level which begins to adequately safeguard the fragility of the clientele. The facilities housing and serving children in the immediate proximity of the proposed location are not appropriate as neighbors. Infrastructure and basic services defined as success criteria for the project do not exist or are highly deficient.
    Consider that there are better locations and let’s build it. Seems reasonable enough.

  • John November 4, 2011 (9:32 pm)

    “McBride”, I do appreciate the way the discussion has been moving and all thoughtful responses.
    But I still must take exception to a few of the points you make and raise some you don’t.

    We should be able to settle on formal definitions of words. NIMBY is, “Slang “One who objects to the establishment in one’s neighborhood of…homeless shelters.” We are discussing the neighborhood’s objection to the establishment of a homeless shelter. That is text-book.
    People presenting NIMBY arguments rightly do not like being called for them.

    You make the unsubstantiated claim that, “Supporters of this project have just as viciously attacked detractors as the detractors have of the project itself.” This technique attempts to equalize all arguments without merit. I provided a sample from this string and I can list many examples from past posts that are truly embarrassing to a reasonable person such as yourself.

    As this process evolves, information about the census data is appearing to be a moot point. And many of these elements are guidelines, not legal codes.

    “Proponents state that services for the disadvantaged are good and necessary.” What can be “wrong” with that?
    “Detractors state that they do not want this project, under any circumstances.” What is right about that?

    “McBride,” your last paragraph is the heart of my concerns.
    “The proposed location is the wrong decision for the community that it will be placed in, and the population it will serve.” The first part of the statement refers back to the definition of NIMBY.
    Why is it the wrong location?
    And the second half does not make sense as the population that it will serve are its residents with disabilities. Virtually anyplace it is located alcohol and drugs will be available, just as they are in our most secure and remote prisons.

    “The community is fragile economically.” Right now the whole country is fragile economically. The Delridge area has recently and continues to receive more than other neighborhoods…new parks, housing, libraries, play fields, schools and infrastructure that have attracted positive new residents and convinced me to invest and work there.
    This “fragility” argument is vague and defies belief when one now drives down Delridge and compares it to ten, twenty or even thirty years ago. Granted it is a lower income area but compare it to other low income neighborhoods in our city, Rainier Valley comes to mind. Many of the OGs have already been displaced by newcomers to outlying areas such as Federal Way and South King County where rents are lower.

    “The facilities housing and serving children in the immediate proximity of the proposed location are not appropriate as neighbors.” This is another NIMBY argument that is not based on real world data and virtually every neighborhood can make the same argument.
    Closer to home, how has the Morningside Heights mental hospital located not quite next door to a day care facility, the Holden Playfield and the Hughes School destroyed that neighborhood? This facility is even closer to these children than the DESC building would be to Boren.

    The infrastructure and basic services criteria are definitely lacking in walk-able groceries and public transportation as is much of West Seattle.

    I would love to consider the “better locations” that you refer to. Please describe them.
    I can only expect that the same arguments would immediately be voiced by the communities that you deem the “better locations.”

  • I guess I'm heartless November 5, 2011 (12:45 am)

    “census data is appearing to be a moot point. And many of these elements are guidelines, not legal codes. ”

    So you’re ok with the level of poverty as long as it stays within guidelines which reasonable people have set up to disperse poverty that you’ll flout anyway.

    “This facility is even closer to these children than the DESC building would be to Boren.”

    So parents that worry about their children are nimbys. You won’t even know if you have a predator as a client because you don’t do background checks because that would be a barrier to the “housing first” model.

    “The infrastructure and basic services criteria are definitely lacking in walk-able groceries and public transportation as is much of West Seattle.”

    You want to teach your clients to do for themselves yet have to shuttle them around. If reintegration into society is not the goal then why not create a mega facility in the middle of nowhere?

    “I would love to consider the “better locations” that you refer to. Please describe them.”

    Tons of commercial properties (I believe “been there” has posted in prior comment sections) on the market you might not notice there is a recession going on whilst working for a pseudo governmental agency, why spend millions of taxpayer dollars to build something from scratch with all the manufactured raw materials , I thought this was a “green” city.

    In the end you want what you want, I won’t pretend I’m not biased and will cherry pick data to serve that bias, can you admit the same?

  • Karrie Kohlhaas November 5, 2011 (7:41 am)

    John, although I can appreciate, at some level, your intellectual sparring, I find it telling that you use the word “game” in this conversation. The irony of your “gotcha” statement is that it seems most appropriate in referring to /your/ approach.

    Either you have a ton of extra time on your hands with very little to nothing at stake in this conversation, enabling you to safely throw darts at my neighbors from behind your mask or,

    and this is of greater concern to me, YOU HAVE A LARGE VESTED INTEREST in this project that you are not disclosing.

    Your lack of knowledge about our neighborhood, disregard for those living here and your lack of research on the issues surrounding this project do beg the question of your affiliation with DESC.

    It would be most respectable if you were to disclose any affiliation whatsoever that you have with this project before pursuing your “games” with our community. Thanks.

  • Brandon Node November 5, 2011 (8:13 am)

    Seems someone in the City Council is listening. Has anyone noticed the letter and response posted on “a concerned neighbor’s site”? Apparently when the author wrote to the Office of Housing with questions about the waiver, Tom Rasmussen requested to be copied on the answers. See:

    Why is it that every other City department has countless meetings with neighbors but the Office of Housing has had none? Think about it: a neighborhood is getting a new park or playfield and we have meetings with Seattle parks, bus routes are being reconsidered or the viaduct is going to be closed for a week and SDOT and/or Metro is hosting meetings…there was a recent meeting to discuss the reduction of hours at the Delridge Community Center and I believe meetings in the late summer to discuss the service center closing near the Delridge library. It seems any time there is a physical improvement or a service change in a neighborhood, there is a meeting. Why is this project any different? Why doesn’t the Office of Housing need to meet with the public? Why weren’t neighbors given a change to weigh in on the waiver?

    Why was the neighborhood up on 35th allowed to reject the Skatepark proposal for their neighborhood? While the result of that is decision is great for Delridge, I don’t understand why that was an option. I may be wrong about this, but it is my understanding that neighbors didn’t want “the kind of people” that skateparks “attract.” How is that not discrimination? And, HOW many meetings did that neighborhood get to have about the Skatepark BEFORE a decision was made? Speaking of that, how many meetings did our neighborhood have to decide that we wanted the Skatepark on Delridge? Why is so much input allowed for this decision and not for one as significant at the DESC project? It is because it is an “outside vender” brings the project here versus a project being put in by the city? But that outside vender uses public funds…

    Speaking of skateparks, did you know that there is a “Skatepark Advisory Committee” that works with Seattle Parks – a committee that has citizen involvement? Why doesn’t the Office of Housing have an advisory committee to provide input about the City’s commitment to end homelessness? Surely there is valid reason to invite citizen’s to participate in such a committee to help discern how to best work with neighborhoods, what specific criteria might be considered when selecting a neighborhood location, etc.

    Does anyone know if the citizens can contest the waiver? Do you know that one of the “valid” reasons to issue a waiver is overwhelming support of a project by neighbors? Does this mean that lack of support is a reason for invalidation?

  • John November 5, 2011 (1:39 pm)

    Once again, opponents to DESC refuse to discuss the real issues I raise.

    Point by point I address issues. Yet in the above responses, the issues I raise are ignored.

    Please do not make ignorant and false statements about me.

    1) I am not,”ok with the level of poverty as long as it stays within guidelines which reasonable people have set up to disperse poverty.” I point out how much better this area is than what it was formerly. Do you dispute that?

    2) Adding that,” you’ll (I) flout anyway.” Is a false and baseless charge. I am in no way able to flout rules or guidelines. How could I? Please address this?

    3)”So parents that worry about their children are nimbys.” Wrong conclusion. Once again, see the definition of NIMBY. “NIMBY is, “Slang “One who objects to the establishment in one’s neighborhood of…homeless shelters.” It does not say or mean “NIMBY is, “Slang “One WITHOUT CHILDREN (my addition) who objects to the establishment in one’s neighborhood of…homeless shelters.” Of course safety of children is a constant issue raised by NIMBY arguments. I just pointed out that it is a specious and paranoid argument, and provided one local example. What example or data do you have to support your claim?

    4) “You won’t even know if you have a predator as a client because you don’t do background checks because that would be a barrier to the “housing first” model.” Wrong again. What do you base this claim on? And why do you falsely accuse me of having predators and not doing background checks? For the record, I have neither.

    5) “You want to teach your clients to do for themselves yet have to shuttle them around. If reintegration into society is not the goal then why not create a mega facility in the middle of nowhere?” Wrong and weak argument. The goal is to reintegrate into society. That does not mean dumping them into society, providing no help, rather than giving them the help that they at first need. I would hope that as these people with disabilities become familiar with the community and back on their feet, they would venture out to doing the same activities that other positive members of the community do including facing the same challenges of purchasing groceries. After all, if and when the handicapped are able to leave DESC they will likely move into a lower or middle income neighborhood with the same challenges.
    One might liken this to those with sight disabilities. Rather than sequester them as in the old days, we provide the skills and tools to let them be positive members of our communities.
    Why do you oppose this?

    6) “If reintegration into society is not the goal then why not create a mega facility in the middle of nowhere?” Reintegration is the goal. Besides NIMBY opposition would find voice even “in the middle of nowhere.”

    7) Please do provide some specific “better locations.” The 18th Hole of Broadmoor is not serious or realistic. And saying there are, “tons of commercial properties” is vague, may not be acceptable and is in denial of the current turn-a-round in the commercial real estate as opposed to residential. Many of those existing commercial properties would cost far more and be less green than new green construction. I cite the hastily withdrawn proposal by the Mayor to house the homeless in the former commercial bakery site in SODO that was found to need massively expensive environmental clean up of hazardous materials. Once again, where do you seriously suggest this facility be located?

    7) Your write that, “you might not notice there is a recession going on whilst working for a pseudo governmental agency.” This statement is both slanderous and incorrect. I do not work for a “pseudo government agency” or the government in any manner. Nor, do I have any ties to DESC.

    8) Thanks for admitting your bias and cherry picking of data, although this is obvious. For my part, I self identify as an IMBY and thoughtfully express my reasoned opposition to the NIMBY arguments presented here.

    I look forward to a point by point response by “heartless.”
    Karrie Kohlhaas,
    1) Your latching on to the word “game” is a telling show of a lack of intellectual integrity, as you have eliminated the phrase I used, “numbers game.”
    “Numbers game” is a common-use shorthand phrase that I used rather than another common more pejorative one, “figures don’t lie, liars figure,”
    which I chose not to use. And you should know that this is in regards to the exploitation of the confusing data presented by “aconcernedneighbor” and “delridgeforum.” I was pointing out that the ‘daylighting’ of this issue with freedom of information requests,(that I supported and encouraged in this forum), had somewhat ameliorated the whole pouncing on numbers that opponents have done. Of course, now that these figures have come to light, the opponents have shifted their attacks to being close to the numbers.

    2) Your implication, with your reduction to “game,” seems to be that this is a “game” for me.
    Why are you suggesting that I am not passionate about this? I truly feel that those with disabilities are lacking a voice in this. I am one of the few vocal supporters confronting the overwhelmingly NIMBY responses here. Who is Karrie Kohlhaas to challenge my good intentions?

    3) The “gotcha” element that you here latch onto is a weak charge. I wrote, “As this process evolves, information about the census data is appearing to be a moot point.” This was in regards to the single admittedly viable non-NIMBY response opponents have presented. Several people have devoted enormous energy, blog space and accusations to what is now receding. I have presented varied and many examples which the opposition has studiously avoiding addressing, as you do in your post. Why don’t you respond to the facts, rather than resort to innuendo and false personal accusations against me?

    4) “Either you have a ton of extra time on your hands with very little to nothing at stake in this conversation, enabling you to safely throw darts at my neighbors from behind your mask or,”

    The “Either you…” part is a personal attack on me that just as well applies to you and the others mentioned above. The difference being, that I am not throwing darts at you or your neighbors. I am presenting reasoned arguments with examples and facts that you and your neighbors refuse to address. Instead, you are the one throwing darts “from behind your mask.”

    5) “and this is of greater concern to me, YOU HAVE A LARGE VESTED INTEREST in this project that you are not disclosing.”
    As I wrote before, I do not work for nor do I have any connection to DESC. I have no ties to any of the properties involved.
    I do report a list of great changes, positive strides and improvements to the Delridge Area that have lead me to invest and work in the area.
    Can you make such claims?

    6)”Your lack of knowledge about our neighborhood, disregard for those living here and your lack of research on the issues surrounding this project do beg the question of your affiliation with DESC.”
    These are outrageous charges and bald faced lies. If I have a “lack of knowledge about our neighborhood,” please present it with FACTS!

    7) If I suffer a, “lack of research on the issues surrounding this project,” another baseless charge, please present your research as I have mine.

    8) Please respond to how being compassionate to those with disabilities shows “disregard” for anyone. How do your statements not define a “disregard” and a demeaning of other less fortunate humans? Please respond.

    9)I have been most “respectable” by repeatedly stating that, I have no affiliation whatsoever with this project and/or DESC. While protecting my right to anonymity as have several opponents, I enlist Tracy and WSB to “out me” if they are aware of any such affiliations, since you refuse to take me at my word.

    10) Karrie Kohlhaas, Thanks for responding to my factual reasoned response with no facts or reason, rather than a parsing and deceptive manipulation
    of “numbers game,” which by the way, you opponents have been playing.

    Until Karrie Kohlhaas responds with real facts and reasoned arguments rather than the slanderous personal charges against me, she is the one “pursuing “games” with our community.

    Thanks, and I await anyone’s point by point factual response.

  • John November 5, 2011 (7:24 pm)

    I wrote a long detailed point-by-point response to both “heartless” and “Karrie Kohlhaas” this afternoon but it has not been posted.

    What’s up WSB?

    I follow the rules, provide facts and concrete examples, yet these two are allowed to smear me?

  • Delridge Res November 5, 2011 (9:50 pm)


    Karrie Kohlhaas is the council chair for the NDNC (North Delridge Neighborhood Council) and is a regular contributor to the West Seattle Blog and has numerous photo credits in the WSB. Given her “position” on the NDNC and her regular photo contributions to the WSB it is widely assumed throughout the Delridge and West Seattle community that the WSB provides a heads up when information regarding or questioning Ms. Kohlhass is posted. WSB, whether that is true or not, that is the perception. It’s no surprise the post was delayed.

    Some of the concerns brought up within this thread are valid as a starting point for concern. However, upon further scrutiny many of the concerns really aren’t valid and ARE typical NIMBY responses (mcbrides feelings and desire to change the definition are irrelevant). A review of the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy ( posted on the Delridge Community Forum shows that property values ARE not negatively affected as long as the housing facility in question is well designed and maintained during the life of the building.

    Additionally, according to the writers of the Consolidated Plan, “One goal is to ensure that housing for Seattle’s lowest-income and most vulnerable populations is available throughout the City, including in our most amenity-rich neighborhoods in terms of transit, schools, parks and retail.” With all due respect, while Delridge is a neighborhood in transition it IS this very reason the neighborhood is relatively amenity rich because the city, developers, and various property owners have all begun reinvesting in this neighborhood. One of the best play parks in the entire city is here in Delridge, there are brand new schools, a community college, the facility is located RIGHT on the transit route, and while the retail and shopping is not directly across the street. The retail is within 2.5 miles, is close to transit and Westwood Village is the most diverse and largest shopping area in all of West and South Seattle. Westwood isn’t just a grocery store, it is a major retail facility with commercial space that includes grocery, books, clothes, and banking. Westwood Village is now the retail anchor for Delridge and West Seattle. Other neighborhoods would LOVE to have such a facility within 2.5 miles, yet this isn’t good enough for some.

    The waiver in question is very standard when organizations like the DPD changes rules or requirements in the middle of a project. That is why a variances are given and/or non-conforming projects are allowed to proceed.

    Ms. Kohlhaas and the rest of us in Delridge do want the area to become a great neighborhood. However, Ms. Kohlhaas and those of her mindset want it redeveloped only in the ways they see fit. This can be seen in how much they brag about shutting down any idea they don’t agree with, private property rights be damned. If they are successful in shutting down the Delridge DESC housing proposal, this will just be another “victory” for them to brag about and continue to gentrify the neighborhood in the way THEY see fit.

    • WSB November 5, 2011 (11:36 pm)

      Delridge Res, my turn to get to accuse somebody of defaming. Your comment actually breaks our rules but just for yuks, I’m letting it through so I can respond to it. We don’t provide ANYBODY heads-up of ANYTHING. I’m surprised you bother reading this site if you think we have no ethics. And if “the wider West Seattle community” thinks we have no ethics, I don’t know why they would bother reading and supporting this site either – seriously. We keep stronger ethics codes than most of the news organizations big and small in this town and have a national reputation as such (most recently contributing to this guide). If anyone truly believes we don’t, you and they know where to find me – and at most public meetings in this town if you’d like to speak to me in person.
      P.S. Karrie Kohlhaas is not a “regular contributor,” unless by “contributor” you mean “commenter.” She happens to have chosen to attach her name to her comments here, which is a choice you and everyone else who comments on WSB is free to make, though we do not require it. As for photo contributor? Please let me know where you’ve seen something by Karrie besides: – Otherwise, her name has appeared here because we cover NDNC. As do we cover the Delridge District Council, and the Admiral Neighborhood Association, and the Morgan Community Association, and the Fauntleroy Community Association, and the Southwest District Council, and the Alki Community Council, and so on.
      Yes, WSB accepts and publishes photos contributed by neighborhood group leaders, wildlife aficionados, PTA leaders, people who drive by breaking-news scenes, proud parents, sports coaches, schoolteachers, etc. Including you, whomever you are. They are not assigned nor are they compensated. But they make a big difference in the breadth of news coverage provided here, so we are honored to receive them.

  • I guess I\'m heartless November 5, 2011 (10:20 pm)

    I retract saying “you” by your candor I assumed you worked for DESC. My comments are for neighbors or those employed by DESC.

  • Delridge Neighbor November 5, 2011 (10:28 pm)

    New posts on the Concerned Delridge Neighbor blog provide information that demonstrates the the DESC Delridge site is indeed different from other sites. A higher percentage of extreme poverty as well as significantly fewer neighborhood amenities. Check it out at:
    I am a passionate believer in affordable and supportive housing. However, as more information comes out I become more and more convinced that this site is a very bad location for this project.

  • I guess I\\\'m heartless November 5, 2011 (11:44 pm)

    “However, Ms. Kohlhaas and those of her mindset want it redeveloped only in the ways they see fit.”

    That’s funny, you should see the amount of signatures I’ve collected in the neighborhood that are of her mindset! I could have gotten more but my Spanish is terrible, and I don’t speak Somali/Arabic, Cambodian, Thai, nor Philipino.

  • Delridge Res November 6, 2011 (1:56 am)

    TR aka WSB, I’m not sure what rules I have broken in my post as I am not accusing or defaming you or the WSB. I am only reporting what is perceived by many people both in the community and within City of Seattle political circles.

    Given the perception and reality that contemporary journalistic ethics are justifiably diminished at all levels, questioning the intent and position of information is a natural position for any sensible person to make. Before one even reads an article or gains information from any news source, blog, magazine, tv news and the like the information should be viewed with caution.

    To make matters worse, by even accepting contributions of information, photos, articles, or anything other than a direct quote from someone in the position Ms. Kohlhaas has on the NDNC, the journalistic ethics of the WSB are compromised to some extent even if ever so slightly. That is the price you pay for taking such information from everyone.

    While I commend your noted stand on ethics and I do hope them to be so intact, I am afraid the reality of journalism throughout your industry has created the need to view all news and information from this pessimistic view. This should be the case whether one is reading the WSB, the NYT, Washington Post, or KIRO News.

    Also, before Ms. Kohlhaas accuses me of being associated with this project or the City of Seattle I will state unequivocally I am neither.

    • WSB November 6, 2011 (2:40 am)

      Now it’s the entire West Seattle community plus “City of Seattle political circles” who think we are scruples-challenged? I thought we were only known (and vaguely at that) in the latter because we’re among the last people standing who bother reading such fun documents as “budget green sheets” and “City Council agendas” in a desperate attempt to give readers a heads-up that something’s up for consideration that MIGHT interest them. But I digress.
      I’m all for questioning the source of information, and in fact I’m somewhat wearying of the fact that a variety of people who seem to have intense interest in this particular situation don’t want to discuss it with their names attached to it, when it’s hard to see what the backlash would be if more people DID identify themselves. As for our sources of information, we attribute and link as much as we can. Our first word of this project in fact came from the NDNC, only because we routinely staff their meetings (and other community councils/associations), and its leaders had been contacted by DESC, so they mentioned it at their meeting in June. My co-publisher staffed that meeting, which also included topics such as chicken-raising. When I wrote the story from his notes, it led with three paragraphs about DESC, plus a promise of a followup the next day – a promise we made good on, after I e-mailed the contact listed for DESC outreach, and instead was put in touch by phone with executive director Bill Hobson.
      So that was all mid-June, while according to the application posted on the Delridge Community Forum site, they had reached a deal for the property more than two months earlier.
      Anyway, your one implication/contention here that fascinates me is the inference that neighborhood-council leaders hold positions with some kind of power. If you had spent the past four years doing what we’ve done – covering virtually every community council on the peninsula (and southward to White Center), schlepping laptop and aircard to meeting after meeting after meeting (with backup from my co-publisher or a paid freelancer if there are multiple meetings on a given night), occasionally punctuated with covering neighborhood-council members in action at an auxiliary event they sponsor, like a street cleanup or concert series or festival – you might also come to understand that the folks who fill these roles are uncompensated volunteers with a more-than-thankless job which carries with it a lot of responsibility and expectations, not power, much less glory. Mind you, I have never heard them bitch about that status – I know them only in the context of their official duties, and when the meeting’s over, I pack up and hightail it home — but that is what I have seen. This is not to say they are incapable of accomplishing anything. But what I have seen them do, they have done by hard work … not because they are imbued with a position of inherent power. And they’re usually pretty quiet/humble about it. Three years ago, the Highland Park Action Committee put together a ferocious effort to convince the city not to build a jail on the site where Nickelsville is now. They organized committee and conducted copious quantities of research. They insisted the jail would not be needed and would be a multimillion-dollar waste. Flash forward a few years. The city eventually reached the same conclusion, after a change of mayors, and signed a longterm agreement to keep using county space. The people who were in charge of HPAC at the time probably should have gotten some kind of official thank-you for that one.
      More often than not, as a neighborhood-council leader, you seldom get more than a dozen or so people to your meeting – and I am speaking about ALL of these community councils, this is NOT a description of NDNC or the DESC situation – unless some hot topic erupts and a particular neighborhood in the jurisdiction decides you, the uncompensated volunteer community council, should be doing something about it, so a group of residents shows up, makes demands, and then when their topic is done, unceremoniously clears out of the room while the handful of regulars, and the volunteer leaders, are left to wonder what hit them, while also carrying on with the rest of the unglamorous regular business. (The Alki sidewalk flap of a few years back is an excellent example of that.)
      And if you say “Well, if it sucks so much, then give up the reins of power?” – they do. In more than a few cases, I’ve seen groups’ leaders stuck with nobody to pick up the ball and run with it. I have seen some of these groups all but go out and stand on the street to try to beg bystanders to come in and help. If you are in North Delridge, for example (there is no Central Delridge or South Delridge community council), and not already involved with the group, they’re electing new officers at the next meeting, and have some openings, plus room for more candidates even for the spots where somebody has indicated interest – (Note that Karrie K is not running again.)

  • Delridge Res November 6, 2011 (1:16 am)

    I guess I\\\’m heartless, I’m sure while on your signature crusade of NIMBYism against the DESC facility you are presenting a thorough and comprehensive perspective of both sides of this project. RIIIIGHT?!? I won’t hold my breath on that one, as someone such as yourself likely has the temerity to present information in such a way that promotes your cause much more than denigrates it.

    Also, the quote you mention from my post is more of a broad stroke perspective of how development of the neighborhood is being influenced and is not just related to this one project.

  • I guess I'm heartless November 6, 2011 (8:25 am)

    “I guess I\\\’m heartless, I’m sure while on your signature crusade of NIMBYism against the DESC facility you are presenting a thorough and comprehensive perspective of both sides of this project. RIIIIGHT?!?”

    Of course I’m going to argue for against it, I mean against for it!!

  • John November 6, 2011 (8:57 am)

    WSB, “it’s hard to see what the backlash would be if more people DID identify themselves.”

    Really? The established format of this blog allows anonymity. If I recall the early history of WSB correctly, Tracy was also anonymous.

    Backlash for me, while remaining anonymous, has been personal attacks and smears that are not within the rules of WSB as those above document.
    If I were to use my real name, NIMBYs would attack me for any exploitable aspect (for example if I do not live directly on Delridge Way) and might be receiving phone calls (as I called Tracy last night after my long post was “caught in the filter” and not published)at our families listed number and other harassment. My wife often expresses concern when I get tied up in these NIMBY imbroglios after I am attacked and smeared as in this case.

    I also have attended community meetings and have repeatedly challenged more than optimistic reports of meeting membership, notably a flap with HPAC where their leader said he would provide details on WSB, never did, then attacked me for asking the question in a private email exchange when I provided him that access.

    I beg to differ from Tracy in her claims about the lack of power of these community organizations, to the point; the largely NIMBY attack that was successful by HPAC and the prison. History may have proven HPAC right in this case, but the rampant NIMBYISM and scare tactics employed were in my opinion, disgraceful. And I confronted them on those issues.

    Anothe example is the power of MOCA, which came out on the denial side of the Crescent Triangle, the Eddy Street Ravine Trail, turning the Orchard Street Ravine Park into a NIMBY Donut Park with park access openly opposed and minimized, once again due to “Children’s Safety. Recently, the the donut group along with MOCA managed to extract $10,000 from SDOT for duplicate “dead end” signage and an “information kiosk.” This was after the Parks Dept. investigated and confirmed illegal tree cutting, encroachment into park property and the illegal removal of park boundary survey markers. In this case, politically well connected neighbors fought a required trail so well that Parks squandered over $70,000 designing a trail that was never built. Instead they worked with Parks to violate Critical Areas Codes and construct perhaps the most pathetic and now neglected new park trail in the city.

    Tracy is right when she talks of NIMBYs packing neighborhood organizations for single issues and coming out on top. The Alki parking example is spot on, a violation of Seattle codes and another outrageous NIMBY win.

    As we speak, a Madison Park organization is busing seniors to Parks Dept HQ for NIMBY opposition (again for the Safety of the Children) to removal of the only fenced off waterfront park in Seattle. See Seattle Times and local TV coverage.
    Lets watch to see who wins that one.

  • Tanya Baer November 6, 2011 (11:14 am)

    I understand that the City of Seattle cannot discriminate when it comes to housing and therefore, a project like the DESC project cannot be turned away solely based on the population they serve. Therefore, comments about safety for children, about potential increases in drug activity, etc, all seem to fall under the umbrella of discrimination – thus making such concerns invalid based on the Fair Housing Act. Am I understanding this correctly?
    I am wondering, then, what concerns are valid in this discussion? I am trying to understand if any comments by neighbors have any weight or validity or do all such comments or concerns get ruled out by policy that is already in place?
    We understand that a “Siting Policy” exists to help disperse poverty throughout the city. We’ve been told that this project, with an “approved waiver” passes the siting policy. Based on that, are concerns about the poverty levels in North Delridge (the highest among any of the DESC projects according to “a concerned neighbor”) not valid and serve no place in this conversation?
    From reading the DESC funding application, I understand that DESC had to submit an “application of departure” from code to allow their offices on the ground floor to count towards the “80% commercial” space required. Thus, as I understand it, the “Central or Brandon Node” receives less street facing commercial space than envisioned in the Neighborhood Plan. Working under the assumption that this request for departure from code was granted, are neighbors concerns that we are losing precious commercial space unwarranted? Does the neighborhood plan have no merit? Are we to trust that the Dept. of Planning took this plan or the neighborhood at large into account in granting the request?
    Capt. Paulsen reported at the recent community forum on the DESC topic that the 5400 block of Delridge is “a very fragile area.” Are neighbors concerns about adding “unstable” residents to that particular block off-based?
    If no comment has validity because either it discriminates, has been ruled out by decision makers who follow policy and codes, or is not part of the criteria considered in the funding application review process, then where does a neighbor or the neighborhood stand in this conversation?
    Please explain to me what types of comments or concerns are valid, between what lines are discernment and investment in one’s community actually allowed, considered, and even encouraged?

    • WSB November 6, 2011 (11:22 am)

      Tanya – Departures are usually addressed at Design Review. The board (citizen volunteers who are advisory to the Department of Planning and Development) usually issues a recommendation of whether they should be approved. Speaking of which, I hadn’t checked the Design Review site in a couple days – but just looked and a Design Review date is tentatively set for “early design guidance” on this project: December 8 at Youngstown. I will write a separate item about that a bit later today. The formal notification will not likely be out for a few weeks, and please note these dates do sometimes change, but I have long since routinely checked this page for early heads-up:

  • jack November 6, 2011 (12:38 pm)

    To all,

    At this time a formal request has not been sent to the DESC to prevent them from housing sexual offenders. I still have not received a call from Rick Hooper regarding the zoning requirements for project that will be housing sex offenders near schools, day cares, and a library. This project is being rubber stamped by the RJRC at this time. We will need more people to attend the next RJRC meeting on November 17 to hopefully prevent this project to be funded. For those who attended the last meeting it was quite shocking how most of the members of the RJRC were uniformed about the concerns of the community.


  • Delridge Res November 6, 2011 (12:53 pm)

    TR aka WSB,

    Nowhere in my posts do I state it is the entire West Seattle community that feels this way. I state MANY people have this perception and/or feeling and it is reinforced by the acceptance of unsolicited information, pictures, articles and in this case the allowance of smearing posts by Ms. Kohlhaas towards John that I would say approach breaking the rules of posting more so than anything I wrote.

    I also do not believe, nor do the people I have spoken to with regarding the connection between the WSB and NDNC believe, that the WSB is “scruples challenged.” The perception arises from the FACT that contemporary journalism has devolved to the point that objectivism is no longer the standard, but is now the exception. Please take this an opportunity to reinforce the rigorous journalistic standards you are attempting to pursue. Please take it as some feedback on how to become a better blog and re-elevate the standard of American journalistic standards to what they USED to be. Just to let you know, I also hear plenty of feedback from people that love the WSB blog (as do I). Is that the only feedback you wish to hear? Do we now live in a culture that any feedback that isn’t positive has to be absorbed with a defensive posture? This isn’t the local youth soccer team where everyone needs to play in the game and feel good about themselves regardless of the score. Community blogs are now a powerful force for information and change both within and outside of the areas they report on; and as such, scrutiny is invited and should be welcomed.

    In regards to your incredulous response that “neighborhood-council leaders hold positions with some kind of power”, I have to reassert this position. As a lifetime student of, and active participant in politics at multiple levels, it is common knowledge that while national and state politics get the “glamour” so to speak, it is local and neighborhood politics where the rubber hits the road for most people. Local and neighborhood politics are where all people have the most access and ability to create change both for the good and bad. For example, in the case of the DESC facility the private property rights of the owners and/or future owners of the property are under assault. Private property rights are the foundations of American capitalism and individual rights; however, they are regularly under attack at the local level and the success of such assaults can and do have unintended consequences. These once cherished American principles CAN be and now are further undermined with blogs by decreasing fundamental concepts such as privacy. Privacy is basically non-existent now and by your weariness comment, it appears to hang tenuously by a thread within this blog. Posting anonymously is the only thing that protects the once treasured concept of privacy. This privacy is critical to limiting the vitriol responses and incurring the wrath in the form of political and commercial threats and subsequent payback that I have witnessed firsthand from such community groups that include but are not limited to the NDNC.

    On a final note, I am well aware of the voluntary and unpaid status of such community groups, and for the most part these individuals are to be commended. However, I have to laugh when you state, “And they’re usually pretty quiet/humble about it.” From what I have witnessed from the NDNC in the past, this couldn’t be further from the truth as I am convinced that some members and activists within Delridge can easily dislocate their shoulders because they are QUITE adept at patting themselves on the back.

  • John November 6, 2011 (2:03 pm)

    Because unfounded concerns for safety of children is a constant harp of NIMBYs (see opposition to the now completed and heavily used without reported incidents 35th Ave Myrtle Play Area and other examples listed above), cries of Safety of our Children is a hot button issue.

    If those in the neighborhood could document such threats in the past when Delridge was more crime, drug & gang infested during the time two elementary schools were at Boren, then the children’s safety issue might attain some validity. But with several DESC opponents devoting considerable time and energy to statistics, they have yet to provide any relating to a spike in kidnapping, sexual assaults or anything regarding elementary children. I would not be surprised that during the time high schools (Sealth and West Seattle) used Boren, there may have been an increase in petty crimes, shop-lifting, fights, alcohol & pot use mostly among the young adult students, though none have been documented here. Anecdotically, I recall a much higher SPD presence before and after school. Even now, we often see a squad car parked in the Boren parking lot.

    Other common NIMBY concerns such as property values declining have in the past proved to be unfounded.

    NIMBY concerns about “fragility” are new to me and heavily exploited here. “Fragile” seems to be some sort of code word, but for what?

    If the 5400 block of Delridge is “a very fragile area,” as claimed, then razing the block and building new housing could add stability just as it has done in High Point.

    I posted the nearby example of the old West Seattle Hospital that is now a psychiatric hospital nearly next door to a day care, Holden Playfield with kids play area & wading pool and the close by Hughes school. I don’t know, but would not be surprised if some residents of this facility are/or have been drug addicts, alcoholics & sex offenders.
    Should neighbors’ undocumented concerns (if their are any) for the safety of children now be exercised to close the hospital? The group of Delridge statisticians might want to dig into this as well as an any yet proven uncharacteristic decline in property values.

    Tanya, I consider the census data poor housing guidelines to be a valid item for discussion. But as more info gets revealed, that seems an unlikely course.
    Other elements that are factual and documented have not been aired by DESC opposition, despite repeated requests (there is no Freedom of Information law to pursue with these individuals and they are proving far more stingy than the “pseudo” & governmental OH officials.

    Until concerns are documented with facts, hysteria and paranoia spreading through a neighborhood should not be reasons for a denial of housing for the disabled.

  • Mike Dady November 6, 2011 (4:38 pm)

    John, Delridge Resident and anyone else – People here on the WS Blog and elsewhere have laid out their reasoning as to why this location on Delridge Way is not a good location for a supportive housing project such as what the Downtown Emergency Services Center proposes. I have my own set of reasons why I think this is a very unwise choice in terms of location. I believe it would be detrimental to the mentally ill and addicted client as well as the neighborhood. I base my reasons on the stated needs of supportive housing clients are as explained to me by supportive housing providers.
    I ask each of you to lay our your reasons why this is a good location. Please, tell me why this is in the best interest of everyone concerned.
    Oh yes, there will be a North Delridge Neighborhood Council sponsored Adopt-A-Street litter pick-up and storm drain cleaning of Delridge Way next Saturday November 12th. 10:00am at the Delridge Community Center. Please come and join in, your help is needed.

  • Karrie Kohlhaas November 6, 2011 (4:49 pm)

    Food Deserts

    The data shows that John’s earlier speculation that neighborhoods like Alki and Fauntleroy may also be Food Deserts does not pan out. Delridge Neighborhoods are the only actual Food Desert on the West Seattle Peninsula.

    Alki and the other non-Delridge Neighborhoods that John mentioned do not have enough poverty combined with lack of access to a major supermarket to be classified as Food Deserts.

    To check for yourself, go to this USDA governement website: Enter zipcode 98106 and you will see Delridge lighlighted in pink. Zoom out to see how many Food Deserts there are in the rest of Seattle.

    In fact, you will find that both North and West of Delridge there are NO other Food Deserts. NONE. Further, no other neighborhood with an existing DESC project is in or even near a Food Desert.

    Definition of Food Desert:

    “The HFFI working group defines a food desert as a low-income census tract where a substantial number or share of residents has low access to a supermarket or large grocery store:

    To qualify as a “low-income community,” a census tract must have either:

    1) a poverty rate of 20 percent or higher, OR 2) a median family income at or below 80 percent of the area’s median family income

    To qualify as a “low-access community,” at least 500 people and/or at least 33 percent of the census tract’s population must reside more than one mile from a supermarket or large grocery store (for rural census tracts, the distance is more than 10 miles).”

    I have just sent research and a map on Food Deserts to the website by Delridge Neighbor if he/she wishes to post it.

  • John November 6, 2011 (6:00 pm)

    “I base my reasons on the stated needs of supportive housing clients are as explained to me by supportive housing providers.” Mike Dady

    Mike, could you possibly re-word “your own set of reasons” and explain what they are?
    Try as I might, I do not understand what you are trying to say.

    Just writing that people “have laid out their reasoning” in opposition to DESC does not fill in those reasons.

    But these are the some of the excuses that I have read here; the neighborhood is “fragile,” we should not provide housing for those with disabilities, property values will plunge, there is no grocery store close by, there are schools and day cares in the area, there are criminals in the area, there are drug dealers in the area, Delridge always gets dumped on, there are junkies in the area, there are gangs in the area, the criminals commit crimes there, there are gas stations/min-marts there, there is not extensive mass transit there, there is no hospital there, and put it in Madison Park, Queen Anne , Ballard, out in the boonies, anywhere else, just not in Delridge. And now Mike Dady with “it would be detrimental to the mentally ill and addicted client as well as the neighborhood.”

    Great Mike. Just where should DESC place its residence that would NOT be detrimental to the mentally ill and addicted client as well as the neighborhood?

    Try to be as specific as I have been.

  • Karrie Kohlhaas November 6, 2011 (8:04 pm)

    “But ultimately what we want them to do is recall what it’s like to go to a grocery store, a REAL supermarket–not a convenience store.

    “And I mean no disrespect to convenience stores but our folks when they are living on the street, that’s basically where they bought their food. It’s expensive and it’s not particularly nutritionally balanced. And we want to correct that behavior but it takes time to do.

    “Part of we do in the building is we teach activities of daily living. Things we all take for granted. A major component of that is meal preparation.”

    ~ DESC Executive Director, Bill Hobson

    speaking on June 27, 2011 at North Delridge Library.


  • Karrie Kohlhaas November 6, 2011 (8:09 pm)

    “I think it’s important that it’s not just anyplace outside the downtown core. Access to transit because people who live in our buildings will not own cars.

    “Access—WALKABLE ACCESS–to grocery stores, drug stores, parks, recreational opportunities, and other services are important to us.

    “So when we looked at neighborhoods that were important to us, we chose this site in Ballard because it has all of those characteristics…It is not a single family residential neighborhood.”

    ~ Rick Friedhoff, Compass Housing Alliance

    (Quoted verbatim starting at 11:10 in Seattle Channel program on housing the homeless. He and Bill Hobson, DESC Executive Director, were interviewed together.)

  • Delridge Res November 6, 2011 (9:08 pm)

    Mr. Dady,
    For the sake of expediting the conversation I will not reiterate yet again the majority of previously noted reasons the concerns of those opposed to the DESC facility are not valid. I believe the facts appear to speak for themselves. However, I would ask that they not be glossed over and ignored as not having some validity and basis in fact instead of emotion.

    In response to your request to lay out the reasons I support the “location” in question, my basis come from 3 distinct perspectives:

    1)Property rights: Call me old fashioned, but I actually support the rights of property owners to utilize or to not utilize the property they own in the highest and best use as they see fit, within zoning regulations and building codes. I believe private property rights are the foundations for individual freedom as they are explicitly documented in the 5th Amendment of the US Constitution regarding private property rights. The 5th Amendment provides that private property shall not be taken without just compensation. By denying the full and best use of the property the owners are being denied their rights as property owners and they certainly are not being compensated for such denial of use. If you and other members of the community have such an aversion to this project, I suggest those opposed pony up the money, purchase the property and do with what they see as the highest and best use of the property (or not do anything with the property). In short, as long as a person doesn’t own a particular piece of property, and as long as the use of the property conforms to the law, people have no right to say what does or does not occur on said property.

    2)Local amenities: I honestly feel that the NIMBY’s of Delridge and South Seattle have 2 opposite perspectives of the neighborhood which fluctuates depending on the desired outcome or intent. On one hand, people talk up the neighborhood when CONVEINENT and on the other they talk it down when they NEED to. I hear all the great things about the neighborhood including community involvement, powerful and strong connections to our neighbors, the new park and playfield, the redevelopment of the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, the new schools, the local community college, the neighborhood library, the new park and phenomenal playfield, the vibrancy of Westwood Village, reasonable priced homes and the like. EVERY ONE of these amenities is within walkable distance or is within a 2.5 mile area that is directly off transit lines. However, when need be and when it suits the argument, all these great things go out the window and the community completely glosses over these amenities and only talks about how fragile the neighborhood is, it’s a food desert, the children’s safety is at stake, property values will decline and so forth. While I acknowlege the area is still in transition, I choose to see the area from the glass is half full perspective as I believe most people do (NIMBY’s included). However, the NIMBY’s continually PRESENT the area as half empty WHEN it suits their argument. If the community continues to stay involved, the project is well designed and maintained the continued growth and vibrancy of the neighborhood will continue to occur regardless of the continued efforts to paint the situation in Delridge and South Seattle as dire.

    The website, is absolutely correct in that Delridge is not “just like” other supportive housing project sites (Aurora Supportive Housing, Rainier House, 1811 Eastlake, and Nyer Urness House). Delridge has one local amenity that keeps getting ignored that NONE of the other sites have: direct access and proximity to a local community college. If reintegration into society is a goal for the users of the DESC facility the best way to do that is to provide access to additional education that can be found at South Seattle Community College. No other DESC facility within the city is even close to a local community college and this amenity alone makes the potential for this facility to be exponentially more successful than the others.

    3)Finally, I see 75 new potential customers and users for local businesses and amenities including Olympia Pizza, Pearls, the convenience stores, the library, the community college, the park, the community center and the like. The residents may not have a large sum of money, but do you really think Olympia Pizza will not see their food going there on weekly if not daily basis? Do you think the local convenience stores will not see more milk, eggs, beverages, snacks and the like move off their shelves? How many people who don’t want this facility even have businesses around the proposed facility? It’s one thing to own a home in the area, but when you own a business, and your customer base can increase even slightly (especially in current economic conditions) it may very well be a worthwhile project. These are 75 individuals that improve the neighborhood catchment area which developers evaluate when considering new real estate investment. In short, the higher the density, the more users there are for existing services and the potential for additional services thus increases. So much so, that perhaps even the school district would release their grasp on the only available property in the area that is suitable for a community shopping center that includes a grocery store instead of maintaining a vacated school. Thus eliminating the food desert lable PORTIONS of the Delridge area currently have.

  • John November 6, 2011 (9:30 pm)

    Karrie, Thanks for sharing your information on “Food Deserts.”

    I stand corrected. I was unfamiliar with poverty element of the definition.

    I did, however, take Karrie’s advice and checked for myself.

    I found (check for yourself) that Kaarie’s statement, “Delridge Neighborhoods are the only actual Food Desert on the West Seattle Peninsula,” is NOT TRUE.

    Instead of ONLY “Delridge” as she claims, there are Highland Park and South Park to make a total of THREE “Food Deserts” on the West Seattle Peninsula.

    It appears that Kaarie knew this as revealed by her accurate but misleading statement, “In fact, you will find that both North and West of Delridge there are NO other Food Deserts. NONE.” Kaarie has notably omitted both South and East.

    That statement leads to another play on words and definitions. Kaarie is mixing “Neighborhoods” with “census tracts” to the benefit of her argument.
    She ‘cherry picks’ Fauntleroy & “Alki and the other non-Delridge Neighborhoods that John mentioned do not have enough poverty combined with lack of access to a major supermarket to be classified as Food Deserts.”

    Wrong again Kaarie.
    I listed several including Highland Park, Morningside Heights and High Point.
    Viewing the map, I concede (with an *) that High Point and Morningside Heights are in the same “census tract” as Delridge. I was accurately listing Neighborhoods, as defined in King County Plats.

    The * I refer to is another sleight of words when Kaarie writes, “In fact, you will find that both North and West of Delridge there are NO other Food Deserts. NONE.”

    A casual reader such as myself might interpret that as North and West of Delridge Way, but in fact that area includes all of High Point and everything West to 35th Ave SW and North to Camp Long. This is quite different than the four block wide glen with steep hills and the fragility of the 5400 block of Delridge used to describe the Delridge Neighborhood by others opposed to DESC.
    Kaarie just exploits the casualness of these neighborhood designations.

    Kaarie, the last criticism I have to point out about your post gets back to the old saw, “figures don’t lie, liars figure.”

    After all of the flap over DESC’s use of old census tract data (now revealed that they started the process with the 2009 data before the 2011 data were available), I note ironically, that the “Food Desert” data Kaarie presents is generated using that same old 2009 census data that was pounced upon by opponents of DESC.

    Since the current census data was not used in the “Food Desert Map,” we really do not know where the “Food Deserts” actually are.

  • Karrie Kohlhaas November 7, 2011 (12:02 am)

    Thanks for the feedback, John.

  • John November 7, 2011 (10:23 am)

    You are welcome, Kaarie.

    For those who read today’s Seattle Times, there is article about the first Stockbox Grocers in Delridge (covered extensively before in WSB).

    The Times writer, Lynn Thompson, joined me in missing on the low income definition of “food deserts” that Kaarie rightly corrected for me.

    “Food deserts”–high density, often low income neighborhoods that lack access to healthful foods. –Lynn Thompson

    The Times article passes on further incorrect and misleading information from Dennis Worsham, regional health officer for the county health department. “Minimarts and convenience stores traditionally don’t carry haven’t carried fresh fruit, vegetables and milk.” “They typically have higher sales of liquor and tobacco,” he said.

    Mr. Worsham should know that in King County at least, Seven Elevens and most minmimarts do carry milk, often advertised in windows & sidewalk sandwich boards, and at a very competitive price. The same minimarts are now often carrying a few fruits, i.e. apples & bananas, and some as featured again in WSB do carry a larger selection of vegetables and other fruits.

    His statement about liquor is clearly incorrect as liquor is only sold, at least until the election, in state owned or licensed liquor stores.

    Shame on Mr. Worsham and the Times for their demonstrated lack of fact checking.

    I would like to bring into the discussion about DESC and “food deserts” whether the addition of Stockboxes could be considered a solution to the “Food Deserts” as their proprietors intend?

    The Delridge Stockbox is closing, for unclear reasons other than it was a test-run for the business plan and new ones will be “slightly larger.”

    • WSB November 7, 2011 (10:37 am)

      They are closing because it was a test run, as stated from the beginning. They will be deciding on a few permanent locations in the new year.

  • Karrie Kohlhaas November 9, 2011 (5:01 pm)

    I stand corrected that yes there are 3 Food Deserts technically on the peninsula. 2 of them include North Deldridge Neighborhoods and one includes Southpark. I did not at all mean to be misleading about that and provided the link so people could look it up for themselves. I was unclear myself where the peninsula actually ended as I’ve always thought the Delridge areas were the last area on the peninsula. I appreciate the correction. Thank you.

    This does not change the fact that there are no Food Deserts north or west of Delridge (and yes, I meant the neighborhood–not the street). I did not even consider that someone would think I was referring to the street since Delridge Way is on the easternmost border of a Food Desert (ie there is a Food Desert west of Delridge Way and it’s the one that includes North Delridge.)

    This also does not change the fact that the Delridge DESC proposed site lacks basic amenities, namely a major grocery store and pharmacy.

    And it does not change the fact that this is contradictory to what DESC and others have said their clients need to thrive.

    Del Neighbor, I hear you, but a community college is not considered a basic amenity and not a criteria for the siting of these projects.

    And incidentally, several other DESC projects ARE actually located near community colleges. Further, none of the organizations who work in this field have mentioned the need for a community college but they have mentioned a critical need for a major grocery store within walking distance.

    Thanks for the input. It was very helpful. I am not a demographer or statistician. This is really work that the DESC and funding agencies should have done prior to siting this project.

    I sent food desert maps a few days ago to this site if you want to look at them:
    and of course, you can also look them up on the Food Desert Locator yourself.

    As far as Stockbox, they seem to be a great pair, Carrie and Jacqueline. I have talked with them and really love the concept. We have passed emails recently about where they might try to set up the next Stockbox. I hope they are successful and the idea can spread.

    But while these storage container shops might one day provide some sort of healthy food source, they do not meet either the Food Desert standard for moving North Delridge out of Food Desert classification nor do they meet the DESC standard for what Exec. Director Bill Hobson said their clients need:

    “A grocery store–a REAL supermarket” Hobson said there is something about that experience that is really important for his clients when he spoke to neighbors. And Rick Friedhoff, Director of an org. serving clients in a similar situation also said that it’s important for them to put their projects in areas within “walkable access to a grocery store, drug store,” etc.

    The lack of amenities in the area is one of the many concerns neighbors have had about the siting of this project. It doesn’t seem to make any sense, given what we have to offer here and what the experts repeatedly say we their clients need.

  • I'm just sayin' November 9, 2011 (8:37 pm)

    I just want it known for the record that while Karrie is the president of the NDNC and has the energy to get a lot done, she does not speak for the entire community. There are many vocal opponents, and there are quite a number of proponents who feel that their voices have been silenced by the vituperative and overwhelming quantity of text posted on the various discussion boards. folks are afraid to speak up because they’re getting slammed online. There are two sides to this story. In the interest of working for the community, don’t silence the voices you don’t like.

  • Mike Dady November 11, 2011 (6:39 pm)

    @ Delridge Res
    My rebuttal to your three reasons why 5434>44 Delridge Way is a good location for a DESC supportive housing project:
    Your Reason #1 – The DESC receives funding from City, County and State. It is not a primarily privately funded organization and therefore needs to be the subject of scrutiny by citizens. I am very thankful for all the work that many people have done to question this project.
    Your Reason #2 – When citizens engage in matters of a civic nature in a neighborhood with a history like North Delridge there is a constant struggle in looking at the successes versus the vast amount of unresolved issues, needs and hoped for visions Yes, progress has been made in the entire Delridge Neighborhoods District. The increased quality of life has come about in large part by the constant diligence of citizens who do the nitty-gritty work because they want to help reverse long-standing inequities or injustices that have been inflicted on the neighborhood. As a founding member and past co-chair of the NDNC I know how much time and energy it takes to make projects happen. How challenging it is to try to get neighbors involved due to language and cultural barriers, work schedules, child rearing, poverty, etc. I know what shear drudgery it is to try to resolve crime hotspots and reverse absolutely deplorable behavior by absentee property owners. The list of issues and troubles is long and I do not wish to go on. Throughout all of these situations and challenges, it is important for a neighborhood to acknowledge the positive results of citizen work otherwise it can feel futile and pointless to try to continue moving forward with additional efforts.
    As for other DESC projects not being close to a community college….well, setting aside that I have not heard or read from DESC staff or Director Bill Hobson that a community college is part of the requirements for their clients when they select a site for one of their projects. However, with that being said, you need to take a look at how close Seattle Central Community College is to most of the current DESC facilities. With the exception of Rainier House in Columbia City, SCCC has excellent, short trip access via foot and bus from DESC facilities. Your homework so far on this matter is severely flawed. This leads me to think your knowledge of who the clients served by the DESC may also be flawed. They are not functioning in the capacity that you seem to believe. In addition, your knowledge of the access to South Seattle Community College is limited, strikingly so for someone who calls themselves ‘Delridge Res’. Access to SSCC via foot, bike, bus and even automobile from the area of Brandon and Delridge Way is by no means direct or timely. It is a circuitous route regardless of the means one uses to travel. There is no direct street or trail connectivity. So by the way a crow flies it is a short distance, but getting there swiftly or simply is absolutely not the case.
    Your Reason #3 – DESC clients on public assistance will have very little disposable income remaining to spend after paying their DESC apartment rent each month. They are living on a very small budget that likely will not allow for any type of ‘dining out’ experience at either Pho Aroma, Olympia Pizza or Pearls. At one of the public meetings the DESC mentioned a range/amount of public assistance their clients receive and what they would be charging their clients for rent. I do not remember those numbers. I recall being struck by how small the amount of public assistance DESC clients receive and how these financially poor individuals were not going to in anyway power desired hyper-local economic development and job growth.

  • Mike Dady November 11, 2011 (6:50 pm)

    @ John
    Still awaiting your reasoning as to why you believe a DESC supportive housing project located at 5434>44 Delridge Way is in the best interest of everyone involved.

  • Delridgian For Reasonable Development November 12, 2011 (2:05 pm)

    For any Delridge neighbors who are concerned about the DESC project and want to ensure your voice is heard, join:

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