By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The fall meeting season – after a summer break for many neighborhood/district councils – is off and running, with the Southwest District Council just wrapping up its September meeting, tackling topics from trees to Junction parking/development.
Co-chair Susan Ruppert, from the Genesee-Schmitz Neighborhood Council, led the meeting at Southwest Teen Life Center. Other organizations represented were the Admiral Neighborhood Association, Fairmount Community Association, Fauntleroy Community Association, Junction Neighborhood Organization, Morgan Community Association, the Senior Center of West Seattle, and the West Seattle Junction Association.
What you should know about what was discussed – ahead:
URBAN FORESTRY: City arborist Nolan Rundquist and fellow SDOT staffer Susan Paine came out to “give an update” on the topic. He mentioned hundreds of trees planted locally because of the Bridging the Gap levy, in neighborhoods including Seaview and Delridge. The program overall has planted about 5,000 trees around the city since 2007, according to Rundquist. Some types of trees, he noted, contribute more clean air/clean water value to neighborhoods than others. Evergreens are more valuable, of course, than deciduous, he said, since most of our rain falls “when the leaves are on the trees” and they help with more water retention, but they don’t work everywhere for reasons including visibility and other safety issues.
Susan Melrose from WSJA pointed out that pear trees didn’t do well on the north edge of The Junction; Rundquist said they’re calling it the “heartbreak tree” because it starts falling apart after about 30 years. Melrose asked him what’s under consideration for the future; he mentioned the ginkgo – “male” trees, so its foul-smelling fruit is not produced. They can live into triple digits, he said, and have been observed growing 18 to 20 inches a year, but will top out around 35-40 feet.
If the city plants a tree in your planting strip, SDOT is responsible for it; if you plant it, you’re responsible for it (however, keep in mind, Rundquist only has a couple other arborists on his team).
(Find out more about urban forestry and the city arborist’s work by going here.)
CITY LIGHT EX-SUBSTATION SITES: A Genesee-Schmitz member came to talk about the neighborhood’s hopes of seeing at least one of the six Seattle City Light surplus ex-substation sites in this area (listed here) preserved as greenspace – 4918 SW Dakota (city photo below) – if not all of them.
She’s hoping to form a coalition of people lobbying the city to keep them as green open spaces, even “just left alone,” rather than potentially being sold off for development (as happened to most of the sites in a similar process in the north end of the city, she said). October 2nd at 6:30 pm at High Point Community Center is THE public hearing before there’s a City Light decision, she said. Please come and comment for the record, she implored – or at least send a comment through the SCL website (scroll to the bottom of this page) if you won’t be able to be there. Two meeting attendees said what she showed of just that one parcel didn’t resemble the stark photos shown by City Light at its recent meeting. SWDC members discussed possibly sending a letter in support of preserving the sites instead of selling them off, or at least tabling potential sale plans until the community could find funding. Some thought the timing was odd, given that if this process had started sooner, some might have been able to try to get funding through the Parks and Green Spaces Levy‘s Opportunity Fund, a process that is just wrapping up.
JUNCTION NEIGHBORHOOD ORGANIZATION: With development and other pressures on parking, René Commons, who is leading the re-launched Junction Neighborhood Organization, says they’re hoping to get the city to study Restricted Parking Zone possibilities again, especially considering the planned developments that have relatively little or no parking. She’s looking for input as they strategize how to make the case for another study. She also talked about a desire to create a Land Use Review Committee for the Junction/Triangle area, like the ones that exist in other neighborhoods and present an organized front when projects are proposed. She’s been talking to reps in other neighborhoods. Wallingford and Queen Anne, for example, have had committees since their neighborhood plans were drafted in the late 1990s, she found out. These committees would talk with developers early in the process, for example, something that doesn’t exist here now unless developers reach out to neighborhood leaders and convene an informal, not-public series of reviews, as has happened multiple times in recent years. Fauntleroy rep Vlad Oustimovitch, a former Design Review Board member, said he thought having a review group outside that process would be a good thing – not just to talk about proposed projects, but to talk about other related issues.
The Southwest District Council meets the first Wednesday of most months, 6:30 pm, downstairs at SW Teen Life Center (2801 SW Thistle), public always welcome.