At its quarterly meeting, the Morgan Community Association voted to support the new West Seattle Transportation Coalition, got an update on the about-to-be-built sewer-overflow-control project at Lowman Beach, heard about efforts to improve cleanliness and safety at Morgan Junction Park, discussed a new development – and that was just the start:
(WSB photo, taken the day after the MoCA meeting)
FRIENDS OF MORGAN JUNCTION PARKS: In addition to the volunteer work this group is doing, talk turned to those who loiter in Morgan Junction Park. Park volunteers say they have engaged the people who hang out, but so far the loiterers are not complying with trash rules. And they say not enough people are calling 911 when they see rulebreaking; more should be making those calls, for wider community representation. The behavior is getting worse, it appears – one week earlier, there was a big drinking party, and a big bonfire was started in the park; Seattle Fire came but police were never able to respond because that happened concurrently with the Westwood Village-area stabbings. To address this, MoCA is working with police to find an official sign to put up regarding, “Drinking is against the rules, here’s who to call.” Also call in matters of public safety – somebody passed out, someone injured … “Don’t be shy,” said Friends of MJP’s Tod Rodman. “It’s your park – if people are there, the bad stuff will (recede),” added FoMJP’s Barry White.
Back to the group’s main work: One more planting and mulching event will be happening in early November, an afternoon event after the Seahawks game, White said. “It’s been a great ride, and we’re getting more and more people involved.” The triangle park just north of West Seattle Thriftway (WSB sponsor) had a great planting party recently with 20 volunteers from Peace Lutheran Church in Gatewood. The current planting project in the streetside strips by Thriftway is the store’s doing, it was revealed in subsequent discussion. Next, the Friends of MJP is going to look at the Fauntleroy/Juneau triangle property to find out how it can help.
NEXT STEPS FOR MURRAY CSO: Doug Marsano from King County Wastewater Treatment District made another of myriad appearances at MoCA to talk about the project, which is approaching construction now that demolition is complete. In addition to the announcement of the November 6th meeting, he mentioned:
*Contractor Shimmick Construction is officially on board
*Next two months will be all about getting permits
*Biggest one: The shoring permit – lot of shoring for a million-gallon tank
“Ultimately, we expect the contractor will be under way mobilizing at the site just before the holidays,” Marsano said.
RAPID RIDE IN MORGAN JUNCTION, ONE YEAR LATER: Two SDOT reps came to answer MoCA’s request for a report on how things are going. Mike Ward and Reiner Blanco. First, they took on the bus bulbs – California northbound north of Fauntleroy, Fauntleroy westbound west of California. Action they’ve taken: Move other routes to another side of the intersection. They’ve also addressed the issue of Access buses at the northbound stop – they’re supposed to use the curb north of the RR stop, so as not to hold up traffic south of the bus bulb. The intersection’s overall operation hasn’t changed – aside from a little tweaking – Ward said. The collision rate at the intersection has not changed since the RapidRide-facilitating features were first installed in summer 2012, he said.
*An apartment manager south of the intersection said her tenants tend to cross at mid-block because walking up to Fauntleroy and crossing “takes forever.”
*MoCA VP Chas Redmond suggested there should be no parking on the east side of California by Thriftway and the cell store to help traffic move. Blanco said that wasn’t feasible.
*Redmond also asked about how truck traffic would be dealt with for the upcoming excavation at the Murray CSO site. The city reps promised to look into that.
WEST SEATTLE TRANSPORTATION COALITION: Joe Szilagyi from the WSTC interim bard briefed MoCA on the coalition’s backstory and creation – starting with the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council‘s advocacy for SW Roxbury safety (which will bring a public meeting with SDOT sometime soon, he noted). The new group’s big issues include possible transit cuts, road capacity, densification without transportation/transit mitigation, and the peninsula’s natural barriers. “No one’s more isolated than us in total.” He mentioned the letter WSTC had just drafted and sent days earlier to dozens of entities, politicians, and media, laying out what they want the city, county, and state to do to fix transportation challenges. He recalled Councilmember Richard Conlin at the WSTC launch meeting (WSB coverage here, with video) saying there was a West Seattle transportation plan somewhere. Szilagyi said they found it – “and it was kind of stupid.”
He says WSTC wants to get as many organizations represented on the board as possible – the board, the Chamber of Commerce, Nucor, etc. – and whenever there are giant issues, this will be a voice. They also want to get neighborhood councils’ endorsement/support to say that the West Seattle Transportation Coalition can speak on their behalf when big issues come up.
MoCA agreed to officially offer its support, and will be drafting and sending a letter.
GETTING IT RIGHT-WEST SEATTLE: Shawn Terjeson brought a presentation about what he described as a “coalition” focused on the 4755 Fauntleroy Way project. Its goal is a “community benefits agreement” in exchange for granting the alley vacation the project requires. Terjeson said, “I’m just a guy on the street asking these questions … totally new to any kind of civic involvement.”
The group is trying to “get as many community councils on board as possible … get as many neighbors on board as possible … (and) talk to as many City Councilmembers as possible.” He said that after hearing the developers met with councilmembers downtown, he went downtown. So far, he said, they’ve met with Nick Licata and Mike O’Brien, and he said they support the goals of Getting It Right-WS. O’Brien believes the design process should be reopened on the project, he said, while acknowledging that’s not in writing. He said he is meeting November 6th with Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who runs the Transportation Committee.
He says Getting It Right has hired Sharon Sutton from the UW to design alternatives for the block. They want to enliven Alaska – he showed a photo of “the worst block in West Seattle,” further west with the blank north wall of Jefferson Square on one side and the similar Alaska frontage of Capco Plaza on the other. In a sneak-preview fragment of the alternative proposal, he showed that their consultant is proposing small retail along Alaska St. and Whole Foods along Fauntleroy. That would then move the parking entrance onto Edmunds. “The biggest ask is, give us some non-automobile public space,” he said.
What exactly do you want to do? he was asked.
“Make major adjustments,” answered a supporter, Jim Guenther, from the audience.
Rather than later circulate the letter MoCA was being asked to sign, the group asked that it be read aloud, to decide whether to act on it.
After that, there was no motion to sign onto the letter. There was a motion to table the issue until the next meeting January 15th. That failed. A Getting It Right-West Seattle rep in the audiene said maybe if MoCA didn’t want to sign the letter, they could draft their own; there was a motion to pick up on that idea and draft a letter expressing their own specific concerns.
MoCA member Tod Rodman said while some issues are valid, “The horse has left the barn,” and the issues should have been brought up earlier in the project.”
Guenther said, “If you say it’s too late, you’re accepting this for 50 to 75 years in West Seattle. … Go to Vancouver, B.C., see the setbacks, the light … the only way you’ll get that right now is if the city says (the project) has to change.”
Regarding Morgan not having gotten involved earlier on, Deb Barker said they had asked the developers to speak to the group and they had never showed.
Ultimately, MoCA did vote to draft and send its own letter.
WEST SEATTLE GREEN SPACE COALITION: The meeting was running long by the time vice president Redmond stood up to mention the City Light property disposition process; the coalition wants the City Council to slow down the potential sale so that there’s time for better proposals for the sites, instead of just selling them off fast to whomever has the money. Some of them might match city grants that take time to apply for. None of the properties is in Morgan.
HOMES PROPOSED FOR CHURCH LAND: The project we have reported on previously (here and here) – rezoning some of the site south of the West Seattle Church of the Nazarene – got a few minutes before the MoCA meeting ended, with a short presentation by developer and area resident Joe Parr.
He said Village Builders is the contractor for the project. “The church is really really run down,” Heather Parr noted, recounting how the project came to their attention. She explained that the church learned that selling the land off as single-family homesites would not have brought in enough money, so they came up with the idea of rezoning part of it to the west for six smaller townhomes. The site on which they’ll be built is mostly parking right now, she explained. They’re seeking to rezone to Low-Rise 1, from single-family home, and believe they have a 90 percent chance of it going through. They restated that the only tree to be lost would be an apple tree behind the parsonage. Two of the townhouses would have a smaller footprint. “It will be an 18-month process before we put shovels in the ground,” said Joe Parr.
SAWANT CAMPAIGN: Two City Council candidates were on the agenda; neither showed up, but candidate Kshama Sawant sent her campaign manager, who spoke for a few minutes. He says she is running because there are too many corporate candidates, and because the council is giving itself too many raises, now making the second-highest council salaries in the country (behind Los Angeles, he said). He listed Sawant’s three top issues are $15/hour minimum wage, funding for child-care and schools via taxing rich people and corporations, and transit/transportation. The potential 17 percent Metro cut is “insane,” he said. “We should be increasing funding for public transit.” Her opponent Richard Conlin “has been in office for 16 years with very little to show for it,” he alleged, concluding, “You can help us make history by electing somebody like this to the council.”
Other quick notes:
GROWTH TARGETS: Cindi Barker said Morgan is close to 70 percent of its growth target … not necessarily including the 5900 block of California microhousing, let alone the project we wrote about just before this meeting. But the West Seattle Junction is at 187 percent of its capacity, she noted.
STREET TREES: Also from Cindi Barker: SDOT will be flyering about street trees in the area, finishing a survey this month, with planting next month.
MORGAN FESTIVAL PLANNING TO START IN JANUARY: If you’re interested in helping MoCA plan next summer’s Morgan Junction Community Festival, planning will start in January and you can contact Deb Barker (look for contact info on the MoCA website) to talk about ways to get involved with the committee.
BIKE PLAN UPDATE: Cindi Barker says the next steps on the city Bicycle Master Plan Update are: Mayor’s office sending its revised plan to the City Council later this fall; the council Transportation Committee would have a hearing in December and then a vote, so the plan would be accepted either in late December or early January.
NEIGHBORHOOD PROJECT FUND: Deb Barker said the city notified MoCA it’s considering a $900,000 project for California/Fauntleroy – and they’re still trying to figure out exactly which one it is (official number, 2013-50).
The Morgan Community Association meets quarterly – next meeting, January 15th; watch for community updates in the meantime at morganjunction.org.