By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
If you like to be the first to know – Wednesday night’s Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting was full of looking into the future, including two major draft reports due out soon and updates from our area’s city councilmember. If you weren’t there, get ready to get informed on all of the above and then some:
TERMINAL 5 DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT OUT SOON: Paul Meyer from the Port of Seattle said he was at DNDC to get that message out. At one point, you might recall, the modernization project planned for Terminal 5 wasn’t going to have an environmental impact statement, which sparked a neighborhood protest including a petition drive. But then the port said it would need one after all because prospective clients for the new terminal were making it clear its operations would be more sizable than expected.
Meyer is managing the EIS process and said the visit two months ago (WSB coverage here) of the CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin, biggest cargo ship ever to visit North America, was a “test run” for the kind of megaships they’re trying to ready T-5 for.
Topline reminders about the modernization project: Adding pilings to strengthen the wharf and deepening the berth from 50′ to 56′, “affecting about 5, 5 1/2 acres and removing about 40,000 tons” in dredging. “That’s a fairly small dredging project,” he said. The third part of the project will be “to bring additional power supply to the facility, constructing a substation for Seattle City Light to run the power to our gate” to supply larger cranes and other infrastructure. The public “scoping” meeting last November, plus online commenting, had brought in “96 individual comments” to be used for preparing the draft EIS, which Meyer says should be made public in mid- to late May. Then more comments will be solicited.
No tenant formalized yet – “we’re still in negotiations,” Meyer said. “How can you analyze without knowing who the tenant will be?” he was asked. He explained that they worked with a consultant who would be familiar with any potential client’s needs, and that the analysis is done toward the worst-case scenario – peak hour, peak day.
What’s the appeal process if neighborhood stakeholders don’t agree with the draft EIS’s findings? Meyer said it would be open for comments and they are encouraging people to be prepared to review it and comment. “Then it goes back and we try to respond to those comments … and at that point those changes get incorporated in the final EIS.”
City Councilmember Lisa Herbold at that point gave Meyer a letter that she said reflects community concerns that had been brought to her, including issues such as providing shore power (which the port has said in the past would not be figured in unless a specific tenant requested it).
Speaking of the council … one of their directives was at the heart of the next topic:
DEPARTMENT OF NEIGHBORHOODS’ “STATEMENT OF LEGISLATIVE INTENT’: Sounds bureaucratic, but it’s at the heart of the future of groups like the DNDC, which includes reps from community councils and other organizations/institutions in east West Seattle, and its counterpart, the Southwest District Council, same thing for western West Seattle. The city set up 13 districts – see the map here.
The Seattle City Council’s “Statement of Legislative Intent” regarding the Department of Neighborhoods starts on the third page of this 25-page section of the most-recent city budget. From the DoN, Tom Van Bronkhorst summarized its three components – the department was asked to examine the relationship between the city and its district councils, to look at whether districts should be more closely aligned with the new City Council districts, and to look at what role district coordinators play. He said a draft of the requested report will be out on May 1st, and then city councilmembers will decide how they want to give direction and if they want to give direction. The department then would act on their comments and return to the council July 15th with a final response.
The document would be presented first to the City Council, even before it’s seen by District Council reps via the City Neighborhood Council, and Van Bronkhorst was asked why. He said that he had talked with district-council chairs already, and that the draft report will not have recommendations. He said he had heard “a lot” about district boundaries, including many concerns about current districts potentially having to combine within new council district boundaries, and whether that would cause problems with resources being distributed fairly between areas. He said the Northwest District Council is the only DC that hasn’t reacted either neutrally, or opposed, to that possibility.
Regarding changes in how neighborhood-district coordinators are used, Van Bronkhorst said he thinks “we are heading toward a time when we are trying to figure out ways to maximize district coordinators’ time while still providing some level of service to district councils.”
Ron Angeles, representing Southwest Youth and Family Services on the DNDC and himself a former longtime district coordinator, asked if there was any discussion of providing more resources to the councils, not less. “I don’t think the city should put on the district councils the sole responsibility for outreach,” said Van Bronkhorst. Angeles said that for example if interpreters were available, it could help bring in more participation from people “more representative of the Delridge community.”
Michael Taylor-Judd from North Delridge Neighborhood Council said that what happens now is more divisive because it’s set up separate levels of conversations – groups like this meet, and then the city goes out and meets separately with individual groups. Also from NDNC, Nancy Folsom said that pulling resources from groups like District Council “is not helping us do our jobs better … Pulling a resource from us is not a way to build ties between us and the Vietnamese community or the Cambodian community or the Somali community … it is just diluting the resources. You are really patronizing us by saying ‘oh, we don’t want to put that responsibility on you’. … Why not add resources, if it is important to you to build stronger, more diverse communities?”
A rep from Highland Park pointed out other circumstances in which interpreters are badly needed. “I feel like we’re circling around an an issue and not dealing with the main point … the city needs to help communities, especially communities where 25 percent of the people are not from this country.”
The district coordinator who assists the Delridge council (among many other things), Kerry Wade, at that point explained a city initiative in which community members help with translation.
What’s next: As outlined in the Council “statement” noted and linked above, the May 1st draft and July 15th final reports will shape what happens from here with districts and coordinators.
COUNCILMEMBER LISA HERBOLD: Along with observing the meeting – as she has done with many community meetings since taking office, in addition to all the meetings and events that come along with the councilmember job – Councilmember Herbold was officially on the agenda to talk about issues on which she’s working, as well as Q&A with attendees.
First – she noted she had just completed her first 100 days on the council. Then: Her next “district office hours” event is coming up, first one in South Park after the first two were in West Seattle, 11 am-5 pm Friday (April 29th) at South Park Community Center (8319 8th Avenue S.).
She mentioned visitors for those previous two office hours had included a West Seattle McDonald’s owner who came to talk to her about the “secure scheduling” issue she’s been working on. People having their schedules changed at a moment’s notice suffer real problems, including a “huge fluctuation of hours from week to week,” she pointed out. “We’re looking to create some standards for employers” while realizing that some jobs do require some flexibility, such as wait staff for restaurants with outdoor areas who can’t predict well in advance whether they’re going to need the extra help for a sunny day. She said that the stakeholder meetings about this are happening in open, public meetings of the committee she chairs (Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development, and the Arts), with employees and employers getting the ability to speak directly to councilmembers about what will work and what won’t work. “These are difficult conversations, difficult to have in public …” The next one is Tuesday (April 26th), 9:30 am; meeting info is here.
Councilmember Herbold also mentioned that since her committee includes oversight of Seattle Public Utilities, she’s dealing with the overbudget, behind-schedule billing-system issue. Her committee and the Energy and Environment Committee led by Councilmember Kshama Sawant, overseeing City Light, will have a joint meeting to look at this. They’re also asking for an audit of the project.
First question for Herbold was from Pigeon Point Neighborhood Council‘s Pete Spalding, wondering if the $11 million for rental and utility assistance in the draft Housing Levy could be increased “to try to stem the tide of some of the people getting evicted, so we can slow down the tide of folks hitting the streets.” Councilmember Herbold replied that there’s some questions about whether that would keep people from becoming homeless. She mentioned an amendment she had proposed for Friday’s Housing Levy Committee meeting to increase the levy’s funding for another way of meeting that goal (Crosscut says the amendment was approved).
The second question, also from Spalding, was about recent council appointments to the Community Police Commission. He said the group was supposed to represent different areas of the city but he doesn’t see any from West Seattle. “When these new folks were appointed, was (geographic diversity) even a consideration?”
Next, a question about the Myers Way Parcels – the southeastern West Seattle lands that the city might soon sell, as we’ve been reporting here. An attendee suggested that some of it could be a demonstration garden, part of a youth program, environmental learning, Herbold said she had sent a letter last week to the city’s property-managing department (Finance and Administrative Services) – “I didn’t ask for more time, but I asked for certain things to be done before it’s sent to the council for consideration,” including more outreach and information gathering around “what’s special about the property, what some of the actual attributes are and getting them to catalog those in a way that people understand what’s at stake … and then the other piece is asking for more of an assessment about the impacts of that property to the ecosystem.” She says she’s been thinking about trying to organize some sort of public tour of the property. Right now, she says, the city seems to be on a track to decide how much of the site to get rid of, how much they want to keep; now they’re “only” looking at getting rid of 12 acres or so, and she says it’s important to get that word out.
District coordinator Wade said her department has been trying to work on more outreach about the Myers property, too: “What part would they sell off, what part could be kept, what would it be used for?”
“What about tabling it?” asked Amanda Kay Helmick from the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council.
“A request could be made of FAS not to make a recommendation,” said Herbold. She is vice chair of the committee that would consider a recommendation.
She noted that different parts of the site are under different ownership within the city.
Last question: Where does she stand on Sound Transit 3, with different councilmembers advocating for different aspects of, and potential changes to, the plan? She said: “I could be out and being very public and advocating for something, but without knowing what the thing is that this community is coalescing around, it’s hard to know what that is.”
She said it does seem clear that there’s an interest in looking at tunneling. She said Councilmember Mike O’Brien is trying to put together a letter expressing where the city stands.
Two events are coming up next week in West Seattle – the ST3 open house at West Seattle High School at 5:30 pm next Tuesday, and then the West Seattle Transportation Coalition will be discussing the proposal on Thursday (6:30 pm, Neighborhood House’s High Point Center, 6300 Sylvan Way SW).
Herbold said she just wants to see it reflect what the community wants.
One other major agenda item – part of the DNDC’s ongoing series of closer looks at community organizations:
SOUTHWEST YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES: Executive Director Steve Daschle presented a primer on the agency, headquartered in North Delridge, starting with its mission statement: “We partner with youth and families to transform their futures.”
Some of the ways SWYFS does that: Via a counseling program (as a licensed mental-health agency), and for the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative, they’re the southwest network coordinator, working with police, schools, courts, communities to identify kids who at risk for becoming victims or perpetrators. He said they work with about 500 youth in this area. They also have a family center providing support for many immigrants and refugees living in this neighborhood and identifying leaders – Somali, Latino, Iraqi, and Cambodian, in this community – to help the new arrivals access services and “navigate the crazy quilt of systems we have to figure out in this country to enroll kids in school, get housing,” even deal with utilities.
Then there’s the parent/child home program for 2-4-year-olds, visiting htem twice a week for two years. “What’s so incredible about this program, a half-hour home visit, the home visitor brings a book, sits down with parent and child, demonstrates how to read a book to the child, then the second visit that week, the parent echoes it back. The next week, they bring an interactive toy and demonstrate how to play with it.” Daschle said that kids who successfully complete the program wind up graduating from high school at the same level as their middle-class peers. “It’s such a simple intervention, but if you catch them at an early age, you can have profound effects.” There’s also a teen-parent program, so young parents can continue their education. Another education program,
They also have community celebrations and an education program – the Interagency Academy and “our own school for kids who’ve been kicked out or dropped out of school, to help kids who’ve been disconnected from their education reconnect.” They have 70 students enrolled right now, working with both the Seattle and Highline districts; 18 will graduate from high school this year.
And he mentioned merging with New Futures in South King County, located in three King County Housing Authority complexes. “They discovered the kids who were failing in the Highline district all tended to come from the same apartment complexes, very low-income families, working families, parents often working two jobs, kids don’t have access to bus transportation because of the challenge of having to go home and take care of their siblings or *otherwise) support the family, so we have afterschool programming and advocacy in each of those sites.”
SWYFS finds itself providing more services in south King County, because, Daschle said, Delridge, where SWYFS has been for 20 years, is changing – “a lot of our families are moving further south, and we have to follow them.”
Three things he mentioned quickly before wrapping up:
*April 26 at Camp Long, a “Jeffersonian dinner” focused on how to support LGBTQ youth. Find out more about it here.
*May 18th, the SWYFS benefit breakfast. Find out more about it here.
*SWYFS and other agencies are in the early stages of talking about a possible affordable-housing project, with space for the agencies too, at the site that currently houses the White Center Food Bank at 8th/108th in WC. “We’re hopeful we can pull together the resources to build some housing at that site.”
What kind of community support do you need for that project? asked Helmick. “It’s still very conceptual right now,” said Daschle, “and we’ll be coming back for community support.” He said he is aware that some in WC will be resistant to more affordable housing, “but I think we’re going to have to try to overcome their concerns by suggesting that housing is never a bad thing.”
Among other quick announcements at Wednesday’s meeting:
NEIGHBORHOOD STREET FUND: DNDC has submitted 17 applications, said Wade. Next month’s DNDC meeting on May 18th will consist entirely of presentations and reviews of those 17 applications.
WEST SEATTLE GRAND PARADE: There’s again a proposal for neighborhood groups to march in the parade. David Whiting from the Admiral Neighborhood Association issued the invitation. This year’s parade is on Saturday, July 23rd.
ROXHILL FIND-IT-FIX-IT WALK: It’ll be toward the end of July, exact date not yet set. Helmick said they’re looking for people to get involved with planning it.
The Delridge Neighborhoods District Council usually meets at 7 pm third Wednesdays at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center.