By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Two months after the Westwood-Roxhill Find It, Fix It Walk with Mayor Murray and a platoon of city employees, has anything been “fixed”? That was the biggest item – and the final one – on the agenda for this month’s Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meeting.
FIND IT, FIX IT FOLLOWUP: Lemmis Stephens and Laura Jenkins, working with the city via AmeriCorps, came to WWRHAH for the followup. Here’s the report they brought:
Jenkins pointed out that pages 7-9 show which projects were awarded grants – one of the neighbor groups, at 22nd and Henderson, will have one more work party this Saturday, and, as reported here a week and a half ago, have been paid a visit by overgrowth-munching goats:
At Delridge and Barton, WWRHAH’s Kim Barnes led the push for a grant to take care of a triangle of property that’s been problematic, and the city will help them in a process to vision what the space could be, resulting in a document with recommendations and ways to pursue future grants. It’ll be a “stepping stone document,” she said, to “document the space … with the city,” in hopes of making it accessible as a future transit center. The third project that got a grant, said Lemmxx, is lighting for the Barton P-Patch, which will be installed soon.
Regarding Parks facilities, regional manager Carol Baker was at the meeting to discuss what’s in the report, particularly regarding Roxhill Park. Since this summer, Parks employees have paid more attention to the trails, for example, she said. Crews “go in as a team on a more-frequent basis,” sometimes every day of the week. They’ve been working closely with police, with four meetings since the Find It, Fix It Walk – something they previously had been doing about once a year. They have increased the width of trails and view lines, she said. She said they’re not seeing encampments – groups camping – but “hanging areas,” where people come from out of the area and hang out, partying, doing drug deals. “We’re not cleaning encampments, but definitely cleaning camps,” she said, adding that a police liaison has been helping by going in and telling the people who are loitering that they have to move on – so they’re at least moving into more-open areas. “It’s not illegal to sleep in a park or simply hang out in a park,” she emphasized, but if laws are being broken, that’s where police can be brought in.
Baker said some “high tree canopy” will be pruned – “raising the canopy … so the people from Daystar next door can see (into the park) and report” problems, and it won’t be so dark in the daylight in the park.
Use the park, another attendee urged. Chair Amanda Kay Helmick said she’s long been advocating to get students involved in stewarding the park, getting a new generation involved. She voiced sadness at not feeling safe to walk through the park, since she lives nearby, and has advocated for it for so long. “I was really hoping that the Find It Fix It Walk, and having the mayor walk through there, would have a visceral reaction, like I’m having right now … it did a little, but …” Some advance cleanup done before the walk left a picture that “wasn’t what the mayor needed to see,” noted Roxhill Bog steward Scott Blackstock. “Let him see what it looks like.”
Helmick said that rehydrating Roxhill Bog, something WWRHAH has been advocating, would also help solve some of the problems.
“We shouldn’t lose hope about the park,” said attendee Mary, a longtime advocate for it.
“We’re not giving up hope,” said Helmick, “but … it’s exhausting. … Everything moves slowly. But it’s exponentially getting worse faster, and harder to keep up with.”
Within a few minutes, there were laments that there aren’t enough police, aren’t enough Parks personnel .. and the city has just hired a new Seattle Public Utilities director making up to a third of a million a year.
Regarding cleaning up in advance of mayoral visits, Baker notes, “you have to clean up the stuff that’s really unsafe,” and she said they got a chance to get graffiti at the skatepark cleaned up in advance, so they took advantage of it. Jenkins said they have heard the feedback about “don’t clean up before the mayor sees it” and have implemented it for subsequent FIFI walks.
WESTSIDE NEIGHBORS NETWORK: As reported on WSB last month, this new grass-roots organization is working on creating a “virtual village” – like way back when people lived in villages and “had each other’s back” – so people can age in place. Now, we live in “dense isolation,” as the reps put it, and this is an effort to solve the problems that creates. Their research shows that 40 percent of the people in this area who are 65+ are living alone. “At its core, a village is based on reciprocity – give what you want, ask for what you need.” The planning for this has been under way since 2015; it was reiterated, this is not just for seniors – it’s intergenerational – people can join earlier, help out, and “age into” the services that are offered. Aging would be a “catalyst” for community-building, counter to Seattle’s pervasive social isolation. “Interestingly, aging provides permission to break through that isolation.” 98106-98116-98126-98136-98146 will be the target zip codes, which covers the entire peninsula, and a bit further south. This is a network, not a social-service provider, it was made clear – something you do, not something done “for” or “to” you. It takes up to four years to get a village going, and this is the second year – outreach time, and that’s why the reps were here. If you’re interested in finding out more – even just volunteering to help make this a reality – e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
HALA UPZONE UPDATE: Kim Barnes, one of this area’s three reps on the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda focus groups for urban villages, brought an update. She said the group now has come to “the big pitch” regarding planned upzoning for the urban villages as part of Mandatory Housing Affordability. She says all the draft plans will be published on October 17th, and there likely will be a community meeting for West Seattle. As reported in our coverage of last week’s meeting of the Highland Park Action Committee (whose chair Gunner Scott is on the focus group too), a sample of draft plans has already been made public, including South Park.
VEHICLE NOISE POLLUTION RESEARCHER: Jesse Robbins, who’s been making the rounds of community groups around the city, was here to ask attendees if they’re having problems with noise pollution from vehicles with aftermarket muffler modification; he wants to “better understand” how different neighborhoods experience the situation. “We’re just three people who are tired of being woken up at 2 am,” he said of himself and other volunteers who are helping with this grass-roots survey (not affiliated with any government agencies). He said he’s been talking to police departments and others around the region, too. One attendee said there was some concern that a local shop is installing this equipment. Robbins said it’s not legal to install it, though it is legal to sell it. Another attendee mentioned loud motorcycles leaving the Fauntleroy ferry in the morning, and Robbins noted that he’d heard that from the Fauntleroy Community Association, too. He’s been to Alki and Admiral so far, and is planning to head to others.
DELRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL UPDATE: Chair Helmick recapped the district council’s September meeting (here’s our coverage), spotlighting the Neighborhood Street Fund community-generated proposals, just re-ranked by members of the district council. Results of that re-ranking have come in since the meeting – the Highland Park Way/Holden roundabout came in first, SW Barton safety improvements second, 16th/Holden signal improvements third, safety improvements between Chief Sealth IHS and Westwood Village fourth, new SW Brandon sidewalks fifth. Next step: The Move Seattle Levy Oversight Committee will review these and other proposals from neighborhood districts around the city.
DELRIDGE PROJECTS WORKSHOP REMINDER: Reminder from chair Helmick – 9:30 am-noon Saturday (October 6th) at Southwest Teen Life Center in Westwood (2801 SW Thistle), if you’re interested in something in east West Seattle, this is the place to be. Along the Delridge Way transportation corridor, in particular! (More information in our recent preview.)
SPEAKING OF ROXHILL PARK: The topic of people camping in the park, and the transit lines that begin and end there, was brought up, in the context of the new rules regarding camping that are under consideration before the City Council. If you have concerns, Helmick said, you need to let the City Council know – especially this area’s Councilmember Lisa Herbold (email@example.com) – WWRHAH has been advocating for the park for four years and needs more voices to speak up.
COFFEE WITH A COP: Before his section of the meeting, visitor Robbins brought up this national event and wondered if SPD participates at all. We’re checking.
The Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meets first Mondays, 6:15 pm, at Southwest Library.