Toplines from last night’s Highland Park Action Committee meeting:
ROUNDABOUT UPDATE: $500,000 of funding is in place so far for the proposed roundabout at the top of the Highland Park Way hill – the $200,000 announced at the Find It Fix It Walk in May, and another $300,000 from the Move Seattle levy. They’re now awaiting word on a state grant of more than $1 million, with hundreds of community members expressing support as well as city, county, and state elected officials plus U.S. Rep Pramila Jayapal. HPAC co-chair Michele Witzki says they hope to find out in November whether that grant will happen – it would virtually finish the funding for the roundabout. “This is exciting!” resounded around the room. Co-chair Gunner Scott noted that it’s far from the area’s only transportation need, though (as also discussed during the FIFI Walk). Witzki said that they’re awaiting a city report that will show the status of some of those other projects.
CRIME UPDATES: Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Ron Smith told HPAC that car prowls in Highland Park are down 49 percent from this time last year but “crimes against persons” – anything from domestic-violence assault to lewdness incidents like indecent exposure – are up five percent.
Robberies are down. Auto thefts and commercial burglaries are the categories of property crime that are up. The automated license-plate reader used by SPD helps catch stolen cars but the precinct only has one, and is trying to get a second. Highland Park “shots fired” – confirmed gunfire – calls are up slightly; six confirmed incidents (casings and/or property damage found) so far this year. Lt. Smith said a regional task force is addressing the gang problem that’s blamed for many if not most shots-fired incidents, and he mentioned the White Center arrests related to that situation.
Co-chair Scott said there’ve been social-media reports/discussions of bias crimes including harassment based on gender identity, including destruction of signs that express support for diversity. Detectives are investigating an increase in bias crimes around the city, Lt. Smith said, and said that the SPD Safe Place program is expanding to businesses in Westwood Village. He said that’s a good area for it for a variety of reasons including its proximity to local schools. Scott said HPAC is working to set up a weekend training for allies, and also looking into support signage. Lt. Smith said that’s good to hear because: “We want people to feel safe in their city.”
Asked if there are any suspects yet in the Westcrest Park murder of Derek Lopez-Juarez, Lt. Smith said all he can say is that it’s an “open and active investigation.”
MYERS WAY: Asked for an update on the situation there, Lt. Smith mentioned a new city attorney precinct liaison has found ways to enabled some sweeping of unsanctioned camping along the road – enforcing the rule about vehicles wider than 80″ not being able to park during certain hours, for example. Lt. Todd Wiebke is getting RVs towed if necessary after “making every effort to provide assistance.” He said they’re getting more enforcement for the 72-hour “move or else” rule – you can’t just move a vehicle one block or so.
One attendee said some RVs are using access roads “to actually go into the woods”; Lt. Smith said that’s on state property, and “this issue is a lot bigger” than what SPD alone can handle. He said they’re also examining issues including stability of the ground on the slopes on the east side of Myers Way. And he said that he believes Myers Way’s sanctioned encampment, Camp Second Chance, itself should be more stable with the change of operators from Patacara to LIHI.
WESTSIDE NEIGHBORS’ NETWORK: Judie Messier has been making the rounds of community groups as this “virtual village” to support aging-in-place gets ready to launch. This is the first time she’s spoken at HPAC. The organization officially incorporated as a nonprofit back in February. WNN is having its first-ever public event tonight, 5:30-7:30 pm at Ephesus (5245 California SW), a wine-tasting gathering with appetizers. “Everybody’s invited,” Messier says. She explained that WNN has two types of membership, as mentioned in our coverage of her presentation at the Southwest District Council earlier this month.
Phil Tavel joined Messier in talking about WNN, saying that the level of membership will determine the level of activities. “We’re asking people to join, to help build this,” so it will grow as the three other villages already in existence in the city are growing. Messier noted that when people join, they get to contribute to a “wish list” of what they hope WNN will grow to include, and they are using that to aggregate lists of who’s interested in what, and help them connect with each other. Is this redundant with organizations such as the West Seattle Timebank? Messier said it’s complementary, adding that it works differently – the membership payment here entitles you to a certain level of support, while organizations such as Timebank work on sort of a barter basis, with you entitled to receive providing you contribute.
CHANGING MEETING FORMAT: Starting in a few months, HPAC will create a new hybrid meeting format that will start with big-group conversation and updates, and then small-group breakouts for committees working on specific neighborhood issues. That will include existing groups such as West Duwamish Greenbelt Trails. And it will likely incorporate more partnerships with other neighborhood groups Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Coalition.
LEADERSHIP: Scott has spent two years as chair/co-chair and is ready to pass the baton. HPAC will be discussing its next wave of leadership in the months ahead.
PLANTING PARTIES: They’re planned for the new roundabouts on 12th, after the 7700 Block Club got grants for plants.
NEXT MONTH: Seattle City Light will come to HPAC to talk about the installation of automated metering, and the group will also hear about the new combined-sewer-overflow-control facility in Georgetown (near the north end of the 1st Avenue South Bridge).