When City Councilmember Lisa Herbold walked into Wednesday night’s Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting after an all-day budget session, members and attendees happened to be talking about the future conversion of Metro Route 120 to the RapidRide H Line. The discussion never did get around to any of the hot topics that had dominated the day – and some previous days – at City Hall, such as the “head tax” or encampment removals aka “sweeps.”
The RapidRide talk went on for a while, especially concerns that a lot of feedback already had been offered in previous discussions, mostly with SDOT during what was at the time referred only to the Delridge Multimodal Corridor process, but the next round of “engagement” seemed to be oblivious to that. Herbold said her office has been talking with King County/Metro and promised she personally would jump in after votes next week conclude the budget-change process – which she’s been leading as Budget Committee chair, a role gained in a domino process of sorts that began with former Mayor Ed Murray‘s resignation.
The road itself has enough trouble, one attendee said, without even the prospect of more, bigger buses, noting a big hole that we suspect was the same one called to our attention with photos on Twitter:
— Katherine Pratt (@GattaKat) November 15, 2017
The district council might wind up hosting a larger community forum, it was suggested, to discuss the future RapidRide line.
From there, other topics: Pete Spalding from Pigeon Point asked Herbold for an “inside scoop” on budget items that might affect this area. She explained that the budget chair’s role is “less focused on championing particular budget items,” so she focused on trying to “identify the (key) priorities” – earlier in the day, they went through 150 items before adjourning in the 5 pm hour. She mentioned the expansion of a workforce-training program for English Language Learners, with Neighborhood House High Point to be added as a location. “It’s been successful in North and South Seattle, and we have a lot of immigrant residents in the High Point area” who might be helped, Herbold said. She also mentioned several budget items that are geared toward South Park, which she represents along with West Seattle – including hiring a safety coordinator “to be sort of an ombudsman … someone with eyes and ears for emerging problems,” as well as a connection between South Park and Georgetown.
And she mentioned the order for SPD to work with the City Attorney’s Office on how to make it easier to enforce noise ordinances. She also mentioned the plan to beef up the vacant-building ordinance to “make sure the people responsible for these properties, often banks or absentee owners, should be doing a better job of maintaining these properties.” She said the intent is “that the owners of these properties pay a fee sufficient” to cover enforcement – “if we want a certain level of service, we need to charge a fee” that will cover it, to pay for inspectors to monitor vacant buildings, rather than just be reactive when complaints come in. She said that her staff has been tracking nuisance properties, so if you have one and haven’t let her staff know about it, please do send it in. Spalding pointed out that the “poster child for vacant buildings” is the red house on the east side of the north end of Delridge (it starred in a problem-properties tour with other councilmembers almost nine years ago).
Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Ron Smith noted what he has said at other recent community meetings – police have to get “trespass agreements” with vacant properties’ owners to be able to deal with getting people out; otherwise they don’t have proof that potential squatters aren’t supposed to be there. Lt. Smith said the area has an overload of vacant houses. Herbold said the council will hear soon from the Department of Construction and Inspections about what it’ll take to step up the new program, and she’d like to hear more from the community about what would really help. Chair McBride suggested perhaps eastern West Seattle could have a pilot program.
Herbold mentioned that the council did OK funding to expand LEAD and its policy board will be required to give a report on where expansion should happen, “so it’s not just limited to North Seattle” – Highland Park in particular has been requesting an expansion for a long time. Highland Park Action Committee co-chair Michele Witzki says it might be helpful for councilmembers to tour South Delridge to see firsthand what’s happening in some parts of the area.
McBride asked about the status of possible White Center annexation. Herbold mentioned that the South Park “sliver” annexation remains stalled because of the impasse between the city and county on some funding/improvement issues. So for now, the issue of annexation is nowhere near council level – it’s happening at the staff level. Herbold says her concern has always been, what is it going to cost to take on this obligation, and are we selling a neighborhood a bill of goods if we can’t afford what we might have to promise them? “I don’t want to bring another neighborhood in to the city whose needs we can’t tend to.”
When the change of heart for SDOT’s Chief Sealth Walkways Improvement Project came up, Herbold all but fist-pumped and lauded the community advocates who pushed back when the project reduction was announced: “The partnership we have with community members in this district is pretty powerful.”
RAPIDRIDE POSTSCRIPT: After Herbold’s departure, DNDC continued discussing the possibility of a community forum about the bus line changes. Topics that came up included the fact that local schools and their students/staff are stakeholders too, as middle- and high-school students use Metro for transportation, and the 120 serves many students from Chief Sealth International High School and Denny International Middle School.
A few other quick items from earlier in the DNDC meeting:
SOUTHWEST YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES: Their end-of-year donation drive involves an Adopt-a-Family Wish List – contact SWYFS if you’d like to help.
YOUNGSTOWN 100: A reminder that the 100th anniversary of historic Cooper School – now Youngstown Cultural Arts Center – will be celebrated with a big party on Sunday, December 3rd.
VIEWS: Visualize Increased Engagement in West Seattle is kicking off planning for Delridge Day 2018 and looking for people who can help with the festival for next year – graphic artist, website, festival components such as kids’ activities or skatepark activities – contact Pete Spalding (bayouwonder [at] comcast [dot] net) if you’re interested.
ROXHILL BOG: While waiting for the featured guest, topics included the recent Roxhill Bog peat fire and Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Coalition‘s push to get the bog restored.
The Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meets on the third Wednesday most months, 7 pm, rotating locations but currently at Highland Park Improvement Club, 1116 SW Holden. No December meeting, so next one is scheduled for January 17th.