West Seattle, Washington
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Those four “free” parking lots in The Junction aren’t really free.
As you are probably aware, the West Seattle Junction Association – area merchants and other businesspeople – pays to rent them.
And now that rent is in danger of skyrocketing out of their reach.
Today, representatives of WSJA and the parking lots’ ownership organization, West Seattle Trusteed Properties, met with King County staffers to make their case against a property-tax bill that has doubled – a bill that is entirely passed on to WSJA to pay, by terms of their lease for the lots; a bill that’s now at a sum that would drain the association’s finances quickly.
WSJA executive director Lora Swift brought this up to the merchants at their February 28th meeting at the Senior Center/Sisson Building (the same one at which a different parking issue, the city’s street parking study, was another big topic, as we reported that night). The 2016 taxes for the parking lots – again, entirely factored into the rent WSJA pays – totaled $53,000, she told the merchants. For 2017, that went up more than 50 percent, to ~$80,000. And this year, the tax bill has almost doubled, to $158,000. This isn’t just because of the higher tax rates that have affected so many; it’s also because a mitigating factor called “cost to cure” was applied for 2014, 2015, and 2016, but has expired.
And, Swift noted at the merchants’ meeting, the $158,000 is not the entirety of the rent – which would be “well over $220,000” for the coming year if the higher rate stands.
The 228 spaces offered to visitors for 3 hours of “free” parking represent a “source of civic pride,” as she put it, something unique to the West Seattle Junction. “For us to lose (them) would be tragic.”
Three items tonight:
ADMIRAL STABBING CASE: Kierra Ward, charged with stabbing a woman out walking with her baby last October, was back in court today. This was scheduled to be her trial-readiness hearing, but it was pushed back another week, because, the resulting document says, a “defense expert is continuing to assess the case.” The hearing was rescheduled for next Friday, March 16th; Ward’s trial is still set to start March 21st, pending the outcome of that hearing. She remains in King County Jail, in lieu of $400,000 bail.
PACKAGES TAKEN: The video is from Chelsea:
She says the two packages were taken from her doorstep near California and Andover around 4:30 pm, two hours after the second delivery, and notes that her front steps aren’t visible from the street. SPD incident #, if you have any information about this, is 2018-085748.
ABANDONED TRUCK: Kristen sent this in, in case someone is looking for this vehicle:
Black Ford Explorer truck at bus stop at Admiral and Olga St. SW. Back window broken, and garbage in vehicle and look alike steering column has been broken. Police said they will send someone out to tag the car this evening but may not investigate right away.
SPD abandoned the @getyourcarback Twitter account months ago, so we have no way to cross-reference possible stolen vehicles.
It’s Scouting for Food time – when local Scouts help the fight against hunger by collecting your donations. We heard today from Cub Scout Pack 799, which will be collecting in Arbor Heights a week from tomorrow, and putting out door hangers before then to let neighbors know about the drive. And they will have a dropoff spot, too, for anyone who wants to donate but is outside the pickup zone. Here’s the announcement:
Cub Scout Pack 799 Scouting for Food drive — Donation Collection in Arbor Heights
Saturday, March 17, 10 am to 12 pm, Cub Scout Pack 799 will be collecting donations for the West Seattle Food Bank, in the blocks between Marine View Drive and 35th Ave SW, and SW 100th St and SW 112th St, in the Arbor Heights/Arroyo Heights neighborhoods. Anyone in these blocks who wishes to donate can simply leave donations by front door by 9:30 am on Saturday, March 17th. Scouts will be distributing door hangers in the neighborhood this week, to get the word out.
Additionally, anyone who lives in the surrounding neighborhood, but is not exactly within our pickup area, is welcome to drop off donations at Arbor Heights Elementary School, 3701 SW 104th St, between 10 am and 11:30 am. Scouts will be stationed inside the front parking lot to accept drop-off donations.
Last year we had a successful drive, and our Scouts had a lot of fun doing it. We hope to have just as much fun this year, serving our community.
Our friends at West Seattle Food Bank say the most-needed items are:
– Canned meals (also meat, beans, fruit, vegetables, sauces) – list
– Kids’ backpack food (bars, juices, snack cups, instant soups, ramen) – list
Many thanks in advance, to all those who are able to participate, helping those in need in our community!
Parents, Leaders and Cub Scouts of Pack 799 (Arbor Heights)
Questions about our Scouting for Food drive? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone else? Let us know – email@example.com – thanks!
The state Attorney General’s office announced this afternoon that the owner of West Seattle’s Tacos Guaymas restaurant and others is charged with theft for allegedly not paying $5.6 million in sales tax. 57-year-old Salvador Sahagun of Bothell is accused of doing this by illegally using “sales-suppression software” for cash transactions. We looked up the court documents to get West Seattle specifics, but first, here’s the AG’s news release:
Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed charges against the owner of Tacos Guaymas restaurants for allegedly using “sales suppression software” for cash transactions, pocketing more than $5.6 million in sales tax.
This is the largest “sales suppression software” in Washington state history –– and potentially the largest in the country.
Salvador Sahagun, owner of several Tacos Guaymas restaurants in King and Snohomish counties, is charged in King and Snohomish County Superior Courts with a total of six counts of first-degree theft and three counts of possessing and using sales suppression software, which is illegal in Washington state. In addition to a potential prison sentence, the defendant faces up to $150,000 in penalties and could be liable for up to $5 million in restitution to the state.
“When businesses pocket sales tax, they are stealing from Washington taxpayers,” said Ferguson. “That money should be funding our schools and parks, not deceptive businesses.”
Salvador Sahagun operated six Tacos Guaymas locations in West Seattle, Broadway, Greenlake, Fremont, Lynnwood and Marysville. During an audit, an auditor with the Washington State Department of Revenue found that point-of-sale records from these restaurants did not match with tax returns submitted by Sahagun. Additionally, the auditor found that the majority of sales receipts were missing from Sahagun’s point-of-sale system.
Run on a point-of-sale computer or cash register, sales suppression software surreptitiously deletes or underreports cash transactions. The software then re-balances the company financial records to show a lower sales figure, reducing the business’ sales tax obligation. The retailer pockets the difference between what the patron paid, including the full sales tax, and what the software reports. These unscrupulous retailers often keep “two sets of books.”
Suspecting that Sahagun was using sales suppression software, Department of Revenue employees visited the seven restaurants on several occasions and paid cash for their meals. The auditor then compared the employees’ receipts with the receipts on the point-of-sale system to determine whether the transactions existed and the amounts matched. The auditor found that three of the restaurants were using sales suppression software to delete or underreport cash transactions.
The auditor determined that Sahagun owed thousands of dollars in sales tax at each location, ranging from $43,339 to $2,197,460. In total, the auditor determined that the owner owed $5,615,497 to the state.
The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
An arraignment in the case is expected March 21 in both King and Snohomish County Superior Courts.
In 2013, Washington passed a law making it a class C felony for anyone to “sell, purchase, install, transfer, manufacture, create, design, update, repair, use, possess, or otherwise make available” software or hardware that deletes transactions.
In February 2016, the Washington State Attorney General’s Office filed the first “sales suppression software” case in the country. In that case, the owner of Bellevue restaurant Facing East used sales suppression software to pocket nearly $395,000 in sales tax. The owner pleaded guilty, paying $300,000 in restitution to the state and $600 in penalties and fees.
After receiving the news release, we looked up the documents on file in the King County Superior Court online system.
Sahagun is accused of breaking the law between the start of 2012 and the end of 2016. One count of first-degree theft specifically names the West Seattle restaurant; the second count names the restaurants on Capitol Hill and in Green Lake and Fremont. (We don’t have the Snohomish County filings.) Two counts of use of “sales-suppression software” are filed in KC Superior Court, one specifically naming the West Seattle restaurant, the other naming Fremont.
The probable-cause document explains that “sales-suppression software” runs on cash transactions, not credit. It says the undercover visits by state Department of Revenue employees included five at the West Seattle restaurant between December 16, 2015, and December 29, 2015, and 30 visits to other locations. Of the $5,615,497 that Sahagun allegedly owes to the state as unpaid taxes, the court documents say $178,575 is from West Seattle. The auditor also reported determining that Sahagun “personally runs each of these restaurants,” and each day “gathers the cash and reviews the prior day’s sales.” No one else is named in the court document and there is no allegation that anyone else in the company was complicit. Since the AG’s news release used past tense, we checked city and state records to verify that Sahagun is still the restaurants’ owner.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The city’s proposed changes in parking rules continue to make their way through the City Council, with another briefing in the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee this week.
Hours later, the Southwest District Council heard from, and talked with, the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections staffers who wrote the proposal.
We’ve covered the proposal previously, dating back to its introduction in November by then-Mayor Tim Burgess. It had been in the works for a while, dating back to the Ed Murray administration – we mentioned before a city HALA-and-other-initiatives open house in January that parking was on the table too. SDCI’s Gordon Clowers and Mike Podowski told the SWDC at its regular March meeting on Wednesday night that it’s the first time in many years the city has addressed parking in the zoning code.
Also happening tonight in West Seattle:
That’s the trailer for “13th,” the award-winning documentary by director Ava DuVernay (who’s in the news right now as director of “A Wrinkle in Time“), which is being screened tonight at All Souls (WSB sponsor) Loft (second floor of 4138 California SW). Her film explores “the intersection of race, justice and mass incarceration in the United States” and is titled after the Constitution’s 13th Amendment. The documentary will be followed by a discussion with a local educator “discussing risk factors for young adults in our community and some data on who is in our local prison system.” It all starts at 7 pm; you’re welcome to bring your own dinner if you won’t have had it before the event.
If you pay bills at, or have other business to transact with, the city’s Southwest Customer Service Center (2801 SW Thistle), just a reminder – it will be closed for floor work next week, Monday 3/12 through Friday 3/16. This is scheduled to be concurrent with the last week of the maintenance closure at adjacent Southwest Pool; co-housed SW Teen Life Center will be closed too, per Seattle Parks.
Today’s highlights are already under way!
GIGANTIC GARAGE SALE: It’s the start of sale season and West Side Presbyterian Church is first out of the gate, with its two-day sale under way already this morning. Shop until 6 pm today and again 9 am-3 pm Saturday. (3601 California SW)
CREATE YOUR OWN COMIC: Free four-part workshop for 4th- through 7th-graders at Southwest Library starts today, 3:30-5 pm. Preregistration is required, so call ASAP (see the listing) to sign yours up! (9010 35th SW)
FISH FRIDAY: Second of three dinner events at Our Lady of Guadalupe‘s Walmesley Center during Lent. 6-8 pm – prices and menu in our calendar listing. Part of the proceeds benefit charity. (35th SW/SW Myrtle)
ART LOUNGE: Bring your art project(s) to Highland Park Improvement Club and enjoy a creative, fun atmosphere during the monthly Art Lounge. Beverages available. 21+. Doors open 7 pm. (1116 SW Holden)
DOG HOUSE PRAYERS: Live music at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor), 7-9 pm. (5612 California SW)
FREE CONCERT: West Seattle Community Orchestras‘ first spring concert “Fate! Love! Destiny!” is at 7:30 pm, Chief Sealth International High School auditorium – see a quick video preview here. Free; donations accepted. (2600 SW Thistle)
SEE WHAT ELSE IS UP TODAY/TONIGHT … and preview your weekend, via our complete calendar.
For 5th graders at Highland Park Elementary, it’s the trip of a lifetime – traveling across Puget Sound for outdoor education. But every year, teachers and community members have to raise money to make it happen. This year’s trip is almost here and they still need help, and asked if we could let you know. From the crowdfunding page:
Highland Park is a unique place. We are a Title I school that serves an extremely diverse population with 80% of our students receiving free or reduced-price lunch. Many of our students speak more than one language and bring rich, cultural backgrounds to our community. The wide spectrum of learners creates a distinctive environment where we are happy to teach and grow with our scholars.
Each year, we have the pleasure of taking our fifth graders on a trip to IslandWood – a school in the woods on Bainbridge Island, a short ferry ride from downtown Seattle. During the four-day excursion, students are exposed to many things that they have never seen or done before, beginning with the ferry ride across Puget Sound and extending throughout their time on site. The staff at IslandWood provides an authentic, engaging learning experience. Every year, we get to watch our students learn in a way that cannot be provided inside the four walls of a classroom. To see the transformation under which many students go when they step beyond the world they live in is nothing short of inspirational. We love seeing those ‘lightbulb’ moments when our scholars click with learning in new, indescribable ways. Not only is the trip to IslandWood a fun-packed adventure, but it shapes the fifth-grade community upon our return as well. We create a close bond and build deeper relationships that greatly improve our ability to rise to the demands of fifth grade.
We want every student to be able to take this trip and have the opportunity to do something completely outside of their normal routine. However, while all the benefits of IslandWood are impossible to quantify, they do come with a price tag. This is where we need your help.
As teachers of Highland Park Elementary, we want to raise money to subsidize the cost of IslandWood so that every student can afford to come, and the only way we can do that is with your support. The last two years, generous donations helped pave the way for our students to have this powerful experience and we want nothing more than for this year’s scholars to receive the same opportunity.
Please consider donating to this trip and help us change the lives of these fifty-eight scholars.
Here again is the link.
11:33 AM NOTE: As commenters point out, there appears to be a problem with the donation process, which isn’t shown until three steps in … we have a message out to organizers … if you were planning to donate, please save the link and check back later! Sorry! (Per comments – fixed.)
Family and friends will gather one week from today to remember Susan M. Stiller. Here’s the remembrance being shared with the community:
Susan Mary (Thomas) Stiller
Sue passed away unexpectedly on February 26 at age 67. She is survived by Thomas, her husband of 48 years, daughter Mary, and brothers Paul (Pam) Thomas and Richard (Barbara) Thomas.
She was raised in West Seattle, graduated WSHS in ’68, and retired from the VAMC, where she worked as a nurse. She had been a Hospice volunteer, member of US Coast Guard Auxiliary, and an altar server at Holy Rosary.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, March 16, at Holy Rosary in West Seattle.
In lieu of flowers, remembrances can be made to seattlehumane.org or American Diabetes Association.
(WSB publishes West Seattle obituaries by request, free of charge. Please e-mail the text, and a photo if available, to firstname.lastname@example.org)
6:53 AM: Good morning. Metro has sent out a multitude of transit alerts so far this morning. Two are for this area – the 7:15 am Route 55 from Admiral will not run, and the 7:39 am Route 113 from Shorewood will not run (that one skipped its 6:27 am run too).
This is all one day before Metro’s periodic “service change,” which includes some changes to local routes – here’s our original preview with details.
Also this weekend, Daylight Saving Time arrives early Sunday – at 2 am, we “spring forward” an hour to 3 am.
Otherwise – we’ve just checked around, and no traffic incidents are reported in/from West Seattle so far.
7:23 AM: Add to the bus list, the 8:22 am Route 56 won’t run, Metro says.
Whether you’re seeing this as you end your day or as you get it started … maybe you can spare a few minutes for a good deed, if you haven’t done this already: Nominate someone for this year’s Westside Awards! Today is the final day to get your nomination(s) to the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce, which will again this year present awards for:
Business of the Year
Emerging Business of the Year
Not-for-Profit of the Year
Westsider of the Year
Criteria for the awards include:
-Nominees will have made a major or visible contribution in the past year that reflects commercial growth and achievement, innovation, creativity or community involvement.
-Contributes and promotes the economic growth, stability and improvement of West Seattle.
-Gives generously of themselves and/or staff in time and resources to community activities.
-Consistently excels in customer service and business conduct.