day : 05/06/2018 9 results

AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE: At West Seattle hearing, more than 50 people tell City Councilmembers what they think about HALA MHA upzoning

(WSB photos added post-hearing)

6:03 PM: The first big West Seattle meeting about HALA (Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda) MHA (Mandatory Housing Affordability) upzoning was December 2016, “open house” style, centered in a crowded Junction restaurant. Tonight, a year and a half later, as the proposal inches closer to a City Council vote, a public hearing is under way in the relatively cavernous Chief Sealth International High School auditorium. It’s starting with a short refresher on toplines for District 1 (also presented to councilmembers yesterday) – here’s the slide deck:

Tuesday slide deck by WestSeattleBlog on Scribd

We’ll be updating as this unfolds, and we’re recording video, as is Seattle Channel.

6:07 PM: Three councilmembers are here as the hearing begins – West Seattleites Lorena González (who has citywide Position 9) and Lisa Herbold (District 1 rep) and committee chair Rob Johnson. City staffer Sara Maxana is giving the presentation that will be followed by public comment. The slides she’s going through are the ones in the deck – if you haven’t checked yet to see what changes are proposed for your neighborhood, you can use this online map. Even if you have been keeping up with the proposal, you might consider reviewing the deck “At the end of the day, what this program is about is trying to get new income- and rent-restricted housing” for the city, Maxana wraps up.

(From left, Councilmembers Herbold, Mosqueda, González, Johnson, and Johnson staffer Spencer Williams)

6:15 PM: Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda is here now too. A group from the MLK County Labor Council is speaking first as the public hearing begins; Councilmember Johnson says about 40 people are signed up to speak. The labor group’s members say they are for the proposal because the area needs more affordable housing and their members can’t afford to live in the city. Next is Matt Hutchins, a West Seattleite who says he is “lucky” because he can live here, but he is worried about others who can’t. He’s also worried about whether he will be able to age in place, and whether his daughter will be able to live in the area where she is growing up. “Building more homes for people who need them is a fundamental societal necessity,” he says. “I want to keep West Seattle livable, affordable, vibrant, growing.”

Next, Delridge resident Kirsten Smith is first to speak for a group of architects who support MHA. Another member says they feel “more affordable housing” is needed. Yet another member says the city’s in a crisis and has only a “finite amount of land … we believe density is the answer and change needs to begin now.”

They’re followed by Laura Loe, who identifies herself as a “renter in the U District.” She reads a statement from someone else saying that there need to be apartments in 90 percent of the city.

The next man says that he agrees Seattle needs more affordable housing. He is concerned about parking availability in neighborhoods like Fauntleroy, where people park and catch Rapid Ride C Line. He would like to see more of an investment in infrastructure. He said increased density in Ballard has not resulted in more affordable housing. He gets the first major applause of the night and Councilmember Johnson tries to dissuade it – “if we get 30 seconds of applause after every speaker, we’ll be here all night.” Reply some in the audience, “That’s OK!”

He’s followed by a speaker who said that even “affordable” housing won’t be affordable for many. Next, a man who says he’s a 30-year resident and lives near Jefferson Square. “I don’t believe anyone here is against affordable housing – the concern here is responsible growth.” That draws more applause. “I am not against growth – I would like to see the council take their time,” he says, after a brief riff of complaining about traffic.

Next, Jill Fleming from Alki, who says she has lived in West Seattle most of her adult life. It’s a place where “you don’t have to own a McMansion” to have a view. She is supporting MHA because she thinks that means more will be able to afford to live here. She’s followed by an 11-year-old Junction resident who says there are no kids in the area and families need houses to live in. After her, Christy Tobin-Presser, who is involved with the Junction Neighborhood Organization’s appeal of HALA MHA’s EIS, says she’s concerned that the proposal would not add new residents but would replace those who live there. She tells the council they have a responsibility to those who live here as well as those who want to.

After her, a man who voices concern about displacement of people in current affordable units. He’s worried that building out the affordable units promised by HALA MHA will take too long. He’s followed by a woman who recalls the “crazy meeting” in December 2016 that we mentioned above. “For people who are making the decision … think of how you would feel if you were vilified (as) a NIMBY …I don’t like the way this is coming in and sweeping as if some people count and others don’t.”

Former Junction Neighborhood Organization leader René Commons is at the microphone next, holding a green I LIVE in West Seattle sign that we’ve seen around the auditorium.

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New school-zone beacons in West Seattle – near school that’s about to move

If you drive SW Barton west of Westwood Village [map], you might have noticed those hand-lettered signs. Residents on the block tell WSB they were startled to find out that a school-zone flashing beacon was about to be installed there – considering that the nearest school, Roxhill Elementary, is about to move, as we’ve been reporting for the past 2+ years. We also noticed a flashing beacon being installed Sunday in the same spot on SW Trenton, near 30th SW:

30th SW in that area is slated to be part of the new West Seattle Neighborhood Greenway, with work starting soon, so first we checked with that SDOT project’s spokesperson; he said the beacons aren’t part of their project, and pointed us to SDOT’s Safe Routes to School program. Here’s how that program’s manager Ashley Rhead explained it, replying to us today:

The SDOT Safe Routes to School program evaluates speeds in school zones on arterial streets on an annual basis and makes recommendations for improvements based on this data. SW Trenton St has an existing 20 mph school speed zone. Last year, Seattle Public Schools assigned SW Barton St and 30th Ave SW as an adult crossing guard location. For that reason, we evaluated speeds on this corridor as well.

On both streets, we found an 85th percentile speed of 34 mph, considerably higher than the 30 mph speed limit. 30th Ave SW is a walking route to school for Denny Middle School and Chief Sealth High School. SDOT is also installing a neighborhood greenway along this corridor later this year. We expect this improvement to further increase the number of people walking and biking along this route.

With that said, we are revisiting the decision to install 20 mph flashing beacons on SW Barton St and collecting additional information. The plan to install the beacons is on hold for the moment. We have reached out to the school district to confirm whether SW Barton St and 30th Ave SW will continue to be an assigned crossing guard location, how many Denny Middle School and Chief Sealth High School students live southwest of this intersection within the school walk zones, and what education program will be housed in the Roxhill building next year.

We actually reported on the latter yesterday, with more information added to our story this morning. The programs include special education and one location of the alternative high school Interagency Academy; other details are expected at the community meeting planned for 6 pm Thursday at Roxhill (9430 30th SW). On Thistle, by the way, which borders the Sealth/Denny campus, the existing school-zone beacons don’t start until east of 28th SW.

FOLLOWUP: Testing to start as a prelude to Beach Drive seawall work at Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook

(2014 US Army Corps of Engineers photo of failing seawall)

For the first time since last summer, we have an update on the plan for seawall work at Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook. We just received this explanation from Seattle Parks of what’s about to happen:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the City of Seattle, and Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) are collaborating on the Emma Schmitz seawall repair. Together we are ensuring a successful cost-sharing program to restore shoreline protection at Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook in West Seattle. SPR entered into a Project Partnership Agreement with the Corps for the replacement of the seawall. The Corps is responsible for the design of the seawall, and one of the steps in the design process is to take soil borings to inform the final design. Drill equipment will be on site for several days starting the week of June 4.

Built circa 1927, the 450-foot stretch of seawall supports important City and County infrastructure, including a 54-inch sewer main, various Seattle Public Utilities drainage and wastewater lines, and Beach Drive Southwest road. The seawall is badly deteriorated, with a 30 percent chance of failure in the event of severe storm or tidal conditions. The new seawall will be built approximately 2 feet seaward and 2 feet higher than the existing wall, thus significantly improving the grade of this scenic viewpoint for the enjoyment of park users as well as ensuring long-term stability.

The implementation cost of the recommended plan is estimated to be more than $2 million, and will be cost-shared with 65 percent federal funds and 35 percent non-federal funds. The non-federal sponsor, SPR, is responsible for all lands, easements, right-of-ways, relocations, and/or disposal areas which are controlled by the sponsor.

The Corps is designing the seawall, and SPR will be designing the park amenities on top of the wall area. SPR will be holding a public meeting to provide information and gather input on these park amenities.

For more information on the boring and soil collection please visit (here) or SPR Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook page.

WEST SEATTLE CRIME WATCH: Seen any of this car prowl loot?

From Tim at West Seattle Runner (WSB sponsor), a request to look for “random items” taken in a car prowl last night, including one of sentimental value:

A partial list includes a collapsible plastic crate (black and grey) that had a few qt cans of paint, some books on running, a zippered clear bag that had a bunch of little things inside, including some replacement plug ends for extension cords, some maps, CDs, small little tools, and other misc. stuff, and a small 12v tire inflator. They took everything out of our center console, which ironically included a tiny book of the Constitution.

Also in the console was a few CDs, one of which was from our friends memorial. It was all of her favorite songs and had “Andrea” written on it. The Andrea CD is the only thing we really want back, the rest is all replaceable.

I assume that the thieves will dump most of this stuff somewhere since they can’t sell it for drugs, so we ask people to look out for a pile of these things. Keep whatever you find, but please let us know if you find the Andrea CD, we would really appreciate it.

UPDATE: 35th/Thistle crash, followed by search and arrest

(Added: Photo sent by Jason)

2:04 PM: Southbound 35th SW is blocked right now at SW Thistle after a crash reported to involve two cars, and police are looking for two people reported to have run/walked away from one of them. They were last seen westbound on Thistle, “possibly bleeding.”

2:07 PM: Now police are saying one person – all we’ve heard are that both were believed to be male – might have left NB on 35th, and the other might have been subsequently seen near 37th/Cloverdale.

2:15 PM: A K-9 officer is in the area and might be joining the search.

2:25 PM: Police have one person in custody a few blocks south of the crash scene. He was reported to have been hiding in a Honey Bucket.

2:57 PM: Crash scene is clear. Here’s where police found the man:

SFD was called to check on him for possible crash injuries.

10:53 PM: The suspect, 30, is in King County Jail, booked for investigation of hit-and-run. The jail register shows it’s his fourth booking in just under a year.

Denny International Middle School librarian hopes to shelve the notion that summer reading isn’t fun

(WSB photos)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

This is the week Denny International Middle School librarian Jeff Treistman has been working toward all year.

When the week’s over, he hopes to have put thousands of books in the hands of hundreds of Denny students to get ready for summer reading.

But they’re not from a list of required reading.

Treistman believes the solution to the dreaded “summer slide” – backsliding in progress, when school’s not in session – is choice.

So, by rounding up donations and grants for a year-long Home Library Project, he has put together a book fair this week that’s more like a book carnival – he’s calling it the Book Bazaar. Not just traditionally text-dense books, but even comic books! And whether their families can afford it or not, participating sixth-graders will end the week with books to take home and keep.

We visited the Denny library to talk with Treistman after a staffer at another school told us about his project. He’s in his ninth year as librarian, after three years as a math teacher. He explains that his project had its roots when he dealt with a challenge of supporting about 100 “reluctant readers.” As he “got deep into reading motivation,” he realized that “the most powerful thing is reading for pleasure.” So he set out to figure out how to support that – somewhat antithecal to the standard “here’s what you WILL read” assignments.

So that kids could get books to keep, not just borrow, he needed some funding. Grant-writing hadn’t been in Treistman’s wheelhouse before, but his first attempt – from the American Library Association – was a success and that gave him confidence to try more, ultimately bringing in $18,000! He also secured donated books from publishers and authors (including Nicola Yoon‘s “Everything, Everything”), and as he got ready for the Book Bazaar, a corner of the Denny library was brimming with boxes of them.

Will the summer-slide theory pan out? He says they’ll find out in the fall, and is confident they’ll “be able to measure some kind of impact … If I can prove it, I have a really strong advocacy piece!”

So here’s what he’s doing all week: The Book Bazaar is open to everyone in the library throughout the school day. Tomorrow evening, they’re having pizza, and more than 20 students will read poetry. Wednesday and Thursday are when Comics Dungeon will join the party, setting up in what serves, the rest of the time, as the computer lab.

Bottom line, Treistman hopes the Book Bazaar will provide the answer to what he’s ultimately asking those “reluctant readers”: “Do you hate reading, or just hate reading what the teacher assigned you?”

West Seattle Tuesday: HALA hearing, tunnel-toll comment, Avalon project, Whale Trail, Big Band, more!

(Submarine passing a short time ago – photo courtesy Lynn Shimamoto)

Very busy day/night on the peninsula! Here are the highlights from the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar:

SENIOR RESOURCE AND WELLNESS FAIR: Multiple-vendor event under way now and continuing until 12:30 pm at the Senior Center of West Seattle. (4217 SW Oregon)

HALA HEARING: City Councilmembers will be at Chief Sealth International High School tonight for a formal public hearing on the proposed Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning. If you want to speak, signups start at 5:30 pm. The event starts at 6 with a presentation and then it’s public comment time right afterward. In the auditorium. If you want a refresher, see our story on yesterday’s City Council discussion of what’s proposed for West Seattle/South Park. (2600 SW Thistle)

AVALON PROJECT OPEN HOUSE: Last month, we reported on what SDOT is now planning for the SW Avalon rechannelization and repaving project, which includes a few blocks of 35th just south of Avalon. Luna Park-area businesses remain concerned about parking removal. 5:30-7:30 pm tonight at American Legion Post 160 HQ, you can stop in and talk with SDOT reps about the project – concerns, questions, whatever you have. (3618 SW Alaska)

TUNNEL-TOLLING HEARING: This is a two-part event – informational open house 5:30-6:30 pm, then a meeting to take public comment, starting at 6:30 pm. The Washington State Transportation Commission has to make the final decision about what tolls will be charged when the tunnel opens later this year, and public comment is the next step in the process, as explained here, along with the options under consideration. This is at High Point Community Center. (6920 34th SW)

WEST SEATTLE BIKE CONNECTIONS: All interested in making the peninsula safer for bicycling are welcome to join WSBC for the monthly meeting, 6:30 pm at Neighborhood House High Point. (6400 Sylvan Way SW)

THE WHALE TRAIL: Love whales? See them inland tonight! The Whale Trail‘s special event this month features photographer Stephen Rink, as previewed here. 6:30 pm doors open, 7 pm presentation at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor), all welcome – tickets here, or at the door if it’s not sold out. (5612 California SW)

WEST SEATTLE BIG BAND: You are invited to tonight’s free West Seattle Big Band performance at Bridge Park, 7 pm. (3204 SW Morgan)

CHIEF SEALTH IHS PTSA: Last meeting of the year, 7 pm in the Confucius Center on the Chief Sealth IHS campus: “We’ll be voting in new officers, updating our organizations Standing Rules, and voting on the 2018-19 Budget. We’ll go over our accomplishments and what we are hoping for in the next school year!” (2600 SW Thistle)

WHAT ELSE IS UP? See our complete calendar here.

GRATITUDE: Dog owner’s thanks after rescue at Lincoln Park

Jann wanted to share this story and gratitude for those who helped search for and rescue their dog last Saturday – from passersby to a search/rescue organization you might not have heard about:

Murphy bolted after a squirrel while we were on a walk at Lincoln Park. I could not catch him and witnessed his little pointed ears disappear over the cliff side. By the time I arrived at the edge, I heard him rolling down the hill through the brush, but was not able to see him. Then there was no sound except kids playing, birds chirping, and waves crashing – it was deafening and I was stunned.

The first help I received was from two women walking a Golden Retriever. They looked all over the top side of the cliff and then walked all the way down the trail to the beach. We searched along the beach trail for any signs of Murphy – nothing. I would like to thank them for the time they spent assisting in the search.

After an hour of searching two times up and down the trail to the beach, with no signs or sounds of Murphy, and a muddled thought process, I phoned the non-emergency number for the Seattle Police Department at around 10:45 AM. I do not recall the dispatcher’s name, but she was very kind and patched me through to the Saturday duty officer for Animal Control. Again, without pencil and paper, I do not recall the officer’s name, but he was equally kind and texted me the contact number for Washington State Animal Response Team.

Gretchen answered for WASART, whose motto is “Helping animals & their Owners in Disasters”. We talked through the scenario and possible consequences which gave me some hope. She advised that 1) the available rescue team was in Enumclaw, and with the I-5 closure, it would a minimum of 3 hours for them to arrive, 2) she needed pics of the area and 3) permission from Lincoln Park Staff to conduct to park the truck with equipment. Gretchen advised me to continue to search as long as possible and that it might be the next day before any help would be dispatched.

Next, I phoned my husband who was working on a project in Everett. He headed home and I met him there at about 1:30. We returned to the LP and the location on the cliff – still no sounds or sight of Murphy, even with the aid of binoculars. We headed down the trail, searched all the way past the accident location, and then we caught a break.

A couple walking a white pit bull/boxer mix asked if they could be of help. The woman said she thought she heard a dog bark on the hillside. We walked to the location, which was just below where Murphy went over the side. My husband could not hear the bark, but I could, It was intermittent and we were now 5 hours after the fall. It was tough to tell if the bark was on the cliff side, the beach, or in the park, but the couple was pretty sure it sounded like the cliff side to them – that was really a ray of hope. The couple took my cell number and said they would text if they saw Murphy on the North beach trail. About 10 minutes later, they returned and advised that the trail they had planned to walk was too steep, but they would keep an eye out along the beach. We want to thank them as we may not have located Murphy or given up without their assistance.

I phoned Gretchen to advise that we thought we knew where to find Murphy on the cliff side. At 2;45, Gretchen phoned and advised us to go home and wait for a call from the rescue team with an ETA of that was at 6:00 PM. We were home for only 45 minutes when Gretchen phoned to say that team members were arriving at LP in about 15 minutes – 3;45.

While we were driving from the Admiral District – trying to not go too fast – Matthew from WASART phoned to say he would meet us at the NE driveway. We arrived, met Matthew and two other team members, Joe and Vallen. We headed to the cliff side to watch for movement and listen for barking. My husband stayed behind to advise the park staff that the crew was onsite.

At first we heard just an occasional bark, but I recognized it as Murphy and the team was sure it was coming from the cliff side. Then we heard some whimpering, and finally, a regular stream of barking. At that point, we were 6 hours and 15 minutes into the emergency. While the team was gearing up, two couples stopped to ask about what was happening, and all four of them stayed with me to provide moral support. My husband was still at the LP maintenance office looking for staff. The moral support from the by-standers was very welcome as I had spent much of the day wracked with guilt and thoughts of never again seeing our dog alive and well.

Vallen volunteered to rappel the cliff which at the lip is 90 degrees with a down slope of 80 to 90 degrees. It is covered with snags and poison oak. At approximately 50 ft below the lip edge, Vallen radioed that he found Murphy. However, he did not advise my dog’s condition. It was not until Vallen was about 20 ft below the top that we saw his yellow safety helmet with my little Toto Dog – he looks just like Toto – tucked under Vallen’s arm – Murphy’s little button eyes and pointed ears.

Once they reached the top, I broke down in tears (teary right now as I write) All of the by-standers applauded and we shook hands. I even hugged the two women who stood by me. My husband arrived just in time to see Vallen and Murphy hit topside. Thank you to the by-standers who waited so patiently with me and kept up conversation in order to keep me calm.

Other than being covered with pollen, a case blood shot swollen eyes, and complete exhaustion, Murphy is good. Thank you to SPD, Animal Control, our unidentified WS neighbors walking through the LP, and WASART!! They all were a part of the rescue and an invaluable network. We are still in a little disbelief that we have our dog – so thankful!!! WASART is non-profit. They are a terrific support and rescue group when a pet owner is hopeful or when all hope seems lost. The WASART website is: www.washingtonsart.org.

TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Tuesday watch, including bus trouble and downtown demonstration

(SDOT MAP with travel times/video links; is the ‘low bridge’ closed? LOOK HERE)

7:02 AM: Good morning. No incidents reported so far in/from West Seattle. But there’s been one transit alert – the 6:41 am Route 55 didn’t run.

TONIGHT: As previewed here, two of tonight’s major events in West Seattle involve transportation – a public hearing on Highway 99 tunnel tolling, and an informational open house on the current proposal for SW Avalon Way rechannelization/repaving.

7:29 AM: Another Metro alert, though after-the-fact “Metro Transit Alert -Route 113 to downtown Seattle due to leave 26 Av SW & SW 116 St at 7:04 AM will not operate this morning.”

7:34 AM: If your destination is downtown, note that SDOT reports a street protest at 2nd/Madison.

8:57 AM: Thanks for the text. A #57 bus is stuck at 49th/Charlestown after going up over the curb.

9:08 AM: Meantime, back at the downtown protest, police say they’ve ordered those in the street to disperse, and are working to remove those who didn’t. According to a Twitter photo, the protest is aimed at ICE.

9:23 AM: SPD says the downtown streets have reopened after they arrested protesters who didn’t disperse.

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