West Seattle Blog... » Arbor Heights http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Tue, 26 May 2015 04:19:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 FOLLOWUP: Plan for West Seattle’s first proposed charter school proceeding on multiple fronts http://westseattleblog.com/2015/05/followup-plan-for-west-seattles-first-proposed-charter-school-proceeding-on-multiple-fronts/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/05/followup-plan-for-west-seattles-first-proposed-charter-school-proceeding-on-multiple-fronts/#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 20:46:30 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=311401 Less than five months after we discovered the plan for what would be West Seattle’s first charter school, its prospective operator has officially submitted its application to the state.

California-based Summit Public Schools is asking the Washington State Charter School Commission for authorization to open what would eventually be a 6th-through-12th-grade campus at what’s now the Freedom Church/Jesus Center, a former supermarket site on the southwest corner of 35th SW and SW Roxbury. Summit says it would phase in the seven grade levels, starting in fall 2016 with 6th and 9th grades. (Charter schools are publicly funded but privately operated, as explained here.)

Summit has approval to open its first two schools in our state this fall, both high schools – one in the International District and one in Tacoma. Last week, when Seattle Public Schools were closed on May 19th, Summit brought members of the future first Seattle class over to the Roxbury/35th site to paint murals for the school opening in the ID this fall, which is still being remodeled.

They were advised by Native American artist Andrew Morrison, who also worked with young artists on the signal-box mini-murals along Delridge two summers ago:

But back to the Roxbury/35th plan. It’s making its way through the city system, with a site plan now on file showing more details than the one we first reported on at the start of the year:

In addition to renovating the main building – the former grocery store – two 2-story additions are planned along the Roxbury side of the property (shaded in the “site plan” sketch above), and a one-story addition to connect the one at the Roxbury/35th corner to the main building. The site-plan document says the additions will total more square footage – more than 27,000 – than the existing building (23,000+).

For parking, 65 motor-vehicle spaces and 52 bicycle spaces are proposeed. Though the document says the school could eventually bring 125 cars, the prospective school operators say they only will be required to have spaces for half that many because the site is close to frequent transit – the RapidRide line stops right across the street. The bicycle-space count is 22 more than the city requires.

HOW TO HAVE A SAY: The land-use-permit application is in the system as #3019454, if you’re interested in commenting. No public meeting is required, as this is not going through Design Review. Meantime, the process for approval of the charter school itself is outlined here; the Charter School Commission must set a date for a public forum on Summit’s application to open the school, but as far as we can tell from the commission’s calendar, it has yet to be announced. We don’t yet have the official application document for the proposed school, but hope to procure it later this week, and will publish another followup when we do.

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@ Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council: CSO projects, AH microsurfacing http://westseattleblog.com/2015/05/westwood-roxhill-arbor-heights-community-council-cso-projects-ah-microsurfacing/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/05/westwood-roxhill-arbor-heights-community-council-cso-projects-ah-microsurfacing/#comments Thu, 07 May 2015 05:10:54 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=309398 Our toplines from last night’s Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meeting:

CSO PROJECTS: It’s been about three months since Seattle Public Utilities started working on improvements to its two combined-sewer-overflow storage-tank sites in eastern West Seattle, one a few blocks east of Westwood Village, one on the east side of the Delridge/Orchard/Dumar intersection. Project manager Tara Wong-Esteban came to WWRHAH with updates. Both projects will be done by year’s end, she says. The one that’s in WWRHAH’s area of interest, CSO #3 at 22nd/Henderson, is is the midst of major work right now, including a diversion facility at Barton St./Barton Place. Soon an access path for city trucks’ maintenance access will be built; it will include paving stones surrounded by grass. The landscaping overall will make the area more open, she said. Here’s the design concept:

The project also is getting an art installation, as part of the Municipal Art Plan; artist Rebecca Cummins was introduced at the meeting. She’s going to use water valves like those found in CSOs to make cameras obscuras – you can see an image on this city webpage (scroll down to the bottom and click the image for a closer look). Two will be installed along the Barton side of the project, the smaller one intended for kids walking by.

ARBOR HEIGHTS MICROSURFACING UPDATE: As he had at last month’s Southwest District Council meeting, SDOT’s Art Brochet provided an update on this summer’s plan for more microsurfacing in AH.

Compared to chip seal, microsurfacing needs time to set and dry, once it’s put down. They’re still trying to work out logistics for the roads going into the Arroyos in southwesternmost West Seattle; the project is out to bid and the contractor’s not chosen yet, Brochet said, so that’ll be worked out once those details are finalized. He was asked about some other pavement issues in WWRHAH’s area, including the Westwood Village area, and promised to pass those along. WWRHAH co-chair Amanda Kay Helmick noted at that point that issues had arisen during the recent multi-agency walking tour around WWV (WSB coverage here) and they hadn’t received updates from the city reps who had participated, so she said she’d take Brochet up on his offer to help them find out where things stand.

WWRHAH meets on first Tuesdays, 6:15 pm, Southwest Library.

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PHOTOS: See inside the new Westside School, as it gets closer to ‘Heading Home’ to new Arbor Heights campus http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/photos-see-inside-the-new-westside-school-as-it-gets-closer-to-heading-home-to-new-arbor-heights-campus/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/photos-see-inside-the-new-westside-school-as-it-gets-closer-to-heading-home-to-new-arbor-heights-campus/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 18:29:31 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=308124

(Looking southward toward the new Westside School campus)

Story by Tracy Record
Photos by Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers

Two and a half years in the planning … seven weeks to “substantial completion” … one year after groundbreaking.

Westside School (WSB sponsor) moves into its new home in Arbor Heights this fall and is now showing off how it’s taken shape.

We toured the construction/renovation site this week with Westside’s head of school Kate Mulligan (above) and assistant head of school Don Cunningham, who has been the “owner’s rep” on the project. (They’re getting ready for an open house tomorrow at Westside’s current location – more on that later.)

First, some backstory: We first reported in November 2012 that Westside was planning to buy what was at the time Hillcrest Presbyterian Church, at 34th SW and SW 104th (map).

Westside, founded in 1981, has been leasing the former EC Hughes Elementary in Sunrise Heights from Seattle Public Schools since 2010, moving there from a former Highline Public Schools building just east of Arbor Heights. So in many ways, this is, as Westside has dubbed the journey of building and moving, “Heading Home” (a theme that figured into its groundbreaking celebration almost exactly a year ago).

The process of transforming the former church – via Sundberg Kennedy Ly-Au Young Architects and general contractor Kirtley-Cole Associates LLC – brought unique opportunities. This wasn’t a teardown project – it’s a remodel and expansion, as is particularly notable from the outside of the former sanctuary, with “pop-out” added space like this:

“We’re excited to repurpose an under-utilized old building,” Mulligan enthuses. “Because (of that), we get a lot of elements a pre-K-8 school doesn’t usually get.”

That includes a gym – already part of the site – and a performing-arts center, which is on what was the choir-loft level and is now a full third level.

The transformation begins outside, where the project includes new sidewalks lining 104th and 34th.

Traffic will enter on 104th and route through the site southbound onto 34th. Queueing will happen on campus, not on the street. The campus has parking as well as an agreement with the New Apostolic Church to the south for overflow use when needed.

34th, on the west side of the campus – where dropoff and pickup will happen – is the street onto which Westside’s grand entrance and lobby are fronting.

Mulligan points out that everyone will come through that entrance.

For parents, it will have space to hang out and have coffee. It’ll be full of light, even on days that aren’t as bright as sunny Wednesday, when we toured.

The courtyard between the main and gym buildings is visible through east-facing windows.

Our tour moved on to the gym. “We use the gym all day, all night,” Mulligan points out, with Westside participating in the CYO league for four sports, which means it often plays other West Seattle schools such as Our Lady of Guadalupe and Holy Rosary.

The gym’s features – along with its “beautiful wood floor” – will include retractable stadium seating.

Beneath the gym is the lunchroom (and two connected art rooms).

As well as its interior features – including a five-unit handwashing station outside the bathrooms – its showcase point is connectedness to open air and open space, via garage-style roll-up doors on the east side that will be open as weather permits, a direct exit from lunch to playtime, with both a grassy area and hardscape outside.

It’s intended as a place where “kids feel safe and free, but secure,” Mulligan explains, “a place where they feel ownership.” Here’s a view from another part of the building, looking down toward the rollup doors’ exterior, and the future play area:

Taking advantage of natural light in as many places as possible, the first level is also home to the K-4 classrooms (accommodating Westside’s two classes per grade level) and added features including a reading nook with a bench and a whimsically round window – like the one in the stairwell shown below – as well as “idea spaces” outside classrooms, intended for collaboration.

The section of the floor with the least natural light is where they’re concentrating features that don’t need it – the ADA-compliant elevator, storage, etc.

As we peek into classrooms, Cunningham touts not only the utilization of natural light but the energy efficiency (the roof has solar panels too, by the way):

On the second (entry) level of the main building are the middle-school classrooms as well as features that other grades will share, a tech lab, with room for work on projects from robotics to film-making and more.

Elsewhere, a spacious area looking out to the west will serve as a student gallery, not just for artwork, but also for academic creations including writing and science:

Nearby, the library, adjacent to a conference room … and classrooms for Westside’s language curriculum, Mandarin and Spanish. And it’s in one of many sections of the building with overhead interest thanks to the shape of the original structure.

Then the crown jewel – the performing-arts center, also the space where Westside will be able to have all-school assemblies, accommodating what will be more than 400 members of the on-campus community (about 350 students and 60 staffers) by move-in time this fall.

Behind its huge stage is a music room, though Mulligan envisions some instruction happening on the stage as well. Some complementary uses are already in the works – the performing-arts center will be a boon to Sing Out Seattle!, which is already headquartered at Westside’s current campus.

It’s important to Westside that its students be the ones to inaugurate the new campus – that “ownership” mentioned earlier – so this year’s summer programs will be housed at the soon-to-be-ex-campus, even though they’re hoping to have the “certificate of occupancy” by mid-June, and to start moving in July.

ABOUT THAT OPEN HOUSE ... tomorrow (Saturday, April 25th), 10 am-noon, at the current campus, 7740 34th SW (map). Its main focus is the pre-K program, but Mulligan stressed that all are welcome. (Westside will serve preK through 8th grade when its middle-school phase-in concludes in fall 2016.) You can find out more about Westside by perusing its extensive blog-format “Inside Westside School” website here. It includes a section about the new campus, where you’ll also find this video:

SIDE NOTES: The church that sold Westside the building in its own downsizing move is now Living Hope Presbyterian, located close to where Westside used to be. Mulligan says the relationship has been friendly – church members will be invited to come see the new school when the project is complete, and they invited her to their final service at what’s almost complete as Westside’s home. … As for the ex-EC Hughes building that’s been housing Westside – Seattle Public Schools’ current plan is to use it as an emergency/interim building, as it had been before Westside leased it. … While Arbor Heights will have three newly built/remodeled schools within a few blocks by 2016 , Westside will be the only one open this fall, as the reconstructed Arbor Heights Elementary and the planned charter school at 35th/Roxbury aren’t scheduled to open before fall 2016.

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UPDATE: Why Guardian One helicopter was over Arbor Heights http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/why-guardian-1-was-over-arbor-heights/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/why-guardian-1-was-over-arbor-heights/#comments Thu, 02 Apr 2015 19:40:39 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=305962

(Thanks to Sherry for the photo)
12:40 PM: Thanks for the tips (206-293-6302 any time) about the Guardian One law-enforcement helicopter over Arbor Heights. It was gone by the time we got there to look, and nothing was detectable via the scanner, but King County Air Support has just tweeted that they were helping look for a stolen car, and that the car was found.

ADDED 2:20 PM: We asked KCSO spokesperson Sgt. BJ Myers for a few more details. Among other things, this explains why we didn’t hear anything on the scanner:

Early this morning, a deputy on his way to another call got an indication on his in-car LoJack sensor that a stolen car was in the Arbor Heights area. The deputy wasn’t able to follow up on the alert, so Guardian One came out today with their LoJack sensor and located the stolen vehicle dumped near SW 102/26 Av SW. A detective came out and recovered and processed the vehicle for evidence. It was stolen from Seattle.

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West Seattle Crime Watch: Arbor Heights exposer reported http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/west-seattle-crime-watch-arbor-heights-exposer-reported/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/west-seattle-crime-watch-arbor-heights-exposer-reported/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2015 05:25:01 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=304459 Reader report with an alert from an Arbor Heights resident who encountered an exposer this afternoon:

In the alley behind 100th between 37th and 39th, a 20-30-year-old white male (was) masturbating, watching me mow my lawn. I contacted SPD. Be aware of your surroundings!

That’s the only description given.

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Arbor Heights Elementary School project update: Winning bidder; restart date http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/arbor-heights-elementary-school-project-update-winning-bidder-restart-date/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/arbor-heights-elementary-school-project-update-winning-bidder-restart-date/#comments Fri, 13 Mar 2015 21:30:49 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=303815

(WSB photo, taken this week, looking southwest across the AHES site)
Someone asked us why the Arbor Heights Elementary rebuild site is idle. That’s by design – as reported several times before, this was intended to be a two-phase project, with demolition/site prep in the first phase, and then a stopdown while the full construction project went out to bid. We checked in with Seattle Public Schools today and confirmed that Bayley Construction is the winning bidder, for $25.4 million; the contract is expected to be awarded within a few weeks, likely going to the School Board on April 1st. If all goes as planned, work at the site is expected to (re)start in early May, though the district tells us neighbors might see some activity – such as “trailer mobilization” – before then. The new school is expected to open in fall of 2016; AH continues using part of the Boren Building as its temporary site until then.

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Door-to-door alerts: Two today from Arbor Heights; plus, read the rules http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/door-to-door-alerts-two-today-from-arbor-heights-plus-read-the-rules/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/door-to-door-alerts-two-today-from-arbor-heights-plus-read-the-rules/#comments Fri, 13 Mar 2015 01:46:04 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=303723 With warmer weather and later light, solicitor reports are picking up – including these two reports from Arbor Heights today, which are followed by information on city rules and what you can do if someone you don’t know comes to your door, soliciting or not:

Most-recent report:

A heads up to the neighborhood. This just happened … around 3 pm. We are near 100th & 37th. A male in his mid-20s, lots of tattoos, looked very dirty, knocked on our door and rang the doorbell numerous times. My fiance was home at the time and eventually answered the door. The guy told him his entire life story, how he was recently out of prison, trying to find work. Tried to sell us a fake magazine subscription and would only accept cash. Fiance told him he had no cash on him. The guy tried to convince my fiance to go an ATM, etc. Told him he couldn’t leave, he was working. The guy got extremely mad and aggressive, but eventually picked up his bags and left. We live down a long private driveway and this is very nerve-wrecking. The guy kept commenting what a good neighborhood this is with all the “rich” houses. I think he is scoping out houses. My fiance filed a police report. The guy is likely still in the neighborhood. If you see him, follow up with police, since he is clearly a suspicious person and likely up to no good!

No further description so we don’t know if it might have been the same person from another report earlier in the afternoon:

A man knocked on my door this afternoon and after I asked twice “who is it?” He said “it’s David” I said, “I don’t know you” and he said “I know you don’t” … I told him that if he did not leave I would call the police. He started to leave and go to our neighbors house- I opened the front door to get a pic of him on my phone. He then turned around and covered his face and head with his hands and clipboard when he saw me trying to get a pic. He was under 30, under 6 feet, medium dark complexion, black short hair, thin build. He was wearing a light colored polo shirt.

We were burglarized last year and one thing the police told us was that burglars sometimes knock on doors during the workday- no answer means they will come back later. Perhaps it was innocent, but hiding his face and high tailing it out of range when he saw me with my phone was something that was a red flag.

We also received a couple recent reports of an “aggressive” would-be solicitor – someone who didn’t want to take “no” for an answer. Breaking news sidetracked us from an intended update then, but now we have the opportunity to remind you about the laws/rules regarding door-to-door solicitors. They were best described in this newsletter sent by Crime Prevention Coordinator Mark Solomon in 2013. You can also read the city ordinance – bottom line, in most cases, they are required to have licenses, so the first thing you can do to determine legitimacy, if you choose to engage, is to ask for that.

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Tomorrow night: Talk about the Westwood transit hub with WWRHAH http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/tomorrow-night-talk-about-the-westwood-transit-hub-with-wwrhah/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/tomorrow-night-talk-about-the-westwood-transit-hub-with-wwrhah/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 03:23:33 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=302633 The Westwood transit hub is a perennial hot topic, for a variety of reasons, particularly safety at the bus stops as well as in Roxhill Park and at Westwood Village. If it interests you, consider making time to be at tomorrow night’s Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meeting. We just received the agenda and it includes a discussion of the hub, with reps confirmed from both Metro and Westwood Village. The meeting is at Southwest Branch Library (35th/Henderson), starting at 6:15 pm Tuesday and wrapping up by 7:45 at the latest, when the library clears everyone out in advance of closing time – all welcome.

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West Seattle’s first charter school: ‘Info session’ dates set http://westseattleblog.com/2015/02/west-seattles-first-charter-school-info-session-dates-set/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/02/west-seattles-first-charter-school-info-session-dates-set/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 22:31:25 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=301430

(WSB photo)
When we last reported January 12th on the plan for West Seattle’s first charter school, its prospective operator, California-based Summit Public Schools, was planning to organize an informational community meeting; today, it announced two local dates.

As first reported here in early January, the school is proposed for the 2 1/2-acre Freedom Church site (above) on the southwest corner of 35th/Roxbury. Summit already has approval for two other charter schools in Seattle and Tacoma, and plans to apply to the state Charter School Commission for permission to open a high school here. Charter schools are publicly funded and were approved by voters in our state in 2012. The two meeting dates just announced by Summit, if you’re interested in finding out more about their plan, are 6:30-7:30 pm Thursday, February 26th, Southwest Branch Library (35th/Henderson) and 6:15-7:15 pm Tuesday, March 17th, White Center Library (11220 16th SW). Meantime, the project continues proceeding through the permit process, according to city Department of Planning and Development files.

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Arbor Heights appeal ruling #3: Hearing Examiner upholds approvals – with a few tweaks http://westseattleblog.com/2015/02/arbor-heights-appeal-ruling-3-hearing-examiner-upholds-approvals-with-a-few-tweaks/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/02/arbor-heights-appeal-ruling-3-hearing-examiner-upholds-approvals-with-a-few-tweaks/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 21:21:16 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=301228 City Hearing Examiner Sue Tanner has made her ruling on the third appeal filed against decisions relating to the Arbor Heights Elementary School rebuild. The appeal was filed by the Committee to Save Seattle Schools and three area residents; we covered the hearing downtown on February 2nd. Tanner promised a written ruling within two weeks; we found it in the city files today, dated February 9th. Read it in its entirety below (or here, as a PDF):

Toplines: While the appellants had argued that aspects of the decisions allowing the project, including four zoning exceptions, were “clearly erroneous,” Tanner found that was not the case. Her decision notes that two points of contention in the appeal, filed last November, had already been remedied by the district before the case was argued – the matter of two large Douglas firs on the northeast side of the site, which at one point were to be moved, will be left in place, and the issue of contacting the Duwamish Tribe before excavation work starts at the site; district testimony indicated that the Duwamish and four other tribes will be advised and invited to observe the work, in case of “inadvertent discovery” of cultural relics. But Tanner did decide to modify the conditions of the zoning exceptions’ approval, including the possibility of a four-way stop sign at 35th/104th – an intersection which will by fall of 2016 lie between the rebuilt AHES and the new home of Westside School (WSB sponsor) – provided SDOT approves. She also ordered a provision requiring any mitigation ordered for the project’s removal of what was considered an “exceptional” madrone tree.

BACKSTORY: We also covered the previous two appeals, both of which were argued and decided last year – May 2014 WSB coverage here; August 2014 WSB coverage here. The new AHES is being built in two phases, with the first – demolition and site clearing – now complete, and the second to start this spring; it’s still scheduled to open in fall 2016.

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@ Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights CC: The no-$ urban village http://westseattleblog.com/2015/02/westwood-roxhill-arbor-heights-cc-the-no-urban-village/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/02/westwood-roxhill-arbor-heights-cc-the-no-urban-village/#comments Thu, 05 Feb 2015 17:00:34 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=300209 Spotlight topics at this week’s Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meeting included how the area’s “urban village” has fared in city spending, plus, potential White Center/North Highline annexation.

27 people were in attendance, per the official count taken by WWRHAH’s Joe Szilagyi. Co-publisher Patrick Sand was there for WSB and these are his toplines:

URBAN VILLAGE: WWRHAH leaders were at last week’s briefing on “urban villages, 20 years later,” in which the Westwood-Highland Park Residential Urban Village was one of two of the West Seattle “urban villages” (along with The Junction) included in the study. (Find the original 1999 neighborhood plan here.)

The key takeaway: The city hadn’t “invested” anything in the Westwood-HP area over the years. The area also hasn’t seen even the modest amount of predicted growth.

The slide above is from the deck shown at the urban-village presentation – see the full slide deck here – which centered on a report commissioned from a consulting group led by former City Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck. WWRHAH, which you may recall is a relatively new group, will continue working to change this going forward, with millions of dollars of investment now in the pipeline (such as safety improvements along the SW Roxbury corridor).

Potentially playing into that:

WHAT IF WHITE CENTER/NORTH HIGHLINE IS ANNEXED? Back in December, the City Council put itself back on the record as officially interested in having the unincorporated area vote on whether to join the city – but as a early-stage technicality that had to happen by year’s end, in order to preserve eligibility for the state-supported tax credits that would help an annexing city cover its costs.

Tuesday night’s WWRHAH discussion was not intended to review pros and cons, but to note some of what’s at stake. Chris Arkills from King County Executive Dow Constantine‘s office explained that the remaining unincorporated urban areas such as White Center must either be annexed to a city or incorporate as cities themselves, because the county is not able, for multiple reasons, to continue providing urban services, even at the relatively low current level. Burien had proposed annexation in 2012, but it wasn’t approved by voters, and with recent changes in its City Council, is not expected at this point to pursue it again.

DELRIDGE MULTI-MODAL CORRIDOR PLAN: SDOT’s Sara Zora was at WWRHAH for a version of the presentation we covered in our report on January’s Delridge District Council meeting.

P.S. For more details on all of the above and then some, the official minutes from Tuesday’s meeting can be found on WWRHAH’s Facebook group – here’s the link. (10:30 am update: They’re on the group’s website now, too.) Next meeting is 6:15 pm Tuesday, March 3rd, at the usual place, Southwest Branch Library.

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Arbor Heights appeal hearing #3 ranges from trees to transportation http://westseattleblog.com/2015/02/arbor-heights-appeal-3-hearing-ranges-from-trees-to-transportation/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/02/arbor-heights-appeal-3-hearing-ranges-from-trees-to-transportation/#comments Mon, 02 Feb 2015 22:53:41 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=299990

(Mid-January photo of Arbor Heights site, courtesy Mike R.)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The hearing’s over, and now a written decision is awaited in the third appeal filed against the Arbor Heights Elementary rebuild project.

Testimony heard this afternoon before city Hearing Examiner Sue Tanner on the 40th floor of the Municipal Tower downtown included one new wrinkle: A question about traffic effects to potentially be compounded by the charter school proposed at 35th/Roxbury, a plan that just surfaced a month ago, which is why it was not a factor at the time of the two appeals decided last year (May 2014 WSB coverage here; August 2014 WSB coverage here).

APPELLANTS’ CASE: District watchdog Chris Jackins presented the appeal case, though he is not the lone appellant; several nearby residents are listed too.

Jackins began by noting key points including the two 24-inch-diameter Douglas fir trees whose fate had been at issue, a madrone tree already removed, the contention that the Duwamish Tribe should be involved in case of archaeological discoveries on the site, and the contention that the proposed school is too large for the site. Here’s his official appeal document (featured here when we first reported on the appeal):

(If you can’t read it embedded above, here’s a PDF version.)

Regarding the school’s size, he brought up what’s been mentioned in previous cases, that Westside School (WSB sponsor) is building a new campus, to open this fall, a few blocks east on SW 104th, and that its transportation impacts had not been taken into account. He referred to the discussion in the first appeal hearing, held at SPS headquarters in May 2014. He quoted from an analysis that “the cumulative impact from both schools could degrade operations from 104th onto 35th,” and noted plans for the future Summit charter school campus at 9601 35th SW, that we first reported here last month (newest details here).

Even aside from the transportation effects in the area, the amount of parking needed on the site itself is more than what’s being provided for, Jackins contended. The appellants also take issue with the lighted signboard approved for the renovated campus.

DISTRICT’S CASE: On behalf of Seattle Public Schools, land-use lawyer Richard Hill contended in his opening statement that the city decisions on the matters at issue here are “far from erroneous.” Regarding the trees, he said the Douglas firs will be kept and that the project has a tree plan that will more than make up for a madrone tree that was lost. And he said that several tribes including the Duwamish are or would be involved.

Half an hour later, at the start of his presentation, Hill called Tim Ausink, project manager for Heery International, who said he’s been working on the Arbor Heights rebuild since last October, overseeing “what remained” of the permitting/design process, as well as the second-phase bid process that is under way now. (As previously reported, the first phase involved demolition and site preparation; the second phase will involve the actual construction of the new school.) Hill led him through an explanation of where bus loading/unloading was done before the old AHES was demolished, compared to where it will be done at the new school, scheduled to open in fall 2016. Families dropping off children will enter on 104th, drop them off toward the front of the school, and exit onto 105th; bus loading/unloading will be mostly on 104th, as it had been in the past, he said.

He affirmed that four zoning exceptions had been requested and that an eight-member advisory committee had recommended approval: First, to allow fewer parking spots than the 71 that would be required, with the rationale given, to leave more open space on the site (Ausink
pointed out that the old school had six off-street parking spaces and would now have 55). Second, to continue allowing bus loading in a manner that would maximize on-site open space; 104th and 105th will have improved curb/gutter/sidewalks, Hill and Ausink pointed out, suggesting that would make bus loading/unloading easier. Third, regarding the reader board: 7 am-7 pm on days when school’s in session, with exceptions for special events. Fourth, modulating the north facade of the building; the committee deemed the design “sufficiently respectful of the neighborhood” but asked the district to “explore other design elements” that could soften it, such as vegetation/landscaping.

Regarding contacting tribes, Ausink said the Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Snoqualmie, Suquamish, and Tulalip tribes would be contacted before construction begins.

Hearing Examiner Tanner asked what the plan would entail. “We try to make first contact by phone; if that is not successful, we’ll try by e-mail … then we will send a letter,” said Ausink.

Second witness called by Hill was Paula Johnson, who works for Environmental Science Associates as its director of cultural resources for the Northwest region. She said she has worked on multiple school projects regarding the State Environmental Policy Act checklist component. Asked how she and her staff evaluated cultural aspects at the site, she said they began by reviewing an online database that includes a “statewide predicted model … a tool for us to consider as a starting point.” AH is considered at moderate/moderate-to-low risk for cultural resources being present. They studied historical maps, photographs, geotechnical information, and compared it with construction plans to try to “evaluate what the actual risk is based on what is proposed for that landscape.” Their conclusion, Johnson said: “Based on the geological data and the history before school construction, we concluded a low risk for encountering buried cultural resources.” The district still requested an “inadvertent discovery plan,” just in case, she said. “It’s a good management tool when you have a construction project to have protocols in place” in case you find something.

The plan outlines the potential of the area and how they reached that conclusion, and then communications, what notifications would be made, how the construction crew would be oriented to understand the process if they find something. She said the plan mentioned that the Duwamish was notified before phase 1 began and that a wider group of tribes would be notified before phase 2.

Hill’s third witness was Scott D. Baker from Tree Solutions Inc., which consulted on the project. He said the site had “a nice collection of older trees” as well as some planted more recently, which they learned about from “a parent group.” He reiterated that the two Douglas Firs on the northeast corner of the site are to be retained, though they had previously been proposed to be moved, something his firm advised against. The madrone that was removed had been in a right of way, and therefore was not technically “exceptional”; it had been in “fair” condition, Baker testified, showing “typical signs of decline.” (Another tree once considered “exceptional” but found to be in city right-of-way, a birch, was also removed.)

In all, 43 trees are being removed, 113 will be planted, according to Baker, including 13 new madrones. “In time, this will vastly increase the amount of canopy on the site,” he said.

Fourth witness called by Hill was Tod McBryan, co-owner of Heffron Transportation. He said he specializes in transportation analyses for school districts. He oversaw the analysis for the Arbor Heights Elementary project. They studied “six off-site intersections and conducted traffic counts on two days,” October 10-11, 2013, in the morning and afternoon, one day with school in session, one day without. They came up with “trip generation estimates” as a result of that work, he said; they also researched collision data and studied parking utilization around the site, “all roadways within an 800-foot radius,” where they found 463 on-street spaces, with 30 percent midday utilization during school, 32 percent in the evenings. When they did their analysis, the school had fewer than 400 students, but they did the work knowing the new school could be built to hold up to 660 students. They found that even under the new conditions, intersections would operate at acceptable levels. There would be an increase in delays, especially in the 20 minutes before and 20 minutes after the school day, he acknowledged. Parking demand could increase to 92 vehicles, he noted, with overflow in the surrounding areas, as is the case now.

Heffron Transportation recommended a plan to educate the school community about traffic/parking/walking conditions before the new school opens, including a neighborhood-communication plan to inform neighbors of events at the school, McBryan testified.

Asked by Hill about a later analysis, McBryan acknowledged analyzing what would happen with the addition of Westside School’s new campus (opening in 2015, one year before the new Arbor Heights school will open). That analysis, he said, was “focused on afternoon conditions. … We found there was potential that if the schools’ start times continued as there are today, there’s potential for cumulative impacts at 35th/104th … when the times would overlap.” The intersection could drop in at least one direction to as low as an E or F level of service, McBryan said. He added that there are options for working to avoid that if trouble arises – potentially even asking SDOT to make the intersection an all-way stop, and to monitor the start-and-stop times once the schools are occupied, and to consider adjusting them if necessary. He contended that some of the traffic-related contentions in Jackins’ appeal statement were erroneous.

In followup questioning, Jackins asked McBryan what he envisions for traffic coming out on the new SW 105th exit, and whether the district had asked for any analysis related to the addition of traffic from the potential 35th/Roxbury charter school. McBryan disclosed that he’s been retained by the applicant to analyze traffic related to that school, and that the analysis will take Arbor Heights ES and Westside into account.

In his closing statement, Jackins requested that examiner Tanner include in her findings a reiteration of the plan for the two Douglas Fir not to be moved – “having things in writing from the Hearing Examiner helps, I have found” – and challenged the contention that the removed madrone tree was not exceptional because it was on right of way; he said the city was supposed to transfer that land to the district. He also asked Tanner to include in documentation the verbal commitment by the district to contact tribes before the second phase of the project begins. He acknowledged that its “inadvertent-discovery plan” was a “positive change.” Regarding traffic impacts of a third school planned for this area, he suggested it might be a good idea to wait a while to see results of the study that McBryan said his company would be doing for that school, taking into effect AHES and Westside impacts too.

Hill did not present a closing statement, saying he “had the feeling the examiner had heard what she needed to hear.”

DEPARTMENT OF PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT’S CASE: Though hearings of this kind often include testimony from a DPD rep, planner Holly Godard was on hand for much of the hearing but declined the opportunity.

WHAT’S NEXT: The hearing examiner usually issues her written decision within two weeks, and she reiterated that time frame at the start of the hearing. At its end, she said she is already “quite familiar” with the site

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Followup: See who’s behind the plan for West Seattle’s first charter school, at current church site in Arbor Heights http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/followup-whos-behind-the-plan-for-west-seattles-first-charter-school-at-current-church-site-in-arbor-heights/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/followup-whos-behind-the-plan-for-west-seattles-first-charter-school-at-current-church-site-in-arbor-heights/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 04:28:20 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=297937

(WSB photo)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Eight days after discovering West Seattle’s first charter school is planned for the north edge of Arbor Heights, we’ve found out much more about the plan.

When we first reported on it January 4th, we knew only that Washington Charter School Development, an arm of Los Angeles-based Pacific Charter School Development, was proposing to remodel and add on to the Freedom Church/Jesus Center property at 9601 35th SW (SW corner of 35th/Roxbury) for an unspecified charter school. Our state’s voters authorized creation of charters two years ago; 10 are approved so far, but only one is open.

We’ve been working for the past week-plus to find out more about the West Seattle plan and have finally connected with WCSD to get answers to some of the many questions raised by the early information we found in city planning files:

First: WCSD is under contract to buy the entire 2 1/3-acre Freedom Church site (price not yet disclosed – the county values the land alone at $3.2 million), with the sale expected to close within three months, according to Patrick Ontiveros, general counsel and Washington state project director for PCSD, which he describes as “a non-profit developer, with a mission to provide long-term affordable facilities solutions to increase the availability of high quality charter schools,” adding that his company “is working with the Gates Foundation to open charter schools in Washington State.”

That organization is providing money, but the school’s operator will be Redwood City-headquartered Summit Public Schools, according to Ontiveros, who says it’s working with his company “to purchase and remodel the site for a high school. In addition to West Seattle, Summit Public Schools plans to open charter schools in Seattle’s International District and Tacoma.”

The latter two, both announced as high schools, are the only schools for which Summit has authorization from the state Charter School Commission, so it will have to apply for permission to open a third school. The next application period opens in February. The ID and Tacoma schools are scheduled to open next fall; for Summit’s ID campus, to be called Summit Sierra, WSCD just bought the former Asian Resource Center for $4 million, according to our partners at The Seattle Times.

Summit’s roots go back to the turn of the millennium in Silicon Valley, according to its website, which shows that it operates seven schools in the greater San Francisco Bay Area.

With the charter school intended to use the entire Freedom Church site (previously a Safeway store), Ontiveros adds, “The plan is that the existing building will be redeveloped in addition to new construction to accommodate future expansion. There is a provision where the church can lease back the building until construction is ready to begin, if they desire.” (Here’s the early-stage “site plan” that’s been in the city’s online files since New Year’s Eve and led to our first report, showing a 2-story addition along the Roxbury side of the site.)

The development company is “still wading through all the permitting issues,” he said in response to our question about what kind of reviews they expect to go through. They hope to “have the first phase of renovations completed in time for Summit to open in 2016.”

He added: “We want your readers to know that we are open to meeting with neighbors, community stakeholders and other interested parties. Although we are simply the non-profit developer, we realize that charter schools are new for Seattle. Based on the early interest, we are working with Summit Public Schools to schedule a community meeting.” No date yet, but they promise to give plenty of advance notice.

Four current/future campuses are within a mile of this site – Roxhill Elementary at 30th/Roxbury, the Arbor Heights Elementary rebuild on 104th west of 35th (opening fall 2016), the starting-this-fall campus of Westside School (WSB sponsor) at 37th/104th, and Explorer West Middle School (WSB sponsor) on 28th south of Roxbury.

Meantime, we’re still seeking answers to questions – including, is there a conflict with a medical-marijuana enterprise, Northwest Patient Resource Center, kitty-corner from the prospective charter-school campus? – so you can expect more followups to come.

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Followup: Arbor Heights appeal hearing date pushed back http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/followup-arbor-heights-appeal-hearing-date-pushed-back/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/followup-arbor-heights-appeal-hearing-date-pushed-back/#comments Thu, 08 Jan 2015 18:30:13 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=297490

(Added 1 pm: Site work continuing at Arbor Heights today)
Quick note from today’s Land Use Information Bulletin: The hearing date for the third Arbor Heights Elementary appeal has been pushed back, “due to a problem with the notice.” Today’s notice says the Hearing Examiner will hear it February 2nd. As first reported here last month, this appeal involves issues including zoning exceptions and the fate of two trees. The construction was already scheduled as a two-phase project, resuming this spring.

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West Seattle’s first charter school? Remodel/addition proposal at 35th/Roxbury church site http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/west-seattles-first-charter-school-remodeladdition-proposal-at-35throxbury-church-site/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/west-seattles-first-charter-school-remodeladdition-proposal-at-35throxbury-church-site/#comments Mon, 05 Jan 2015 04:45:39 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=297120 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Arbor Heights already has two school-construction projects under way – and might soon have a third.

Reviewing city permit application files today, we discovered a just-filed early-stage proposal to remodel and add to what is currently the Jesus Center/Freedom Church building at 35th/Roxbury, in the name of Los Angeles-based Pacific Charter School Development.

The one document publicly visible in the Department of Planning and Development system so far, dated December 31st, is a roughed-out site plan, showing the addition primarily along the Roxbury side of the 2 1/3-acre site.

In addition to the land-use permit filing, we’ve also found a one-month-old LLC filing listing the site’s official address – 9601 35th SW – and listing PCSD’s Washington branch, Washington Charter School Development, as the sole member. The company’s website says it works with charter-school management organizations, so it may not necessarily be the potential operator.

We can’t find any record of a past application for a charter school at this site, or anywhere else in West Seattle, but the next application period is just a month away, opening in mid-February, according to the Washington Charter School Commission website. Of the 10 charter schools approved since a statewide vote legalized them two years ago, the list includes approval for a charter-management organization called Green Dot to open one at an undetermined “South Seattle” site in fall 2016 (added: Green Dot had an informational event in West Seattle last summer). And a charter middle school called Rainier Prep, says it is planning to open in the Highline area this fall, but has no location finalized yet, according to its online FAQ.

Freedom Church bought the site, a former supermarket, for $2.8 million in 2008, according to county records. The 2 1/3-acre site is zoned NC3-40, meaning it could be developed up to four stories, though this proposal mentions only the two-story addition, and renovation of the one-story existing building.

We’ll be following up on this tomorrow, seeking answers to a variety of questions.

SIDE NOTE: The site has four current/future schools within less than a mile – Roxhill Elementary at 30th/Roxbury, the Arbor Heights Elementary rebuild on 104th west of 35th (opening fall 2016), the starting-this-fall campus of Westside School (WSB sponsor) at 37th/104th, and Explorer West Middle School (WSB sponsor) on 28th south of Roxbury.

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