West Seattle, Washington
Both of West Seattle’s neighborhood-district councils have now had their first meetings since the city’s official severing of ties and financial support.
The Delridge Neighborhoods District Council met Wednesday night for the first time this year, continuing its third-Wednesday meetings but changing the location for the first quarter – it’s meeting at Highland Park Improvement Club through March rather than at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center.
One of the biggest topics of the meeting was another meeting – 7 pm next Wednesday (January 25th), also at HPIC, several local community councils are co-sponsoring the “State of Delridge” (as in, eastern West Seattle) with City Councilmember Lisa Herbold. Read More
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Even as the City Council gets closer to finalizing the city budget containing the resolution formalizing the mayor’s slashing of ties with neighborhood district councils, the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council is charging forward, and even growing.
Here’s what happened at its meeting last night:
DISTRICT COUNCIL’S FUTURE: Chair Mat McBride says that so far, discussions have focused on having the group work more as a cooperative as it goes forward, centered on how the groups at the table can “assist each other” in meeting their goals for the Delridge community. Certainly the group might still seek the occasional city presentation, but those likely won’t be as common, as the focus will remain more intra-Delridge.
One member asked what engagement with the city will look like from now on. “What do you think it should look like?” asked Pete Spalding. “I think it’s up to us now.”
Other topics of discussion included where to meet – an issue now that the city will no longer be providing the ~$500 annual funding that covered costs of renting meeting venues. It was decided that at least for the first quarter of next year, the group will meet at Highland Park Improvement Club. The meetings will still be 7 pm on third Wednesdays. As per longstanding tradition, DNDC won’t meet in December, so its next meeting will be January 18th.
What about the area covered by the council? asked one member – should it be smaller? larger? Could be bigger, McBride acknowledged. Some wondered if South Park might be a good addition. In the meantime, the list of member groups/organizations/institutions grew by one last night: Read More
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
“The mayor got it wrong. Ms. Nyland has it wrong, too. … We represent more than who we are in this room.”
That declaration from Willard Brown of DNDA summarized what many of his fellow members of the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council said on Wednesday night, as a key part of the meeting focused on Mayor Ed Murray and Department of Neighborhoods director Kathy Nyland‘s intent to cut city support for the city’s 13 district councils.
The meeting’s other major component: A review of the five community proposals seeking Neighborhood Street Fund grant money, which DNDC members will be re-ranking now that SDOT has completed its assessment of the top-ranked proposals and what they’re likely to cost.
DISTRICT COUNCILS’ FUTURE: Chairing the meeting, Pigeon Point Neighborhood Council‘s Pete Spalding recapped how DNDC had hosted a citywide meeting at the Highland Park Improvement Club in July (WSB coverage, with video, here) to talk about the mayor’s “shocking” announcement days earlier about cutting off city support for district councils, as part of a reshaping of the city’s “engagement” policies.
Seven weeks have passed since the mayor’s abrupt announcement that the city would lurch away from the longstanding District Council system and look for new ways of “engagement.” As part of that, the Department of Neighborhoods has been running an online survey (with promotion including paid ads here on WSB and other places). The District Councils, including the two in West Seattle, are in the meantime about to resume their meetings after the traditional August break. And Delridge Neighborhoods District Council chair Mat McBride, who turned the group’s last meeting into a rally of sorts with reps from DCs around the city, has just issued an invitation in this open letter to City Councilmembers Lisa Herbold, Lorena González, Tim Burgess, and Rob Johnson, which we’re publishing with permission:
Esteemed City Council members (representing D1, At-Large, and Neighborhoods Committee),
I am requesting your presence at the September meeting of the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting on Wednesday, September 21. The DNDC is very interested in having a conversation with you regarding community, engagement, and the future of the District Council system within DoN (we’ll also be ranking NSF grants that evening, in case you wanted to observe a DC in action).
District Coordinator Kerry Wade will follow up with an agenda, including specific time and location once it’s finalized. Your RSVP is appreciated.
Chair, Delridge Neighborhoods District Council
PS, in case you haven’t been following DoN’s Engage Seattle poll, it’s a good read. All responses and comments (predominantly by white middle-aged homeowners, which I suppose raises some ironic existential questions) are published. Recommended reading, and if you haven’t taken the poll, I suggest doing so.
Quite a few comments have been made in support of the District Council System (side note – good on you for making all responses transparent, even those that highlight flaws in this latest proposed revision of DoN). And they’re right to do so, the District Council System (DoN’s, not City Council’s) is vital.
Democracy has to be public. Not solely, and there’s a lot of good suggestions about how to enhance the process and increase engagement. But it’s the District Councils, through a relationship officially observed by the City, that provide this function. It is vital to have public discussion with City representatives and elected officials. It is vital to challenge assumptions. It is vital to provide a forum in which the public can champion or object to issues, initiatives, or proposals within a specific geography. Because at the end of the day, it comes down to people doing things. Not taking a poll, not reading a newsletter, not submitting a comment to a blog, but actual honest-to-goodness engagement. Communities are made of people that come together and unite over a common goal. Where technology can enhance and assist this process, it absolutely should. But without an established network and designated place for that to manifest, it’s meaningless. Community is local, friends, and you have to make local work.
So, how to accomplish this? The best solution is also the easiest – restore the DoN District Coordinator staff to pre-2008 levels.
When the cuts first came, and again when they continued, community leaders predicted the exact circumstance we find ourselves in today – the fraying of the social network to the extent that it struggles to provide its most basic functions. The District Coordinators served as the glue within each District, themselves clusters of communities. It’s a big job, and staffed appropriately, it works great – an individual with a comprehensive knowledge of the individuals and organizations operating within the District is able to coordinate and direct active and emerging civic engagement to promote or fulfill the goal of serving the community. The act of networking people is the single most successful way to disseminate information – we have never been able to improve on talking to each other (not that we should). Humans can consume a huge amount of data, and most of it is not registered as important. This is especially true of communication by local government to citizens. If you want your message communicated, you need peer-level discussions within the community. Since most City correspondence is dry and boring (on the surface, anyway), you need citizens who will consume it regardless, translate salient points as necessary to make it accessible, and explain why it’s important to care about. And then, you really need them to talk about it.
Good news! You’ve had that model in place for the last 28 years. By most assessments, it’s past the “Proof of Concept” phase. Success is built upon the enhancement and improvement of existing infrastructure. The dismantling of an established and proven institution, which is to be replaced by an untested concept, is – well, it’s a singularly terrible idea. Restore the District Councils, and commit to enhancing them through all the excellent suggestions for improvement that I’ve read from other respondents to this survey.
As for the upcoming District Council meetings – everyone, as always, is invited. The Southwest District Council is expecting Parks Superintendent Jesús Aguirre at 6:30 pm Wednesday, September 7th, at the Sisson Building/Senior Center in The Junction (California/Oregon).
The Delridge Neighborhoods District Council mentioned above will be on Wednesday, September 21st – as Mat McBride wrote, time and location to be finalized, and we’ll publish an update when that happens.
Story by Tracy Record
Video/photos by Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers
“Let’s not throw out the whole system – let’s make it better.”
That was the theme last night for a gathering of longtime community volunteers who were, at times, furious:
“We are owed an apology. In a city known internationally for volunteerism, we have a mayor who has vilified volunteers … it’s inexcusable.”
At times, gracious:
“What resonates in this room is the hope and optimism you all bring to the table.”
And at times, incredulous:
“The news last week was a surprise.”
That last declaration is how Mat McBride, chair of the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council, began last night’s gathering, a dramatic expansion of what was supposed to be a routine, “sleepy” monthly edition of the DNDC’s meeting, and instead, because of a mayoral decree a week earlier, became a rally of reps from the city’s 13 NDCs. Here’s our video of the entire gathering, in two parts:
The objective, as McBride described it, was to show that the “13 District Councils … are representative of more than the narrative we are currently being cast by … that a bad decision has been made, and that bad decisions can and should be reversed.”
That “narrative” was the July 13th mayoral declaration that the groups should be thrown on the scrap heap (WSB coverage here), replaced to a yet-to-be-outlined “engagement” system with an appointed “Community Involvement Commission,” because members are allegedly mostly older white homeowners. (The survey that made the proclamation has been called into question, as has the inference that the volunteers should be cut loose because of their age, race, and economic status.)
“Right now if you read the [regional] press, you’ll see a story that district councils have 15 people … tend to be white, tend to be old, tend to own houses. (But) when a district council gathers, hundreds, thousands of people are represented at the table … we are a representative democracy. It is not true, the story that’s currently being told.”
We counted at least 60 people in the room at Highland Park Improvement Club; McBride greeted them all in DNDC style – cheering and hand-waving – calling out the names of each Neighborhood District Council that was here, and then asking for a show of hands from those representing other groups, such as the community councils that feed into the ND councils.
He acknowledged that some of what’s in the report – the need to expand the groups’ means of outreach – are things that district council members agree with, things they’ve been suggesting, requesting, for years.
So what is it these groups DO do?
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
As first reported here on Sunday, this week’s monthly meeting of the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council has expanded to a call for, in effect, a summit of neighborhood-district council members and supporters from around the city. Wednesday’s gathering at Highland Park Improvement Club will come one week after Mayor Murray cut short a City Council-ordered review of the neighborhood-district-council system by declaring he intended to cut city ties to and support for the councils.
More on the meeting below – but first: We now have the report that was due out last Friday, expected to start the next phase of a conversation about the 13 councils, until the mayor’s move on Wednesday. Read it here. It’s the Department of Neighborhoods‘ official response to the City Council’s Statement of Legislative Intent (SLI) from last year that “required the (department) to develop a plan to reorient its programs around the new City Council district structure with a primary focus on the Neighborhood District Coordinator (NDC) program and a goal for more equitable community engagement.”
The report dated Friday (July 15th) incorporates mentions of the executive order the mayor unveiled and signed two days earlier. It declares:
Just found out about this – it’s an update to our standing calendar listing for the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting (coming up this Wednesday), and an update to the mention in our latest edition of WSB EXTRA:
Pete Spalding from the DNDC tells WSB that in the wake of Mayor Murray‘s announcement last week about cutting city ties with, and support for, neighborhood-district councils (WSB coverage here), DNDC is inviting DC reps from all over the city to their meeting at 7 pm Wednesday. It’s moving locations to Highland Park Improvement Club for the occasion.
Spalding says the goal will be a discussion of “what the DCs bring to our neighborhoods, the city, and its agencies – (not a) bash-the-mayor event but more along the lines of what we have (accomplished) and can accomplish with more city support in addition to what we already do.” Public welcome as always. HPIC is at 12th SW/SW Holden. Watch for more on this.
Last Thursday’s much-discussed Alki Community Council meeting wasn’t the only meeting of the week in which Seattle Police talked about traffic-safety concerns. A similar, albeit much shorter, conversation was part of the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting one night earlier , last Wednesday @ Youngstown Cultural Arts Center. Here are our toplines on that and what else came before the DNDC:
PUGET RIDGE SPEEDING AND OTHER SPD UPDATES: Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Ron Smith had a followup on Puget Ridge’s speeding concerns, which were among the problems neighborhood reps brought up at last month’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting. He said that motorcycle officers from the SPD Traffic Unit will be out for enforcement on Puget Ridge at random times during the summer.
In his crime-trend overview for eastern West Seattle, he told DNDC attendees that violent crime is down, and that car prowls remain the major area of concern, though “we’re starting to see a slight dip” in the numbers. Auto theft has increased in High Point, with five in the past month, but was down in the Westwood-Roxhill area, with three over the past month. An automated license-plate reader will be deployed to check more vehicles around all of West Seattle, he said.
MYERS WAY PARCELS: Instead of the Seattle Green Spaces Coalition, another advocacy group, TreePAC, was at the meeting to talk about the site, represented by Cass Turnbull. She recapped the site’s history (previously reported here) and the fact the city is now deciding what to do with it. (As reported here earlier that day, the city Finance and Administrative Service‘s preliminary recommendations have now been made public. Turnbull said she had not read it yet but had heard – as was our assessment – that it was largely the same as the draft recommendations unveiled last month.) She says the site could be many things – “but if they sell it, it can’t be anything but industry.” She would like to see it be an environmental learning center. “It’s a very degraded piece of property” – but, that said, it still has lots of potential, and is alive with even tiny wildlife like crickets. TreePAC’s position is to ask the city to simply not sell it.
DISTRICT COUNCILS’ FUTURE: The issue of the Department of Neighborhoods‘ response to last year’s City Council “statement of legislative intent” about possibly aligning neighborhood districts with council districts – among other things – came up again, with a recap of the recent Southwest District Council discussion (WSB coverage here). DNDC attendees were invited to talk about it. Michael Taylor-Judd from the North Delridge Neighborhood Council said he’s “angry” about how the DoN is rolling this out, acknowledging that yes, there is some truth to the concerns about the demographics of councils, but that they are trying to reach out further, and need the city’s help, not words of criticism, let alone suggestions that the councils will see some of their limited city resources removed. Christine Cole from the Greater Duwamish District Council was at the meeting – she had been at SWDC too – mentioning again that her DC and others in its area remain without a district coordinator.
Gunner Scott from the Highland Park Action Committee said he’s not in favor of the proposals (such as realigning neighborhood districts with City Council districts) right now. Pete Spalding from the Pigeon Point Neighborhood Council said resources have been pulled away and have eroded over the past decade-plus, and now the councils are getting criticized for what resulted from those cuts and degradations. Nancy Folsom of NDNC said she supports the concept of finding different ways to reach different community members. District coordinator Kerry Wade said that in addition to working with the district councils, not only does the DoN want to get more people to the table, they want to reach people “who don’t even know the table exists.”
Scott suggested that meetings could be made friendlier for families – offer child care, perhaps – and for those who have transportation challenges – offer vouchers, maybe? Folsom suggested it’s not about reaching out and trying to pull people in as much as changing to be “more inviting” so that they will want to come in. Wade suggested that the kind of cultural-competency training that has been made available to city employees would be good to offer to neighborhood volunteers like council members/participants. Talk then turned to what to do next and how to discuss, and how to collaborate with the Southwest and Greater Duwamish councils on a meeting to talk with the city about what it wants to do and what the neighborhood reps want to do. They’re proposing possibly meeting jointly during the SWDC night the first Wednesday in July, and inviting a variety of people all the way up to the mayor.
Also noted at the DNDC meeting:
ROXHILL FIND IT FIX IT WALK: Still tentatively set for July 25th; Wade is helping organize it and hopes that people from all over eastern West Seattle will join in. 6:30 pm is the planned start time, start location TBA.
SEATTLE SUMMER PARKWAYS: Wade recapped the plans that are in the works for September 25th, which we’ve reported several times here. She added that neighborhood groups are invited to participate, free. Here’s how to sign up to be part of it.
Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meets 7 pm on third Wednesdays at Youngstown.
(Left, map of 13 Seattle “neighborhood districts”; right, map of 7 Seattle City Council districts. Both from seattle.gov)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
When the city Department of Neighborhoods cut its staff of neighborhood-district coordinators 5+ years ago, neighborhood advocates were upset, to say the least.
Before the cuts, the city had one coordinator for each of the 13 neighborhood districts, including the two that comprise West Seattle – Delridge and Southwest.
It would be OK, city leaders assured local community leaders – while cutting three of those 13 jobs, they were restructuring the remaining coordinators into teams by region, with this area part of the South Region, to be served by three.
But in the years since – without any further announcements – it’s dropped to 8 coordinators for the 13 districts, and the regional structure has eroded, like a bluff falling into the sea as it’s battered by waves.
Now a potential tsunami is on the way – a formal review, stemming from City Council marching orders last year, looking at whether the 13-neighborhood-district system should realign with the new 7-district City Council map – and whether the district coordinators’ work as community-to-city liaisons should change.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Tonight, the Southwest District Council‘s June meeting includes a discussion of an in-progress city review that could eventually determine whether the SWDC and the city’s other 12 district councils continue to exist.
One of the arguments for district councils is their advocacy for their respective jurisdictions getting their fair share of city attention and money, in programs like the Neighborhood Street Fund.
Since their last monthly meetings, members of both SWDC and its eastern West Seattle counterpart, the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council, have decided which five community-proposed NSF projects they’re forwarding to the city for consideration.
1st-through-5th-ranked by the Southwest District Council (western West Seattle):
1. Improvements at Harbor Ave SW & SW Spokane Street
2. Improvements at 39th Avenue SW and SW Oregon Street
3. Rapid Ride Bus Stops, Morgan Junction
4. Improvements on Fauntleroy Way
5. Traffic Circles, Sidewalks, and Safety Improvements in Arbor Heights
1st-through-5th-ranked by the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council (eastern West Seattle):
1. Modernize the Intersection of 16th Ave SW & SW Holden Street (Highland Park)
2. (tie) Complete SW Barton Street
2. (tie) Roundabout for Highland Park Way/SW Holden St
4. Brandon St Sidewalks (Delridge to High Point)
5. Safety Improvements to 26th Ave SW and/or 25th Avenue SW (Connecting Chief Sealth HS and the Westwood Village Bus Hub)
Both sets of decisions followed project-proposers’ presentations at the respective district councils’ meetings, and review of written applications – this document explains the criteria for evaluation.
No project is guaranteed funding just because the district council supports advancing it; the city’s pot of money is finite, and the Neighborhood Street Fund is citywide, opening for applications every three years, available for
up to $90,000 $100,000-$1,000,000* for a project making it all the way through the process. But sometimes even projects that don’t get NSF funding land on SDOT’s radar. If you’d like to know more about any or all of the 10 aforementioned proposals, scroll ahead (or jump from the home page) for more details on each, excerpted from the community proposers’ applications – sometimes brief, sometimes detailed: Read More
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
If you like to be the first to know – Wednesday night’s Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting was full of looking into the future, including two major draft reports due out soon and updates from our area’s city councilmember. If you weren’t there, get ready to get informed on all of the above and then some:
TERMINAL 5 DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT OUT SOON: Paul Meyer from the Port of Seattle said he was at DNDC to get that message out. At one point, you might recall, the modernization project planned for Terminal 5 wasn’t going to have an environmental impact statement, which sparked a neighborhood protest including a petition drive. But then the port said it would need one after all because prospective clients for the new terminal were making it clear its operations would be more sizable than expected.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
What they have in common is that both are available for community-proposed projects, and both were at the heart of this month’s Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting, which focused on different stages of the processes for the two city funds with similar names.
NEIGHBORHOOD STREET FUND: Megan McCoy from the city presented information about this grant program, which is handled by SDOT (as opposed to the Neighborhood Park and Street Fund, which is administered by the Department of Neighborhoods) and is accepting applications now. It involves larger projects, and runs on a 3-year cycle – time to design and then build the projects – $8 million per cycle (up to $1 million/project), funded by the Move Seattle levy that voters approved last year.
Project locations have to be fully in city right-of-way (streets, sidewalks), need to not trigger a lengthy environmental process, and must meet warrants and guidelines – in other words, be necessary as defined by city rules/laws/guidelines.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
For the first time since the mayor’s announcement of a “safe lot” in Highland Park for people living in their RVs and cars, a community organization talked about it tonight with District 1 City Councilmember Lisa Herbold.
She arrived at the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council‘s regularly scheduled meeting just in time for a discussion of the issue – a late add to the DNDC agenda, given that news of the plan for “safe lots” here and in Ballard was just announced Tuesday afternoon.
The City Council meets tomorrow (3:30 pm Thursday) to vote on the mayor’s emergency order paving the way for the lots, as well as three emergency sites (none in West Seattle). Introducing Herbold, DNDC chair Mat McBride said he understood the site would host 20 to 25 RVs. He also noted that Department of Neighborhoods director Kathy Nyland was on hand too. Herbold said she had asked for someone from the city Human Services Department to attend and was disappointed that no one was available.
Herbold said she “(felt) uncomfortable making a presentation on behalf of the executive (mayor)” because there still wasn’t much information on this sudden proposal. She said she didn’t initially realize the mayor’s office was talking about the lot adjacent to the former encampment site in Highland Park (at West Marginal Way SW and Highland Park Way). She thought the plan sounded at first as if RVs that have been at the heart of an uproar in Magnolia were going to be moved here . “I’m interested in serving the community of folks who are already here” – meaning RV campers around West Seattle and South Park – “and getting THEM services. So that was one of the first things I asked.” She said the mayor’s order is “just a shell” and there’s a lot she wants to see worked out “so the nuts and bolts can be worked out in that 30-day period” (before the lot opens).
Tomorrow’s council vote is not required for the mayor’s order to take effect, she says, but “by voting on it, we have a chance to amend it.” She is hoping to see some language written into it regarding restroom access and other key things the people who use the lot will need.
A representative of Highland Park Improvement Club – directly up the hill from the site – wondered about the location given the unreliability, as she put it, of the Route 131 bus, and how people at the lot would be able to use it to get to water and food. Herbold said she expressed an interest in a route change toward that goal.
McBride said he would like to see from the city, “if we are going to host this – and I’m not saying I’m opposed – I would like the city to double down on the amount of services it’s providing; we’re talking about an area that historically has been underserved, and we need to correct that, particularly if we’re inviting a group of people who themselves are underserved … I would like the city to really acknowledge the fact that yes, yes, we’re doing this, and in doing this, we’re also going to do the following.”
One attendee said she is concerned that this lot will only serve people coming to the area and various unauthorized parking areas will remain around West Seattle.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Popcorn and cheering.
Those were the highlights of the opening moments of this month’s Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center this past Wednesday night.
Chair Mat McBride wasn’t kidding when he declared it was an “exciting lineup.”
The cheering was for each person in attendance, as they went around the room to have everyone introduce her/himself. Extra cheers were awarded to three community members who showed up just to see what was happening in their neighborhood. By way of explanation, West Seattle has two city-determined “districts,” Southwest and Delridge, and the council for each district includes reps from neighborhood councils and major organizations/institutions in the area. Those in attendance at this meeting Wednesday night included reps from the Camp Long Advisory Council, Delridge Neighborhood Development Association, Highland Park Action Committee, Highland Park Improvement Club, High Point Open Spaces Association, North Delridge Neighborhood Council, Pigeon Point Neighborhood Council, Seattle Nature Alliance, Southwest Precinct, Southwest Youth and Family Services, Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council. City reps included neighborhood district coordinator Kerry Wade, and reps from the mayor’s office and Seattle Parks, there to talk about scheduled agenda items.
Parks’ move toward a new plan for off-leash dog areas was the spotlight topic. But first:
Updates were the order of the night at last night’s Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center:
(WSB photo from January, when the barricades/cones went up in the future work zone)
DELRIDGE/ANDOVER PROJECT: Alicia Molina from SDOT said the start of this six-week project – originally planned for this week, as previously reported – has now been postponed until March 2nd. Once the work gets under way, the first three weeks will be focused on the Delridge/Andover intersection, including some pedestrian detours; then “the sidewalk section” will be the focus of the second three weeks, and the connection from Delridge/Andover/23rd will be closed for part of that time. 23rd will be closed to vehicle traffic at times, she says, but there won’t be much other effect on vehicle traffic. The sidewalk – to be shared by walking/running/bicycling traffic – will more than double in spots, six feet to 13 feet, she said.
From transportation to tax returns, briefings, updates, and announcements spanned two busy hours at tonight’s Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting:
DELRIDGE MULTIMODAL CORRIDOR: SDOT‘s Sara Zora provided the briefing on this, which traces to an idea that Delridge neighborhood advocates have been discussing for a while. The concept of viewing a road as a “multimodal corridor” is at a “very conceptual level,” Zora said. Delridge is one of 10 corridors SDOT will be looking at in 2015, all “major arterials” to be reviewed through the “complete streets” prism.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
We’ve learned that the city has scrapped proposed changes to the Neighborhood Matching Fund process – changes strongly opposed by West Seattle’s two District Councils.
This came to light after the Department of Neighborhoods sent out a news release today containing deadlines and other information about this year’s process and timelines for seeking the NMF grants. Noting that the announcement made no mention of the proposed changes, we asked DoN spokesperson Lois Maag to verify that they indeed were not being implemented; Maag confirmed that it’s “status quo” for this year, and said that council chairs had recently been sent word of that.
The proposals primarily involved who could apply for the grants and who from the neighborhoods would vet applications. They were presented (and criticized) at the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council‘s October meeting (WSB coverage here) and the Southwest District Council‘s November meeting (WSB coverage here). The potential removal of District Councils from the application-vetting process was a particular sticking point.
We confirmed tonight with DNDC chair Mat McBride that DoN indeed had sent word the changes weren’t going forward. In her memo, department director Bernie Matsuno said in part:
… Over the past year, an NMF Advisory Committee deliberated and developed several proposals for the program. Due to the feedback received regarding these recommendations, we are not moving forward at this time. … We will continue engaging the community and having a more robust conversation about any possible improvements to the NMF program.
Meantime – if you are interested in finding out about this year’s grant opportunities, all the information is in the full news release made public today. One West Seattle-specific date – those interested in applying for a grant from the Large Project Fund (deadline May 4th) must attend a workshop, and the only one in West Seattle is set for Tuesday, March 10, 6 pm, High Point Community Center (6420 34th SW).
One more neighborhood meeting to recap from this past week, before the new week arrives: The Delridge Neighborhoods District Council. Guests included Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Steve Wilske, but the crime/safety discussion was subdued compared to concerns over proposed changes in the city’s Neighborhood Matching Funds – a key source of funding for community-initiated projects, often involving parks or roads:
(Terminal 5, photographed earlier this week by Don Brubeck)
A triple bill of transportation-related guests at last night’s Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting – Seattle Port Commissioner Courtney Gregoire, City Councilmember (chairing its Transportation Committee) Tom Rasmussen, and just-confirmed SDOT director Scott Kubly, who, in his third West Seattle appearance in two weeks, heard about safety concerns outside two local schools.
First: With the expanse of closed-and-idle Terminal 5 in the line of sight for thousands of West Seattleites daily, its future was a major topic for Commissioner Gregoire.
Scott Kubly has just been officially confirmed as the new Seattle Department of Transportation director. He’s made two official West Seattle appearances already, both covered here – last week’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting (link includes our video) and the September 3rd Southwest District Council meeting. If you have a question or suggestion for Kubly, you have one more near-future chance in West Seattle: He’s scheduled to be at the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting this Wednesday (September 17, 7 pm, Youngstown Cultural Arts Center at 4408 Delridge Way SW).
Local community leaders have been working on more ways to convene discussions about one of our area’s hottest current topics, development. And while covering tonight’s Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting (full report to come separately), we got semi-early word of an event in the works, and wanted to let you know to save the date: On June 4th, DNDC will join the Southwest District Council on the SWDC’s regular meeting night, to host City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who chairs the Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee (which this week alone has handled issues from small-lot development to microhousing). Some details are still being worked out, including the venue/time, but if you want to hear about and talk about where things stand and where they’re going, save the night of June 4th.
With three representatives from the city Department of Planning and Development due at last night’s Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting, we thought video might be in order. The interactions, in fact, were tense at times.
Land use and planning was the night’s theme. Before we started rolling, attendees at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center heard from their crosstown counterpart Southwest District Council‘s co-chairs Sharonn Meeks and Vlad Oustimovitch, talking about the West Seattle Land Use Committee that SWDC is launching with hopes of peninsula-wide involvement. (Stay tuned for news of its first meeting and how to get involved.)
The DPD presenters began with the Seattle 2035 comprehensive-plan-update process we’ve mentioned a few times (including the sparse-in-many-ways “open house” here a week ago). DNDC members’ pointed questions for DPD rep Patrice Carroll included North Delridge‘s Michael Taylor-Judd wondering why the city is looking ahead 20 years when current problems (including exceeded growth targets and inadequate transportation to handle who’s here now and who’s on the way shortly) don’t seem to be getting addressed. WWRHAH‘s Amanda Kay Helmick noted that none of the DPD handouts even mentioned West Seattle.
Second DPD rep was Aly Pennucci, who’s been making neighborhood-meeting rounds for three months talking about the potential rezoning for “pedestrian retail areas.” In the case of Delridge, it was pointed out, that too seems to be looking past a problem – how can you dither about tweaking business districts when there isn’t much commercial space available?
Third up from DPD was David Goldberg, talking about a new project to create a “Healthy Living Framework” for Delridge. A somewhat jargonistic handout was provided, including this paragraph:
“The planning process and resulting action plan will serve to engage the full range of community stakeholders including historically underrepresented communities. The outreach and engagement will focus on the opportunity areas, but may expand to address priorities for historically underrepresented communities. The process will also convene an advisory committee envisioned to transform into or help establish and ongoing and representative implementation committee.”
Part of the preceding bullet points (we don’t have an electronic version of this two-sided handout yet but are looking for) included a mention of “future SDOT improvements along Delridge,” but the DPD rep didn’t have information about upcoming Delridge projects, at and around Andover, which was a point of concern for Pigeon Point‘s Pete Spalding.
ALSO AT THE MEETING: Our crew had to leave after the DPD presentations, so we apologize that we don’t have Cindi Barker‘s land-use-primer presentation on video (but there’s lots of context and info in this one we recorded last fall). In a non-DPD item, North Delridge’s Patrick Baer announced that the city had agreed to fix the asphalt-covered planting strip that resulted from the recent Delridge/Findlay project mentioned here, for which Baer was the original proposer. Here’s our photo from this morning:
We have since confirmed the de-asphalting plan with SDOT’s John Vander Sluis, who says, “Based on public feedback, SDOT will be removing the asphalt and working with the community on the installation of a landscaped planting strip. … The decision to remove the asphalt was made late last week, so I don’t have details on schedule at this point.”
DNDC meets third Wednesdays at Youngstown, 7 pm.