Delridge District Council – West Seattle Blog… http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Thu, 19 Apr 2018 21:25:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.5 Delridge Neighborhoods District Council gets briefed on beef-solving Dispute Resolution Center of King County http://westseattleblog.com/2018/03/delridge-neighborhoods-district-council-gets-briefed-on-beef-solving-dispute-resolution-center-of-king-county/ Mon, 26 Mar 2018 00:18:58 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=912009 Community-council meetings and district-council meetings are seldom “vote on something” type meetings. Far more often, the centerpieces are “did you know?” type presentations, as well as a chance for community advocates to share what they’re up to. And those were the components of this month’s Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting last Wednesday night at Highland Park Improvement Club.

Though the weather was better than the night of the February meeting – when snow was falling (remember?) – the turnout was lighter. Chair Mat McBride had booked one main guest, from an organization we hadn’t previously heard of, though it’s been active for some 30 years:

KING COUNTY DISPUTE RESOLUTION CENTER: Nilda Brooklyn visited to talk about the two main things this organization does: Direct mediation services (inside and outside the legal system), and training.

First, something she wanted to clarify: You do NOT have to be in a legal case to seek mediation services. “We can basically mediate any kind of dispute that you’re in” – family, workplace, neighborhood, and more. Some of the disputes may end up in court but sometimes it’s preferable to at least try mediation first. “It’s a voluntary, private and confidential facilitated meeting between two parties – the ‘voluntary’ is a really important point” – they can’t force anyone to participate. “When people come to the table to participate in mediation, they are there in good faith … to see if they can (reach) a resolution themselves.” While court creates a public record, mediation does not, she reiterated. “Everyone signs an agreement to create a confidential and privileged environment” – it’s not even subject to subpoena from a later legal action. The parties “get to keep their own dirty laundry (as) their own business.” A mediator is not there as a decisionmaker or judge, but rather as a facilitator – it’s up to you to work out how it works, what you want to share, what might solve the problem: “I’m there to facilitate that conversation.” Generally a session lasts about three hours.

They work with divorcing couples, can help work out or modify parenting plans (child support is the only aspect of that process that they can’t work on). How much does it cost? Sliding scale – $35 to $500 for a session fee, based on participants’ pre-tax income (but they don’t require you to show documents, they will deal with you on good faith). Family cases, $150-$550.

Their staffers come both from a legal background and from a therapy background. (Brooklyn said that from childhood, she was always the person that friends and family brought disputes to, to help resolve, so it was a natural progression for her, and besides, she said, “conflict is natural – it’s going to happen in everyone’s lives.”) Right now the mediation happens at their offices in Wallingford, but they are seeking a location more convenient to South King County.

By the way, if your dispute doesn’t get resolved during mediation, you still have the option to go to court.

As for the KCDRC training services, they offer it throughout the year, and also offer workshops that deal with certain topics – housing, for example, is a huge topic. They also offer skills workshops – such as de-escalation skills, how to deal with people in crisis, how to communicate interculturally. “Our main goal with our workshops is to disseminate as many conflict resolution skills” as possible, as well as engaging people who might be interested in a career in mediation. Fees vary.

They’re starting to work with “community circles” so that larger groups can come together to talk about issues in their community/neighborhood.

Among the benefits of mediation, as Brooklyn listed them – a problem might be worked out without a no-contact or anti-harassment order (through the courts) winding up on your record. Also, you might be able to work out an agreement outside the strict parameters that would be required in a court settlement – if you took a dispute to small-claims court, for example, money would be the only way to settle it, Brooklyn said, but a mediated resolution could involve other things (as long as they are legal).

They have mediation involved in multiple languages, she added in response to a question. The DRC has been in business for about 30 years, by the way. To find out more about its services, here’s the contact info.

P.S. The nonprofit is also “always looking for community board members” to help shape its future. Same contact info.

Also from the DNDC meeting, a few short updates:

SOUTHWEST YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES: The North Delridge-headquartered agency is looking to expand and seeking support for grant funding. DNDC is “historically not super-letter-writing-oriented,” chair McBride noted, but in this case is interested in submitting a letter of support. It will be crafted and circulated on the DNDC mailing list before it’s sent.

DISTRICT COUNCIL COLLABORATION: The Delridge and Southwest district councils are talking about having reps at each other’s meetings to share what’s up. “There’s a number of issues that affect both districts,” said McBride, so, he suggested, speaking with a unified voice on some of those issues would be good.

ANNOUNCEMENTS: The West Seattle Emergency Communication Hubs‘ next exercise is April 28th, and the scenario will be a “massive power outage,” McBride said … He also mentioned recently discovering that free tickets to Woodland Park Zoo and Seattle Aquarium are available at the Southwest Customer Service Center … Another freebie he recently learned about, the Seattle Fire Department will install fire alarms and carbon-monoxide detectors in residents’ homes – the equipment is free as well as the installation. … The Puget Ridge Neighborhood Council has now formally established itself as West Seattle’s newest community council, charter and all, McBride announced.

The Delridge Neighborhoods District Council, with reps from community groups and other organizations around eastern West Seattle, meets third Wednesdays, 7 pm, currently at Highland Park Improvement Club.

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Light-rail impacts, the morphed Multi-Modal Corridor plan, and more @ Delridge Neighborhoods District Council http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/light-rail-impacts-the-missing-multi-modal-corridor-plan-and-more-delridge-neighborhoods-district-council/ Sat, 24 Feb 2018 06:29:49 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=909634 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Seems like Sound Transit West Seattle light rail is Topic A everywhere.

One night before Thursday’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition presentation/discussion, it was also a big part of the agenda at Wednesday’s Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting – including another potentially loud voice supporting tunneling along at least part of what’s been drafted as an all-elevated route.

So that’s where our report begins:

(From the draft map for Sound Transit’s West Seattle light rail)

CITY REP ON SOUND TRANSIT 3 LIGHT RAIL: Interested in some tunneling on the West Seattle light-rail line, now in the “early scoping” public-comment mode through March 5th? The city may be on your side. Lyle Bicknell came to speak with DNDC on behalf of the city’s interest in the ST3 planning process – he’s with the Office of Planning and Community Development – and talking about how to minimize the impacts of the upcoming light-rail project.

Bicknell discussed city observations about some aspects of the proposal – such as, the Delridge station (currently envisioned to be near Delridge/Andover) having a potential major role as a “transit intercept.” Bicknell’s remarks led to a table discussion about other aspects of the draft project (“representative alignment” as ST calls it) – acknowledging that “we are very keen in urging Sound Transit to explore a tunnel component” he said after attendees brought up the point. Bicknell said the city is concerned about the impacts of an elevated track in the area where it’s projected to be 150 feet high. And yes, he said, the city is aware that tunneling would cost more. But in response to some cynicism about whether a difference can be made now, Bicknell said that he’s seen it happen in other communities and “decisionmakers tend to see the light when they feel the heat.” And he stresses that now is the time to speak up – again, wsblink.participate.online is one way, and e-mail/phone/postal mail info is all on the last page of that feedback site – by the upcoming March 5th deadline.

Also discussed: light rail only serving a fragment of the peninsula. Michael Taylor-Judd, who chairs the West Seattle Transportation Coalition as well as representing North Delridge on the district council, pointed out that pre-ST3, there was talk of the line running completely east of 35th SW, and that didn’t seem like it would have worked either. Bicknell pointed out that West Seattle’s major density is in The Junction. “But with (HALA) upzones,” Highland Park Action Committee co-chair Gunner Scott said, “that’s all going to change.”

“Given that this is a project that will affect our community for at a minimum 100 years,” said Bicknell, planning it thoughtfully is key.

DELRIDGE ACTION PLAN: This was a case of a city plan that morphed into something other than what it was intended to be, over the course of four years, and now is being tossed back in the lap of the community, which in turn is asking questions such as, what is this really intended to be/do?

The city rep for this item was David Goldberg, who noted that he had originally come to the community in spring 2014. He talked about how the project he was working on has changed – for example, what was the Delridge Multi-Modal Corridor Plan component (noted in this 2015 story) evolved into planning of the future RapidRide H Line. He was here to finalize the document and the work plan that has ultimately resulted from it, before it goes to the City Council.

What about neighborhood input on the final plan? asked Pigeon Point’s Pete Spalding. Goldberg said there are no new meetings planned (his last discussion with community reps was more than a year ago, also at the Delridge District Council). What about including other areas of east West Seattle? he was asked. Goldberg said his work is on behalf of the mayor’s office and suggested talking with City Councilmember Lisa Herbold about expanding the coverage area. South Delridge’s Marianne McCord said it’s imperative that her area be considered, because it’s part of the corridor and going to ultimately be part of the urban village. “I agree with you in terms of the concept,” said Goldberg, “but … I did not have the ability to plan for this entire area, so we had to make an assessment about our capacity,” and it stopped where it stopped. The goal of putting this plan forward now is to get some focus on “community priorities,” he added. “Part of what I’m here today to do is to figure out what (the community) thinks are priorities in the next (few) years.”

He mentioned that economic development is one thing that’s being worked on already. Spalding in turn observed that the Delridge Multi-Modal Corridor Plan concept was one that seemed like it would have worked for the community, so couldn’t this go back to that – and what happened to the money? Goldberg said some had been spent. But overall, he said the Multi-Modal Corridor Plan concept was something the city was pursuing in five areas of the city – and then RapidRide came along and the plan changed. “We didn’t change the scope of the project we lobbied for,” Taylor-Judd noted. “Nor did we,” said Goldberg. “We spent years lobbying for that money, and for the corridor,” Taylor-Judd retorted, “by lobbying multiple SDOT directors and mayors – and this plan exists because (we) lobbied for years to get you money in your budget to do (some) neighborhood planning.” (The funding dated back to work that community leaders did with former Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, longtime DNDC members mentioned multiple times.) Goldberg said he would advocate for the community’s concerns, but he also warned that part of the forthcoming report/document might be things the community “(don’t) agree with” or wouldn’t consider a priority. Spalding said it’s vital that community reps see the plan before it goes to the council so they could for example point out their concerns/priorities in advance to decisionmakers such as Councilmember Herbold.

As district-council reps/attendees leafed through copies of the plan’s latest version, its mention of the Delridge Grocery Co-op – not represented at the meeting – was spotlighted, while attendees voiced the perception that it appears to be no closer to opening a store than it’s been in its years of working toward that goal. Goldberg said the city still has an open offer of “technical assistance” but hasn’t had a recent request, and promised that the plan would address Delridge’s “food desert” problem somehow.

YOUR VOICE, YOUR CHOICE PROJECT DEVELOPMENT MEETINGS: Yun Pitre, community engagement coordinator from the Department of Neighborhoods, reminded everyone of the schedule of meetings coming up to go through the community suggestions for park/street grants. (Here’s the list – first one is Monday.) Several of the people here who participated last year and offered suggestions for improving the process – which was new last year – expressed dismay that it hasn’t changed. While hundreds of ideas were submitted, only a few dozen people participated in reviewing ideas. South Delridge rep McCord added dismay that projects involving public safety are being forced to compete for what Pigeon Point’s Spalding called “an ever-shrinking pot of money.” That led to a brief question of whether some of the money that’s not going to be spent on the Fauntleroy Boulevard project – so far – might be spent instead on the grant-funding-denied Highland Park roundabout.

Other topics:

ROXHILL PARK COMMONS: Earl Lee from Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Coalition brings up this idea now in discussion to get more community involvement with the park (with a kickoff meeting coming up next Tuesday).

DELRIDGE DAY: Spalding said the skating part of the festival will be expanded this year, and Nafasi Ferrell of DNDA is putting together cultural features, Chas Redmond is programming the music, the Precinct Picnic will be back and the bicycle officers will lead a bike ride through Delridge. Spalding said they are hoping that more community organizations, like neighborhood councils, will participate this year. Though it’s in North Delridge, it’s not the North Delridge Day Festival, pointed out Taylor-Judd. He pointed out there’s tons of free stuff – food, treats, backpacks, entertainment, activities. And he pointed out that sponsorships (we’ve been a sponsor each year) and other community support has meant the festival has raised money, thousands of dollars donated to local nonprofits.

BEE FESTIVAL: As always, it’s at High Point Commons Park, and this year’s date is May 19th, Deborah Vandermar from the High Point Open Spaces Association announced. It will begin with the parade as always.

DISTRICT COUNCIL COLLABORATION: There’s talk of having West Seattle’s two district councils formally collaborate for a “unified voice” on behalf of the peninsula. Spalding pointed out that the councils used to have an annual joint meeting. The concept, overall, is a work in progress.

The Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meets on third Wednesdays most months, 7 pm, currently at Highland Park Improvement Club (1116 SW Holden).

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DELRIDGE RAPIDRIDE H LINE: Take a closer look at what’s on the drawing board http://westseattleblog.com/2018/01/delridge-rapidride-h-line-take-a-closer-look-at-whats-on-the-drawing-board/ http://westseattleblog.com/2018/01/delridge-rapidride-h-line-take-a-closer-look-at-whats-on-the-drawing-board/#comments Mon, 22 Jan 2018 05:14:37 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=906893

Those are – still – key points of Delridge concern about the upcoming conversion of Metro Route 120 into the RapidRide H Line. The points were made during the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council discussion last Wednesday night that wrapped up a weeklong round of in-person feedback about the plan, including the introduction of a proposed package of stops and road changes labeled “Option 3:

(You’ll note that this includes rechannelization in some areas, which would include the removal of 270 on-street parking spaces in what are labeled as Sections C and E. SDOT says its studies showed 10 percent to 50 percent utilization of those spaces now.)

If you didn’t make it to any of the three recent events (a week before Delridge, Metro and SDOT held drop-in sessions in Burien and White Center), you might also want to scroll through the maps/renderings (below) that show how the stops would change along the route, plus specific changes proposed for Delridge/Holden and Delridge/Henderson:

(You can see the full-screen PDF version of those maps/renderings as pages 4-9 here.) The DNDC discussion of the Delridge plans followed the third SDOT/Metro open house of the week. We recorded the discussion on video:

Metro and SDOT reps were on hand for this as well. But it was far from the first time that neighborhood advocates including DNDC reps had spelled out the same concerns – including stop location/spacing – since the 120 is point-to-point transportation for many in the Delridge corridor, not just a way to get to and from downtown. The frustration was voiced at one point by DNDC’s Pete Spalding of Pigeon Point, who said this was at least the fifth time in three years that the group had listed its concerns. Michael Taylor-Judd of North Delridge wanted to be sure the project team was talking with groups including seniors who would be especially affected by an increase in stop spacing – while the third-of-a-mile spacing proposal is closer than RapidRide’s usual half-mile-apart spacing, it’s still a tenth-of-a-mile increase over the average on Delridge now.

YOUR FEEDBACK: If you have something to say about what’s currently under consideration for the Route 120/H Line conversion – where the stops are, how they’re spaced, and/or changes on Delridge – this is the time to say it, before the project team finalizes a recommended design, which will happen in the months ahead. RapidRide@seattle.gov is the address for project comments (though the county runs Metro, this is a joint project with SDOT, not only because of the road changes, but also because the city contributes funding for bus service). Design is to be completed this year, with construction of the stops and road changes starting in 2019 and continuing in 2020, when the H Line is to be launched.

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Delridge Neighborhoods District Council: Talking RapidRide H Line and more with Councilmember Herbold http://westseattleblog.com/2017/11/delridge-neighborhoods-district-council-talking-rapidride-h-line-and-more-with-councilmember-herbold/ Fri, 17 Nov 2017 07:50:35 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=901066

When City Councilmember Lisa Herbold walked into Wednesday night’s Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting after an all-day budget session, members and attendees happened to be talking about the future conversion of Metro Route 120 to the RapidRide H Line. The discussion never did get around to any of the hot topics that had dominated the day – and some previous days – at City Hall, such as the “head tax” or encampment removals aka “sweeps.”

The RapidRide talk went on for a while, especially concerns that a lot of feedback already had been offered in previous discussions, mostly with SDOT during what was at the time referred only to the Delridge Multimodal Corridor process, but the next round of “engagement” seemed to be oblivious to that. Herbold said her office has been talking with King County/Metro and promised she personally would jump in after votes next week conclude the budget-change process – which she’s been leading as Budget Committee chair, a role gained in a domino process of sorts that began with former Mayor Ed Murray‘s resignation.

The road itself has enough trouble, one attendee said, without even the prospect of more, bigger buses, noting a big hole that we suspect was the same one called to our attention with photos on Twitter:

The district council might wind up hosting a larger community forum, it was suggested, to discuss the future RapidRide line.

From there, other topics: Pete Spalding from Pigeon Point asked Herbold for an “inside scoop” on budget items that might affect this area. She explained that the budget chair’s role is “less focused on championing particular budget items,” so she focused on trying to “identify the (key) priorities” – earlier in the day, they went through 150 items before adjourning in the 5 pm hour. She mentioned the expansion of a workforce-training program for English Language Learners, with Neighborhood House High Point to be added as a location. “It’s been successful in North and South Seattle, and we have a lot of immigrant residents in the High Point area” who might be helped, Herbold said. She also mentioned several budget items that are geared toward South Park, which she represents along with West Seattle – including hiring a safety coordinator “to be sort of an ombudsman … someone with eyes and ears for emerging problems,” as well as a connection between South Park and Georgetown.

And she mentioned the order for SPD to work with the City Attorney’s Office on how to make it easier to enforce noise ordinances. She also mentioned the plan to beef up the vacant-building ordinance to “make sure the people responsible for these properties, often banks or absentee owners, should be doing a better job of maintaining these properties.” She said the intent is “that the owners of these properties pay a fee sufficient” to cover enforcement – “if we want a certain level of service, we need to charge a fee” that will cover it, to pay for inspectors to monitor vacant buildings, rather than just be reactive when complaints come in. She said that her staff has been tracking nuisance properties, so if you have one and haven’t let her staff know about it, please do send it in. Spalding pointed out that the “poster child for vacant buildings” is the red house on the east side of the north end of Delridge (it starred in a problem-properties tour with other councilmembers almost nine years ago).

Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Ron Smith noted what he has said at other recent community meetings – police have to get “trespass agreements” with vacant properties’ owners to be able to deal with getting people out; otherwise they don’t have proof that potential squatters aren’t supposed to be there. Lt. Smith said the area has an overload of vacant houses. Herbold said the council will hear soon from the Department of Construction and Inspections about what it’ll take to step up the new program, and she’d like to hear more from the community about what would really help. Chair McBride suggested perhaps eastern West Seattle could have a pilot program.

Herbold mentioned that the council did OK funding to expand LEAD and its policy board will be required to give a report on where expansion should happen, “so it’s not just limited to North Seattle” – Highland Park in particular has been requesting an expansion for a long time. Highland Park Action Committee co-chair Michele Witzki says it might be helpful for councilmembers to tour South Delridge to see firsthand what’s happening in some parts of the area.

McBride asked about the status of possible White Center annexation. Herbold mentioned that the South Park “sliver” annexation remains stalled because of the impasse between the city and county on some funding/improvement issues. So for now, the issue of annexation is nowhere near council level – it’s happening at the staff level. Herbold says her concern has always been, what is it going to cost to take on this obligation, and are we selling a neighborhood a bill of goods if we can’t afford what we might have to promise them? “I don’t want to bring another neighborhood in to the city whose needs we can’t tend to.”

When the change of heart for SDOT’s Chief Sealth Walkways Improvement Project came up, Herbold all but fist-pumped and lauded the community advocates who pushed back when the project reduction was announced: “The partnership we have with community members in this district is pretty powerful.”

RAPIDRIDE POSTSCRIPT: After Herbold’s departure, DNDC continued discussing the possibility of a community forum about the bus line changes. Topics that came up included the fact that local schools and their students/staff are stakeholders too, as middle- and high-school students use Metro for transportation, and the 120 serves many students from Chief Sealth International High School and Denny International Middle School.

A few other quick items from earlier in the DNDC meeting:

SOUTHWEST YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES: Their end-of-year donation drive involves an Adopt-a-Family Wish List – contact SWYFS if you’d like to help.

YOUNGSTOWN 100: A reminder that the 100th anniversary of historic Cooper School – now Youngstown Cultural Arts Center – will be celebrated with a big party on Sunday, December 3rd.

VIEWS: Visualize Increased Engagement in West Seattle is kicking off planning for Delridge Day 2018 and looking for people who can help with the festival for next year – graphic artist, website, festival components such as kids’ activities or skatepark activities – contact Pete Spalding (bayouwonder [at] comcast [dot] net) if you’re interested.

ROXHILL BOG: While waiting for the featured guest, topics included the recent Roxhill Bog peat fire and Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Coalition‘s push to get the bog restored.

The Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meets on the third Wednesday most months, 7 pm, rotating locations but currently at Highland Park Improvement Club, 1116 SW Holden. No December meeting, so next one is scheduled for January 17th.

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VIDEO: City Council Position 8 candidates @ Delridge District Council http://westseattleblog.com/2017/10/video-city-council-position-8-candidates-delridge-district-council/ http://westseattleblog.com/2017/10/video-city-council-position-8-candidates-delridge-district-council/#comments Thu, 19 Oct 2017 16:40:38 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=898093

Your ballot for the November 8th election is on the way. That adds extra weight to the final few weeks of candidate forums – with voters able to make their choices at any time. On Wednesday night, the candidates for City Council Position 8 – the citywide spot for which now-Mayor Tim Burgess chose not to run again – visited the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council. Above is our video of the 48-minute forum, with candidates Jon Grant and Teresa Mosqueda. Housing affordability, homelessness, and transportation were the hot topics.

Mosqueda and Grant are due back in West Seattle tonight (Thursday), as part of the forum presented by the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce and West Seattle Transportation Coalition, which also will feature the Council Position 9 (Lorena González and Pat Murakami) and Mayor (Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon) candidates, 6:30 pm at American Legion Post 160 (3618 SW Alaska).

Also at the district-council meeting, before the candidates’ forum:

TRANSPORTATION: DNDC members want to hear from Metro and SDOT at future meetings, to talk about transportation along Delridge, including overcrowding on Routes 120 and 125. Pigeon Point’s Pete Spalding noted that Metro needs to understand that the Delridge routes aren’t just about going downtown – those routes are the ones the people who live in the area use to travel around West Seattle.

CITY BUDGET: Highland Park Action Committee co-chair Michele Witzki asked everyone to pay attention to the City Council budget discussions about where to deploy LEAD – Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion – which Highland Park has been asking for, for years. Earlier this week, councilmembers talked primarily about using it in the North and South Precincts, not the Southwest. Also discussed, pavement problems on 26th SW, and all were urged to contact City Councilmember Lisa Herbold’s office to ask for paving funds to be used to fix it.

The Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meets third Wednesdays most months, 7 pm, rotating locations, currently Highland Park Improvement Club.

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Which stops might stay, and which might go? See what Delridge District Council heard and said about RapidRide H Line concepts http://westseattleblog.com/2017/03/which-stops-might-stay-and-which-might-go-see-what-delridge-district-council-heard-and-said-about-rapidride-h-line-concepts/ http://westseattleblog.com/2017/03/which-stops-might-stay-and-which-might-go-see-what-delridge-district-council-heard-and-said-about-rapidride-h-line-concepts/#comments Fri, 17 Mar 2017 16:55:30 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=877218 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

One huge question about the taking-shape plans for the Delridge RapidRide line was answered during this week’s briefing for the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council: Which stops are proposed for removal when Route 120 is turned into the H Line in 2020?

The list was in the slide deck brought to the DNDC meeting Wednesday night at Highland Park Improvement Club by SDOT’s Thérèse Casper and Dawn Schellenberg, two days after the project “online open house” went live (as reported here), asking for opinions about two potential concepts.

Their slide deck began with background including the plan to “upgrade” Route 120 to RapidRide, between downtown Seattle, Delridge, and Burien. It’ll be under construction in 2019 and in service in 2020, according to the current plan. Casper said the way had been paved by discussions in recent years regarding various transportation-related plans – the Delridge multi-modal corridor discussion, Freight Master Plan, Bicycle Master Plan, etc.

Along the Delridge section of the route, Casper said, conditions are as follows:

They weren’t sure, when asked, if the 6,300 “daily bus boardings” listed were the Delridge total or from a wider section of the route. Casper presented a demographics-information slide and was questioned about its exact source and how current it was. Other slides broke down conditions on Delridge, for vehicles and for pedestrians/riders.

Metro will be studying the entire route, including the section outside city limits, and looking at pavement conditions, Casper said. She also clarified that she was only discussing Delridge Way, not other streets on the route, such as SW Barton, which handles RapidRide C and other routes right now.

And she got to the two options featured in the current “online open house,” where feedback is being sought, Option 1 (PDF here, embedded below) vs. Option 2 (PDF here, embedded below):

The quick summary, if you haven’t seen it already: #1 would include “all day and peak period bus-only lanes,” a wider sidewalk 23rd to Holden, improved pedestrian crossings, new neighborhood-greenways connections, and a new landscaped median.

#2 would include all-day bus-only lanes at the north end of corridor, keep existing protected bike lanes and add new ones on part of Delridge, improved pedestrian crossings, new neighborhood-greenways connctions, and a new landscaped median.

And she showed the cross-section concepts (also in the “online open house,” PDF here, embedded below):

In areas where vehicle parking would be removed in North Delridge, it was suggested to Casper that an option for peak-only bus lanes would be appreciated so there would still be parking in the evenings/weekends. Maybe a compromise, Casper suggested, would be all-day bus lanes.

Another issue: Where would there be openings in the landscaped medians for turn lanes? None are proposed, outside of intersections, in the section between the West Seattle Bridge and SW Alaska (south end of Delridge Playfield).

Between Alaska and 23rd, Option 1 would only change the center turn lane to a planted median. That section didn’t generate much discussion. On to 23rd to Orchard, in Option 1, the current “parking lane” would change to a peak bus lane/off-peak parking, while the center turn lane again would change to a planted median outside intersections, and the sidewalk would be widened.

In the midst of this, DNDC chair Mat McBride observed that many people are pedestrian-to-mass-transit along Delridge, and infrastructure on side streets, as a result, matters too. That led to the question: If parking is removed from Delridge, pushed into side streets, will the city study the impacts? Casper said this is the kind of feedback they were at DNDC for – looking to hear about what “tradeoffs” could arise.

Orchard to Holden, described by Casper as a “pinch point for transit,” would have bus lanes added – peak under Option 1 (off-hours parking), but not on Option 2. Operations Lt. Ron Smith from the Southwest Precinct noted that the precinct is in that area and “right now it’s getting so bad on Delridge” that it’s challenging even for police vehicles to get onto the road. Their intersection at Webster, with a bus stop, is dangerous, he said. He also said that while SDOT is claiming a 10 percent reduction in vehicle traffic on the corridor, “that’s not what we’re seeing.” Increasing the number of buses stopping by Webster – which RapidRide would do – could create more safety challenges, Lt. Smith said. The nearby multipoint intersection with Home Depot and other businesses is a challenge too.

For the Holden to Cambridge section, the SDOT reps were asked if turn lanes could be added to the intersections, since this is a “major pedestrian section” too. If there is one section where parking could and should be removed, this would be it – “it’s a bad stretch of road,” said McBride.

Casper said that protected bike lanes were not suggested “south of Orchard” on Delridge in the Bicycle Master Plan, and that’s why they’re not in this proposal.

“Why does the Master Plan not have bikes there?” asked Michael Riedel from the South Delridge Community Group. “That’s the section where the greenway sucks.”

Many suggest that this would make more sense with bike lanes for people to be able to get at least to where they can turn off and head to Westwood Village.

“We have a common thing here in the Delridge neighborhoods where the city comes out and proposes projects, and then the money runs out, and they (pull up short of South Delridge),” noted North Delridge Neighborhood Council‘s Michael Taylor-Judd, adding that even if the Bicycle Master Plan doesn’t call for bike lanes in this area, the community would expect them to.

Casper brought up the clamor for repaving north Delridge Way – since south Delridge Way already has been – and Taylor-Judd noted that it seemed to be pushed back year after year, as the various corridor projects have been pushed back for a variety of reasons.

Last section, Cambridge to Roxbury, a business district. One issue here would be whether to turn the angled parking into parallel parking.

Then finally came the big issue – one that several participants tried to bring up earlier in the discussion, because it’s a major point of concern that replacing Route 120 with RapidRide will mean fewer places for people to board the bus along Delridge: How many stops will there be, and where?

Existing bus-stop spacing is .22 mile; proposed would be .32 mile. The difference “is about a two-minute walk,” said Casper. Overall, they are looking at 14 locations for “enhanced RapidRide stations” – 28 stops in all – 23 where they are now, 5 to be relocated. While that’s been mentioned in previous presentations to citywide boards, they didn’t include the specific list of stops. (UPDATE: Here’s a clear version of the slide, which we have substituted for the blurry photo we originally published:)

The stops proposed to be removed on the 4-mile city stretch of the route: Oregon, Alaska, Edmunds, Croft Place, 22nd/Barton, 20th/Roxbury. Brandon and Juneau stops would be consolidated at Findlay. The Holly stop would move to 22nd. The SB 16th/17th/Roxbury stop would move.

“This is very preliminary,” Casper cautioned.

“The 120 isn’t just about people getting downtown,” Taylor-Judd pointed out. “And that’s a concern.”

Schellenberg asked for clarification, “Is it about mobility challenges – if there was a better sidewalk, or …”

“That certainly plays a role,” said Taylor-Judd. And he said that the stop placement really needs to take into account where people are coming from – down a hill, for example – because they might already have been walking a half mile or more to get to Delridge to catch the bus. “There are some folks in the neighborhood would rather NOT have RapidRide than lose a bunch of stops.”

Adding to that, Spalding noted, some bus stops were removed on Delridge just a few years ago. *****

Michele Witzki from Highland Park Action Committee said that east West Seattle needs a “holistic” approach to bus service, because of challenges with other routes, such as the 131.

Will there be shelters at stops that don’t have them now? Yes, said Casper, though that’s not covered in the slide deck currently.

Casper wrapped up by urging everyone to check out the “online open house” (which we broke down and linked to here as soon as it was made public on Monday) and to look for SDOT reps at pop-up stops the week of March 20th.

Rider Alerts will be posted regarding the survey and pop-ups. What languages will they be in? the reps were asked. At least three besides English, said SDOT: Vietnamese, Spanish, and Somali. Any ethnic-media outreach? Yes, related to a recent ethnic-media roundtable, said SDOT.

Bottom line: They’re looking at bus service every 10 minutes. “Some of that is already occurring in the peak periods,” Casper added.

When is the county beginning its review process of the route’s segments outside city limits? asked Ron Angeles, who represents Southwest Youth and Family Services and was concerned about clients in White Center and points south.

Sometime within the next few months, Casper replied.

As the discussion concluded, McBride emphasized that while the meeting’s discussion tonight was just about the H Line’s Delridge Way segment, a separate discussion is needed about the Westwood transit hub, where “poor design choices” were made as it morphed into a transit center back when it was decided that RapidRide would extend to that area with the launch of the C Line. “26th SW was never, ever designed for heavy equipment,” pointed out resident Earl. “Everyone’s house shakes.” (This issue has been addressed at the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council. Casper confirmed that they’re booked to talk with WWRHAH on April 4th – 6:15 pm, Southwest Library – but won’t be ready to discuss that area in general.)

McBride added that mobility is vital on the corridor but the “most important thing,” from the Delridge District Council’s ongoing goals, is to “create a boulevard feel” for Delridge – “we agreed a long time ago that the look, feel and presence of this roadway is tremendously importance – so when you look from SDOT perspective, think boulevard, boulevard, boulevard.”

Riedel said that it’s aggravating to see that the Delridge Triangle bus stop on which the South Delridge Community Group is working, is apparently not in the plan for a RapidRide stop. “We were kind of told it would be a good stop for (that),” he said. “You’re leaving out a big (area) of high density,” without it, he noted, also saying that since light rail isn’t set to go this far south, “this (RapidRide) is all we have.”

WHAT’S NEXT: As outlined in the “online open house,” SDOT reps will be out along the route to talk with riders and others face-to-face. The dates/times/places:

3/20 from 7 – 8 AM at the southwest corner of Delridge Way SW and SW Andover St
3/20 from 11 AM – 1 PM at bus stops along Delridge Way SW
3/21 from 7 – 9 AM at bus stops along Delridge Way SW
3/22 from 5 – 6 PM at 21st Ave SW and SW Dawson St along the neighborhood greenway east of Delridge Way SW
3/23 from 4:30 – 6:30 PM at bus stops along Delridge Way SW
3/24 from 8 – 10 AM on the east sidewalk at the intersection of Delridge Way SW and 17th Ave SW

And if you haven’t already answered the questions/survey in the “online open house,” be sure to do it before month’s end – start here.

Also at Wednesday night’s DNDC meeting:

COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENTS: Pete Spalding reminded everyone that the West Seattle Food Bank‘s open house for their new “shopping” model – which has more than doubled the time they are open for clients each week – is coming up Saturday, March 25th, 3-6 pm, all welcome (kids too), 35th SW/SW Morgan … Deborah Vandermar from the High Point Open Spaces Association noted that May 20th is the next West Seattle Bee Festival, starting at 9 am with the Honey Run … Highland Park Action Committee‘s next meeting, 7 pm March 22nd at HPIC, will include a variety of agenda items from community cleanups to an update on the Camp Second Chance encampment expansion on Myers Way … South Delridge Community Group‘s next meeting is this Sunday (March 19th), 10 am, info hereCamp Long Advisory Council always welcomes the public and will next meet on March 22nd …

DNDC BUSINESS UPDATE: The RapidRide discussion ran to meeting’s end at 9 pm so next month will bring discussions of document-sharing and grant applications that were tentatively planned for this meeting.

Delridge Neighborhoods District Council is rotating meeting locations quarterly – for the next three months, 7 pm on third Wednesdays, it will meet at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center (6400 Sylvan Way SW).

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DELRIDGE NEIGHBORHOODS DISTRICT COUNCIL: Partnering with schools; mapping the future of grants; more http://westseattleblog.com/2017/02/delridge-neighborhoods-district-council-partnering-with-schools-mapping-the-future-of-grants-more/ Thu, 16 Feb 2017 05:06:45 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=874387 Topline from tonight’s Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting, which just wrapped up at Highland Park Improvement Club:

HOW CAN COMMUNITY GROUPS & NEIGHBORHOOD ORGANIZATIONS HELP LOCAL SCHOOLS? That question led to the guest appearance of James Bush from Seattle Public Schools. Chair Mat McBride, for example, said that while he tends to compartmentalize “community stuff” and “school stuff” in his mind – he’s an SPS parent – “they’re the same stuff.”

Bush was with the city for more than 20 years, including the Parks Department and Department of Neighborhoods, but joined SPS last year and works for the district as school/community partnerships director. He works with a variety of organizations, such as parent/teacher organizations, and also a program called The Creative Advantage that helps bridge the gap in arts education, especially for children of color. And he manages the district’s interaction with the city Department of Education and Early Learning (the voter-funded preschool initiative) as well as working with the county’s new Best Starts for Kids (also voter-funded).

He visits schools to find out what’s happening there – earlier this week, for example, he said, he visited Pathfinder K-8 on Pigeon Point.

The district has hundreds of partners, so if there’s a need in a school somewhere, his team gets to evaluate who and what might be the right match to help – though it’s a principal’s final decision about who partners in their school, he said.

One challenge in this area, Bush was told by a DNDC member, is that not every school has a strong PTA, so you can’t rely on that organization to get involved at every school. Can Bush’s team help cover some of those gaps? He said that his team has a grand total of five people, but they do look at innovative, different ways to get things done – maybe bring multiple PTSAs together, for example.

You can find out more about what his department does via this section of the district website.

The conversation meandered and at one point turned to the education-funding crisis; he reiterated where the SPS budget stands (same thing you can see here).

And then it went back to some of the private funding that’s involved in partnerships, including a Seattle Housing Authority-linked program. And it assists the entire family, he explained, for example, helping parents with job searches while their children are at after-school programs.

Discussion that followed brought out information about other programs such as ones that help combat attendance problems by offering support instead of throwing out threats, and suggestions that intervention programs which are deployed in South Seattle could be useful in some West Seattle schools too. Bush talked about how they determine where support and intervention programs go. He said they just finished building a “community-engagement toolkit” that’s part of what they will be using to help make those decisions.

How does the district evaluate a specific school and how does Bush’s team engage with it? He gave an example from North Seattle, at a school that serves many low-income-housing communities. They talk with the principal to see if they are working with the managers of the housing communities.

In general, when they go into schools, it’s not intended to be punitive, but to work with principals, Bush said.

Are principals the only people that community members can approach? One attendee said he was trying to support a local school by donating books, and the principal had rejected them, but he then managed to work with teachers who accepted the donations.

Bush also talked about cultural-competency-related programs, such as one in partnership with the Somali community.

Finally, McBride asked the big question – how can the DNDC and the people in its members groups form deeper connections with local schools? “If nothing else, one of the things we can offer, is that we have a pretty good track record of hosting meetings like this.” (Reps from at least three PTAs were here, including Concord International, which is part of the Southwest area – “our kids go to Denny and Sealth,” said a rep.)

WHAT THE DNDC’S WORKING ON: DNDC is still working on a central access point for online information, something they never even got from the city before ties were cut. … They’re also looking at setting up subcommittees, while being mindful of the fact that, as McBride put it, “everybody here is already a member of something else already.” … And with the city’s tie-cutting removing the DNDC role in vetting grant applications, McBride talked about brainstorming a new role for the DNDC, maybe even proposing projects, definitely helping encourage them, working on an overview of the area’s needs, putting together a list of grant opportunities that isn’t just limited to what the city’s offering, and more. … Pigeon Point’s Pete Spalding wondered about looking at levy-related spending for accountability on whether what was supposed to be spent in this area of the city really is getting spent here … The council took a step toward forming subcommittees to focus on specific areas, and discussed potential formats for future meetings, potentially, like tonight, having a first-hour guest to focus on a strategic goal.

ANNOUNCEMENTS: We missed the first few minutes of the meeting but here’s what we heard on arrival: Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council has Councilmember Lisa Herbold as a guest at their March 7th meeting (6:15 pm at Southwest Library) … The Camp Long Advisory Council invites you to its meetings, but there soon won’t be a CL-only advisory council, Mat McBride says, as the Parks Department’s three Environmental Learning Centers will have one advisory council-type group for all three. …

Jump in and help out! Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meets third Wednesdays, 7 pm, currently at Highland Park Improvement Club (12th SW/SW Holden), possibly rotating locations later in the year.

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@ Delridge District Council: Looking ahead to ‘State of Delridge,’ and more http://westseattleblog.com/2017/01/delridge-district-council-looking-ahead-to-state-of-delridge-and-more/ http://westseattleblog.com/2017/01/delridge-district-council-looking-ahead-to-state-of-delridge-and-more/#comments Fri, 20 Jan 2017 17:09:51 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=871165 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.

FROM HOMELESSNESS TO HALA: As Wednesday night’s meeting began, going around the room to hear from representatives of the organizations that comprise the DNDC, one of the main concerns was the city’s plan for a sanctioned encampment at the site where there’s now an unsanctioned camp on the Myers Way Parcels. DNDC chair Mat McBride said that while Delridge is ready to roll up its sleeves and take on the issue, the city in turn needs to give the neighborhood the tools it needs to help solve the problem for the long term. Among the area’s needs – more transportation, better schools, and better access to grocery stores. McBride observed that those are all things the neighborhoods have sought for years, but now those things are more critical than ever if the city and neighborhoods are to work together on homelessness.

(The encampment was made official by a mayoral emergency order earlier this week, subsequently approved unanimously by councilmembers including Herbold.)

The proposed Mandatory Housing Affordability rezoning for the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda also was brought up as a major issue. While the city had a Community Design Workshop for the Westwood-Highland Park Urban Village in November, it was little-publicized and attendance was low. Reps from the Westwood-Roxhill Arbor Heights Community Council and South Delridge Community Group said they were taken aback by the “poor outreach.” WWRHAH’s Amanda Kay Helmick said that the input from those who did attend was good, though.

SPEAKING OF WWRHAH: Its meetings are moving to 6:15-7:45 pm on first Tuesdays as of next month, as Southwest Library is now booked o Mondays TFN. Next meeting: February 7th.

DELRIDGE GROCERY: Progress as the cooperative continues working toward opening a food store on the ground floor of Cottage Grove Commons (5444 Delridge Way SW). Delridge Grocery’s Doris Rahmig reported that the group has secured about $150,000 in grants and expects to have a buildout announcement within the next month or two.

SOUTHWEST YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES: Ron Angeles had an update on SWYFS’s project with the White Center Community Development Association and Capitol Hill Housing at the WC Food Bank site (8th SW/SW 108th). They’ll be working on funding for the previously discussed redevelopment that would include nonprofit organizations’ headquarters as well as affordable housing;

PUGET RIDGE: With a variety of community concerns (including those brought up at this week’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council), Amanda Kirk said the neighborhood is looking at monthly meetings to supplement its ongoing e-mail discussions.

The Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meets third Wednesdays, 7 pm. As noted above, the meetings will be at the Highland Park Improvement Club (12th SW/SW Holden) in February and March.

Before then – the “State of Delridge” discussion with Councilmember Herbold is at 7 pm next Wednesday, January 25th, also at HPIC.

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Delridge Neighborhoods District Council expands, even as city ties are severed http://westseattleblog.com/2016/11/delridge-neighborhoods-district-council-expands-even-as-city-ties-are-severed/ http://westseattleblog.com/2016/11/delridge-neighborhoods-district-council-expands-even-as-city-ties-are-severed/#comments Fri, 18 Nov 2016 04:53:30 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=865276 img_7534

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:

SOUTH DELRIDGE COMMUNITY GROUP: This new community council is now an official voting member of the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council and got a raucous cheer as that decision won official approval. Mike Riedel was presented with an official name placard that had been standing at the ready, pending the vote. (If you live/work/study in South Delridge, you can check out the group at its next meeting this Sunday – see this WSB story.)

NORTH DELRIDGE ACTION PLAN: David Goldberg from the city’s Office of Planning and Community Development brought a draft of this plan, which has been the subject of various meetings and other events over the past two years – we’ve covered some of the events at which information was presented and gathered (including here and here). Goldberg pointed out that even though the process of creating it is wrapping up, what’s important now is what’s being done to make it happen. The plan can help “create a narrative of what the community wants to be,” he said, saying it’s not intended to be a document that “languishes on a shelf.” You can review the draft version of the plan here (PDF) – then let him know what you think. (His contact information is on this page.)

Questions asked by DNDC attendees included, will there be specific city funds dedicated to some of the goals in the plan? Goldberg said it would be more a case of bringing neighborhood goals into various projects that already are in progress – “an opportunity to leverage resources,” he said, acknowledging that “might not be fully satisfying” for some, but saying, “this does work – this does change outcomes.”

Some neighborhoods not included in the North Delridge Action Plan wondered how they could get something similar. Just to get this took years of agitation, it was noted.

HALA UPZONING UPDATES: Kim Barnes from the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council briefed DNDC on the proposed rezoning that’s now being discussed because of the draft maps the city has released. Here by the way is the clarified Westwood-Highland Park Urban Village map we received earlier in the day:

The WW-HP area had a city-led community design workshop last week, though the outreach to let people know about it could have been better, Barnes said, noting that, despite the city’s stated goal of diversity and equity in participation, that didn’t manifest in those who showed up. The points that participants made about neighborhood goals, Barnes said, included hopes for walkable business areas, and for improvements to the WW Village transit hub, to make it a truly great transportation/shopping/living center.

She urged everyone to attend the November 29th community-led event at HPIC that will help educate people on how to comment on the plan, whether online or at the official city open house coming up December 7th in The Junction: “Even if you don’t live in an urban village, it’s going to affect everyone in Delridge … and we want to make sure the city hears us.”

A side discussion ensued, with frustration about HALA’s failure to address the infrastructure that will be needed to support the increased number of housing units. The idea of bringing in a city rep to discuss the issue was brought up. One question lingered: Would they listen?

PUBLIC SAFETY SURVEY: Have you taken it yet? Two more weeks to go, and Southwest Precinct researcher Jennifer Burbridge told the DNDC that the number of replies so far is lagging behind their goal, though the survey is a relatively easy way to have a say on crime, safety, and policing issues. You can answer it at publicsafetysurvey.org. While it’s a citywide survey, there is a place for you to specify your neighborhood and ensure that neighborhood-specific concerns are registered. You can also comment on your neighborhood micropolicing plan. So far, 5,500 people have answered the survey around the city – just under 700 of them from West Seattle, Burbridge said.

PREVENTION SURVEY: We just featured this one on Tuesday – a community survey about alcohol/drug-abuse concerns. A Southwest Seattle Wellness Coalition rep asked the group for help in circulating it. The coalition, which is working on a strategic plan, meets at 4 pm third Tuesdays at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center.

DESC ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEETING: Speaking of meetings – as previewed here earlier this week, the advisory committee meant to be liaisons between DESC’s supportive-housing complex Cottage Grove Commons and neighboring residents is being reconvened, next Tuesday, 6:30 pm at CGC (5444 Delridge Way SW).

ROXHILL ELEMENTARY NEEDS TUTORS: Amanda Kay Helmick from the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council is also president of the Roxhill Elementary PTA and told NDNC that Communities in Schools needs tutors at Roxhill. Here’s the organization’s webpage for Seattle volunteering.

The Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meets on third Wednesdays; as mentioned above, the next meeting will be January 18th, 7 pm, at Highland Park Improvement Club (12th SW and SW Holden).

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VIDEO: From representation to roads, @ Delridge Neighborhoods District Council http://westseattleblog.com/2016/09/video-defense-and-dollars-delridge-neighborhoods-district-council/ http://westseattleblog.com/2016/09/video-defense-and-dollars-delridge-neighborhoods-district-council/#comments Sat, 24 Sep 2016 01:23:51 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=858455 img_6514

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.

But first:

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.

The plan has not yet been finalized, but Nyland and other city staffers discussed the topic in a briefing at noontime Wednesday, during a City Council committee meeting (last item, 2 hours, 23 minutes in):

Two of the Councilmembers who were in attendance at that meeting, Lisa Herbold and Tim Burgess, had accepted DNDC’s invitation to Wednesday night’s district-council meeting. Herbold had a conflicting commitment, however, and had to leave before the discussion really revved up.

“A lot of the criticism that are being leveled at district councils are things we’ve been asking for for years, if you go back and look,” said Spalding. “…I personally think that we collectively have done a pretty damn good job to try to push the city to help us do things. Now we’re looking to our electeds to help us to continue so that we can be a positive force for change in our neighborhoods.”

From there, those in attendance had the chance to voice whatever they wanted to say on the topic. Gunner Scott from Highland Park Action Committee said that without a district council, he would never have gotten involved. He had previously served on a city commission and felt it wasn’t listened to, and that he “felt discrimination … (despite) that commission being about discrimination.” He feels more engaged with his involvement for NDNC. He spoke about previous dealings with the Department of Neighborhoods and having been treated as if he “was stupid” despite his personal extensive experience with nonprofits and feeling he is knowledgeable in the workings of the system. He said he is “disappointed” in the “one-sided” discussion that is happening so far around district councils.

Next, Amanda Kay Helmick said the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council, which she co-founded, wouldn’t exist without the district council. “Geographic (groups) are incredibly important in this city. We live in communities.” The Department of Neighborhoods “threw our organizations under the bus,” Helmick declared. She said she had requested all the information that the mayor and DON had used to come up with their proposal. And, she said, that information revealed that “the survey results that led to the allegations that district councils are older, white, homeowners” were incomplete, because … “two district councils are missing.” She said there was an outreach strategy in 2008; in 2009, Councilmember Sally Bagshaw commissioned an audit based on one district council “that was having issues with engagement.” Nothing was done about its recommendations. So now, Helmick continued, the city’s attitude seemed to be “volunteers, it’s all your fault” that there are problems, she said they’re being told. DON has engagement liaisons that aren’t allowed to help. So this is all meant “to make us angry so we have meetings like this and talk about it and nothing gets done.”

Meantime, she noted, “The mayor is writing a resolution” to replace the one that created district councils in the ’80s but “we have not been asked to help with it, so that is top down.”

Councilmember Burgess said at that point that he’d been told the new proposal is expected to be part of the budget presentation the mayor is making on Monday (September 26th).

Michael Taylor-Judd of the North Delridge Neighborhood Council said the building in which this meeting was held – the renovated Cooper School, now Youngstown Cultural Arts Center – was the work of neighborhood leaders, as were so many things in the area. He said the city has never made much of an investment in eastern West Seattle without neighborhood reps agitating for it.

Taylor-Judd then said the DON presentation at the council earlier in the day made it sound as if the district councils’ were an “old system ripe for updating.” But, he continued, some neighborhood leaders have been engaged in a process, with city staffers for a year and a half, looking at the neighborhood’s future: “City staff were amazing, we got some materials translated…” He mentioned the last Delridge Projects Workshop in June 2015 (WSB coverage here) having included diverse participation, with Vietnamese, Somali, and youth groups, “people who have never been involved in workshops,” early in the process.

Then suddenly, more recently, he said, they were told that since the Department of Neighborhoods is making a change away from geographic outreach, they had the support withdrawn. That leaves Taylor-Judd wondering how the next Delridge Projects Workshop in early October will work: “So what is this final workshop going to be, just the older, white, homeowners (the city is so concerned about)” without access to liaisons who work with ethnic communities?” He says they’ve seen the postcard for it and it’s just in English. The city “might hire interpreters (for the event),” they were told. “So how will anyone know they’re available?” It says so on the postcard – in English – Taylor-Judd said. Overall, “it looks to me like the Department of Neighborhoods has decided that place-based community is not where (anything) is at any more.” Outreach to non-place-based communities is great to do in addition to neighborhood-linked outreach, he said, but for example, as a member of the LGBT community, he said, “am I going to have a ‘gay’ opinion about (a road project)?”

Next, Michelle from Highland Park said that when she first heard about the city’s new “engagement” direction, she was shocked too, because she had been asking for interpreter help, for example. “But I’m going to talk about geography in a different way that the DON isn’t talking about – Seattle is extremely segregated. … to not put those lawyers on there, you’re not going to have interpreters, you’re not going to have other things to help that particular population. This district council has brought one of the most amazing things to Highland Park,” she said, making note of a transportation project that the district council helped them obtain, for a flashing-beacon crosswalk on Holden, “where people do 50 (mph).”

Craig from Highland Park, who’s been involved for several years, said he feels the district council is a very important place to have checks and balances, and “where you can have a voice … if you care about your neighborhood. … I hope it continues to exist, until the next mayor, who can be more respectful of neighborhoods and volunteers.”

Deborah Vandermar of the High Point Open Spaces Association spoke of her experience with the group, pitching for grants, “and HP is getting the benefit of those two grants.” Working with the district council, the system was “demystified. … High Point is probably one of the most diverse places in the city …” but through participation in the district council, it’s connected with other neighborhoods such as nearby Morgan Junction. “The district council might be criticized for being too white .. yes, possibly, but if the people who are sitting here are doing everything they can to address that issue and move forward and (help others) take advantage of all the resources that are available … then why would we destroy a system that has helped (her community and others)?”

That drew applause.

Ron Angeles, representing Southwest Youth and Family Services, talked about a long history of community engagement, not just his time as a Neighborhood District Coordinator. He talked about involvement in the ’70s in Southeast Seattle, and a feeling that area wasn’t getting its fair share of available money. He mentioned former Department of Neighborhoods leader Jim Diers. “In the north end, there were issues of land use, and neighborhood councils vs. business chambers, and how land should be allocated … but the primary issue was how decisions were being made at City Hall. They were being made in a vacuum, and it was often who could yell the loudest … one group vs. the other group … city leaders were asking groups to get their acts together and come up with someone who could unify a voice. So, he continued, then-City Councilmember Jim Street championed the idea of district councils and a citywide council. (Here’s a city PDF with the history of that process.) “From the standpoint of being a coordinator, I would go to one neighborhood group and hear great things that were going on … and (the same with another) …” and if the community councils and business groups could “come together with one voice, it would be powerful … and over time, it happened.”

At one point, Angeles said, there was concern about neighborhood councils vs. district councils. “But … it’s worked for four decades, there’s success after success after success of things that have worked in district councils. And it didn’t start with this administration. …Look at the big picture of the synergism, the ideas that people get from each other …” He sighed, heavily. “Who writes this stuff down? But we know it. The neighborhood district coordinators … what’s their role going to be? Do they go? District councils will survive … the city is growing, there are new leaders, there are old leaders … ” He went on to mention the power of having representatives from multiple neighborhoods in one room with city representatives, “and then there’s the meaningful relationship, that builds up, that’s how you get things done … how (a neighborhood rep) can call up a City Councilmember … that’s what district councils can do … and that’s what goes unmentioned … and all you hear is ‘how district councils don’t represent the community’.”

DNDA’s Willard Brown said he’s been involved with the district councils since at least 2000, and it’s how he “got involved with what’s happening in the neighborhoods.”

This is where he said:

“The mayor got it wrong. Ms. Nyland has it wrong too. This is why: We all sit here, and we represent more than who we are in this room, and for whatever reason, the fact that we are representing other people is unstated and unreflected in everything that’s been written about ‘what’s wrong with the system’. I engage, come in contact, with almost everyone in the district, working on project with schools, with affordable housing, with some of you, or with the libraries, or law enforcement … The fact is, being effective in the community. We hear their voices,, we hear their concerns, we take information to them, we represent. That decision that says we are unrepresentative fo the citizens of Seattle is (wrong) … I was offended.” He hopes that the people who trust in them will be able to continue working with them. “Don’t say you are going to replace us with a new system with all new players because that is stupid.”

Of all his work to help connect communities, he said, he thinks it’s “insane” for (the mayor and others) “to say to us we’re not reflecting the needs and wishes of our communities.”

That led to a discussion of how what limited demographic information the city has collected on district councils doesn’t even reflect who might be in the participants’ households, nor has it included information such as sexual orientation.

Mike Riedel from South Delridge’s new community council said, “A lot of the stuff you care about is geography,” cutting across ethnic and other lines. He said he’s had involvement with some city agencies, and “they treat us like there are two cities …” He is part of a recently formed community group. “I have no faith in this mayor or the Dept. of Neighborhoods or the next mayor with a new plan will lobby for us the way we lobby for ourselves … We’re trying to represent our community.”

At that point, Spalding asked Councilmember Burgess, who had been listening, to join the discussion. “Based upon what you’ve heard from us tonight, and from the Dept. of Neighborhoods this morning,where’s the council in this whole process right now? It seems to us that the mayor can’t really do a lot of what he wants to do without the council making some changes to city resolutions.”

We videorecorded the next 16 minutes:

The toplines: Burgess acknowledged the announcement of the mayoral/Neighborhoods plan seemed “fumbled.” As for what happens next, he said the council was mostly waiting for the mayor’s budget plan on Monday.

He was followed by the co-chairs of the Southwest District Council, David Whiting and Eric Iwamoto, who spoke of how their DC decided earlier this month to continue on no matter what (WSB coverage here), but are mystified by what the city is trying to do.

Cindi Barker of the West Seattle Emergency Communication Hubs pointed out that she had heard lots of city language change recently, including the comprehensive plan (Seattle 2035), trying to excise the word “neighborhood” wherever possible. She also pointed out that she is a representative of a group aligned with a topic rather than a specific neighborhood.

So is Tamsen Spengler of the West Seattle Timebank, who said she has a longtime organizational background and she was “offended” to be told she didn’t.

Spalding thanked everyone for “speaking from the heart.” Then one more voice from the corner of the room:

Kirk Bentley said he wanted to come and tell the district-council reps “thank you … for doing largely thankless work.” He follows what the group does, read reports and previews on WSB, and tracks what’s happening even if he’s not able to be at the meetings. “It’s important that what this group does continues to happen. … Hopefully the council and the mayor will make really smart choices about what happens next.”

“The council will,” quipped Burgess, evoking the first major laughter of the meeting, which ended shortly after, with Spalding saying “Remember, this isn’t the end … it’s just a continuation of what we’ve been doing.”

We will be covering the budget announcement on Monday and will report on what’s proposed on this topic as well as others.

Now, back to the first part of Wednesday’s meeting:

NEIGHBORHOOD STREET FUND PROPOSALS: As the Southwest District Council did earlier this month, the Delridge NDC is now re-ranking the top community proposals for this grant fund’s every-three-year funding cycle, so the community applicants were invited to re-pitch. (Here’s the citywide list of what’s still going through the system. Follow the link for each one – or, in each minisummary below – to see the full SDOT-created summary and cost estimate.)

Amanda Kay Helmick from WWRHAH spoke on behalf of the SW Barton corridor bus-stop vicinity safety proposals (“Barton Complete Street”), which SDOT says would cost $1.2 million, saying the need had been proven over and over again.

Gunner Scott from HPAC declared, “People have died,” when advocating for the Highland Park Way/SW Holden roundabout that’s proposed for the fund this time, estimated by SDOT to cost $1.3 million. “It’s ridiculous that we’re doing ‘The Hunger Games’ because these all are very much needed.” He also pointed out that the area is densifying, with multifamily projects (like this one) on and near the area. It was also noted that about the neighborhood has been campaigning for safety there (we’ve seen the documentation of this) for 70+ years.

Eric Iwamoto from WWRHAH spoke about his proposal for pedestrian improvements in the Chief Sealth International High School/Westwood Village area, along 26th SW and 25th SW/Trenton ($465K is SDOT’s estimate). He said that if it helps, he would advocate for at least one of these two projects, “I’m willing to settle for half.” Ron Angeles asked about a frequent challenge in that area, keeping a gate open so Southwest Athletic Complex could be walked through. Iwamoto mentioned that the gate often is locked, so students wind up walking through a greenbelt area – which has been the scene of some robberies and other incidents.

The next project was also pitched by HPAC’s Scott, 16th and Holden ($875,000 SDOT estimate), where there’s a need for a left-turn lane (he mentioned crashes) and other pedestrian features.

Finally, a co-submitter of a project for sidewalks along SW Brandon ($616K SDOT estimate) spoke about the need for them.

The NDNC reps have one week to consult with their organizations and get their rankings in to the city.

ANNOUNCEMENTS: Lots of them – so in case you hadn’t already heard about some or all of these events:

September 25th, Seattle Summer Parkways on Alki

September 25th, the Delridge Neighborhood Communication Hub will be one of four hubs “activated” during the Disaster Relief Bike Trials that start at 11 am that morning from 61st/Alki in connection with Seattle Summer Parkways.

October 1st, 9:30 am-2 pm work party & restoration event at the Delridge Wetlands site, announced DNDA’s Scott. All welcome.

October 1st, Southwest Youth and Family Services is having its annual fundraising gala at Metropolist in SODO, announced SWYFS’s Angeles.

October 8th, 9:30 am-noon, the Delridge Projects Workshop will be at Southwest Teen Life Center (2801 SW Thistle), all invited to come talk about various projects including SDOT’s Delridge Way Multimodal Corridor Project as well as other city departments’ projects. A resource fair is planned too, said Department of Neighborhoods District Coordinator Kerry Wade.

October 30th, 10 am-2 pm, the West Seattle Harvest Festival welcomes all, said Lora Swift, new permanent executive director of the West Seattle Junction Association.

The Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meets third Wednesdays, 7 pm, at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center.

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OPEN LETTER: Delridge Neighborhoods District Council’s invitation to city councilmembers http://westseattleblog.com/2016/08/open-letter-delridge-neighborhoods-district-councils-invitation-to-city-councilmembers/ http://westseattleblog.com/2016/08/open-letter-delridge-neighborhoods-district-councils-invitation-to-city-councilmembers/#comments Wed, 31 Aug 2016 22:07:18 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=856300 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.

In Community,

Mat McBride
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.

If you haven’t taken the survey yet – here’s the link. (And after you answer it – as mentioned above, the results so far can be seen here.)

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.

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VIDEO: Neighborhood advocates gather in wake of District Council dissolution by ‘a mayor who has vilified volunteers’ http://westseattleblog.com/2016/07/video-neighborhood-advocates-gather-in-wake-of-district-council-dissolution-by-a-mayor-who-has-vilified-volunteers/ http://westseattleblog.com/2016/07/video-neighborhood-advocates-gather-in-wake-of-district-council-dissolution-by-a-mayor-who-has-vilified-volunteers/#comments Thu, 21 Jul 2016 15:40:54 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=851638 signsandcrowd

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.”

meetingmatt

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?

The moderated-forum format bounced around the room.

meetingsanchez

From Dan Sanchez, chair of the Central Area District Council: “Provide a forum for our member organizations to disseminate and receive information from each other, as well as from the city.” They might hear from a developer, or maybe a representative of a city department. that.

meetingerhardy

Gabrielle Gerhard, immediate past chair of the Northeast District Council, said “we do something very similar – the power in our district council is when” they share information, at the table, “in a way that’s not shared over social media or other things.” They “try to build collaboration and connection,” she said.

meetingmelissa

Melissa Jonas identified herself as co-chair of the “organization formerly known as the Greater Duwamish District Council … I don’t know what symbol we’re going to choose, but it’s going to be great. We do the checkbox thing where (city) people contact us” to try to get the word out about things – “and we say, do you have translated materials? They say no, we don’t have money for that, and we say, that’s funny, neither do we.” She says their DC is not reflected in the “white, old, homeowner” label that the mayor affixed to the councils; her co-chair, she said, is a young Latino man. “We build relationships … we are a human braintrust that cannot be beat by Find It Fix It … I freakin’ love social media, but it does not take the place of looking the neighbors in their face.”

Jonas also talked about grant writing, being “armchair transportation experts,” armchair experts on telling people where to go and what to do about problems … “We do what we’re asked and more, like everyone else in this room … The way we have been portrayed and the way we have been described … I’ve been a volunteer coordinator for a long time and I would never treat anyone, expecting them to come back, the way that we have been treated.”

Charlie Bookman, vice chair of the Queen Anne/Magnolia District Council: “I want to touch on one thing that has not been mentioned yet … We’ve been blessed with strong community councils. We used to compete with each other for city resources – we’ve built those relationships together that now, for some years, there’s been a highly supportive environment … we look at new parts, offleash dog areas, P-patches, business districts with rehabbed sidewalks, in both communities, because we work together – the district council has been the vehicle.”

Jeff Hayes from South Park, an outspoken community advocate, said he is not on a community or district council but talked about the value of neighborhood participation, because the people in the city who can help neighborhoods “are getting farther and farther away from us” and the neighborhoods themselves “are getting lost.” The mayor’s decision “is not the way to go … we should be getting more in touch with our neighborhoods than farther away.”

“That’s why we’re here tonight!” yelled McBride from the state.

Mark Mendez, co-chair of the North District Council from Lake City, said his dad’s from Puerto Rico and that he loves his neighborhood. “I just want to say I’m proud to be part of the NDC and we do some great things – for example the light rail station that was off the table for a while, City Councilmember Debora Juarez worked with us, and we got that station back” in the plan. “Lake City/Bitter Lake neighborhoods … we were left out, NDCs worked together, said what about the social equity lens – very successful story. It’s not like we’re not trying to outreach to diverse communities, everyone in that room wants this -”

“YES!” they yell.

Mendez continues, “Give us the tools, translators, fun events … let’s not throw out the whole system, let’s make it better.”

Catherine Weatbrook, who chairs the City Neighborhood Council – to which the neighborhood-district councils send reps – said: “One of the things I’ll specifically call out, the troubleshooting. We are empowered as community members, when we see yet another (problem) – we empower the neighbors, and we’re empowered to go out there and get city departments to respond. We’re the Find It Fix It in some ways.” She had a few “quick points” to made: “When has a city department relied on volunteers to do their job of outreach?” She says, “there’s also a great misconception in the narrative that somehow a community council is a district council. It’s not. Those are some of the groups represented at the District Council table” but she lists other groups – “we are open to anyone in the community … the Department of Neighborhoods used to go out and recruit these organizations to come in. But that hasn’t happened. It hasn’t happened for years.” She says the District Coordinators are great people but they are not spending a full position on assisting them, so saying more than that is “misrepresenting what’s going on.”

Longtime community volunteer Pete Spalding, who has served on the Pigeon Point Neighborhood Council and Delridge Neighborhoods District Council and City Neighborhood Council, says, “I say this not to brag but I have a certain amount of institutional knowledge of how the (system) works.” He’s worked with now five Department of Neighborhoods directors, three mayors – “I have watched each of these administrations make substantial cuts” to the Department of Neighborhood. He cites examples of community-involvement achievement such as Vivian McLain, “the godmother of the Delridge District Council” and talks about the creation of the Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association, the people who revitalized and expanded the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council, people working to build a skatepark at Delridge “when other communities in West Seattle did not want that skatepark.”

He says it’s important to look at the people at the table when criticizing the demographics of a DC – is each person only representing themselves, or representing the people who participate in the activities of their organization, or the people who live in the neighborhoods they are representing, etc. “(Right now), the city of Seattle has 45 boards and commissions. Why do we need to abolish one voice for a lesser voice?” He notes the Seattle Police Department alone has 10 demographic advisory councils. “Are we perfect? Of course not. Should we stop advocating for causes? Of course not. Should we think things will get better on their own? Of course not. … Don’t punish those who show up … Give us back the tools you’ve taken away from us … Give us back the district coordinators [a roster that was cut five years ago] … WOrk with us in making my Delridge community a better place for everyone.”

Big applause.

“In this room tonight, there are tens of thousands of people,” McBride says. And he talks about representing those people. He says there’s a question the city should have asked to shape the conversation: “What are your goals? What do you want to accomplish?” A summit came up with eight separate goals. “Create and promote the Delridge neighborhood and common identity. Develop business associations to spur economic growth. Maximize places and events where people can come together to develop trust and reciprocity. Promote a green Delridge” – not just building up greenspace but aso embracing sustainability practices. “Strengthen the schools. Create a boulevard feel along the Delridge district.”

They’ve made progress on some of those goals, not so much on others. “But when we get together, that’s what’s on our mind.”

A community-council rep from outside West Seattle said she wanted to say why the district councils don’t get credit for what they bring to the city. She talked about a 27-year record of grants – “I would defy the mayor or anyone in the city to say these grants are any kind of example of ‘not in my backyard’ – I have to draw the conclusion that the mayor did not look at this record.”

Donna Hartmann-Miller from the Maple Leaf Community Council, talked about what needs to be done to ensure more can get involved: “We’re working right now how to divide up some of the responsibilities … every so often we have to take a break because it’s so much work, so much effort, so many hours .. we’re trying to figure out how to take our volunteer duties and divide them into bite-size pieces, to make it easier for neighborhood people (to help out).” Why can’t the Department of Neighborhoods provide these groups with web sites? she asks. If they could be supportive in more ways, they could “reach out to more of the people that we want to reach out to. … We’re trying to figure out how to let people participate without overwhelming them.”

Central Area’s Sanchez: “We’re a community of community councils,” a way for them to support each other. He talked about his DC members including a rep from an African-American veterans’ group who “worked out a meeting space for his group and a way to communicate with (another group) … that happened just last week.” He also says the councils “fix the city’s screwu-ps” and mentioned that the report that followed the mayor’s declaration last week is an “indictment of the Department of Neighborhoods.”

Around the room, cries of YES!

meetingdowntownguy

Then: A man stood up to say yes, he’s a white, old homeowner – David Levinson from the Downtown District Council: “The truth of the matter is that the mayor would prefer things moving from the top down rather than the bottom up.”

Another person says she feels like they’ve been playing “whack-a-mole” rather than being able to look beyond the tasks at hand. Referring to the city’s current outreach practices, she said, “I don’t want to go to any more open houses. I don’t want to put any more sticky notes (on easel boards).” She says it would make more sense for the outreach to go to where the people are.

And as for the city saving money by whacking the district-council system: A district council gets $500 a year from the city, she points out. Many don’t even spend that.

She also speaks highly of neighborhood district councils, as people with integrity, people who can be trusted, people who will treat you respectfully, people who will listen to you.

Next topic: What needs to be accomplished in communities?

Lake City still doesn’t have a full-service community center, “and it’s a disgrace,” says another speaker.

Many areas still need sidewalks, and “public-safety investments,” the shouts come from around the room. “More hours for community centers, for kids’ programs.”

meetinggunnar

“We should mention Myers Way, says Gunner Scott of the Highland Park Action Committee, referring to another mayoral announcement from a week earlier, “and that (happened) because of relationships. Also, annexation of our friends next door (North Highline) is still on the table, and it’s looking likely, and if (we) hadn’t spoken up and said, why aren’t you talking to White Center, Top Hat, (about Myers Way), we would have had a huge warehouse there.”

From Nancy Folsom of North Delridge Neighborhood Council: “Let’s stop using grants for infrastructure – pitting neighborhood against neighborhood.”

McBride says the next question that he feels DCs should have been asked before getting the guillotine is, “What do you need, district councils, and how can we, the (Department of Neighborhoods), support you?”

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Michael Taylor-Judd of NDNC says, “We have been asking for years, a lot of us in this room, for a number of things – help doing outreach, help organizing e-mail lists so that when the city departments come out to us they have a go-to list … help with translation, a lot of the stuff that’s in the 2009 audit, which the city told us, we need to cut back, we’ll get back to this – and then failed to get back to this and it’s really aggravating to see our mayor basically walk through what’s in that audit and (blame the councils for what’s not getting done).” He adds, “It’s also incredibly aggravating for someone in a neighborhood with a lot of renters, a lot of income (diversity), to be told we’re not doing enough,” and he cites an example of NDNC volunteers walking materials door to door to inform people about the DESC (Cottage Grove Commons) development. “So not only is the city cutting resources to us, and then hiring people to do (what we asked them to do). There seems to be a real conflict between what they ask us to do and what they don’t fund us for.”

What could the DON do for the district councils?

Sanchez: “All that stuff the mayor just promised to the group he’s going to form.”

Then a note of defiance: “If the mayor hurries up and (goes through with) this I think we’ll be free to endorse mayoral candidates.”

Troy Meyers from the Squire Park Community Council says his group delivers 3,000 newsletters door to door. He’s on two district councils. “I’m able to do all those things because I’m nearly 50. I couldn’t do them when I was 20, when I was 30.” ”

“What I would like is respect,” says Amanda Kay Helmick of the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council. She looks at a city person in the room and says “You don’t come to our meetings, you say what you think we do, but you don’t KNOW what we do. What I would like is respect.”

Bookman from Magnolia-Queen Anne. “I’d like to frame the question as, what do we want from the mayor?”

Spalding says he wants the $1.2 million the DON claims it’s spending on district coordinators, “to be spent on our neighborhoods.”

McBride says “I want all 13 district coordinators back.”

Another woman says they’d like social-media training, they’d like video cameras so they could record meetings and publish them online. It’s not an easy thing to do, she mentions. “I would like newsletter training – we deliver our newsletter to 4,000 people.”

Yet another person acknowledges again that they know the participants need to be more diverse: “That takes support (for recruitment). Whoever’s here from the city, I want that message taken back.”

And then, what might be the declaration of the night:

“We are owed an apology. In a city known internationally for volunteerism, we have a mayor who has vilified volunteers … it’s inexcusable.”

More voices.

Ron Angeles, a former Neighborhood District Coordinator who grew up in Delridge and now sits on the Delridge Neighborhood District Council as a rep of Southwest Youth and Family Services, says he wants to add on about what the councils could use. “This whole concept of district councils came out of a meeting like this. It didn’t come out of City Hall.”

Big applause.

David Whiting and Eric Iwamoto are the co-chairs of western West Seattle’s Southwest District Council, stood up. Whiting said, “I don’t really see this as [expected to be] a representative body, not necessarily everything that goes on between Alki and Arbor Heights. … I don’t claim to speak for all those folks and all the work they do. The 2009 made it clear we’re not … so I don’t know why we’re considered flawed because we’re not representing all the demographics of the city at large.” He speaks of the difficulty of coaxing volunteerism.

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Whiting also mentioned that when they were working on the 47th/Admiral light, the city was telling him nothing was being done on other issues …and then suddenly the Admiral Way Safety Project erupted, in a “one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing” mode. “I’m one of the founding members of West Seattle Bike Connections. Use us as a resource. … And stop nickeling and diming for us for every little thing.” The city couldn’t come up with $250 for stenciling on the sidewalk by the new 47th/Admiral light – so Admiral NA did – “and then (SDOT director) Scott Kubly took credit for it in his opening remarks” at the dedication. Whiting talks about community-sponsored projects such as the Summer Concerts at Admiral series that opens tonight, presented by ANA.

McBride then suggests three questions that could have framed the conversation that the mayor decided not to have with district-council reps, questions he said would have preserved the relationship the city has with its most loyal and dedicated volunteers, built up a tried-and-trued model, and produced results the mayor is now seeking through untested methods.

Cindi Barker, past member of City Neighborhood Council (from Morgan Community Association), says that group was meant to look at what’s being proposed and try to get some feedback. It has given guidance, “a springboard for your thoughts, and your engagement.” The CNC, too, has done what the city refused to do, Barker said, giving the example of creating a much-needed contact list that city staffers said didn’t exist – so the volunteers comprising the CNC made it happen instead.

Laine Ross, current co-chair of city neighborhood council – “What resonates in this room is the hope and optimism you all bring to the table.It’s really heartfelt.” Regarding what’s missing, “you hear it over and over again, its’ sort of the indictment to the community working hard to bring people together, a lot of it has come through neighborhood matching funds.”

But as for concern about the city cutting off support: “A lot of people in this room would say we haven’t HAD a lot of support.” She says she feels hopeful being here tonight, and promises the CNC will have a forum looking to the future.

Then came Skip:

“I have an opinion that this mayor is not stupid. He has read Machiavelli. … So what do we do? We don’t just have one meeting, Mat. this should be considered just the first meeting. We should ahve a second first meeting and a third first meeting until everybody’s in the room and then we’ll tell the mayor what to do and he’ll do it or else we’ll (unelect him).” This can’t just be something we’re going to let the city council get by with … we need to go to all our city council people in our districts and (talk to them). If you hear something coming, it’s a train on the tracks … we’re not going to be run over by the mayor’s train.”

This area’s City Councilmember Lisa Herbold was in attendance for most of the meeting but did not speak.

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Her presence was punctuated, she explained to WSB afterward, by an appearance at the concurrent Morgan Community Association meeting.

McBride: “This conversation should and will continue” and says another district council should host the next chapter. “We’re here to talk.”

Another person said the city has never granted requests to give the district councils each other’s rosters. Someone on the sidelines says he’ll have that by Sunday.

A Highland Park Action Committee member asked those assembled, “Is it your feeling that this could be reversed?”

“ABSOLUTELY,” someone says.

“It’s how politics is done in Seattle,” McBride says.

“So, confidence is high that we can make him change?” asks the HPAC member.

Applause results.

Someone else speaks up and says they’re not so optimistic.

Whiting of SWDC mentioned being at City Hall for last week’s announcement and hearing the mayor say he wouldn’t go back on his own executive order.

Shortly thereafter, at McBride’s request, the remaining time was given to attendees to do what they say they do best – connect. The room buzzed, as the chairs were folded and other tasks handled … by volunteers.

WHAT’S NEXT: The mayor’s plan requires a resolution to be drafted to go before the City Council within the next few months.

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Neighborhood-district councils’ future: The report the mayor didn’t wait for; the invitation to Wednesday’s gathering http://westseattleblog.com/2016/07/neighborhood-district-councils-future-the-report-the-mayor-didnt-wait-for-the-invitation-to-wednesdays-gathering/ http://westseattleblog.com/2016/07/neighborhood-district-councils-future-the-report-the-mayor-didnt-wait-for-the-invitation-to-wednesdays-gathering/#comments Tue, 19 Jul 2016 11:43:13 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=851334 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:

“We need to expand our networks and connections, variety of approaches, and the depth of engagement with communities. We have valuable partners in our Community Councils and District Councils currently at the proverbial table. However, barriers exist that prevent some communities from sitting at that table and other communities who don’t even know there is a table. As a result, we risk muting the voices of too many, while overemphasizing the voices of too few.”

Another critique of the neighborhood-district council system in the report is the suggestion that some don’t participate because it takes too much time: “Many on the (City Neighborhood Council) also sit on their District Council and many of those volunteers are also active participants on their neighborhood organization. This can easily add up to 10 hours of volunteer time each month.” (The CNC generally has one representative from each of the 13 neighborhood-district councils.)

The report reiterates at several points that the city should move away from geographic-based engagement: “Every community group, including District Councils, should welcome new and emerging community groups and organizations into their membership. This could prove challenging as many of our existing systems and programs largely define “community” as being primarily geographic in nature, leaving out those who build and experience community around non-geographic concepts, like language, ethnicity, religious affiliation, or issue-based interests.”

This also comes up in a later section of the report discussing re-evaluating the duties of Neighborhood District Coordinators, currently including serving as city staff liaisons for the district councils. The report notes, “If this conversation continues and we reevaluate the positions, the major decision points are the balance between being geography based (current) and skill and needs-based. Because these positions are represented by Local 17, labor would need to be brought in and any proposed changes would trigger bargaining.” It suggests their jobs could be redefined into positions/roles/focuses such as “Sector Managers,” “Capital Projects Manager,” “Strategic Partnerships,” “Community Relations/Community Capacity Builder,” “Public Involvement Plan Specialist,” “Strategic Initiatives,” and staff support for the future “Community Involvement Commission.”

Speaking of that commission, the report says it’s to be created by legislation to be prepared by late September. While at least one citywide-media report following the mayor’s announcement last week said he would appoint all the commission members, this report suggests otherwise: “Details of this Commission will be called out in [a future] ordinance including the breakdown of membership appointments from the Mayor and Council as well as any At-Large positions.”

Also circulated with the SLI-response report was another document analyzing grant programs via the city’s Race and Social Justice Initiative. This is dated March, but in case you haven’t seen it, here it is.

Now, to the Wednesday summit to which the Delridge NDC has invited counterparts from around the city. When we reported on it Sunday, we hadn’t yet seen the message that DNDC chair Mat McBride had sent as a direct invitation to potential participants. We saw it on Monday and are republishing it with permission:

Fellow District Council Chairs, Members of the CNC,

I hope this message finds you well. I am writing to formally invite you to attend the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting on Wednesday, July 20, from 7-9 PM.

As you know, an institution that we have all invested in and nurtured has been effectively dissolved. Throughout this process, we were not consulted. Our ideas were not sought. We were not partners, or considered for any kind of collaboration. And I find myself unwilling to let this institution die without at least providing feedback about how it can be made to succeed.

To that end, I’ve cleared the agenda and retooled the meeting to host a District Council forum. I’d like the Districts to have an opportunity to engage in the conversation that did not, but should have happened (e.g. How do you serve your community? What do you need from DoN to be successful? What is your greatest desire for your District?).

Because nothing speaks to marginalization like a large show of support, we’ve decided to go big. In addition to yourselves, I am asking that you share this invitation and encouragement with your District Council membership, along with any partners of theirs they feel inclined to share it with. We are inviting the media, and it is our intention to demonstrate that the community of engaged citizens in Seattle is significant. We have a tremendously powerful story that deserves to be told.

Because of the scope, we are still finalizing some of the details (again, this was not the sleepy July meeting I was planning on a week ago). So please consider this an RSVP to mat.mcbride@gmail.com with details to follow:

Who – The 13 District Councils, their representative organizations, friends, and supporters. In addition to your confirmation, a rough number of your expected constituents would be helpful for us to determine an appropriate venue.
What – A District Council forum, to present the feedback that should have started the conversation.
Where – Highland Park Improvement Club, 1116 SW Holden
Why – Because going quietly into dark nights was not why we got in this business.
When – Wednesday, July 20, 7-9 PM

In community and with deepest regard,

Mat McBride
Chair, Delridge Neighborhoods District Council

While the mayor’s decree did not actually abolish the neighborhood-district councils, the removal of city support would leave them hobbled, not just without staff assistance, but also without support for costs such as renting meeting venues. Few of the community councils and other organizations whose reps comprise the ND councils collect dues, for example, so they are not necessarily potential sources of replacement funding.

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FOLLOWUP: District Councils not going down quietly; citywide reps invited to Delridge Neighborhoods DC on Wednesday http://westseattleblog.com/2016/07/followup-district-councils-not-going-down-quietly-citywide-reps-invited-to-delridge-neighborhoods-dc-on-wednesday/ http://westseattleblog.com/2016/07/followup-district-councils-not-going-down-quietly-citywide-reps-invited-to-delridge-neighborhoods-dc-on-wednesday/#comments Sun, 17 Jul 2016 18:28:13 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=851214 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.

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@ Delridge District Council: Puget Ridge speeding; Myers Way Parcels; city support… http://westseattleblog.com/2016/06/delridge-district-council-puget-ridge-speeding-myers-way-parcels-city-support/ Mon, 20 Jun 2016 02:44:01 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=847752 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.

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