FOLLOWUP: Shell drill rig still in Port Angeles, awaiting trip here

April 23, 2015 at 2:35 am | In Environment, Port of Seattle, West Seattle news | 30 Comments

(Saturday photo by Chuck Jacobs)
Six days after arriving in Port Angeles, the drilling platform Polar Pioneer is still there, being prepared for its tow to West Seattle’s Terminal 5. The Peninsula Daily News reports that it’s an economic boom to PA – both from the workers that are getting it ready for the trip, and from tourists who have come to gawk at it. It’s expected to start heading this way by early May. When it gets here – it’ll be a gawk magnet even here in the big city. Remember the SBX floating radar platform that was here in 2011?

(WSB photo, August 2011)
Polar Pioneer is 25 percent taller – 355 feet, compared to the SBX’s 280. Pending the Polar Pioneer’s arrival, the icebreaker Aiviq remains the lone Shell-related vessel at Terminal 5; the other drilling vessel, Noble Discoverer (derrick height 170′), is still crossing the North Pacific, headed this way.

Meantime, Arctic drilling opponents are still preparing for rallies here, even before the Shell drill rigs get here. The Shell No” coalition sent this photo of banner-waving on the foot/bike bridge over the Fauntleroy approach to the bridge this past Monday evening:

They’re planning to rally at Myrtle Edwards Park at 2 pm this Sunday in addition to already-announced mid-May actions – that’s the rally announced during the “encouragement march” in West Seattle earlier this month. A kayak flotilla is also planned for May 16th, with ongoing training at Alki Kayak Tours in West Seattle – a session at 5 pm tonight is for would-be trainers.

And the Port of Seattle already has a webpage linking to its reminders and background about the T-5 situation, pending the start of protests and arrival of more vessels, including a link to the Coast Guard’s announcement of “safety zones” and a “voluntary free-speech zone.”

West Seattle Earth Day: Tilden School’s big cleanup

April 22, 2015 at 9:58 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | No Comments

Another local cleanup this Earth Day – Julie from Tilden School (WSB sponsor) shares the photo and report:

From Hiawatha Park to the Alaska Junction, Tilden School’s students, faculty, and staff showed their respect and appreciation for Mother Earth (and more specifically, West Seattle) by picking up trash. As always, the kids enthusiastically leapt to the task, rapidly filling their bags. (Students noted that the number of cigarette butts, which they have generally found to constitute the larger part of the trash in the past, has increased this year.) Local business people took time to express their thanks, which made the kids feel so proud!

‘Stop talking, start planting’: Plant for the Planet’s Earth Day message

April 22, 2015 at 9:03 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

It’s been a busy Earth Day week for some local students who are part of Plant for the Planet. Last weekend, they joined in the Cascadia Climate Conference on Whidbey Island, as shown in the clip above. Christine Deppe tells us what they were up to today:

Today, Fairmount Park Elementary students Abby Snodgrass and Tim and Sarah Deppe held a schoolwide presentation on climate change. As Plant For The Planet Ambassadors they explained the impact of climate disruption and their 3-point plan on what can be done. One action item is to plant 150 trees per person by 2020, bringing Seattle to a little over 95,000,000 trees. The plan ‘Stop talking, start planting’ was originally created by 9-year-old Felix Finkbeiner, and now 52,000 Youth Ambassadors all over the world share his vision.

If you want to learn more, please visit the website and watch ‘How We Children Save the World’ with your family.

Christine says Abby was interviewed for an HBO documentary that aired tonight, “Saving My Tomorrow” – watch for repeats on the HBO schedule. And Christine says, if you want some trees planted – Plant for the Planet would be happy to help.

West Seattle Earth Day scenes: Alki Beach cleanup

April 22, 2015 at 5:52 pm | In Environment, West Seattle beaches, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

(WSB photos)
Beautiful day for a beach cleanup! As promised, the Surfrider Foundation‘s Seattle chapter was out at Alki on this Earth Day afternoon, with volunteers picking up trash.

The special focus is on cigarette debris left behind, as this sidewalk message pointed out:

Read more about that campaign on this Surfrider Foundation page.

West Seattle Earth Day reminder: 4 days to Recycle Roundup

April 22, 2015 at 2:16 am | In Environment, Fauntleroy, West Seattle news | No Comments

A green reminder on this Earth Day: If you’re ready to recycle items that you can’t put out with the usual curbside recyclables – good news: Fauntleroy Church‘s next Recycle Roundup is only four days away, coming up this Sunday (April 26th), 9 am-3 pm. It’s one of the two days each year that the church’s Green Committee partners with sustainable recyclers 1 Green Planet to set up the main church parking lot at 9140 California SW as a dropoff zone for your no-longer-needed items … as long as they’re on this list. See you there!

VIDEO: Duwamish Alive! celebrates 10th anniversary, honors tireless volunteers

April 19, 2015 at 10:09 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news | 1 Comment

(WSB photos/video)
More than 1,000 volunteers spent hours on Saturday giving TLC to the Duwamish River and its watershed, during the twice-yearly Duwamish Alive! mega-work party at multiple sites (11, this time, from West Seattle to Tukwila).

This time, it started with a special event marking Duwamish Alive’s 10th anniversary, featuring the presentation of the John Beal Environmental Stewardship Award, in honor of the tireless volunteer who, as the program pointed out, “dedicated decades of his life to the health of the Duwamish River and Puget Sound,” especially Hamm Creek, where his work “became a beacon of all the good a single person can accomplish directly benefiting our river, the Puget Sound, and the overall health of our communities.” (Mr. Beal died in 2006.)

Six volunteers were honored:

- Brooke Alford (who couldn’t be at the ceremony)
- Mike Arizona
- Scott Blackstock
- Marianne Clarke
- Susan Ward and Peg Peterson

We recorded the presentations on video:

The pre-work party event at Terminal 107 Park on the river in West Seattle was emceed by James Rasmussen of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition (as you can see in our video), who reminded all present that it’s a river, not a “waterway.” Volunteers also heard from longtime river advocate and Tukwila City Councilmember Dennis Robertson, who urged them to keep the pressure on local elected officials regarding the health of the Duwamish River and other areas that are vital to our area’s sustainability:

The artists working on Duwamish Revealed spoke too (you’ll hear that in a separate story about the project) – and volunteers were greeted by Cecile Hansen, chair of the Duwamish Tribe, whose longhouse is right across West Marginal Way SW from the park. She shared history as well as words of welcome:

After the ceremonies – it was time to work. One of the award recipients happens to be the steward of a site here in West Seattle. So we went to Roxhill Bog, where we photographed Scott Blackstock with his plaque:

The bog – which has its own challenges – is at the historic headwaters of Longfellow Creek, which feeds into the Duwamish River after making it through a somewhat torturous route – piped beneath Westwood Village, for starters. And it’s in a park that has some challenges of its own, making cleanup all the more vital:

We were shown one of the items found strewn at the site:

At both sites we visited on Saturday, what was stressed was this: One person can make a difference (as Blackstock has done at Roxhill Bog, for years). So if you can take some time – watch for word of work parties. Or opportunities to comment on a project or proposal. The next Duwamish Alive! event, by the way, will be in October, and that’s a great time to get involved too.

West Seattle Earth Day 2015: Alki Beach volunteer cleanup

April 13, 2015 at 1:33 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

Making your plans for Earth Day on April 22nd (one week from Wednesday)? Barbara Clabots from the Surfrider Foundation (in our August 2014 photo above) just sent word they’re organizing a volunteer cleanup on Alki Beach, 2:30-4 pm on Earth Day – details on their website. They’d love all the help they can get to remove cigarette butts and other trash from the sand. We’re hearing of some possible warm weather this weekend, so there might be a lot of cleanup to do by then.

P.S. Their Hold On To Your Butts disposal-can campaign continues too – and at least one West Seattle business has signed on.

VIDEO: ‘Port Encouragement March’: 50+ walk from Junction to T-5

April 5, 2015 at 3:23 pm | In Environment, Port of Seattle, West Seattle news | 29 Comments


3:23 PM: This rally was just the start, promised speakers at the rally that wrapped up today’s “Port Encouragement March” about an hour ago, with more than 50 people walking from Walk-All-Ways in The Junction to the 5-way intersection by Terminal 5, west of the low bridge, in hopes of “encouraging” the Port of Seattle to cancel the T-5 interim lease that will bring Shell Arctic-drilling equipment here.


Encouragement March almost to 35th and Alaska. #westseattle

A video posted by West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) on

The march was peaceful and relatively low-key – several speakers and a song at the end; walking along from The Triangle to the end of the route, we noted lots of sign waving along the way, some horn-honking from passing motorists, one bicyclist telling the marchers “thank you.”
Seattle Police officers on bicycles accompanied the march, which stayed on sidewalks/trails throughout.

ADDED 4:37 PM: Here’s how it unfolded: Participants gathered at Walk All Ways in The Junction, including the Raging Grannies:

Today’s march segued from a standing monthly rally to encourage people to take action against climate. Marchers headed east on Alaska – along the way, American Legion Post 160 in The Triangle offered a “hydration station”:

Staying on sidewalks and trails along the way, the group headed down 35th to Avalon:


On Avalon, the police bicycle escorts blocked traffic at the Genesee stoplight for an extra few moments so everyone could cross safely:


Turning onto the Alki Trail under/alongside the west end of the West Seattle Bridge, the marchers were urged to stay single-file so bicyclists could get past them. Those with signs held them high to catch the eyes of drivers heading westbound on Spokane:


Rather than going all the way to the gates of Terminal 5, the group stopped by the 5-way intersection west of the low bridge and listened to a few short speeches before the rally ended.

Organizer Stu Hennessey, a longtime West Seattle community advocate, said he felt “betrayed” by the Port’s decision:

Speaking second, Zarna Joshi of Rising Tide, who said there is more at stake than people realize:


She criticized Port Commissioner Tom Albro for telling her he wouldn’t take action to try to cancel the lease, even though he personally opposes Arctic drilling. (At the last Port Commission, as we reported in as-it-happened coverage, both Albro and Courtney Gregoire, the other anti-drilling commissioner, had said they won’t take action to try to cancel it.) Organizers of today’s march included the Green Party of Seattle and Greenpeace, which also provided a speaker:

She said another rally is being planned for April 26th, after the expected arrival of Shell equipment including the drilling platform Polar Pioneer, now in the North Pacific and being trailed by a Greenpeace boat. No counter-protesters showed up today, but supporters of the 2-year lease for Foss to use a third of T-5 say it will provide hundreds of jobs and that it’s better to have a company like Foss, which has a good environmental record, handling this work, than someone else.

What’s up down in the pit? Murray CSO project update

April 4, 2015 at 6:56 pm | In Environment, Utilities, West Seattle news | Comments Off

A little over one year into major work at the site of the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project‘s million-gallon storage tank, another phase has begun, according to a notice from King County: The outer wall and floor of the tank are done, and crews are now building its inner walls. That’s what you see in the photo above, which we took this afternoon through the fence along Lincoln Park Way over the northeast side of the site. The inner-wall work will mean “small concrete pours every week” through June, says the county, and possibly some Saturday work. Then this summer, according to the update, “the contractor expects to begin work to connect to the tank to the existing sewer system. This work will affect traffic on Beach Drive SW. King County will provide more information to the community before work begins.”

The Morgan Community Association has had Murray project updates at its quarterly meetings for quite a while now, so you’ll probably see one on the agenda for the April 15th MoCA meeting (7 pm, The Kenney), in case you have questions, which you can also take to the 24-hour project hotline – 206-205-9186. The project is supposed to be finished by fall of next year.

FOLLOWUP: Sunday’s Port Encouragement Rally/March; Saturday’s kayak training for would-be ‘flotilla’ participants

April 3, 2015 at 2:42 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news | 17 Comments

Opponents of the plan for Shell’s Arctic fleet to use part of the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 5 plan two events in West Seattle this weekend:

SUNDAY ‘ENCOURAGEMENT’ MARCH UPDATE: That’s the map for Sunday’s rally/march from The Junction to Terminal 5, dubbed by organizers as a Port Encouragement Rally – encouraging the Port of Seattle to cancel the T-5 lease for Shell vessels/equipment intended for Arctic drilling. We published the original announcement back on Monday. It starts at Walk-All-Ways (California/Alaska) at 1 pm Sunday; the march will be “using sidewalks and obeying pedestrian traffic laws,” says the update from Stu Hennessey, which also notes:

This March is sponsored by the Green Party of Seattle and is supported by Greenpeace, 350.org, Backbone, West Seattle Meaningful Movies and the citizens of West Seattle. Speakers from the Green Party, Sustainable West Seattle and 350.org will address the crowd as they gather at the entrance of West Seattle’s Terminal 5.

Also noted in the update – Sunday’s march will be discussed at the West Seattle Meaningful Movies gathering this Saturday night, 6:30 pm at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center.

KAYAK ‘FLOTILLA’ – SATURDAY TRAINING: Opponents of the lease warned at the last Port Commission meeting March 24th (WSB coverage here) that the presence of Shell vessels/rigs here would result in a “long, hot summer” of demonstrations. In addition to Sunday’s rally/march, plans for a “flotilla” are taking shape, and the coalition organizing it is planning training sessions at Alki Kayak Tours in West Seattle. The first one is scheduled for 10 am-12:30 pm tomorrow.

WHEN DOES THE ‘FLEET” ARRIVE? No timeline has been announced for expected arrivals – the chair of Foss‘s parent company Saltchuk, Mark Tabbutt, told the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce yesterday morning (WSB coverage here) that the platform Polar Pioneer is indeed headed this way. (Here are its specs, including a 17-story-high derrick; not as high as the SBX radar platform that was here four years ago. It was built by Hitachi Zosen, also known in these parts for building the Highway 99 tunneling machine “Bertha.”) It’s on board a “deck cargo” ship called Blue Marlin, which is still out of MarineTraffic.com-tracking range but filed a plan with estimated arrival in the Port Angeles vicinity around April 12th. Greenpeace is following the Polar Pioneer/Blue Marlin across the Pacific with its boat Esperanza.


That same Greenpeace boat was here in 2012 while part of Shell’s fleet was at Vigor.

Here’s where you can make a difference during the spring edition of Duwamish Alive!

April 1, 2015 at 12:09 pm | In Environment, How to help, West Seattle news | Comments Off

Duwamish Alive! is just two and a half weeks away, and organizers hope you’ll take a minute now to decide where you want to join in to help out our city’s only river and its watershed. All you need to commit to is a four-hour shift on April 18th – 10 am-2 pm – and as the map shows, you have options from West Seattle to South Park and beyond. Go here to find out more and to choose your site.

Shell drilling fleet @ Terminal 5: West Seattle rally, march Sunday

March 30, 2015 at 7:37 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news | 31 Comments

Though the Port of Seattle‘s Terminal 5, expected to host part of Shell’s Arctic-drilling fleet, is in West Seattle, the challenges to the lease have mostly been taking place elsewhere – in public-comment periods at Port Commission meetings, and in legal action at the King County Courthouse. This Sunday, that changes, with a rally in The Junction followed by a march to Terminal 5. Stu Hennessey sent the announcement:

What: Large turnout expected to encourage the Port of Seattle to rescind the lease agreement with Foss Marine and Shell Oil for Terminal 5 in West Seattle. A march will be made after the monthly “All Walk Encouragement Rally”

Where: The West Seattle Alaska Junction

When:
12:00 PM to 1:00 PM Press Availability
1:00 PM to 2:00 PM Event and march
2:00 PM to 3:00 PM Speakers and rally

This will be a 1.5 mile march from the Alaska Junction in West Seattle to the entrance to Terminal 5. The March will follow the monthly “All Walk Encouragement Rally” which takes place at SW Alaska and California Ave. SW in West Seattle.

To recap the backstory and where things stand:
Click to read the rest of Shell drilling fleet @ Terminal 5: West Seattle rally, march Sunday…

FOLLOWUP: Two dozen volunteers remove almost one ton of trash from Fairmount Ravine

March 30, 2015 at 12:29 pm | In Environment, Neighborhoods, West Seattle news | 14 Comments

(First two photos courtesy of John Lang – above, some of the 24 volunteers who helped)
Under the Admiral Way Bridge, volunteers of all ages helped clean up Fairmount Ravine this past Saturday – and as coordinator John Lang reports, the job was a bit easier this year thanks to added assistance from city agencies:

The 23rd annual Fairmount Ravine Cleanup was a big success on Saturday 3/28. Thank you to the 24 volunteers who participated, young kids to seniors; about half removed trash under the Admiral bridge and the other half climbed the steep hillsides to remove invasive ivy from the mature trees.

The community appreciates SDOT reinforcing the fences at the corners of the bridge. It has reduced the amount of illegal activity under the bridge yet the hard working volunteers removed almost one ton of trash from the ravine!

Over 50 garbage size bags were filled with trash filling up the DOC flatbed truck hauling the trash to transfer station. Fortunately, homeless encampments were less of an issue this year.

(WSB photo by Patrick Sand)
We greatly appreciated participation by officers Flores and Lucas, with the Seattle Police Department, sweeping the area of any potential squatters prior to cleanup and helping with traffic control. Three cheers to our local merchants Metropolitan Market, Starbucks, and Zatz a Better Bagel for their generous support of this community effort.

Thank you to everyone who made this year’s cleanup a success. It is a great example of community pride and putting into action the teamwork necessary to tackle a difficult situation.

The ravine is along Fairmount Avenue, a much-used driving, riding, walking, running route between Admiral and east Alki.

West Seattle scene: Fauntleroy Creek’s first 2015 outbound coho

March 29, 2015 at 10:52 pm | In Environment, Fauntleroy, West Seattle news | 1 Comment

They’re headed out – maybe to return. Thanks to Judy Pickens for a Fauntleroy Creek salmon update:

The first two coho smolts have been documented leaving Fauntleroy Creek. Volunteer Steev Ward found the first in a soft trap in the lower creek, closely followed by volunteer Dennis Hinton with the second, on Friday (March 27) – the first day of annual trapping. The Fauntleroy Watershed Council has been conducting volunteer monitoring to see how many leave the creek for saltwater since 2003 and this year’s research will continue through May.

Fall is when volunteers watch for returning coho spawners; 19 were documented last year.

TOMORROW: Help clean up Fairmount Ravine; enjoy free treats

March 27, 2015 at 6:38 pm | In Environment, How to help, Neighborhoods, West Seattle news | Comments Off

(Photo from 2012 Fairmount Ravine cleanup)
One more reminder before tomorrow morning arrives: The more the merrier at the annual Fairmount Ravine Cleanup, starting at 8:30 am Saturday – meet at Fairmount/Forest (map). John Lang says, “Met Market, Starbucks, and Zatz have all graciously agreed to participate in supporting the nourishment portion of the project.” Wear boots and gloves; if you’re interested in helping remove ivy from trees – which is part of the cleanup – please bring a pruning saw and/or large loppers. Whatever time you can spare, the folks of Fairmount will appreciate it. (And if you have a question first, call John @ 206-932-5151.)

AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE: Port Commission again hears comments on Terminal 5 lease; commissioners say they won’t seek to cancel it

March 24, 2015 at 1:16 pm | In Environment, Port of Seattle, West Seattle news | 12 Comments

1:16 PM: We’re back at the Sea-Tac Airport Conference Center for the Port of Seattle Commission‘s regular meeting. Nothing regular about the meetings lately, as the public-comment period two weeks ago ran more than 3 hours, with almost 80 people commenting about the port’s controversial lease with Foss to host part of Shell‘s Arctic-drilling fleet on part of West Seattle’s Terminal 5. The gallery is full again today – more regional media has shown up than two weeks ago, too – and we will chronicle as it goes.

Public testimony is first on the agenda. #1 – A representative of the Building and Construction Trades says they support the lease because of the jobs it will provide and “the dreams of the future. … We would hope the port follows through with this lease so we can build for the future …” #2, Jordan Royer, representing the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, terminal operators and shipping lines. “This is important because it allows you to reinvest into the terminal, to be competitive on the world stage. … We lose the port, we lose manufacturing … My biggest concern is that if for some reason political winds take your eye off the ball and your core business, that it will be difficult to get other maritime businesses to look at this port as competitive.” #3, Emily Johnston from 350.org, refers to the taped comments by Commissioner Bill Bryant published by The Stranger: “‘You silly people,’ leave these decisions to the grownups – that is in effect what (supporters) are saying. … (But) the so-called grownups have failed us … Scientists have told us this is a catastrophic project and the regulatory bodies have failed to step in.” She mentions that the Obama Administration is likely to give permission for Arctic drilling, maybe even today. She says the lease is “supporting catastrophic climate change … You are all addicts, and this is your intervention. … All lives are on the line.” First applause of the meeting. #4, Cameron Williams, with ILWU Local 19, saying he represents about 3,000 dock workers. “I commend the commission for (moving forward with) the lease.”

#5, Paul Stevens, president/CEO of Foss, thanking the commissioners. He notes that 164 are “working to support our project at T-5,” including “101 at the facility,” a dozen of them Foss employees. “We have contributed $3 million in revenue to the port since signing the lease.” He mentions that they expect to bring non-Shell projects in, as well. And he says maritime competition is tough and faced by this area – and that the competitiveness is enhanced if there’s certainty that political pressure won’t affect deals. #6, a man identifying himself as an Edmonds resident. He says opposition to this and to drilling is “alarmism.” #7, Beth Smith of Foss says having local oversight of this project will make a difference. #8, a woman wearing a red T-shirt reading “The People vs. Shell.” She says Greenpeace has a ship in the Pacific “keeping an eye on Shell’s massive drilling ships as they head north” and promises to “shine a light on one of the most dangerous drilling projects in the world.” #9, Zarna, in the same T-shirt, saying she’s with the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy. She acknowledges that jobs matter, but “Shell and oil workers around the country are striking, and have been striking for 2 months, for health and safety reasons.” She says she has spoken to workers in Anacortes who told her about deaths on the job. “When you say this is about jobs, it’s not true – it’s about money” and says Commissioner John Creighton received campaign contributions from executives of Foss and its parent company Saltchuk. “How much money will it cost to buy you back?” she yells, and presents the commission with a symbolic “blank check.”

#10, another man in the same T-shirt. He says he apologizes to his brothers and sisters in labor, “but jobs go up and down, and particularly with wise leaders, we can increase jobs with good jobs, quality jobs, but the climate is on a descent straight down.” He says Commissioner Bryant’s remarks included ridiculing his kayak, and says he’s sorry that commissioners no longer seemed to be supporting the reasons he voted for them. “I have only a few more years to live. It’s not about me … (future generations) are going to live with (the results of this). We have a blessing here, and we’re destroying it for money – Shell profit. I like Foss, Foss has been around a long time, has done a good job, but Foss has sold their name to Shell.”

AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE CONTINUES AFTER THE JUMP:
Click to read the rest of AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE: Port Commission again hears comments on Terminal 5 lease; commissioners say they won’t seek to cancel it…

Spring cleaning? West Seattle shredding, recycling dates to save

March 22, 2015 at 5:44 pm | In Environment, Fauntleroy, High Point, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

For everyone who’s asked if any free shredding events are coming up in West Seattle – we FINALLY have word of one: 1-4 pm Sunday, April 19th, at High Point Branch Library (35th/ Raymond) – details here. Then, to recycle what you can’t put at curbside, it’s Fauntleroy Church‘s spring Recycle Roundup – 9 am-3 pm Sunday, April 26th; yes/no list here.

More West Seattle homes are getting RainWise, and you can too

March 21, 2015 at 5:33 pm | In Environment, Gardening, West Seattle news | 5 Comments

That’s Max, and he’s helping keep Puget Sound cleaner by building a raingarden at one of five homes just east of the Southwest Branch Library that are getting RainWise. That’s the Seattle/King County program offering incentives to eligible households to get off the storm-drain grid, so to speak, by installing raingardens and cisterns – at little to no cost, because of rebates.

This morning, RainWise team members invited neighbors and media to the 9000 block of 34th SW for a celebration as those five households ceremonially broke ground for their new stormwater-diverting setups. Fittingly, cloudbursts graced the gathering – but held off at photo-op time.

At left in that photo (with Lucy, Izzy, and Max) is John, whose company Home Grown Organics is one of many contractors working on the program. You can find out by going here whether you’re eligible for RainWise. Even if you’re not, the team would love to talk to you. You will find them at three upcoming public events:

APRIL 11: 11 am-2 pm, RainWise contractors’ open house at West Seattle Nursery (California/Brandon)

APRIL 25-26: 10 am-4 pm, RainWise info table at the Seattle Chinese Garden‘s Peony/Bamboo Festival (6000 16th SW)

MAY 9: 10 am-noon, RainWise Fair at Highland Park Improvement Club – see HPIC’s cistern, pervious-paver patio, raingardens, and art (12th/Holden)

Disclosure: RainWise is advertising on WSB to help get out the word about the program.

If you take your dog to Lincoln Park, the trail’s the place to be. Student volunteer/researcher explains why.

March 16, 2015 at 11:56 pm | In Environment, Pets, West Seattle news | 77 Comments

While helping Friends of Lincoln Park restore the forest, a University of Washington environmental-studies senior has also been studying one of the park’s thorniest issues: Off-leash dogs. Sam Timpe has been working with the local volunteers 15 hours a week since January, planting natives and pulling invasives.

Spending all that time in the park, he’s been able to observe dog owners and their pets, and while most follow the rules, he says the ones who don’t are responsible for more damage than you might think. He’s hoping for an “attitude shift” in the park, and hoping that people feel empowered to talk to those not following the rules, to say “please don’t do it,” to have a sense of community.

Restoration work is something you often won’t detect just with a casual glance. It’s a cleared spot, a small plant. “With all the people doing restoration work there,” Sam said, “to have a dog run through it and tear it, is kind of disheartening.”

Any individual dog, of course, wouldn’t do that much damage, he explains, but if he sees one every hour, ten times a day, 50 times a week, the cumulative effects add up.

From Sam’s research:

I did a study within Lincoln Park to get some baseline data on leash and trail compliance. I chose three different locations within the park (south open area near bluff trail, north open area west of soccer field, and the north parking lot) and at each location I conducted three 90-minute samples, one on a weekday morning, weekday evening, and weekend morning. I found that 59 of 239 (25%) of dogs were off leash. 55 of 239 (23%) of dogs were observed going into the woods (off trail, off grass). When excluding the north parking lot, I found that 38% of dogs are off leash and 29% are going into the woods.

The effects go beyond the “trampling of plants,” he explains. When that happens, it’s easier for seeds to disperse and the forest edge to break down. Those seeds are seldom desirable ones – instead, they’re the invasives, the berry-laden plants like ivy, holly, blackberries, cotoneaster.

And the giddily exploring pooch might spread them beyond the park – seeds can catch in their paws, and be carried far away.

One area that Friends of Lincoln Park is particularly concerned about is near the north parking lot. A restored area might look like a clearing – with the invasives removed, and the new native plants fragile and small – and that might seem to some like an invitation to make their own trails. Sam says he also sees people stop, let their dogs out for a quick dash or bio-break, and then move on.

What would he say to try to educate people, convince them not to do this?

Without the restoration work, he says, invasive plants will start to take over and start climbing up trees (think of all the ivy-covered trees you’ve seen). Eventually that weakens the trees, and a windstorm might be all it would take to bring them down. On the ground level, the invasives take over and nothing else can get established, so a “monoculture desert of holly and ivy” results, he explains. Take a look at the difference between a clump of native vegetation before cotoneaster removal, and after:

The value of a healthy urban forest? Priceless. He ticks off benefits: “Reduces stormwater runoff, improves water quality, captures and filters air pollution, provides wildlife habitat, aesthetically improves neighborhoods’ appearance …”

About the wildlife: Even if a dog doesn’t catch it, or eat it, it is a threat: “A lot of these animals, if you watch them for a while, they’re working on eating, building shelter, nests, on what it takes to survive. When you do have dogs chasing them, they have to expend a lot of energy on the chase, getting safe …maybe that next chase does it in, it’s tired. I found one study about shorebirds – having to avoid dogs chasing after them 12 times a day. Many were getting ready for migration. In another study, researchers walked through different areas (of a forest/park) with dogs on leash, with dogs offleash, without dogs … when humans were there with dogs, there was a 41 percent decrease in the amount of birds present. Birds are aware it’s a potential threat.”

So what’s the solution?

More parks specifically set up for off-leash dogs seems like an obvious idea, Sam says, but they’re not so simple to set up – grassy fields get muddy in the rainy season very fast; gravel can lead to runoff problems for nearby waterways.

He hopes that information and education – like this report about his volunteer activities and research – can help people be aware that dogs at least need to stay on the paths, and to share that awareness with others.

He’s working toward a research paper and presentation next quarter. And he’s well aware that dogs are the light of their humans’ lives … he’s just hoping a little enlightenment will help the forest and its inhabitants too.

Stay on the trail, or at least grassy edges and fields – it’s not grass they’re worried about. If it’s a native plant, don’t walk or run on it – salal, Oregon grape, red flowering currant, ocean spray, seedlings of evergreens such as Western red cedar, Douglas fir, Western hemlock, all types of ferns, snowberry … He could go on.

He’s been working on a spot near the bluff trail but hopes to see all the restoration areas thrive.

P.S. He’s interested in your thoughts, if you have a moment to comment.

Terminal 5 lease fight: 1st court hearing on environmental coalition’s lawsuit; no ruling today

March 13, 2015 at 11:48 am | In Environment, West Seattle news | Comments Off

Just concluded in the courtroom of King County Superior Court Judge Mariane Spearman: The first hearing related to the environmental coalition lawsuit challenging the Port of Seattle‘s lease with Foss Maritime for part of West Seattle’s Terminal 5, with the expectation that some of the activity there will involve Shell’s Arctic-drilling fleet. Bottom line: Judge Spearman did not make a ruling today, saying she wants to read some of the case-law cited. The port’s major argument is that they’re not the ones that should be challenged relating to the Shoreline Management Act – that the city is the enforcer of that act on shoreline within city limits, and it’s the one that the port should be taking to court. The coalition contends that while the port has a permit to use Terminal 5 as a cargo terminal, that’s not really the kind of use that will be involved in the Foss/Shell use, and so a new environmental use is warranted. They also had hoped today to have the court order Foss to say when it expects Shell vessels to start arriving; Foss has not yet released any such information.

AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE: Port Commissioners being asked again to cancel Terminal 5 lease

March 10, 2015 at 1:07 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 17 Comments

(UPDATED WEDNESDAY MORNING with video of West Seattleite Aji Piper’s song for the commission)

TOPLINES:

-Terminal 5 lease was not formally on agenda but dominated Port Commission’s public-comment period
-78 speakers
-One commissioner proposed a motion (for vote at a later date) that would cap this lease at 2 years and set up a public process for potentially controversial leases in the future
-Port CEO said flatly that lease is signed, payments are coming in, it can’t be broken without legal exposure.

Here’s how it unfolded:

*************

1:17 PM: We’re at the Sea-Tac Airport Conference Center, where regular Port Commission meetings don’t always attract a crowd the size of the one that’s here now. Opponents had promised to again use the public-comment portion of the meeting to ask commissioners to cancel the lease the port has signed for Foss to use a third of West Seattle’s Terminal 5 for the Shell Arctic-drilling fleet. We’ll be updating as it goes. You should be able to watch the meeting live here.

Another note: Though the conference center is not behind the security line at Sea-Tac, we had to go through a security check to get in – not SOP for most public meetings – when we asked the airport personnel doing the checking why that was happening, they said this was considered a “high-visibility” meeting. That, despite the fact the lease is not at this point officially on the agenda – the discussion will come up in the “public comment” section shortly after the meeting begins.

Four commissioners are here – Courtney Gregoire is absent. Co-president Stephanie Bowman is asking the crowd to “be respectful” and she is asking anyone interested in singing (apparently she got advance word of this) to do it as a group. She has her rubber chicken again, which will be used as a signal if things need to get back into control. Really.

1:17 PM: The non-related public comment has concluded and Commissioner Bill Bryant has asked to make a statement before people start speaking about the T-5 issue. He says he has six clarifications. See our Twitter account for the six. One is the contention that port signed with Foss, not Shell, and the first speaker says that’s “splitting hairs … You are recklessly hurtling us into destruction, and that is a fact.” She also says asking people to speak at a 1 pm weekday meeting not even in Seattle doesn’t exactly solicit maximum public opinion. Second speaker says the commission’s decision was “courageous” and “has to do with competing in the 21st century. … This is an economically sensible 2-year solution to keep the port vibrant …” Third speaker says she’s against the lease and calls it a “death warrant … knowing the dangers and destruction that will ultimately happen. Please do the right thing … please break this lease.”

Fourth speaker says he’s with Coalition for Port Accountability, “a new grass-roots group,” delivering a letter. He reads from it and calls the decision “a reckless mistake” running counter to port’s mission “of environmental stewardship.” He also asks them to “rescind the decision and (revoke) the lease with Foss … soon.” Fifth speaker, Mark Powell from the Washington Environmental Council, says, “The port has done some good things. This lease is not one of them. … This is not ‘where a sustainable world is headed.’” He says the lease “undermines the progress on restoration” of Puget Sound. He says he is an outdoor swimmer and plans a swim down the Duwamish/Green Rivers, hoping he won’t find “new and unexpected hazards” when he does, because of this.

Sixth speaker is Eric Schinfeld, who says he wants to clarify “what this lease is really about” and thinks people should keep in mind that Foss and the Port “have been leaders in environmental sustainability.” He was followed by five Raging Grannies who sang (we’ll add video later) against the lease. Eighth speaker is an opponent calling the lease “a decision made poorly.” She says she supports the idea of not letting T-5 sit idle while it awaits modernization, but has questions for the commission, starting with: “Of the 40 opportunities that were potential lessees, why was the one with Foss the only one that fit – what happened with the others?” She concludes, “What we say and what we do here matter globally and locally.”

Alison Fujino is ninth and also asks the port, “listen to the citizens and cancel the lease for T-5.”

1:38 PM: Tenth, John Lockwood from Vigor says that “more than 60 new family-wage jobs have been created for this single project” already, including three dozen at their Tacoma shipyard building related items.


“I work at a shipyard that’s been an icon in Seattle for 99 years. We are the job creators. … We applaud you standing tall to keep the maritime industry strong in Seattle.” Eleventh, Rev. Dr. Marilyn Cornwell says she asks “as a person of faith and a scientist, that the Port rescind the lease with Foss Maritime,” saying it threatens “sustainable prosperity for all.” She asks for a show of hands of those in the room who agree with her, and many hands go up.


“What will it profit us if we do things that make money at the expense of our very lives and the lives of others?” she asks.

CONTINUES BELOW/AHEAD:
Click to read the rest of AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE: Port Commissioners being asked again to cancel Terminal 5 lease…

Arctic-drilling fleet at West Seattle’s Terminal 5? Mayor/council ask DPD to review; opponents promise bigger turnout at Port Commission meeting tomorrow

March 9, 2015 at 2:42 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 25 Comments

(WSB photo from February, looking at Terminal 5 from east Admiral)
Two developments today in the ongoing controversy over the Port of Seattle signing a lease for Foss Maritime to use a third of closed-for-modernization Terminal 5 in West Seattle to host Shell’s Arctic drilling fleet:

*MAYOR, CITY COUNCIL JUMP IN: The Department of Planning and Development is now under orders to review the plan to see if it complies with existing permits, as the port contends. This started with Councilmember Mike O’Brien drafting a letter and ask council colleagues this morning to sign on; by early afternoon, it morphed into this announcement:

Mayor Ed Murray and the Seattle City Council announced today that Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development (DPD) will review, investigate and determine whether the plans at Port of Seattle’s Terminal 5 to host Shell Oil’s Arctic drilling fleet are allowed under the current Shoreline Substantial Development Permit granted to Terminal 5.

Reports indicate that Shell Oil would moor vessels that are returning from drilling in the Arctic. In the past, Shell’s drilling fleet has needed extensive repairs, maintenance and conversions after returning from a season of drilling. These activities may substantially change Terminal 5’s use and require new, different permits than the one currently granted by DPD which could require additional environmental review if the Port wishes to move forward with the lease.

“Any project of this apparent significance to our industrial lands must go through the appropriate review. It’s important that the public and surrounding businesses are informed of all the possible impacts of this lease – both economic and environmental – and that these impacts are sufficiently disclosed and evaluated,” Murray said. “This is why I’m directing DPD to conduct a thorough review of the Terminal 5 proposal and determine if the anticipated activities at the terminal involving the Shell drilling fleet require new permits before it can proceed.”

“I have grave concerns about Shell Oil’s Arctic drilling fleet coming to Puget Sound in a damaged state, discharging oil and other toxic pollutants along our shorelines during transport and repair, jeopardizing the local ecosystem and undoing decades of work to clean up the Sound,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien. “Shell’s track record with the Noble Discoverer in the Arctic includes eight felony offenses relating to environmental and maritime crimes, such as discharging oil-contaminated water directly overboard, which is simply unacceptable.”

“For years the Port and the City have worked together to develop rational solutions and develop alternative treatment technologies to reduce pollution in the Duwamish and Elliott Bay,” said Councilmember Sally Bagshaw. “While the immediate value of a lease to repair Arctic drilling equipment may appear to be high, we believe this agreement is shortsighted and ignores the long-term costs to our economy and environment.”

The current permit, called a Shoreline Substantial Development Permit, designated Terminal 5 as a “cargo terminal” – usually meaning goods are stored and ultimately transferred from this terminal to other carriers or locations. But if the Arctic drilling fleet is actually being moored and repaired at Terminal 5, there could be significant and adverse impacts on the surrounding environment. As part of DPD’s investigation and fact-finding, the Department will begin working with the Port of Seattle to clarify all of the activities anticipated at Terminal 5, including, but not limited to, the types of vessels to be moored and the maintenance and repairs to be conducted.

*PORT COMMISSION MEETING TOMORROW: A spokesperson for the environmental coalition that filed a lawsuit last week to try to get the lease canceled says they’re expecting a big turnout at tomorrow’s Port Commission meeting. As they did at the February 24th commission meeting, they plan to again ask commissioners to cancel the lease. As quoted here last week, a port spokesperson said they believe they’ve complied with the environmental and permit regulations. The lease is not officially on the agenda for tomorrow’s commission meeting (1 pm, Sea-Tac Airport conference room), but an open-public-comment period is.

Heads up if you walk, run, and/or ride to/from Alki Beach: Repair work ahead at 53rd Avenue Pump Station

March 4, 2015 at 11:14 am | In Environment, West Seattle beaches, West Seattle news | Comments Off

Sidewalk detours and a bus-stop move are ahead next week with repair work at the 53rd Avenue Pump Station on Alki Beach. We just received the official notice from the county Wastewater Treatment Division – you can scroll through it above (or read it here, as a PDF). The county expects work to start next week and last up to a week.

Followup: Port to be sued over leasing West Seattle’s Terminal 5 to Foss/Shell

March 2, 2015 at 9:16 am | In Environment, West Seattle news | 35 Comments

(T-5, empty since last summer, in center of photo tweeted in September by Peter West Carey)
9:16 AM: A coalition of environmental groups says it’s making good on its threat to sue the Port of Seattle for leasing part of West Seattle’s Terminal 5 to Foss as a homeport for Shell’s Arctic-oil-drilling fleet. Members of the coalition spoke at last week’s Port Commission meeting – as previewed here – asking the port to cancel the lease. They’re briefing reporters later this morning; the pre-briefing announcement says:

Represented by the national public interest environmental law firm, Earthjustice, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, Sierra Club, Washington Environmental Council, and Seattle Audubon Society will announce the filing of a lawsuit against the Port of Seattle. The lawsuit alleges the Port of Seattle violated the State Environmental Policy Act and Shoreline Management Act by leasing Terminal 5 to serve as a homeport for Shell’s Arctic drilling fleet because there was no basis for the Port’s conclusion that a homeport is the same as Terminal 5′s previous use as a container terminal and because use of the terminal as a homeport could impair water quality from damaged vessels and vessel repairs.

Earthjustice attorney Patti Goldman and representatives of the groups bringing the suit will also explain why the lawsuit was a necessary response to the Port of Seattle’s attempt to sign a lease for Terminal 5 with Foss Maritime for home-porting Shell’s Arctic drilling fleet with virtually no public process.

The lawsuit seeks to vacate the lease, freeing the elected Port Commissioners to work with the community to find better options for creating jobs, providing revenue to the Port, and achieving the Port’s goal of being “where a sustainable world is headed,” as the Port’s website asserts.

The lease was signed February 9th and announced by Port CEO Ted Fick in a letter to this coalition two days later; the negotiations were kept secret until news of the potential lease emerged via the agenda published a few days before the January meeting at which commissioners were briefed. More to come.

ADDED 11:11 AM: Here’s the full announcement, as released minutes ago (also, ADDED 1:43 PM, Foss’s reaction and a statement from the port):

Click to read the rest of Followup: Port to be sued over leasing West Seattle’s Terminal 5 to Foss/Shell…

Myers Parcels = Myers Park? Campaign to preserve as open space/parkland intensifies, as city prepares ‘sale strategy’

February 26, 2015 at 9:45 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news | 8 Comments

(Click image to see city map of Myers Parcels as a full-size PDF)
The community campaign to preserve an open-space area in the southeasternmost corner of West Seattle is ramping up and drawing new attention to the so-called “Myers Parcels” (map). A widely circulated announcement of an upcoming meeting describes the land south of the Joint Training Facility as possibly “the last large, undeveloped piece of property that could become a major park in Seattle.” The original announcement of the campaign last September was reported here; word of the new effort, including an organizational meeting, led us to check on the parcels’ current status.

First: We noticed that the Department of Planning and Development files for the site suggested Seattle Public Utilities was evaluating it as recently as last fall for possible relocation of its Wastewater and Drainage operations center. But when we checked with SPU on Wednesday, spokesperson Ingrid Goodwin told us the department is no longer considering using the site. So we moved on to the Department of Finance and Administrative Services, which has responsibility for the site now. Spokesperson Julie Moore replied with background plus the status, and what’s expected to happen next:

The property was originally a gravel pit. At the time of purchase in 2003, the City intended to develop a portion as the Joint Training Facility and sell the remainder. The purchase was funded, in part, with a bridge loan for which the City now owes about $13 million. In 2006, the Seattle City Council, by ordinance 122308, declared 31 acres of the properties surplus and authorized a sale to Lowe’s, but that deal fell through. The sale transaction was not completed due to environmental and permitting issues. The subsequent downturn in the economy made a sale uneconomic.

As the recession eased, the Department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS) obtained environmental studies to carefully document environmental assets such as wetlands and natural steep slopes.

In 2012, FAS circulated an excess property notice to City departments, and some have evaluated the site for potential City use, but have generally found it to be inappropriate for their operational purposes. FAS is now considering options for selling the undeveloped portion while preserving environmentally sensitive areas. The property is zoned for commercial uses, and sale proceeds will likely be enough to repay the $13 million bridge loan. FAS expects to make a recommendation on a sale strategy this year.

The 2012 “excess property notice” – see it here – includes that year’s total assessed value of the parcels, listed as $38 million.
Meantime, once FAS makes its recommendation, what happens? Moore’s explanation:

As with all property dispositions, FAS’s Real Estate Services (RES) follows the Seattle City Council-adopted policies and procedures for the review process. Once the process is complete, RES issues a final report, which includes RES’ recommendation regarding the property (typically to either retain the property for use by another City department or sell it), and presents it to the Mayor for review. If the Mayor concurs with the recommendation, the Mayor sends the report to the City Council, along with legislation authorizing the reuse or sale of the property. Only the City Council can make the final decision on reuse or disposition of City-owned real property. If the Council approves the recommendation for selling a property, the property is declared “surplus” and a sale proceeds.

You might recall that part of the site was on the list of potential city-jail locations back in 2008; ultimately, the city decided it didn’t need a new jail, and the entire plan was scrapped.

Back to the community campaign to keep the site as open space – here’s the meeting announcement:

You are invited to come to the first-ever gathering of SAVE MYERS PARK, on Saturday, March 14th, 10-noon, at the offices of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, 210 S. Hudson. Call or email Cass to confirm and for questions. 206-783-9093. Or email cassturnbull@comcast.net

The announcement, which you can read in full as posted to the WSB Facebook page if you haven’t seen it elsewhere, also suggests that messages be sent to the mayor and City Council.

You can ‘Threadcycle’ instead of throwing out clothing & other textiles that are more than ‘gently used’

February 25, 2015 at 12:36 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news | 9 Comments

Seattle Public Utilities and King County are teaming up to announce “Threadcycle,” a new campaign to make sure you know that you can recycle more old clothing/textiles than you probably think you can. The official announcement points out that the average person in the U.S. throws away 70 pounds of used clothing/textiles each year, and that 95 percent of that could have been recycled. Right now, in fact, the announcement says, the recycling market for textiles is strong. So the city and county are partnering with eight organizations to get the word out NOT to throw away the items you don’t think can be donated. Find the organizations listed – along with drop sites – here.

You can help! Restore our forest and learn a little while you’re at it

February 25, 2015 at 9:00 am | In Environment, How to help, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

See that long stretch of greenbelt in the lower third of the photo shared with us earlier this week via Twitter by Ron Creel? That’s the West Duwamish Greenbelt – the largest contiguous stretch of forest left in the entire city, and it’s right here in West Seattle. This Saturday, the forecast is for sunshine, and the request is for some help from you:

South Seattle College’s Landscape Horticulture department would like to invite the community to a Restoration Work-party in the West Duwamish Greenbelt. On Saturday, February 28, the Ecological Restoration class will be assisting volunteers in proper planting and mulching techniques for new plantings. The students, taught by the college’s Instructor and Arboretum Coordinator Van Bobbitt, are currently studying the recovery process of urban ecosystems.

The event is scheduled from 9:30 am to 2 pm and will begin at the red doors at the Garden Center, located at the North Parking Lot on campus. Interested? Sign up on The Nature Consortium website at naturec.org/volunteer or contact Diana at 425-463-8450.

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