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 | No Comments

(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 | 11 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 | No Comments

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.

Terminal 5′s future: Opponents of drilling-fleet lease say they’ll ask Port Commission Tuesday to cancel it

February 23, 2015 at 9:27 pm | In Environment, West Seattle businesses, West Seattle news | 22 Comments

(WSB photo: Terminal 5 as seen from east Admiral this afternoon)
Port of Seattle commissioners meet tomorrow for the first time since it was publicly disclosed that the port had signed the lease with Foss Maritime that will bring Shell‘s Arctic-drilling-fleet vessels to West Seattle’s closed-since-last-summer Pier 5. Port CEO Ted Fick signed it on February 9th, and the commission met on February 10th, but the signing wasn’t brought to light until a February 11th letter to the environmental coalition that had not only urged the port not to strike the deal, but held a media event hinting at legal action.

While the T-5 lease is not an official agenda item for tomorrow’s meeting, the opposition coalition plans to bring it up during public-comment time at the meeting, which starts at 1 pm in the Sea-Tac Airport conference room. Emily Johnston from 350 Seattle tells WSB, “Legal action is still definitely being considered, and we’re definitely moving forward in other ways as well: primarily, persuading the Port to rescind the lease, or to work with Foss to mutually abandon the lease, or to do whatever else they need to do *not to play a supporting role in Arctic drilling*. The Port is a public entity, and it has not been acting responsibly as such; at a minimum, they need to pull back and hold hearings. … Working on their process so that “next time” they know how to manage a controversial decision like this isn’t good enough: this particular decision is as consequential as any they will ever have, and they need to make the right one, and nix the lease.” The “process” refers to a directive given by commissioners when they agreed January 13th to let staff continue negotiating the lease, saying they needed to come up with procedures for policies that could guide staff in the future. A briefing on that potential process change is on tomorrow’s agenda.

We also sought an update today from Foss’s spokesperson, who had indicated that more details of the T-5 plan would be available by now. We haven’t heard back yet but will include anything that we do find out. Tomorrow’s commission meeting, meantime, is open to the public; the commission’s public-comment rules are here.

Duwamish River cleanup: City plan to support neighborhood involvement

February 10, 2015 at 1:21 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 11 Comments

(City-provided photo: From left, Macklemore, Jasmine Marwaha, CM Mike O’Brien, thank advocates Rein Attemann and James Rasmussen)
From Monday’s Seattle City Council meeting – a city boost for neighbors and groups affected by the ongoing Duwamish River cleanup. Here’s the announcement:

City Council unanimously approved a neighborhood-driven effort to enhance the community’s role in the Duwamish River cleanup process on Monday during a meeting of the Full Council. The adopted resolution creates an interdepartmental team (IDT) of City agencies to coordinate outreach efforts relating to the Duwamish cleanup, and identifies ongoing City projects that serve resident, tribal, and fishing communities in the Duwamish River Valley. The resolution also calls for engagement of communities of color, immigrants, refugees, limited-English proficiency communities, and people with low incomes in the design and implementation of the remaining cleanup.

Click to read the rest of Duwamish River cleanup: City plan to support neighborhood involvement…

New month, new phase for Murray CSO Control tank project

February 2, 2015 at 12:57 am | In Environment, West Seattle news, West Seattle traffic alerts | Comments Off

February brings a new phase of work at the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project across from Lowman Beach Park. The county’s announcement:

King County contractors recently finished the base of the underground storage tank, completing the last large concrete pour for the project. Crews are now preparing for smaller concrete pours to construct the outer wall of the tank.

Concrete pours for the outer wall are weather dependent and will occur on Thursdays in February and March. In order to keep the project on schedule, the contractor will be working on some Saturdays. Work hours on Saturdays are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Up to 20 trucks a day will deliver concrete to the site on pour days— about as many trucks as were previously on site each hour for the tank-base pours. Pours will occur between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. Work will continue past 6 p.m. if necessary to complete the pour. One concrete pump truck on the east side of the 7000 block of Beach Dr. SW will pump concrete into the hole. Local and emergency access to Beach Drive SW and Lincoln Park Way SW will be maintained at all times. Expect traffic delays and congestion on pour days.

The county will have flaggers assisting with traffic. Questions/concerns? The project’s 24-hour hotline is 206-205-9186.

Will allowing Shell’s Arctic-drilling fleet at Terminal 5 land the port in court? Coalition asks commissioners to reconsider

January 28, 2015 at 2:41 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news | 22 Comments

(WSB photos by Patrick Sand)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

At the Port of Seattle‘s Jack Block Park, overlooking six-months-empty Terminal 5, a coalition of environmental advocates called today for the Port Commission to change its mind about allowing Shell’s Arctic-drilling fleet at T-5 as an interim use.

If commissioners don’t reconsider, they said, they might have to take the Port to court.

The notion of supporting an Arctic-drilling operation is incompatible with what the port and the region stand for, says the coalition, also suggesting, it could bring “…environmental harm (to) Puget Sound.” And reps at the media briefing repeatedly decried the fact the prospective deal had been secret until its appearance on the agenda for the commission’s January 13th meeting (published online five days in advance).

The coalition included nine national/state organizations plus City Councilmember Mike O’Brien and former Mayor Mike McGinn, both of whom were at the media event (O’Brien, left in top photo, was a speaker, McGinn, below, was not).

They are all signatories on a letter they said would go to the Port Commission today, leading off with concern that the port is fast-tracking this by using a State Environmental Policy Act exception that might ultimately not apply. Read the letter embedded below (or as a PDF, here):

As reported here right after the January 13th commission meeting, Port Commissioners Stephanie Bowman, Bill Bryant, and John Creighton voiced support for allowing staff to continue working with Foss Maritime, which would be providing the services to Shell, while Commissioners Tom Albro and Courtney Gregoire thought there should be more time for public comment. It was not a formal vote because, as also noted at that meeting, the part-time commission doesn’t usually vote on leases, delegating decisions to port staff.

Those speaking at today’s event took issue not only with the substance of the proposed deal, and with the pre-meeting secrecy, but with the notion of Arctic drilling in any form, supported anywhere. KC Golden from Climate Solutions said that it represents “a one-way ticket to centuries of hell and high water … we must not buy that ticket.”

“We flatly have to say no,” declared Councilmember O’Brien, who chairs the council committee that includes sustainability as its focuses. He said he’s hopeful that constituents will inspire Commissioners Bowman, Bryant, and Creighton to change their minds.

Raising the spectre of environmental damage to Puget Sound, Earthjustice’s Patti Goldman (top photo, second from left) made note of past problems with Shell’s fleet, “the fleet that had everything go wrong!” alluding to the expectation that the problem-plagued Noble Discoverer would return here – it was at Vigor on Harbor Island back in 2012:

(2012 photo by Ilona Berzups)
A West Seattle voice heard at the media briefing was that of attorney Peter Goldman (at right in top photo), who also had spoken during the public-comment period at the January 13th Port Commission meeting. “I regret that this press conference was necessary (but) I’m confident that (the Port Commission) will do the right thing.”

The port’s official statement on this, released this afternoon by spokesperson Peter McGraw: “This opportunity has the potential to create hundreds of family-wage jobs and generate tens of millions of dollars in revenue for the region. We also respect the differences of opinion amongst community stakeholders and Commissioners, and will carefully review their letter and concerns.”

Hours earlier at the Jack Block Park event, Councilmember O’Brien, among others, had seemed to anticipated the first part of that reaction, saying that “jobs vs. environment” is a “false choice.”

As for the timeline on finalization for the deal, a spokesperson for Foss told WSB they’re not commenting on where negotiations stand. Earlier information suggested work would have to be done at T-5 soon to make it ready for vessels to arrive in spring. Though the contract for Shell at T-5 would be through Foss, it wasn’t mentioned much during today’s event; we asked about that, and Peter Goldman said that while Foss has a good reputation, including attention to sustainability, “we can’t give them a pass just because they’re a good company.”

Congratulations! Award shared by Highland Park Improvement Club, Nature Consortium, Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition

January 25, 2015 at 9:25 pm | In Environment, Highland Park, West Seattle news | Comments Off

That’s historic Highland Park Improvement Club, honored along with two other local organizations, the Nature Consortium and Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition in the annual Sustainable Seattle Awards. The three organizations share this year’s “Transforming Spaces” award; HPIC has been adding sustainability features to its almost-a-century-old site at 12th/Holden, including “depaving” part of its parking lot, replacing it with a raingarden and permeable pavement. The Nature Consortium, also West Seattle-based, continues to restore the West Duwamish Greenbelt; and DRCC continues to advocate for the river running along much of West Seattle’s eastern edge to be restored and used as A River for All.” DRCC founder BJ Cummings also was honored as this year’s Sustainable Hero. The full list of awards, announced at a Friday night event at MOHAI on South Lake Union, is here.

P.S. If you’ve never been to HPIC, it has big events ahead in the next few weeks including a Super Bowl tailgate potluck next Sunday and the WSB-presented District 1 First Look candidates’ forum on February 5th. Nature Consortium, meantime, has at least two volunteer events you can check out every week. And DRCC is currently focused on helping people learn about the EPA’s Record of Decision about cleaning the river, and what more can be done – check out two events coming up, including one in West Seattle.

West Seattle brothers join in youth-led ‘State of the Planet’ event

January 24, 2015 at 10:03 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 11 Comments

(Photos by Andy Clark, courtesy 350 Seattle)
Last year they sang downtown at a rally of concern about exploding oil trains; today, West Seattle brothers Aji and Adonis Piper were part of the State of the Planet” event at City Hall. Though City Councilmember Mike O’Brien was on hand, this event was led by young sustainability ambassadors, campaigning for two initiatives – first, the Billion-Tree Challenge:

According to the young advocates supported by 350 Seattle, if each person in our state planted 150 trees, that would add up to a billion new ones, creating, advocates say, a “carbon bank” to get through the rest of this century. The other proposal discussed today: Climate-change-warning labels on gas-pump nozzles in Seattle, something like this:

The Northern California city of Berkeley passed an ordinance last November approving that type of label; San Francisco is reported to be considering it. Those who attended today’s event heard from Rob Shirkey, who has been campaigning for the pump labels in Canada. There is no formal proposal pending in Seattle yet.

Update: County says no power-outage-triggered overflow after all

January 22, 2015 at 10:10 am | In Environment, West Seattle news | 9 Comments

ORIGINAL REPORT, 10:10 AM THURSDAY: As relatively brief as this morning’s Fauntleroy/Arbor Heights/vicinity power outage was, it still had environmental effects, the county just disclosed:

King County sewer utility crews quickly stopped an overflow at the Murray Pump Station that was caused by an early-morning power failure in West Seattle.

The overflow lasted about 3-5 minutes, spilling an estimated 19,000 gallons of wastewater into Puget Sound near Lowman Beach Park. Crews engaged a mobile generator currently staged at the site and quickly restored normal operation.

King County notified health and regulatory agencies about the overflow, took water quality samples, and posted signs warning people to avoid contact with the water.

King County is currently investing $26 million to upgrade Murray Pump Station as part of a long-term project to control overflows of stormwater and sewage that occur during heavy rains. Improvements include the installation of a permanent back-up electrical system to provide power during outages and other emergencies.

The aforementioned project is separate from, but being done in conjunction with, the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project million-gallon-tank construction across the street.

UPDATE, 5:27 PM FRIDAY: From King County spokesperson Annie Kolb-Nelson:

I just want to offer some updated information about the Murray overflow we reported yesterday. After additional investigation, our operations staff concluded that we did NOT experience an overflow from the pump station.

The operations crews first took data from a sensor that initially indicated that water level in the pump station overflowed the weir, but a sensor further down the system in an outfall pipe and visual inspections indicated that no wastewater left the pump station.

Some Puget Sound seabird species ‘may be turning the corner’ in a good way, 7-year analysis suggests

January 20, 2015 at 4:38 pm | In Environment, Seen at sea, West Seattle news, Wildlife | 5 Comments

(All photos in this story are by Mark Wangerin. Above, rhinoceros auklet)
A glimmer of good news about the health of Puget Sound and some of its wildlife. This news release arrived via NOAA, but much of the work was done by volunteers:

A new analysis of seven years of bird sightings by volunteer birdwatchers from the Seattle Audubon Society has found positive trends in several Puget Sound seabird species that had been in historic decline.

(Common loon)
The study tracked the occurrence of 18 seabird species at 62 sites around Puget Sound and found increased presence of 14 species, including cormorants, loons, rhinoceros auklets, and harlequin ducks. It also documented local hotspots for certain species, which may reflect especially important habitat or prey the birds depend on.

(Harlequin duck)
“This means that all other things being equal, if someone goes out now they’re more likely to see these birds than they would have been seven years ago,” said Eric Ward, an ecologist at NOAA Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle and lead author of the research.

Many seabird species are thought to have declined around Puget Sound since the 1960s and 1970s but the new results suggest the trends have turned up for many species.

Click to read the rest of Some Puget Sound seabird species ‘may be turning the corner’ in a good way, 7-year analysis suggests…

MLK Day of Service in West Seattle: Nature Consortium in Riverview

January 19, 2015 at 12:43 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

(First two photos by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
Nature Consortium‘s new executive director Merica Whitehall (above right) been on the job just a few weeks, and today she’s out with a legion of volunteers, including Deputy Mayor Kate Joncas (above left), for NC’s MLK Day of Service event in the West Duwamish Greenbelt east of Riverview Playfield. Mayor Ed Murray was on the way after a big MLK Day event at Garfield High School. Here’s another VIP we caught on her way up from the work site:

If you don’t know her already, that’s newly crowned Miss Seattle Taryn Smith, a West Seattle High School senior. The West Duwamish Greenbelt, Seattle’s largest contiguous forest, is the focus of Nature Consortium’s restoration work, planting trees and removing tree-killing invasives so that the forest can survive and thrive into the future. We expect to add a few more photos later.

1:56 PM: From the NC Instagram feed – first, a short video clip including something they’re famous for, providing music while volunteers work:


Volunteers formed a fire line to deliver mulch to our newly planted trees

A video posted by Nature Consortium (@natureconsortium) on


If you didn’t get to sign up for today’s event – Nature Consortium has many others, at least once a week – check naturec.org for opportunities.

Clearing the waters in Longfellow Creek: Construction soon for two projects to reduce combined-sewer overflows

January 17, 2015 at 8:50 pm | In Delridge, Environment, West Seattle news | Comments Off

Two projects to reduce combined-sewer overflows into Longfellow Creek are about to get under way, and the city plans two meetings near the project sites, two weeks from today, to let neighbors know what to expect when construction begins, and to answer questions. These are both projects to improve existing facilities, rather than build brand-new ones; for the one known simply as CSO 2, the meeting will be 10:30 am-noon January 31st at the southeast corner of Delridge/Orchard, and for CSO 3, it’s 1-2:30 pm January 31st on the west side of the Barton Place/Henderson intersection. You can read more about both projects on this city webpage (which includes links to technical and environmental documents, if you’re looking for the fine print).

You can help! Students cleaning up Lincoln Park beach Saturday afternoon welcome community support

January 13, 2015 at 9:05 pm | In Environment, West Seattle beaches, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

Chief Sealth International High School ninth-grader Jessica e-mailed to say she and a group of classmates plan a beach cleanup on Saturday afternoon, and that your help is welcome:

For my Language Arts class, we are working on ways to spread awareness about ocean plastic pollution. My group chose to pick up trash at the beach in Lincoln Park. We’ll be there on January 17th around 12 to 4 pm. … We’d love to get help and have the community get involved! We’ll be by the picnic shelter north of the bathrooms.

Sincerely,
Jessica, Alyssa, Hamdi, ZamZam, and Nathalie (Chief Sealth students)

If you’d like to share their invitation, remember that hovering over the “ShareThis” icon below any WSB stories gives you options for social-media sharing on a wide variety of services or even just e-mailing the link (click the three-dot icon).

West Seattle traffic alert: Dozens of trucks again tomorrow for Murray CSO project pour

January 13, 2015 at 5:44 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news, West Seattle traffic alerts | Comments Off

After big concrete-pour days on Friday and Monday, the King County Wastewater Treatment Division has just announced another one is coming up tomorrow at the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project site across from Lowman Beach. Spokesperson Doug Marsano says it’ll work the same way as those two recent days – starting around 7 am, with up to 10 trucks an hour throughout the day bringing concrete to finish the base of the under-construction million-gallon tank.

West Seattle scene: Lowman Beach pit pour, phase 2

January 8, 2015 at 2:58 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news | 1 Comment

2:58 PM: Once the sun came out, we went over to the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project across from Lowman Beach for a look into the million-gallon storage-tank pit, during the second phase of big concrete pours. We’re checking with the county to see if they’ve set a second pour date yet, since this is a postponement from last month, and the second date also was originally in December. (If you’d like a slightly wider, though lower-resolution, view of today’s work in the pit, we have one on Instagram.)

5:06 PM UPDATE: Doug Marsano from King County says that while no date is firmed up yet, “the contractor wants to pour early next week.” So we won’t know any sooner than tomorrow (if not later) when the next big pour will be.

West Seattle salmon: Egg-delivery day at local schools

January 7, 2015 at 3:06 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news, Wildlife | 4 Comments

Before local students show up at Fauntleroy Creek in the spring to set salmon fry free, they spend months tending to and studying in-school aquariums – and today’s the day it all begins anew. Volunteers Judy Pickens and Phil Sweetland have spent the day ferrying more than a thousand salmon eggs from a regional hatchery to 10 schools in West Seattle and South Park. We caught them at the first one they visited, Our Lady of Guadalupe:

As they made each delivery, disinfecting the eggs in an iodine bath before they could be placed in their hatching tanks, they talked with students, who were fascinated to see what would eventually hatch into coho:

From OLG, they went to nearby West Seattle Elementary, where their visit was shorter, since they volunteer at WSES regularly. But this school has something extra-special – a tank and ornate base, courtesy of Phil:

We had to photograph it before the students crowded around, so you could see the art.

Judy and Phil live on Fauntleroy Creek, and have a deep devotion to this program – almost four years ago, we reported on their resolve to keep it going despite state budget cuts. As explained at the time, it’s not that this is making a big dent in the salmon population, but it is helping keep fish and creeks top of mind every year for a new group of students who will grow into the adults on whose actions the fish’s fate will rise and fall. Meantime, these eggs will hatch soon, and the fish will grow for a few months in the tanks in school hallways and classrooms, before creek releases in spring.

Next Page »

All contents copyright 2005-2015, A Drink of Water and a Story Interactive. Here's how to contact us.
Header image by Nick Adams. ABSOLUTELY NO WSB PHOTO REUSE WITHOUT SITE OWNERS' PERMISSION.
Entries and comments feeds. ^Top^