West Seattle, Washington
From Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network, word of two ways you can help care for West Seattle shores and the creatures who share the beaches and waters with us – first, an announcement, second, a reminder:
Seal Sitters and the Alki Community Council will be co-sponsoring the “Sentinels of the Sound” beach cleanup at Alki Beach on Saturday, June 4th, 10 am-noon. There will be a very low tide that day, enabling access to a wide stretch of beach to remove dangerous debris. The adjacent sidewalks and street will also be scoured for trash – it is estimated that up to 80% of all trash discarded on land ends up as marine debris.
Trash poisons, maims, and kills wildlife. Lend a hand to help keep marine life safe and meet up at the Statue of Liberty Plaza. There will be a brief talk about the dangers of marine trash before dispersing to clean up the area. Last year, volunteers removed an estimated 9,000 toxic cigarette butts in approximately two hours.
Please visit our website for more details and the RSVP link. Volunteers do need to provide gloves and pickup sticks this year, but bags will be available at the sign-in table.
Now, the reminder – Seal Sitters training tomorrow!
Harbor-seal pupping season is on the horizon and Seal Sitters volunteers enable pups to rest safely on our urban beaches. We will be holding a training on Monday evening, May 23rd. There are just a few available spaces left to attend. Please visit the volunteer page of our website for info and to RSVP.
Seal Sitters welcomes volunteers of all ages.
Story by Tracy Record
Photos by Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers
The future of the Myers Way Parcels – 30+ acres of city-owned land on the southeastern edge of West Seattle – may be decided by the end of the year.
Updates on the timetable and process were part of the discussion as a group organized by City Councilmember Lisa Herbold toured the site on Thursday. Among them, two staffers from the city Finance and Administrative Services department, which is responsible for city-owned real estate like this, a site that’s been considered for many things, even, in 2008, the municipal jail that ultimately never got built.
The city didn’t even want most of this land when it was purchased back in the early 2000s, FAS’s Hillary Hamilton and Michael Ashbrook explained – just 10 acres for the nearby Joint Training Facility, which is in plain view next door to the north:
Then-owner Nintendo of America would only sell the entire 50-acre parcel, so that’s what the city bought.
Now it is stuck in a multi-faceted tug-of-war:
(2010 WSB photo – generator truck at Lowman Beach after power outage-caused overflow)
What you see above shouldn’t ever be needed again at Lowman Beach, because of work that’s about to happen at the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project site and Murray Pump Station next door: A portable generator to power the pump station in times of trouble. Today’s update from the King County Wastewater Treatment Division explains why – along with providing an alert to work that will affect that end of Beach Drive starting tomorrow:
Lane closure on 7000 block of Beach Drive SW tomorrow – May 11 – while crews set standby generator inside facility
King County’s Murray Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Control Project contractor will use a second crane to set a standby generator inside the facility building’s southern end. The standby generator will provide backup power to the entire facility and to the existing Murray Pump Station. The pump station currently does not have a standby generator, which created odor and overflow issues in the past.
Crews will use a second crane for one day to set the generator in place. Beach Drive SW will be narrowed to one lane to make space for the second crane. Flaggers will direct traffic on the 7000 block of Beach Drive SW. Drivers can expect delays of up to 15 minutes while the work occurs.
The contractor will then start installing the final section of the 5-foot-wide sewer pipe connecting the new tank to the existing pump station. The pipe will be installed along the southeast side of Beach Drive SW. It will take one month to install the pipe. Shoring installation will occur intermittently throughout the month. Increased noise and vibration is expected at times during shoring work.
Thank you for your continued patience during construction. Please contact the project hotline at 206-205-9186 with any questions or concerns.
As reported here recently, KCWTD told the Fauntleroy Community Association that the project will be done before the end of this year.
Two big announcements today regarding West Seattle-based nonprofit Nature Consortium, known for its forest-restoration work and melding of arts and nature, in education and other activities:
There won’t be a search for a successor because of the other big news – Nature Consortium will become a project of Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association, the nonprofit that runs Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, where NC is based. According to DNDA’s David Bestock, NC will be “retaining its own branding and programs, but with operations and finances run through DNDA,” and that’s why it won’t have its own executive director any more.
Bestock adds, “All NC programs will continue as they are, as well as NC staff other than Merica, who was sought out and recruited by the organization she’s moving to in her home state of Nebraska. Willard Brown, DNDA’s Properties and Housing Director, who has been spearheading DNDA’s environmental justice programming in Delridge and partnering with NC, will become even more involved in supporting NC’s staff and programs. … We are still working out details for how this will look structurally, but it made lots of sense to everyone when Nature Consortium approached us with their proposal. Our missions have a ton of overlap in terms of social and environmental justice, preservation of local greenspace, etc. The staff and board of both orgs feel that together we can do more for our shared community by combining our resources to address the educational, health, and economic disparities that exist in Delridge.”
The official news release about all of the above is here.
If you were among the Admiral-area residents who noticed helicopters overhead at midday … no crime, no crash, just TV crews looking for an aerial view of what you see above: As reported here Tuesday, Seattle Parks sent this piece of heavy equipment called a Spyder to the slopes where news of illegal tree-cutting sparked an outcry back in March. As we first heard from City Councilmember Lisa Herbold on Tuesday, Parks decided to send the crew to clear away blackberry overgrowth and look for any further evidence of trees cut beyond the 100+ already estimated, while helping prep the site for “eventual restoration.” Otherwise, the city says the investigation continues; no charges so far. The work is expected to continue tomorrow.
Two notes today on the investigations of illegal tree-cutting in north West Seattle’s Duwamish Head Greenbelt:
35TH SW ‘CLEAR-CUT’ SITE: No word of charges against anyone yet, but City Councilmember Lisa Herbold shared an alert that there will be “activity” the next two days at the site off the 3200 block of 35th SW, where cutting apparently done in January came to light in March. She says, “As part of the City’s investigation into the cutting of City trees near 3200 35th Ave SW, a contractor will remove blackberry bushes from the site on May 4th and 5th. The removal should reveal whether there are additional stumps, and will also help prepare the site for eventual restoration.”
ADDED 10:12 PM: Parks spokesperson Dewey Potter provided a few more details, saying the contractor “… will bring a large machine called a Spyder to the site of the trees cut … A crew from Kemp West will use the machine to clear the dense blackberries from the site. … The City’s investigation of the incident continues.” The work could start as early as 7 am.
(back to original report) SUNSET/SEATTLE SITE: As first reported here last Friday, the city also is investigating illegal tree-cutting on a Parks-owned slope beneath a popular unofficial roadside viewpoint. The investigation came to light because of a letter sent to area residents, asking if they had information on the cutting, believed to have been done in February. We subsequently had asked Parks how many trees they believe were cut; spokesperson Christina Hirsch now tells WSB that they’re expecting the number after a city arborist visits the steeply sloped site this week for an assessment.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The city is investigating another case of illegal tree-cutting in north West Seattle’s Duwamish Head Greenbelt.
Seattle Parks confirmed to WSB that there is an “ongoing investigation” involving tree-cutting on city-owned land near a popular informal roadside viewpoint in North Admiral, at Sunset and Seattle.
Two area residents told us about a letter sent to “neighbors,” seeking information about the tree-cutting, which the city believes happened in February. One neighbor sent us images of both sides of the letter, which Parks spokesperson Christina Hirsch confirmed to WSB is authentic.
This is the photo in the letter:
Above that photo, the letter begins:
We need your cooperation to resolve an illegal use of park property: unauthorized treecutting in Duwamish Head Greenbelt. This tree-cutting violates Seattle Municipal Code 18.12.070 and the responsible person(s) are subject to fines to cover the cost to replace the trees and maintain them until they are established.
The second page includes this “ground-level” view of the site where the illegal tree-cutting happened:
The letter continues:
We need the cooperation of neighbors and concerned park users to be the “ears and eyes on the ground” to ensure the protection of our valuable open space, keep our park areas safe, and maintain a peaceful environment for all the public to enjoy.
If you have any information about who cut the trees, or if you observed any tree-cutting activity anywhere within the park, please phone me directly at 206-615-0932. Verbal information given can remain anonymous by request and is not subject to public disclosure.
Senior Property Agent, Seattle Parks and Recreation
We called Gholaghong after receiving the letter via text, and he indicated he was heading into a meeting but would reply with more information soon. We subsequently received a note from Hirsch only confirming that the letter was for real, that the investigation was ongoing, and that she was looking into the answer to our question about how many trees were cut.
A visit to Seattle/Sunset did not yield a firsthand view of the reported tree-cutting – the slope down from the street side is extremely steep, and the downslope view is blocked by overgrown including blackberry vines. County files indicate the city bought the 2 1/2-acre site for less than a quarter-million dollars in 1992.
We will continue trying to find out more about this case, which emerged one month after The Seattle Times first reported on a large-scale case of illegal tree-cutting in east Admiral, also in the Duwamish Head Greenbelt. We have continued to follow up on that case, but there is nothing new to report, and no word yet of charges.
West Seattleites were clearly not going to let the rain keep them away from the Recycle Roundup at Fauntleroy Church last Sunday. Judy Pickens reports a big haul:
West Seattleites braved Sunday’s downpour to bring 11.5 tons to the spring Recycle Roundup at Fauntleroy Church for responsible recycling by 1 Green Planet. It was one of the largest collections since the church’s green committee started the roundup in 2010. The fall roundup will be Sunday, Sept. 25.
Last fall’s RR brought in 9 tons, following a 10-ton day last spring.
At Fauntleroy Church (9140 California SW), the rain’s not stopping the twice-yearly Recycle Roundup, on until 3 pm today. We stopped by in the first hour and found people dropping off everything from an old TV antenna to an exercise cycle.
There’s no charge to drop off your recyclables as long as they’re on the list; the church’s Green Committee coordinates this every spring and fall with recycler 1 Green Planet and will of course accept donations to cover their expenses, but that’s totally voluntary. They have one request: Please DON’T wait until the end of the day – after 2:30, there can be a long line.
(WSB photo from past Recycle Roundup)
Getting ready for West Seattle Community Garage Sale Day (three weeks from today!) and realizing not everything is sellable, even at the low-low-low-make-an-offer level? Or, just de-cluttering in general? One more reminder – tomorrow is the spring edition of the twice-annual Recycle Roundup in the Fauntleroy Church parking lot at 9140 California SW. 9 am-3 pm. Drop your recyclables off for free, as long as they’re on this list (which also points out what the church Green Committee‘s Recycle Roundup partner 1 Green Planet definitely WON’T take). One more thing: The earlier you can get there in that six-hour window, the better.
Celebrate Earth Day weekend by helping out with a community cleanup. We’re mentioning the ones we’ve heard about – yesterday, we featured Saturday’s North Delridge cleanup, and today, this announcement from the Highland Park Elementary School PTA:
Saturday is the second annual HPE Earth Day Cleanup. This year we are working together with the Playground Planning Committee to both clean up the school and design our future playground. The Earth Day portion of the event will meet at the front of the school from 9:00 – 12:00, rain or shine. Come prepared to clean up and beautify the school grounds. The playground planning portion of the event is from 8:00 – 4:00. Come to either event, or both. Stay for 30 minutes, or all day! Coffee and lunch will be provided.
HPE is at 1012 SW Trenton. The Highland Park community also has a series of neighborhood cleanups planned – more on that later – and if you’re looking for volunteers for your cleanup, we’d love to help; e-mail the information to email@example.com – thanks!
11:29 AM: Thanks to the texter who sent that photo just as we were heading out to check on this art installation under way right now on Alki. The display has been in the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar for tomorrow for a while, since it’s an official Earth Day event, but it’s so big that it’s being assembled today, sponsored by the thrift-shop chain Value Village, “using thousands of pieces of used clothing to represent the amount of clothing that ends up in the landfill.” VV is hoping you’ll instead be inspired to “reuse and recycle.”
1:51 PM: Just back from Alki. This is happening east of the Bathhouse, across from Pepperdock, on part of the north side of the path and continuing down onto the beach. A closeup look reveals messages like this:
The installation is striking, from any direction:
We were asked via Instagram what happens to the hundreds and hundreds of pounds of clothing after the installation’s run tomorrow is done. (update) A VV spokesperson says the clothing all came from the chain and afterward: “Each piece of clothing will be sent back to Savers/Value Village to be sorted through the typical process at their local recycling center in Fife.”
(WSB file photo)
Another big West Seattle event for de-cluttering is getting close – just five days until this Sunday’s spring edition of the Recycle Roundup that Fauntleroy Church‘s Green Committee presents twice a year. Here is the official list of what you can drop off (and what you can’t) in the church parking lot at 9140 California SW 9 am-3 pm Sunday (April 24th). No fees. If you have questions even after checking the list, it includes contact info you can use to ask the church’s event partner, 1 Green Planet. Otherwise – just show up!
That’s the first of the “surplus substations” in West Seattle to officially start the journey to greenspace – the former Delridge substation at 23rd SW and SW Findlay. It’s now at the heart of the Delridge Wetlands and Stewardship Project, and community volunteers were there Saturday as part of the multi-site Duwamish Alive! event.
This document on the Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association website explains what the project is all about – including plans for the site to include a community garden and to be an outdoor classroom for students from nearby Louisa Boren K-8 STEM.
DNDA’s Willard Brown (above), who’s leading the project, offered words of welcome as well as elaboration on plans for the site:
The “next generation of stewards” mentioned on Saturday morning was already represented, working with the Nature Consortium on an art project:
Also there were reps of other partner organizations – including City Light, whose senior environmental analyst Rory Denovan (a West Seattleite), offered a few words too, as did Sharon Leishman of the Duwamish Alive! Coalition and Mary Fleck of the Seattle Green Spaces Coalition. It’ll take a lot of work to make hopes and dreams for the site come true – if you can help, firstname.lastname@example.org is how to check in with Willard Brown and find out how.
The spring edition of Duwamish Alive! has just wrapped up. We stopped at two of the dozen-plus volunteer sites, and this was the first:
Dozens of volunteers gathered before the 10 am work-party start time at Greg Davis Park along Longfellow Creek in North Delridge. Supporting the Duwamish River means supporting its watershed and the waterways that feed into it, like Longfellow. A special 9:30 am kickoff event here included words from 34th District State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (below), who’s hailed as an environmental champion, as well as from Chauncey Foster (2nd below) and Sharon Leishman (3rd below), both from the Duwamish Alive! Coalition:
The main message is that supporting your local urban forest and waterway(s) matters all year long, not just on special days like this one and the fall Duwamish Alive! date – get involved. Every little bit helps – no matter how young (or not-as-young) you are:
You’ll also see “the next generation of stewards” in our second report, coming up in a few hours.
(2015 photo by Ron Creel – that long greenbelt in the middle of the photo, west of the river, is the West Duwamish Greenbelt)
Lots happening in West Seattle tomorrow, but nothing bigger than the spring edition of Duwamish Alive!, the twice-yearly mega-work party to help the Duwamish River and its watershed. As already previewed here, the multi-site restoration/cleanup party has a big 9:30 am kickoff at Greg Davis Park in North Delridge. From 10 am-2 pm, hundreds of volunteers will help out at sites from West Seattle to Tukwila. Not too late to sign up here. We’re told one of the West Seattle sites most in need of some more helping hands is Pigeon Point Park (next to Pathfinder K-8 School), where you can help the West Seattle-headquartered Nature Consortium continue restoring part of the West Duwamish Greenbelt. You can go directly here to let them know you’ll help there!
(WSB photo from Duwamish Alive! in 2014)
Discussion of recent news stories has included a lot of concern for our area’s greenspaces. If you share that concern, here’s a simple way to take action: Be part of Duwamish Alive! next Saturday (April 16th). Choose one of the sites on this list – in and near West Seattle – and sign up. One special focus here is along Longfellow Creek – more details in the announcement you can read in full after the jump:
As reported here last night, the first official public discussion of the West Seattle illegal-tree-cutting case is set for this Thursday morning at the next meeting of the City Council’s Parks, Seattle Center, Waterfront, and Libraries Committee. According to the just-published agenda, the presenters will be Seattle Parks Superintendent Jesús Aguirre, Transportation Director Scott Kubly, and, from the City Attorney’s Office, Joseph Groshong. The presentation is about more than the West Seattle case – as shown in the slide deck above, which accompanies the agenda, it’s titled “Tree Stewardship Presentation,” but if you scroll through to page 4, it moves to information about vandalism and enforcement, and then the West Seattle case on page 7. If you can’t be there in person – one incentive: the agenda includes a public-comment period – you will be able to watch live via the Seattle Channel, cable 21 or online at seattlechannel.org.
As first reported here last Friday, the City Council got a closed-door briefing today on the West Seattle illegal tree-cutting case. We checked afterward with Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who had told us this was going to happen. Her reply: “The briefing was an Executive Session briefing about the legal strategy moving forward. What I can say is that the City Law Department is fully engaged in pursuing remedies that include both civil and criminal penalties and are working with SPD in the investigation necessary for both. Sorry for nothing new to report specifically, but I think it’s a testimony to the Council’s serious consideration of these actions that we all received a briefing.”
Herbold did actually mention one specific new item – she says the tree-cutting situation will be discussed, publicly, at Thursday morning’s meeting of the Parks, Seattle Center, Libraries, & Waterfront Committee (9:30 am, City Hall). No agenda yet. Herbold’s not a member of the committee but plans to attend.
The photo (which was accompanied by a similar one, except the flower is white) is from Jeremy Puma in Sunrise Heights, who writes:
My son and I found these beautiful trillium flowers growing in the woods at Lincoln Park (Saturday). Wonder if you would be open to reminding your readers that these ephemeral beauties are threatened natives, and picking the flowers will kill the plant?
Some trilliums are threatened or endangered; It’s best to enjoy the flowers with eyes and/or a camera.
That’s an excellent reminder to tread lightly in general in our natural areas.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
We have yet to get an incident number from SPD, though we requested it today.
City Attorney Pete Holmes, meantime, is expected to brief the City Council on the tree-cutting case behind closed doors on Monday.
That’s according to City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, with whom we spoke during a break in her second round of “district office hours” this afternoon in The Junction. The agenda for Monday’s weekly council “briefing” meeting ends with two separate items labeled only “executive session on pending or potential litigation” – executive session means it’s closed to the public.
Herbold also noted that she has called for a look at the current laws and penalties and whether they could be toughened, as has been called for in this citizen-initiated online petition.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Whether or not they’re directly responsible for the illegal tree-cutting in the Duwamish Head Greenbelt, nearby property owners may be taxed for it, sooner rather than later.
Checking the status of the investigation and other revelations, we found out today from City Councilmember Lisa Herbold that the King County Assessor has received a “constituent request (to) increase 2016 real-estate tax to reflect View Property status.” She says the Assessor’s Office already “has sent division directors out to visit the site and will be sending an appraisal team out shortly.”
Speaking of valuation, Herbold told us there’s something else that she’s emphasizing to the City Attorney’s Office and others who are investigating:
I want to be sure the evaluation of the value of the trees takes into account the role the trees play in maintaining soil stability in an environmentally critical area by absorbing water, thus lessening the risk of landslides onto a major arterial.
Further, trees maintain air quality by absorbing carbon —an important issue in West Seattle, which sits adjacent to SODO and the Duwamish industrial area. The Green Cities Research Alliance 2012 Report, Seattle’s Forest Ecosystem Values, has additional information about Seattle’s trees, estimated to have a replacement value of $4.9 billion — an important capital asset.
If you’ve been away or are otherwise just tuning into this, The Seattle Times broke the news last Friday night that the city was investigating the illegal cutting of more than 100 trees on parcels owned by the city Parks and Transportation Departments in the Duwamish Head Greenbelt, north of 35th SW and northwest of 34th SW/City View.
We followed up on Saturday and on Monday, which is when the City Attorney’s Office disclosed the cutting was brought to the city’s attention in January, and that a lawyer for at least one of the guilty parties had written to the city about it in early February. We published a statement from lawyer Clayton Graham in our Monday report. We now also have a copy of his February 5th letter and the proposed restoration-plan outline, both obtained from the City Attorney’s Office. Here’s the letter (PDF); below is the restoration-plan outline, which Graham said on Monday was provided to the city on March 9th. The city stresses that it has NOT approved the plan; we publish it to show you what was proposed before this all came to light:
RESTORATION ACTIVITY OUTLINE
Hire contractor approved by SPRD for following activities:
SITE PREPARATION Spring/Summer 2016
Install erosion control along perimeter of site per SPRD and DPD guidelines
Move cut logs to accommodate work and utilize as erosion control and terraces as possible
Invasive Shrub/Vine Removal following SPRD guidelines within perimeter of exposed canopy
Invasive Tree Removal/Herbicide (if necessary) under SPRD guidelines within perimeter
Broadcast Herbicide (if necessary) under SPRD guidelines within perimeter
Mulch to a depth of no greater than 6” consisting of arborist chips, straw or burlap will be installed across area to suppress weeds, increase moisture retention and limit erosion potential
PLANTING Fall/Winter (2016)
Install trees, shrubs, groundcovers in species and numbers as prescribed by Green Seattle Partnership – SPRD guidelines for similar sites.
Planting will be done in the suggested mosaic for the site with adaptation for existing native plants.
Location and species of trees planted to be determined based on discussion with City staff and owners’ urban forester.
IRRIGATION Winter/Spring (2016)
Installation of a temporary water reservoir and drip irrigation system in the spring is requested. Water will be supplied by adjacent property owner
If system is not approved contractor will be engaged for 3 seasons of watering and continued invasive species control and erosion monitoring
ESTABLISHMENT WEED CONTROL Spring-Summer (2017-2020)
Invasive weed control and plant health monitoring will be contracted for three growing seasons to assure success of plantings and site
Again, that is what the one unidentified homeowner proposed in early February, and it has not been approved by the city. Graham’s Monday statement said he and his clients “offered to provide a detailed restoration plan (complete with tree size, species, placement and ongoing care obligations) from our client’s urban forester when the City was ready to review it.” (Since that apparently has not yet been received by the city, we’re asking Graham if his client would make it public.)
Whether it’s from that plan or not, will the city take any action to start restoring the cut slopes before it’s decided whether those responsible will be prosecuted, and how they will be penalized? We asked the Parks Department that question yesterday and are still awaiting the answer.
Finally, if you haven’t already seen it in our previous story’s comment thread, this online petition is in circulation, asking the City Council to toughen the laws governing incidents like this.
If we get any more new information today, we’ll add it to this story.
ADDED 4:59 PM: Parks spokesperson Christina Hirsch‘s reply to our question about whether any immediate restoration work is planned:
Right now we are working with our own restoration experts and are also consulting with outside advisers to figure out the plan to restore this area. This is a unique situation and restoration will be a challenge, both because of the scope of the damage and because it is such a sensitive and environmentally critical area. Because the situation is so severe, it could take years to get the area back to where it needs to be. Restoring this area is something that we need to do and we are working diligently with our team to put together a plan. We don’t have a complete timeline for restoration, but we do know that restoration in this area will not be something we can complete in one attempt; we will have to work on restoration on an ongoing basis.