West Seattle Blog... » Fairmount Springs http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Sat, 25 Oct 2014 17:25:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Passing of the Golden Rake, and other ways neighbors paid tribute to Vern Christensen http://westseattleblog.com/2014/04/passing-of-the-golden-rake-and-other-ways-neighbors-paid-tribute-to-vern-christensen/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/04/passing-of-the-golden-rake-and-other-ways-neighbors-paid-tribute-to-vern-christensen/#comments Sun, 27 Apr 2014 22:43:06 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=271637 A memorable West Seattle neighbor named Vern Christensen is gone but not forgotten. Cindy Craig shared photos and the story of how neighbors and friends gathered to remember him a few rainy/sunny Sundays ago:

On Sunday, March 30, about 40 friends (several of them 4-legged) gathered at the traffic island at 40th Av. SW and SW Juneau to remember their good neighbor, Vern Christensen, who passed away on March 15.

Most days during the past 24 years if you drove by the grassy knoll there on the corner previously known as ‘Weed Island’ you were likely to see Vern taking his daily constitutional, keeping a benevolent eye on the neighborhood between Fauntleroy and California and Brandon and Morgan. If it was raining, you would probably see him clearing the storm drain with his trusty rake because the city had asked citizens to help. Long before the West Seattle Blog was the ‘go to’ source for any news in Fairmount Springs, Vern was who you thought to ask first.

Vern was a farm boy from Flasher, North Dakota, born during the Great Depression in 1932. He always seemed to embrace those rural values of knowing your neighbors and taking the time to stop and share a story. He knew what the value of community was and he would have been pleased to see the diverse group of people that he helped weave together gathering to celebrate our common thread at the newly renamed ‘Vern Island.’

A native currant was planted on the island in Vern’s honor, and the Golden Rake and its duty to keep the drain cleared was transferred to another resident of 40th Av. S.W., Vern’s close friend Paul Sureddin:

And for a little while on a rainy Sunday afternoon in March, the sun came out just long enough for Vern Christensen’s neighbors to take one more walk around Vern’s beloved Fairmount Springs and remember a man who reminded us every day in his unassuming way what it was to be part of a community.

We will miss him.

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Friends of Morgan Junction Parks wraps up ‘productive 1st year’ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/11/friends-of-morgan-junction-parks-wraps-up-productive-1st-year/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/11/friends-of-morgan-junction-parks-wraps-up-productive-1st-year/#comments Sun, 24 Nov 2013 06:06:31 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=257047

The photo and report are from Friends of Morgan Junction ParksBarry White:

Friends of Morgan Junction Parks concluded a productive first year this morning with the first phase of a restoration project at the Juneau/Fauntleroy triangle. [map] Volunteers dug out some weedy and deeply buried street trees and applied fresh mulch. A considerable understory of ivy that ran throughout the land was removed, and a maze of dead, low-hanging branches was pruned out to bring much needed light into the interior.

We wish to thank the many volunteers who turned out this year at Morgan Junction Park, the triangle park next to Thriftway, and the Juneau triangle. We’ll start up again in spring with some planting parties at all three sites. Thanks to Morgan Community Association for their backing and to the folks at Seattle Parks and SDOT for the tools, mulch, and plants. It’s been a great year.

You’ll find more photos – and other info about FoMJP – on the group’s Facebook page.

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Update: Small fire in Fairmount Springs, cause ‘undetermined’ http://westseattleblog.com/2012/04/fire-in-building-call-in-fairmount-springs/ http://westseattleblog.com/2012/04/fire-in-building-call-in-fairmount-springs/#comments Mon, 23 Apr 2012 10:30:42 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=106829

3:30 AM: We’re checking out a fire call in the 5900 block of 39th SW (map) – crews originally were dispatched to an address on Fauntleroy Way, but scanner traffic has changed the location. Doesn’t sound big but they are calling for the investigator (Marshal 5). More when we get there.

3:42 AM UPDATE: At the scene, SFD tells us this was a small fire in some building materials behind what appears to be a construction/remodeling project. A neighbor who happened to be awake saw it and called it in to 911, and it was extinguished quickly. No injuries and no damage beyond the “building materials,” we’re told, but the investigator will have to figure out how it started. (Thanks to everybody who texted/e-mailed/tweeted about this!)

9:31 AM UPDATE: Just checked with Lt. Sue Stangl at SFD. Investigators couldn’t figure out exactly what started the fire, so the cause will remain officially “undetermined” – but she added that they found no evidence it was “suspicious.”

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Video: Maximum sentence in Fairmount Springs attack http://westseattleblog.com/2011/12/happening-now-sentencing-in-fairmount-springs-attack/ http://westseattleblog.com/2011/12/happening-now-sentencing-in-fairmount-springs-attack/#comments Fri, 02 Dec 2011 21:30:35 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=93460

1:30 PM: We are in the courtroom of King County Superior Court Judge Bruce Heller, who is to sentence Monty Richardson in the Fairmount Springs attack case from last July. Judge Heller has just entered; defendant Monty Richardson, who entered a type of guilty plea while not acknowledging guilt, is now at the bench. The victim is here, as is her daughter and three family friends. On behalf of Richardson is his wife, their daughter, a former landlord of theirs, and the church he attends. Richardson is being sentenced for burglary and assault, to which he pleaded guilty on November 17th. Here’s our most recent report, after we discovered that plea bargain in court records.

The attack “fairly shocks the conscience,” says senior deputy prosecuting attorney Erin Becker, saying Richardson went into the victim’s home – across the street from his – and “inflicted extreme injuries … 26 fractures” including two spinal fractures. She was “left unconscious and alone when the attack ended. … Frankly, it’s very hard to have to explain to victims that this is what the Legislature proscribes for a crime .. a standard range of 26 to 34 months.” She mentions that some letters written in Richardson’s support allude to comments here that suggested somebody else did it.

1:36 PM: The victim is now speaking.

(Our as-it-happened coverage continues ahead, concluding with the sentencing decision just after 2 pm – video added of the judge explaining his decision):

“You can tell by the list of damaged body parts that I don’t operate the way I used to … from the way I go to bed at night to get up in the morning to get into my car and get out of my car, anything I would have normally done without thinking about it …” she begins. She talks about having babysat a member of Richardson’s family and saying “my greatest concern is the sadness for this little girl … that as she gets older, this is a possibility she has to sort out with her father.” She acknowledges Richardson’s meth use, saying “it does not fit with rational behavior.” She says he “has had chances before to straighten out his life … and it hasn’t worked for him, and he’s in his 40s, and I don’t know if there’s a program that will help, but that’s what I’m hoping for.” She says she wishes he could “serve much more time … to get away from his delusions about life.” She adds that if he feels like his life has been turned upside down … “that he remembers how many times he held me upside down and threw me against the wall … how he sat on me systematically breaking my ribs so I knew that’s what he was doing. It took a few cracks for me to know that’s what he was doing, breaking every one of my ribs.” She says it was just a coincidence that she went to Richardson’s home to seek help (court documents have said he wasn’t there at the time).

Speaking next, a friend of the victim who says she was called by the nurse at Harborview after the attack. She describes what the victim looked like in the hospital, breathing with the help of a tube. Richardson is shaking his head as he listens to this. “It makes me feel unsafe that this person is going to be roaming around the streets soon,” she says. The friend is followed by the victim’s daughter. “I would just like to say that what happened to my mother is just a nightmare … she could easily have died. … If she had died, the sentence recommended would have been much much longer … (the current recommendation) is just ridiculous.” She asks that he at least be sentenced to the full 34 months at the high end of the range. She says her mom had been a “trusting, warm person” who now has “apprehension about neighbors and people.”

1:45 PM: The defense lawyer, Sabrina Housand, is speaking now. “This is a very difficult case for everyone involved,” she says. She doesn’t believe it was premeditated – calling it “senseless … it truly was a crime that there is no explanation for. …. Mr. Richardson is not a man with a history of violence.” She mentions he had a drug conviction in his past and “nothing else.” She says he was raised by a violent, abusive father and then stepfather, “yet despite that he was able to make good grades in school” and had a productive work history. She then calls his addiction “a tragedy .. and something (he) has struggled with throughout his life.” She says he doesn’t believe he did it because he has “no recollection” of the attack, and notes that he didn’t “pursue a mental defense” because “he wanted this to end …he did what he thought was best for everyone else involved,” referring to the plea bargain. The judge asks her about the aforementioned comments/letters that apparently suggested he was possibly framed; the defense lawyer says simply, that wasn’t part of their defense and it was nothing Richardson asked for. She is followed by the pastor from a Capitol Hill church attended by Richardson, saying he has been active in the church, and that he’s never seen him violent or angry, and that he’s been working with Richardson regarding his addiction. He says the attack was “heartbreaking” and “out of the blue.”

1:54 PM: Richardson is speaking: “I stand here today … with a heavy heart and deep sorrow.” He sounds on the verge of tears. “I accept your judgment your honor. I don’t look forward to prison but I know I’m going.” He says he is “taking responsibility for being here today” and hopes he will come back to a community that will accept him.

2:03 PM: Judge Heller has imposed the high end of the sentencing range – higher than the prosecution had recommended in plea-bargain documents – but noted that’s only a few months more than the middle range: 34 months for the burglary charge, 14 months for the assault charge, 18 months of community custody when he gets out. The time he has served will be counted against this, and he also will almost certainly get “time for good behavior,” which means, the judge said, the extra 4 months is more like an extra 2 1/2 months. Though Richardson had no history of violence, the judge said, “you committed a terrible crime” – he read the description of the attack from the court documents, because he said it was important to realize just how “brutal” it was.

(We recorded the judge’s remarks on video; when back at HQ, we will upload the portion that does not include the victim’s name.)

ADDED: Here’s that video, as promised, with the judge even expressing disappointment at the sentence range he’s given to work with:

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West Seattle Crime Watch: Fairmount Springs attack arrest http://westseattleblog.com/2011/07/west-seattle-crime-watch-fairmount-springs-attack-arrest/ http://westseattleblog.com/2011/07/west-seattle-crime-watch-fairmount-springs-attack-arrest/#comments Fri, 01 Jul 2011 20:53:50 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=78416 Just got word from Southwest Precinct that there has been an arrest in connection with the May 8th attack that left a Fairmount Springs woman badly hurt. The case raised so much concern, there was a special neighborhood meeting about it a few days later, with precinct commander Capt. Steve Paulsen and City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen in attendance (here’s our coverage). Precinct operations Lt. Pierre Davis tells WSB an arrest was made just before 5 pm yesterday: “Our detectives did a fantastic job with this case. The arrest warrant was served on the suspect without incident.” We are working to get more details about the arrest, the suspect, and the circumstances of the case, which were all something of a mystery back in May.

ADDED SATURDAY MORNING: Inquiries with police and prosecutors on Friday afternoon didn’t yield much, but overnight we did get a bit of extra information from SW Precinct Lt. Alan Williams, who says the information he could access shows that the suspect (whose name we still don’t know, so we can’t check his/her status through the jail register, and there are way too many people booked for assault/burglary type charges for anyone to stand out as the likely arrestee) “was located in the 1000 block of 4th (Avenue) South and taken into custody without incident.” Because of government closures for the Monday holiday, we don’t expect to be able to get more information before Tuesday.

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West Seattle Crime Watch: Police brief Fairmount Springs neighbors http://westseattleblog.com/2011/05/west-seattle-crime-watch-police-brief-fairmount-springs-neighbors/ http://westseattleblog.com/2011/05/west-seattle-crime-watch-police-brief-fairmount-springs-neighbors/#comments Fri, 13 May 2011 05:58:47 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=72931 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

At the heart of a meeting tonight in Fairmount Springs was not a victim, but a person – a neighbor in the hospital, for reasons not yet understood, fighting to recover from serious injuries she suffered in some kind of attack.

She’s in stable condition, reported neighbors at the meeting’s start. Then at the meeting’s end, a prayer for her physical and emotional recovery was offered, by the pastor of the church where about 50 neighbors gathered.

And the neighbors’ condition was a source of concern too. Don’t be frightened, exhorted police. “It’s not the one who did this that’s the powerful one – you are,” asserted Mark Solomon, the Southwest Precinct‘s Crime Prevention Coordinator.

He spoke along with the top two Seattle Police leaders from the precinct, its commander, Capt. Steve Paulsen, and operations Lt. Pierre Davis. Before the meeting was out, City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen had offered a few words too.

The gathering at West Seattle Church of the Nazarene was the first major neighborhood meeting since another one sparked by crime concerns a year and a half ago (here’s our report from that night). And as it concluded, neighbors agreed they would like to meet more often – maybe quarterly – though they already are bound by strong Block Watches and a much-used mailing list. But first: What police said tonight about the Sunday morning attack, reported in the 5900 block of 41st SW – ahead:

“About 4:30 Sunday morning, one of your neighbors was assaulted,” Capt. Paulsen began. How that happened, and why, he didn’t know and/or couldn’t say. But he made it clear the case is top priority for the precinct. He reiterated some of the information we reported earlier today – that a person of interest was questioned but not arrested, on Wednesday. “We have to take great care to make sure we have a successful resolution (to the case),” he said. That person was noticed early in the morning, in the neighborhood, and that’s all he could say. “We’ve got to wait until we have a good strong case before arresting anyone … we are methodically moving forward.” Responding to a question about the attacker’s description, Capt. Paulsen said he could only say it was a “male” and he was “disguised.”

Overall, he insisted, the area is actually quite safe and low-crime, aside from car prowls. He also warned neighbors not to take too much stock in citywide-media reports (an apparent reference to a television station that had done a story on the case and included some neighborhood speculation), saying some of “that information (was) not correct.” He later said they could not state definitively so far that this was a burglary – it is classified right now as an assault. (He did also note that the spike in residential burglaries reported around West Seattle a few weeks back has subsided.)

But in the absence of additional details, neighbors could only continue to ask questions even knowing they weren’t likely to be answered. At one point, Capt. Paulsen introduced Det. Shane St. John, lead detective on the case, who was standing in plainclothes at the back of the room.

“My gut tells me this is not a random type of incident – specifically, that’s (because of) how we perceived the crime scene itself – specifics we can’t discuss because of how it might affect the outcome of the prosecution,” said Det. St. John, before urging neighbors, “If you heard or saw anything suspicious Saturday night or Sunday morning, please call us – call the precinct and leave a message for us, and we’ll call you back. We are essentially treating this as a homicide investigation, not because it’s a homicide, but because of the seriousness of the crime, we’re pulling out all the stops on this one.”

When crime-prevention coordinator Solomon took the floor, he offered information about staying safe. Fairmount Springs already has “one of the best defenses a neighborhood could have” – watchful neighbors. Then there’s common sense; he noted a burglary wave in another area of the city where half the cases can be attributed to intruders sneaking in through doors and windows left unlocked.

Capt. Paulsen reiterated that most break-ins are during the day because burglars generally don’t want to come face-to-face with the people whose homes they are ripping off. – that’s why most break-ins happen between 11 am and 6 pm.

If you see someone on the street you don’t know, “make eye contact with people, acknowledge their presence, say hi, let them know they’ve been noticed,” advised Solomon. “Lots of times, burglars have been scared away by somebody saying, hey, whaddaya doing?”

Other questions involved self-defense: How far can you go? “Whatever is reasonable for the circumstance you’re in,” said Capt. Paulsen. “You have a right to protect yourself.”

But, “the power of your voice more often than not is going to make that person want to go away,” suggested Solomon.

Block Watches were mentioned again; meeting co-organizer Pia said she had “founded a Block Watch because (I) saw a guy outside my house in the middle of the night. First I was scared and then I got pissed off. I’m not going to live in fear in my own neighborhood. We can stand up for ourselves, and we will!”

Solomon brought along stacks of handouts regarding crime-prevention specifics (many of which you can find online). He also recommended the West Seattle Blockwatch Captains Network, in terms of staying connected with the rest of the area. “And if you don’t know who your Block Watch captain is, please find that out.”

He was followed by Councilmember Tom Rasmussen. “I’m very sorry about your neighbor. I know how unettling this is … it’s disquieting for a neighborhood to have an experience like this.”

He voiced his belief that “it’s important for a councilmember to help neighborhoods feel safe and be safe. I’m glad somebody contacted me to come to this meeting … If there are other things we can do, lights in the alley … call or e-mail me about anything the city can help with.” (tom.rasmussen@seattle.gov)

Applause from attendees suggested his words were appreciated. And then the neighborhood leaders stood up again: “Also pay attention to the sunshine, and the good things that happen.”

And out into a night of rapidly improving weather they went, hoping to soon know more about what happened to their neighbor and why, and also resolute in neighborhood solidarity.

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West Seattle Crime Watch: Fairmount Springs investigation update http://westseattleblog.com/2011/05/west-seattle-crime-watch-fairmount-springs-investigation-update/ http://westseattleblog.com/2011/05/west-seattle-crime-watch-fairmount-springs-investigation-update/#comments Thu, 12 May 2011 17:55:57 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=72882 Police have released more information about the case we reported here on Monday, a woman who is in the hospital and told police she was attacked by someone in her Fairmount Springs home. Seattle Police media-unit Det. Mark Jamieson says there is no question the woman was seriously injured – but police do not believe it happened in her home; there is no sign of a struggle or other evidence there indicating an attack. According to the police-report narrative in the case, the original call did not come from the woman’s home; the victim showed up at a neighbor’s house early Sunday morning saying she was “hurt and needed to sleep.” Then the neighbor noticed the woman was clearly injured, and called 911. The victim told police she woke up to find a man in her room; he said nothing but restrained her, then sat on her, and tried to strangle her. She said she fought back, and that she lost consciousness and awoke later to find him gone, at which time she said she managed to get herself free and walked over to her neighbor’s house. Police also confirm they questioned someone yesterday in connection with the case but that no one is currently under arrest. The victim remains at Harborview Medical Center, and because of her condition, Det. Jamieson says, police have been unable to talk more with her yet about what happened and where it happened.

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West Seattle Crime Watch: Woman in hospital after reported break-in http://westseattleblog.com/2011/05/west-seattle-crime-watch-woman-hospitalized-reported-break-in/ http://westseattleblog.com/2011/05/west-seattle-crime-watch-woman-hospitalized-reported-break-in/#comments Mon, 09 May 2011 19:03:31 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=72581 A 64-year-old Fairmount Springs woman is in the hospital today with what police describe as “serious injuries,” after an incident reported to them as a break-in. According to Seattle Police media-response unit Det. Mark Jamieson, the description is cautious because investigators are still trying to sort out what actually happened and how the victim was injured – he says they are not at all sure yet what actually took place, nor is there a description of a potential attacker, nor do they know for sure whether the attack was random or involved a stranger. He says all they do know for sure is that police were called to a home in the 5900 block of 41st SW around 4:30 am Sunday, that a woman is in the hospital with serious injuries, and that detectives are still working the case. When any additional information become available, we will add to the story.

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West Seattle Crime Watch: Search over, suspect arrested http://westseattleblog.com/2011/04/west-seattle-crime-watch-searching-for-a-suspect/ http://westseattleblog.com/2011/04/west-seattle-crime-watch-searching-for-a-suspect/#comments Fri, 22 Apr 2011 05:31:33 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=70544 ORIGINAL 10: 31 PM REPORT: If you are north of Morgan Junction or in Fairmount Springs, we’re tracking the police search that’s currently under way. We’re not certain about the incident that triggered it but a K-9 unit is involved in the search too. To our knowledge, it hasn’t involved a violent crime, but scanner traffic indicates the search might involve a suspect who is known to police. (No names in the comments, please, in case that turns out only to be speculation.) More details whenever they’re available.

12:57 AM UPDATE: The suspect whose name we heard on the scanner is in jail as of about half an hour ago, according to the King County Jail Register, and the potential charge is listed as fourth-degree assault, domestic violence. The case isn’t in the online court system yet but if it stays in Municipal Court, it’s an official charge, and we’ll report more later this morning. We had been tracking another case involving this suspect – one in which he was due to return to court next week for a status update.

2:40 PM FRIDAY: The suspect, charged in Municipal Court with assault, is Joel Lund. We last reported on him in March, when a judge allowed him out over prosecutors’ objections, after he was charged in connection with an incident involving a stolen catalytic converter. His next hearing in that case had been slated for April 28th; now he’s in jail awaiting arraignment tomorrow in connection with this new charge.

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West Seattle door-to-door alert: Carpet cleaner? http://westseattleblog.com/2010/12/west-seattle-door-to-door-alert-carpet-cleaner/ http://westseattleblog.com/2010/12/west-seattle-door-to-door-alert-carpet-cleaner/#comments Wed, 22 Dec 2010 22:48:00 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=59032 From Kristin, who encountered this solicitor late this morning:

I just had a guy come to my door claiming to want to wash my carpets. When I said no thanks, he wanted to do my floors or upholstery – one room for free. He had no ID, and forgot to ask until after he was gone. He was on foot – no van anywhere in sight. I’m near Graham and 38th.

(He may have been perfectly legit, but we share these alerts just in case.)

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West Seattle Crime Watch: Drive-by BB shooting http://westseattleblog.com/2010/11/west-seattle-crime-watch-drive-by-bb-shooting/ http://westseattleblog.com/2010/11/west-seattle-crime-watch-drive-by-bb-shooting/#comments Mon, 08 Nov 2010 16:32:40 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=54635 Out of the WSB inbox, from a Fairmount Springs resident who doesn’t want to be identified:

I … wanted to let the community know that yesterday, Sunday, 11/7/10, at about 1:45 pm, two youths drove by our home on the 5900 block of Fauntleroy Way [map] and shot a bb gun at our front window, putting a hole through both panes. A neighbor walking by with her young son and was startled by the sudden POP! She noticed the culprits were driving a gray sedan but was unable to get the license plate number. The police have been notified and a case # was assigned. Please comment here if you have any helpful information or if you hear of any similar unfortunate incidents. Thanks very much, and be safe.

The city’s My Neighborhood map, which catalogs many police responses within a few hours, does confirm a case categorized as “property damage” in that block yesterday afternoon; because the classification is so general, it’s impossible to tell at this point whether there were other similar, recent cases, but we’re checking with police – West Seattle has had past cases of serial BB-gun shooters, with people being hit and hurt.

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“Save Lowman Beach”: New legal fund; another meeting planned http://westseattleblog.com/2010/04/save-lowman-beach-overflow-plan-opponent-opens-legal-fund/ http://westseattleblog.com/2010/04/save-lowman-beach-overflow-plan-opponent-opens-legal-fund/#comments Thu, 29 Apr 2010 21:01:54 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=36124 Eight days after a contentious crowd (WSB story here) asked the King County Wastewater Treatment Division to extend the public process in deciding what to build to reduce Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO) at Lowman Beach‘s Murray Pump Station, there’s no indication yet that will happen. So one neighbor has set up a legal fund. Linda Ann Cox e-mailed to announce the fund, saying “I am not convinced that anything will happen unless we can take legal action and MAKE the government stop and listen to the community.” She started the fund with $100, but says they need at least $1,000 to get something going. Community members have voiced displeasure with all three options (detailed here) that the county is evaluating regarding CSO control; all involve underground storage, with some above-ground components: The two least-popular would involve burying a storage tank by either digging up much of Lowman Beach Park, including its tennis court and century-old trees – “restoration” is promised if that is chosen – or forcing residents to leave homes/apartments across the street from the park. Cox says the account is at US Bank and it’s called “Save Lowman Beach Park.” Contributions can be made at US Bank branches or by mailing her a check payable to the fund name, 6523 California Ave SW #228, Seattle, WA 98136. Meantime, we have a message out to KCWTD to ask about the results of their “discussions back at the office” (as explained last week) regarding more public meetings, and will add any update we get here. (Also, the West Seattle Sound Angels website set up by park neighbor Dr. Ron Sterling continues to track community advocacy and information-seeking.) 3:25 PM UPDATE: Just got a call back from KCWTD’s Martha Tuttle. She says there WILL be another community meeting to discuss the data that neighbors have been requesting regarding all the potential CSO-control alternatives, including the ones that were ruled out. No date or location set yet; she says that should be announced next week. FRIDAY MORNING UPDATE: Thanks to Amanda for forwarding e-mail sent by the county to its list for those interested in not only the Murray CSO project but also Barton (by the Fauntleroy ferry dock) and two others in the north end – the public comment period has been extended to May 14. The comment form is here.

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West Seattle Crime Watch: Success story, plus two alerts http://westseattleblog.com/2009/12/west-seattle-crime-watch-success-story-plus-two-alerts/ http://westseattleblog.com/2009/12/west-seattle-crime-watch-success-story-plus-two-alerts/#comments Tue, 01 Dec 2009 09:39:36 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/blog/?p=22775 Three reports to share this time – first one’s a case of watchful neighbors getting a suspect off the street:

Fairmount Springs coalition of Block Watchers (about a hundred on our list) had a success story last week by reporting a local known problem person who had no reason to be in the neighborhood. The ever-vigilant block watch captain on 41st confronted (the man), who had a very dumb reason to be in the neighborhood (Thanksgiving at a vacant house) and reported him to the police. Thanks to SPD, they showed up and arrested (the man), who is now in jail on numerous charges. This guy has been seen lurking in yards and slowly driving his red Merc down alleys in our neighborhood and is suspected of being the source of some local crime.

According to King County Jail Register records, this is the fifth time this year the man’s been in jail – this arrest came just three weeks after his most recent release. He’s being held for alleged failure to appear to face previous charges, including harassment, trespassing and pot possession. Meantime, we have two more reports to share – a car break-in, and suspected casing – those two reports, just ahead:

From “Concerned Neighbor” in Westwood:

I just wanted to alert people living in the area of Thistle and 31st and 32nd (map) of possible people casing the neighborhood. We noticed three men who kept circling our neighborhood separately in different directions. They would meet up every once and a while and talk briefly and then walk in a different direction. It was very suspicious. They were obviously not out for a afternoon stroll. I just noticed one of the men again this morning at the bus stop on Thistle and 31st. He was staring at the houses and then took off. I called the non-emergency line and warned my neighbors to keep a look out. Hope I’m just being paranoid, but it seemed very strange. All of the men are white. The first one is tall and heavier, either bald or with very short hair. He was wearing a gray sweatshirt and smoking a cigarette. The second one is shorter with dark hair. The third one was also shorter and younger. He was wearing a hat and walking a pit bull puppy. Keep a look out for suspicious behavior if you see these men.

From another Westwood resident, in the 9000 block of 21st SW (map):

Sometime last night, 11/30, my son’s car was broken into. His car is parked in our Driveway. It appears that the thieves went thru his car looking for any valuables. They took about $15 worth of change and fortunately left the car without any other damage. The car may have been left unlocked and that is why the alarm did not go off. We have an established block watch also. I will be notifying my neighbors of the incident. I just want everyone in the area to be aware, unfortunately, the Holiday season may bring more desperate people and desperate acts.

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West Seattle Crime Watch: Fairmount Springs fights back http://westseattleblog.com/2009/10/west-seattle-crime-watch-fairmount-springs-fights-back/ http://westseattleblog.com/2009/10/west-seattle-crime-watch-fairmount-springs-fights-back/#comments Tue, 20 Oct 2009 19:05:41 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/blog/?p=21690 More than 60 people gathered at West Seattle Church of the Nazarene last night to brainstorm, commiserate, and most of all, prepare to fight back against burglaries and car prowls in the greater Fairmount Springs neighborhood – neighborhood organizer and e-mail-list-keeper Paul says his list, approaching 200 members, has grown to include folks in a wide area between The Junction and Morgan Junction. We reported last night on a side discussion at the meeting – how to handle door-to-door solicitors. Now, the main discussion: what can be done to deter crime. Some of it, you’ve heard before; some of it, maybe not. Read on:

The neighbor who facilitated the meeting opened with: “We are all here because we are worried” – but worry shouldn’t translate into paralysis – and clearly wasn’t going to, with these determined neighbors.

Community Police Team Officer Ken Mazzuca was there, along with deputy city attorney Beth Gappert. But the meeting was neighbor-led. Early on, there was a discussion of street lighting, which is all but nonexistent in some of the nearby neighborhoods. Mazzuca offered that while burglars prefer to hit empty residences during the daytime, for the best nighttime protection, “I like lighting where people are able to see the home” – rather than flooding the street – “your neighbors are the ones who will see something and allow someone to see the house, see the property. If you add lighting to your home, go out in the street and look at what you can see. If you can’t see it, your neighbors won’t see it. Same goes for shrubbery … if I can get behind a great big bush, and there’s a window, I can (break in) without being seen.”

The officer was asked if he had statistics regarding whether the neighborhood’s perception of higher-than-elsewhere property crime was accurate. Short answer: No statistics handy. (WSB side note – tonight’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting should include the latest trends for the greater West Seattle area.)

Regarding car theft: Where one car is stolen, another is often found, as thieves often drive one car till it runs out of gas or has another problem, and then hop right over to stel another one. “That’s why they are found all over the place,” Officer Mazzuca noted.

Regarding information to give police: The more specifics, the better – this reminder came from neighbors as well as the officer – not just when you are reporting something that is happening now or just happened, but also when reporting something that you see on a recurring basis; in addition to a description of the person, exactly what you’ve seen them do, where, and how, can make a difference.

Regarding self-defense: How far can you go in defense of your property? “You have to make the decision whether you feel threatened” with bodily harm – but in general, you should keep in mind that if you hurt someone who may not have directly threatened you with violence, you might be prosecuted; Gappert brought up the case of a man who recently pleaded guilty to manslaughter for shooting and killing a car prowler.

Neighbor-to-neighbor advice: Get out and walk around. Know the people who live near you. Know what is routine to see in your neighborhood, and what’s not. And if you see someone you’ve never seen before, talking to them (“hi! where are you going?”) might be a deterrent if they are up to no good – or at the very least an icebreaker for a legitimate visitor or new arrival. Most of those in the room indicated during a show of hands that they belong to Block Watches, but they were reminded that those are tools that only work as well as they are used – keep the list of other Block Watch members’ contact information someplace handy, so that if you need to get the word out fast, you can find the names and numbers.

Car prowls: The time-tested advice was repeated – make sure you’re not leaving anything of value in your car. “If I took my flashlight out there right now and looked into cars, what would I see?” Officer Mazzuca asked. “Just take the stuff out of your car – take the opportunity away.” Are car alarms a deterrent? he was asked. Certainly can be, the officer replied.

Abandoned buildings: An empty building along California SW south of The Junction was brought up – vacant since the site went into foreclosure when a development proposal stalled. Officer Mazzuca said he was surprised to hear that transients and drug users had apparently returned to the building, which was at one point scheduled for demolition; two area residents said they had boarded it up repeatedly, but the barriers were in turn repeatedly kicked in and removed, and they’ve found hypodermic needles strewn all around the property. Mazzuca and Gappert both urged that complaints be filed with the Department of Planning and Development, which requires property owners to secure vacant buildings – the online complaint form is here. They also warned residents to avoid direct confrontation with those who are using the building illegally: “Never do anything that’s going to put your safety in jeopardy.”

Calling 911 vs. the non-emergency number (206-625-5011): Officer Mazzuca repeated the advice you’ve read here time and time again – “If you think it MIGHT be worth calling 911, go ahead and call … it’s the same dispatcher who answers, and they will prioritize your call.” Call loads vary, and sometimes, he acknowledged, you will get a fast response to a relatively minor incident, while sometimes you will get a slower response to something bigger. What if you don’t feel like the dispatcher is responding to you appropriately? There’s advice in this report we published after an “all about 911″ briefing at the WSCPC earlier this year.

Neighbors concluded the meeting with a promise of watchfulness and talk of organized neighborhood walking patrols. One more reminder – whichever West Seattle neighborhood is yours, the newest crime-trend information – is available tonight at the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council‘s monthly meeting, 7 pm, Southwest Precinct. If you’d like information on setting up a Block Watch, or other ways to prevent crime, here’s how to reach the Southwest Precinct’s Crime Prevention Coordinator Benjamin Kinlow.

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West Seattle city attorney rep: Ready to fight illegal solicitors http://westseattleblog.com/2009/10/west-seattle-city-attorney-rep-ready-to-fight-illegal-solicitors/ http://westseattleblog.com/2009/10/west-seattle-city-attorney-rep-ready-to-fight-illegal-solicitors/#comments Tue, 20 Oct 2009 04:58:11 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/blog/?p=21677 Just back from a meeting tonight involving neighbors banding together to fight crime – not a regularly scheduled meeting, but one called by the Fairmount Springs neighborhood, and held at West Seattle Church of the Nazarene (42nd/Juneau). We’ll publish a separate story about crimefighting tips and questions, including answers by Block Watch leaders as well as Community Police Team Officer Ken Mazzuca, but first a short story with a separate topic that came up – always a hot topic here: Door-to-door solicitors. When a meeting attendee asked, “So what’s legal?” deputy city attorney Beth Gappert, who is liaison to the Southwest Precinct and therefore based here in West Seattle, jumped up.

“Residential selling IS legal,” she began, but then went on to very clearly explain the rules that we’ve linked to here, time and time again, though without quite as vivid an explanation. “The company that’s selling is required to have a license. Each employee must have a residential agent’s license. It must be displayed prominently on their clothing. And each employee must have a copy of the company’s business license.”

Sounds easy enough, but Gappert went on to say that she’s checked the records and “only about half a dozen businesses have residential sellers’ licenses in the city – so the vast majority of sellers do NOT have licenses.” That means they’re operating illegally – as is the case if a solicitor of any kind knocks on a door despite a “no soliciting” sign – and, she added, “It is illegal if you ask them to leave and they refuse.” If ANY of those circumstances happen, Gappert stressed – with Officer Mazzuca at her side – “I highly encourage people to call the police over this issue. We know this precinct is going crazy over solicitors. I see the reports. I read about it on (WSB). … Make a report, be willing to testify, so we can prosecute. … Officers in this area are ready to go after them.”

Still got questions/concerns? Come to tomorrow night’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting — Gappert is almost always there, as are CPT officers and leaders — 7 pm Tuesday, Southwest Precinct (Delridge/Webster). Meantime, watch for our second story from the meeting, with advice from the police, and neighbor-to-neighbor, on fighting and deterring the crimes we hear about the most these days – burglaries and car prowls.

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