West Seattle, Washington
Highland Park’s Find It, Fix It Walk is now a week and a half away – the evening of Thursday, May 25th – but there’s a lot left to plan, and Tuesday’s your chance to help do that. Just be at Highland Park Elementary (1012 SW Trenton), 6:30 pm (May 16th). The walk’s start time and route still have to be set, and while there’s already a long list of potential topics, it’s not too late to add your idea, and help shape which stops/topics are chosen. The proposed starting spots for the FIFI Walk, for example, are either Riverview Playfield or Highland Park Improvement Club, and this post on the Highland Park Action Committee website lists the potential stops/topics discussed so far.
So far, it looks like the city does not plan any immediate action about the new, unauthorized RV camp in east West Seattle. We checked back there late today, one day after getting word it was setting up on vacant state-owned land toward the east end of the original 2008 “Nickelsville” encampment site, off 2nd SW between West Marginal Way SW and Highland Park Way SW. We were told five more RVs had arrived today, bringing the total there to about 15, and that some government entity had dropped off trash bags for them to use. Their status, they said, remains unclear.
This morning, we had updated our original story with information from Julie Moore, a spokesperson for the city’s homelessness-related efforts. She had told us the Navigation Team was out at the site assessing the situation. This afternoon, she reiterated that the city had not directed campers there, and that it’s a site WSDOT intends to use this summer as “the staging area for the critical I-5 resurfacing project.” She also reiterated that if any of these RVs’ owners were told to move, it was a parking-enforcement issue, not a camp sweep.
That said, Moore added:
While the site is not authorized for camping, nor is it an appropriate place to do so due to WSDOT’s use and activity there, the City prioritizes encampment removals based on several issues, including health and safety. The City has been focusing its efforts on mitigating the most hazardous encampments, particularly those:
Where individuals are sleeping outside in tents.
In locations that are physically unsafe for the individual or surrounding community (e.g., along busy roads, ledges, sidewalks).
That have become so large that trash, hazardous structures and negative behavior become too problematic.
Where there is a public health threat to the campers or surrounding community.
With those priorities in mind, the City is spending the next two weeks focusing on addressing the extensive illegal encampments along I-90/Rainier Avenue/Dearborn Street. More on those efforts, including the outreach efforts underway since May 1, can be found (here).
While a WSDOT rep was looped into our e-mail exchange with Moore, we have no direct comment from the state yet on whether they will allow the vehicle campers to stay on the site. We did ask a camper how they entered it; they said the chain-link fencing at the entrance was not locked, and had numerous openings. Both the state- and city-owned sections of the site were ringed with chain-link fencing after the last encampment there was evicted in 2013.
(If you can’t spare 3 minutes, the stop-sign-running is particularly prolific in the final minute-plus)
That video was recorded in November at 17th SW and SW Trenton by area resident Darryll Wolf. He sent it to various city reps then – and sent it again yesterday, after a close call. This time, we were on the CC list. His e-mail:
Dear SDOT, SPD, and Councilmember Herbold,
(Thursday) morning, as I was running to catch the bus to work at 7:53 am, a driver accelerated into and through the intersection at SW Trenton Street and 17th Ave SW, refusing to stop at the stop sign while I was in the lane! She did this as I was in front of her car, forcing me to run backward to avoid being hit. I’ve reported rampant violations at this intersection before and was even hit by one car (hit and run) and nearly hit by several others in the past several months. I shared this 3-minute video in this same email thread in November showing fully 85% of drivers fail to stop or yield right of way at this clearly signed intersection.
The incident this morning felt like a deliberate attempt by the driver to threaten or injure me with her car. I am very worried about my own safety as well as the safety of my family and neighbors who live, work, and play along the 17th Ave SW greenway.
In 2016, the Seattle Greenways project team created this new sanctioned pedestrian and bicycle greenway on 17th Ave SW north of SW Henderson Street and then placed stop signs at each of the east-west intersections along the greenway where no stop signs had ever existed for likely near 100 years. But they and SDOT failed to do any awareness campaign or enforcement follow-up to ensure the safety of those who use the greenway. I am disappointed that after having reported the frequent violations and one known hit and run at 17th and Trenton in the past few months to SPD, CPT, and the Greenways project team, we have only seen about an hour of SPD enforcement at this intersection with no ticketing for violations, and the Greenways team and SDOT have been a complete no-show here.
I have been documenting the continued pattern of violations at the 17th and Trenton intersection since last November and will continue to report this problem to SPD. I have reported similar incidents of speeding and aggressive or threatening driving through school crossing zones, and the general failure to yield to pedestrians along 16th Ave SW, and along SW Trenton Street from Delridge to 16th Ave SW. But I have seen zero SPD presence in those areas during rush hour and have never seen a single person ticketed for this blatant and common recklessness.
As the increased densification under HALA upzoning increase car, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic in our area, it is my hope that SPD, SDOT, and the City will take this seriously and do real traffic calming, enforcement, and ticketing before we see people killed by reckless drivers. Throughout the area from 16th Ave SW to SW Delridge, between Holden and Roxbury, there are many children and public transit users who are vulnerable to death and disfigurement by reckless drivers every day. And these drivers must be shown that traffic laws are not optional and that drivers cannot threaten and maim pedstrians with their cars with impunity. We need your help to send this message!
I look forward to hearing from SPD, CPT, SDOT, and the City in the near term on how each of you plan to address this very real public safety issue in our area. I am happy to discuss this in person or over a phone call if it will result in quick action.
From the list to whom Wolff sent the video, the first response (at least, the first to the entire CC list including us) was from Councilmember Herbold:
I watched your video and I’m aghast that of a dozen cars going through that intersection over the 3 minutes you filmed, only two cars made a complete stop at the stop sign. By the way of this message, I’m asking that Chief Davis consider an enforcement at this intersection. Thank you for your advocacy on behalf of pedestrian safety.
As mentioned here Thursday morning, SPD’s Traffic Unit chief, Capt. Eric Sano, is the scheduled guest for the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council next Tuesday (7 pm May 16th), so if you have neighborhood concerns, it’s a good time to bring them up.
FIRST REPORT, 5:53 PM THURSDAY: Just yards from where the city almost set up an “RV safe lot” last year before scrapping the idea, an unofficial RV camp is taking shape right now. We just visited the site on the east end of the land twice inhabited by the tent camp that called itself “Nickelsville,” after finding out about the RVs’ move via e-mail sent to us and other media outlets. That e-mail said that the RVs headed this way after “Seattle Police provided a 3-day notice to random RVs [in industrial areas of SODO] that their RVs and vehicles – and personal belongings inside them – would be towed and impounded today, 5/11/17.”
The site is state-owned; we counted about 10 RVs during our short visit to find out what was happening. A camper named Rebecca told us more are expected, and that police and state troopers were at the site earlier. The vehicles are parked just inside a gate off 2nd Avenue SW, between Highland Park Way SW and W. Marginal Way SW (south of the marker on this map).
The city’s proposed “safe lot” – a plan officially scrapped in March 2016 – would have been to the west along West Marginal, on a paved lot adjacent to the city-owned encampment site that was cleared three years ago. The announcement of the new unofficial camp notes, “The City of Seattle’s 2016 plan to assist homeless people living in RVs has largely been abandoned. This is an independent effort to find a safe site.” We won’t be able to find out anything from SPD or WSP until tomorrow.
ADDED 9:18 AM FRIDAY: We just heard back from Julie Moore, spokesperson for the city’s homelessness-related efforts. She tells WSB: “The City did not direct people to this site.” They first heard yesterday that “an unauthorized encampment had set up at that property.” She also says that regarding RV campers allegedly being chased there from SODO, “There was no encampment cleanup effort going on in SoDo this week. Any notices about RVs needing to move would have come from SPD parking enforcement.” Meantime, the Navigation Team is “visiting the site to assess the situation this morning.” It’s “not appropriate for camping,” she added, because “it will soon be used for staging for critical I-5 construction work this summer.”
Thanks for the tips. We just checked out what was reported as a sizable police response in Highland Park, near 12th and Thistle. It’s wrapping up; responders at the scene tell us it involved a “person in crisis.” No injuries, we’re told.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
First, Delridge in 2015 …
Then, Roxhill/Westwood in 2016 …
Next, Highland Park in 2017.
Though it was semi-announced in early February, the date wasn’t set until very recently: Thursday, May 25th. The start time and route are not set yet. Those will be discussed at a series of meetings starting next week, according to two city/AmeriCorps reps who coordinate the Find It, Fix It Walks. Lemmis Stephens and Paige Madden came to HPAC’s meeting to talk about preparations for the event, starting with a public planning meeting next week. And they got an earful of skepticism and concerns, much along the lines of – “so, we find it, AND we then have to fix it?” from people who already spend much of their time volunteering for community-improvement projectsRead More
8:12 PM: Seattle Fire and Police are on their way to a crash reported to have injured a motorcycle rider in the 900 block of SW Holden, west of Highland Park Way [map]. Dispatch radio indicates this was reported as a hit-run with a driver having left the scene. More as we get it.
8:17 PM: The crash is now described as closer to 11th SW/Holden, blocking eastbound Holden in that area, and a private ambulance is being dispatched, suggesting non-life-threatening injuries.
8:29 PM: Police at the scene confirm that the rider, described only as male, is being taken to the hospital by an AMR ambulance, and that they are looking for a hit-run driver in connection with the crash. No description so far.
Thanks for the texted tip: A man was taken to the hospital after that crash at 13th SW and SW Henderson in Highland Park. Police say he is the driver of the black car and suffered injuries including a broken leg after crashing into the parked RV on the north side of SW Henderson. The cause remains under investigation; the weather is rainy as well as windy and was a full-on downpour while we were at the scene.
While the transformation of Metro Route 120 into the RapidRide H Line is three years away, major decisions are being made now, and this is the time to bring up concerns to SDOT and Metro, both leading the project because city dollars are helping pay for it. Since the new planning phase revved up last month, the West Seattle Transportation Coalition (WSB coverage here) and Delridge Neighborhoods District Council (WSB coverage here) have hosted discussions/briefings. And this week, it’s the centerpiece of the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council agenda (6:15 pm Tuesday, Southwest Library). The WWRHAH agenda says the discussion with SDOT/Metro reps will include “mobility issues surrounding the Westwood Village ‘transit hub’ and the Westwood/Highland Park Urban Village.” All are welcome; the library’s on the southeast corner of 35th SW and SW Henderson.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Riverview Playfield needs some TLC – including repairs for a restroom damaged by fire last year, the Highland Park Action Committee agreed last night, during a meeting that spanned a wide range of neighborhood concerns:
RIVERVIEW TLC AND FIRE REPAIRS: With improvements completed and under way at Westcrest Park and Highland Park, HPAC talked about supporting some attention for Riverview Playfield. Its then-three-year-old restroom/storage building was set on fire last June and still hasn’t been fixed; HPIC member Craig Rankin reported contacting Seattle Parks recently to ask about that and being told that staff is working on an estimate so it can be added to an “asset list” to be handled sometime in 2018-2023.
The fields are popular for sports, including being the home of West Seattle Baseball, so potential revenue loss for the city was discussed. HPAC hopes to have this and other Riverview needs on the list of stops for the Highland Park “Find It, Fix It Walk“ later this year.
Speaking of which …
WAITING TO FIND OUT ABOUT ‘FIND IT, FIX IT’: The plan to have one in HP was announced by a city rep almost two months ago at a community meeting about the sanctioned encampment on Myers Way. But there’s been no word of the date or of the start of a planning process.
So HPAC’s going to start talking about where they want to go on the walk and what they want to see accomplished. Besides Riverview, the Highland Park Way/Holden intersection – for which locals have long been trying to get safety upgrades – will be a prime spot to visit.
Speaking of the encampment …
COMMUNITY ADVISORY COUNCIL FOR CAMP SECOND CHANCE: HPAC chair Gunner Scott asked if anyone would be able to represent HPAC on this newly formed group, part of the deal for the city sanctioning of the encampment. Scott noted that some of the services that they’ve requested for the camp and vicinity – lighting, Dumpster, etc. – are showing up (we recently reported the lighting installation). HPAC members also talked about getting solicited to join some of the regional groups that have sprung up to campaign against camps, and while HPAC has concerns about the city’s policies and plans, they’re skeptical of the groups’ motives and memberships and not planning to join.
YOUR VOICE, YOUR CHOICE: Also on the community-advisory front, this ongoing new city process for vetting potential street/park grant projects was the subject of a discussion similar to the one at the Admiral Neighborhood Association last week – that the process as it is now is not nearly as effective and thorough as the old one done through district councils, where presentations of projects for review would include information from neighborhood residents who know the area. Scott had been to one of the “project development” meetings where he said people were asking each other, do you know this area? Is this something that’s needed?
It was also noted that $285,000 per council district seems to be less than was allocated before – “$2.85 per person,” as one attendee noted, since West Seattle has ~100,000. Also, chair Scott noted, the grant process has been under way for so many years, there should be an existing list of needs “instead of making us go through this crazy process.” And Scott noted that all the complaints about district councils not reaching out to enough people don’t seem to have been acted on by the city – and now they’ve turned what was a two-meeting process into a four-meetings-and-more process. One person said it was great that there were so many ideas from West Seattle – more than 200 (as reported here).
HPAC is considering sending a letter with the suggestion that basic needs be addressed in the future before another round of new ideas is solicited. Another suggestion was that proposals, especially those made repeatedly, exist in “living documents” within the city somewhere so there can be reference – “since this was first proposed in 1986, the population has tripled” type of information. One person said that it’s frustrating to see projects get requested year after year, but some projects not requested turn up seemingly overnight.
HPAC leadership will talk more about the issue. Co-chair Michele Witzki suggested getting a rep from Feet First to come talk with the group so they can learn more about effective advocacy.
CRIME UPDATES: Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Ron Smith presented the latest info as the meeting began: Auto theft is up, car prowls are down. Property crimes overall are down a third.
This week’s Seaview package-theft arrest was a springboard for a discussion of how security cameras really help police. Lt. Smith said, “The quality is so good – it’s amazing. For each car prowler or package thief we arrest, they’re good for many, many more.”
Would the precinct consider offering training on security-camera use and best practices? Lt. Smith will look into it. Maybe, he said, that could be a project for former intern Jennifer Burbridge, who he said has been hired as a full-time crime analyst – the first time the Southwest Precinct has had one.
A few more minutes of discussion with Lt. Smith touched on derelict properties, trespass agreements, and how to complain to the city. One attendee said it’s clear the rules/laws have to change – and that it’s time for citizens to apply pressure on that.
NEW LOOK FOR HPAC: Chair Scott had big props for artist Dina Lydia of digital-genie.com, who designed the new logo for the group (and took the photo below featuring the logo with, from left, Witzki, Scott, HPIC’s Christie Sjostrom, and Rankin):
HPAC will also be sending postcards to more than 2,000 people in the Highland Park area to let them know. They hope, among other things, to reduce community confusion between HPAC and HPIC (which is a community group too but not a community council – as the latter, HPAC addresses issues and takes action on them).
EVENTS AHEAD: HPAC hopes to have a neighborhood cleanup/barbecue this summer … HPIC events ahead include Corner Bar on April 7, Art Lounge on April 14, and the annual Uncorked benefit on May 20th – tickets will go on sale April 7th … watch for more info at hpic1919.org.
Highland Park Action Committee meets fourth Wednesdays most months, 7 pm, at Highland Park Improvement Club (12th/Holden).
That’s our video from the “grand entrance” during last year’s Niksokowaaks Community Pow-Wow at Highland Park Elementary. Organizers of this year’s Pow-Wow are inviting you, your neighbors, and everyone in the community to join them this year: “There will be incredible dancing, beautiful arts and crafts from vendors all over the United States, delicious food, and drumming.” It’s happening 6-10 pm Friday inside HPE, 1012 SW Trenton. Its main goal, organizers add, is to “help support the Native youth” in the community, especially in deepening their connection with Native culture, and to bring everyone together “to share in this celebration.” Here’s the flyer with more info.
Sometimes what sounds like gunfire turns out to be fireworks – or something else – unless evidence is found, such as casings and/or property damage. What you see above is evidence. A neighbor shared the photo and this report from Highland Park:
Last night at around 9:45 pm, we heard load gunshots near our house on 10th and Elmgrove [map] and a car speeding away. We called 911 as did some of our neighbors. This morning my husband found bullet casings in the intersection, underneath the 10th and Elmgrove sign. He called the police again; they came out, collected the bullets, and took his statement.
We are feeling very rattled today. Even though we live near some dangerous spots like 16th and Holden, we’ve never had gunshots this close to our home. This street (10th Ave SW) is home to lots of kids and Highland Park Elementary.
If you saw something related to this and haven’t reported it – you can call police at 206-625-5011 and refer to incident 17-097562. And if you hear what you think is gunfire anywhere, even if you’re not sure where it’s coming from, call 911 to report it ASAP – the more calls they get, the better the chances of finding evidence, a suspect, and/or … if there is one … a victim. (Consider then letting us know for Crime Watch, as this neighbor did.)
P.S. SPD’s SeaStat data reviews track “shots fired” around the city to look for trends; the last page of this slide deck from the most-recent briefing shows that confirmed gunfire incidents are up slightly citywide so far this year, compared to last.
Concord International School is in South Park, but serves part of West Seattle too. And you can stay right here in WS next Saturday night to be part of its benefit dinner/auction supporting what Lesley, who e-mailed us about it, describes as a “very small PTA who supports an incredibly diverse, predominantly low-income population.” She adds that besides reaching out to help Concord’s students and teachers, reasons for you to go include “some awesome stuff to bid on and a delicious dinner.” The party’s at Highland Park Improvement Club (12th SW/SW Holden), 7 pm Saturday. You can buy a ticket right now by going here – only $20/person, $35 couple.
11:36 AM: That’s Gov. Jay Inslee reading a letter from first-graders at Highland Park Elementary during his visit this morning. They asked if he would consider more money for their school because they need it for afterschool programs, playground equipment, and supplies including pencils. “Can you please think about it and get back to us?” they concluded. The governor was there to talk about education funding, as well as to tour the school:
We got a few minutes to speak with the governor; among other things, he says he expects to sign the “levy cliff” bill – which will alleviate some of the current public-education-funding crisis – within a few days, as soon as it arrives on his desk. We’ll be adding to this story later, including video and more photos.
ADDED MONDAY EVENING: The governor spoke with students, including a sort of quick quiz on civics:
He looked in on what they were working on:
And he read from a book he and Trudi wrote and illustrated for their grandchildren:
Then a few minutes were set aside to talk with reporters – our photographer and two TV crews.
The governor said he expects the school-funding situation to be resolved this year. And he said it’s vital for kids like the students at Highland Park – many of whom need extra support at school because of trauma in their lives outside school: “These kids deserve schools that function.”
3:50 PM: Avoid Highland Park Way hill (between West Marginal Way SW and SW Holden) for a while – we have multiple reports (thank you!) of at least one tree down across part of the road. Heading out for a look and will update.
3:58 PM: More messages, and the scanner, confirm that the road is currently fully closed northbound (downhill).
4:22 PM: Added a reader photo, which confirms, in case you wondered, this is NOT the same spot as last month’s slide – it’s on the south side of the road, just southwest of SW Othello. The slide was on the northeast side of the road.
6:12 PM: SDOT says Highland Park Way has fully reopened.
(March 2014 WSB photo: Governor Inslee walking to school with West Seattle Elementary students)
That photo is from almost exactly three years ago, when Governor Jay Inslee visited West Seattle Elementary in High Point, after walking there with students. Now, he’s planning to visit another public school in our area – Highland Park Elementary, on Monday. We’ve confirmed it with the governor’s office, and also just received a news release from the Washington Education Association, from which this is excerpted:
Gov. Jay Inslee is visiting Highland Park Elementary in Seattle Monday to visit classrooms and discuss his K-12 funding proposal with Seattle educators. …
… “Quality public education is a fundamental right for all students that is enshrined in our state constitution. My budget is the only one that fully funds education, which is not only required by the McCleary decision but is the right thing to do for all students,” Gov. Inslee said. “I am meeting with educators in Seattle for a conversation about student needs and how we can work together to improve education for every child from every background and every ZIP code.”
In addition to visiting classrooms, Gov. Inslee will meet separately with educators at the school to discuss the Supreme Court’s McCleary school funding decision and how state funding affects them and their students.
The Governor’s funding plan makes a major investment in K-12 public schools, including reducing K-3 class sizes further, starting with high-poverty schools such as Highland Park. …
We’ll be there to cover the governor’s visit.
Seattle City Light has just gone public with its next round of locations for utility-pole replacements, in Gatewood, Upper Fauntleroy, Highland Park, and Burien. Embedded above (and also available on the SCL website) are five 2-page flyers for different areas, each one with its own map(s) – note that what you see above is the first of FOUR map pages, one every other page, so be sure to scroll through or check the SCL website directly; below, the announcement from SCL:
Starting in mid-to-late March 2017, Seattle City Light’s contractor, Magnum Power LLC, will be replacing aging utility poles in parts of its service territory. This project will enhance electrical reliability by replacing older poles in the system. The installation of new poles, wire and equipment relocation is an important investment in infrastructure.
Crews will be working in the following areas:
· SW Elmgrove St to SW Sullivan St (east of California Ave SW)
· SW Holden St to SW Southern St (west of 35th Ave SW)
· SW Thistle Street to SW Henderson St (west of 35th Ave SW)
· SW Kenyon St to SW Trenton St (east of Delridge Way SW)
· SW 122nd St to SW 126th St (west of 1st Ave S)
Highlights from the project:
· The entire project is anticipated for completion by the end of 2017. Daily work hours are from Monday through Thursday, 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Crews may be working in other areas before transitioning to these construction areas.
· The new poles will be placed alongside pre-existing poles. They will meet standard heights and widths required for overhead power line construction. This may mean that poles in your area will be slightly taller and approximately two inches wider than existing poles.
· Once the electrical equipment is relocated, it may take several months before the other companies with utilities on the existing poles make their transfer(s). We will continue to monitor/coordinate these efforts as needed to facilitate the removal of old poles.
For more information, customers can contact:
· Percy Schlimm, Sr. Electrical Service Representative at email@example.com or (206) 386-1735.
· Kevin Knutz, Magnum Power Project Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org or (360) 904-8318.
SCL says that if you’re affected, you’ll be getting all this information directly, too. (This round includes our area of Upper Fauntleroy, we notice, so we’ll be watching to see when the direct customer communication arrives.)
ADDED NOON WEDNESDAY: For the record, our notice arrived via postal mail this morning.
Dutchboy Coffee proprietor Jenni Watkins is looking for artists interested in a new monthly show and sale she’s planning at her stand in Highland Park:
Every month Dutchboy Coffee will be hosting an art show.
Novice artists or people that want to share their talent: 75% of sales will go to the artist and 25% to the charity of the artist’s choice.
First show: Saturday 4/1 from 7-9 at the Dutchboy coffee stand, 1513 SW Holden St.
It’s a small stand, so it’ll be a cozy show – if you’re interested in participating, please e-mail photos of your work to email@example.com.
1:45 PM: Just one block south of the problematic Highland Park Way/Holden intersection, an emergency response is on the way right now to HP Way/Portland [map]. The initial report is that a driver hit a child. We don’t know yet whether those involved were crossing HP Way or Portland, but we have a crew on the way to find out more.
2:04 PM: Police tell our crew that the child apparently “ran into the street” midblock between Portland and Holden, and the driver couldn’t stop in time to avoid hitting the boy, whose age is believed to be in the 10-12 vicinity. No serious injury – he is being taken to Children’s Hospital by private ambulance to be checked out.
Toplines from last night’s Highland Park Action Committee meeting:
POLICE UPDATE: Highland Park has had one more residential burglary than at this time last year, said Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Ron Smith. Commercial burglaries are the same, larceny (theft) is down slightly. The biggest news: Car prowls are down 57 percent – 18 to date this year compared to 42 to date last year. Auto theft, though, has doubled – 11 compared to 6 at this time last year. Total property crime, down a third. Six “shots fired” calls in Highland Park and vicinity so far this year – “tangible evidence” is required for the classification, property damage and/or casings found. Four of the six calls in HP were in the very early morning on Sundays; there’s no pattern in terms of where they’re happening, nor any clear suspect/vehicle descriptions.
Asked about homelessness and related issues, Lt. Smith mentioned a house where a squatter had set up generators that’s “about to be addressed,” and said they now have trespass agreements with owners of more than 40 properties, meaning police have authority to clear out trespassers rather than having to get incident-by-incident authorization from property owners.
Also, the new SPD “navigation team” will be directed to two areas, likely the unauthorized encampment along Spokane Street under the east end of the West Seattle Bridge and part of the Myers Way greenbelt. Local police recently helped a family of five who is without a home because the parents are having trouble finding work.
He also mentioned some of the resources detailed at the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council one night earlier – the new bike squad, and the “0-9 car.”
And in discussion, asked about the revolving door for certain types of repeat offenders, Lt. Smith says there’s dawning awareness among lawmakers that maybe car prowling, for example, should be a felony, rather than a misdemeanor.
NEIGHBORHOOD PARK & STREET FUND MORPHS INTO ‘YOUR VOICE, YOUR CHOICE’: Jenny Frankl from the Department of Neighborhoods was at HPAC to talk about this new “participatory budgeting” process for proposing and deciding on projects that used to be funded by what was known as the Neighborhood Park and Street Fund. It’s $2 million – same as last year – allocated across the seven City Council districts. We have reported on this before – here and here. More than 500 ideas have come in citywide, 100+ of them from West Seattle, as the “idea collection” phase continues through February 26. (Go here to see what’s been suggested citywide so far.)
What’s new: Once the “idea collection” phase closes, the next step is to review ideas, and public participation is urged, with four meetings set in West Seattle to look at local ideas – March 9th, 13th, 21st, 30th – “it’s designed so you could come to one, or more than one,” Frankl explained. (You can find the specifics via the calendar on the city website – look for the meetings whose title starts with D1.)
Is this a format that will be used for years to come? an attendee asked. “We’re very much figuring this out as we go,” said Frankl, urging both participation and patience.
HPAC chair Gunner Scott voiced concern that the change in the process – to City Council districts (of which West Seattle is part of one) instead of neighborhood districts (of which West Seattle has two, roughly divided between east and west) – will have a less equitable result, without memory and relationships involved.
“I think this is going to be less about who got what last year, who got what two years ago, and more looking at, how far behind is (a neighborhood),” Frankl suggested, while again reiterating that this is a work in progress.
“So, $285,000 for all of West Seattle, if you’re going to use that lens – will you be looking at, say, we’re going to put more into Highland Park because Alki Beach has had more improvements, for example?” Scott – whose career involves dealing with grants – pressed.
“That’s going to be part of it,” Frankl replied.
“Does the voting process go to all of West Seattle, or just those participating, or …?” asked Kim Barnes.
Frankl replied that it would be mostly online voting – some paper ballots too, but not made available via postal mail. Barnes voiced concern that the voting process would be an equity issue. Others pointed out that Highland Park has no central gathering place where tabling could be done for voting.
As concerns continued swirling, Frankl repeated that “we’re going to learn a lot through this process – we’re working through a lot of kinks,” and added that rather than logistics of voting, she’s most concerned about what’s going to get onto the ballots.
Scott also asked if there will be a public report on how this went, compared to previous years. Yes, there will be, but she doesn’t know when – likely July/August after voting is done and projects “have moved forward,” Frankl said.
Pointed observation from one attendee: “They got rid of the district council system saying only privileged people could come to meetings, and now you’re saying that coming to meetings is the best way to advance your project?”
Another gently pointed out that Frankl didn’t make that decision and shouldn’t be grilled about it.
Shortly thereafter, she was asked about the Community Involvement Commission, also part of what the city is implementing after cutting ties with neighborhood-district councils. She isn’t working directly with that program, she noted, but tried to field some general questions. Read more about the CIC here, and if you’re interested, apply ASAP.
P.S. (added early Friday) If you’d like to add suggestions for parks/streets, here’s the link.
HPAC GRANT: The organization got a $7,000 grant that’s being used for expenses including rental fees for meeting location Highland Park Improvement Club and upgrading the wireless internet system at HPIC so meetings can be streamed, and other ideas are being sought. (Some suggested at the meeting included having a big party, having a community cleanup, designing and making new “Welcome to Highland Park” signs.) Watch for an online survey.
HPAC LEADERSHIP: The meeting also included board elections. Scott and current co-vice-chair Michele Witzki ran as a team to serve as co-chairs. Priorities, they said before the vote, would include seeking resources to help mitigate the hosting of another encampment, plus pushing to fix Highland Park Way’s safety issues, including pedestrian infrastructure. Craig Rankin, current co-vice-chair, ran for vice chair, and noted that one of his most intense interests is parks. No one was nominated (self- or otherwise) to serve as secretary. Michelle Glassley, current treasurer, was nominated to serve again; she confessed it hasn’t been a very busy job because (HPAC doesn’t collect dues) there hasn’t been activity in the account. The aforementioned grant will change that, Scott noted. All who ran were elected without opposition.
COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENTS: Barnes said a second meeting is set for the South Delridge Bus Triangle redesign project (here’s our coverage of the first one), and that the lights there will be replaced … She also announced the March 1st Westwood-Highland Park Urban Village HALA-rezoning followup meeting that we previewed here earlier in the day.
Highland Park Action Committee meets on fourth Wednesdays most months, 7 pm, at Highland Park Improvement Club (12th SW & SW Holden). Between meetings, watch hpacinfo.wordpress.com for updates and calls to action.
While the Westwood-Highland Park Urban Village was the first of West Seattle’s four urban villages to get a city-coordinated Community Design Workshop about its HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability rezoning proposals, that November 9th event was so soon after those proposals were released that it was little-publicized and lightly attended. But community volunteers have continued to review the WW-HP proposals (see the official “draft rezoning map” above) and are inviting you to a meeting one week from tonight to collaborate on a community response while the comment period remains open. Here are the details, from Kim Barnes:
The Westwood-Highland Park Urban Village community volunteers will hold a followup short presentation and discussion centered around the city workshop held on November 9th, and community led workshop held on November 30th, 2016.
All members of the public interested in collaborating a full response to the MHA legislation and upcoming EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) that will provide the rezoning proposal of Westwood Highland Park are invited to attend.
Please note that this is a community led meeting and city employees will not be in attendance.
Please join us Wednesday, March 1st to get in the loop and collaborate. Topics covered in this tight
90 minute meeting will include:
o A very brief overview of the MHA Principles. Brief overview of the proposed up-zoning for the Westwood Highland Park Residential Urban Village.
o Where is the City information? Where to find the resources to learn more.
o Overview of the Revised Timeline for public input on the draft EIS.
o Review and discuss the Community Feedback gathered on November 9..What’s missing and why.
o Discuss what other neighborhoods across the city are doing—how they are formulating their own community response.
o Agree to a next-steps plan to collaborate knowledge and resources to develop a full response to the EIS in the coming months.
o Formulate a request to the City to present the draft EIS for our urban village as soon as it’s published.
o If time allows: Review the Urban Village up-zone map and 3D model presented in late November at HPIC.
What this meeting is not:
o A city-sponsored meeting with experts in the areas of MHA legislation, zoning, etc.
o A forum for comments or complaints regarding MHA and HALA to be conveyed by the volunteers to the city.
Date/Time: March 1, from 7 pm-8:30 pm, doors open 6:45 pm
Please rsvp for an anticipated head count to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Location: Highland Park Improvement Club, 1116 SW Holden Street
The city’s official notes from the November 9th meeting, by the way, were finally posted online about a week ago, and you can find them linked from this page (where the Junction and Admiral notes will apparently eventually appear, too).
(TOPLINE: After a 2 1/2-day closure to clear slide debris, Highland Park Way is open again as of just after 5:30 tonight)
ORIGINAL REPORT, 2:52 PM: Our photo taken a short time ago shows some slide cleanup still under way on Highland Park Way, and now there’s word from SDOT spokesperson Sue Romero that it will NOT be open before the PM commute after all:
Highland Park Way SW remains closed due to slides and is expected to reopen this evening.
SDOT completed removal of the remaining debris earlier today. SCL is installing a new power pole. SDOT crews will then install ecology blocks to buttress the hillside.
This work is expected to last into the PM commute. Please continue to use detours.
The hill between Holden and West Marginal Way has been closed since the sliding happened around 5 am Wednesday (here’s our original report; here’s a Thursday report with a closer look at just how much slid).
5:39 PM: Kelly tells us it’s open. We are en route.
5:47 PM: Just drove the hill – yes, it’s open again, all lanes. And Metro says Route 131 is back to its regular route.
ADDED 6:48 PM: A couple of postscripts. First, we asked SDOT this afternoon if they had determined any cause other than the heavy rain – a commenter had noted earlier, for example, that WSDOT had blamed one of its recent freewayside slides on a drain problem. But SDOT spokesperson Romero checked and said, no other factors were involved here. Meantime, City Councilmember Lisa Herbold – who lives in Highland Park and was among those whose travel was affected by the closure – wrote about the slide in her latest e-mail-list update, which went out this afternoon. After an update on the cleanup, she added:
… I’ve asked SDOT what kind of assessment they’ll be doing about the long-term safety of this area from future slides, and what improvements we can expect after the cleanup.
I thank King County Metro for their quick rerouting of Route 131 to accommodate bus riders in the area (myself included). The incident highlights for me – once again – the need for an emphasis upon improvements on Highland Park Way. So many people (from all over West Seattle) use this corridor to get off the peninsula. What might have once been a little-known egress is not any longer.
The Highland Park Action Committee has long been an advocate for improvements to the Holden and Highland Park intersection to slow down and make traffic flow more efficient. The focus of those efforts has been on the design and development of an arterial roundabout. SDOT agrees that improvements to this corridor are warranted. It is not funded at this time. I have inquired with SDOT about the funding estimate for the design portion alone to see if I can help identify some funding to give the project some momentum.
Though the focus of the community has been on the roundabout, I am inquiring with SDOT whether they’ve considered lane separation as an improvement. Many people I know who are familiar with this road drive in the outermost lanes and avoid the opposite direction inner lanes because of the driving practices of people less familiar with the route, or practices of those who are familiar but speed hazardously nonetheless.
(TOPLINE: Highland Park Way hill will be closed “through Thursday” per SDOT)
1:14 PM: SDOT now says the Highland Park Way hill is likely to remain closed at least “into tomorrow.” That’s the newest development in connection with the early-morning slide that shut down the busy road between West Marginal Way SW and SW Holden.
Here’s our morning report (thanks again to everyone who texted us when it all began around 5 am); we just went back to the top of the hill for another look, and as you can see in our photo above, there’s lots of activity. Here’s the newest information from SDOT spokesperson Sue Romero:
SDOT continues to work with Seattle City Light at the site of the slide that occurred on Highland Park Way SW. A slide came down this morning above Highland Park Way SW, then a second slide came down, pushing material about 500 feet further, over Highland Park Way SW.
SDOT has cleared some of the material from the lower slide so SCL trucks can gain access. SCL is working to clear some trees that are pushing on some power poles. Geotech engineers are assessing the situation.
We expect Highland Park Way to remain closed through today and into tomorrow as more rain is expected to fall tonight into tomorrow.
Meantime, the power outage caused by the slides, which peaked at more than 2,000 homes/businesses, is over for all but two customers, according to City Light’s outage map, which also has been fixed.
We’ll be updating this story throughout the afternoon, including any related traffic advisories for the pm commute – again, expect Highland Park Way to remain closed TFN, and plan your alternate route and travel time accordingly.
3:13 PM: Bus reminder: “Metro Route 131 continues to be rerouted off of a portion of Highland Park Way SW between SW Holden St and West Marginal Way SW, until further notice.Use the stops on Highland Park Way SW south of SW Holden St or east of West Marginal Way SW.”
Whichever route you plan to use to get home, be aware that the heavy rain has continued this afternoon, lots of water on the roads, so be patient. The WSB Traffic page has cameras for various routes, and you also can check the video feeds accessible from the lower right of the city Travelers’ Information map – browse the feeds on the West Seattle and Greater Duwamish pulldown options.
3:47 PM: We asked City Light’s Scott Thomsen for the assessment of how the slide had affected their installations along HP Way: “The slide toppled some trees. At least one went into the lines, causing the outage. We didn’t lose any poles, but some are leaning over. We plan to monitor the hillside to make sure it has stabilized before we reset the poles. We might have to install some small retaining walls to protect the poles.”
7:04 PM: SDOT just tweeted that Highland Park Way is expected to remain “closed through Thursday.” So DEFINITELY plan morning options, and we’ll track the status during the day.
Highland Park Way SW will remain closed through Thursday btw SW Holden St & W Marginal Way SW due to a landslide. Plz use alternate routes. pic.twitter.com/fhZp2ZWC6u
— seattledot (@seattledot) February 16, 2017
And the National Weather Service says this is the seventh-wettest February on record.
9:40 PM: Still closed. We checked the top of the hill again after leaving a nearby meeting about half an hour ago; no lights visible down the hill, so crews apparently had quit work for the night. We will start morning traffic coverage extra early tomorrow (5 am Thursday) because the road will still be closed.
THURSDAY MORNING: Our AM updates are here through at least 9 am.