West Seattle, Washington
ORIGINAL REPORT, SUNDAY NIGHT: Thanks to Dina Lydia Johnson for the photo from today’s meeting of the relatively new South Delridge Neighborhood Group. We mentioned the SDNG twice this week – once in this announcement of the meeting, and again as the group was officially added to the voting membership of the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council. Like most neighborhood groups, they’re on hiatus in December, so your next chance to check them out will be
the third Sunday in January – 10 am January 15th, at 3.14 Bakery (9602 16th SW) – firstname.lastname@example.org is where to e-mail if you’re looking for info sooner.
MONDAY NIGHT UPDATE: SDNG co-chair Marianne McCord says the group decided on a change for January – they will join with Highland Park Action Committee to co-host a meeting on HPAC’s regular meeting date, time, and place, which is 7 pm, fourth Wednesday, at Highland Park Improvement Club, and after that, “SDCG will resume meeting on the 3rd Sundays at 3.14 Bakery at 10 am in February” – 9602 16th SW.
Here’s a way to get involved with the future of West Seattle’s own institution of higher learning. The announcement is from the city:
Seattle Department of Neighborhoods is seeking interested community members from surrounding neighborhoods to participate on the South Seattle College Standing Advisory Committee. This committee provides feedback on projects planned and under development by the college to ensure it complies with its Master Plan. The Master Plan describes zoning rules, long-range planning of the property, and transportation planning.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Even as the City Council gets closer to finalizing the city budget containing the resolution formalizing the mayor’s slashing of ties with neighborhood district councils, the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council is charging forward, and even growing.
Here’s what happened at its meeting last night:
DISTRICT COUNCIL’S FUTURE: Chair Mat McBride says that so far, discussions have focused on having the group work more as a cooperative as it goes forward, centered on how the groups at the table can “assist each other” in meeting their goals for the Delridge community. Certainly the group might still seek the occasional city presentation, but those likely won’t be as common, as the focus will remain more intra-Delridge.
One member asked what engagement with the city will look like from now on. “What do you think it should look like?” asked Pete Spalding. “I think it’s up to us now.”
Other topics of discussion included where to meet – an issue now that the city will no longer be providing the ~$500 annual funding that covered costs of renting meeting venues. It was decided that at least for the first quarter of next year, the group will meet at Highland Park Improvement Club. The meetings will still be 7 pm on third Wednesdays. As per longstanding tradition, DNDC won’t meet in December, so its next meeting will be January 18th.
What about the area covered by the council? asked one member – should it be smaller? larger? Could be bigger, McBride acknowledged. Some wondered if South Park might be a good addition. In the meantime, the list of member groups/organizations/institutions grew by one last night: Read More
Live/work in the South Delridge area? The new South Delridge Community Group welcomes your participation. From co-chair Marianne McCord:
The South Delridge Community Group consists of concerned, motivated neighbors who have come together to create a vibrant community and provide a voice for the neighborhood within the city of Seattle. It will provide leadership in addressing community needs and communicate with governmental agencies in an effort to represent our interests. The South Delridge Community Group encourages neighbors to know one another and to participate within our community.
We meet the third Sunday of every month (except December and August) at 10 am. Right now, we are meeting at 3.14 Bakery, 9602 16th SW, just south of Roxbury. We hope to nail down a more-permanent space in the near future. We also sponsor monthly clean-up efforts within our neighborhood on the second Saturday of every month (except December) at 10 am. We have already logged in over 250 volunteer hours! We are very proud of our active participation and look forward to expanding our volunteer activities. Our group’s email address is: email@example.com.
If you haven’t already checked the calendar – this means the SDCG’s next meeting is THIS Sunday (November 20th), 10 am.
P.S. As we publish this, we’re covering the monthly meeting of the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council, which has just added the South Delridge Community Group as an official member organization. More on the DNDC meeting in a separate report later.
Tomorrow (Monday) night, the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meets, and you’re invited. We have added the full agenda to the meeting’s listing on the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar; major items include another update on the action plan resulting from July’s Find It, Fix It Walk, and a look ahead to Green Seattle Day volunteering on November 12th. The meeting starts at 6:15 pm, upstairs at Southwest Library (35th SW/SW Henderson).
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The Highland Park Action Committee and guests listened on Wednesday night to three women with unique perspectives on how to help people experiencing homelessness: Two advocates who work with them, and one woman who lost her home when she lost her job.
Also discussed: The recent decision not to provide Neighborhood Street Fund money to the roundabout that is seen as a solution to the Highland Park Way/Holden traffic trouble.
First, the panel, which you also can watch/listen to via our unedited video above:
HPAC chair Gunner Scott moderated the discussion, saying he had experienced homelessness in his youth and is still somewhat shocked to realize he is now, in his 40s, a homeowner. He asked for understanding and civility.
The panelists: Read More
The most-important agenda at the quarterly Morgan Community Association meeting this past Wednesday was the briefing on the then-impending release of the draft rezoning maps for Morgan Junction and West Seattle’s three other “urban villages.” We covered that part of the meeting in this report on Thursday, when the four maps went public for Morgan, Admiral, Westwood-Highland Park, and The Junction. So today, we’re publishing the rest of the toplines from the MoCA meeting, which touched on many other topics, with updates that might interest you even if you don’t live/work in Morgan:
LOWMAN BEACH SEAWALL, WITH A SURVEY FOR YOU
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The Fauntleroy Community Association board vows “quick” action to let the City Council know it’s against proposed legislation that could change the rules about camping in city parks (the subject of this much-commented-on WSB report last Friday). That was one of the major topics on its agenda last night:
CAMPING IN PARKS? FCA’s jurisdiction includes Lincoln Park, and that made the proposed legislation a major topic at tonight’s meeting. Several members, said president Mike Dey, had asked whether FCA would consider “getting involved” as an organization, and if so, what would the response be, and that’s how it ended up on the agenda.
One attendee said she had never come to a neighborhood meeting before, until she saw this was on the agenda. “This is something that I’m passionate about, I cannot have my kids’ safety” (jeopardized). She said that her job brings her into contact with families experiencing homelessness, but a park is not the appropriate place for anyone to live.
All it does is degrade neighborhoods AND people, said one FCA board member. It’s going to perpetuate the problem.
“It’s not a solution, it’s a nightmare,” said another one.
“What if we did a survey, and put data” behind the response? suggested another member. Unfortunately, time’s running out, the point was made.
Is this an issue on which to burn political capital? was one question. Public opinion seems overwhelmingly against it. But is the council listening? Most didn’t think so: “I’m scared to death they’re going to approve it.”
After a further short round of discussion, the FCA board voted unanimously to draft and send a letter expressing opposition to the ordinance. “We will respond, and will respond quickly” was the promise.
The discussion happened at mid-meeting, but even before the meeting began, it was the major topic of discussion. Referring to the incident earlier in the day in which Seattle Police shot and killed one of two people in a reported knife fight near the clearing of “The Jungle” on Beacon Hill, one person said, “Hoping this doesn’t happen at Lincoln Park.”
Another expressed interest in acquiring a tent “because I am ready to go camp outside the mayor’s office.”
The agenda is now up for the 9:30 am Friday meeting at which the City Council’s Human Services and Public Health Committee is scheduled to consider the proposal, but as of this writing (11 am Wednesday) the updated version of the legislation is not yet available online. (Added 12:28 pm: There are multiple reports that the committee will not VOTE on Friday. But the meeting is still scheduled.)
Next hottest topic:
FERRY UPDATES: This briefing by Gary Dawson, FCA’s point person on Washington State Ferries-related issues, brought first word that WSF is planning public meetings to talk about the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route’s issues. Read More
Traffic and crime/safety issues are in our toplines from last night’s Pigeon Point Neighborhood Council meeting:
TRAFFIC: SDOT‘s Jim Curtin was the guest, to talk about and listen to a variety of neighborhood issues. Among them: Overgrowth on 21st and 22nd SW that makes it difficult for drivers to see when making a left turn. The blackberries are close enough to scratch your car sometimes. One attendee said part of the overgrowth is on private property, in which case, they were told, the Department of Construction and Inspections would have to be involved. Curtin talked about some work ahead on Delridge that should be done soon if the weather cooperates, the painting of a “fog line”/”edge line” to define the travel lanes north of Orchard, as first described in this WSB report from last January.
(WSB photo from January, looking north on Delridge near Myrtle – existing ‘fog line’ is toward the left)
Lanes that in some places are up to 20 feet wide will be restriped to 11 feet.
Bus and dropoff traffic at Pathfinder K-8 was a topic too. Principal David Dockendorf said his school is starting new safety patrols to help with crossing and traffic, especially where the buses load and unload. One attendee said buses were using a route that they supposedly weren’t allowed to; they were directed to contact Seattle Public Schools‘ transportation department.
Any way to have Pigeon Point solid-waste pickup scheduled to happen outside school-dropoff hours, to reduce traffic conflicts? asked one person. Curtin said he would look into that.
CRIME/SAFETY: From the Seattle Police Southwest Precinct, commander Capt. Pierre Davis, Operations Lt. Ron Smith, and researcher Jennifer Burbridge were all in attendance. She circulated the newest micro-policing plan for Pigeon Point and announced the upcoming citywide Public Safety Survey (which will be available online starting Saturday). Responses will be crucial, said Capt. Davis, to augment planning for neighborhoods’ safety needs, besides what 911-call data reveals. He also urged people to call 911 when something’s happening, and said they still believe crime is under-reported. And he announced that five new officers have just been assigned to the precinct.
Attendees brought up concerns about camping in the West Duwamish Greenbelt. Lt. Smith said Community Police Team Officer Todd Wiebke continues to be the point person for homelessness-related issues (he’s reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org).
One more note: The SW Precinct (2300 SW Webster) will again be a dropoff spot for Drug Takeback Day, 10 am-2 pm on Saturday, October 22nd.
Just in case anyone on Pigeon Point hasn’t already heard … your neighborhood council meets tomorrow (Monday) night – 7 pm in the library at Pathfinder K-8 – and is hoping you’ll be there. Pete Spalding shared the agenda overview, featuring guests you’ll probably have questions for:
We will begin with the principal of Pathfinder giving us a beginning of the school year update and an opportunity for neighbors to ask questions.
Then we will be joined by Jim Curtin from SDOT. Jim will give us an update on local transportation projects that will impact us in the next few months. Neighbors will have a chance to ask Jim questions about neighborhood transportation issues.
And then we will have Pierre Davis and Jennifer Burbridge with SPD join us to give us an update on our neighborhood policing plan.
Pathfinder is at 1901 SW Genesee.
Two months after Mayor Murray announced his plan to end city support for the 13 Neighborhood District Councils in Seattle and invent a new “engagement” strategy, a City Council committee will get a related briefing tomorrow.
This news comes tonight from the office of City Councilmember Lisa Herbold. She had requested the briefing, and, her office says, they just discovered it at the end of tomorrow’s seven-pages-long agenda for the Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods, and Finance Committee, of which she is vice chair. (The meeting is set to start at 9:30 am; this item is expected around 11:30 am.)
The briefing, to be led by Department of Neighborhoods director Kathy Nyland, is specifically about her department’s response to the council’s request last year that the DoN review how the new City Council districts would interact with the longstanding 13 neighborhood districts. The mayor didn’t wait for the report to come out in mid-July (WSB coverage here) before making his surprise announcement about ending support for the Neighborhood District Councils.
His announcement set a September 26th deadline – less than a week away – to “develop a proposed City Council resolution with mayoral concurrence that memorializes the community outreach and engagement principles outlined in” (the mayor’s announcement), and that would officially cut off city support ($500/year for each all-volunteer district council’s expenses, plus some city staff time). The agenda for the committee meeting doesn’t include any such document, so we don’t know its status.
Later tomorrow, by the way, the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council – whose members are from community councils and other organizations in eastern West Seattle – will have its monthly meeting (7 pm, Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, 4408 Delridge Way SW), and the district councils’ future was already on the agenda, as previewed here. Along with Councilmember Herbold, Councilmembers Tim Burgess – who chairs the committee that’s hosting tomorrow’s briefing – Lorena González, and Mike O’Brien are likely to be there. You’re invited, too.
P.S. The district council for western West Seattle, Southwest DC, already had its September meeting (WSB coverage here), and voted to continue on as an organization even if city support is formally severed.
From last night’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting:
SDOT’S ADMIRAL WAY PROJECT UPDATE: SDOT’s Dawn Schellenberg and Sam Woods returned with an update, less than two weeks before the restriping of Admiral Way is set to start. Schellenberg reiterated the goals – to lower speeds, reduce collisions, make it “comfortable” for people to ride bicycles – and that the project has been a year and a half in the making. She recapped the final version of the plan, announced via e-mail in July, including where the center turn lane will be kept and where it will not. Another mailer is going out soon, she said, before pausing for Q & A.
“Why did the city spend money repainting parts of that corridor” before the current striping is set to be changed? asked ANA’s Mark Jacobs. “That seems like such a waste of money – literally within the past month they’ve been out repainting.”
From tonight’s Fauntleroy Community Association meeting:
BURGLARIES UP: Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Ron Smith brought a crime update. Burglaries are on the rise in Fauntleroy, he said. In August, there was one a week, and while that might not sound like much, it’s an uptick they’re taking seriously. If you see anything unusual/suspicious happening, he stressed – there or anywhere else – call 911. Car prowls, meantime, are down slightly, and “crimes against persons” have dropped by more than half.
ENDOLYNE TRIANGLE PROJECT: As reported here, SDOT has completed the work, long requested by community members, first described at last xx’s FCA meeting. FCA’s Marty Westerman said the final product is about 90 percent of what the group and other community members suggested; questions remain about the layout of the parking spaces alongside the commercial building in the heart of the triangle, and he’ll be contacting SDOT point person Jim Curtin for a walkthrough. Otherwise, Westerman said the transition seemed to have gone smoothly.
OTHER TRANSPORTATION ISSUES: Information is still being gathered regarding who’s parking in the neighborhoods; the most recent survey was done after school started, to see if parking usage is affected by the number of West Seattleites who go to school on Vashon. Findings will be presented next month … FCA’s ferry-issues point person Gary Ewing said he’s been involved in discussions resulting from the huge recent backups, to “brainstorm” ideas about better traffic flows. No conclusions on that yet.
SCHOOLHOUSE CENTENNIAL: One of next year’s biggest events in Fauntleroy will be the historic schoolhouse’s centennial, with a celebration planned on Sunday, May 21, 2017, starting right after services at Fauntleroy Church, since the congregation includes many alumni from the old Fauntleroy School. The committee working on the celebration is seeking a small city grant to pay for refreshments and some other incidentals; they’re working on activities including an old-fashioned school carnival. The event will start with a ceremony and speakers, with the lineup almost set. Find out more about the centennial plans here.
The Fauntleroy Community Association meets second Tuesdays most months, 7 pm @ Fauntleroy Schoolhouse – check fauntleroy.net between meetings for updates.
As reported here one week ago, SDOT has started marking Admiral Way for forthcoming changes a year and a half in the making. That’s one of two major topics just announced by Admiral Neighborhood Association president Larry Wymer for next Tuesday’s meeting:
*Dawn Schellenberg and Sam Woods from SDOT will be returning for their 3rd visit to our group to provide their latest update – and Q&A session – on the SW Admiral Way Safety Project. They both conducted an on-site ‘Walk & Talk’ session on August 20 which some of you were at, and are now involved in “preparatory work” including marking the roadway for upcoming lane changes as part of the final design. Construction should begin within a matter of weeks, with the exact schedule announced prior to our meeting.
*Jesse Robbins is doing research across Seattle to learn if and how noise pollution from, among other things, cars and motorcycles with loud mufflers is a problem among residents. He has been visiting neighborhood organizations throughout Seattle as part of this research project, and is now focusing on neighborhoods throughout West Seattle to make sure our voices are heard. He welcomes any insight Admiral residents can provide towards his research in proving that vehicle noise pollution is still a problem, and working towards resolving with the right prioritization of focus and resources among city officers.
The ANA meets at The Sanctuary at Admiral, at 2656 42nd Ave SW. Our monthly meetings are held the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 7:00 pm. Everyone is welcome to attend.
Seven weeks have passed since the mayor’s abrupt announcement that the city would lurch away from the longstanding District Council system and look for new ways of “engagement.” As part of that, the Department of Neighborhoods has been running an online survey (with promotion including paid ads here on WSB and other places). The District Councils, including the two in West Seattle, are in the meantime about to resume their meetings after the traditional August break. And Delridge Neighborhoods District Council chair Mat McBride, who turned the group’s last meeting into a rally of sorts with reps from DCs around the city, has just issued an invitation in this open letter to City Councilmembers Lisa Herbold, Lorena González, Tim Burgess, and Rob Johnson, which we’re publishing with permission:
Esteemed City Council members (representing D1, At-Large, and Neighborhoods Committee),
I am requesting your presence at the September meeting of the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting on Wednesday, September 21. The DNDC is very interested in having a conversation with you regarding community, engagement, and the future of the District Council system within DoN (we’ll also be ranking NSF grants that evening, in case you wanted to observe a DC in action).
District Coordinator Kerry Wade will follow up with an agenda, including specific time and location once it’s finalized. Your RSVP is appreciated.
Chair, Delridge Neighborhoods District Council
PS, in case you haven’t been following DoN’s Engage Seattle poll, it’s a good read. All responses and comments (predominantly by white middle-aged homeowners, which I suppose raises some ironic existential questions) are published. Recommended reading, and if you haven’t taken the poll, I suggest doing so.
Quite a few comments have been made in support of the District Council System (side note – good on you for making all responses transparent, even those that highlight flaws in this latest proposed revision of DoN). And they’re right to do so, the District Council System (DoN’s, not City Council’s) is vital.
Democracy has to be public. Not solely, and there’s a lot of good suggestions about how to enhance the process and increase engagement. But it’s the District Councils, through a relationship officially observed by the City, that provide this function. It is vital to have public discussion with City representatives and elected officials. It is vital to challenge assumptions. It is vital to provide a forum in which the public can champion or object to issues, initiatives, or proposals within a specific geography. Because at the end of the day, it comes down to people doing things. Not taking a poll, not reading a newsletter, not submitting a comment to a blog, but actual honest-to-goodness engagement. Communities are made of people that come together and unite over a common goal. Where technology can enhance and assist this process, it absolutely should. But without an established network and designated place for that to manifest, it’s meaningless. Community is local, friends, and you have to make local work.
So, how to accomplish this? The best solution is also the easiest – restore the DoN District Coordinator staff to pre-2008 levels.
When the cuts first came, and again when they continued, community leaders predicted the exact circumstance we find ourselves in today – the fraying of the social network to the extent that it struggles to provide its most basic functions. The District Coordinators served as the glue within each District, themselves clusters of communities. It’s a big job, and staffed appropriately, it works great – an individual with a comprehensive knowledge of the individuals and organizations operating within the District is able to coordinate and direct active and emerging civic engagement to promote or fulfill the goal of serving the community. The act of networking people is the single most successful way to disseminate information – we have never been able to improve on talking to each other (not that we should). Humans can consume a huge amount of data, and most of it is not registered as important. This is especially true of communication by local government to citizens. If you want your message communicated, you need peer-level discussions within the community. Since most City correspondence is dry and boring (on the surface, anyway), you need citizens who will consume it regardless, translate salient points as necessary to make it accessible, and explain why it’s important to care about. And then, you really need them to talk about it.
Good news! You’ve had that model in place for the last 28 years. By most assessments, it’s past the “Proof of Concept” phase. Success is built upon the enhancement and improvement of existing infrastructure. The dismantling of an established and proven institution, which is to be replaced by an untested concept, is – well, it’s a singularly terrible idea. Restore the District Councils, and commit to enhancing them through all the excellent suggestions for improvement that I’ve read from other respondents to this survey.
As for the upcoming District Council meetings – everyone, as always, is invited. The Southwest District Council is expecting Parks Superintendent Jesús Aguirre at 6:30 pm Wednesday, September 7th, at the Sisson Building/Senior Center in The Junction (California/Oregon).
The Delridge Neighborhoods District Council mentioned above will be on Wednesday, September 21st – as Mat McBride wrote, time and location to be finalized, and we’ll publish an update when that happens.
6 PM: It’s the official start of this year’s Night Out, a night for neighbors to celebrate and collaborate on safety, preparedness, and more. (That means closed streets, so be careful and patient if you’re on the road.) As usual, we’ll be heading out to stop by some parties for photos; we also welcome YOUR photo – email@example.com, texted to 206-293-6302, or tagged on Twitter/Instagram, @westseattleblog. Updates ahead!
6:18 PM: Thanks to Brandon for sending in the first photo, now atop this story, via Twitter. He reports, “Arbor Heights (California & 102nd-104th) National Night Out, just getting going with Groove Kitchen” (the band).
6:34 PM: Here’s the group at our first stop, just south of Gatewood Elementary School:
Party organizer: Donna Sandstrom of The Whale Trail. This group’s party includes stuffed peppers, cookies, and coinciding with our arrival, a visit from Southwest Precinct Community Police Team Officer Jon Flores and members of the precinct’s Summer Youth Employment Program.
And thanks to Kevin for this photo:
— Kevin Freitas (@kevinfreitas) August 3, 2016
6:59 PM: Also just in via Twitter:
— Maverick (@smyliegrl) August 3, 2016
7:09 PM: Just stopped by the always-huge Pigeon Point Night Out party. Here too, a Community Police Team officer is visiting – John O’Neil, this time:
We’ve also noticed many places in Pigeon Point with anti-hate signs, in reaction to last week’s racist, threatening note discovery.
7:16 PM: Texted from Fauntlee Hills, this reminder that Seattle Fire is out on Night Out, too:
That’s Engine 37 visiting neighbors. Meantime, Liesbet near Constellation Park texted photos of her neighborhood’s first-ever party, which had a visit from Engine 29:
7:32 PM: Thanks to South Park’ers for texting from their annual Night Out bash South Park Putts Out. We’d heard about the Prince memorial portrait that’s being auctioned:
Another tweeted photo – from Marcia in Highland Park:
— Marcia Ventura (@marciaventura) August 3, 2016
The kids on the block are making chalk art in the street, too.
8 PM: Two hours down, one to go, though over the years we’ve noted most parties tend to wrap closer to 8 than to 9. We just visited Gatewood, where Dave and Jeanne Edwards are hosting a Night Out party. Dave just turned 100 and is a WSB reader (thank you!) – he’s just left of center in our photo:
Thanks to neighbor Dale for sharing the news about this party (and Dave’s milestone).
Before heading to Gatewood, we stopped in Westwood, where Whitney had let us know that West Seattle’s own Mikey Mike the Rad Scientist was going to perform.
(updated) We missed the show but MM (top right in group photo) gave everybody a star:
And then in Admiral, Angela invited us to the block party where neighbors were making wood-fired pizza:
8:31 PM: Since it’s cloudy, it’s getting dark. More photos! From The Junction:
— Matthew Boehm (@mjboehm267) August 3, 2016
And from North Delridge, where David says the Puget Boulevard neighbors are having their first-ever Night Out party:
Thanks for all the photos – we have more in queue, but have to break away from Night Out for a few minutes since it’s also Election Night …
9:54 PM: Back to the photos! From Jon in the 4800 block of 46th Ave SW:
At 36th and Dawson, the Seattle Police Pipes and Drums visited!
Barry sent the photo from a Gatewood neighborhood we’ve visited in past years – the flags are unforgettable:
She explains, “This was on 18th Ave SW between Myrtle and Webster. We were the only gathering within half a mile or so, so we had some neighbors from the Puget Ridge Cohousing join us!”
Back to Gatewood, where Mark photographed the 39th/Elmgrove block party:
South of Admiral, from Jonathan at 41st/Hinds/Manning:
On Rose St., karaoke and an outdoor movie:
Another SFD visit – Ladder 11 on 39th SW:
More firefighters near Walnut and Hanford:
And another appearance of CPT Officer Flores with neighbors in the 6700 block of 37th SW:
Thanks to Aaron for that photo.
ADDED WEDNESDAY: Another photo – from 36th/Hanford/Stevens:
Hope everyone had a great Night Out!
One week after a delegation of city officials led by Mayor Ed Murray walked from the Longfellow Creek P-Patch to Roxhill Park – has the Find It, Fix It Walk changed anything? Will it? A followup discussion focused on grants related to the walk is one of two major agenda items for tomorrow night’s Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meeting.
Lemmis Stephens, an AmeriCorps team worker on the Find It, Fix It team, at right in photo above, will be there. (The grant applications are here – deadline next Wednesday, August 3rd.) Monday’s 6:15 pm meeting upstairs at Southwest Library (35th/Henderson) also will include a “focus group” on crime/safety/policing issues for the area served by WWRHAH, with SW Precinct researcher Jennifer Burbridge. All welcome, whether you want to join in the discussion or sit in the corner and observe.
(Photo from Night Out 2015, shared by Michael in Westwood)
Show and celebrate your block/building/etc. next Tuesday! August 2nd is Night Out – the annual night to spend with your neighbors, fighting crime and strengthening your community. Southwest Precinct Crime Prevention Coordinator Mark Solomon sends this reminder:
We are one week away from National Night Out Against Crime. Many of you have registered your events with us; we very much appreciate that, and the invitations you have extended to us to stop by your events.
If you haven’t yet registered your event, it’s not too late. Our registration link is active until 5pm, Monday, August 1st. This event is always fun and a great way to reconnect with neighbors and meet new ones.
Use (this) link to register your event; registration will allow you to block off your (non-arterial) street.
Printable invitations and street closure signs can be found (here).
We hope to see you at your Night Out Event!
And we hope to see you too – as we do every year, we’re inviting you to let us know about your Night Out party, if you wouldn’t mind us potentially stopping by for a photo to include in our as-it-happens coverage – send the location and time to firstname.lastname@example.org – we also welcome your photos during Night Out, too, via any of our channels.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
As first reported here on Sunday, this week’s monthly meeting of the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council has expanded to a call for, in effect, a summit of neighborhood-district council members and supporters from around the city. Wednesday’s gathering at Highland Park Improvement Club will come one week after Mayor Murray cut short a City Council-ordered review of the neighborhood-district-council system by declaring he intended to cut city ties to and support for the councils.
More on the meeting below – but first: We now have the report that was due out last Friday, expected to start the next phase of a conversation about the 13 councils, until the mayor’s move on Wednesday. Read it here. It’s the Department of Neighborhoods‘ official response to the City Council’s Statement of Legislative Intent (SLI) from last year that “required the (department) to develop a plan to reorient its programs around the new City Council district structure with a primary focus on the Neighborhood District Coordinator (NDC) program and a goal for more equitable community engagement.”
The report dated Friday (July 15th) incorporates mentions of the executive order the mayor unveiled and signed two days earlier. It declares:
One day after Mayor Ed Murray announced that he plans to cut city support for neighborhood-district councils and come up with a different way of “engaging” neighborhoods, reaction continues to churn. As one of our followups, we asked our area’s City Councilmember Lisa Herbold for comment. Her reply ties into the other big mayoral announcement made two hours later – that the city will keep the Myers Way Parcels – which also cut short what was expected to be a longer process of discussion and decisionmaking.
The fact that this announcement came on the same day as the Myers Way announcement was interesting. The Myers Way decision is evidence that when Councilmembers, geographically-based neighborhood groups, and citywide issue-based groups all work collaboratively and effectively, we can potentially address items on our shared agenda. We have about 70 Boards and Commissions that are not geographically-based and are either subject matter based or demographically based – they are all appointments made by the Mayor and Council. We have 13 geographically-based, self-selected councils. Surely we have room for both.
One person writing to the Council said, when you look around your holiday dinner table and realize that you have the same people at the table every year, you don’t disinvite them, you invite more people. I like that analogy. The 2009 audit (attached) had numerous recommendations that had they been implemented any time up to now would have us in a very different conversation. I don’t believe that there is anything inherently undemocratic in a District Council system and that – in addition to identifying and implementing brand new methods of engagement – the improvements to our current system in diversity and representation could have instead been addressed by:
a. creating new expectations/metrics for outreach, membership, and involvement
b. city support to District Councils so that they can meet these new articulated expectations
c. consequences for failure to meet these expectations
Whether City Councilmembers plan to challenge the mayor’s plan remains to be seen; it will include legislation for them to consider, regarding formally cutting off city support for district councils (which are NOT the same as City Council districts, as explained in our story from yesterday, nor are they neighborhood-level community councils). The Myers Way Parcels work mentioned by Councilmember Herbold had included groups such as the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, White Center Community Development Association, Highland Park Action Committee, Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council, Seattle Green Spaces Coalition, TreePAC, and others.
7:17 PM: We don’t often report live on neighborhood-council meetings, but tonight’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting has at least two hypertimely guests – Councilmember Lisa Herbold (as previously announced) and Tom Lee from Madison Development Group (which is redeveloping the PCC site at 2749 California SW) – so we’ll be updating as it happens.
First, we’re in a variety of quick updates – including the eighth summer of the ANA-presented Summer Concerts at Hiawatha series. The first concert (six Thursday nights, 6:30 pm, east lawn at Hiawatha Community Center) is July 21st, with Smokey Brights performing – here’s the full lineup. (WSB is a co-sponsor again this year.)
7:29 PM: Tom Lee from Madison is talking about the 2749 California SW project now, a last-minute agenda addition. As we noted in our coverage this morning when PCC (WSB sponsor) announced it would be part of the project, he’s noting the company’s other projects in the area, including Spruce and Element 42. He’s accompanied by reps from Hewitt, the architect for the project, whose Julia Nagele said: “What we’re here to do tonight is to just give you a taste of what we’re going to be bringing to the Design Review Board for our Early Design Guidance” – that meeting is July 21st. “We’re looking for neighborhood input on what you guys like, what you don’t like, and what’s important.”
The architects are putting up a few boards – too dark in this room to photograph but they say they’re the ones already available online, as linked in our earlier coverage. (Here’s the “design packet” on the city website – remember that at this stage in Design Review, it’s all about size and shape of the buildings.) They say they’re working on incorporating the California SW bus stop between the building’s two entries. They are also working on options for how to get the truck traffic into and off the site. “Code compliant” would have the trucks exiting the alley onto Lander, but they are pursuing the possibility of an exit onto California instead.
Their goals include the building being “a good neighbor … good place to live … good place to shop,” recognizing that the grocery store will be more than a place you just run into and out of, but also “a community hub.” They’re also working on how the building will respond to Hiawatha Playfield across the street. The site is 300′ long and 113′ deep. Hewitt is showing a “preferred option” that breaks up the building “into five pieces” over the grocery store.
One comment post-presentation – Mark Wainwright (a past ANA president) suggests that, since the neighborhood already has been through supermarket redevelopment – most recently, Admiral Safeway – the project team come out and walk some of those projects. Asked how long the new lease with PCC is, Lee replied “20 or 30 years – it’s a long-term lease.”
7:44 PM: Now it’s Councilmember Herbold’s turn. She mentions that the topic she was to address, the future of Seattle’s neighborhood districts, is suddenly “politically charged” (the sudden announcement of an impending mayoral action would be why). First, she’s giving background info, before getting to the latebreaking developments – that the mayor is “announcing a new system that we haven’t had a chance to review.” As she notes, the original directive to review the district situation came from the City Council. The fact a new system is about to be announced without final council input is unusual, to say the least.
The draft report, she mentions, talked about how to ensure district councils could be more inclusive. She notes that the district councils whose demographic information was included in the draft report was incomplete and at least three years old. “From our perspective, this was just their first cut at this work … my response at the time was yes, district councils could be more representative of our city … but I didn’t believe there was anything inherently undemocratic about the district council system, but that we should figure out ways of supporting (them) and (setting up metrics). … People who have been doing this work have been spending their time and their energy … and it’s a little bit disrespectful to throw out the system and set up a new one.”
Nonetheless, as she pointed out, the one-line preview emerged today, “and we’ll find out more tomorrow … how that is going to be implemented (we don’t know).” She said she will seek to ensure the City Council has a role. “There will be some changes that have to be made to different kinds of legislation that (set up) roles for the District Councils,” which, she recalls, were set up by an ordinance – “an intent document” – almost 30 years ago. “I think the challenge right now is to figure out where we have some input. If there are funding decisions to be made, that will likely be made in the context of the city budget process, which begins in September.”
Whatever the new system turns out to be, she said she hopes it will involve more people, not fewer, than what is in place now. She also notes that there have been past efforts to dismantle what was considered a world-class neighborhood-involvement system – neighborhood planning, the matching funds – set up under past Department of Neighborhoods director Jim Diers.
Herbold concluded, “I will pledge to keep you as informed as I can be, and share with you whatever information and opportunities that might arise for advocacy from you to the city … but where I am right now, I don’t know how these recommendations coming from the mayor are going to (engage) the council (or not).”
First question – does the mayor’s action dissolve neighborhood-level groups like this one? No, said Herbold, as these are freestanding groups. The main effect would be the staffing that district councils have had from the Department of Neighborhoods. “If you continue to meet as a district council” – for example, Admiral NA is a member of the Southwest District Council, along with other western West Seattle groups and organizations – there wouldn’t necessarily be any access to help from city-employed neighborhood-district coordinators. Budgetary changes would require City Council approval, Herbold says.
Also, points out David Whiting, ANA past president, who is co-chair of the SW District Council, the district councils currently meet in venues that require some nominal rent payment, so concerns would include where that funding would come from, if not the city. He subsequently asks Herbold if she had seen any sort of preview copy of the second report on the neighborhood-district evaluation, and she says she had not, though sometimes council central staffers get previews, and she will check if they did.
The Q&A is open to other topics, it’s mentioned, and another attendee asks about the Seattle Police Officers Guild contract vote and overall oversight. “One of the objectives of this contract is to implement recommendations of the Police Commission,” she notes. “We’ve been engaged in bargaining for almost two years now … We really hope they will vote for it because I think the contract goes a long way toward supporting the recommendations of the (commission).” She mentions that there was “a leak” of not only the contract proposal but also the city analysis “that basically (suggested the city) ‘won'” and that, she says, has led to current talk of a “no” vote.
An ANA member goes back to tomorrow’s district-council-dismantling announcement, saying it seems “disrespectful” to all the work neighborhood council volunteers have done. Councilmember Herbold says that one of the offshoots of the new City Council district system is that they’re hearing from more constituents, and she hopes that will mean more collaboration between residents and their representatives.
Another ANA member says he’s concerned about city spending “and it feels like property taxes are going out of sight.” He also says that the “process” seems to be taking forever on some projects, such as the SW Admiral Way Safety Project, and asks where that stands. Herbold says she thinks more community engagement is ahead (which is what we’ve been told, but without a date – the webpage still says “mid-2016”). Flyers are forthcoming, and possibly some “walk-and-talks.” It was also pointed out that SDOT reps were due twice at the Alki Community Council and canceled both times, and that they haven’t accepted invitations to come to this council – “they seem to feel they no longer need to come to the community councils,” suggests one attendee who’s been involved.
8:22 PM: Since Herbold had suggested getting involved in the budgeting process to possibly have some effect on what’s happening from here, an attendee asks what’s the most effective way to do that. “A variety of approaches” is what she suggests – “mix it up, some phone calls, some group e-mails, some individual e-mails, mix up your interaction with the decisionmakers … it sort of conveys the sense that you’re in advocacy mode from all different sides.” To influence the mayor’s budget proposal, Herbold says, get your comments in by the end of this month. And she’ll know more tomorrow what the council’s process will be “for considering these changes … and I might have different advice. It’s quite possible there’ll be another presentation before the Affordable Housing and Neighborhoods Committee before” any budget changes related to this are made.
In response to the next question, the councilmember says some of the language in the first draft of the report on this suggests “a fundamental misunderstanding” about what city councilmembers’ staffers do (in relation to the suggestion they will do all the work that neighborhood-district coordinators – like Kerry Wade, who is here – do). “Council staff is focused on policy work and budget – to the extent that council staffers get involved in implementation of work that departments do, is because something’s fallen through the cracks in the department; we’re a safety valve.”
The meeting ended shortly thereafter; ANA is taking August off and will be back in action the second Tuesday in September, 7 pm, The Sanctuary At Admiral.
(Left, map of 13 Seattle “neighborhood districts”; right, map of 7 Seattle City Council districts. Both from seattle.gov)
2:36 PM: Just out of the inbox – a media advisory for tomorrow, about something related to what’s been a hot topic in neighborhood groups for months. This is the media advisory in its entirety:
Murray to announce the formation of Community Involvement Commission
Tomorrow Mayor Ed Murray will join neighborhood leaders and stakeholders to announce the formation of the Community Involvement Commission, which will replace the District Council system.
WHO: Mayor Ed Murray
WHAT: Executive Order signing, press conference
WHEN: Wednesday, July 13, 2:30 PM
Tomorrow’s announcement isn’t a public event but is happening at City Hall. Working to find out more …
3:27 PM: Of all the people we have messages out to, the first to reply: Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s office. Legislative assistant Newell Aldrich says they didn’t get an advance alert on this either and are also trying to find out more. As he says, the deadline for the City Council to get the Department of Neighborhoods’ report on potentially aligning the 13 neighborhood districts with the 7 City Council districts wasn’t due until this Friday; a draft report had been in circulation for two months. Our most extensive report on local discussion of this is here.
P.S. Councilmember Herbold was already expected to talk about this topic, among others, at tonight’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting, 7 pm at The Sanctuary at Admiral (42nd/Lander), all welcome.