West Seattle, Washington
Some parts of the city have great sidewalks … some have not-so-great sidewalks … some have no sidewalks. An online survey that’s open until Monday has questions about sidewalk conditions, prioritizing repairs, and about “what kind of online, interactive maps would help aging and disabled users get around the city.” If you can spare a few minutes to answer – go here.
In case you haven’t already seen it on the calendar already – tomorrow (Saturday) morning brings the annual fun, free, potentially life-saving April Pools Day event at Southwest Pool (2801 SW Thistle), which invites kids and their families into the water to learn about:
Preventing open-water drowning
Life-jacket use and promotion
Basic water rescue for children
No pre-registration necessary – just show up at SW Pool, 10:30 am-noon. (It’s one of seven Seattle city-run pools participating.) That’s conveniently right after the 10 am egg hunt at adjacent Southwest Teen Life Center!
With one sanctioned encampment in our area, and two areas swept nearby, you might be wondering about the city’s newest stats on its homelessness-related effort. Above is the slide deck used when city staffers briefed the City Council’s Human Services and Public Health Committee this afternoon (here’s the PDF version). It included many West Seattle datapoints, so after taking notes while monitoring the briefing via Seattle Channel, we requested the deck to share with you. (Added – here’s the video; the briefing starts at 46 minutes in.)
*Camp Second Chance at the Myers Way Parcels has 33 residents now, four weeks after it was officially sanctioned – that’s about twice what we were told when we visited for this story last month, and about half its ultimate current capacity.
*The Navigation Team has contacted 291 people in the past 8 weeks, and 116 accepted housing/shelter options – a higher percentage than the city had been noting previously.
*In the Spokane Street area that’s being swept this week, the team made 38 total contacts, and eight have moved to indoor shelter or authorized outdoor encampments in the past two days – others got repair assistance or other help in getting their vehicles running, and “1 person accepted entry into a longterm inpatient substance abuse treatment program.” Others who have not accepted shelter/housing did accept other services such as case management.
*The council briefing also talked about encampment-clearing protocols and about other services available, such as sharps pickup and showers (751 unsheltered people have been served by the availability of showers at Delridge Community Center, the presentation noted), as well as trash service.
Meantime, we went over to the Spokane/East Marginal area late this afternoon, and it appeared to be about three-fourths cleared.
Four days after the fire that burned those RVs along SW Spokane Street west of East Marginal, the city says its operation to clear out RV campers beneath the bridge will start tomorrow. The accelerated clearing was announced that same day (and by Friday, the burned RVs already had been taken away), and this evening, the timeline was published as part of a long online update, which starts with backstory and then gets to the heart of what happens next, where, and when:
… The City is addressing the immediate hazard where the RV fire occurred last week, clearing that area of any RVs, vehicles, tents and other materials. SDOT has set a perimeter that encompasses the median along Spokane Street, from under the base of the West Seattle Bridge to Colorado Street on the east [map], that must be cleared. That area will then be fenced off to allow SDOT and Seattle City Light to perform repairs and maintenance, including following up on necessary lighting system repairs.
On Friday, April 7, the City provided notice to individuals who were on site that clearing of the area within the perimeter described above would begin on Tuesday, April 11. Recognizing the large number of RVs and other vehicles present, many of which are not operational, the City expects this effort will take several days, possibly into next week. The Navigation Team has also been offering services and alternative shelter to these individuals, outreach that will continue as long as necessary.
Additionally, on Friday the City began notifying RVs and vehicles parked all along the median under the Spokane Street viaduct to the east of the perimeter at Colorado Street that the City will be focusing enforcement of the 72-hour parking law. SPD is assisting with notification and will be leading that enforcement effort as the Navigation Team focuses its outreach efforts on people living in tents in that area.
We got notification of this update too late to ask followup questions such as where the inoperable RVs will be taken to, but will pursue the answers tomorrow. This all is happening a little over two weeks after the city started paying attention to the area, following an attack on a woman bicycling home from her job in West Seattle; days later, tent campers encroaching on the path were cleared, and a trash cleanup began in the RV area nearby. At that time, the city said it was working on “a plan” for the RV camp, but there was no timeline until the aftermath of last week’s fire.
Six months ago, we reported on a construction-related electrical incident in The Junction that sent two workers to the hospital. Today, the state Department of Labor and Industries announced that its investigation into what happened at the 4505 42nd SW construction site has led to citations:
Two King County contractors face large fines from the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) for safety violations after a crane boom made contact with high-voltage power lines at a construction site in Seattle. Two workers were severely injured during the incident when 7,200 volts of electrical current traveled down the crane’s hoist line to the men working below the power lines.
As a result, Marpac Construction, of Seattle, has been cited for six workplace safety violations, including three “willful,” and fined $133,500. A subcontractor, Spartan Concrete of Kirkland, faces five violations, including two “willful,” and $90,000 in fines. Also, Shaffer Crane & Equipment Inc., another subcontractor, was cited for three serious and one general violations with a total fine of $5,700.
The investigation began last September when news outlets reported that two workers had been taken to Harborview Medical Center after suffering severe electrical burns.
L&I investigators at the site found that a mobile crane and a forklift with a crane-boom attachment had been operating under live high-voltage power lines. The power lines were scheduled to be moved underground, but rather than wait for that work to be done, the companies continued to work under them.
A Shaffer Crane employee was operating the crane and a Spartan foreman was giving signals when the incident happened. Seven workers were put at risk by being exposed to the potentially deadly electrical shock.
Cranes and power lines a known hazard
The danger from a crane contacting overhead power lines is well-known. From 1999-2012, there were nine deaths in Washington from crane contacts with power lines, including a double fatality in 2010.
In 2012, L&I issued an alert to warn companies of the deadly hazard after receiving reports of six power line contacts by cranes over six months.
Companies operating cranes must make sure that all power line requirements are implemented. That includes putting protective measures in place to prevent crane booms from contacting energized power lines, designating a qualified “lift director” to ensure the safe operation of the crane, and maintaining a safe radius from power lines.
Willful, serious and general violations
The willful citations are for not ensuring that protective measures were in place and for not prohibiting work below energized power lines. Marpac was cited for an additional willful violation for not designating a qualified “lift director” who was aware of the voltages of the power line and the safety requirements for working around them. The investigation found that Marpac’s lift director was not aware of the voltages involved or the specific safety requirements.
Marpac was also cited for three serious violations related to inadequate training and for not ensuring an effective accident prevention plan, with penalties totaling $7,500.
The investigation found that Spartan’s employees were not trained or aware of the danger of working under power lines. Consequently, the concrete company was cited for two serious safety violations and fined $6,000 for not ensuring that employees clearly understood the hazards of overhead power lines and for lack of training and supervision. Spartan was also cited for one general violation for not holding and documenting walk-around safety inspections at the beginning of the job and weekly.
A willful violation is one where L&I finds evidence of plain indifference or an intentional disregard to a hazard or rule. A serious violation is one where there is a substantial probability that worker death or serious physical harm could result from a hazardous condition.
As a result of the violations and the severity of the injuries, both Marpac Construction and Spartan Concrete have been identified as severe violators and are subject to follow-up inspections to determine if the conditions still exist.
Marpac and Shaffer have appealed the citation, and the appeals are pending. Spartan has until April 14 to appeal. Penalty money paid in connection with a citation is placed in the workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund, helping workers and families of those who have died on the job.
We don’t know how the workers are doing now – we’ve never even had their names – but when we followed up three days after the incident (noting that the state investigation was under way), they both had improved, to satisfactory and serious condition.
Remember our report last week about the rutted state of much of 35th SW, touched off by a reader tip about that particular hole on the northbound side, north of SW Webster? At the time, SDOT reiterated that 35th SW is not scheduled for major repaving work until 2023. City Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s staff, meantime, told us that she was asking SDOT to move that up, and working on a letter to SDOT director Scott Kubly to formalize the request. That letter has now been sent – read it here, or below:
The letter is featured in her weekly e-mail/online update, in which Herbold elaborates:
I’ve received numerous complaints about the condition of the pavement since taking office at the start of 2016, and experienced the poor condition of the road in my travels. Complaints have increased recently.
The letter … details some of what I’ve heard from West Seattle residents, and requests, “please consider this letter a request to examine and repair potholes on 35th Avenue SW from Roxbury to Alaska. I’d appreciate an answer to this request as soon as possible.” In the longer term, the letter requests SDOT:
To reconsider their 2016-2024 paving plan, which lists 35th from Roxbury to Morgan as a planned paving project for 2023;
To provide the current pavement condition rating of 35th, according to the standards of SDOT’s Pavement Management webpage;
Provide the estimated cost for the paving work on 35th, and
Whether they have an update to the 2013 Arterial Pavement Condition map included in the 2015 SDOT Asset Management Status and Condition Report (see Figure VII, page 68 of the report, page 74 of the pdf), which shows a significant portion of 35th as dark red, the worst rating.
I appreciated SDOT’s quick response saying that “…later this month our crews will be doing a concerted effort to address potholes caused by the wet and cold winter. 35th Ave SW is on their plan as a route to be targeted.”
SDOT also indicated they would be in touch later on my larger request re: modifying the pavement plan, and acknowledged that they have begun looking at the implications, as well as my request to re-evaluate the corridor.
We had asked SDOT last week if at least some short stretches were scheduled for spot paving this year, but they had no specifics of what areas might get that attention – for example, it was repaved between Cambridge and Barton just before the rechannelization in fall 2015.
(UPDATED 12:56 PM with city’s plan to accelerate clearing the under-bridge area)
11:08 AM: Will this morning’s fire in the unsanctioned RV camp under the West Seattle Bridge accelerate planning to clear it? That’s one of the questions we have asked city reps in the aftermath of the fire. We were not at the scene during the 4 am fire – TV was – but have since gone for a closeup look and also to check the nearby area in the aftermath of last week’s sweep/cleanup. Above are the two RVs that burned. Seattle Fire Department spokesperson Lt. Harold Webb tells WSB no injuries were reported, and the fire was accidental: “Fire Investigators determined that the fire was accidental and occurred when owner/occupant attempted to start the engine for warming purposes and it caught on fire.” This area is just west of East Marginal, under the bridge west of the Highway 99 overpass.
Those SDOT trucks were there during our stop but it did not appear to be related to the fire’s aftermath; SDOT spokesperson Norm Mah didn’t have information on what they were doing but said that the fire left the bridge with “superficial surface damage; the engineer thoroughly inspected and deemed it safe for travel.” Meantime, with a week passing since the recent sweep of tent campers nearby, we took a look at that area too, walking the path for a distance. It’s empty:
This sign warns would-be campers that it’s an “emphasis area,” as reported here last week:
Meantime, we’ll add updates later when we get answers to our questions about what’ll be done in this area in the future. This isn’t the first fire in an RV under the bridge; in January 2016, a man died of smoke inhalation in an RV fire near 1st and Spokane, a few blocks east of this morning’s fire scene.
12:56 PM: Here’s what the city says it’s doing – moving to “close the area to all camping.” An excerpt:
… While closing the area to all camping will take a bit more time, we are now addressing the immediate hazard where the fire occurred early this morning.
The Navigation Team has been there all morning, doing individualized outreach and offering alternative shelter. For today, we are focusing on removing the two burned-out RVs, which will first require moving other RVs and tents in that immediate vicinity to create a safe work zone. The Navigation Team is assisting with moving people a safe distance for that to occur.
Over the next 10 days, the area under the western end of the Spokane Street Viaduct will be cleared of all people and structures and a work zone perimeter will be established to allow SDOT and Seattle City Light to perform repair and maintenance unrelated to today’s fire. Outreach will continue up to that point to work with the individuals living there and find them alternative shelter.
We are beginning to assess the working condition of the RVs and other vehicles all along the Spokane Street as we work to close the area to all camping. Outreach will lead the engagement with any individuals living in tents or RVs.
In general, the City has been focusing its efforts to address the homelessness crisis on working with individuals in tent encampments, especially the ones with the greatest public health and safety concerns for the individuals and the surrounding community. The Navigation Team has been finding success with many individuals, finding solutions that fit their needs and helping move them into safer living situations. Other City crews are addressing the trash related to encampments and illegal dumping in general around the city. This work will continue.
Camping under low bridge structures presents a hazard for this essential infrastructure. In addition to other efforts to mitigate the impacts of the homelessness crisis, including working to move people into alternative shelter and cleaning trash, we will be assessing these low-bridge structures around the city and will prioritize efforts to address immediate hazards.
As we did with the previous cleanup in the area, we will check in on this one in the days ahead, too.
Two more updates related to the Spokane Street cleanup, now that we’ve arrived at the end of the week. We had asked city spokesperson Julie Moore for some stats and “what’s next,” and here’s that information:
Over the two-day cleanup all along Spokane Street (trash pickup and encampment removal from near the bike trail), the City removed approximately 108 tons of trash and debris. As I described in my earlier email, the area along the bike trail where tents were removed on Wednesday will be an emphasis area and once posted, the City will remove new tents that may try to locate there.
While we are considering options for moving the RVs from that location, we do not have an immediate timeline for doing so. In general, the City is focusing efforts on working with individuals in tent encampments, especially the ones with the greatest public health and safety concerns for the individuals and the surrounding community. The Navigation Team is connecting with those individuals to find solutions that fit their needs and will help move them into safer living situations. Other City crews are addressing the trash related to encampments and illegal dumping in general around the city.
In the meantime, some of the individuals living in the RVs have been collecting trash in bags and setting it out for pickup. The City is amenable to working with them to continue the effort to manage their own trash as we work on a longer-term plan for moving people to alternative shelter or housing situations.
Our crews have repaired nine of the lights under the West Seattle Bridge. Six remain out. Repairing those requires creating clearance around ground vaults where RVs are currently parked. We’re working with Finance and Administrative Services on a plan for when and how that can be done. That work can be accomplished without moving all the RVs.
We’ve also been asking him about the lights that are out on the high bridge, since some commenters wondered about those – Thomsen’s update on that: “We continue to work with SDOT to restore the lights on top of the bridge; that work could be done in about a week.”
We’re still waiting for city reps to provide a wrapup of this week’s operation along Spokane Street east of the low bridge (6:50 pm update – here it is), one week after the attack that brought conditions there to wider light – but in the meantime, we have answers to a question a few have asked: What if tents appear again in the area where they were cleared for encroaching on the bicycle path?
We asked city spokesperson Julie Moore, who explained that this is now an “emphasis area”:
People should report encampments/illegal camping by calling the Customer Service Bureau at 206-684-2489 (CITY) or using the Find It, Fix It app. See Encampment Cleanup Process Overview for what happens after an encampment is reported.
The area where tents were removed along the bike trail at Spokane Street and the West Seattle Bridge this week will now be considered an emphasis area (see more on what that means below) and will be posted as such later today. The Navigation Team will do the posting and will work with any folks who have moved back into that area to move them out. As with the cleanup this week, at this time this designation only applies to the area along the bike trail and does not apply to the RVs and tents under the bridge between the two lanes of Spokane Street.
Emphasis Areas – Per our new encampment removal rules (aka MDARs), the City may identify specific areas as emphasis areas, which are places where an encampment has become a consistent problem. The removal of tents and belongings from posted emphasis areas does not require notice as with other encampments, though we will still store personal belongings. The City will post signage at an emphasis area, stating that: camping is prohibited, any material found in that area may be removed without further notice, where personal property is stored and how the owner can retrieve their belongings.
When designating an emphasis area, the City will make a determination based on the totality of the circumstances of the particular location. No more than 10 emphasis areas will be identified as such at any one time, and those locations will be listed on the City’s website (we’re working on that and the map will be posted under the Unauthorized Encampments page no later than Monday).
Meantime, we’ll have a separate update when we hear back about the overall cleanup operation. Seattle City Light also had told us that the long-malfunctioning lights in that area would be working again by tonight; if you ride or run through that area this evening, please let us know what you see.
As reported here this morning, the promised cleanup is under way along Spokane Street, east of the low bridge, including the area where a bicyclist was attacked last week while riding home from West Seattle. She and others, including West Seattle Bike Connections, pointed out that lights were out on that stretch of the trail and had been out – and reported as out – for months; Seattle City Light said the cleanup, and the sweep of tents encroaching on the path, would facilitate repairs. Today we checked back with SCL spokesperson Scott Thomsen, who told us the lights should be working by week’s end:
We have had workers out there this week, making repairs to lights and wiring where they could work safely. We continue to coordinate our work with the City, which is cleaning up the site to allow our workers better access to the equipment they need to fix. We expect to complete repairs and have the lights back on before dark Friday night.
Meantime, the cleanup operation will continue tomorrow; we went back through the area about an hour ago and there’s clearly still work to do, with bags of trash remaining along the south side of westbound Spokane, just east of where a backhoe was clearing a large dumpsite under the elevated roadway during our visit this morning.
We have been working on a deeper look at the state of 35th SW, not just from firsthand observation, as we travel along it multiple times daily, but because of many reader inquiries. So stand by for the newest information on that; in the meantime, when there is an emergency hazard like this, call 206-684-ROAD (or 911). Pothole reports otherwise can be made (if you don’t use the Find It, Fix It app) via this web form, and you can check here to see if the one you’re reporting is already on the map.
ADDED 2:23 PM: The SDOT map for major paving projects still has 35th SW listed as 2023, confirms City Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s office. (See it here.) But they have been hearing a lot about 35th SW too, says legislative assistant Newell Aldrich, and stressing that “it’s a dangerous situation, that we’ve had communications from constituents saying their cars were damaged by large potholes, and ask(ing) SDOT to re-consider the planned 2023 paving schedule and attend to this as soon as possible.” Councilmember Herbold is working on a formal request to SDOT direct Scott Kubly, Aldrich says. Meantime, we also asked SDOT directly if there are any spot paving projects – a block here, a block there, as has been done around West Seattle in recent years – scheduled for 35th this year.
ADDED 7:25 PM: SDOT spokesperson Sue Romero reiterated that 35th SW is not in the schedule until 2023 (same link as the one Councilmember Herbold’s staff pointed to, in the paragraph above):
The southern portion of 35th Ave SW, from SW Roxbury St to SW Morgan St, is included in SDOT’s nine-year AAC paving plan. SDOT continues pothole repairs and spot paving work to keep 35th serviceable until funds allow the reconstruction work to move forward scheduled for 2023.
Here’s an overview of how much paved road the city has, and how it evaluates pavement condition. Followups to come!
That’s the scene along Spokane Street a short distance west of East Marginal Way, as the city-promised cleanup begins, five days after a bicyclist was attacked along the bike path in the area. While there to see what’s happening, we caught up again with Sgt. Eric Zerr from the SPD-led Navigation Team, which is on scene along with workers from departments including SDOT, Seattle Parks, and Human Services.
Sgt. Zerr told us that the cleanup is starting there and heading east under Spokane, all the way to Airport Way, over the next few days. The area where heavy equipment is digging right now had been used as a dumpsite – he believes the campers in the area were told at one time that if they took their trash there, it would be picked up, but that apparently didn’t happen or stopped happening.
The RV campers – whose site, unlike the tent sites along the bike path, is not slated for sweeping yet – have been told to get their trash out to curbside and it will be picked up as part of the operation. We also saw individual cleanup workers closer to the low bridge; they, according to Sgt. Zerr, are picking up individual pieces of litter such as needles/syringes. As for detours, the bike path was still open while we were there, but be aware of possible detours later – the tent-camp sweep did not appear to have begun. We’ll be checking back this afternoon. We’re also checking with City Light about the plan to repair the lighting in the area; Sgt. Zerr mentioned they were expected on scene too.
BACKSTORY: In case you’re just tuning in to this – which is happening just east of West Seattle – our previous coverage:
*Friday, March 24 – Bicyclist’s warning after attack on path; city’s response
*Monday, March 27 – Interview with Navigation Team leader as city gets ready for cleanup, sweep
*Tuesday, March 28 – Update on cleanup plan
Continuing to follow up on the city’s promises for Spokane Street along and under the West Seattle Bridge east of the “low bridge,” in the wake of Friday’s attack on a bicyclist – today, we asked for more details on exactly what’s going to happen starting tomorrow, and what people who travel through the area should know. Here’s the reply from city spokesperson Julie Moore, who also mentions that a “plan” is in the works for the mostly-RV camp in the area:
The City’s Navigation Team will be out there tomorrow morning to offer services and alternative shelter, as they did yesterday. They will be working with any individuals in the area, but are focusing on moving those living in tents along the north end of the bike trail. See the attached map that highlights the area where tents along the bike trail will be removed:
Note that the encampment of RVs and tents located directly under the bridge between the two lanes of Spokane Street will not be removed tomorrow, though we are working on a plan for moving those individuals into better alternatives.
As far as bike detours, SDOT will begin setup around 9 a.m., after the morning commute. There will be detours for bikes and along the trail; users should expect reroutes signed around the work zones.
Additionally, separate of the Navigation Team’s work to move the individuals in the tents along the bike trail, trash pickup will be occurring all along Spokane Street from the water to I-5 over the next couple days.
The city’s Friday evening update had noted that, related to the trash pickup, “.. there may be impacts to traffic as a truck will be doing rolling stops along the route to collect the trash.” And that work is scheduled to continue this Thursday. (If you missed it yesterday, here’s our interview with the sergeant who leads the aforementioned Navigation Team.)
(UPDATED 5:34 PM with additional SCL information, 6:07 PM with city plan for camps in the area)
ORIGINAL REPORT, 12:49 AM: For years, Jackie has commuted by bicycle between her job in West Seattle and home in Georgetown, using the trail under the West Seattle Bridge.
What happened to her Thursday night has never happened before. And she wants to get the word out. Via e-mail, she told us it happened around 8:30 pm:
I was jumped by a guy at Spokane and Marginal on the bike trail. It was that super dark patch (the city hasn’t fixed the lights, they’ve been out since last year). A guy jumped out from the bushes in front of my bike. I had to slam on my brakes to avoid hitting him. He then came around my left side and grabbed at my shoulder, I’m guessing to drag me from my bike. I was so scared. I ducked (luckily I was wearing a close-fitting nylon jacket, so he couldn’t get hold of me), and I rode as fast as I could out of there.
It happened near an area where bicyclists have noticed an increasing number of campers. There is no way to know for sure whether the man who tried to grab Jackie lives there or elsewhere. But in response to some followup questions we asked after her first note, she added:
I don’t know if the individual this evening was associated with the larger encampment or was with the small group of tents on the west side of Marginal Way. He did mutter incoherently at me as he was trying to grab me. I’m assuming he was either under the influence or was in need of psychiatric help. The bushes/vegetated area he seems to have emerged from (but I’m not certain, as it was dark and everything happened quickly) are on the north side of the sidewalk. For what it’s worth I didn’t get a good look at him, but he was African American, maybe in his 40s or 50s. He was of average build, maybe around 5′ 10″. That is all in my police report as well.
She has been “road-riding” for at least a decade. We asked if, given what happened, she has specific advice for other riders:
I guess the one thing I would tell cyclists would be to avoid this part of the trail, as it is dark and you are vulnerable (as you’re removed from the road and easily ambushed). If you do take the trail, try to ride in a group if you can. I’m planning on staying in the road the next time I ride through here, especially in the evening. Usually I avoid the road during the day because of all the truck traffic, but I’m not sure what else to do. I asked the responding officer if it would be better to take West Marginal south and go over the First Avenue Bridge – he said it’s more dangerous down there.
The area where this happened is, we believe, outside Southwest Precinct jurisdiction, but we’ll be asking police later today who’s accountable, and also checking on the lighting situation Jackie mentioned.
10:42 AM: We are following up with City Light for starters regarding why the lighting isn’t fixed after months of reports – the e-mail chain provided to us indicates it’s more complicated than a matter of broken bulbs but not why it’s taken so long. SPD is next on our list.
12:43 PM: Just went back to the scene and caught up with a city team that included the mayor’s public-safety adviser, Scott Lindsay. He said this report hit the radar of the Emergency Operations Center’s daily homelessness-related activation first thing this morning. A trash cleanup was already planned in the area for next week, he said – a Seattle Public Utilities rep was there, too – but now it’ll be expanded, and they’ll be addressing the tents encroaching on the paths. Overall, he said, they’re putting together an “action plan.” We’ll have a separate followup by day’s end with this and more.
1:35 PM: What else we’ve learned so far:
-Seattle City Light spokesperson Scott Thomsen says a fix for the lights requires an “engineering” solution which has not yet been finalized, and permits will be required.
-City Councilmember Lisa Herbold tells us she was saddened to hear about last night’s attack and that she had been “trying to get SPU’s attention to this location for several weeks to address the need for garbage pickup. The Mayor’s office notified me yesterday that garbage pickup will happen next week.” Here is another photo we took today – this is the sidewalk on the south side of Spokane, across from the area where the attack happened.
-SPD spokesperson Det. Mark Jamieson provided us with a copy of the police report on the incident – nothing in it that we hadn’t learned directly from Jackie in our e-mail exchange late last night – and also confirmed that in addition to local officers, the department’s Navigation Team is aware of the situation too. (As we’ve reported in recent community-meeting reports, or as you might have heard from citywide media, this is the departmentwide SPD team tasked as of recently with homelessness-related intervention/enforcement.)
5:34 PM: More information from SCL spokesperson Thomsen about the light-repair status:
After the streetlight outage was reported in December, crews made a determination that the outage did not involve the lamp fixtures, which would have been a quick fix. That shifted the task to our streetlight engineering group, which determined that the outage was caused by damage to the underground power supply, likely from someone who was trying to steal copper wiring from a hand hole access vault.
Engineers started sketching the designs for a restoration, but have been unable to complete that work due to a number of homeless people who have been camping in the area and debris.
Plans are in place for the city to clear that encampment next week, which will allow our engineers to complete their work.
Once the engineers have finished, we have a contractor ready to do the repairs.
6:07 PM: The city has more details on its plan to sweep the tent camp by the bike path next week and to clean trash along Spokane Street – read about it here.
Three stretches of West Seattle streets are due for new sidewalks this year, as shown on the map above, made public as Mayor Murray spotlighted the city’s updated Pedestrian Master Plan today.
*35th SW in Arbor Heights between 100th and 106th adds to the sidewalks built north of there 5 years ago
*Arbor Heights also will get a block of sidewalk along SW 104th between 35th and 36th, just east of AH Elementary
*In Delridge, sidewalks are on the way to SW Orchard between Myrtle and Dumar
Today’s full announcement says the mayor is sending the plan to City Council later this week. If you’d like to look into the future to see where future work might be focused, the “priority investment network” map for our area starts on page 60 of the full Pedestrian Master Plan.
The Harbor/Spokane/Avalon project mentioned here on Thursday is one of two community-proposed West Seattle projects to get Neighborhood Street Fund money this year. Today, SDOT is launching the feedback process for the other one – now going by the title Chief Sealth High School Walkway Improvements, for a stretch of city right-of-way between the school and Westwood Village, east of Southwest Athletic Complex. Here’s the description of what’s being planned:
The project will improve connectivity, walkability, and safety for residents and students who currently use two unimproved and overgrown paths on 25th and 26th avenues SW, between SW Trenton and SW Cloverdale streets. Project elements include:
Two 10-foot wide asphalt walkways on 25th and 26th avenues SW running between SW Trenton St and the cul-de-sac to the north
Pedestrian lights along the two paths
Removal of overgrown vegetation and installation of new trees and plants where appropriate
Possible new plaza space at 25th Ave SW and SW Trenton St, either defined by paint or constructed with concrete
This is the first phase of outreach and we’d like to hear from you! Email us by April 9 to let us know:
What do you like about the design so far?
Do you have any concerns?
What would you like to see at the possible plaza area at 25th Ave SW and SW Trenton St?
How would you want to use this space?
What else would you like us to know about how you use this area?
What improvements would you like to see?
Do you have recommendations for how to keep people informed about the project?
Send your answers, and any other comments, to NSFChiefSealthWalkway@seattle.gov. The project is being designed this year, for construction next year. Here’s the SDOT document for the review of the original concept, estimated to cost $465,000; here’s our coverage of one of the meetings last year where pitches were made for this and other potential NSF projects in east West Seattle.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Months before firefighters were called to engulfed-in-flames 9029 16th SW early Saturday morning (WSB coverage here), the 98-year-old house was charred and partly boarded up.
As we reported that morning, the Seattle Fire Department had sent “full responses” there for fires in 2012 – blamed on a cooking fire started by squatters – and in 2015. Neighbors wondered why what was left of the house was still standing.
As promised, we followed up.
First – the city Department of Construction and Inspections tells WSB it has issued two orders to the property’s owners since last weekend’s fire. One orders them to seal up the building on the rear of the site, deadline today. We went back to the house late yesterday and indeed found that happening:
The other order is to tear down what’s left of the burned-out main house, which now looks like this:
SDCI spokesperson Wendy Shark told WSB, “If the owner does not take steps to remove the fire-damaged structure quickly, additional enforcement action will ensue.” As for what “quickly” means, she said, “The owner must demolish (it), or obtain an engineer’s report showing the building is not unsafe, by March 28, 2017.” If they don’t? “Once the compliance date is past without compliance, the files may be referred to the Law Department for additional enforcement.”
As we also noted the morning of the most-recent fire – the cause of which could not be determined by SFD – a redevelopment proposal is on file for the site. While a mixed-use plan was filed with the city in September, county records show ownership was transferred from an individual to an LLC (with whom the same individual is listed as associated) in December, and no further activity on the proposal is shown in online files. But a document in the system related to the September proposal includes this notation by a representative for the ownership:
There is an abandoned structure on site, and might have been occupied by homeless people. The owner has got couples phone calls from city about this issue. We are wondering whether we could demolish the structure as soon as we submitted building permit.
The files don’t show how that question was answered – or even whether it was answered; the proposal had not progressed to the building-permit application stage. (We have an inquiry out to the person listed as a contact at the time. An update: The document with that inquiry, while related to the September proposal, carries the date February 17, 2017.) But it brings up the long-running issue of city policy regarding tearing down dilapidated, dangerous houses like this. It’s an issue almost everywhere such houses stand – we wrote about it back in 2009, when a North Delridge community advocate led city leaders on a tour of problem properties.
In this November 2016 Seattle Times story about the issue, it was mentioned that the city was considering changing the rules. So we asked SDCI’s Shark about that. She pointed us to this page of the city website, where proposed changes are detailed in this draft ordinance. Among other things, its summary says it would:
Demolition of Unfit Buildings (SMC 22.208.020)
Establish an expedited process for ordering the demolition of a vacant building that can be documented as hazardous.
Demolition of Housing (SMC 23.40.006)
In instances when a final redevelopment permit has not yet been issued, reduce the length of time that rental housing must sit vacant before a demolition permit can be issued (from 12 months to 4 months), and expand to apply to commercial, industrial, and multifamily zones (in addition to single-family zones)
Shark says the City Council “will likely consider the legislation next month.”
Meantime, what’s left of 9029 16th SW is still standing as of our last check about half an hour before we published this story. This type of structure poses a special hazard to firefighters, who had to make the call upon arrival Saturday morning to deal with it as a “derelict” structure, fighting the fire “defensively.” SFD spokesperson Kellie Randall told us the assessment is made on arrival, as part of a policy developed under SFD Chief Harold Scoggins. No one was injured, and firefighters found no one in the area upon arrival, but because of how ferociously the fire was burning (see our photo atop this story), people in neighboring residential buildings had to be evacuated for a while, for fear it would spread.
We’ll continue to watch the situation, especially whether it gets demolished before the aforementioned deadline.
(Editor’s note: Updated at 1:49 pm to reflect the February 2017 date of the development-proposal-related document asking about demolition possibilities.)
Just announced – a March 14th self-defense workshop at Chief Sealth International High School, open to everyone, not just students:
Come Discover Your Power!
The WAVE Foundation and Fight the Fear will be leading a FREE workshop at Chief Sealth International High School on Tuesday, March 14th from 3:30-6pm in Room 222 (The Confucius Room). The School-based Health Center sponsored by Neighborcare Health will be hosting and providing snacks!
With sexual assault dominating media headlines, this workshop is more important than ever. This workshop with the WAVE Foundation is designed to give students real tools to protect themselves including intuition honing, de-escalation, boundary setting, assertive communication, and self-defense and fighting techniques, as well as access to resources for survivors of violence or abuse. Because the vast majority of those directly impacted by sexual assault are women, be sure to come with the understanding that the workshop’s target audience is girls and young women; however, ALL students, friends, parents and community members of all genders are welcome to attend!
Please mark your calendars! For more information, contact the Neighborcare Health School-based Health Center at Chief Sealth at 206-938-1360.
The school is at 2600 SW Thistle.
You don’t have to wait for Drug Takeback Day any more. King County wants to be sure you know about a new year-round dropoff box for unwanted, unneeded, and/or expired prescription drugs, which are a risk to health and safety if you keep them around. The QFC pharmacy in The Junction (4550 42nd SW) has one as part of the newly announced King County Secure Medicine Return program (more background here). Dropoffs are free, no questions asked; the program is paid for by drug companies. Questions? Here’s a detailed list of what you can and can’t drop off.
Next Monday and Tuesday, you have the chance to have your infant/child car seat checked, free, at Swedish Automotive (WSB sponsor). Both days, 10 am-2 pm, certified child-safety passenger technician Victor Gonzales will be checking seats to be sure they’re properly installed. Just stop by Swedish Automotive during those hours, those days (February 20-21), 7901 35th SW (corner of Kenyon). Questions? Call Swedish at 206-539-1984.
If you weren’t able to get to last night’s annual PTSA-sponsored Chief Sealth International High School/Denny International Middle School safety meeting – we recorded it on video. The major headline: This year has been much less eventful than last year, which meant no major controversies or crime concerns to talk about last night, unlike the same meeting last March (WSB coverage here).
Most of last night’s presenting participants were the same as last year: Read More
11:11 AM: Thanks to the parents who forwarded this note sent to Highland Park Elementary families this morning by principal Chris Cronas:
Yesterday afternoon during dismissal, a student was approached by a man on the corner of 11th Ave SW & SW Cloverdale while he waited for his ride home. The student claims the man demanded he go home with him. The student fled on foot, running home where his family found him, safe.
The man was described as having a dark complexion with black hair. He was reported to be wearing a dark green ascot and a dark jacket. We have no further information. The family contacted the police yesterday and provided the school with an incident number. We have notified Safety & Security as well. We will also be increasing our presence during afternoon dismissal by placing adults in different areas throughout the campus to increase our overall supervision.
This is a good reminder to talk with your student about what to do in the event something like this occurs. Please tell your student to immediately go to a nearby adult they know to ask for help.
If we are provided any additional information about this incident that could help the community identify this person, we will let you know.
We’re also asking police if they have any more details.
1:02 PM: SPD tells WSB it’s an open investigation; no other info to share so far.