Fire stations on the move: Updates on interim sites for 29, 32

January 29, 2015 at 3:59 pm | In Safety, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

Updates on two West Seattle fire stations that will soon be on the move, temporarily:

INTERIM ADMIRAL FIRE STATION 29: Fencing went up today at the SDOT-owned triangle that will house Station 29 while its permanent home a block away is undergoing renovations and upgrades. This is the site where neighbors didn’t find out until the last minute that the planned site had changed. After more than a week of concerns, they had a meeting two Saturdays ago, organized by Councilmember Tom Rasmussen:

(January 17th photo courtesy Ted Johnson)
Neighbors’ safety concerns weren’t fully resolved – they’re still worried about blindspots on 44th, especially at SW Hill and Ferry, even with the city saying that parking won’t be allowed on the east side of 44th. That’s another impact that concerns them, as they’ve been told 12 street parking spots will be removed around the site, in all. Regarding the trees, they were given permission for a neighbor to rescue one of the existing trees, a gingko, and they have been promised tree restoration once the interim fire station is gone. Neighbors did not get a commitment for street improvements post-fire station but vow to keep pressing the point and hope to work with the Admiral Neighborhood Association on that. As for what’s next at the site, just as we were finishing this story, we heard back from Julie Moore at the city:

We had been waiting for a signed work order from the contractor, the street use permit from SDOT and for SPU to move its water testing equipment. All of that fell into place over last week and the beginning of this week. As such, some activity has begun, including installation of no-parking signs, the Honey Bucket, and temporary fencing. Over the coming weeks, additional work will occur, including grading of the site, preparation for utilities and ultimately delivery of the temporary trailer and assembly of the tent that will house the fire engine. Because preparation for and installation of the temporary facility involves various components that require the work of different trades and inspections, some of the work will be spaced out, so there may be days without visible activity.

Meantime, in The Junction:

INTERIM JUNCTION FIRE STATION 32: Temporary buildings are now in place on the 40th SW site between Alaska and Edmunds that will house Station 32 for more than a year; this site just north of the 4745 40th SW mixed-use development will eventually become a city park. The latest status report says construction is scheduled to start any day now at the 37th/Alaska home of Station 32, which will be torn down and replaced by a brand-new station on the same site.

4:43 PM UPDATE: For this one, Julie Moore from the city says, site work will actually start closer to late February, but crews will start to move out sooner: “The tentative move schedule shows the medics from FS 32 temporarily moving to FS 37 on Feb. 9, the other crews from FS 32 moving to temporary FS 32 at 4731 40th Ave. SW on Feb. 10, and the Battalion Chief from FS 29 moving to the temporary FS 32 on Feb. 17.”

Here’s what’s coming up at the north end of Delridge and beyond

January 28, 2015 at 6:43 pm | In Delridge, Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 5 Comments

6:43 PM: From the “in case you were wondering, too” file: A reader e-mailed today with the observation, “I noticed a construction sign and cement barriers up this morning on Delridge, north of Andover Street,” so we went over for a photo, then asked SDOT, and got this reply from Maribel Cruz:

The barriers you reference were installed to facilitate installation of four new Seattle City Light poles prior to the start of construction of pedestrian safety improvements along Delridge Way SW between SW Andover Street and the West Seattle Bridge Trail.

The pedestrian safety improvements project is scheduled to begin the third week of February and to last for approximately six weeks. It will improve the connection for pedestrians and bicyclists from the West Seattle Bridge multi-use trail to the signalized intersection at Delridge Way SW and SW Andover St., and beyond to the Delridge and West Seattle neighborhoods. Most importantly, this project will improve safety for all roadway users.

Project elements include:

* Widened sidewalk along the east side of Delridge Way SW
* Curb ramps at Delridge Way SW and SW Andover St
* Redesign of 23rd Ave SW where it meets Delridge Way SW to reduce the pedestrian crossing distance and provide uninterrupted sidewalk

Cruz promises another update soon.

ADDED 9:06 PM: This SDOT webpage has a little more information, including a simple map.

West Seattle Crime Watch: Student reports ‘flasher’ incident

January 27, 2015 at 7:52 pm | In Crime, Safety, West Seattle news, West Seattle police | 8 Comments

7:52 PM: Thanks to the Chief Sealth International High School parents who have sent us this message received tonight by families – first we have heard of it:

Yesterday, while walking home from school, a student was approached by a man in a newer model, gray minivan. A man drove up to the student, pulled off to the side, opened his door and exposed himself to her. This student ran away and reported this incident when she got home and then reported to the school today. Police were notified, took a report and description, and are now investigating. We do not have a license plate, but the description was a white male in his mid 30s, brown hair, wearing a white t-shirt and worn-out jeans, and driving a newer model gray mini-van. Our student did everything right, immediately getting away from the stranger, meeting up with a nearby familiar individual and reporting the incident to her parent, to the school, and then to the police.

The safety of our students is our top priority for Chief Sealth International. You can help your children stay safe by talking to them about personal safety. Tips to discuss are walking in pairs or groups and being aware of their surroundings at all times, as well as not talking to strangers or getting into their vehicles. Having these conversations, especially with younger children, can be difficult. We encourage you to be sensitive to your child. More tips and information can be found on the Seattle Police Department website.

While it hasn’t been mentioned here so far, we received this while covering the West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network meeting and are pursuing more information from police; we’ll add anything more we find out.

8:14 PM: One additional detail that was not in the school e-mail – the police report says the student wasn’t certain exactly where it happened, but it was “near” Delridge/Thistle, which is a few blocks east of the school. This is the first incident of this type that has surfaced in our area since last September.

Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole coming to West Seattle for a community conversation on February 3rd

January 20, 2015 at 9:06 am | In Crime, Safety, West Seattle news, West Seattle police | No Comments

(WSB photo from August 2014 – Chief O’Toole with Karen Berge & Deb Greer of the WS Block Watch Captains Network)
Shortly after Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole started her job last summer, she visited last summer’s Delridge Day/Picnic at the Precinct festival. She has not, however, been to a formal community meeting here – but that’s about to change. Just announced:

The Southwest Precinct Advisory Council (SWPAC) and the West Seattle Block Watch Captains are pleased to announce a community conversation with Seattle’s Chief of Police Kathleen O’Toole.

The West Seattle community is invited to come to the Southwest Police Precinct on Tuesday, February 3rd from 6:30 to 8:30 pm to participate in this community conversation.

There will not be a formal program as this is an opportunity for the citizens of West Seattle to come out and meet Seattle’s new police chief.

If you would like more information or have any questions, you can contact Pete Spalding at SWPAC@comcast.net.

The precinct is at 2300 SW Webster, on the NW corner of Webster/Delridge.

Interim Fire Station 29′s sudden switch: Community meeting Saturday; utility work today; response-time difference explained

January 14, 2015 at 2:38 pm | In Safety, West Seattle news | 18 Comments

(WSB photo taken this morning)
One week after neighbors of the 44th/Ferry/Hill triangle in North Admiral learned it was about to become the suddenly switched site of Interim Fire Station 29, work on the parcel is already under way: A Seattle Public Utilities crew is working on the water-quality-testing installation that has to be moved.

Also: A community meeting is officially set for this Saturday morning. Councilmember Tom Rasmussen told neighbors at an informal gathering last Saturday (WSB coverage here) that he would try to set one up, at least to get answers to their questions, and SFD has announced the meeting will be held this Saturday (January 17th), 9 am, at Station 29 (2139 Ferry Avenue SW, a block from the new interim site), with the other two involved departments – Finance and Administrative Services and Transportation – also officially sponsoring it.

SFD also has sent information elaborating on the response-time concerns that it says led to the scrapping of the long-announced plan to put interim Station 29 at the same Harbor Avenue site that had housed interim Station 36 until its upgrades were finished last summer:

The Seattle Fire Department is concerned about emergency response times to the community served by Fire Station 29. The National Fire Protection Association or NFPA establishes national goals for fire emergency responses. The national standard is to have the first arriving engine at a fire or medical emergency to be within 4 minutes, 90% of the time.
The reason for the national standard is time matters in emergency responses. When it comes to fires or cardiac events, every second counts. Fires grow exponentially. Also, with patients who have life-threatening medical emergencies such as heart attacks, the quality of care that they receive in the first six minutes can mean the difference between life and death.

While searching for a temporary location of Fire Station 29, the Seattle Fire Department looked at response times from the 2500 Harbor Avenue site and from the SDOT triangle located on Ferry Avenue SW. The Department ran district-wide response models from both locations. The data revealed that the response time for a first arriving engine unit from Harbor Avenue would average 5 minutes and 35 seconds. A response time from the temporary location would average 4 minutes.

The maps (above) show the difference in responses from both locations. The dark green represents when the first arriving unit meets the national standard of 90%. The dark red indicates when the first arriving unit would meet the national standard less than 50% of the time. As the data map indicates, the Harbor Avenue location would have much slower responses to the community served by Fire Station 29. For this reason, the Seattle Fire Department wanted to keep Station 29 in the neighborhood it serves to ensure a consistent level of fire and medical protection for the citizens of West Seattle.

When determining the location of the temporary fire station, the City did look at a few other sites in the neighborhood, including the Charlestown Café and Life Care Center sites. Neither were viable options, the former due to it being in the permitting process for a residential project that is due to break ground this spring, and the latter because it would have required a zoning change, and having the fire engine pull out onto Admiral Way, then backing into the site from Admiral Way, is not ideal.

Not mentioned is an alternative city-owned site that has been mentioned in the discussion that’s erupted since last Wednesday’s announcement of the change in sites, SPU property in front of the current Station 29. We’re still checking on why that apparently was ruled out or not considered.

Previous WSB coverage:
1/11/15: Followup – Neighbors mobilize after site switch
1/7/15: New interim FS 29 location: Triangle by church
March 2014: Report mentioning Harbor Ave. site designated for interim FS 29

Followup: Neighbors mobilize after temporary Fire Station 29 suddenly switches to smaller site

January 11, 2015 at 9:33 pm | In Safety, West Seattle news | 20 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Fire Station 29 in Admiral has been slated for remodeling and seismic-safety upgrades since voters passed a citywide levy 11 years ago.

For at least a year, the city has been saying that while the work is under way at Station 29, its engine and personnel would be based from the same Harbor Avenue industrial site that was interim home to North Delridge’s Station 36 during its now-complete upgrades. The $1.8 million contract has now been awarded, and Station 29 work is soon to start.

Then suddenly last Wednesday, the city was sending reps door-to-door around a triangle of SDOT right-of-way a block northeast of the current station – between 44th SW, Ferry SW, and SW Hill, across the street from Admiral Congregational Church and A Child Becomes Preschool – telling neighbors the plan had changed at the last minute, and that the triangle would house the interim fire station instead, for about a year, a tight fit at best.

Since our first report that afternoon, we have pursued follow-up questions, and neighbors have been mobilizing. Their point, in a Saturday-morning gathering attended by City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, is that they’re not against having firefighters nearby (they’re already on the block) – they’re concerned about the size and safety of the newly designated site, and the lack of transparency in keeping the change under wraps until the last moment.

Click to read the rest of Followup: Neighbors mobilize after temporary Fire Station 29 suddenly switches to smaller site…

Followup: Crash-damaged Longfellow Creek footbridge reopens

January 9, 2015 at 10:49 am | In Delridge, Safety, West Seattle news, West Seattle parks | No Comments

Since the crash that damaged a Longfellow Creek footbridge three weeks ago, we’ve been checking with Seattle Parks about the status of repairs. This morning, Parks spokesperson Joelle Hammerstad tells WSB the footbridge has reopened:

While working to make repairs to this bridge … we determined that the main structure is sound. We have re-opened the bridge and re-installed temporary fencing where the railing was damaged. The repairs/upgrades will take longer than expected but patrons, will be able to use the bridge while our carpentry staff order supplies and fabricate needed parts.

As reported here last week, the driver who crashed the pickup eastbound on SW Yancy, through the railing, and into the creek, 40-year-old Rossindo Ramos, is charged with DUI and reckless endangerment. He and his passenger escaped serious injury. We’re following up with Parks on what the repairs will cost and whether they’ll pursue restitution.

Fire Station 29′s new temporary location: Triangle by church

January 7, 2015 at 4:22 pm | In Safety, West Seattle news | 46 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The city has changed its mind about where to move Fire Station 29 while the Admiral District station is undergoing renovations this year.

Instead of moving it to the same Harbor Avenue spot that housed Station 36 during its recent overhaul, they plan to put the temporary station on a vacant triangle of city-owned land just south of Admiral Congregational Church.

Since getting a tip about this possibility, we’ve been working to confirm it with the city, and that confirmation finally came today. From Cyndi Wilder:

During the construction period for the seismic upgrade at Fire Station 29, the interim station will be located on a City-owned parcel at 44th Avenue SW and SW Hill Street. While we are still going through the process to finalize this location, we are far enough along to be able to confirm and announce the site.

Before we could proceed with this location for the interim site, we needed confirmation from Seattle Public Utilities that its water testing equipment currently on-site could be relocated in the required timeframe. We now have that confirmation.

This afternoon, staff from the Seattle Fire Department and the Finance and Administrative Services Capital Development and Construction Management Division will be conducting door-to-door community outreach, as we do for other projects, informing neighbors of the interim site plans and the timeline for the seismic project.

The site was chosen because of its proximity to Fire Station 29, and keeping the engine and crew in the service area will allow fire crews to maintain their current emergency response times. We expect activity at the interim site as early as this month, with the temporary station active as early as February, and lasting for approximately 12 months.

Here’s the letter that is being distributed to neighbors:

This triangle of land is technically SDOT right-of-way, which came to light most prominently back in 2008 during the controversy over potential changes to nearby California Place Park, the grassy site by the California SW bus stop east of the church. At the time, it was suggested that Seattle Parks might take over management of this triangle.

The $1.8 million contract for the Station 29 renovation was recently awarded to Par-Tech Construction. It’s one of two West Seattle fire stations that will be in temporary locations soon. The other is Station 32, whose Triangle building will be demolished and replaced with a brand-new station; its interim site is future parkland on 40th SW, south of SW Alaska. Station 11 in Highland Park also is being upgraded, but its crew is staying on-site during the work.

2 new crosswalks confirmed for Delridge Way by Boren Building

January 6, 2015 at 8:39 pm | In Delridge, Safety, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 17 Comments

(WSB photo from fall 2014: Looking south down 5900 block Delridge Way)
Big news tonight for the parents and staffers who have been pushing for safety improvements on Delridge Way at the Boren Building, permanent home of K-5 (soon K-8) STEM and temporary home of Arbor Heights Elementary: The city Department of Transportation has finally officially confirmed that two crosswalks will be built.

The STEM community got unofficial word more than a month ago, and we’ve been seeking SDOT confirmation ever since; the city, however, had to finalize some details, and finally this evening, senior transportation planner Brian Dougherty had an official announcement to share, not just in response to our most recent inquiry but also with those in the school community who had worked so hard to make it happen:

SDOT will be installing two new marked crosswalks near the Boren building for Arbor Heights and K-5 STEM. One crosswalk will be provided near the front door of the school, connecting the school to the Longfellow Creek Trail. Another crosswalk will be provided at 24th Avenue SW, connecting the school to Metro bus stops and High Point via the Graham Street stairs.

Both projects are tentatively scheduled to be constructed this year with funding provided through a combination of Safe Routes to School and Neighborhood Park and Street Fund.

The crosswalk to the front entrance was requested in a community proposal for use of the NPSF, as reported here last year, when we also covered the Seattle School Traffic Safety Committee convening at STEM and hearing firsthand about the safety challenges that school was facing, even before another full elementary-school population joined them, if only for two years.

In case you’re wondering, Dougherty’s note to school reps mentions one more thing: “Both crosswalks will have some form of push-button-activated stop light or warning light.”

Followup: Repair plan for the West Seattle Bridge lights

December 30, 2014 at 1:49 pm | In Safety, Utilities, West Seattle news | 13 Comments

(Image from SDOT camera on the bridge, saved early Monday – note the dark zone in the center)
If you have driven the West Seattle “high bridge” after dark/before dawn in the past week or so, you’ve no doubt noticed the stretch of non-working lights between Highway 99 and the bridge crest. (And this isn’t the first trouble since the LED lights were installed last year.) After multiple inquiries, we mentioned last Friday that city sources had confirmed Seattle City Light was on it. So why aren’t they fixed yet? We followed up today with SCL, whose Scott Thomsen tells WSB:

After we got reports of the lights being out, we had a line service crew do a patrol and inspect the lights that were out. They determined that the cause for the majority of them was a failed piece of equipment called a breaker/contactor. The part is on order. It is scheduled to be delivered Jan. 5 and will be installed as soon as it arrives. Then, the crew will do another patrol to assess any remaining lights that are still out.

Today’s Viaduct/tunnel pit update from WSDOT: No new ‘significant settlement’; no voids under King St. crack

December 12, 2014 at 6:28 pm | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, Safety, West Seattle news | 15 Comments

One week has now gone by since WSDOT disclosed new “settling” of, and near, the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the hole being dug to reach the Highway 99 tunneling machine for repairs.

After the ensuing week of various updates, discoveries, and concerns, today’s update is out, and in it, WSDOT says “to date, no significant settlement has been observed beyond the initial settlement we reported publicly on Dec. 5. The viaduct remains safe for travel.” The update also says that so far, ground-based radar hasn’t shown any “voids” under the crack scrutinized on King St. in Pioneer Square on Thursday. (E-mail from WSDOT to reporters adds, “The crack in the middle of King Street has been there for some time, as seen in a Google Maps picture from 2011. Given the absence of prior settlement data on this particular street, it may take a while to fully understand what may have caused pavement to shift.)

Meantime, the City Council‘s agenda for next Monday morning has been revised to start with WSDOT execs’ updating the council on the “settling” at 9:30 am, followed by a 9:50 am discussion with state and city officials about what would happen if the Viaduct had to be closed, short term or long term. The agenda section for the latter item includes this existing document that discusses closure in the context of an earthquake.

West Seattle Crime Watch: Four reader reports and reminders

November 28, 2014 at 10:43 pm | In Crime, Safety, West Seattle news | 23 Comments

Four West Seattle Crime Watch reader reports:

HIT-AND-RUN: Reported tonight by Emily:

I was walking my dog around the block near my house. Because it is twilight, I lit the bright green light that I attach to her leash. I was crossing Admiral at 63rd on the east side of the intersection, walking north. A woman driving a dark brown car (I think it was a Ford Taurus) was driving north on 63rd and turned right on to Admiral. She ran the stop sign, which unfortunately happens a lot at this intersection. When she saw me, she slammed on her brakes but slid into my legs. Thankfully I was not seriously hurt, but I can tell I will have some spectacular bruises tomorrow. What I’m most upset about is that the woman did not stop to see if I (or my dog) needed help.

MYSTERY CREDIT-CARD FRAUD: From Alan:

We just found out that our credit card had fraudulent purchases made on it (Wednesday). We were told that the card was scanned for the purchases, so the person made a copy of our card. One was for over $500 at Rite-Aid. We know the purchases were in Seattle, but we don’t know if they were in West Seattle. We do know that we haven’t charged anything outside of the West Seattle area in the last week. The furthest away were two restaurants in Georgetown and they are places we normally go. We did use our credit card twice yesterday and both places (one small restaurant and one large retailer – not Rite-Aid) were places we have not been before. The large retailer seems unlikely, as the card never left our view and it seems unlikely the checker could have had a copy device in the reader. Sadly, that makes us suspect the small restaurant. It is certainly possible that someone made the copy some time ago and is just now using it.

With shopping season upon us, I would encourage people to watch their accounts. I’m just happy that something about the charges being spotted by our credit card company. No loss to us, except for some trust.

(MONDAY UPDATE: See Alan’s comment – after comparing notes with someone who had something similar happen, he now suspects this happened OUTSIDE West Seattle after all.)

(back to original report)NOT JUST PACKAGES BEING STOLEN‘: From Amanda:

Wanted to warn folks that it’s not just packages being stolen. I had $100 worth of grocery delivery taken from my porch early this morning. I’ve been an Amazon Fresh customer since the beginning (7 years?), and have never had anything stolen before. But when I went to get my deliver off the porch, all but one small bag of food was gone. The thievery must have taken place between 4 and 6 am.

She added in a postscript that Amazon refunded the full value, even though she told them it was a theft.

PACKAGE-THEFT SIDE NOTE: If it’s happened to you lately, please read this comment following our previous Crime Watch roundup.

CAR VANDALISM (OR PROWL?): Reported tonight by Bill:

My wife took our kids to the West Seattle YMCA and parked outside the front door on 36th Ave. SW with our Toyota Highlander. 4:30 PM. Returned at 5:45 PM to find the passenger side rear window smashed out. Nothing apparently missing. Just letting you know in case other reports come in about vandalism in that area.

He reported it online – which you can do with some categories of crime; the start page is here.

Followup: 47th/Admiral traffic-signal project goes out for bid

November 25, 2014 at 11:35 am | In Safety, West Seattle news | 14 Comments

Though the city had said as recently as September that work would start on the 47th/Admiral traffic signal this fall, it won’t be any sooner than winter, since the project is only just now out to bid. The solicitation on the city website and in public notices says bids are due December 10th, which is two weeks from tomorrow. The notice projects the signal will cost up to $350,000. It has long been in the works, with the campaign to improve safety at the intersection tracing back to the death of 26-year-old Tatsuo Nakata, hit and killed by a driver eight years ago this month; in summer of 2013, after then-Mayor McGinn proposed an incremental improvement at the intersection, the City Council found funding for a full signal. Whenever work starts – we have a message out to ask about the new projected timeframe – the city estimates that the signal construction will last about three months.

ADDED: In response to our inquiry, SDOT says that the current plan is to start construction in February.

Staying safe online: Kids 9+ and their families invited Monday night

November 23, 2014 at 5:44 pm | In Safety, West Seattle news, West Seattle police | Comments Off

In case you haven’t already seen this in our calendar, or heard about it via your child’s school: Kids 9+ and their families are invited to increase what they know about online safety – from cyberbullying to social networking to gaming, and beyond – at a free event tomorrow night. It’ll be hosted by Denny International Middle School, starting at 7 pm Monday in the auditorium at Chief Sealth International High School next door (2600 SW Thistle). The presenter is Stefanie Thomas, a victim advocate with the Seattle Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and there’s more info on the official flyer.

Update: ‘Attempted child luring’ reported in school alert – what we’ve since found out

November 18, 2014 at 6:10 pm | In Crime, Delridge, Safety, West Seattle news | 34 Comments

6:10 PM: Thanks to the Arbor Heights Elementary and K-5 STEM parents who forwarded this, which they said they’ve received from school staff via e-mail and robo-call this past hour or so:

There has been a report of an attempted child luring in the vicinity of our school. The vehicle is a black F-150 Ford pickup, driven by a heavy-set, older black male. The license of the truck is B060—. The police were notified, and the subject is a registered sex offender. The suspect has not been apprehended. Please be aware and talk with your children about keeping safe. More information to follow tomorrow.

That’s the entirety of the notice, at least in the version forwarded to us. STEM and AH are currently sharing the Boren Building at 5950 Delridge Way SW. We are checking with police, who will be at tonight’s Crime Prevention Council meeting (7 pm at the precinct, Delridge/Webster) if we don’t reach them sooner.

7:06 PM UPDATE: Precinct commander Capt. Steve Wilske has been looking into this for us. He finally found the incident report and says it happened yesterday – it was originally called in as a different type of incident, and while investigating that, they say, a child told them of being approached by the person described in the alert, so they are now looking for that person. (We only had a quick comment to speak with him before the WSCPC meeting – if we’re able to get any more info afterward, we’ll add.)

8:49 PM UPDATE: So far what we’ve found out, from covering the Crime Prevention Council meeting, is that this was reported yesterday afternoon and the report is categorized missing child/suspicious vehicle (again, the child is safe, and was not abducted or otherwise harmed, we’re told). The registered sex offender who is believed to be the suspect does not live in the West Seattle area. The report carries the address 26xx SW Kenyon, which is the Denny IMS vicinity, but short bits of info on police reports can carry the address from which an incident is reported instead of where it happened, so we’re still awaiting confirmation of where exactly the child was approached. (Added: 6900 block Delridge, per police)

WEDNESDAY MORNING UPDATE: We’re continuing to follow up with police and Seattle Public Schools. In comments, two STEM parents have shared this text of a followup message from their principal:

I received several inquiries about a school messenger sent out by Arbor Heights yesterday concerning an alleged child luring incident. The information contained in the message was shared by a parent, and we were not able to confirm several details after conferring with SPS security or the police, and so we were advised not to send an alert. Because of the questions, I am sending out an update of information we were able to confirm.
.
On Monday, November 17 the driver of a black Ford 150 truck with a roof rack was acting suspiciously while talking with a 7th grade Denny Scholar on his walk to school. The driver was reported as being a heavy set older African American male. The incident was reported to the police.
.
As always, communicate with your children regarding good safety practices.

9:09 AM: We’ve been talking with SPS spokesperson Stacy Howard over the past hour. She confirms that a local parent saw the suspicious vehicle, reported it to police, and then directly contacted schools. Howard says there is supposed to be a protocol for what steps are gone through to send a school-wide alert, and they are sending a reminder to school administrators about that today.

West Seattle scene: 35th SW meeting, afternoon edition

October 28, 2014 at 6:02 pm | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | Comments Off

The second of two meetings for the 35th Avenue SW Safety Project has wrapped up at Southwest Branch Library. We stopped by during the feedback session, post-presentation (if you missed the former, our report on the first meeting includes both video of the entire presentation plus the slide deck). SDOT’s project manager Jim Curtin says about 40 people attended – that’s what we counted at meeting #1 – but this group had some different interests, including parking. Listening to attendees who were invited to look at drawings of the road and write their thoughts next to specific areas, we heard continuing concerns that a “road diet” is in the cards. And again, Curtin said no plan’s been drawn up yet, but if a road diet is tried and doesn’t work – as happened in The Junction some years back – it can be undone by repainting the road.

WHAT’S NEXT: SDOT plans to continue “outreach” while creating design concepts, November through January; then in February (no specific dates announced yet) design alternatives will be unveiled and reviewed during another round of meetings. Questions or comments? jim.curtin@seattle.gov is the address to use.

West Seattle sinkhole: Avoid 45th SW between Alaska & Edmunds

October 27, 2014 at 11:38 am | In Safety, West Seattle news, West Seattle traffic alerts | 3 Comments

A sinkhole is blocking the northbound side of 45th SW between Alaska and Edmunds (map) west of The Junction. After two reader tips (thank you!) we arrived just as an SDOT worker was putting out cones and tape to block off the sinkhole. One neighbor says it happened, at a previously patched spot in the road, around 8 am. No repair ETA yet; the worker told us that, as you might have guessed, many crews are out dealing with downed trees right now. Though there’s enough room for a car to squeeze by in the southbound lane, that’s still very close to the sinkhole’s edge and we’d advise avoiding the road unless you live on that block and have to get to/from home.

ADDED MONDAY NIGHT: We went back to check on the sinkhole just as it was getting dark. A Seattle Public Utilities crew was there to do some investigating:

We’ll check in with SPU and SDOT tomorrow.

1,065 crashes in 10 years on 3 miles of ‘I-35.’ Safety project begins, to create a ‘more forgiving’ street

October 23, 2014 at 3:45 am | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 62 Comments

By Tracy Record & Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers

(September 2006 reader photo, memorial at 35th/Graham)
Susanne Scaringi

Oswald Clement

Gregory Hampel

Andrew Seffernick

James St. Clair

Their names weren’t all spoken during Wednesday night’s launch meeting for the 35th SW Road Corridor Safety Project. But the knowledge that five crashes on “I-35″ had ended their lives – five deaths in seven years – hung heavy.

“There are so many reasons we want to eliminate these serious crashes,” said SDOT‘s Jim Curtin, opening the first “issue identification” meeting for the project, which he is managing. “… We want to create a street that’s more forgiving, so when people do make mistakes, the consequences aren’t so tragic.”

What began Wednesday night – 8 months after it was promised – is intended to result in changes and improvements within a year, along the three miles of 35th between Avalon and Roxbury – three miles that have seen 1,065 crashes in the past 10 years, Curtin said.

(May 2013 crash at 35th/Roxbury: WSB photo by Christopher Boffoli)
Distraction is blamed for about a third of the crashes. After that: Speeding, impairment, failure to grant right-of-way. Despite the absence of a major safety campaign, there has been progress.

willowspeed.jpg

(October 2008 speed sign at 35th/Willow, where recent studies showed the highest average speed)
The speed limit along the project area is 35 mph; studies from the past year show that speeds have “come down considerably since 2007,” Curtin said, but they are still over the limit. 85 percent of the traffic is going almost 41 mph at SW Willow, 38.5 mph at SW Brandon, 36.5 mph at SW Roxbury. At those speeds, “we’re rolling the dice .. pedestrians do not typically do well” if hit at those rates of speed.

Backing up: He began with a presentation; not recommendations or suggestions, but instead, the project’s goals and facts. We recorded those first 46 minutes on video, including some Q/A:

Below, you’ll see the slide deck Curtin walked through during that opening presentation:

(PDF version is here.)

Curtin stressed that 35th is “a neighborhood” – 488 parcels along the three-mile stretch in the project zone, 73 percent of them single-family homes, 11 percent apartments/condos/townhouses – so when there are crashes, they are virtually (and sometimes literally) “in people’s front yards”:

(January 2010 crash at 35th/Cloverdale – WSB reader photo by Bruce)
While he stressed repeatedly that “tonight, we’re not jumping into solutions at all,” it was clear that some are eager, even ravenous, for solutions. One man who said he’s had two cars “totaled, absolutely totaled” decried people who drive on 35th SW “as if it were the Indianapolis 500,” particularly in the years since it became the last north-south two-lanes-each-way road through the heart of West Seattle.

(Seen April 2010 at 35th/Webster, shared by MAS)
He continued, “If you put 35th on a road diet, you won’t need more people to enforce (the speed limit).” (He was challenged loudly by other attendees and Curtin had to put the brakes on what almost accelerated into a shout-down.)

The speed van and radar trailers are among the measures implemented since 2007 that have brought speeds down somewhat, “but there is still room for improvement,” Curtin declared. (Our archives include this long list of changes made as of a 2008 discussion (note that a road-diet study was mentioned then, six years ago).

Police enforcement has brought some progress over the years.

(WSB photo: April 2011 emphasis patrol on 35th)
Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Steve Wilske told attendees about an enforcement period in which SPD made contact with 200 drivers over four months, with 70 pulled over for “talking on a cell phone while driving,” 40 for speeding, and the other 90 for “various violations” (including other forms of distracted driving). He said they might be back on 35th, and they are hoping to “do the same thing … in different areas.” The overtime is covered by grants they seek.

In Q/A, Curtin and Wilske were asked how road design might affect the stated major causes of crashes, distraction and impairment. “The way we design our streets have a huge impact on how people behave on our streets,” Curtin replied. “We have great big wide streets,” and, for example, that encourages people to speed, he says. “That’s why in Seattle our neighborhood streets are designed to be 25 feet wide with parking on both sides,” very little room to speed.

One resident of 35th mentioned that other drivers “don’t like their momentum broken” by, for example, his necessary turns into his own driveway, or buses slowing/stopping to pick up people. He suggested it would be worse “with three lanes” – referring to widespread suspicion that a “road diet” (rechannelization) is already decided. “Nobody’s said anything about three lanes at this point,” said Curtin, reiterating that this is the discussion stage, not the design stage.

But the topic came up again and again, and Curtin mentioned something he’s said before – that while Seattle has “done more than 30 road diets,” usually preceded by “gloom and doom,” the latter does not come to pass. (Fauntleroy Way SW, rechannelized in 2009, is a frequent example.)

Another point he made: While every intersection is a legal crosswalk – and you’re required to stop – SDOT won’t mark them “on roads like 35th” unless there is a signal. If they “change things significantly on 35th,” that would allow more marked crossings, he noted.

Was there ever a traffic change that didn’t work out? Curtin was asked. He brought up California SW, “which we put on a road diet twice, in 1970s and 1990s,” and while, he said, it worked well along most of the stretch, it did not work in the heart of The Junction, so they reversed it. “And that’s the beauty of a road diet – it’s just paint,” so if it doesn’t work out, the road can be repainted.

That led to a question about the state of SW Alaska, westward from 35th. Curtin pointed out its status as a bus route – “every time a RapidRide bus passes you, that’s hundreds of people who would (otherwise) be in cars” – as some solace for traffic concerns.

After those 46 minutes of presentation plus Q/A, breakout conversations were offered for topics including a proposed neighborhood greenway on 34th SW, which will be studied, Curtin said, next year – and what Curtin acknowledged might be “difficult choices” involving hot topics such as parking and channelization.

The 40-plus people in attendance were invited to offer their thoughts at three tables – broken geographically into the north, central, and south sections of 35th. Notes were written on huge sheets of paper mapping section of I-35.

WHAT’S NEXT: Curtin couldn’t stress enough that this is the input phase – offer your comments and concerns now, before something is designed/proposed. Next big chance to do that is meeting #2, same format as this one, though Curtin promised “tweaks”: 3:30 pm next Tuesday (October 28th), 3:30-5 pm at Southwest Branch Library, which, unlike Wednesday night’s venue, is on 35th (at SW Henderson) … a spot where we’ve covered a few crashes in the past year alone, including this one exactly one year ago:

(WSB photo: October 2013 crash at 35th/Henderson)
In February of next year, SDOT expects to unveil and circulate “design alternatives,” with a decision to be made in spring. In the meantime, if you have something to say, say it, urges Curtin: “If anyone feels they’re not being heard at these meetings, send me an e-mail at any time (jim.curtin@seattle.gov) … I’d be happy to come out and walk the corridor with you … I’d be happy to meet with you whenever and wherever.”

What would YOU do to make 35th SW safer? Come tell SDOT Tuesday – or via the contact options here.

Making 35th SW safer: SDOT adds second community meeting

October 17, 2014 at 10:22 am | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 13 Comments

(WSB photo from 2008: One of many safety rallies/demonstrations on ‘I-35′)
Just in from SDOT: Two meetings are now planned to kick off the 35th SW safety-improvement program. The 6:30-8 pm meeting next Wednesday (October 22nd) at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center was announced back in August; now, they’re adding a meeting on Tuesday, October 28th, 3:30-5 pm at Southwest Branch Library. Plans for the “multi-year” safety project were first announced back in February, after years of crashes and concerns along what’s been dubbed “I-35.”

Reader report: Safety alert, if you walk your dog in Schmitz Park

October 16, 2014 at 11:11 am | In Safety, West Seattle news | 36 Comments

Out of the WSB inbox, from Beth:

I was just in Schmitz Park talking to the park warden and he asked if we could get some info up on the blog. People had a campout under the bridge (last night) and left all their supplies/ garbage strewn about. They had a large amount of chicken wings and he is working on getting it all picked up but wants people who bring their dogs in to be aware that there may be chicken parts he can’t reach around the bridge/going down the ravine; they can cause a choking hazard/ digestion problems for the dogs.

Speaking of firefighters: Upcoming storytime in West Seattle

September 30, 2014 at 3:36 pm | In Safety, West Seattle news | Comments Off

Local libraries host storytimes every week – but every so often, there’s an extra-special edition featuring Seattle Fire Department reps, always firefighters, sometimes others, all the way up to Fire Chief Gregory Dean. Another round of Firefighter Storytimes – fun events to teach little ones about fire safety – has just been announced, and it includes a West Seattle visit: High Point Branch Library, 11:30 am, October 23rd.

Update: Why Sealth, Denny, Roxhill were briefly ‘sheltering in place’

September 23, 2014 at 2:18 pm | In Safety, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 8 Comments

ORIGINAL REPORT, 2:18 PM: Several parents messaged us about Chief Sealth International High Schoolsheltering in place” for a while this afternoon. It was related to a report that a teenager had been seen in the Westwood Village area with what looked like a gun. Seattle Public Schools spokesperson Stacy Howard says police found the teen, who turned out to have an Airsoft gun, but was not threatening anyone. She says Sealth, Denny International Middle School, and Roxhill Elementary sheltered in place for less than half an hour, and it’s over now.

ADDED 8:50 PM: Denny assistant principal Patricia Rangel has forwarded the letter that Denny and Sealth parents will get explaining the situation:

Unneeded/expired prescription drugs? Take-Back Day this Saturday

September 23, 2014 at 9:31 am | In Health, Safety, West Seattle news | 5 Comments

Keeping unneeded, unwanted, and/or expired prescription medicine around the house is a bad idea for a variety of reasons. Tossing it in the trash or emptying it down the drain is a bad idea, too. So what to do? Get rid of it this Saturday (September 27th), 10 am-2 pm, during the next Take-Back Day. The official local drop-off spot will once again be the Seattle Police Southwest Precinct at Webster/Delridge.

West Seattle schools: K-5 STEM, Arbor Heights volunteers work to make things ‘a lot’ safer

September 20, 2014 at 4:14 pm | In Delridge, Safety, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

(WSB photos)
Way back in January, when the Seattle Schools Traffic Safety Committee convened at the Boren Building, they heard K-5 STEM parents and staffers warn that existing safety challenges in and around the parking lot would only intensify when Arbor Heights Elementary moved in starting this fall. And it’s indeed been busy, to say the least – so this morning, volunteers gathered for a “parking-lot party” to fix what they could – a lot of painting, for example (top photo), and weeding/de-mossing.

Bigger issues remain to be solved, beyond the scope of a weekend work party – see our report on this past week’s Delridge District Council meeting for more on that – but progress is progress, one step (or paintbrush) at a time.

West Seattle traffic alert: Crash on 35th near Camp Long

September 9, 2014 at 4:50 pm | In Safety, West Seattle news, West Seattle traffic alerts | 1 Comment

Thanks to Clark for the photo from a reported car/motorcycle collision near Camp Long, in the 5000 block of 35th SW, northbound side. He says traffic is getting through, with only the outside northbound lane blocked. The SFD dispatch was for an “aid response,” lowest level of medic callout, so that likely means no major injuries; we’re checking.

Got gas (service)? Puget Sound Energy’s sending smell-mail

September 3, 2014 at 1:28 pm | In Safety, Utilities, West Seattle news | Comments Off

That quick video clip’s all about something Puget Sound Energy is sending out to more than a million customers via postal mail (in this case, e-mail just wouldn’t work), as explained in this announcement:

Billing statements from Puget Sound Energy arriving in mailboxes over the coming weeks might smell a little rotten.

A newly designed natural gas safety brochure is being sent out to more than 1.1 million PSE customers throughout September. In addition to lots of important information about what to do if there’s a suspected gas leak, there’s a scratch-and-sniff section that’s a reminder of the rotten egg odor associated with natural gas.

To help detect gas leaks more easily, PSE and other natural gas utilities add an odorant called mercaptan to the natural gas, which is naturally odorless and colorless. Everyone in a family needs to recognize the stench, and know what to do if they smell it:

Click to read the rest of Got gas (service)? Puget Sound Energy’s sending smell-mail…

Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights CC isn’t meeting tonight, but IS meeting with Highland Park AC, police on September 24th

September 2, 2014 at 9:04 am | In Crime, Neighborhoods, Safety, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

It’s September, and the community groups that took all or part of the summer off would usually be getting back to their normal schedules. But two of them have a different plan for this month. Tonight, the first Tuesday, would usually be the regular meeting night for Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council, but here’s what’s on the schedule instead, as announced by Joe Szilagyi:

One more month of a slightly different WWRHAH schedule!

No meeting tonight as we’ve mentioned — the next one will be a joint meeting with the Highland Park Action Committee at their meeting space on Wednesday, September 24 at 630 pm. This meeting will be dedicated to and focusing on Seattle Police across our two areas and South Delridge. Bring your questions — we’ll have all the key staff from the Southwest Precinct there!

Meeting: HPAC & WWRHAH joint SPD meeting
Date: Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Time: 630 pm-830 pm
Location: Highland Park Improvement Club, 1116 SW Holden

Here’s the Facebook event if you want to join that or share it.

If you live in one of those areas and have concerns/questions for SPD, that meeting will be particularly crucial, as the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council has canceled its September meeting because of health challenges among its leadership.

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