Ever wonder ‘who’s on those committees, anyway?’ Could be you! Seattle School Traffic Safety Committee looking for new members

April 16, 2014 at 1:17 pm | In Safety, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 1 Comment

Lots of work in recent years on making the streets and sidewalks safer around West Seattle schools. Maybe you’d like to formalize that by being part of the Seattle School Traffic Safety Committee? The search is on for new members – read on for the announcement:

Click to read the rest of Ever wonder ‘who’s on those committees, anyway?’ Could be you! Seattle School Traffic Safety Committee looking for new members…

West Seattle Bridge alert: Watch out for ‘metal plate’ on eastbound east end

March 16, 2014 at 10:15 am | In Safety, West Seattle news | 24 Comments

10:15 AM: We’ve just received two reports of a hazard on the eastbound Spokane Street Viaduct – near the I-5 ramps on the east end of the West Seattle Bridge: It’s described as a protruding “metal plate,” in the left lane between the 1st and 4th Avenue exits, and one texter reports seeing people pulled over with flat tires. We’ve advised people to call 911 to report it since it sounds like it needs urgent repair work; on weekdays, the SDOT hotline 206-684-ROAD would be the place to call.

10:22 AM: The texting tipster says 911 promised to get someone out to fix it.

2 schools, 1 campus, 1 busy road: Safety improvements sought before Arbor Heights moves in with STEM

March 15, 2014 at 5:32 pm | In Safety, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 20 Comments

(School-zone beacon near Boren, now fully operational; photo courtesy Robin Graham)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Next school year, the former Louisa May Boren Junior High School on Delridge will be home to two schools – ongoing permanent home to K-5 (future K-8) STEM, and starting its two-year status as temporary home to Arbor Heights Elementary while AH is rebuilt.

That’s 800 or so students filling the campus, plus their teachers and other staffers.

Space in the building is not much at issue. Safety is – specifically, safely getting all those students to and from school, which fronts one of West Seattle’s main arterials, Delridge Way, a much-used route to and from the two bridges across the Duwamish River connecting the peninsula with downtown.

Though this is the second year K-5 STEM has occupied the building, it is only now getting something as simple as flashing beacons to catch drivers’ attention in the 20-mph zone. The beacons just began operation, and SDOT’s Brian Dougherty says that when Arbor Heights moves in this fall, the lights will be programmed to reflect the staggered times both schools will be in session on the campus.

The lights are welcome, but nowhere near a full solution.

Click to read the rest of 2 schools, 1 campus, 1 busy road: Safety improvements sought before Arbor Heights moves in with STEM…

In case you wondered: Big Seattle Fire response on Avalon

March 6, 2014 at 10:33 pm | In Luna Park, Safety, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

It was canceled fairly quickly, but it was so big that it caught a lot of attention, so here’s what emergency-radio traffic said about that big callout at Avalon/Bradford this past hour, in the Luna Park business district near the West Seattle Bridge: Someone reported that people were coughing inside a Metro bus because of some substance someone released – possibly mace or something like it. A “hazmat multiple casualty incident” response, with many units, ensued, but didn’t last long. Apparently the person who did it got off the bus, and the substance dissipated, and the bus continued on to 35th SW; no contamination was found. Seattle Police were reported to be looking for the person responsible.

Making West Seattle safer: New Block Watch = Stairs Watch

March 4, 2014 at 7:35 pm | In Safety, West Seattle news | 29 Comments

Chris McCall is rounding up some help for a neighborhood problem – and that broken glass is one of the symptoms:

We are starting a block watch because of vandalism and theft that has resulted from teens hanging out on the Hanford St. Stairs one block north of Madison Middle School.

Teens meet there to buy or sell pot, smoke pot, and drink liquor (that is probably stolen from parents, such as the smashed bottle of dragon fruit-infused SKY vodka currently there).

Some neighbors are scared to use the stairs at any time, and little children have to be careful of broken glass.

If you would like to help make these stairs safer and cleaner, please join us for a block watch meeting.

When: Tuesday, March 11th at 7 pm

Where: At the top of the stairs – 4516 SW Hanford St. (map)

Who: Mark Solomon from the Seattle Police Department will meet with us to discuss issues and how to solve them.

After Chris sent the announcement, we asked about a photo – and received the top photo showing broken glass, with the explanation, “Over the weekend, a mother and her young kids cleaned much of the litter as an act of kindness. I also put a broom on the stairs for people to use to clear broken glass.”

Later this afternoon – before we published this – Chris had a new photo to share, and an epilogue:

Walking home from school just now, I see that somebody broke the broom that I put out.

Making SW Roxbury safer: Discussion #2, and more to come

February 26, 2014 at 7:34 pm | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 17 Comments

If you didn’t make it to the second meeting tonight about the project to make SW Roxbury safer between 35th SW and its east end at 4th/Olson, you’re not out of chances yet, but time is finite.

As with the first meeting earlier this month in White Center, this meeting was led by SDOT’s Jim Curtin and Brian Dougherty, though it was an interactive discussion much more than a “sit down and listen” meeting. Curtin did have a new, brief slide deck – that’s him at left, below, on the Roxhill Elementary stage with Chris Stripinis from the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Neighborhood Council, who had explained backstory about WWRHAH and other groups asking the city to “do something about Roxbury Street.”

Thanks to Joe Szilagyi from WWRHAH, among tonight’s attendees, for that photo. Meantime, here’s the SDOT slide deck, shared by Curtin:

If you can’t see the Scribd document above, click here for the PDF version. After the presentation, with key points including the fact that Roxbury – classified as “a principal arterial” – has “a very high rate” of collisions, 223 in the last three years, including 11 pedestrians and two bicyclists being hit. Traffic volumes rise from 13,000 vehicles daily on the west end to 25,000 daily on the east end, “a pretty busy road.” The collision hot spots are all along the stretch.

The most collision-plagued intersection is at that busy east end, Olson/4th/Roxbury, and one suggestion was for a roundabout there – that would take money and time, Curtin said, not ruling it out, but for starters they’re considering reducing the spinout factor there by roughing up the pavement.

Other suggestions written on sticky notes and left along the multi-table rendering of Roxbury included working on the turn lanes at the intersection by Safeway, so people are clearer on which way vehicles are turning. All the suggestions are being collected, along with those to come at upcoming events such as these (from the slide deck):

WHAT’S NEXT: Early projects will include pavement repair near Roxbury Safeway – that will be fixed “very soon,” Curtin promised. Photo-enforcement cameras, as already announced, will be installed in Roxhill and Holy Family school zones. This entire project is being made possible by photo-enforcement revenue, he added. Longer-term – recommendations for the corridor are expected to be out in July.

West Seattle road/trail safety: Re-envisioning Chelan/Spokane/Delridge/W. Marginal

February 26, 2014 at 9:04 am | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 20 Comments

This morning, an invitation-only design charrette downtown is devoted to taking a fresh look (as explained here) at one of West Seattle’s more-problematic intersections, and it was preceded by a walking tour on Tuesday afternoon. The intersection is the five-way meeting of Chelan, Spokane, Delridge, and West Marginal Way SW, just west of the “low bridge.” West Seattle-residing City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen was among those on hand for a firsthand look and discussion of its challenges and its potential.

Among the stops – a bus lane that wasn’t serving its originally intended purpose, because of route changes.

The bicycling/walking/running trail was scrutinized too; there’s already a project in the works just to the south at 23rd/Delridge to improve connectivity (as mentioned in our coverage of the most recent West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting).

This morning’s design event was billed as for “stakeholders”; we’ll be checking back to find out what’s next.

Update: Pedestrians hit by drivers in Junction, Westwood areas

February 25, 2014 at 8:57 pm | In Safety, West Seattle news | 8 Comments

ORIGINAL REPORT, 8:57 PM TUESDAY: That photo is from Christopher Boffoli, who is just back from 45th and Glenn (map) on the west side of The Junction, where there was a sizable Seattle Fire medical callout after a pedestrian was hit by a driver. Christopher says the driver’s Prius was apparently headed north onto 45th from Glenn. The pedestrian’s injuries turned out not to be life-threatening, so SFD called for a private ambulance to take him to the hospital.

ADDED 1:39 PM WEDNESDAY: We have also confirmed that an incident near Westwood last night was also a case of a driver hitting a pedestrian. SFD spokesperson Kyle Moore says the victim was a 17-year-old girl, who did not suffer life-threatening injuries. Medics transported her to Harborview Medical Center in stable condition. Moore also says the victim in the Junction crash was a 45-year-old man who was in serious condition when transported.

Are you ready? Get involved with your Emergency Communication Hub – and get ready for a citywide drill

February 22, 2014 at 6:03 pm | In Preparedness, Safety, West Seattle news | Comments Off


View West Seattle Emergency Communication Hubs in a larger map

Know your nearest Emergency Communication Hub! That map shows the 11 community-volunteer-powered spots in West Seattle that would be activated in case of major disaster – someplace you could go to find out what’s going on when other communication channels are down. And this week, anniversaries remind us that the most likely disaster around here – earthquake – can hit at any time; three years ago today, the Christchurch quake in New Zealand killed almost 200 people; next Friday (February 28th) will be the 13th anniversary of the Nisqually earthquake here in Western Washington, which left hundreds hurt. So while quakes are top of mind again, it’s a great time to get involved with the Hubs – which have now gone citywide – and to get ready for a big citywide drill that’s about three months away.

On May 17, between 9:00 am and noon, community groups and emergency volunteers from throughout Seattle will be participating in a disaster drill to test neighborhood emergency preparedness.

The groups, known as the Seattle Emergency Communications Hubs, will join the City’s Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS) ham volunteers to simulate a volcanic explosion and it’s impact on Seattle, especially if the wind blows ash towards Seattle and resulting lahars (mud flows) impact infrastructure. “It’s all about neighbors helping neighbors” said Carl Leon, one of the drill organizers. “We set up neighborhood hubs where people can come to get information and share resources or skills to help those who have been affected.”

The ACS volunteers will practice sending situation reports of conditions in each neighborhood from the Hubs into the City’s Emergency Operations Center. In a real event, that information could be used by City response planners to assess conditions throughout the city and develop response plans.

Participating Hub locations in addition to West Seattle include Broadview, Capitol Hill, Kirke Park, Lake City, Loyal Heights, Magnolia, Maple Leaf, Queen Anne, Rainier Beach, Shilshole. All Hub locations will welcome visitors and people who would like to learn and participate in the Hubs.

For more information about becoming a Hub volunteer, contact Cindi Barker, cbarker@qwest.net, 206-933-6968.

For information about becoming a Ham radio operator or member of ACS, contact Carl Leon at
N7KUW@arrl.net.

And in the meantime, browse westseattlebeprepared.org for information that could someday save your life.

West Seattle Crime Prevention Council local-trends report, and 5 other Crime Watch notes

February 19, 2014 at 12:11 pm | In Crime, Safety, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

We start this West Seattle Crime Watch report with toplines from the crime-trends update presented at last night’s WS Crime Prevention Council meeting by new precinct commander Capt. Steve Wilske (right): Residential and nonresidential burglaries are below average this past month, he said, attributing that to arrests of juvenile-burglary suspects as well as the Anti-Crime Team’s work. Car prowls “have been low the past four months.” But auto thefts are up, “and that’s the one category where we’re up, and up pretty significantly,” he said. However, he said, two “very active auto thieves” who have been in custody since January 28th are blamed for much of the month’s spike – he says it’s dropped since they were arrested. Asked about violent crimes, “there’s nothing that really strikes me” as unusual, he said. He was asked about but did not have updates on West Seattle’s two unsolved 2013 murders.

(Most of the rest of the WSCPC meeting dealt with the ongoing Ryan Cox case and what turned out to be the synergistic pre-scheduled presentation about the city’s Mental Health Court – that’s all coming up in a separate story.)

Now, read on for our most recent reader reports – including prowlers, suspicious behavior at a playground, a stolen car found by a WSB reader, and a stolen truck reported just over the city-limit line in White Center (could turn up here, so we’ll publish those reports when we get them):

Click to read the rest of West Seattle Crime Prevention Council local-trends report, and 5 other Crime Watch notes…

Roxbury safety project: ‘Tons of feedback’ at meeting #1

February 14, 2014 at 9:14 am | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | Comments Off

We didn’t get to the first SW Roxbury Safety Project meeting last night because of breaking news, but Joe Szilagyi from the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council did, and you can see his report on the WWRHAH website. He says the SDOT team got “tons of feedback” and provided new details on what happens next.

In the immediate future, the previously announced February 26th meeting at Roxhill Elementary is the next step, but after that, as you’ll see in Joe’s report, there’s a further timetable for conversations and implementation.

‘I-35′ no more? City leaders announce ‘multi-year’ 35th SW traffic-safety project

February 11, 2014 at 3:03 pm | In Safety, West Seattle news | 53 Comments

(January WSB photo: Temporary speed trailers on 35th SW south of Graham)
After years of discussions about safety improvements on 35th – and less than two months after the most recent deadly crash – the city is now committing to action. Just in:

Today Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Tom Rasmussen announced that the City will launch a multi-year traffic safety corridor project for 35th Avenue SW. The mayor and councilmember both committed to improving safety for all users on streets like 35th Avenue SW by reducing speeding and collisions.

“Reducing speeds is the single most effective way to decrease collisions and prevent future tragedies on Seattle’s streets,” said Mayor Murray. “Through thoughtful traffic safety corridor work we can help make 35th Avenue SW safer for everyone.”

With safety projects already underway for Lake City Way and SW Roxbury Street, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will launch a 35th Avenue SW Corridor Safety Project in fall 2014 to help enhance safety. The project will focus on the three mile segment between Fauntleroy Way SW and SW Roxbury Street. Early implementation efforts will begin in March 2014 and will include pedestrian focused education, especially for older residents, and enforcement targeting speeding, distraction and failure to yield.

“Continuing our efforts to improve safety on the 35th Ave SW corridor is important,” said Councilmember Rasmussen. “A traffic safety corridor study will engage the community and help build on the improvements made in the past several years.”

Traffic safety corridor projects address roadway safety through data-driven engineering, enforcement and education efforts that reduce speeding and collisions while improving pedestrian crossings. These projects are guided by an extensive SDOT public outreach effort where the department shares traffic data and reviews recommendations from modal plans with the community. SDOT then works collaboratively to develop solutions, identify priorities and establish a timeline to implement short and long term improvements.

Potential engineering measures to be considered during this process would include traffic signal installation and enhancements, channelization modifications, pavement repair, arterial traffic calming, lighting and pedestrian crossing improvements.

Previous corridor safety projects in Seattle have achieved significant safety enhancements. The Aurora Traffic Safety Project (2009-2011) reduced fatal and serious collisions by 28 percent and total collisions by 21 percent. In spite of an increase in traffic volumes, the Fauntleroy Way SW Project (2009) reduced injury collisions by 73 percent.

In addition to numerous earlier discussions of 35th SW problems and potential solutions, this time, neighborhood and advocacy groups launched an online petition.

Community invited to Madison PTSA presentation about gun safety

February 10, 2014 at 11:43 am | In Safety, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 16 Comments

From the Madison Middle School PTSA, an invitation to a presentation tomorrow night:

Madison Middle School has invited Ralph Fascitelli, President of Washington Ceasefire, to present on February 11 at 7:15 pm at our General PTSA Meeting. Ralph will talk about the ASK-Washington Campaign, a public health and safety campaign dedicated to reducing accidental injury and death to children.

Asking Saves Kids (ASK) – Washington is a public safety education campaign aimed at encouraging inquiry by parents and neighbors about guns in homes where their children play. Our goal is to persuade parents that this conversation—to ensure that their kids play in a gun safe environment — is an essential parental responsibility.

The initiative is explained here. Madison is at 45th/Spokane.

West Seattle, White Center meetings set for SW Roxbury safety project

February 4, 2014 at 4:09 pm | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

(July 2010 crash at 8th/Roxbury, WSB/White Center Now photo)
Want to see SW Roxbury a whole lot safer than it is now? You’ll recall the campaign launched by the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council with the support of other area neighborhood advocates. Now, it’s announced that the city has scheduled two meetings about the improvements to follow:

*6:30 pm Thursday, February 13th in White Center’s Greenbridge neighborhood, 9800 8th SW
*6 pm Wednesday, February 26th, at Roxhill Elementary School, 30th/Roxbury

The city’s official project page is here. And you can expect to hear about this at tonight’s WWRHAH meeting, 6:15 pm at Southwest Branch Library (meeting preview here).

West Seattle road work: 30th/Roxbury curb bulb on the way

February 4, 2014 at 10:09 am | In Safety, West Seattle news, West Seattle traffic alerts | 1 Comment

As part of safety improvements near Roxhill Elementary, SDOT is building a curb bulb by the school next week, which that means some restrictions for drivers Tuesday, February 11th, through Thursday, February 13th. Here’s the announcement:

As part of the Safe Routes to School Project for Roxhill Elementary School, the Seattle Department of Transportation will be installing a pedestrian improvement at the intersection of Southwest Roxbury Street and 30th Avenue Southwest. The construction will require restricting northbound turns from SW Roxbury to 30th Avenue SW beginning Tuesday, Feb. 11, at 7 am, weather permitting. This restriction will remain in effect 24 hours per day until 5 pm Thursday, Feb. 13. Southbound travel on 30th Avenue SW will not be affected.

This restriction will allow crews to build a curb bulb on the northeast corner of 30th Avenue Southwest and Southwest Roxbury Street. This curb bulb will shorten the pedestrian crossing distance and provide a calmer pedestrian environment.

Those wishing to travel north on 30th Avenue Southwest should continue west on Southwest Roxbury Street to 35th Avenue Southwest, north on 35th Avenue Southwest to Southwest Barton Street, and east Southwest Barton Street to 30th Avenue Southwest.

Safe Routes to School is a national program that makes it safer and easier to walk and bike to school. This project also includes building a new concrete sidewalk and planting strip on the west side of 30th Avenue Southwest between Southwest Roxbury Street and Southwest 97th Street. New trees will be added, as well as ground cover and additional street lighting. Work is expected to be complete in March.

West Seattle road safety: Temporary speed signs on 35th SW; flashing beacons for 3 school zones

January 30, 2014 at 10:22 pm | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 16 Comments

We’ve talked a lot about road safety here – and this week, new signage in multiple areas of West Seattle is being noticed. First, in the wake of the most recent discussions about 35th Avenue SW, temporary signage has been brought in. SDOT‘s Jim Curtin explains:

Two Speed Watch Trailers were recently deployed to 35th Avenue SW in an effort to reduce speeds on the corridor. These devices detect and display the speed of oncoming vehicles and provide direct feedback to drivers about their speed. They do not record data but raise awareness about speeds on this principal arterial roadway. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) studies show that these signs generally result in speed reductions in the range of 1 to 7 mph. In Seattle, our experiences with these devices typically result in speed reductions of 3 to 5 mph and significant reductions in the number of people traveling 10+ miles per hour over the speed limit. These function in a similar manner to the permanent radar speed signs that exist in four locations on 35th Avenue SW.

The portable speed watch trailers will remain in place for the next week or two and will be deployed periodically on the corridor. At this point, we are evaluating other measures that might help address speeding and other safety concerns on 35th.

Meantime, the online petition launched by neighborhood advocates on Tuesday passed 500 signatures today.

SCHOOL-ZONE BEACONS: We’ve been working on a closer look at safety concerns on Delridge by the Boren school building, which houses K-5 STEM now and will also be temporary home to Arbor Heights Elementary for the next school year. Halfway through the second year of classes there, Boren is finally getting flashing lights – “beacons” – to warn drivers about the school zone.

Robin Graham from the K-5 STEM PTA shared that photo of installation that was under way today. After hearing from a reader about an installation under way on California SW near Gatewood Elementary, we checked with SDOT’s Brian Dougherty to ask for the big picture:

There are three new sets of flashing school zone beacons being installed this month in West Seattle. They are located at:

· Delridge Way SW approaching SW Juneau St for the STEM (and future Arbor Heights) School
· SW Thistle approaching 26th Ave SW for Denny Middle School and Chief Sealth High School
· California Ave SW approaching SW Frontenac St for Gatewood Elementary

None of these will include permanent automated speed-enforcement cameras at this time. The beacons have all been installed and there is some sign work that needs to occur before the beacons can be turned on. The sign work is scheduled to occur in February and I expect the beacons will be fully functional sometime around March 1st. This spring, we will ask Seattle Police to conduct targeted enforcement to remind drivers not to exceed 20 mph when the lights are flashing.

There are two other spots where speed cameras ARE on the way – as previously reported – on SW Roxbury by Roxhill Elementary and Holy Family School. As of our most recent check, those are not expected to be in operation until this fall, as the next school year begins.

35th Avenue SW safety: Online petition asks the city for action

January 28, 2014 at 4:13 pm | In Safety, West Seattle news | 75 Comments

That photo is from Sunday night – another crash on 35th Avenue SW, this time a motorcycle rider waiting to turn, rear-ended by a driver. Just eight days earlier, a memorial walk organized by local transportation-safety advocates called for action by the city, following the death of James St. Clair, hit by a driver while crossing 35th. As reported in our story about the post-walk discussion, similar calls had resounded for years – so far, none bringing much action.

So today, an online petition drive has launched to amplify the call for change. As its introduction notes, a deadly crash brought fast action in a north-end neighborhood last year, so why not, after five deaths in seven years and dozens of other crashes, here?

West Seattle cannot wait any longer – we need safe streets now! We the undersigned ask the Mayor, City Council, and Seattle Department of Transportation to fund and construct rapid improvements as they did in the case of the NE 75th St tragedy.

If you want to sign the online petition, go here.

Neighborhood traffic-safety questions? Get answers with West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network tomorrow

January 27, 2014 at 11:51 am | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | Comments Off

You’re invited! Here’s what’s up when the West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network meets tomorrow night:

If your neighborhood has concerns about traffic, what can you do to resolve them? Did you know you can borrow a radar gun to document speeding? Want to know how to go about getting a traffic circle? Stephen Padua, Neighborhood Programs Coordinator from SDOT, will educate us on the different resources and options available to neighborhoods and how you can effectively address other traffic issues. During the second portion of our meeting, we want to hear about any other issues that have been problematic in your neighborhoods since our last meeting in October.

You don’t have to be a captain, or even IN a Block Watch, to be there. 6:30 pm Tuesday (January 28th), Southwest Precinct meeting room (off Webster just west of Delridge).

35th SW memorial walk, report #2: Another death, another meeting – will major safety improvements follow, this time?

January 21, 2014 at 4:09 pm | In High Point, Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 55 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

James St. Clair‘s niece choked up as she struggled with saying her uncle “was” rather than “is.”

But her words were clear and plaintive as she wondered aloud “what could happen in another seven years if it’s going to take that long to make changes?”

“Seven years” referred to the time elapsed between the death of 27-year-old Susanne Scaringi, who lost her life bicycling at 35th and Graham in September 2006, and the death of Mr. St. Clair, 69, hit and killed while walking across 35th at that same intersection last month.

Darlene Saxby spoke about her uncle, and her fears, during the community meeting that followed Saturday’s community-organized Memorial Walk on Saturday. (She also spoke during the memorial, as seen in our first report, with video, here.) After words and song in his honor, yards from where he died, about 20 participants walked on to Neighborhood House’s High Point Center for that conversation.

For Darlene, this was new. For some in High Point, it was achingly familiar. In April 2011, after the death of a motorcyclist at 35th/Juneau, a roadside memorial:

A roadside rally:

Some extra enforcement:

And a discussion of safety.

Flash back across another two-and-a-half-year span before all that. In September 2008, a teenager was hit and seriously hurt crossing at 35th and Juneau:

Soon after that, local youth joined in a safety rally along 35th:

crowd35th.jpg

And that in turn was less than a year after a previous plea for safety improvements, days after 85-year-old Oswald Clement was killed crossing at 35th/Othello. Between his death and the teenager’s injury, yet another person had died on 35th – Gregory Hampel, a 39-year-old hit by a car while trying to get his dog out of the road near their home.

Five lives, seven years. The challenges had not changed, but some of the faces and names had changed:

Click to read the rest of 35th SW memorial walk, report #2: Another death, another meeting – will major safety improvements follow, this time?…

Video: 35th SW memorial walk, report #1

January 18, 2014 at 5:58 pm | In Safety, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

If you drive, ride, walk, or roll past the northeast corner of 35th/Graham in High Point in the hours/days ahead, you will see the tribute created during this afternoon’s memorial walk honoring James St. Clair, hit and killed while crossing there last month, just weeks after moving to this area. The bicyclist who died at that same intersection seven years earlier, Susanne Scaringi, was also a new West Seattleite; between the deaths of those two much-loved people, three others died along 35th SW, and all were mentioned today as reasons to make it a safer street. The event organized by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways and peninsula-based groups included members of Mr. St. Clair’s family, High Point residents, and safety advocates from around the city, including former Mayor Mike McGinn:

Mr. St. Clair’s niece Darlene Saxby spoke of how much she would miss him, and how she hoped his death will lead to changes that could save other lives:

Some who were on hand have the power to help make that happen, including Councilmember Tom Rasmussen:

Honoring Mr. St. Clair’s Tlingit roots, a fellow former resident of Hoonah, Alaska, Gene Tagaban, drummed and sang:

And then a sight that many were talking about long afterward – an eagle overhead:

The eagle eventually moved on – as did the participants, some staying behind to reflect, about 20 moving on to convene at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center to spend more than an hour talking about what should and could be done to reduce the chance of more deaths and injuries on 35th SW. That is what we’re writing about for the forthcoming second report – including what could be different this time, since, as some participants observed, past tragedies led to many meetings that to date have not followed by change.

Saturday afternoon set for James St. Clair’s Memorial Walk

January 15, 2014 at 2:20 pm | In Safety, West Seattle news | 5 Comments

(December 29th photo by Christopher Boffoli for WSB)
The date and time are now set for the memorial walk in High Point honoring 69-year-old James St. Clair, hit and killed two and a half weeks ago at 35th and Graham. We reported last week on Seattle Neighborhood Greenways‘ plan for the walk, in connection with local groups including the High Point Neighborhood Association, and following HPNA’s meeting last night, it’s set for 1 pm this Saturday, January 18th, starting in front of High Point Branch Library (35th/Raymond). Participants will walk south to the crash site, and then two more blocks to Neighborhood House’s High Point Center to talk with city representatives about safer streets. SNG says the mayor’s office, SDOT, and SPD will participate.

Mr. St. Clair was the second person in seven years killed at that intersection; 27-year-old Susanne Scaringi died after her bicycle collided there with a car in 2006. In 2007, 85-year-old Oswald Clement was hit and killed at 35th/Othello; in 2008, 39-year-old Gregory Hampel lost his life near SW Dawson; in 2011, 24-year-old Andrew Seffernick died at 35th/Juneau. There have been repeated calls for safety improvements.

SNG says Mr. St. Clair, a member of the Tlingit people who had lived in High Point less than a month before his death but had been in Seattle more than 30 years, was born in Hoonah, Alaska. His brother, Oscar Jacob St. Clair, is quoted in the group’s announcement as describing James, who walked with a cane, as strong, independent, funny, and outgoing:

“I thank you from the bottom of my heart for recognizing Jim. For seeing all people, even poor people. Our family, my brothers and sisters, are in sorrow. I pray a positive light will happen because of this. A lot of people need to walk in the evening. They want to go to the grocery store like Jim did on his last night. I hope in his memory we see brighter lights, a stoplight, a safer community.”

More about Saturday’s memorial walk is on the SNG website, here.

West Seattle weather: Should you be worried about your trees?

January 12, 2014 at 5:16 pm | In Safety, West Seattle news, West Seattle weather | 7 Comments

Our stormy weekend hasn’t been kind to trees. The one in Benjamin Hutchinson‘s photo, above, toppled onto an Alki sidewalk overnight. Our Saturday coverage showed several cases of sizable trees or branches falling in the wind – bringing down wires in The Junction, mashing a car on 40th SW in Morgan Junction. Trees are a big part of what makes our city so beautiful – Seattle has seven times as many trees as people! – but you might wonder sometimes which one(s) are at risk in the next 45+-mph gust. We took the tree-safety question to arborist Mark Harman from longtime WSB sponsor Stonehedge Tree Experts, who is also a certified tree-risk assessor. Here’s his reply:

With these strong winds recently and the accompanying damage that may result from trees or their parts flying off or falling on your car or home, it makes one take a second look at the large trees around us. Should we be worried about the trees in our yards or the neighbors’ yard? Here is my opinion from a guy who has been working with trees for the last 30 years from Washington to Idaho.

Around here in the Seattle area, it is very unusual for a healthy tree to totally blow over. Of those trees that do blow over or those trees that lose the top part of the tree, almost all of those episodes could have been predicted if an experienced Arborist had looked closely at the tree prior to it falling apart. There are almost always signs on the tree that show its problems. Trees have “body language” – they can tell us if they are sick, hollow, rotten, twisting, failing, or tipping over. We just have to be educated to read those signs.

Every tree species has its own problems:

Click to read the rest of West Seattle weather: Should you be worried about your trees?…

Memorial walk planned for pedestrian killed at 35th/Graham

January 9, 2014 at 10:30 pm | In High Point, Safety, West Seattle news | 8 Comments

(December 29th photo by Christopher Boffoli for WSB)
69-year-old James R. St. Clair, hit and killed while crossing 35th SW at SW Graham on December 29th, was the fifth person in seven years to die along what some call “I-35.” Seattle Neighborhood Greenways and local safety advocates are organizing a Memorial Walk as a tribute to Mr. St. Clair and a reminder that 35th still has its dangers. Cathy Tuttle from SNG is working with High Point reps to plan the event, most likely for the weekend of January 18-19. It will likely begin with a memorial gathering at the collision site, followed by a walk to a meeting place in High Point for lunch and a meeting with city officials to talk about the ongoing concerns.

We haven’t learned much about Mr. St. Clair since the crash, but Tuttle’s group says they found out he had moved to High Point from elsewhere in the city a short time before his death, so he hadn’t yet formed many connections here. They would like to invite family and friends to participate in the memorial walk; SNG’s contact info is here. We’ll publish an update when the event’s date and time are finalized.

Reader report: Possible luring attempt near Roxhill Elementary

January 9, 2014 at 4:45 pm | In Safety, West Seattle news | 15 Comments

Though this might not have been a crime, in the context of recent unsolved incidents, a West Seattle mom wanted to report what happened to her daughter this afternoon. E-mailed by Kezia:

I wanted the WSB readers to know that a man tried to give my teenaged daughter an unsolicited ride this afternoon. She refused but it made her uncomfortable.

She was walking to pick up her younger sibling at Roxhill Elementary after school.

She described the stranger to me as looking middle-aged, either white or light-skinned Latino driving a gray or silver car “that was like a station wagon but not.” Maybe a hatchback? I will need to talk with her more when I return home from work.

I just wanted to let West Seattle folks be aware. Hopefully parents are talking about these kind of situations with their kids. Fortunately we have (done so) in my house, so my daughter felt prepared. We discussed walking home along a busier route.

We will update later if there is more information to share. Seattle Police, meanwhile, have published these suggestions for talking to kids about staying safe outside, and inside, their homes.

West Seattle safety: Sidewalk construction under way on 30th SW

January 7, 2014 at 4:50 pm | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 8 Comments

Thanks to Joe Szilagyi from the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council (which meets tonight) and the West Seattle Transportation Coalition (which meets a week from tonight) for the photo – long-awaited sidewalk construction is under way on 30th SW, between SW 97th and SW Roxbury. It’s part of a safety project focused on helping kids get to and from Roxhill Elementary; the full scope of the project is described on this SDOT webpage. Joe says the crews on scene estimate the work will last four to six weeks, depending on the weather.

Madison Middle School students photographed by man in car, school tells parents

December 17, 2013 at 9:48 pm | In Safety, West Seattle news | 30 Comments

Another local middle school principal has sent an alert to parents. This time, it’s a recorded message from Dr. Robert Gary, Jr., at Madison Middle School, robocalled and e-mailed this evening, saying that three Madison students reported today that a man drove up and photographed them. We won’t be able to find out more from police or school officials until tomorrow, but we’ve received the audio file from a parent and have transcribed the information with which it begins:

“Good evening, Madison parents. This is Dr. Gary, interim principal at MMS. On December 16th at 2:30 in the afternoon, three Madison students reported that a man in a four-door older model gray car rolled down his window and took pictures of them with a red camera. This incident occurred two blocks north of Madison on Stevens Street. The person is described as a white male with gray hair, age 50 to 60. The students informed their parents when they arrived home and parents contacted the police. The Seattle Police reported the incident to Madison staff yesterday at 4 o’clock pm …”

The message continues from there with safety tips, almost word-for-word what was in the Denny/Sealth letter about the Roxhill Park incident. Dr. Gary’s audio can be heard in its entirety here (MP3). We haven’t seen a written version of it, if any was sent.

P.S. It should be noted, it is not a crime to photograph someone, of any age, who is in a public place or visible from a public place, but since the school was concerned enough to alert its families, we are sharing the information here too, and will update tomorrow with anything additional we find out from police and/or Seattle Public Schools.

‘We are fed up and we need help’: WWRHAH’s letter to Mayor-elect Murray, following Roxhill Park rape report

December 17, 2013 at 4:46 pm | In Safety, West Seattle news, Westwood | 43 Comments

We talked with police again today about the Roxhill Park rape report that first emerged in a letter sent by Denny International Middle School and Chief Sealth International High School principals to their schools’ families, published here Monday afternoon. The Denny student first reported it to a school employee yesterday, saying it happened in the park around 3:30 last Thursday afternoon; police tell us the report then was given to a school-assigned police officer, and the case then was referred to the SPD Sexual Assault Unit, which hoped to have a detective speak with the victim today. With the investigation still at an early stage, no written report is available yet, we’re told. But here’s one thing in writing: The following letter just sent to Mayor-elect Ed Murray from the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council, making sure he understands the park’s crime crisis and asking what

As chronicled here previously, West Seattle’s newest community council already had been focused on the park and its challenges – and this just stepped it up further. We’ll let you know what response they receive, and will continue to follow up the investigation as well.

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