West Seattle, Washington
Thanks to the parents who shared this letter sent to Chief Sealth International High School families:
Dear Chief Sealth families,
As you are probably aware, tonight is our Homecoming game and Dance. Homecoming is an exciting event for our students. There is increased activity around the school including more former and non-district students. We want to ensure that we have a safe and fun Homecoming celebration and have been developing plans to make this a wonderfully memorable occasion.
Yesterday after school a student alerted us to a rumors of a potential disruption at Homecoming. Although no specific threats were identified, we alerted the Seattle Police Department (SPD). Because of recent community violence, we wanted to make sure that the Southwest Precinct was aware of our student’s concerns, so that they could support our Homecoming. In an abundance of caution, SPD will be assigning additional officers to our event today. We appreciate their support.
Please know that we take safety on our campus very seriously, the well-being of our students is our top concern. We are committed to doing everything we can to keep our students safe during all school activities. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me. I will be happy to speak with families and guardians directly. In the meantime, please join us for our wonderful Homecoming activities tonight.
Principal, Chief Sealth International High School
This time of year, we’re at Southwest Athletic Complex every Friday night, covering whichever team is playing a home game, so we can tell you that police are almost always on hand at SWAC games, whether there’s an incident or not. We usually see them in local high-school gyms during varsity basketball games, too.
No special guest at last night’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting, so it was a shorter-than-usual meeting devoted to police updates and community concerns. Read More
Emily sent the photo of another stop sign that was in place by Monday morning (we checked this morning – still there) facing westbound Admiral Way, about half a block east of 59th, “adding to the confusion,” as she put it, because: “It doesn’t say ‘stop ahead,’ just stop. Which watching a couple cars as we were walking by, (they) didn’t quite seem to know what to do about it.” This is the same intersection we first told you about a week ago, where parents from nearby Alki Elementary School say the conversion to an all-way stop has made things more dangerous rather than safer. As noted in our first followup, SDOT said it would make some changes while continuing to evaluate the intersection until March, but they didn’t mention adding a mid-block stop sign.
Just in from Jennifer Burbridge, Southwest Precinct crime-prevention coordinator – the date’s set for the next Drug Take-Back Day:
The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day addresses a crucial public safety and public health issue. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.4 million Americans abused controlled prescription drugs. The study shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.
The DEA’s Take Back Day events provide an opportunity for Americans to prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths. The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and anonymous means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse and medications.
The SW Precinct’s DEA Drug Take-Back Day will be on Saturday, October 28th, from 10 am-2 pm at the SW Precinct (2300 SW Webster).
Whatever you need to drop off, just take it to the precinct lobby – right off its parking lot along SW Webster, east of the south Home Depot entrance – that day.
Do we have enough police officers? What do you think of the police force? Have you been a victim of crime? Are people in your neighborhood likely to intervene if they see potential criminal activity? Those are the types of questions you’ll be asked when you reply to this year’s Seattle Public Safety Survey. It’s now open and available online in 11 languages. It’s managed by Seattle University, which continues to have graduate students interning as research analysts in SPD precincts. This is the third year for the citywide survey – you can see last year’s results here.
P.S. If you don’t have time to take the survey now, you can use the “Share This” link below to e-mail yourself (or anyone else!) the link to this story.
4:37 PM: We reported Tuesday on Alki Elementary parents’ concerns about safety at the 59th SW/SW Admiral Way intersection since its conversion to an all-way stop. SDOT had told the parents, who formed a Traffic Safety Task Force for the school, that they would evaluate the intersection over a six-month period before deciding whether to make more changes or revert to the way it used to work, including a pedestrian-activated stoplight. The task-force parents met with SDOT reps at the intersection yesterday, including Safe Routes to School point person Brian Dougherty, and now SDOT has just sent this update from spokesperson Dawn Schellenberg:
I wrote to [the list who received this update] a couple of weeks ago sharing what we’d been hearing and were observing with the new all-way stop in at 59th Ave SW & SW Admiral Way. Since that time, the most common concern we’ve received is that people driving begin to roll through this large intersection before people walking start, or complete their crossing. We share your concerns and are dedicated to improving the intersection for pedestrians.
Since the all-way stop was installed in late August, we started collecting data. Our evaluation of the all-way stop will ultimately include an assessment of stop compliance, speeds, turning movement, and pedestrian counts. So far, we have collected speed data, turning movement counts, and pedestrian counts. Based on this data, we have seen pedestrian volumes comparable to pre-installation with a preference for crossing Admiral on the east leg, where the crosswalk is marked. We’ve also seen a decrease in speeds along SW Admiral Way since the street was restriped in late 2016. That being said, we’ve made the decision to accelerate some of the other proposed improvements, including:
• Relocating the stop sign on the west leg closer to the intersection for improved visibility
• Marking the crosswalks across 59th Ave SW to further alert people driving that pedestrians may be crossing
• Adding painted curb extensions (see design selected by the community below) on the northeast corner, southwest corner, and median island on 59th Ave SW to help reduce the size of the intersection
We expect these changes to be made by the end of the year. We’ll continue to evaluate operations at the intersection over a six-month period.
Schellenberg’s e-mail included this image to show the “design selected by the community”:
…but, checking WSB archives, we note that it’s not the one announced in August, nor was it among the three offered for a vote in June. We’ve asked a followup question for clarification. We’re also contacting the task-force parents to get their reaction to today’s announcement.
ADDED 6:39 PM: Regarding the design, SDOT’s Schellenberg replied, “Based on the design selected, we worked with the material fabricator and our Arts person to create a design as close as possible.”
ADDED 11:25 PM: Here’s the response from the Traffic Safety Task Force, via Merkys Gomez, who we contacted for comment:
We had sent an email to Dawn Schellenberg on 10.07.2017, and her email today was unresponsive to our questions, misses critical concerns raised by members of the Traffic Safety Task Force at Alki Elementary, and continues to push through an agenda to continue with an all-way stop, to which we, and area residents, are opposed.
We met with Brian Dougherty of SDOT on 10.10.2017, and he was able to witness first hand the issues that we are experiencing on a daily basis with the intersection, including the near-misses which are not being captured by SDOT’s data. We agreed to
* adequately marking the school zone (per SDOT’s school signage),
* reactivating the light on Admiral, and
* painting and later raising with concrete the median on 59th that separates the north and south lanes on the south side.
Those changes are necessary for the immediate safety of this intersection while we work toward an ultimate goal to install an all-way traffic signal that is pedestrian and vehicle activated, with no turn on red arrows, and red light and speeding cameras to ticket violations, especially during the school commute. Given the nontypical nature of that intersection, this is the best solution to improve pedestrian to driver and driver to driver communication and safety. Dawn’s email today makes no mention of our agreement with Brian. We’re talking about an intersection where the primary users are children getting to and from school. Their safety is more important than meeting an exact numerical quota. One child lost is one death too many.
Our video is from 59th and Admiral, during the Monday morning walk to school at Alki Elementary, just north of the intersection. It’s been a little over a month since SDOT changed the intersection to an all-way stop – previously, east-west traffic didn’t have to stop unless the north-south signal on the east side of the intersection was activated by pedestrian(s). It’s the first phase of what SDOT announced as a two-way “crossing improvement.” Some say it’s been anything but.
Parents from Alki Elementary have formed a Traffic Safety Task Force. They met with us at the intersection before school at Monday morning to show us what they say are more-dangerous conditions since the change, with some drivers still seeming confused about how the intersection is supposed to work, resulting in, for example, turns made through the crosswalk while pedestrians are still in it:
In the parents’ correspondence with SDOT so far, it’s been reiterated that the department is evaluating the changes over a six-month period before deciding whether to make them permanent and to continue to Phase 2. The parents say this is more urgent than that – we’re going into the dark, rainy months and even on the clearest winter day, many will be crossing before sunrise, and the intersection is challenging enough now.
The one marked crosswalk at the intersection already serves as the only marked crossing on Admiral Way from 49th to 59th, all part of the Alki Elementary attendance zone.
What they want, as Merkys Gomez from the Task Force summarizes: “An all-way traffic signal (i.e. traffic light) that is pedestrian and vehicle activated with no-turn-on-red signs, and red light and speeding cameras for ticketing, at a minimum, during school commute times. We also need appropriate signage installed indicating that this is a school zone, with flashing beacons.”
While the city hasn’t added red-light cameras in a long time (West Seattle has two, at 35th/Avalon and 35th/Thistle), it’s continued to slowly expand the list of speed-enforcement cameras in school zones; in West Seattle, they are installed along Fauntleroy Way SW near Gatewood Elementary, along Delridge Way SW near Louisa Boren STEM K-8, and along SW Roxbury near Roxhill Elementary (which is scheduled to be vacated next school year) and Holy Family School. Even more elementaries have flashing “20 mph school zone” beacons, minus cameras, nearby, including Genesee Hill, Highland Park, and Gatewood.
This morning, the Traffic Safety Task Force parents were scheduled to meet with at least one SDOT official to continue discussing their concerns. But the request for a full-service signal has already been turned down – here’s what SDOT spokesperson Dawn Schellenberg told the Alki parents via e-mail:
Unfortunately, at this time traffic operations do not meet Federal Highway guidelines for full signal installation so this is not a resolution we can move forward.
Noting that 47th/Admiral has a full signal, without a school zone in the immediate area, they are asking for an explanation of where 59th/Admiral doesn’t meet “guidelines.” They also want to know how SDOT is collecting “public input” during the six-month review, as they haven’t seen any calls for it yet.
By the way, as shown in our video above, the intersection does have a crossing guard – but not guaranteed; the parents say that if the guard has an off or sick day, they’re not replaced. Not that the guard’s presence in the roadway prevented all rule-breaking, we noticed while we were there. SDOT told the parents that when a traffic officer was at the intersection in the early going after the all-way-stop change, SPD saw “99 percent compliance,” but didn’t provide data, so the parents are asking for that too.
ADDED TUESDAY EVENING: Nearby resident Tim has since recorded video at the intersection and provided it to the Alki Elementary Traffic Safety Task Force as well as to us, via this YouTube clip.
For the second time this week, the principals of Chief Sealth International High School and Denny International Middle School have sent families a letter about an incident involving students walking near the campuses. Thanks to Denny principal Jeff Clark and several Sealth parents for forwarding it minutes ago:
Dear Denny/Sealth families:
It has been an exciting start to school, and with our scholars’ growing independence – particularly when they are out in the community – there may be situations that challenge their personal safety.
We want to take this opportunity to let you know that we are working with scholars to ensure they maximize their personal safety and their comfort with reporting potentially unsafe behavior. We also want to highlight an incident where students saw an inappropriate and disturbing behavior, and correctly reported it to school staff.
Today, two 11th-grade scholars were returning to Chief Sealth from Westwood Village. They were near the intersection of Cloverdale and 26th Avenue SW when they noticed an adult male exposing himself. The students immediately reported the situation to staff. Administration took immediate action and the Seattle Police Department were notified. We are very proud of how our students responded to this situation and want to encourage all our scholars to report appropriately.
At school, we continue to differentiate “reporting” from “tattle-telling.” Reporting is a responsibility when someone is hurt, in danger or in an unsafe situation. We are providing a link to some additional information that might be helpful during these discussions: http://www.seattle.gov/police/community-policing/youth-safety-tips
Please be assured that the safety and security of our students is a top priority at both Sealth International School and Denny International School. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
The letter was signed by Clark and by Sealth principal Aida Fraser-Hammer.
26th SW is the path along which the city still plans walkway improvements, while 25th SW – where students reported being approached inappropriately back on Monday – is the area where they’ve been canceled pending a future development.
Thanks to the parents who just shared this:
Dear Denny and Chief Sealth Scholars and Families,
We want to share information with you regarding an incident that was reported this morning involving two of our 10th-grade scholars on their way to school. At 8 a.m. this morning, two 10th-graders, one boy and one girl, were walking to school on 25th Ave SW between Westwood Village and SW Thistle St., when they were approached by an adult stranger on foot. The man got close to the girl and made inappropriate suggestive comments to her. The man was wearing a black sweatshirt with his hood on. The two scholars did everything right — they attempted to ignore him, started walking more quickly to get away from him and went straight into the school to report it. Chief Sealth staff called the police, who responded quickly to take a statement. The police will be in the area, along with extra school staff, during dismissal and arrival times as they follow-up on this incident.
As a precaution, we are reminding our scholars about walking safety tips. We would appreciate your help by having a similar conversation at home. The walking safety advice includes:
• Pay close attention to your surroundings, avoid “automatic pilot.”
• Walk with a purpose; project an assertive, business-like image.
• Use common sense; plan your route to avoid uninhabited parks, parking lots, garages and alleyways.
• Stick to well-lit areas.
• Develop a plan before you see trouble. Crossing a street or entering a store may get you out of a potentially bad situation.
• If a car follows you or beckons you while you are walking, do not approach it. Instead, turn and quickly walk the opposite direction.
• Consider wearing clothing and shoes that you can move freely and quickly in, especially when walking or waiting for the bus.
• Carry minimal items; overloading yourself can make you appear vulnerable.
• Always plan your route and stay alert to your surroundings. Avoid shortcuts. Walk confidently. Scan your surroundings and make eye contact with people.
• Avoid walking alone at night. As much as possible, walk or travel with a friend, even during the daytime.
• Immediately report anything suspicious to trusted adults (school staff and family members).
As always, thank you for your help and partnership!
Jeff Clark, Principal, Denny International High School
Aida Fraser-Hammer, Principal, Chief Sealth International High School
That’s the same area where SDOT cut plans for pathway improvements, saying a developer will likely have to make them within “several years.” That will be discussed at tomorrow night’s Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Coalition meeting, 6:15 pm Tuesday at Southwest Library (9010 35th SW).
PS: While processing this for publication, we also received a copy directly from the principals.
1:37 PM: Thanks to the parents who shared the communication from the Vashon School District, which has hundreds of “commuter” students, most from West Seattle:
Vashon High School students have been dismissed for the day due to a bomb threat at the school. Law enforcement is on site doing an investigation, and expect to be in the building for the remainder of the day. Students and staff will not have access to the building for the remainder of the day.
The announcement from superintendent Michael Soltman goes on to say that bus riders and walkers already have been sent home in those respective ways and “ferry commuter students” will be on an upcoming sailing, adding “Vashon Island High School sport practices, games and club activities have been cancelled.” Everyone is OK, and the island’s other two public schools remain in session. We’ll be checking with the King County Sheriff’s Office about the investigation.
2:01 PM: We checked with Sgt. Cindi West of the King County Sheriff’s Office, and here’s what she says investigators discovered:
The school found what they said was a suspicious device in a locker. The school was evacuated. Turns out it was a portable cooler and the battery was beeping that it was low. The student was supposed to have it so it was a false alarm.
As reported in our most-recent coverage of police briefings at community meetings – like the West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network and Highland Park Action Committee last week – car prowling in our area has dropped significantly, but property crime overall remains the major problem. So this month’s newsletter from Southwest Precinct Crime Prevention Coordinator Jennifer Burbridge offers more than 20 specific suggestions of ways to deter it:
As mentioned toward the end of the newsletter, and as already previewed here, your next chance to talk face-to-face with local police – outside an emergency response! – is Wednesday afternoon at Alki Starbucks (2742 Alki Ave. SW), 2-4 pm, for the next Coffee With A Cop.
From the West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network‘s first meeting of fall 2017:
As everybody went around the room introducing themselves, WSBWCN co-founders Karen Berge and Deb Greer invited them to share what was happening in their neighborhoods. “We’re under siege,” declared one man from a street over Beach Drive, with concerns including car prowls. A resident of Beach Drive itself said that somebody opened his car hatch and another in his neighborhood last night – all cars with a keyless entry system, so he wondered if devices that hijack those systems might have been involved, and several attendees shared stories. Another man mentioned living in the Arbor Heights neighborhood where police had been searching for a burglar on Monday; another woman from south of Admiral said the burglar is lucky the woman whose house he tried to break into – a friend of hers – didn’t catch him.
Those were just a few of the stories. On to the rest of the meeting, starting with the SPD briefing:
Neighborhood cohesiveness and collaboration are ultimately what the West Seattle Block Watch Captains’ Network is all about. But that doesn’t just involve crime and safety … another big issue for neighborhoods is emergency/disaster preparedness. And with so many reminders lately of that topic’s importance, it’s one of the topics on the WSBWCN meeting agenda for tomorrow night (Tuesday, September 26th). 6:30 pm, Southwest Precinct (2300 SW Webster). You don’t have to be a Block Watch Captain, or even be in a BW, to be there – all are welcome. More on the WSBWCN website.
Alongside a school bus parked at Pathfinder K-8 on Pigeon Point, Seattle Public Schools held a media briefing this morning on the new camera-enforced crackdown on drivers who don’t stop for school buses. 120 of the 379 buses the district is using are now equipped with six cameras each – five of them in the spot you see in the top photo, one in the front-facing rear-top-left spot below – and they’ll be recording video of potential lawbreakers.
School-bus driver Ty Boulanger was at the briefing and said he sees violations often:
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) September 18, 2017
If an apparent violation is spotted on camera, it’ll be sent to the King County Sheriff’s Office, which is contracting with SPS to review each and every possible violation. Sgt. Ryan Abbott, who’s been the point person on that for Highline Public Schools‘ version of the program, was among those at the briefing, where it was stressed that each potential violation is reviewed by a deputy who decides whether to send it on to the driver or not.
The cameras are being installed on buses by, and remain the property of, American Traffic Solutions, the same company behind the city’s school-zone-speed-enforcement cameras and red-light-enforcement cameras. It gets $69 for every potential violation sent to KCSO for review, and other cost and revenue numbers are in this page from the School Board-approved action item that created the program (see the full document here):
The 120 camera-equipped buses are “random,” SPS says, and you won’t even see a flash. The recordings include license plates and GPS information. Warning notices are going out for those caught in the next two weeks, and then the $419 citations begin. That fee cannot be reduced, SPS tells us, while noting that violators can request a payment-installment plan. Seattle is now one of about 30 school districts in the state ticketing via bus cams.
P.S. If you’re not clear on the stop=for-school-bus law – here’s the full text.
Jake reports he was running in Schmitz Park this morning when what he believes was a barred owl divebombed him twice:
Happened approximately here, around 7am. pic.twitter.com/63i8e0ZI30
— Jake VanderPlas (@jakevdp) September 14, 2017
It’s been months since our last “divebombing owl” report. This particular behavior is addressed in this infosheet from the state – usually related to nesting/staking out territory for it.
E-mailed by Ann:
STRANGER DANGER ALERT! There is a woman wandering California Avenue in the Admiral Junction area who approached my children and told them to “get in the red truck.” at approx 12 pm. Thankfully I was right there with them when this happened. She is white, with sandy blond hair (a little messy looking in the back) small to medium build around 5’5”. She is wearing a purple sweater over a white shirt with dark pants.
We were at A Kids Place, too dentist office on our way out the door when she came inside and made her approach. I contacted 911 as did the receptionist, who then followed her down the sidewalk for several blocks. Another woman who she approached after walking in front of her moving vehicle also called the police. As an additional note, there was no red truck in sight. The receptionist did speak with her once she turned around after having walked straight into traffic, nearly getting hit. The receptionist asked her what she was doing in the office and the woman said she was opening the door to hell and was saving my children from the apocalypse. I don’t know what she said to the woman in the car. She obviously is in some paranoid/delusional/(semi?) psychotic state of mind.
As with the most recent two reader reports about children being approached, we want to conclude this one with safety advice to share with your kids, from SPD – find it here.
From Seattle Police‘s crime-prevention coordinator for the Southwest Precinct, Jennifer Burbridge: “We have recently seen an increase in bicycle thefts in the North Admiral and the Alaska Junction neighborhoods. Due to this increase, the SW Precinct would like to provide our communities with some helpful prevention techniques.” See them here, and/or embedded below:
Two and a half weeks ago, the city announced it would gradually close the encampments that remain under the West Seattle Bridge, along Spokane Street, mostly in the SODO area. And this afternoon, on the website used for updates on the city’s response to homelessness, there’s an update. It begins with a recap of outreach and notification efforts, and then gets into the timeline:
… The area has been divided into four zones to be addressed separately:
Zone 1: Airport Way to Sixth Avenue
Zone 2: Sixth Avenue to Fourth Avenue
Zone 3: Fourth Avenue to Second Avenue
Zone 4: Second Avenue to Colorado Avenue
Monday, Sept. 11, will be a day of outreach only. On Tuesday, Sept. 12, the Navigation Team will begin outreach at 8:30 a.m. Field coordinators will be on hand to provide storage of personal belongings. Other City crews and contractors will be ready to remove all bio-waste, garbage and debris from a zone as soon as campers have moved out of that area. Once a zone is clear, the City will install temporary fencing.
While the Navigation Team will conduct outreach along the entire corridor as necessary, the closure and cleanup will address one zone at a time. As Zones 2 and 4 have the greatest number of people, tents and structures, they will be addressed first and are expected to take the longest. The tentative schedule is:
Tuesday, Sept. 12: Begin Zone 4
Wednesday, Sept. 13: Finish Zone 4 and begin Zone 2
Thursday, Sept. 14: Finish Zone 2 and begin Zone 3
Friday, Sept. 15: Begin Zone 1
Should the cleanup extend into the following week, the City will repost appropriate notice around the impacted area.
As noted above, once a zone is completely clear, the City will install a mix of temporary and permanent fencing along the corridor. Several sections will be fenced off to protect infrastructure and/or to limit access to certain areas for authorized individuals (e.g., maintenance crews). The temporary fencing around several blocks under the Spokane Street Viaduct (installed following the removal of the RV encampment at the west end of Spokane Street in April) will be extended west to Sixth Avenue, though it will still allow entrance for commuter parking, which is an intended use of those rights-of-way.
EARLY THURSDAY: Received from texter, who says police have been notified and the school (Louisa Boren STEM K-8) will be notified this morning:
Reporting a harassment/attempted luring of a child on Delridge after school. White 4-door older compact car. One man in car, older 20s to young 30s. Light brown complexion. 3:30-3:35 pm. First contact just north of school, Delridge and Juneau. Drove around the block and approached again on the next block, across from Super 24. She didn’t report to me until I got home from work.
Here’s a Seattle Police list of safety advice for youth.
THURSDAY AFTERNOON: Thanks to the parent who shared the letter that subsequently was sent to parents:
Dear STEM families,
It has been an exciting start to school, and with the increase of students on the streets while walking to and from school or their bus stops, there may be situations that challenge our students’ personal safety. I want to take this opportunity to let you know we are working with the Seattle Police Department to ensure our students are taught about personal safety and highlight an incident where a student responded successfully to a situation.
Around 3:45 p.m. yesterday, one of our students reported a male in his late 20s in a white compact sedan tried to engage her in conversation twice as she walked home from school. The student responded appropriately and remained safe. Police were notified, and as of today, the Seattle Police Department is continuing to gather additional information and working closely with the District’s Safety and Security Department. Although in this incident there was no specific attempt to get the student into the car, we wanted to make sure parents are alerted.
Our school also wants to make sure students both feel safe and are safe, therefore staff will be discussing personal safety with our students. During these discussions, our goal is to allow students to talk about their concerns and give them additional personal safety skills.
You can also help your children simply by talking and listening to them. A following link to Seattle Police Department’s “Personal Safety for Children” may be helpful in family discussions: http://www.seattle.gov/police/community-policing/youth-safety-tips. We encourage you to be sensitive to your child and to call us if we can help in any way.
No daily highlight list today because of the stabbing coverage, but crime and safety are at the center of one major event tonight we want to be sure you know about: The Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Coalition meets at 6:15 pm at Southwest Library (9010 35th SW). Major agenda item: If you live/work in any of the WWRHAH neighborhoods, your feedback is needed in a fact-finding session about the local micropolicing plan – Southwest Precinct research assistant Puao Savusa will be there to hear from you (see the questions here). Also expected, SW Precinct Operations Lt. Ron Smith with an update on area crime stats. WWRHAH also is scheduled to hear from City Council candidate (at-large position 9) Pat Murakami. And open-discussion items include the future RapidRide H Line as well as the recently announced cut to the Chief Sealth Walkway Improvements Project (our original report is here, and followup here), plus other area pedestrian safety/accessibility issues. See the full WWRHAH agenda here. (And see other listings for today/tonight on the frequently updated WSB West Seattle Event Calendar.)
The new all-way stop at 59th SW/SW Admiral Way has been a hot topic, with some commenters observing that some drivers are just rolling right through it. Those complaints drew Seattle Police enforcement today – we received multiple reports, including the photo, sent by Tim. He spoke to the motorcycle officer, who told him that they had indeed been getting a lot of complaints about stop-sign-runners since the intersection was changed late Tuesday night.
Tuesday’s SDOT announcement essentially halving a Neighborhood Street Fund project previously approved for the Westwood area raised some questions. We took them to SDOT.
To recap – the community-proposed, SDOT-approved Chief Sealth Walkway Improvements Project was to create two walkways along 26th and 25th. SDOT’s announcement said the department is dropping the 25th walkway because a development application is expected in the future and the developer would be expected to pay for something similar – though, the city acknowledged, it might be “several years.”
So our first question to SDOT was, with nothing showing publicly in city files, how did the city find out about this development plan and how much of a sure thing is it? This question, and our others, were answered by SDOT spokesperson Norm Mah:
During the summer and fall of 2016 while NSF applications were being developed through conceptual design (before final projects were selected), the design team reviewed active permits for future development around this site and found nothing, leading the team to propose the solution for a pathway on 25th Ave SW. However, the SDOT design team was contacted in the spring of 2017 by an architectural firm who shared preliminary plans for the adjacent parcel on the east side of 25th Ave SW. SDOT’s Street Use division then confirmed that the planned NSF project on 25th Ave SW would be required by code when this development moves forward.
In the interim, SDOT considered low-cost alternatives to improve this pathway for residents of this neighborhood, but any changes SDOT makes to this pathway now could result in the developer not being required to construct permanent improvements in the future. As stated in our outreach letter, we believe that the high likelihood of this development occurring meant that investing public funds at this location right now would not be the best use of public tax dollars.
One reader asked if there was precedent for this.
SDOT projects, including NSF projects, are frequently dropped or adjusted in response to future development. Fortunately, this entire project was not dropped and residents in this neighborhood and Chief Sealth students will still benefit from an improved pathway on 26th Ave SW.
With limited funds for improvements, we need to use public funds carefully to build projects that otherwise would not be constructed. These overlaps are typically found earlier in the project design phase because an active permit is filed.
Speaking of money, we also asked what would be done with the money that now will not be spent on this project. Mah says they don’t know yet:
At this point in the design process it is too early to know how much extra funds are available from the amount we budgeted for this project. We will know more in October and can provide the community with an update at that time.
So, we’ll be checking back. Meantime, the 26th SW walkway is planned for construction next year. (Here’s the original project proposal, as summarized by SDOT for the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council review process.)
P.S. The newly renamed Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Coalition plans to talk about the project during its first fall meeting, next Tuesday (September 5th), 6:15 pm, at Southwest Library (9010 35th SW). The full meeting agenda is in our calendar listing.
(Above, original design made public in March; below; revised design announced today)
Sent late today by SDOT – news that they’re scaling back on planned pedestrian improvements because of possible future development. The update sent to the project mailing list was signed by outreach lead Michael Charles:
I am touching base with you to share an update on SDOT’s Chief Sealth High School Walkway Improvements project. This project is part of the Neighborhood Street Fund program, which funds community-requested projects.
In the original design, we planned to have a walkway along 25th Ave SW. This was removed because of the likelihood that a developer will submit a permit for construction on the east side of 25th Ave SW in the relatively near future. Knowing this, we’ve removed the paved walkway on 25th Ave SW from the project design, because the developer will be required, per the City’s Land Use Code, to construct similar right-of-way improvements.
We recognize that this is unwelcome news to some of you who looked forward to the improvements on 25th Ave SW. While it could still be several years before this development takes place, the high likelihood of its occurring means that investing public funds at this location would not be prudent.
We will continue to advance the project and improve the walkway on 26th Ave SW. Please see the project website to view the updated project design.
As for the possible development, we’ve just checked the parcels along the east side of 25th and have not found any early-stage filing that would correlate with what the city’s referring to, so far. But there’s vacant land on the north side of Trenton and 25th (as spotlighted unpleasantly during last year’s Find It, Fix It walk) – we’ll keep watching the files.