West Seattle, Washington
Some promising news about local crime trends, as this month’s West Seattle Block Watch Captains’ Network meeting got under way Tuesday.
SEATTLE POLICE UPDATE: Here’s what Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis told the group: Yes, the weather’s warm, but please be careful about leaving your windows and doors open – “there are still individuals out there who like to exploit that. … It invites criminal activity, it really does.”
That said, the burglary rate is running lower than usual right now, he said. Car prowls, though, are still running relatively high, which led to this reminder in a tone that merits all-caps: “DON’T LEAVE VALUABLES INSIDE YOUR CAR.”
Four reports in West Seattle Crime Watch tonight, plus upcoming neighborhood discussions about crime and safety:
RACIST GRAFFITI VANDALISM: Florentino reported calling Port of Seattle Police to report “disturbing racist graffiti” vandalism in one of the restrooms by the sandy area at Jack Block Park. Photos accompanying his e-mail showed messages in black marker including “white power” and a swastika. Florentino waited until Port police arrived to investigate; we followed up with the Port to ask if the graffiti had been painted over or cleaned off, and we’re told it has been.
SCHOOL BREAK-IN: Seattle Police confirmed to WSB this pm that they investigated a reported break-in at now-closed Schmitz Park Elementary early this am. According to Det. Mark Jamieson, they got a call from Seattle Public Schools security around 1:13 am saying they were “viewing” five suspects in the school’s main hallway – described only as “two white males, late teens, thin build; two black males, late teens and wearing backpacks; one white female, late teens, thin.” No one was inside the building when police arrived; nothing appeared “disturbed”; no sign of forced entry but they found an “unsecured door on the north side of the school.”
STOLEN CAR IN ADMIRAL: Tracey‘s car was stolen from SW Walker Street. Black Saab 93x. The message to us didn’t include plate info but we’re guessing it’s this one on @getyourcarback. See it? Call 911.
LIGHTING THEFT: Darren e-mailed with word of a theft outside his Alki home: “I’m writing to notify the blog that over the weekend, someone came through our private gate and stole our exterior ambient lighting (strings of bulb lighting over hanging our porch). We left for camping Friday afternoon and noticed them missing upon our return Sunday am. We live on 60th Avenue between Admiral & Stevens. I’ve notified the police, but since there was no witnesses and the value is less than $500, there isn’t anything they can do. Neighbors didn’t hear or see anything.”
CRIME/SAFETY FOCUS GROUPS: Once again this summer, researcher Jennifer Burbridge, who works out of the Southwest Precinct, is leading focus groups in the local “micro-communities” that have policing plans. She wants to talk with you about “knowledge of the micro-community policing plan project, interactions with the Seattle Police Department, crime and safety concerns, and suggested improvements for each of your unique neighborhoods!” Use this map to check if you’re part of one of these “micro-communities” (except for South Delridge/Delridge Triangle, which Burbridge says is not yet updated on the map).
Here are the focus groups scheduled so far, with links to their micro-community-policing plans – first one is tomorrow night:
-Wednesday, June 29th, 6-7 pm, Alaska Junction (at the SW Precinct community meeting room, 2300 SW Webster)
-Thursday, June 30th, 7-8 pm, Fauntleroy (at the SW Precinct community meeting room- 2300 SW Webster)
-Monday, July 11th, 7-8 pm, Pigeon Point (at the SW Precinct community meeting room, 2300 SW Webster)
-Wednesday, July 13th, 6-7 pm, High Point (at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center, 6400 Sylvan Way SW)
-Monday, July 18th, 7-8 pm, North Admiral (at the SW Precinct community meeting room, 2300 SW Webster St)
-Wednesday, July 20th, 7-9 pm, Morgan Junction (second half of the Morgan Community Association meeting at The Kenney, 7125 Fauntleroy Way SW)
-Monday, July 25th, 7-8 pm, South Park (at the SW Precinct community meeting room, 2300 SW Webster)
-Wednesday, July 27th, 7-8:30 pm, Highland Park (at the Highland Park Action Committee meeting at Highland Park Improvement Club, 12th Ave SW and SW Holden St)
-Monday, August 1st, 6:15-7:45 pm, Westwood/Roxhill/Arbor Heights (at the Westwood/Roxhill/Arbor Heights Community Council meeting at the SW Branch of the Seattle Public Library in the meeting room, 9010 35th Ave SW)
-Monday, August 8th, 6-7 pm, South Delridge/Delridge Triangle (at the SW Precinct community meeting room, 2300 SW Webster)
-Wednesday, August 10th, 6-7 pm, Alki (at the SW Precinct community meeting room, 2300 SW Webster)
(File photo, fireworks debris at Highland Park Playground)
One week until the 4th of July, which means it’s time to talk about fireworks. They’re illegal in Seattle city limits – but the law is so widely ignored that the 5th of July brings toxic, ugly messes like the one in our file photo from Highland Park Playground.
Some of the problem here stems from fireworks remaining legal right next door, in unincorporated North Highline (White Center and vicinity). Sales at legal stands in the unincorporated area start tomorrow, but use is only legal – again, only in the unincorporated area – 9 am to midnight on July 4th. (The full list of regulations statewide – county to county, city to city, specific dates and times – is here.)
Meantime, Seattle Parks hopes again this year to discourage illegal fireworks use at some of its facilities – particularly synthetic-turf playfields, where a fire would do extremely costly damage. It’s announced it will illuminate certain playfields on the 4th – here’s the full list of locations and times; in West Seattle, the locations are Delridge, Hiawatha, and Walt Hundley Playfields, along with West Seattle Stadium.
Still not dissuaded? Think of the pets. This alert is from King County.
(UPDATED FRIDAY AFTERNOON with reader photo of electronic sign trailer now in place by Duwamish Head)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Operations Lt. Ron Smith said there wasn’t much that could be done about most of the complaints. But he said the area had some good news nonetheless, as he opened with the overview: “Crimes against persons (in the Alki area) are down 21 percent.” That’s largely attributable to a reduction in domestic-violence cases, he said. Property crimes are down 11 percent – “this is one of the few neighborhoods that have a 31 percent reduction in car prowls.”
As he had told the Delridge District Council last night, he and precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis are leading the planning for security for the upcoming Seattle Pride events, and also are meeting with owners of LGBTQA bars. Today, the Southwest Precinct had 11 officers working; on Saturday, they will have that same level of staffing, with two of the officers assigned to bicycle patrol.
“We are again doing a summer emphasis – not to the numbers that you and I would like, but we have to be somewhat responsible in the deployment of overtime,” he added. In terms of hiring, the real impact from the process might be as far as two years away, he said, which drew a loud sigh from one attendee. “The mayor’s keeping his commitment in trying to hire more officers,” but they are having more of a challenge getting good applicants, he said.
“I think our concerns in Alki are quality-of-life issues,” most of all, he said. Then ACC vice president Randie Stone opened the floor. One resident said they had been sending e-mail to Southwest/South Precincts’ Crime Prevention Coordinator Mark Solomon (who was in attendance) and City Councilmember Lisa Herbold.
She listed two issues: Read More
After this morning’s Orlando massacre, Mayor Ed Murray has sent a statement including a note that “Seattle Police Department has increased security for Pride events and other large gatherings”:
Mayor Edward Murray made the following statement today regarding the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning:
“Americans woke up this morning with the all-too-familiar feeling of incomprehension at another act of mass violence, and LGBTQ Americans awoke with the sickening, all-too-familiar feeling of fear that our community has once again been attacked.
“Words cannot adequately encompass the feelings of grief I am feeling for the loss of so many of our LGBTQ and allied brothers and sisters in Orlando during the largest single act of violence against LGBTQ people in United States history. For too long, our community has been the target of violence throughout the world. It will never make sense to me that love is met with such hate.
“On behalf of the people of the City of Seattle, my heart and my thoughts go out to those whose lives were forever changed by the events last night. Today our community draws closer to one another for comfort, support and healing, and to honor those who were tragically lost.”
Murray will speak to the Seattle LGBTQ community at a candlelight vigil at 8:00 pm at Cal Anderson Park this evening.
Murray said that all SPD officers have received substantial active shooter training, and the Seattle Police Department has increased security for Pride events and other large gatherings.
He has ordered the flags at City Hall to be lowered to half-staff.
Two incident reports from readers – first, from Libby:
(Saturday) at 1:45 pm, my husband, kids, and I were merging onto I-5 south from the West Seattle Bridge. We were in the merging lane when, seemingly out of nowhere, we saw a giant wooden doghouse fly out of the back of a navy blue pickup truck and bounce onto the freeway. The body of the house bounced up 8 feet into the air and then landed behind a semi truck in the middle lanes while the roof flew onto the freeway directly in front of our car. My husband attempted to swerve to avoid it but did not want to risk getting hit by oncoming traffic in other lane so was ultimately forced to drive right over the structure which caused tremendous damage to our white Subaru Outback. We pulled over at the next exit (Michigan exit) to call 911 about the debris and the possible aftermath. We were told a state trooper would call us back to get a statement. As of (late Saturday night), no call has come our way.
We never got a license plate of the driver of the truck and would like to know if anyone else witnessed this. It happened in just seconds and we weren’t fast enough to grab plates. There were several cars behind us coming off of the West Seattle bridge to merge onto I-5 south and if anyone at all has any information we would so appreciate it.
We can be reached at 206-782-9671 call/text (Jay) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Highland Park resident here, wanted to shoot you guys a heads-up about a weird hit and run outside our home to our two cars on 13th between Elmgrove and Kenyon – one car had the side mirror removed (no other damage, and the mirror is nowhere to be found, so whomever removed the darn thing either ACTUALLY removed it, or hit it and cleaned up after themselves), and the other car was hit with such force it shoved the rear wheels up onto the curb. No other vehicles on the road seem to be damaged, but there’s suspiciously little debris in the street. No bueno.
That was reported on Saturday morning.
Three West Seattle Crime Watch notes tonight. First one’s a followup, from Sarah:
Remember the Gibson guitar and Fender amp that were stolen out of my son’s car? They were recovered by the police after the robber tried to sell them this week at a Capitol Hill pawn shop! We had serial numbers that we had given to the police pawn shop squad (a very important step: make sure that happens so that they alert pawn shops). We are very happy and relieved! The broken car window was a $50 deductible, but all things considered, a good outcome to what had been a very no-good bad-day two weeks ago.
Second, recognize this potentially stolen-and-abandoned bicycle? Amy sent the photo:
She says it’s been parked on a sidewalk near EC Hughes Playground, and that it has a broken chain. If you recognize it, let us know – comments or email@example.com.
Third and final, a new round of safety advice from SPD, in the latest newsletter from Crime Prevention Coordinator Mark Solomon. Read it here as a two-page PDF.
(Map from July 2015 slide deck about 35th SW plan)
When last we checked in on the 35th Avenue SW Corridor Safety Project – which changed the configuration of lanes on 35th, from Roxbury to just south of Morgan, last fall – SDOT’s Jim Curtin told WSB that the plan for Phase 2, and stats on Phase 1, were expected to be out in May. That month has come and gone; we checked in again today to ask where things stand. Curtin’s reply:
We’ve adjusted our schedule to coordinate outreach with another SDOT effort that may have implications for 35th Avenue SW – the West Seattle Neighborhood Greenway. As you know, greenways are safer, calmer non-arterial streets prioritized for people walking and biking. We need residents to help us determine the best route for the greenway as well as locations for crossing improvements (the routes identified in the BMP are merely suggestions).
We’re aiming for the week of July 11th or 18th for our first meeting, where we’ll share preliminary data for Phase 1 of the 35th Avenue SW project, start the discussion about the Neighborhood Greenway route, share draft plans for Phase 2 of the 35th Ave SW project, and solicit feedback from residents. We also intend to host walking tours like we did for Phase 1 in August.
As a community-collaborative news organization, we cover many things that start with tips, questions, or other messages. Our followup with Curtin today was inspired by a note from Bob Neel. You might know him as an opponent of the rechannelization; he launched a Change.org petition against it last year. Today, he e-mailed both to wonder about the status of Phase 2 and to ask if we would publish the links to two new petitions he’s started. While there is no way for any online poll or petition to be anything resembling scientific (that’s why we don’t set up our own), he’s interested in comparing results from pro and con petitions.
He writes: “For those who like the lane reduction, here is a petition for SDOT to extend the project. For those who are not in favor of the lane reduction, here is a petition for SDOT to go back to 4 lanes. I have attempted to word each petition in a balanced, neutral way so that there is no inherent bias. I’d really like to see a large response to these petitions so that we can get a representative ‘pulse’ of the neighborhood reaction to the project.”
(If you do choose to sign one – or even if you don’t – consider commenting here to say why!)
You know we love birds and are honored to receive beautiful photos to share here several times a week. But – on occasion, birds can be dangerous too, especially in nesting season, and we have three recent reports to share. First one is just in from Greg:
I wanted to give a heads up to anyone that runs or walks on Fairmount (Ave) about an aggressive owl.
Last night around dusk I was running when I felt something on my head and realized an owl had clawed me. It hovered above and made a few more swipes. I scared it off and then about 100 yards later it swooped again, clawing the back of my head. I didn’t see any blood but it feels like I have a scratch – hard to tell under my hair.
It was white, possibly a barred owl – a white, beautiful bird. It was silent as it approached. The incident happened downhill of where Admiral street crosses over – basically half way between the bridge underpass and the homes on the road.
I’ve heard owls like this will repeat the behavior, so I want to make sure people are aware.
Carl reported the same thing recently:
I normally go jogging around 8-9 at night. This might I was running down Fairmount ravine in the dark when something sharp clawed my head. This was north of the Admiral Way overpass. The owl would not let go for at least 50 meters and I had to shine a light in his face for him not to attack me. He tried several more times to dive bomb me.
The ravine is not far, by the way, from where Rose reported an attack along Harbor Avenue two months ago.
Our third report: A crow got aggressive outside the West Seattle (Admiral) Library one morning this week, reported by Karin:
Have you heard about a territorial crow at the West Seattle library? I put some books in the book drop … and a crow attacked me. It followed me to Met Market, cawing and diving at me. It didn’t touch me, but it certainly scared me! I’m wondering if it was me or if I just got too close to a nest. Either way, I’m avoiding the library for a while…
Denny International Middle School principal Jeff Clark just shared this note sent to families:
Good Afternoon Denny and Sealth Families,
This morning at approximately 10:45 am, a Denny scholar was walking to school. When she was on Kenyon near the school bus zone entrance, the driver of a black Prius asked her to get in the car. She came right in to school and reported it. School staff contacted the Seattle Police Department, who responded very quickly. Scholars have been informed about the description of the car and reminded of safe walking procedures. We will have extra supervision in that area.
Denny and Chief Sealth Administration
He also asked us to share this message:
Our School Messenger email system sends out email notices automatically to all family email addresses in our system. If any Denny or Sealth family is not receiving the email, please call the school main office. We can confirm that we have your correct and current email address and can tell you if your email system is blocking our email, preventing you from receiving it. Thank you.
P.S. Thanks also to the Denny/Sealth parents who forwarded the top note (moments after the principal sent it out) to make sure we’d received it.
Tonight’s monthly meeting of the West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network was low-key – more like a small-group conversation with police, and each other. Three updates of note:
GUNFIRE INCIDENTS: Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis reiterated that this is a big emphasis here right now. In terms of investigating, the focus is on data mining – he said the crime lab is examining fingerprints on recovered shells, and detectives are looking at the patterns. When that kind of information can be pulled together, gun use can be traced to certain offenders and certain incidents. In many cases, he said, those responsible can usually be tied to other activity such as gangs, drugs, or burglary rings, so they’re working with others around the city to try to ID who’s responsible.
CAR PROWLS: This too remains an emphasis, as mentioned at other recent meetings. One hotspot, Westcrest Park, now has warning signs about not leaving things in vehicles, an attendee mentioned.
RV CAMPERS: While the plan for a “safe lot” in West Seattle has long since been scrapped by the mayor’s office, as reported here, Capt. Davis said the precinct’s Community Police Team continues to monitor and deal with the RVs on West Seattle streets, including the group along Myers Way. Citywide, the trend is toward dispersal rather than clustering, he said, adding that West Seattle does not seem to be drawing a disproportionate number as the RVs scatter.
The West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network meets fourth Tuesdays most months, 6:30 pm at the SW Precinct – watch wsblockwatchnet.wordpress.com for updates between meetings.
Yesterday we published an alert from an Arbor Heights mom who wanted to let families know that her daughter had been followed from a Denny International Middle School-dropoff stop at 100th/44th on Tuesday. This afternoon, Denny principal Jeff Clark has sent us the notice sent home today to families of students at his school and adjacent Chief Sealth International High School:
Dear Denny and Chief Sealth Scholars and Families,
Yesterday afternoon, one of our 6th grade female scholars reported to us that she was followed by a man in his car while she walked home from her bus stop in Arbor Heights near the intersection of SW 100th St. and 44th Ave SW. She reported that the man seemed to be in his 20s and had short black hair. His car was a black four-door sedan. Our scholar did a great job by running off and telling her mother, who contacted the Seattle Police Department.
As a precaution, we are reminding our scholars about safety tips for walking to and from school. We would appreciate your help by having a similar conversation at home. The walking safety advice includes:
GENERAL SAFETY TIPS
· 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.
As always, thank you for your help and partnership!
Reminder for everyone who travels the busy multipoint Avalon/Yancy/30th/Andover intersection between The Triangle and Luna Park – the last major component of the safety project is in place now, the striped intersection you see in our photo, and the pedestrian-activated flashing-light signs on both sides of it, so please be extra watchful. SDOT pointed out – when announcing exactly two months ago that the project was about to begin – that this was a Neighborhood Street Fund project proposed via the Delridge District Council.
Thanks to Morgan Community Association president Deb Barker for forwarding the SDOT alert: The next phase of sidewalk work along the west side of California SW, south of Fauntleroy Way, is set to start next week.
The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will replace broken and uplifted sections of sidewalk on the west side of California Ave SW in front of Ivy Court Apartments and the Marnae Apartments in the middle of this block.
This project is immediately south of the sidewalk that SDOT replaced in 2015.
SDOT does not currently plan to remove the seven street trees here.
After the sidewalk is removed and tree roots are examined, SDOT Urban Forestry staff will examine the tree roots and determine if the roots can be pruned or if one or more trees need to be removed.
After the jump, full details on construction hours and temporary effects in the area:
(Screengrab from SPU mapping tool you can use to figure out what kind of “service line” goes to your residence)
3:55 PM: Just out of the WSB inbox:
Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) said today that two days of extensive testing in five Seattle homes confirms the city’s water continues to be safe to drink.
The utility started testing after learning last week that Tacoma Public Utilities had detected high levels of lead in four water samples taken from galvanized steel service lines.
In response to that information, SPU asked Seattle residents to run their water before using it if the water had not been run for a while. SPU then initiated its own tests to see if the problems reported in Tacoma exist here.
The Seattle test results announced today are well below the action level for lead of 15 parts per billion (ppb). The highest level recorded in Seattle’s tests was 1.95 ppb.
Seattle’s water quality experts worked with five homeowners, distributed throughout the city, with galvanized-steel service lines. They sampled water from the main to the tap, after allowing the water to sit overnight in the pipes.
“This sampling protocol was much more extensive than the standard federal test, and should give customers an added sense of confidence in their water,” said SPU Drinking Water Quality Manager Wylie Harper.
“Seattle Public Utilities is in compliance with U.S. Department of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations,” said Derek Pell of the Washington State Department of Health’s (DOH) Office of Drinking Water. Pell added Seattle’s testing protocol is supported by DOH.
If customers are interested in learning what kind of material — copper, plastic or galvanized steel — the service line that supplies their homes with drinking water is made of, they can use a new online Web tool.
You can navigate to the Web tool by clicking here.
SPU said the test results released today mean Seattle water customers can return to using water as they did before Thursday’s announcement. (EPA, DOH and SPU recommend running the water before drinking.)
SPU’s source water, supplied to 1.3 million people in the region, comes from protected mountain watersheds in the Cascades Mountains and is considered to be some of the best water in the nation.
Seattle regularly tests its water for lead and other contaminants, and has met all requirements of the federal Lead and Copper Rule since 2003.
The utility’s state-of-the-art water quality laboratory analyzes over 20,000 microbiological samples each year — more than 50 a day taken throughout the system — and conducts chemical and physical monitoring daily, 365 days per year.
SPU continues to work with key stakeholders and regulators including DOH, Seattle-King County Public Health, EPA and city departments.
A phone line has been set up for customers with questions: 206-684-5800. Customers can call today until 7 p.m., and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
9:01 PM UPDATE: As discovered and discussed by commenters, there are some spots on the map where you won’t find the water-line information. We asked SPU, whose Andy Ryan replied: “We know there are some ‘blanks’ in the database. Records were not always well kept or complete and some parts of the city were annexed. If your readers have questions — such as, ‘I can’t find information for my address’ — please ask them to call 684-5800, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.”
That’s how West Seattle mom Holli Margell headed her note, including this photo and report:
At (Southwest Athletic Complex) this evening around 7 pm, my 4th grader found six shells during track and field practice. He put them in a pile to the side so no one would step on them, then he came and told me about them. I had never thought I’d need to tell my kids to never touch bullets or shells they saw on the ground before!
I’m hoping that anyone else who heard or saw something suspicious reported or reports it too.
And, while I have talked to my kids about never touching a gun they find, and the importance of telling an adult if they do, I learned this evening that talk should include bullets and shells.
In a followup exchange, she said the shells were on the turf field near the southern goal. And yes, she reported the discovery to police.
First update is from a mayoral announcement this afternoon:
NO PUBLIC-SAFETY LEVY, SAYS MAYOR: Tax-watchers have long voiced suspicion that a city public-safety levy was on the horizon. Today, in an announcement about how SPD’s new North Precinct would be funded, Mayor Murray announced outright that he would not be proposing a public-safety levy this year or next. The announcement says that’s because the city’s Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) income remains “strong.” Read the announcement here. (It does not mention the funding plan for additional SPD hires the mayor recently promised.)
Second update is a followup on a story we reported earlier this week:
911 CENTER RENOVATIONS FOLLOWUP: On Wednesday, we reported on the renovations that SPD says have temporarily reduced the number of lines they have for dealing with 911 calls. We couldn’t find information about the project online, so we asked the city’s Finance and Administrative Services Department. Spokesperson Julie Moore explained that no bidding information was available online because “this project did not go through the traditional bidding process. We used the Job Order Contracting (JOC) process, which per RCW 39.10.420-460, allows the City to issue work orders directly to a JOC prime contractor for facility and utility construction projects not exceeding $350,000.” FAS is handling part of the project, while the equipment is being handled by SPD. So Moore is speaking only for the construction work, which she explains “is secondary but necessary to prepare the space for the main intent of the project – replacing the existing 38 dispatch and eight training/back-up consoles with new consoles and equipment. Additional equipment upgrades include large display monitors and software upgrades, all in collaboration and with support from King County E9-1-1, Seattle IT and several City and County service providers. The work is contained in the main call center/dispatch room, training room and nearby hallways on the 2nd floor of the West Precinct Seattle Police Department 911 Communications Center. FAS’ portion of the project is estimated at $348,000 and is being completed by Saybr Contractors, Inc. (a WMBE firm).” She says the scope of the work includes:
· Revise electrical to support new consoles.
· Replace static-dissipative carpet.
· Add new grounding to meet current radio system requirements.
· Add wall supports and electrical for new wall-mounted monitors.
· Add supervisor/chief dispatcher platform.
The first phase of the work updated the training area, and Moore says that was finished by March 11th. What’s under way now, updating the main call-center area for 38 new consoles, started on March 14th and is supposed to be done by the end of May. In the meantime, Moore says, 911 calltakers have been “relocated to the Fire Alarm Center co-located with the City’s Emergency Operations Center/Fire Station 10 at 400 S. Washington St.”
(UPDATED 8:11 PM with link to information now posted on SPU website)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
“We think our water’s safe. Having said that, we’re going to make sure there’s no cause for alarm.”
So said Andy Ryan from Seattle Public Utilities when we talked with him a short time ago about a new round of water testing and investigation that SPU has launched because of a situation in Tacoma involving lead.
The two cities’ water systems are NOT linked, but the situation that Tacoma uncovered MIGHT also be happening in a small part of Seattle’s service area, so SPU is advising a specific precaution: Until they find out for sure if the lead problem is happening anywhere here too, any time you have NOT run the water in your home or business for six hours, turn on a faucet and run it for two minutes before using it.
This is NOT just a West Seattle thing, and NOT related to the rust/sediment situation that led to the flushing that’s been happening here (just last night, we were out with the flushing crew and were starting to work on that update, when we found out about this and found ourselves writing this completely different water-system story instead).
What Tacoma has been doing, Ryan explained, is looking for galvanized-steel service pipes in their system that are connected to water mains with “a piece of lead pipe called a gooseneck.” He says Tacoma, Seattle, and many other cities have some of those goosenecks because their systems are so old. But they don’t know exactly where those goosenecks are – many are near older houses “built before good records were kept,” explained Ryan.
SPU DOES know where the galvanized lines connect to the water mains. There will soon be a map on the SPU website showing where those are – about 2,000 in Seattle, they believe. That will help them accelerate looking for the goosenecks. Ryan said there had already been an effort to replace them when crews found them, and they’ve been trying to find ways to step up the search. Tacoma, he explains, came up with a way to test water inside galvanized-pipe areas to look for heightened lead levels, and that’s what led to the current concerns, after a handful of samples came back. “As soon as we learned about this, we immediately started to figure out what that meant for our system,” Ryan told WSB. “Short answer is – we don’t know (yet).” So they’re launching the same kind of testing in the galvanized lines to see what turns up.
It should be noted, though, that Seattle Public Utilities has already been routinely testing its water for lead and other undesirable metals such as copper, “greatly exceed(ing) regulators’ standards.”
We visited the lab (March photo above) for our recent story about “who’s watching your water?” related to the ongoing effort to reduce the incidences of “brown water” here. (And yet again, if you haven’t followed our coverage, “brown water” does NOT involve lead – it’s basically rust that’s stirred up in the cast-iron water mains, and even visible levels of it are not a health risk. Lead is basically invisible. It has not turned up in Seattle tests, Ryan says.)
Meantime, they’re hoping to get some samples back “really quickly” to see if what Tacoma found “is applicable here.” Since the locations of possible problems aren’t known yet, “we are asking everyone to just be extra cautious – run your water for two minutes if it’s been sitting in the pipe for more than six hours.” That’s being advised out of “an abundance of caution,” he stresses. “Prior to hearing back from Tacoma, we had not considered, nor had regulators considered, these galvanized pipes and gooseneck fittings to be an issue.” There are some differences between how Tacoma and Seattle run their systems, he notes, particularly the treatment methods, which could lead to a different level of corrosion in their pipes, in turn meaning that what’s detected there will NOT turn up here. But they have to find out.
Until you hear otherwise from SPU, follow the “run the water for two minutes after it’s been in the pipes for six hours” advice TFN. Keep watch for a map on their website showing the “general areas of the 9,000 galvanized service lines, maybe four percent of all our service lines. 2,000 of those might have the gooseneck fittings.” (Those fittings used lead because it was more flexible and less likely to break, he explained.)
If you have questions – SPU already has a special phone number: 206-684-5800.
When the aforementioned map, and any other information, is online, we’ll link that here too.
BOTTOM LINE: For now, SPU is asking *everyone* to run their water for two minutes after six hours of non-use. (So, when you wake up, and when you get home from work, if your residence is empty during the day.) That will soon be narrowed down to the 9,000 or so customers who are connected to water mains via galvanized-steel piping. The lead goosenecks are only believed to be in use for a quarter of those connections, but that will be the most difficult thing for SPU to narrow down.
8:11 PM UPDATE: SPU’s website now has information, linked from its left sidebar, which points you to this page. No location information yet on where the city believes it has the galvanized piping that could be connected to the aforementioned lead-containing gooseneck fittings, but it promises, “More information about potentially impacted homes will be posted here soon.”
Right now police are at the scene of a one-car crash on Puget Ridge, on 21st SW north of Dawson. What we’ve heard via the scanner so far is that it’s a mystery – the car was found with airbags deployed, but no one inside (which is why a “rescue” callout was quickly canceled). The location is notable because just a few hours ago, as reported in our coverage of the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting, a neighbor brought police a petition asking for speed enforcement on that stretch of 21st, which is now part of the Delridge-Highland Park Neighborhood Greenway.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Gunfire was the first thing our area’s top law enforcer brought up as tonight’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting began.
CRIME TRENDS: Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis opened the meeting with his crime-trends briefing, as usual. “As of lately, there’s been a lot of shots-fired incidents, there’s reasons behind it … it is alarming,” and community members “are quite tired, and I don’t blame them one bit.”
Once shots are reported, “we do take them very seriously, our officers go out and investigate … if there’s physical evidence that can be confiscated and taken to a lab, we do that .. there’s a whole unit that does that to see if there’s a nexus between different areas of the city (and other cities). … There’s shots-fired evidence we can link to various crimes throughout the area.” According to Capt. Davis, gangs and drugs are what’s most often involved “and we’re quickly putting together the pieces as to who’s who.”
He mentioned one particular trouble spot – a mile-plus of 16th SW, from the 6900 through 9000 block. South Park (which also is served by the SW Precinct) is being plagued by gunfire incidents, too, and so, he said, patrols have been stepped up, even including SWAT officers and the Anti-Crime Team. But they can’t patrol around the clock, he warned: “Obviously these individuals are smart enough to know if you’re shooting when police are around, you’re probably going to get caught … I wish I had enough officers to have out there 24/7 but that’s not the case.”
A resident of 21st SW in Puget Ridge spoke up at this point to say she had heard gunshots for three nights.
It’s beautiful, and it can be deadly. Water surrounds us, but water safety isn’t routinely taught to the youngest and most vulnerable among us. April Pool’s Day is meant to change that. The annual mix of safety lessons, free swim time, and incentives including raffles and treats happened at pools all over King County today, including Seattle Parks’ Southwest Pool in West Seattle. Toward the end of the free family event, lifeguards taught a round of boating safety, above. At poolside, we met someone with a special reason for pride in what was happening:
That’s Tony Gomez, who manages the violence and injury prevention program for the Seattle-King County Public Health Department, and organized April Pool’s Day almost a quarter-century ago. He said it was inspired by a desire to recognize those who had saved lives – and then became a way to teach safety to those who could learn to save themselves. We talked about how this time of year – the first warm, sunny days – always brings the risk, and sometimes the reality, of deadly tragedy, especially in our area’s fast-moving, chilly river waters, far more treacherous than they appear. Today’s events focused on cold-water awareness, lifejacket use and promotion, and basic water rescue. If someone in your family doesn’t know how to swim – it’s never too soon, or too late, to start. April Pool’s Day is a reminder of that.
Information on lessons and swim sessions at SW Pool is here.
(Map from July 2015 slide deck about 35th SW plan)
More than half a year after the much-discussed changes on 35th Avenue SW between Morgan and Roxbury, Phase 1 of the 35th SW Corridor Safety Project, you might be wondering when we’ll hear the timeline for Phase 2, north of Morgan. After Kevin e-mailed to ask for an update, we checked in again with SDOT‘s project manager Jim Curtin. His reply: “We will host a couple of meetings about 35th in May – likely the weeks of the 9th and/or the 16th. We definitely want to chat with residents living immediately adjacent to 35th and provide other street users with an opportunity to chat about our work moving forward.” Phase 2 was outlined in the Phase 1 announcement last July (WSB coverage here), including a declaration of no channelization changes north of SW Edmunds, but the timeline hadn’t previously been specified.