Safety – West Seattle Blog… West Seattle news, 24/7 Mon, 18 Jun 2018 11:44:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 READER REPORT: Close call in Fauntleroy Park Mon, 18 Jun 2018 01:01:18 +0000

The photo and report are from Mara:

Today my husband and I went into Fauntleroy Park and were enjoying our packed lunch along one of the trails and sat on one of the park-made platforms. There is a breeze going thru the trees and didn’t seem like much wind really. Then we heard cracking start, and lo and behold, a tree top was heading our way! We jumped up and it didn’t get near us thankfully. But the entire top of a tree came down! Be careful – the trees are dry and we saw bigger branches on the trails as we headed back that were not there beforehand.

It indeed doesn’t take a windstorm to bring down a tree limb – hot, dry weather (today got into the upper 80s) can do it too, according to a variety of references we found like this one.

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FOLLOWUP: Fact-finding visit in advance of mayor’s now-postponed Highland Park visit Thu, 14 Jun 2018 23:26:26 +0000 (WSB photos. Foreground from left, HPAC vice chair Gunner Scott, mayor’s rep Kyla Blair, HPIC board member Kay Kirkpatrick, pas HPAC co-chair Michele Witzki, HPAC chair Charlie Omana, Dutchboy Coffee’s Jenni Watkins)

Mayor Jenny Durkan‘s promised visit to Highland Park has been postponed – Highland Park Action Committee still meets June 27th as usual, but will feature other guests. However, a member of her staff, Kyla Blair, kept her date to meet with HPAC leadership and other community advocates to scout out top concerns – particularly the SW Holden/Highland Park Way traffic mess.

We were invited to go along with the delegation as they walked Blair down from Highland Park Improvement Club (12th/Holden) to the problem-plagued intersection during the Wednesday morning outbound commute. They got to show her, firsthand, driver cut-throughs on side streets (above, SW Portland) to escape the logjam at the intersection.

And they told the story of the roundabout that has gone unfunded, despite a state grant application that had high-profile support plus more than 400 community members’ petition signatures. The mayor’s assistant got to see students and others crossing Highland Park Way without benefit of a crosswalk.

The roundabout saga is just the latest in 80 years of traffic concerns at the intersection, as shown in city records – and in WSB coverage (a few high-profile crashes were brought up). Overall, there’s long been a “lack of city investment” in Highland Park, as HPAC chair Charlie Omana described it. “It’s a historically redlined neighborhood,” vice chair Gunner Scott added. Durkan’s predecessor Ed Murray visited for one of his Find It, Fix It Walks last year, but little has resulted. Meantime, as noted along the way, both Highland Park Way and Holden are seeing redevelopment, further adding to traffic.

Though the actual walk on Wednesday morning had to be limited to the Highland Park Way/Holden visit, there was also discussion about the need for improvements at 16th/Holden; Jenni Watkins, in her second year of operating Dutchboy Coffee at that intersection, talked about seeing crashes and helping people who got hurt. Before long, Blair had to get back to City Hall, and promised she’d convey what she heard. Meantime, Omana will be booking a new date for the mayor’s visit.

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HARBOR/SPOKANE PROJECT: New info, with work starting as soon as tomorrow Wed, 13 Jun 2018 03:13:25 +0000 As soon as tomorrow, Wednesday, June 13, crews will begin construction of the Harbor Ave SW and SW Spokane St Intersection Improvements project. This Neighborhood Street Fund project will increase the visibility and safety for people walking and biking across Harbor Ave SW and SW […]]]>

New construction/detour info for the Harbor/Spokane safety project from SDOT:

>As soon as tomorrow, Wednesday, June 13, crews will begin construction of the Harbor Ave SW and SW Spokane St Intersection Improvements project. This Neighborhood Street Fund project will increase the visibility and safety for people walking and biking across Harbor Ave SW and SW Spokane St. We expect construction to last about 6 weeks.

Nighttime and weekend work

One of the first construction activities will be pavement breaking at the intersection of Harbor Ave SW and SW Spokane St in preparation for safety improvement work on the Alki Trail. This work will be done at night and over the weekend to reduce impacts to people driving. For details about what to expect, please see below.

Traffic impacts:

Westbound SW Spokane St will be reduced to one lane of traffic at Harbor Ave SW, except during peak hours (3 PM to 7 PM, Monday through Friday), when it will remain fully open
A uniformed police officer will direct right turns onto northbound Harbor Ave SW from SW Spokane St during work hours
Crews plan to work continuously from 7 PM on Friday, June 15, to 5 AM on Monday, June 18
Sidewalks will be maintained for people walking and biking

Construction impacts:

Noise, dust, and vibration from breakers and heavy equipment
Increased truck activity, back-up alarms, and workers communicating in the field
Additional nighttime and weekend work may be required at this intersection
Crews have a noise variance for this work

Looking ahead:

Starting as soon as Monday, June 18, crews will begin safety improvement work on the Alki Trail. Crews will begin by replacing segments of the jersey barrier along the trail. Please note: This work may require a partial closure of the Alki Trail at the intersection of Harbor Ave SW and SW Spokane St. We’ll share more information on detour routes for people walking and biking as the work approaches.

What you need to know during construction:

Typical construction hours are Monday – Friday, 7 AM – 5 PM
Occasional night and weekend work
Temporary lane, crosswalk, and sidewalk closures
Detours for people walking and biking
Possible parking and loading restrictions
Please expect typical construction impacts such as increased noise, dust, truck activity, and vibration
Impacts and schedule are subject to change

Here’s the official SDOT construction notice (PDF).

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Also about to start work: Walkway improvements in Westwood Thu, 07 Jun 2018 20:12:23 +0000

As promised, we have an update on the other Neighborhood Street Fund community-initiated project that’s about to start work in West Seattle, the Chief Sealth International High School Walkway Improvements. The pathways south of the school between SW Cloverdale and SW Trenton, north of Westwood Village, will be improved. From the new “construction notice,” which you can see in full here:

As soon as Monday, June 11, we’ll start construction on improvements for people walking along 26th Ave SW and 25th Ave SW between SW Cloverdale and SW Trenton streets. Work will last approximately 6 weeks. During this work, crews will:

■ Install two 10-foot-wide walkways on 26th Ave SW and 25th Ave SW that
■ will connect SW Trenton St and the cul-de-sacs to the north
■ Install lighting along the two paths
■ Replace vegetation along the two paths, where appropriate
■ Add a concrete curb bulb extension and ADA curb ramps at 26th Ave SW

The 26th Ave SW walkway will be constructed with asphalt. The 25th Ave SW walkway will be constructed with compacted gravel. SDOT crews will install asphalt on the 25th Ave SW walkway at a later date.

The 25th SW part of the project is also the one that SDOT was at one point last year going to drop entirely, relying on a potential future development to deal with it. To date, no development proposal has emerged. Meantime, as noted yesterday in our report on the other NSF project that’s about to get going, the contractor is C.A. Carey.

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Starting soon: Harbor/Spokane intersection safety project Wed, 06 Jun 2018 18:42:06 +0000

A busy summer ahead for road/trail/sidewalk projects in West Seattle. SDOT has just sent a sheaf of notices about more work that’s about to start. We’ll spotlight each of them, starting with the Harbor/Spokane Intersection Improvements, a community-initiated project via the Neighborhood Street Fund. The official pre-construction notice (see it here) explains:

As soon as Monday, June 11, we’ll start construction of safety improvements for people walking, biking, and driving at the intersection of Harbor Ave SW and SW Spokane St. Work will last approximately 6 weeks. During this work, crews will:

■ Install a bike-only signal at the northeast corner of Harbor Ave SW and SW Spokane St and bike-only crossing across to the southwest corner of the intersection

■ Add a curb bulb at the northeast corner of Harbor Ave SW and SW Spokane St intersection

■ Restripe the crosswalks at the intersection

■ Replace existing jersey barrier and vegetation along the Alki Trail approaching Harbor Ave SW

■ Install a bike ramp on SW Avalon Way at SW Spokane St

There’s some backstory on this project in this WSB report from two years ago. Meantime, the new info above isn’t on the project website yet but we’re told it will be soon.

P.S. According to the city bidding website, the contractor will be C.A. Carey, which submitted the winning bid for a package of five projects in the south section of the city, including this one and the walkway project in Westwood (our next update!).

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New school-zone beacons in West Seattle – near school that’s about to move Tue, 05 Jun 2018 23:45:06 +0000

If you drive SW Barton west of Westwood Village [map], you might have noticed those hand-lettered signs. Residents on the block tell WSB they were startled to find out that a school-zone flashing beacon was about to be installed there – considering that the nearest school, Roxhill Elementary, is about to move, as we’ve been reporting for the past 2+ years. We also noticed a flashing beacon being installed Sunday in the same spot on SW Trenton, near 30th SW:

30th SW in that area is slated to be part of the new West Seattle Neighborhood Greenway, with work starting soon, so first we checked with that SDOT project’s spokesperson; he said the beacons aren’t part of their project, and pointed us to SDOT’s Safe Routes to School program. Here’s how that program’s manager Ashley Rhead explained it, replying to us today:

The SDOT Safe Routes to School program evaluates speeds in school zones on arterial streets on an annual basis and makes recommendations for improvements based on this data. SW Trenton St has an existing 20 mph school speed zone. Last year, Seattle Public Schools assigned SW Barton St and 30th Ave SW as an adult crossing guard location. For that reason, we evaluated speeds on this corridor as well.

On both streets, we found an 85th percentile speed of 34 mph, considerably higher than the 30 mph speed limit. 30th Ave SW is a walking route to school for Denny Middle School and Chief Sealth High School. SDOT is also installing a neighborhood greenway along this corridor later this year. We expect this improvement to further increase the number of people walking and biking along this route.

With that said, we are revisiting the decision to install 20 mph flashing beacons on SW Barton St and collecting additional information. The plan to install the beacons is on hold for the moment. We have reached out to the school district to confirm whether SW Barton St and 30th Ave SW will continue to be an assigned crossing guard location, how many Denny Middle School and Chief Sealth High School students live southwest of this intersection within the school walk zones, and what education program will be housed in the Roxhill building next year.

We actually reported on the latter yesterday, with more information added to our story this morning. The programs include special education and one location of the alternative high school Interagency Academy; other details are expected at the community meeting planned for 6 pm Thursday at Roxhill (9430 30th SW). On Thistle, by the way, which borders the Sealth/Denny campus, the existing school-zone beacons don’t start until east of 28th SW.

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From repeat offenders to RVs, at West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network Wed, 23 May 2018 20:23:51 +0000 A wide-ranging discussion at this month’s West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network meeting. Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Ron Smith presented SPD information in place of precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis, who was unable to be there. He had an announcement, too. But first:

CRIME STATS: Crimes against persons have “calmed down drastically,” down 9 percent from a year earlier – that category includes violent incidents from assault to robbery to homicide. Crimes against property are up 1 percent but some categories are spiking:

Residential burglary is up; commercial burglary is up too. That’s year-to-year, while currently it’s trending down. Larceny/theft is down 27 percent, and Lt. Smith said the Westwood Village emphasis patrols probably have a lot to do with that. Auto theft is still up in a big way – cars are being stolen in Renton and Burien and dumped here, Smith said; recently, a “prolific offender” was arrested in a stolen vehicle in Alki.

In a separate case, without initially naming the defendant, Lt. Smith also mentioned Bryan Tiedeman (who is back out of jail since our most-recent update). Shortly thereafter, a resident in the south Lincoln Park area whose neighborhood has been dealing with him for six years arrived at the meeting, and had kudos for precinct liaison lawyer Joe Everett, who helped neighbors get in touch with the county prosecutor handling the case, after a discussion at a WSBWCN meeting earlier this year. The neighbor also mentioned signing up for notifications with the VINE system regarding a change in the custody status of an offender – which everyone on the block has done. (You can do that via the King County Jail Register listing of a suspect, for example.) The neighbor also discussed agitating with Seattle City Light to get a streetlight so that license plates are more visible when suspicion-evoking vehicles show up in the neighborhood.

That discussion was followed by group agreement on the benefits of block watches.

ALKI SUMMER EMPHASIS: That’s on again, Lt. Smith said, now that summer is just about here. Lt. Steve Strand explained later that a lot of the emphasis patrol will be traffic-related. Something to watch for this weekend – a group of “high-end sports cars” (the Zwing Rally) plans a cruise on Alki Point on Saturday. (We wrote about this right after the meeting.)

RV’S AND OTHER HOMELESSNESS-RELATED ISSUES: There are fewer on Harbor Avenue (we counted eight today, down from a high of 18 not long ago) because some have been impounded, Smith said in response to an attendee’s question. The policy now is a 72-hour sticker (in reference to the city’s maximum time allowed for street parking), and if it hasn’t moved, it gets a 24-hour impound warning. “So basically you have four days of parking before we can do an impound.” One attendee wondered how to report an RV of concern in the Westwood area; Community Police Team Officer Todd Wiebke remains the point person for RVs. Discussion ensued regarding encampments; Lt. Smith said that to remove even one camper, members of the SPD Navigation Team – which is not based at the precinct – have to be involved.

SPD TRANSITION: Lt. Strand (above right) will be succeeding Lt. Smith (above left) as operations lieutenant when Smith retires at the end of next month. That highly visible position is #2 in command at the precinct; as part of his many duties, Lt. Smith has attended countless community meetings, many outside the precinct, to provide crime updates and answer questions. Strand is currently in charge of second watch (swing shift).

NEXT MEETING: WSBWCN meets fourth Tuesdays (6:30 pm, SW Precinct); next month will be the last meeting before summer hiatus.

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Will Highland Park’s roundabout ever be funded? SDOT update Wednesday Tue, 22 May 2018 18:39:02 +0000

(Early design concept for proposed Highland Park Way roundabout)

Tomorrow night, the Highland Park Action Committee gets an update on the long-in-the-works roundabout proposed for Highland Park Way and SW Holden. SDOT’s James Le is expected to be at the meeting with the newest information. After last month’s meeting, HPAC chair Charlie Omana learned from SDOT that SDOT has been “performing a survey of existing site conditions which should be completed within the next month. Once the survey is complete, project design can proceed, and SDOT intends to engage the public with multiple opportunities for feedback.” But, he added, only $200,000 of the project’s estimated $2.5 million cost has been committed. SDOT says it’s applied for a grant from the WSDOT City Safety Program but won’t hear until later this year. (It’s been half a year since the project was turned down for a different WSDOT grant.) Omana says, “After 5 years of working on this project in its current capacity, to have only $200k committed is disappointing. HPAC is concerned about the effects that increasing construction costs will have on the feasibility of this project over time. … HPAC will continue pushing to bring this project to fruition sooner rather than later.” And that includes Wednesday night’s discussion (7 pm at Highland Park Improvement Club, 1116 SW Holden).

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ID-protecting advice in the spotlight as state attorney general visits South Seattle College Wed, 16 May 2018 23:32:05 +0000 (Photo courtesy AARP)

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson was in West Seattle today as part of an event presented at South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) by a coalition led by the AARP. It was the first in a new series, “Taking Charge of Your Digital Identity,” with other events to be held around the state. AARP spokesperson Jason Erskine says consumer-fraud experts advise taking these “three key steps” to better protect your personal information:

1) Take Charge of Your Credit File
Getting a credit freeze is one of the three primary recommendations of security officials to help protect your identity. With a credit freeze in place, a criminal is unable to access your credit file or open new credit accounts. According to AARP’s report however, fewer than one-in-six Washington adults (14%) report having ever ordered a security freeze on their credit.

“Along with checking their credit reports regularly and reviewing bills promptly, many consumers find that freezing their credit is a simple thing they can do to protect themselves from crooks looking to set up phony credit accounts,” says Federal Trade Commission Regional Director Chuck Harwood. “A new Washington state law will soon let all consumers freeze their credit and lift the freeze at no cost.” AARP and the State Attorney General’s Office lobbied for the successful passage of the “Free Credit Freeze for All” law this year, offering free credit freezes and thaws for Washington consumers beginning in June of 2018. Prior to the laws’ passage, consumers had to pay around $10 to each of three credit reporting agencies to freeze their credit files, and another $10 per bureau to thaw their files.

2) Check Your Online Accounts
With the ever increasing number of data breaches, experts say almost all of us have had our personal information exposed to potential identity thieves. So it’s vital that consumers have online access to all of their important bank accounts, credit cards and retirement accounts and to check them frequently. According to AARP’s report however, only four-in-ten (38%) of Washington adults have set-up online accounts for all of their bank accounts, while one-in-five (21%) admit they have not set up online access to any of their bank accounts. Similarly, only half (50%) of Washington adults have set-up online access to all of their credit cards, while more than one-quarter (27%) haven’t set up access to any of their credit cards.

To make matters worse, some consumers who say they are staying offline are doing so for all the wrong reasons. Nearly half of respondents who have not set up online access to some or any of their bank or credit card accounts (45%) say they haven’t because they are afraid their personal information will get stolen; about four-in-ten (41%) say they feel safer without an online account; and over one-third (36%) say they don’t trust the internet. “It’s ironic and unfortunate that fear and mistrust of the internet is actually putting people in greater danger that their personal information will be stolen and used by ID thieves,” says AARP State Director Doug Shadel. “Crooks have told us that people without online accounts are the perfect targets. It allows the criminals to set up online access themselves, and to even set passwords and identifying information locking people out of their own accounts.”

3) Strengthen Your Passwords and Privacy Settings
The difference between secure computing and falling victim to online fraud or identity theft often comes down to a dozen or so keystrokes – your password. However, nearly half (45%) of Washington adults report using the same password for more than one online account. Younger adults are more likely to report doing this compared to older adults (18-49: 49%; 50-64: 46%; 65 and older: 33%). Using the same password across multiple accounts is a very risky practice. If hackers are able to break just one of your codes, they can now access each of your accounts . “Our members know we are very vigilant about protecting their data and often ask us what else they can do. We tell them to treat their passwords like toothbrushes,” says Kyle Welsh, BECU’s Chief Information Security Officer. “Change them frequently; don’t share them; don’t leave them lying around; and the longer you brush, the better.”

Privacy concerns over users personal information on Facebook has also been in the spotlight lately. AARP’s survey shows that among Washington Facebook users 18+, nearly three-quarters (72%) report having changed at least some of their privacy settings from the default settings. However, significantly fewer adults aged 65-and-older (33%) have done this. “Social media sites can be a great way to stay active and engaged, just be careful what you share,” says Jeff Lilleskare, Online Safety & Security Risk Management, Microsoft. “Check your settings to make sure only friends can see what you post, or at most friends of friends. Don’t post when you’re going to be traveling. Don’t share your address, and be careful about taking pictures with sensitive information in them,” he says.

Also at the SSC event, AARP released a new report surveying adult internet users in our state, “Up for Grabs”; Erskine says it revealed that “a lack of awareness and knowledge of online dangers may be contributing to increased dangers for Washington consumers” You can see the report here.

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FOLLOWUP: 35th Avenue SW ‘Phase 2’ info now online Tue, 24 Apr 2018 04:58:43 +0000

Three weeks ago, we brought you first word of SDOT‘s decision about Phase 2 for 35th Avenue SW. The relatively small changes will include adding a stoplight at 35th/Dawson, turn restrictions at 35th/Juneau, the already-promised 35th/Graham stoplight, turn signals at 35th/Barton (which is in the Phase 1 zone), but no continuation of the rechannelization that comprised Phase 1 south of Morgan. When we talked with SDOT’s Jim Curtin on April 2nd, he said the plan would soon be added to the project website, and would be sent to many West Seattle homes in a mailer. That mailer arrived over the weekend, and the website is now updated – including the map shown above (here’s the full-size PDF version) – so if you want to see the official final version, here’s the project page. No further meetings planned, but if you have questions, Curtin says, you can e-mail the project team at

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Drop-in meeting Saturday morning, survey open now for West Seattle Neighborhood Greenway extension to North Admiral Sat, 14 Apr 2018 02:18:46 +0000

Two weeks ago, we reported on the plan to build the West Seattle Neighborhood Greenway all the way into North Admiral, instead of having its north end at The Junction. The city also announced two drop-in meetings for feedback, and plans for a survey. The first of those meetings is tomorrow morning – and the survey is open now. You can answer it here, and/or stop by Uptown Espresso at California/Edmunds/Erskine, 10:30-noon on Saturday. Meantime, from an update sent by SDOT, more information about the greenway plan:

Our final route for the West Seattle Neighborhood Greenway reflects many of the needs we heard from the community to connect people with schools, parks, local businesses, and the greater transportation network. The new neighborhood greenway will bring affordable, active transportation options for all ages and abilities.

Below are several community priorities we incorporated into our final design:

*Design the pedestrian safety islands so they’re wider to give people adequate space for their bikes

*Time the new traffic signal at 35th Ave SW and SW Graham St with the rest of the 35th Ave SW traffic signals to reduce corridor-wide delay as much as possible
*Upgrade access to the existing signals for people walking and biking at
30th Ave SW and SW Barton St
30th Ave SW and SW Roxbury St

*Install traffic calming near Our Lady of Guadalupe School

*Minimize any on-street parking loss

*Reduce gravel on the sidewalk and street along SW Kenyon St

*Enhance traffic calming on 30th Ave SW and SW Thistle St

We’ve been able to incorporate all these elements into our work plan. Thank you for sharing such helpful insights.

Phase 1 Construction
The first phase of construction for the West Seattle Neighborhood Greenway will begin later this spring and is expected to continue through 2018. This phase of construction, which begins at SW Roxbury St and ends at SW Graham St, allows us to open a large section of the Greenway an entire year earlier than expected!

During phase 1 construction you should expect temporary detours, parking changes, and crossing closures so that we can install greenway pieces such as pedestrian safety islands and new crosswalks at intersections. We’ll be in constant communication throughout construction to ensure we coordinate with residents and businesses directly affected by specific projects.

We recognize that construction is an inconvenience and appreciate your patience and communication as we begin creating the West Seattle Greenway for you and your neighbors to enjoy.

Schedule …

Construction is broken up into three phases. This will enable us to start installing greenway improvements earlier than expected. We are excited to help people get to important community locations like Roxhill park by walking and biking in 2018, a full year earlier than anticipated.
The three phases are highlighted below:

Phase 1: SW Roxbury to SW Graham St on 30th Ave
Construction starting in spring 2018

Phase 2: SW Graham to SW Edmunds St
Construction as soon as fall 2019

North Admiral Connection: SW Edmunds St to SW College St
Outreach & planning beginning spring 2018
Construction as soon as 2020-2022

This will be West Seattle’s third greenway, after North Delridge and Highland Park/South Delridge. You can find more project information here. And if you can’t get to tomorrow morning’s drop-in discussion, the second one is Thursday (April 19th), 4:15-5:45 pm, at West Seattle (Admiral) Library, 2306 42nd SW.

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A conversation about a costly crisis: The price being paid, and not paid, to save young lives Thu, 12 Apr 2018 04:49:17 +0000 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The two scenes could scarcely have seemed more divergent:

A comfortable waterfront home in Fauntleroy / a crowded complex in Burien.

The sound of small talk and laughter / the crackle of gunshots, followed by chaos.

A colorful rug adorning a wood floor / blood staining the pavement.

The scenes were five miles and eight days apart – with one connection: A crisis.

In Burien, that crisis, youth violence – youth, in reference to the victims and/or perpetrators – stole two young women’s lives.

In Fauntleroy, that crisis, youth violence, brought together an extraordinary assemblage of people who all had the ability to do something about it.

Some of them were associated with Southwest Youth and Family Services (SWYFS), the Delridge-headquartered nonprofit that issued the invitation to a conversation about “current successes and gaps” in preventing youth violence.

SWYFS’s work in that realm includes being a partner agency for programs such as the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative, and questions about its future erupted at points during the evening.

“What an amazing time to have this discussion,” said facilitator Mark Wirschem, a retired King County Juvenile Treatment Services manager and current SWYFS board member. He expressed the hope shown by last month’s March For Our Lives, “privileged white youth embracing (and working with) youth of color.”

Solemnly, Wirschem also said that every word of the evening ahead should be in honor of the young women killed in Burien. While violence on school campuses has been in the spotlight recently, its victims number in the hundreds, while youth killed by gunfire in all circumstances each year number in the thousands – homicide predominant among black and brown children, suicide predominant among white children. Mental-illness treatment is vital. “We’e here about trauma and the impacts of trauma … These kids sometimes are victims before they commit offenses.” He urged work “to erase the margins between us and the marginalized” – youth don’t want to be judged, they want to be respected as they are. He also talked about county programs to help people get out of the “gang life.”

No doubt, everyone in the room had stories they could have spent the night telling. Not everyone spoke. The next who did: Robert Gant, director of the Counseling Center at SWYFS, where he has worked for almost 20 years. Shifting a lens to consider what’s happened in someone’s life, as a way of understanding what they are doing, is important, though he said accountability is too.

He also mentioned trauma, talking about “trauma-informed care.” Returning again to the Burien murders, he spoke of another SWYFS staffer getting a text early in the day from a school official, saying, “Our young people are hurting; what can you do?” They reached a therapist immediately and headed to the school. They “offer(ed) a space for all these young people to come through and process what’s going on” – they supported staff, too, and also had someone at a middle school to talk with youth who were at the shooting scene.

South King County is an increasing area of focus for SWYFS, added Justin Cox, King County Violence Prevention Program manager, and the staffer to whom Gant had referred. But they’re short-handed, covering the south county from White Center to Auburn with a team of six. More volunteers would help as well as more staff.

Debra Williams, who coordinates the Aggression-Replacement Therapy (ART) program, had a personal history to recount, with her children participating in SWYFS programs long before she joined the staff. Her program helps youth “change negative behaviors” via social skills, moral reasoning, anger-control training. They help youth understand anger “inside and out” and what it does in the community. The program has an 88 percent success rate – no crimes – “it’s a win-win program for us in the community.” They meet with youth three times a week, one hour at a time, create relationships, “show you how to keep your personal power -” by teaching “the ability to control what happens to you from the actions and choices you make.”

One attendee observed that adults need help too – we train people in math, in science, but not in social skills. “How do you reach out more to society?” she wondered.

Williams observed in response that the lack of these skills has been affected by the loss of the family-unit gathering, such as sitting down together at dinner. Many social skills were provided at home, she mused, but not so much any more, so the skills she teaches are as basic as “respect your elders.”

The program is relatively expensive – $2,000 to $3,000 per person – but, facilitator Wirschem observed, that is less expensive than the five-digit cost if the youth ends up in the criminal-justice system.

Where do ART referrals come from? Self-referrals, school counselors … “What kind of kid is most suitable?” “Any kind who is troubled – if they’re being expelled, they’re aggressive, they have anger that’s not controlled …” Williams said ideally, every kid, every adult could benefit from ART. “The way a case manager might navigate you through the hospital system, we will navigate you through anger.”

“But we as a society are not willing to pay for it,” observed Leslie Harris, the West Seattleite who is president of the Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors, reminding all that the state is only funding 9 nurses for a district of 54,000 students. The need, she added, is so great, “but we’re not willing to pay for it, to frontload it, to make sure these children have a future.”

Sadly true, acknowledged Williams, and yet we know what the outcome can be – pointing again to the loss of two young women.

“You pay for it – not the way you want to pay for it,” called out a voice from the back of the room.

Anothe attendee observed that every adult has the opportunity to influence a young person by modeling behavior.

SWYFS has funding from the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative, it was noted, though its future is uncertain. They hope the collaboration will continue, regardless of the specific program’s future. A new data system is enabling better continuity, Gant said, if a young person for example moves out of this area.

Wischam elaborated: Anything that can be done … to address funding, keep it going. The $8 million from SWYVPI just covers Seattle. “Keep those big initiatives going, and more.”

King County Chair Joe McDermott asked for clarification on the Youth Violence Prevention Initiative funding. It’s from the city general fund, initiated a few mayors ago, and is undergoing review, said SWYFS executive director Steve Daschle, to see if the existing program should be continued, or if something new should be tried.

Marcus Stubblefield from King County’s Criminal Justice Policy and Strategy Section said that this should be a unified effort, between city and county and others.

Youth violence needs to be seen as a crisis, and funding will follow, suggested another participant.

Daschle picked up from what Stubblefield said, stressing the importance of continuity beyond the city limits, talking about New Futures, which has been part of SWYFS for five years, since resources “dried up” in South King County – not just county funding, but also public-school funding. He explained that New Futures once operated at the 500+-unit Burien complex where the double murder happened, formerly known as The Heights, now Alturas. “We’re trying to go back into (that complex) with some form of the New Futures program … we want to avoid violence (becoming) a way of life” as it is in cities such as Chicago.

But how?

Stubblefield said, “You teach kids how to manage conflict.” Absent that teaching, they get a gun and feel that’s what gives them power.

One attendee asked, “And what does it say to kids when adults won’t let their guns go?”

“In some neighborhoods,” answered Stubblefield, “(adults) give guns to kids to protect themselves.”

To address that – build leadership among our young people, Gant urged. And even for those who have started down a dangerous road, he noted, many of the skills that facilitate survival on the streets are transferable – so, “how can we transfer that skill in a way that they can become leaders, transfer it in a healthy way?”

Mike Dey, husband of SWYFS board member Susan Lantz-Dey, the evening’s host, talked about how slowly the system works, how months might elapse between an offense and the action that is taken.

That turned talk toward the criminal-justice system, represented in the room by at least two judges. One said that the county’s courts, prosecuting attorney, and public defender have lost a lot of funding in the past decade. Continuing needs for cuts have led to actions such as closing the 4th Avenue entrance to the downtown courthouse, which in turn raises access issues: “It goes back to Tim Eyman’s initiatives … The county’s general-fund funding is broken, and it’s been broken for years.” To the wait that Dey had mentioned, the judge said, cases aren’t being filed for months because there’s no prosecutor to handle it – or because police might not have been able to refer it.

That brought a mention of King County’s “new youth jail” and a question, why does the county have funding for that but not for the other things?. One of the criminal-justice professionals present pointed out that it was approved by the voters, money that could only be used for a capital (construction) project, and that much of it will include non-detention facilities.

Anyone want to form a committee to talk about how to get new funding for the types of programs discussed earlier in the evening? asked a community member.

McDermott said, “I’m in.”

A participant warned of tax fatigue. That led to discussion of the problems of our state’s tax system – “inequitable and regressive,” as Harris put it, also declaring “it’s ‘fake news’ that we’ve addressed the McCleary crisis, because we do not value our children.”

If we don’t take care of them, nothing matters, said Wirschem.

The most plaintive voice of the night, that of a visitor from Chicago, interjected that he “stands in the gap” for youth who are not in programs. “How can all of this help them? The one that are currently in gangs, currently killing each other… Right now, in this time, gun violence IS the answer [for them] … because there’s too many meetings, too many people gathering in one place for too long, and not bringing all the knowledge and resources to the streets … Whatever resources you have, whatever power you have, you need to bring it to the streets … some of them don’t even get a chance to get incarcerated … they just die.”

There was no simple retort or summary for that; it lingered in the air as people rose from their chairs and moved into small conversations, perhaps to make small steps toward steering youth to safety before it’s too late.

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Expired, no-longer-needed prescription medication in your home? Drug Take-Back Day 2018 is 3 weeks away Sat, 07 Apr 2018 18:08:09 +0000 Don’t flush it, don’t toss it – if you have expired or unneeded prescription medication to get rid of, Drug Take-Back Day is only three weeks away. Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis sends the reminder that the national event is set for 10 am-2 pm on Saturday, April 28th, and the precinct is a drop-off spot as usual, 2300 SW Webster. P.S. If that day doesn’t work for you, note that the Junction QFC pharmacy is now a year-round dropoff spot. (Photo – start of 5th bag filled by dropoffs during last October’s Drug Take-Back Day at the SW Precinct)

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See SDOT’s final design for Chief Sealth Walkway Improvements Project in Westwood Fri, 06 Apr 2018 19:10:28 +0000 SDOT has announced the “final design” for the Chief Sealth Walkway Improvements project in Westwood, which you’ll recall was at one point going to be reduced, and then was restored to full size. From SDOT:

This project will improve connectivity, walkability, and safety for residents and students who currently use two unimproved and overgrown paths on 25th and 26th avenues SW, between SW Trenton and SW Cloverdale streets.

Project elements include:

• Two 10-foot-wide asphalt walkways on 25th and 26th avenues SW connecting SW Trenton St and the cul-de-sacs to the north
• Pedestrian lights along the two paths
• Removal of overgrown vegetation and installation of new trees and plants, where appropriate

This document has backstory from the original community proposal. Construction could start as soon as mid-May, says SDOT, which also says the final design is available for another NSF project, Harbor/Spokane, but as of right now still has not updated that project website to show it. Also, both projects will be handled by the same contractor, and SDOT says the bid/award process isn’t complete yet.

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FOLLOWUP: Safety additions at apartment complex where 2 cars flipped in 1 night Thu, 05 Apr 2018 18:42:14 +0000 (WSB photo from last December)

You might recall that scene from the last week of last year – two flipped cars alongside an apartment complex on the SW Genesee hill west of Avalon. It was the aftermath of two crashes in one snowy night, over the span of a few hours starting late Christmas Eve. No serious injuries. The second driver to crash that night, KC, had wondered in post-crash comment discussion why the complex had no safety barriers along the driveway, given the dropoff – and now, KC tells us, that’s changed, with this installation yesterday:

KC adds, in the note accompanying that photo: “After the event, I never wanted any monetary compensation but only for safety devices installed and an admission that there was a clear and present danger! I have had nothing to do with how these have come to be… but they have been installed so others may be spared the over the rockery trip. As far as admission of a hazard… I take comfort in knowing actions often speak louder than words, such is the case here!”

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