Too few sidewalks? Where’s Fauntleroy Boulevard? And other questions in Transportation Levy Q & A @ SW District CouncilApril 5, 2015 at 11:59 pm | In Southwest District Council, West Seattle news | 26 Comments
Two SDOT spotlights filled most of the Southwest District Council‘s April meeting, including SDOT director Scott Kubly‘s third visit to West Seattle in five weeknights, reviewing toplines of and answering questions – many questions! – about the draft Transportation Levy to Move Seattle. The other SDOT presentation recapped this year’s Arbor Heights microsurfacing plan.
From this month’s Southwest District Council meeting, another discussion about whether to design the Fauntleroy Boulevard project with underground power; more details on the Port of Seattle‘s upcoming community boat tour (and how you can get on the list for it), and other toplines:
Department of Neighborhoods leader faces West Seattle neighborhood leaders @ Southwest District CouncilJanuary 8, 2015 at 11:56 pm | In Southwest District Council, West Seattle news | 2 Comments
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
It’s not the Department of Neighborhoods‘ job to get more people to apply for its matching-funds grants, its director told West Seattle neighborhood leaders Tuesday night.
But DoN director Bernie Matsuno acknowledged that a “conversation” is needed before her department tries again to make changes to the rules for who can seek the funds and the process for vetting them.
Her appearance before the Southwest District Council – with Delridge District Council members in attendance too – came shortly after a round of proposed changes was widely panned by leaders in both of West Seattle’s city-drawn “districts,” and subsequently shelved.
She faced questions about that as well as other issues, including her own status in city government, not yet reconfirmed by the full City Council despite Mayor Murray’s voiced intention a year ago to keep her on.
Department of Neighborhoods director returning to West Seattle for Wednesday’s Southwest District Council meetingJanuary 5, 2015 at 5:21 pm | In Southwest District Council, West Seattle news | Comments Off
The agenda’s out for the year’s first meeting of the Southwest District Council, and the headline guest is Bernie Matsuno, who is about to start her fifth year as director of the Department of Neighborhoods. SWDC members, who are from community councils and other key organizations around western West Seattle, might well have some pointed questions, given, for one, the recently scrapped recommendations to change how some city matching funds are handled. All are welcome at the meeting, 6:30 pm Wednesday (January 7th) at the Senior Center of West Seattle (Oregon/California). It will also be the first meeting for new co-chairs David Whiting (Admiral Neighborhood Association) and Eric Iwamoto (Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council).
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
We’ve learned that the city has scrapped proposed changes to the Neighborhood Matching Fund process – changes strongly opposed by West Seattle’s two District Councils.
This came to light after the Department of Neighborhoods sent out a news release today containing deadlines and other information about this year’s process and timelines for seeking the NMF grants. Noting that the announcement made no mention of the proposed changes, we asked DoN spokesperson Lois Maag to verify that they indeed were not being implemented; Maag confirmed that it’s “status quo” for this year, and said that council chairs had recently been sent word of that.
The proposals primarily involved who could apply for the grants and who from the neighborhoods would vet applications. They were presented (and criticized) at the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council‘s October meeting (WSB coverage here) and the Southwest District Council‘s November meeting (WSB coverage here). The potential removal of District Councils from the application-vetting process was a particular sticking point.
We confirmed tonight with DNDC chair Mat McBride that DoN indeed had sent word the changes weren’t going forward. In her memo, department director Bernie Matsuno said in part:
… Over the past year, an NMF Advisory Committee deliberated and developed several proposals for the program. Due to the feedback received regarding these recommendations, we are not moving forward at this time. … We will continue engaging the community and having a more robust conversation about any possible improvements to the NMF program.
Meantime – if you are interested in finding out about this year’s grant opportunities, all the information is in the full news release made public today. One West Seattle-specific date – those interested in applying for a grant from the Large Project Fund (deadline May 4th) must attend a workshop, and the only one in West Seattle is set for Tuesday, March 10, 6 pm, High Point Community Center (6420 34th SW).
Meet David Whiting and Eric Iwamoto, new co-chairs of the Southwest District Council:
Passing the torch was part of the short official agenda for last night’s monthly meeting of the SWDC, which includes reps from community councils and other key organizations around western West Seattle. Whiting is president of the Admiral Neighborhood Association and Iwamoto co-chairs the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council.
This past year’s co-chairs got a fond farewell – Sharonn Meeks of the Fairmount Community Association and Vlad Oustimovitch from the Fauntleroy Community Association.
The major item on the short agenda was a followup on proposed Neighborhood Matching Fund grant changes, which have drawn concerns from district councils around the city, especially because those groups would be removed from their role vetting applications for grants before they move to citywide review. (We covered last month’s discussion at the SWDC and, before that, to the Delridge District Council, as well as the letter written and sent by the latter.)
So far, no changes have been implemented, reported Neighborhood District Coordinator Yun Pitre, city liaison to the SWDC.
Southwest District Council, report #2: More opposition to matching-fund changes; ‘Let’s Talk’ followup; new co-chairsNovember 7, 2014 at 4:09 am | In Southwest District Council, West Seattle news | 1 Comment
They’re the biggest grants the city offers to neighborhood groups – and big proposed changes in the process and eligibility are leading to big pushback from neighborhood advocates, as evidenced again when the Southwest District Council met on Wednesday night. That tops our second report from the meeting (first one is here), which concluded with the election of new co-chairs for next year:
Southwest District Council report #1: RapidRide Junction reroute? Yes, suggest attendees, but not the one the city’s proposingNovember 6, 2014 at 5:22 pm | In Southwest District Council, West Seattle news | 23 Comments
Last night’s Southwest District Council meeting was all about change, both proposed and unavoidable. This first report focuses on one of the items in the former category: Attendees got a chance to comment on the proposed change in RapidRide C Line routing through the heart of The Junction (first reported here in August):
Seattle’s transportation system is ‘fragile,’ new SDOT director acknowledges in first West Seattle appearanceSeptember 4, 2014 at 10:23 pm | In Southwest District Council, West Seattle news | 20 Comments
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
“We’re back to it now,” as Southwest District Council co-chair Sharonn Meeks said, launching the SWDC’s first meeting since July. The marquee guest for last night’s meeting: New SDOT director Scott Kubly, about 15 minutes late because he “had a problem with the reliability of the transportation system.”
He noted he’s lived in Seattle all of six weeks, “so I’m very very new to the city” and “learning a lot about it … One of the things that has been really apparent from my first moment on the ground … is that we have a pretty fragile transportation system.” As an example, he mentioned recent incidents, including, locally, the Highway 99 offramp fuel spill. Regarding West Seattle, “there’s very very few ways to get over here,” he observed, “a really challenging geography to work with,” while also acknowledging “it doesn’t take a rocket scientist” (to figure that out).
“I’m sure you guys are going to hit me with a lot of hard questions,” he concluded his introduction, adding, “We all need streets to work for everyone.” First question was from Chas Redmond – who brought a handout to accompany his.
The full schedule of community-group meetings gets going again next month, and the first one has a high-profile guest: New SDOT director (pending confirmation) Scott Kubly is booked for Q/A at the Southwest District Council meeting next Wednesday (September 3rd). All are welcome to the 6:30 pm meeting at the Senior Center of West Seattle (California/Oregon in The Junction);
As Southwest District Council co-chair Sharonn Meeks said toward the start of tonight’s SWDC meeting, its agenda didn’t have one central guest or topic because “we just need to talk.” Rather than rattle off a mega-list of bullet points from the ensuing talk, we’ll be following up on a few things for separate stories, and making note right now of two things:
LAND USE SUBCOMMITTEE: Other neighborhoods have land-use committees that often look at projects of note outside official government processes such as design reviews, and SWDC announced a few months back that it intended to get one going as a subcommittee. The first meeting is finally set – 6:30 pm Wednesday, August 27th. Location TBD, agenda TBD, but if you’re interested in West Seattle development and land use and want to be part of a citizen-led group looking at it, set the date aside.
PARK DISTRICT BALLOT-MEASURE FORUM: Admiral Neighborhood Association president David Whiting announced that ANA’s meeting next Tuesday will include guests from both sides of the August 5th ballot measure proposing creation of a Seattle Park District with permanent taxing authority, instead of sending levies/bond measures to voters every several years to raise extra money for parks. The ANA meeting is at 7 pm Tuesday (July 8th) at The Sanctuary at Admiral, 42nd/Lander. (The Delridge District Council had a forum on the proposal in May; we recorded video.)
One calendar highlight for tonight – the Southwest District Council IS having a July meeting. The agenda includes a summary of the two recent city “conversation” meetings – Councilmember Mike O’Brien on June 4th (WSB report here) and “West Seattle: Let’s Talk” last Saturday (WSB report here) and a report on the district’s proposed Neighborhood Park and Street Fund projects, as well as an update on progress toward creation of a West Seattle Land Use Committee. All are welcome – 6:30 pm, Senior Center of West Seattle (upstairs at Oregon/California). To see what else is on the calendar today, go here.
Local community leaders have been working on more ways to convene discussions about one of our area’s hottest current topics, development. And while covering tonight’s Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting (full report to come separately), we got semi-early word of an event in the works, and wanted to let you know to save the date: On June 4th, DNDC will join the Southwest District Council on the SWDC’s regular meeting night, to host City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who chairs the Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee (which this week alone has handled issues from small-lot development to microhousing). Some details are still being worked out, including the venue/time, but if you want to hear about and talk about where things stand and where they’re going, save the night of June 4th.
Development reviews, school-safety projects, parade, podcast, more: What the Southwest District Council discussed and heardMay 8, 2014 at 10:30 am | In Southwest District Council, West Seattle news | 5 Comments
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The Southwest District Council‘s increased focus on development/land-use issues was a key topic of its monthly meeting last night, along with the plan for neighborhood organizations to pursue a higher profile in this year’s West Seattle Grand Parade, and an SDOT briefing on Safe Routes to School-related projects in the council’s area of emphasis (western West Seattle). Wondering what might be coming to a school zone for you? Read on for full details, including a look at the city’s list:
Big-picture planning, project-by-project review, historic survey: Southwest District Council talks land useApril 6, 2014 at 8:30 pm | In Development, Southwest District Council, West Seattle news | 6 Comments
Much of the major development happening now is the result of zoning decisions made more than a decade ago. Changes, Mayor Murray suggested in his recent WSB interview and again at the Westside Awards breakfast last Thursday, are most likely to be made as a result of the Seattle 2035 comprehensive-plan-review process that’s just begun. While the first official West Seattle open house/meeting is Wednesday night, the Southwest District Council got a preview this past week. The SWDC also took further steps toward forming a West Seattle-wide Land Use Committee to seek early, public looks at major development proposals, as happens in other Seattle neighborhoods. Details ahead:
By Patrick Sand and Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog co-publishers
With new development proposals appearing in West Seattle almost daily, the Southwest District Council is ready to keep a closer watch on what’s going on.
At tonight’s meeting, the SWDC – made up of reps from councils and organizations around western West Seattle – took steps toward forming a Land Use Subcommittee.
It’s a tool used elsewhere in the city (Queen Anne, for example), often providing a more consistent way for projects to get an early unofficial community review; right now, it’s literally and figuratively all over the map – sometimes developers engage community councils or round up stakeholders, sometimes they don’t.
SWDC co-chair Vlad Oustimovitch observed that development is one of the most top-of-mind topics in the area right now, along with transportation and public safety, so this is a natural move. He’s hopeful its members also can reach out to other neighborhoods to figure out more ways of collaborating when faced with similar challenges. The subcommittee’s membership isn’t final yet; once it’s up and running, it will provide regular reports to the council.
Also at tonight’s meeting: A farewell from Ed Pottharst, one of the neighborhood-district coordinators who has served this area for three years.
Ed’s not leaving city service, though – not even leaving the Department of Neighborhoods; he says a job came open working with the matching funds that help so many neighborhoods make dreams come true, so he’s moving to that side at the end of the month. His successor is being sought.
*Co-chair Sharonn Meeks brought up the Fire Station 32 rebuild (here’s our newest report) and the suggestion that electricity service be undergrounded in the area as part of the project, lest downed power lines keep crews from responding in case of catastrophe. She plans to talk with the city.
*New Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Steve Wilske came to introduce himself.
*New West Seattle Chamber of Commerce CEO Lynn Dennis came to introduce herself, and said the WSCoC would resume sending a representative to the SWDC meetings, which hadn’t happened regularly for a while.
The Southwest District Council meets first Wednesdays, 6:30 pm, at the Senior Center of West Seattle.
If you still haven’t seen a presentation about the city’s pedestrian retail zoning project, you haven’t been to a neighborhood meeting in West Seattle lately.
TonightNext month, Aly Pennucci (right) from the city Department of Planning and Development speaks about it again, this time at the Admiral Neighborhood Association‘s meeting (7 pm March 11th, Admiral Congregational Church). Last night, she was scheduled to talk with the North Delridge Neighborhood Council. Before that, three other meetings – including last week’s Southwest District Council presentation, which tops this report on that meeting.
This potential zoning change for some neighborhood business districts would come with changes, as she explained – auto-related businesses wouldn’t be allowed; parking might be reduced; curb cuts would be minimized … What might be required in existing pedestrian zones as well as new ones:
For years, the city has been working on a plan to require earthquake-safety retrofits for unreinforced masonry (brick) buildings – the type that sustained the most damage during major earthquakes in 1949, 1965, and 2001. With the proposal getting closer to Seattle City Council consideration, and a presentation is planned in West Seattle at this Wednesday’s meeting of the Southwest District Council. According to documents on the city website, about 1,000 buildings in the city would be affected; they are primarily commercial and housing buildings, usually multiple stories, built with red bricks. According to a preliminary city survey, more than 50 of these buildings are believed to be in West Seattle; reviewing that list, we note that some are on development sites – including the California/Alaska corner building that’s just been demolished. The public is always welcome at Southwest District Council meetings; this one will be at 6:30 pm Wednesday (November 6), downstairs at Southwest Teen Life Center (2801 SW Thistle).
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The fall meeting season – after a summer break for many neighborhood/district councils – is off and running, with the Southwest District Council just wrapping up its September meeting, tackling topics from trees to Junction parking/development.
Co-chair Susan Ruppert, from the Genesee-Schmitz Neighborhood Council, led the meeting at Southwest Teen Life Center. Other organizations represented were the Admiral Neighborhood Association, Fairmount Community Association, Fauntleroy Community Association, Junction Neighborhood Organization, Morgan Community Association, the Senior Center of West Seattle, and the West Seattle Junction Association.
What you should know about what was discussed – ahead:
West Seattle microhousing: 3050 SW Avalon Way adds three stories; DPD director @ Southwest District CouncilJune 6, 2013 at 11:37 am | In Development, Southwest District Council, West Seattle news | 40 Comments
While “microhousing” – residential buildings with up to 8 individually rentable sleeping units sharing each kitchen – is old news for some neighborhoods in Seattle, it’s still somewhat new here in West Seattle, with several projects in the works but none yet completed. Today, two bits of news – first, a proposed microhousing building has revised its plan, triggering an official notice from the city today; second, we have toplines from Department of Planning and Development director Diane Sugimura‘s appearance at the Southwest District Council meeting last night.
First, the revised project at 3050 SW Avalon Way, currently the overgrown lot shown above: The revision notice says it is now proposed as a seven-story, 102-bedroom, no-parking building. It was proposed for four stories when we last mentioned it in March. The revision triggers a new comment period, through June 19th; here’s the form you can use to comment.
Ahead, what DPD director Sugimura told the district council last night – and the meeting attendee whose group is opposed to more regulation:
Two local meetings next week feature two hot topics:
MICROHOUSING @ SOUTHWEST DISTRICT COUNCIL: After stirring concern in other parts of the city, “microhousing” started turning up here (browse WSB development coverage), and now the City Council is considering setting new rules for it. Here’s the recent memo from Councilmembers Tom Rasmussen and Nick Licata and Council President Sally Clark to Department of Planning and Development director Diane Sugimura, who is scheduled to discuss microhousing at the Southwest District Council‘s monthly meeting next Wednesday (June 5th). Also on the agenda: A Seattle Public Schools manager with updates on the school construction projects in the works here (which include the Fairmount Park addition and the new Arbor Heights and Genesee Hill schools). The meeting’s at 6:30 pm Wednesday, Southwest Teen Life Center/Pool (2801 SW Thistle).
METRO @ WWRHAH COUNCIL – AGENDA/GUESTS UPDATE: We’ve already mentioned that the new Westwood Roxhill Arbor Heights Community Council will focus its entire meeting on Metro next Tuesday (June 4th), and you’re invited even if you’re not within WWRHAH boundaries – there’ll be lots of time for community questions. WWRHAH chair Amanda Helmick has shared the agenda/guest list – read on:
Though this morning’s breaking news pre-empted our usual roundup of highlights from the calendar, we do want to call attention to one meeting tonight: The Southwest District Council is scheduled for a presentation by, and Q/A with, the developers of 4755 Fauntleroy, the 40th/Alaska/Fauntleroy/Edmunds megaproject with 370 apartments, a Whole Foods Market, and TBA drugstore. (Their planned appearance last month was postponed.) The agenda also includes a briefing on Seattle Parks‘ Legacy Plan (see the draft here) – which despite its name is about the future, not the past (as explained here). SW District Council meets at 6:30 pm in the lower-level meeting rooms at SW Teen Life Center/Pool (2801 SW Thistle).
As previewed here, you had a chance to ask questions directly of the man who runs the Seattle Department of Transportation if you had gone to the Southwest District Council meeting this past Wednesday night. A few people took advantage of the opportunity to bring up neighborhood problems as well as larger issues. We recorded the wide-ranging 47 minutes of Q/A on video. If you can’t spare 47 minutes to listen – here are direct links to some of the topics (note – if the links don’t go to the spots they should, drag the playback bar on the YouTube window of the full clip above to the minutes/seconds spot mentioned):
14:00 – The bus bulbs at California/Fauntleroy
16:00 – Bus lanes on SW Alaska
21:31 – With increased development in The Junction, how involved is SDOT? “There are days we can’t go to The Junction because there’s no place to park.” Density is based on the city’s Comprehensive Plan, Hahn noted. He cited South Lake Union rezoning. “With 1,000 more apartments going up in The Junction, does SDOT say, we need (something) to help with traffic … ?” Hahn observed that the same question came up at the Sustainable West Seattle Transportation Forum last year (here’s our coverage, with video), and mentioned the alley-vacation process (frequently covered here) requiring “public benefit” from the developer. He mentioned that one developer downtown wound up buying another streetcar for the city. So, he was asked, could developers buy another bus, or ?
27:30 – Who makes the decisions to add bus bulbs, reduce lanes, etc.? asked another attendee, and how can the “silent majority” have their feelings known? “It’s not like individuals are just making up stuff,” Hahn said, citing again the city’s Comprehensive Plan, ultimately saying it’s a reflection of the City Council. He also says they often hear from people with a specific interest, more bike facilities, for example, so whatever your opinion is, come to meetings and have it heard.
31:00: SW Alaska on the RapidRide route through The Triangle – including parking and traffic concerns as well as unfulfilled promises about making that stretch a “pedestrian corridor,” with street trees. Ongoing parking issues exist, with parking commitments made to businesses between 36th and 38th in jeopardy again. Hahn says he could come out to walk the area and see the issues.
39:00 – Density in The Junction is already 104 percent of what was projected, but the capacity of the street has been reduced.
At 41:50, Vlad Oustimovitch from the Fauntleroy Community Association summarized much of what had been said to Hahn in the preceding half-hour-plus: “It’s almost like somebody deliberately designed something to not work.”
SDOT will be back in West Seattle this week – at the North Delridge Neighborhood Council meeting tomorrow (Monday) night (6:30 pm at the Delridge Library), for example, a rep will discuss the new parking restrictions on SW Genesee to make more room for buses (here’s our February story on those changes).
Got questions about potholes? Parking? Paving? Sidewalks or lack of them? Crosswalks? Bus bulbs? The man who’s in charge of the Seattle Department of Transportation – and therefore in charge of the streets, sidewalks, city-owned bridges (both West Seattle bridges over the Duwamish included) – will be in West Seattle for Q & A this Wednesday. SDOT director Peter Hahn is guest speaker at the Southwest District Council‘s monthly meeting at 6:30 pm Wednesday (March 6), Southwest Teen Life Center (2801 SW Thistle, adjacent to SW Pool). The public’s welcome, so if you have a question, concern, idea, kudo, be there and speak up.
Repave California? Stoplight at 47th/Admiral? Community-proposed projects presented to Southwest District CouncilJanuary 2, 2013 at 11:20 pm | In Southwest District Council, West Seattle news | Comments Off
(Story updated Thursday afternoon with documents for each road-project proposal)
(California Avenue section in need of repaving, per city-grant application)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
A new year brought new leadership for the Southwest District Council, as it met at a new time (earlier – 6:30 pm) in a new location (Southwest Teen Life Center).
New co-chairs Karl de Jong from the Admiral Neighborhood Association and Susan Ruppert from the Genesee-Schmitz Neighborhood Council presided over the biggest turnouts in a while, with more than 20 people on hand, including visitors making presentations about road projects proposed for city grant money – including repaving a stretch of California SW.
Read on for details of the proposals, which took up most of the meeting.
Starting with its January meeting – coming up next Wednesday (January 2) – the Southwest District Council is changing meeting times and locations. The council will continue meeting on first Wednesdays – but it’ll be at 6:30 pm, earlier than before, and the new location is the Southwest Teen Life Center/Pool building (2801 SW Thistle), Room 2. The agenda for next Wednesday includes presentations by West Seattleites applying for Neighborhood Street Fund grants – three proposals are from Morgan Junction, one from Admiral, and one from Arbor Heights. SWDC meetings are always open to the public; council members represent community councils and other organizations from around what the city has designated as the “Southwest District” – mostly western West Seattle (here’s the citywide map of districts). See next Wednesday’s full agenda here (PDF).
Can West Seattle’s past save its future? Southwest District Council continues preservation conversationOctober 5, 2012 at 12:08 pm | In Southwest District Council, West Seattle news | 10 Comments
(Image by Christopher Boffoli, meshing present and past along California SW north of SW Alaska in The Junction – click for larger view)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
As we continue to cover big new development projects like 4755 Fauntleroy Way (in-depth coverage here), some wonder if there’s still time to preserve some of what Southwest District Council leaders call West Seattle’s “Main Street character.”
Grappling with the topic over the past few months, a core group of the council’s members has been exploring whether historic-preservation options exist to serve that goal. Wednesday night’s monthly SWDC meeting continued the conversation, with special guest Karen Gordon, the City of Seattle’s Historic Preservation Officer.
Details on the discussion, what might happen next, and other toplines from the meeting – ahead:
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