West Seattle, Washington
Two community-proposed projects are seeking Southwest District Council support for their applications to get Neighborhood Park and Street Fund money – one on Beach Drive, one on Harbor Avenue. Both were presented at this month’s SWDC meeting, which also included a briefing on the upcoming work to re-replace earthquake-safety cushions on the Fauntleroy Expressway (west/southwest end of the West Seattle Bridge).
SWDC is one of West Seattle’s two groups of representatives from community groups and organizations in what the city defines as this area’s two neighborhood “districts” – Southwest, primarily western WS, and Delridge, eastern WS (see the map here). When it’s time for NPSF applications, the councils review proposals and make recommendations to the city. The criteria include “Projects must cost less than $90,000 as determined by SDOT and Parks” and “The project has widespread positive impact on the neighborhood as a whole.”
The photo atop this story is part of the area involved in the proposal from the Beach Drive SW Neighborhood Committee, formed for the application:
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Hours after Mayor Murray officially unveiled the $290 million, 7-year Housing Levy renewal/expansion, it was the centerpiece of this month’s Southwest District Council meeting.
First – here’s the overview flyer:
The briefing was led by Office of Housing director Steve Walker, with colleague Maureen Kostyack. He first tried to explain where HALA (the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda) and the levy overlap, and where they don’t.
Voters have elected “to tax themselves for affordability” since 1981, he said, segueing into the levy-specific discussion.
This will cost you about $10/month if you have a home around $480,000 in value – double the $5/month for the housing levy that’s expiring, according to Walker, who added: “In the end, the levy’s about people … How can we create an opportunity for our children to be able to live in Seattle? … At the pace we’re going, that’s not possible. How can we be sure people aren’t displaced by the community and the community connection they have?”
Kostyack summarized the three areas the levy is intended to address (the city team was supposed to have a slide deck but couldn’t get the setup to work, so they improvised without it):
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Elected to represent District 1, charged with making decisions affecting the entire city – how will newly seated City Councilmember Lisa Herbold balance those roles?
Her Q&A appearance at tonight’s Southwest District Council meeting offered an early glimpse into how she hopes to do it.
If you don’t have time to watch our video, read on!
While Herbold is one of four first-term councilmembers – three representing districts, one elected at-large – she is the only one who was already at City Hall, having spent more than a decade and a half working for Councilmember Nick Licata, who chose not to run again. “In some ways, it’s the same job, in others, different,” she mused tonight.
“So you started (off) knowing where your parking space was,” one attendee suggested.
“I don’t have a parking space,” Herbold laughed.
She later joked that a benefit of district representation is that she can get anywhere within a few minutes – to a meeting like this one, for example, at the Sisson Building in The Junction – “then go home and get into my jammies.” (She lives in Highland Park, a central location for a district that includes South Park as well as West Seattle.)
In a far more serious vein, Herbold had a lot to say about the committees she’s on – including acknowledging reading a WSB comment or two from people puzzled by the catch-all committee names, such as the one she’s chairing, the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development, and Arts Committee:
The Southwest District Council was not among the community groups canceling December meetings. Members gathered to hear a briefing on the most-discussed issue before city leaders right now, housing – specifically, the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, aka HALA.
Mayor Murray’s policy-office director Robert Feldstein led the briefing, sitting in for HALA outreach manager Jesseca Brand. “HALA is going to come roaring like a freight train,” explained Cindi Barker, who represents West seattle Emergency Communication Hubs on the SWDC and was a member of the HALA advisory committee.
Feldstein recapped all the basics, which you can review on the HALA website, summarizing: “We think if you build more housing, it reduces the total costs.”
From Wednesday night’s Southwest District Council meeting:
TERMINAL 5 ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW: Admiral neighbors who have gotten their wish – for a full environmental review of the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 5 modernization plan – returned to the SWDC to talk about the issues on which they would like to see the community focus, as the “online open house” continues at T5EIS.publicmeeting.info, and as next Thursday’s “scoping meeting” approaches.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Along with the City Council races, the “Move Seattle” levy – Seattle Proposition 1 – is the biggest thing on your soon-to-arrive ballot. A mini-forum with reps from both sides headlined this month’s Southwest District Council meeting, along with a Port of Seattle update on the Terminal 5 modernization project, and a briefing on a new project for the West Seattle Timebank.
Toplines on all of the above follow, plus a few extras:
(Empty Terminal 5 as seen during the port’s community tour last month; photo by Karen Berge)
Now that Shell has suspended its offshore-drilling plans for Alaska, what’s in the future for Terminal 5 in West Seattle, which was planned to be the Shell fleet’s offseason homeport? Will the turn of events affect the Port of Seattle‘s T-5 modernization plan? Find out firsthand at next Wednesday’s Southwest District Council meeting, where a port rep is on the agenda to brief the SWDC. The agenda also includes a discussion of Seattle Proposition 1 – the $930 million “Move Seattle” levy on the November ballot – and a presentation about the West Seattle Timebank. All are welcome at the meeting; SWDC members are reps of community councils and organizations around western West Seattle. The meeting’s at 6:30 pm Wednesday (October 7th) at the Sisson Building (home of the Senior Center of West Seattle), southeast corner of California SW & SW Oregon in The Junction.
Summer’s ending, and community/district councils are resuming their regular meeting schedules. That means our coverage is back in gear too. No substitute to being at your nearest community meeting yourself – but we’ll do our best to keep you up to date otherwise. Here’s what happened at last night’s Southwest District Council meeting (besides the two notes we’ve already published, regarding the Junction Plaza Park art project and Port of Seattle boat tour):
NEW ADMIRAL WAY SAFETY PROJECT PROPOSAL: SWDC co-chair David Whiting, president of the Admiral Neighborhood Association, announced that SDOT will be at next week’s ANA meeting with an update on revisions to the SW Admiral Way Safety Project, first outlined at ANA’s April meeting (WSB coverage here). While SDOT does plan a standalone meeting this month, Whiting said, this will be the first chance for the community to take a look at changes made (as SDOT director Scott Kubly hinted at in July) after vigorous community feedback earlier this year, as well as new parking/traffic studies by SDOT. ANA meets at The Sanctuary at Admiral (42nd SW & SW Lander), 7 pm Tuesday (September 8th).
TERMINAL 5 COMMENT DEADLINE TOMORROW: Friday’s the last day you can comment on the Port of Seattle‘s proposal for the shut-down-last-year cargo terminal on the east side of West Seattle, pointed out Jim Wojciechowski from the group of neighbors who put up the “Yes! Environmental Impact Statement” signs around the area.
(Port of Seattle graphic/photo)
“They’re not calling it an expansion, but it’s an expansion.” As we reported last month, a new comment period was opened because the city system lost a month’s worth of comments submitted via an online form.
Wojciechowski recapped that the port project would involve, among other things, thousands of pilings and 12 new cranes bigger than the ones you see now. He says Terminal 18 to the east on Harbor Island would be perfect for the big-ship handling, but the port is insistent on using Terminal 5. “What we’re asking them to do is do it right, but they’re giving no indication of any concessions to the neighborhood – they just are going to do what they want to do.”
Transportation issues were at centerstage during this month’s Southwest District Council meeting, which had a few agenda changes from what had been announced in advance.
DON ARMENI BOAT RAMP PARKING: SWDC heard first from Paul Hage, who is opposed to the new non-boater-parking crackdown at Don Armeni. We reported on this in April; the city insists it’s not a change in policy, but rather, stepped-up enforcement.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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):
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.