THE WHITTAKER: Celebration marks completion of second tower

(WSB photos by Patrick Sand)

That’s the view from the roof of the north tower at The Whittaker (4755 Fauntleroy Way SW; WSB sponsor), where a grand-opening celebration this afternoon marked the completion of both towers. Here’s what’s on the roof:

Another view looks down to the common area:

This time of year, the fire pit will get some use:

Someone who’s no stranger to the outdoors, mountaineering legend Jim Whittaker – the complex’s namesake – was at the party:

Inside the building, here’s a look at the kitchen of a studio unit:

Sun streamed into this 1-bedroom:

The Whittaker has 2-bedroom units as well, and property managers say they’ve already leased 70 percent of the complex’s almost 400 units. As for the commercial space, no news yet about the area originally intended for Whole Foods. Except for MOD Pizza (next June), the ground-floor business tenants are expected to be open within the next month or so. One more thing: the mural on the west side that’s a digital recreation of the one that used to be on the Huling Brothers building that sat along Fauntleroy where The Whittaker’s south tower is now:

You might have noticed some other features along Fauntleroy – the building was set back to make room for a bicycle lane, and there’s art all around, including a water feature by Fauntleroy/Alaska, where the developer-funded crosswalk was recently completed. Today’s celebration is almost ten months after last year’s ribboncutting party marked the south tower’s opening.

About the police response in Arbor Heights

Thanks to everyone who messaged us about a big police response in Arbor Heights that blocked off Marine View Drive for a while near SW 104th. We just got here a few minutes ago and the response is wrapping up; police tell us they were called to deal with what turned out to be a person in crisis, who was initially very combative, and that’s why they called in extra backup. The person has since been taken by ambulance for an evaluation, and the road has reopened, with most of the police departing.

P.S. Because Seattle Fire wasn’t called in for this, it never showed up on the SFD real-time 911 log, so e-mails were the first tips we got. The fastest way to reach us 24/7 is always text or voice at 206-293-6302 – consider adding us as a contact on your phone. Thank you!

SUNDAY: March in South Delridge and White Center to ‘raise awareness for those currently enslaved’

The Salvation Army in South Delridge is inviting the community to join an awareness-raising march on Sunday (September 24th) afternoon. From Capt. Lisa Barnes:

The Salvation Army is hosting a march down 16th Ave this Sunday. We will be walking just 4 blocks each way as we raise awareness for those currently enslaved around the world.

We will start at The Salvation Army at 1:15 and be finished by 3:00 at the latest.

This is a free event and we will be providing materials for signs.

Organizers add, “This will be the kickoff event for a group of people who are justice minded, and ready to make a difference for trafficked people in our neighborhoods. … This is not a political march. This is a march for freedom, for unity, for awareness, and for community.” The Salvation Army is at 9050 16th SW; the march will be on sidewalks, not the street.

FOLLOWUP: Bail set at $500,000 for suspect arrested in Westwood murder, described as victim’s ex-girlfriend

(WSB photo from Tuesday night)

We have just found out more about what police believe preceded the shooting that killed a West Seattle man outside his home near 31st SW and SW Elmgrove on Tuesday night. The information is in probable-cause documents from this afternoon’s court appearance of the 21-year-old Burien woman arrested the next morning, whose bail has been set at half a million dollars.

The documents say the suspect is an ex-girlfriend of the victim, who is identified in those documents as 25-year-old Edixon Velasquez. Police say she messaged him Monday saying she urgently wanted to meet with him at his home. Then on Tuesday, she messaged him to say she was outside his home but did not want to come in, asking him instead to come outside. He was having dinner inside with his two roommates; they saw her car go by and wondered why she didn’t want to come in. The victim eventually went out, saying he would help his ex-girlfriend park her car, and moments later the roommates heard at least one gunshot, and saw the ex-girlfriend getting into her car.

The documents say that surveillance video obtained from a neighbor shows that Velasquez got into the driver’s seat of the car (after “a female” exited that seat), and then a man walked up to the car from the north, appearing to open the driver’s door and pull Velasquez out, with the victim then falling to the ground. That man was said to then run away, while the ex-girlfriend walked up, looked down at the victim, making “no attempt to help him” according to police, before getting into the car and driving away. When police found her at her mother’s house in Burien the next day, the documents say, she “denied knowing the identity of the shooter and the motive for the shooting, but admitted that she did nothing to help the victim after the shooting and that she left the scene and never called 911.” As reported Tuesday night, Velasquez died at the scene. Documents from today’s hearing do not describe the man except to say that he was wearing “a hooded sweatshirt and long pants.” He is still not in custody so far as we know; the female suspect, meantime, is due back in court tomorrow, at which time we should find out whether she will be charged.

FOLLOWUP: What Srivilai Thai Cuisine plans to bring to West Seattle

A week and a half ago, thanks to a tip from Josh (who also sent the photo), we reported that Srivilai Thai Cuisine is on the way to the ex-Blackboard Bistro space. At the time, that’s all we knew. We promised to follow up, and have since made contact with the Srivilai family, who will be running the new restaurant at 3247 California SW. Here’s what they’ve told us in an e-mail exchange:

They’ll be serving Bangkok-style Thai food – “since that is where the family is from, but at this time the menu isn’t set” – lunch and dinner, seven days a week, “opening probably 11:00 most days, closing 9:30 on weekdays and 10:00 or so on weekends.” They plan to serve beer, wine, and liquor (and have applied for the license, though they might be open serving food before it comes through.” And they note that “since it’s Thai food, a high percentage of dishes can be made vegetarian, vegan, and/or gluten-free if the diner so chooses. That’s standard practice for Thai restaurants, so not a surprise for diners with dietary restrictions.”

We asked why West Seattle – the reply, “because we live here! Half the family has lived in WS since 2008, the rest this year – we love the area and think there is enough room for our restaurant.” They hope to be open by the end of October.

VIDEO: Standing room only as Washington State Ferries managers listen to customer complaints and suggestions about the Triangle Route

(UPDATED THURSDAY AFTERNOON with slide deck from meeting)

(WSB video of Vashon meeting)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Ferry riders’ frustrations resulting from months of seeing vessels leave Fauntleroy during peak hours with space remaining, and a long line of vehicles still waiting, boiled over into everything from angry words to constructive suggestions at the first of this week’s two public meetings.

Last night’s meeting brought a standing-room-only crowd to Vashon Island High School to talk, and hear, about the Triangle Route and what has been, and might be, done about its challenges.

In one of the WSF presentations/speeches that began the meeting, WSDOT assistant secretary Amy Scarton, who is in charge of WSF, noted that their system is “very safe and generally efficient,” and that “ridership is growing … I know you guys feel that … 2016 ridership is highest that it’s been since 2014, and 2017 ridership is even higher … But … we’ve had a tough summer. I admit that, I own that.” She mentioned ferries going out of service for maintenance/repairs as short as 12 hours and as long as 2 months. “We are working hard every day to get those boats back in service as quickly as we can.”

She also insisted that “these dialogues are extremely important,” because management “is not going to know the best thing for your community” until they hear it directly from community members. She noted that the attempts to fix the Triangle Route dated back to her predecessor, and led to community conversations and creation of the Triangle Route Improvement Task Force. “I think as long as we keep this dialogue we can come up with some stuff to make this route even better.”

The dozens who spoke before meeting’s end certainly had a lot of “stuff” to suggest. More about that shortly, but first:

Read More

SHARE THE SHORE: Why these reminders are up along Alki

The photo and reminder are from David Hutchinson of Seal Sitters:

Seal Sitters’ “Shore the Shore” banners have recently been installed by Seattle Parks & Recreation along a section of Alki Avenue. Just a reminder that we are now entering what traditionally has been the busiest months for harbor seal pups to rest and warm up on West Seattle beaches. For those of you who have recently moved to this area, Seal Sitters is part of NOAA’s West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network. We respond to reports of any marine mammal, alive or dead, on the beaches of West Seattle from Brace Point through the Duwamish River, including Harbor Island.

If you come across a marine mammal on our local beaches, please keep back, keep people and pets away, and call Seal Sitters’ hotline at 206-905-7325.

You can also remember that number as 206-905-SEAL.

5 for your West Seattle Thursday

(Photo by David Hutchinson, from thundershowery Tuesday)

The rain has returned as if it never left. But don’t let that keep you away from what’s happening today/tonight. Here are just a few of the highlights from the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar:

LAFAYETTE DINE-OUT BENEFIT: Until 9 pm, dine at Zippy’s Giant Burgers in White Center and part of your proceeds will go to the Lafayette Elementary PTA. (9614 14th SW)

‘FILL THE BOOT’ FINALE: West Seattle firefighters are scheduled to be in The Junction one last day, through 7 pm, as a fundraiser to help fight muscular dystrophy. (California SW/SW Alaska)

SUSTAINABLE WEST SEATTLE PICNIC: All are welcome to join Sustainable West Seattle at Puget Ridge Edible Park, 4-7 pm. It’s a potluck, and also a chance to celebrate the past year’s achievements. (4767 Puget Way SW)

ALKI COMMUNITY COUNCIL: 7 pm at Alki UCC, with the agenda including:

1. Report on proposed City parking policy changes

2. Westside Neighbors Network

3. Update on Alki Communication Hub

(6115 SW Hinds)

BELLY-DANCE SHOWCASE: Monthly Alauda showcase at The Skylark, 7:30 pm. No cover. All ages. (3803 Delridge Way SW)

TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Thursday updates & advance alerts

(SDOT MAP with travel times/video links; is the ‘low bridge’ closed? LOOK HERE)

7:11 AM: Good morning! No incidents reported in/from West Seattle so far this rainy morning.

Alerts:

*25th SW paving in North Delridge is scheduled to continue today.
*Reminder that Metro’s next “service change” takes effect Saturday – here’s what happens for routes in our area (plus a reminder of the Columbia/2nd stop closing downtown).
*The Orca Half Marathon will be run between Lincoln Park and Don Armeni Boat Launch on Sunday. Organizers say they will be running on sidewalks and the Alki Trail, and in the parking lane. (Not running? Volunteer!)

More…

YOU CAN HELP: Join The Whale Trail in volunteering for Sunday’s Orca Half Marathon in West Seattle

orcarun1stbatch(WSB photo from 2016’s Orca Half)

We’ve been lucky enough to be able to share news, and photos/video, of recent orca sightings. Now, you can do something for the whales – by volunteering to help with the Orca Half Marathon next Sunday (September 24th):

Volunteers Needed!

Do you have a few hours to spare Sunday morning? Are you concerned about our endangered southern resident orcas and do you want to promote shore-based whale-watching? The Whale Trail needs your help!

The Orca Half Marathon will be held this Sunday 9/24 in West Seattle from 9 to 1. The Whale Trail is the charity partner for this event for the second year in a row.

The course follows the West Seattle shoreline, passing four Whale Trail sites along the way.

450 race participants are running for individual orcas. Race bibs are customized with the ID and life histories of specific whales!

Mike, the inflatable orca modeled after J-26, will greet runners, their friends and supporters at the finish line.

L-pod was in the area yesterday, making an early and unexpected return to our waters. Maybe they were checking out the course – or looking for Mike?

You Can Help! We need 10 to 15 volunteers to help to staff an aid station for the marathon (passing out water to runners).

Sign up NOW at the Orca Running website here, and be sure to tell them you’re with The Whale Trail! (Write it in the registration form.)

Once the marathon slots are filled, we also need help with Whale Trail activities, especially tending Mike. He eats a lot of inflatable salmon. ;)

Setup starts at 8:30 and we’ll close down at 1. Come for a few hours or stay all day!
Please email donna@thewhaletrail.org and let me know what hours you can be there.

The need to protect the southern resident orcas has never been more clear or urgent.

There are 77 individuals in the population – 7 fewer than this time last year.

If the current population trend continues or worsens, J, K and L pods could go extinct in less than 100 years (WDFW 2005)

Join us on Sunday and become part of the solution for the southern residents. Meet your neighbors, have fun, and maybe we’ll see some whales!

About The Whale Trail

The Whale Trail is a series of sites where the public may view orcas and other marine mammals from shore. Our mission is to inspire appreciation and stewardship of whales and our marine environment. Our overarching goal is to ensure the southern resident orcas recover from the threat of extinction.

Through our current sites and signs, including two on every Washington State ferry, we reach more than 50 million people each year. The Whale Trail is currently adding new sites along the west coast, from California to British Columbia, throughout the southern resident orcas’ range and beyond.

The Whale Trail is led by a core team of partners that include NOAA Fisheries, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Seattle Aquarium, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, and the Whale Museum. The Whale Trail BC is spearheaded by the BC Cetacean Sighting Network.

Many members of The Whale Trail teams met when they worked together to return Springer, the orphaned orca, to her pod. This summer we celebrated the 15th anniversary of Springer’s homecoming, coinciding with a confirmed sighting of her second calf!

The Whale Trail is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, headquartered in Seattle. Donna Sandstrom is its Founder and Executive Director.

MENTAL-HEALTH AWARENESS: Seattle Lutheran HS invites you to screening of new documentary about anxiety

Once again this year, Seattle Lutheran High School in The Junction is taking on the tough topic of mental-health awareness. Last April, we covered part of the day SLHS devoted entirely to mental health. This year, the school is inviting the entire community to be part of the next event, a screening of the new documentary “Angst: Raising Awareness Around Anxiety” (you can see the trailer above). It’s two weeks away, 6:30 pm Thursday, October 5th, at the school gym. From the announcement shared by Jackie Clough, who says SLHS will be one of the first schools in the nation to show “Angst”:

Angst: Breaking the Stigma Around Anxiety is a documentary that looks at anxiety, its causes and effects, and what we can do about it. Angst will feature interviews with kids and young adults who suffer or have suffered from anxiety, and what they’ve learned. The film also includes experts charged with helping people manage their anxiety and those who focus on researching its causes and sociological effects while offering tools and resources that provide hope. The project will explore a conversation about anxiety from a peer-to-peer standpoint that is intimate, honest and accessible. This is a film parents and high schoolers can see together.

(Screening details)

Free and open to the community
Parking is available across the street from the gym and on nearby side streets
Recommended age: 12 and up
Light concessions will be sold

SLHS is at 4100 SW Genesee.

FOLLOWUP: 1 suspect arrested in 31st SW murder, another sought

1:53 PM: Just in from SPD – a 21-year-old woman has been arrested and jailed in connection with last night’s murder in the 8100 block of 31st SW, and a second suspect is being sought – no name or description yet. They’re still seeking tips at 206-233-5000 – the case is by no means closed. The victim was shot to death in the street outside his home just before 7 pm last night; he has not yet been publicly identified. Police say today’s arrest was made in Burien, and that they do not believe the deadly shooting was random.

2:31 PM: The suspect is likely to appear in court tomorrow, at which time probable-cause documents will likely reveal more about the case. Meantime, we’ve checked her record, and, at least in this state, it has no felonies. She was arrested two and a half years ago on suspicion of 4th-degree domestic-violence assault but, documents say, the city of Burien – where she was reported to be living – declined to file charges.

MISSING UPDATE: Esther’s been found

UPDATE: SPD says Esther has been found safe and brought back home, and thanks everyone who helped look for her.

EARLIER: Just tweeted by Seattle Police – this woman is missing in West Seattle:

Read More

Parking ‘fact-finding mission,’ park plan, more @ Junction Neighborhood Organization

(SDOT map showing where they’re studying Junction-area parking)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

When SDOT‘s last major review of West Seattle Junction parking resulted in this July 2009 announcement that it wouldn’t recommend metered parking, you could almost hear a huge collective sigh of relief.

That review had begun more than a year earlier, and months after the no-paid-street-parking news, ended with what we described at the time as “a relatively minor set of changes” – some tweaks to time limits.

But The Junction has had metered parking before – and the city’s new review has rekindled concerns that it will return. A lot has changed since the 2008-2009 review – primarily a dramatic amount of redevelopment adding hundreds of new apartments to the heart of The Junction – and some projects including fewer parking spaces than units, or even none, with the city changing its rules in 2012 to say that nearby “frequent transit” means parking might not be needed. (As reported here last week, those rules might be loosened even more.)

So with all that setting the stage, two SDOT reps were at last night’s Junction Neighborhood Organization meeting at the Senior Center/Sisson Building.. They weren’t the only speakers of interest – the next Junction park and a HALA update were part of the agenda too – but we start with the parking discussion:

Read More

CELEBRATE FALL: Equinox Sunset Watch Friday at Solstice Park with Alice Enevoldsen

Will we see the sun this Friday evening, lining up with that marker at Solstice Park, hours after the Fall Equinox? Join NASA Solar System Ambassador Alice Enevoldsen at the park to find out! Here’s her announcement:

It’s time for the 34th seasonal sunset watch!

We’ll also share eclipse stories and favorite moments or pictures from Cassini (RIP, now part of Saturn). If you drew a picture of the eclipse, either before or after, I would absolutely love to see it.

When: Friday, September 22 at 6:55 pm (so come at 6:35 pm)
Actual sunset is supposed to be at 7:06 pm, but we have noticed that the Sun sets about 10 minutes earlier than the USNO says, because of the horizon altitude.

The equinox moment is Friday, September 22 at 1:02 pm.

Where: Solstice Park – all the way up the hill from the tennis courts

Who: Everyone welcome, as usual. (Please do leash your dogs as we usually have a good number of people, kids, and other dogs around.)

I’ll be there even if it is cloudy because sometimes the Sun peeks through just as it begins to set, but if it is driving rain or a thunderstorm I’m staying home with some tea!

Moonset on Friday, by the way, is 8:40 pm, and Alice notes that it’ll be a waxing crescent with seven percent of its disk illuminated.

P.S. If you don’t know where to find Solstice Park – Alice explains on her website.

What’s up for your West Seattle Wednesday

(Tuesday rainbow, photographed by Don Brubeck)

From the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar:

FILL THE BOOT: Third of four days during which you’ll find West Seattle firefighters out in The Junction until 7 pm, collecting money to fight muscular dystrophy. (California SW/SW Alaska)

PRESCHOOL STORY TIME: 10:30 am at West Seattle (Admiral) Library. (2306 42nd SW)

FRESH VEGETABLES AND FRUIT … grown at the High Point Market Garden, available for purchase at the weekly farm stand next to it, 4-7 pm today. (32nd SW/SW Juneau)

WELCOMING WEEK CONTINUES … at the West Seattle YMCA (WSB sponsor) with a cooking demo by Chef Kim O’Donnel, 4:30-6 pm: “Taste how potatoes are prepared in three different countries: India, Korea, and Mexico.” (36th SW/SW Snoqualmie)

SW SPOKANE PUMP STATION DROP-IN MEETING: Come find out about the city’s plan for this East Admiral pump station – drop by between 4:30 and 6:30 pm. (3214 SW Spokane)

POOCHES IN THE POOL: 5-7 pm at Arbor Heights Swim and Tennis Club, it’s the second day of the end-of-season swim sessions for dogs (yes, the pool has already closed to humans for the rest of the year. Dogs only in the pool, but owners must stay nearby – other rules and info in our calendar listing. Fundraiser for AHSTC swim teams. (11003 31st SW)

MOVE OR REMODEL? Free workshop to help you answer the question, with presenters including Josh Niederberger of Niederberger Contracting (WSB sponsor), 6 pm at Graystone Mortgage. (4726 42nd SW)

WASHINGTON STATE FERRIES MEETING @ VASHON: 7 pm at Vashon Island High School, Washington State Ferries leadership will talk about the Triangle Route challenges and listen to public comments. Here’s our story looking ahead to the meeting and back at last week’s task force meeting. (9600 SW 204th, Vashon)

DELRIDGE NEIGHBORHOODS DISTRICT COUNCIL: 7 pm at Highland Park Improvement Club, where DNDC will meet monthly through November. Tonight’s agenda is in our calendar listing. (1116 SW Holden)

WORDSWEST LITERARY SERIES: The monthly writer series starts its fourth season tonight, 7 pm at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor), with Daemond Arrindell and Jeanine Walker as featured readers, and Maketa Born presenting the Favorite Poem. Don’t know much about WordsWest? We talked with its co-curators Katy E. Ellis, Susan Rich, and Harold Taw for this WSB report. (5612 California SW)

DEADGRASS: Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia music at Parliament Tavern, 8-11 pm. No cover. 21+. (4210 SW Admiral Way)

TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Wednesday updates

(SDOT MAP with travel times/video links; is the ‘low bridge’ closed? LOOK HERE)

7 AM: Good morning. No incidents reported in/from West Seattle so far. Reminders:

25TH SW REPAVING: We checked on Tuesday and despite the weather, the project was under way north of Puget Blvd. SW.

FERRY MEETING: Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route issues will be aired in a 7 pm meeting at Vashon Island High School. (Our most-recent coverage is here.)

UPDATE: Man shot to death on 31st SW; police searching for killer

(WSB photos)

7:01 PM: Emergency responders are arriving in the 8100 block of 31st SW [map], where someone is reported to have been shot, according to scanner traffic. Police are reported to be looking for a suspect. More to come.

7:14 PM: According to radio transmissions, a black Jetta might have taken someone away from the scene, headed south from 31st. The victim, a man around 25-30 years old, with at least two gunshot wounds, was said to be undergoing CPR.

7:27 PM: SFD confirms that the victim has been declared dead at the scene. That would make this the fourth homicide investigation of the year in West Seattle, less than two weeks after the third.

7:55 PM: Homicide Unit detectives have arrived, our crew reports, as has citywide media. Police say they are looking for one suspect, but no description has been made public.

9:15 PM: We are back at the scene, where Det. Mark Jamieson has just briefed media. No arrest, no description – the killer is believed to have fled on foot and then gotten into the aforementioned car. The victim was found in the street, and evidence – shell casing(s), we learned earlier – indicates he was shot there, but there’s no info about whether he lived in the area. Police are expected to be on scene at least a few more hours. 31st is blocked at Thistle on the south.

WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON: One suspect is in jail, another is being sought, police tell us. We’ve started a new story here.

UTILITY-WORK ALERT: 57th SW in Alki

The flyer’s for another Seattle Public Utilities project that’s getting ready to start in West Seattle: Drain and pipe replacement along a section of 57th SW in Alki. SPU’s Brian Mickelson says work will begin in about two weeks. We asked for a few more details:

The project will replace 240 feet of 18-inch diameter storm drain, which will enable 6 side sewers to be reconnected to the existing 12-inch diameter sanitary sewer without sumps. Additionally, 40 feet of the existing 12-inch diameter sanitary sewer is deteriorated and will be replaced.

The 57th Ave project is part of SPU’s Sewer Rehabilitation Program, which focuses on repairing and rehabilitating sewer mainlines throughout the city, generally in city-owned street rights-of-way or city easements on private property.

As noted on the flyer, the work should take about a month.

SIDE NOTE: Reminder, SPU’s on-site info session about the SW Spokane Pump Station project in East Admiral is tomorrow (Wednesday, September 20th), 4:30-6:30 pm, as previewed here.

WEST SEATTLE WEATHER: Thunderstorm alert

2:55 PM: Did you just hear the thunder? The National Weather Service has a short-term alert out for “isolated” thunderstorms in the area over the next few hours.

4:25 PM: If you’re just heading home, it’s been squalling off and on – intermittent periods of intense rain – light rain right now, but who knows how long that’ll last.

DEVELOPMENT: New proposal for 3078 SW Avalon – townhouses instead of apartments

(King County Assessor’s Office photo of 3078 Avalon, currently holding 1959-built triplex)

City records show another change in plans for 3078 SW Avalon Way [map], which has been through a lot of change – on paper, at least – in the last five years. We first reported in August 2012 that it had an early-stage development proposal for a “7-story building with 65 residential units and 77 underground parking spaces.” One month later, dozens of neighbors filled the room at its first Design Review meeting. When its second one was scheduled almost a year later, the plan had changed to what city files described as an “8-story, 108-apartment, 61-parking-space proposal.” After the Southwest Design Review Board gave its final approval in January 2014, neighbors appealed a subsequent city determination that the project would have no significant environmental impacts. The city Hearing Examiner’s ruling in December 2014 went their way. Then, this past July, after an architect change, the project returned to Design Review. The current board, entirely different from those who reviewed the project previously, felt they didn’t have enough information for a final decision and decided another meeting was in order.

And now – the apartment project’s been scrapped, with a new plan for the site, according to documents in online city files: 8 townhouses with four offstreet-parking spaces. A new preliminary site plan was filed less than a week ago. This would be the second apartments-to-townhouses plan change on the block – at one time 3062 SW Avalon Way also was proposed for a 100+-apartment building, but nine townhouses are now being built.

Should Metro Transit be self-contained again? County Executive proposes it

(WSB file photo)

Just announced by King County Executive Dow Constantine‘s office – he’s proposing that Metro Transit break away from the County Transportation Department and become a self-contained department:

King County Executive Dow Constantine directed work to begin on a plan to move Metro from a division within the King County Department of Transportation to a standalone County department. This would increase innovation and accountability in four areas: increasing mobility options, capital construction, investing in Metro’s workforce, and expanding the transit system through partnerships.

“This region increasingly depends on fast, reliable transit. So it’s no surprise that Metro is one of our most vital, visible, and popular services,” said Executive Constantine. “By elevating Metro as a standalone department, we can better encourage innovation and accountability so that we continue to make strong progress in mobility, delivering capital investments, focusing on employees, and forging strong community partnerships.”

The move builds on the successes in creating the Metro Connects long-range plan, the ORCA LIFT fare for riders earning lower incomes, and services that are better integrated with Sound Transit.

Over the coming months, Executive Constantine will form a work group with County Councilmembers to identify shared objectives and priorities for Metro as a standalone department. Following thorough business planning and budget processes, a formal proposal will be transmitted to the Council in fall 2018 as part of the 2019-2020 budget process. It’s anticipated that Metro will become a department early in 2019 following Council actions.

King County and Metro Transit merged in 1994, following a voter referendum. Metro later became a division within the King County Department of Transportation, along with the Road Services, Airport, Marine, and Fleet Administration divisions. Metro is the largest single division in King County government, providing $1.6 billion in transit services in 2017-2018 through 4,800 employees – including 2,800 transit operators.

Metro provides 500,000 rides daily through bus service and under contract for Sound Transit and the city of Seattle. Metro’s daily ridership is above 400,000 and with service expanding, Metro is the largest transit agency in the state and serves the nation’s fastest growing transit market in the country.

You can read Constantine’s letter to KCDOT director Harold Taniguchi here. The plan was announced to Metro employees yesterday, via a memo from Taniguchi that a WSB reader sent us this morning – when we subsequently asked Metro/KCDOT for confirmation of the plan, the response was the official announcement you see above. (Text of the Taniguchi e-mail is after the jump:) Read More

UPDATE: Police investigation after SFD ‘full response’ in Gatewood

10:23 AM: A Seattle Fire “full response” is on its way to a possible house fire in the 4100 block of SW Monroe in Gatewood.

10:27 AM: Most of the SFD units have been canceled, with the fire having been a small exterior fire, per scanner, but police are on scene, our crew reports upon arrival, and we’re hearing a medic unit being dispatched for someone believed to be ill/injured.

12:35 PM: Police investigators are still on scene, looking at both a vehicle that was up on the home’s lawn and at the area that’s possibly where the small fire started. We’ll be checking back with SPD later this afternoon to see if there’s an update.

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