day : 11/08/2008 13 results

Update: 35th/Dawson accident turns fatal; victim made history

According to two sources, including a comment on the original accident coverage, the man hit by a car last night after chasing his dog onto 35th near Dawson has died. The King County Medical Examiner identifies him as 39-year-old Gregory Hampel, who lived near the accident scene. The commenter on last night’s report, identified only as “a friend,” says:

He was a great man, a great father and a good friend. He will be missed by all.

As a father, in fact, it has been pointed out to us, Mr. Hampel helped make legal history; he and his partner won a case involving adoption rights for same-sex couples. Here’s one of many online references we have found so far; a newer article says a federal appeals court upheld the ruling almost exactly a year ago. Meantime, he is the third person hit and killed by a car in West Seattle in the past year (we mentioned the other 2 in Sunday night’s coverage). ADDED 12:55 AM: This short Times article says Mr. Hampel worked as a teacher at Tacoma’s Seabury School, which sent e-mail about the crash to the school community, calling him “a bright light in our community.”

Westwood Council tomorrow night: Latest on Denny (and Sealth)

The second Tuesday of every month is usually a very busy night, with up to four major neighborhood associations/councils in West Seattle holding their monthly meetings. This month, all but one are on hiatus — the one that WILL meet tomorrow night is the Westwood Neighborhood Council. They are expecting two high-profile guests: city parks superintendent Tim Gallagher and West Seattle school-board rep Steve Sundquist. WNC has been focused on the Denny/Sealth school project for quite some time and now is laser-focused on what will happen with Denny’s current site, once the school moves to its new spot on the Sealth campus. Here’s the Westwood vision for that site’s possible future; as we mentioned the other day, citizen involvement is being solicited now for both the school district’s “design team” for the site and for a committee that will hold hearings on code “departures” for the Denny/Sealth project. The WNC invites you to join its meeting at 7 pm tomorrow night, Southwest Precinct meeting room (Delridge/Webster).

As time goes by: Following up on the California Ave “upzoning”

August 11, 2008 7:29 pm
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 |   California Ave upzoning | Development | West Seattle news

upzonescreengrab.jpgWhen last we checked in on the proposal to “upzone” California Avenue between Hanford and Hinds, and a bit further south on the west side of the street (city map at left) — first reported here nine months ago — city planners told us in mid-June that they were “writing the recommendation.” Now, almost two more months have gone by, while the signs and notices posted along that stretch of California SW continue to fade in the summer sun, so we called the city today to see where in the pipeline that recommendation might be. According to Bryan Stevens in the city planning department, the decision “should be published at the end of the month. Due to the complexity of the issues and the analysis that must occur, it’s not uncommon for a rezone request to take 10-12 months before it goes to Council.” (That refers to the City Council approval that would be required for a zoning change; a Hearing Examiner hearing would be scheduled after the recommendation is published, too.) If you missed the original round of reports on this, our coverage is archived newest to oldest here; the official city webpage for information on the proposal is here.

Announcing the blog about White Center:

If you visit the WSB Forums, you may have seen a recent thread by Justin, co-owner of Full Tilt Ice Cream, suggesting a White Center blog. We had been working offline on plans for one for a while, so we contacted Justin and inquired whether there might be any advantage to a partnership — otherwise, if he was ready to launch something, we were ready to support it. whitecenternow.jpgJustin had been talking with another dynamic White Center entrepreneur, Ricardo from Cafe Rozella, but they hadn’t launched a site yet, so we agreed to join forces on a site that is intended to be very different from this one – much more of a true blog (WSB is at its core a neighborhood-news site, not so much a “blog” though we have the word in our name since that’s what we evolved from): White Center Now, at We all started posting content within the past week (starting with the Big Al Brewing opening) and intended to keep it as a soft launch till we finished adding content on the sidebars and inside pages, but the company which had kept idle for 9 months (the only reason we’re not launching at that URL – it wasn’t available) suddenly decided to do something with it starting today, perhaps inspired by the WSB thread, so we’re letting you know that White Center Now is already up and running – with some very interesting contributions already from Ricardo and Justin, and a couple of news items from us. It’s a very simple layout – we are not bells and whistles people – but you know that, if you are a WSB regular; it’s about the words, the pictures, the stories, the information. If you have White Center news, photos, events, information, ideas – and/or if you are interested in being a contributor – please e-mail White Center and West Seattle will grow even closer together in the years to come, we believe, as travel to downtown gets more difficult, so we are honored to be involved with Justin and Ricardo – and the others to come – in this effort to tell, share, and experience the stories of this growing community.

Freeway followup: The truck that caused the trouble


Thanks to John Cahill for sending photos of the truck that toppled onto its side on the West Seattle Bridge exit to southbound I-5 this morning (WSB coverage here), blocking that ramp for more than two hours. From another angle, its contents didn’t look too much the worse for wear:


Update: Who’s behind the proposal to bag the bag fee

signbag.jpgWe first told you yesterday about a petition drive to repeal Seattle’s upcoming disposable-bag fee (and foam ban) by referendum, after we encountered a signature-gatherer (toting the sign you see at left) outside West Seattle Thriftway. City law does not require such referenda to be recorded or even reviewed before signature-gathering begins, so we were having some trouble finding out who’s behind it — till two people (thanks to Alcina and Diane) just posted/sent word that the Puget Sound Business Journal reported about an hour ago, it’s the Washington Food Industry, a grocer-advocacy group.

Update: Grand-reopening day for locksmith hit by arson


We stopped in a while ago to check back with Michael Dein, who told WSB over the weekend (previous coverage here) that he would be reopening Puget Sound Key and Lock in Morgan Junction today, four and a half months after the as-yet-unsolved arson attack that gutted his shop – this photo was taken that day:


A month after the fire, West Seattle Blog Forum members put on a benefit to raise money to help him reopen; today he wanted to thank them – and he also told us his new start is off to a good start:

As reported over the weekend – he is giving back to the community, by offering a special service for domestic-abuse victims (read about it in our Saturday report). Puget Sound Key and Lock is at 6016 California SW, on the north edge of Morgan Junction.

Update: West Seattle side note in school-district tree tussle


Reading citywide-media coverage regarding the latest developments in Seattle Public Schools‘ plan to cut trees to make way for an Ingraham High School project, we were startled to see the reports featuring a line about alleged unauthorized district tree-cutting as Denny/Sealth construction/renovation work begins on the Chief Sealth HS campus. Certainly the West Seattle project has had more than its share of controversy, but we hadn’t heard about any tree trouble, so we started digging around. Here’s what we found out:Read More

Blocked I-5 ramp update: State offers $ incentive to get it cleared

We’re still watching the situation that’s blocked the West Seattle Bridge ramp to southbound I-5 — a tipped truck blocking the ramp for about an hour now. Interesting info in the latest update from WSDOT:

The incident knocked over a streetlight and damaged a portion of the railing. Drivers should expect delays. … A WSDOT bridge inspection team is enroute to inspect damage to the on ramp. WSP and WSDOT Incident Response Teams are on the scene. The Washington State Patrol has activated the Blok-Buster program for this incident. Blok-Buster, a joint program with WSDOT, WSP and local tow companies offers a $2,500 incentive to a tow company if they are able to clear the semi-truck in 90 minutes or less. This program, active in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, requires tow companies to bring additional tow trucks to get the roadway open more quickly. Traffic accidents are unpredictable and heavy truck incident sare the “worst of the worst.” This program is an innovative way to clear these traffic incidents faster and safer.

11:13 AM UPDATE: WSDOT now says two tow trucks have arrived, and while they’ve pulled the truck onto I-5, the ramp remains blocked, as do the three right lanes of southbound I-5 at that spot, resulting in a one-mile backup through downtown. 11:35 AM UPDATE: I-5/Spokane cam is back on the truck, and it appears to be upright now, so this may be cleared soon. 12:17 PM UPDATE: All clear now. The state says the light is fixed but the railing won’t be fixed till tomorrow.

New medic unit dedicated at West Seattle’s Fire Station 32

August 11, 2008 10:58 am
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 |   West Seattle news


(Photo courtesy Seattle Fire Department)
It’s been in service since July 1st, but this weekend marked the official dedication of the new Medic 32, based at Fire Station 32 in The Junction – thanks to the Ed and Karen Levy Charitable Foundation (that’s Karen Levy, photographed with some of the SFD team, including Chief Gregory Dean next to her [in a tie]). This is the seventh medic unit the foundation has donated to SFD in the past 20 years – here’s a little more background info from the fire department:

The 2008 model is manufactured by Braun Northwest and has an updated drive train, engine and body style. The interior of the unit was custom designed by Seattle Fire Department firefighter/paramedics.

The Department’s medic units are staffed by two firefighter/paramedics that have completed nine months of intensive medical training through the Medic One Program. The County-wide Medic One system focuses on providing first-rate pre hospital emergency care to critical patients. The Department has a total of seven medic units assigned to fire stations throughout the City.

Station 32 itself, by the way, is targeted for replacement – yet another one of the major private and public projects on the drawing boards in The Junction/Triangle area.

Traffic alert: Tipped truck blocks ramp from WS Bridge to SB I-5

August 11, 2008 10:18 am
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 |   West Seattle traffic alerts

(traffic-cam image moved to newest post)
This just in from WSDOT: “The Spokane Street on ramp to southbound I-5 is blocked due to a semi that has tipped onto its side. Traffic traveling eastbound on the West Seattle Bridge is backing up.” 10:50 AM UPDATE: The camera view we have up now is a city-operated camera looking at that onramp.

2 weeks after Alki fire, survivor still seeking somewhere new

beforefireunits.jpgWhen that Alki duplex caught fire two and a half weeks ago, its owner was out of town and its tenant managed to get out OK (though her cat was missing for a while). Several people asked in WSB comment threads whether the tenant needed any help, and we renewed that question in an e-mail exchange with a friend of hers. Over the weekend, she e-mailed WSB to say there is one thing that’s proving to be a challenge – finding a new place to live:

Hoping to find a house for rent in the Admiral area, but it’s difficult; if anyone is a good networker and knows of a nice quiet neighborhood that takes dogs, that would be helpful. I really need a nice quiet place to recover from the chaos of the fire and Alki, it’s been too much.

If you have any leads, please post a comment here, or e-mail us and we will forward to her.

Strong showing for Seal Sitters session #1

August 11, 2008 2:50 am
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 |   How to help | West Seattle news | Wildlife


Reporting this somewhat belatedly after Sunday night’s 35th/Dawson crash pre-empted the weekend-wrapup post … The Seal Sitters first training session of the season drew a good turnout (the photo above shows just part of the group; there were a couple more rows of attendees before we left Hiawatha a few minutes after their presentation began). But it’s not too late for you to get involved; September 9 is the next training session, 7-9 pm at Alki Community Center. And even if you don’t become an official volunteer, you can help by remembering what to do – and what not to do – when you see a baby seal; the key thing to remember is “leave it alone” – the Seal Sitters’ site has more specifics.