West Seattle, Washington
(12/18/08 photo by Raymond Overgaard)
This morning, we published a reminder about this week’s reduced Metro service – planned long before Snowmare ’08 – and additional information from a Metro spokesperson regarding why the online “bus tracker” didn’t work reliably during the peak of the snow/ice woes. Since Metro is a county-provided service, your elected county leaders are the people in a position to hold the agency’s leadership accountable – and one of them, West Seattle’s County Councilmember Dow Constantine, who chairs the council’s Transportation Committee, posted this comment below that post:
I hear you. I, and plenty of others here at the King County Council, am very focused on fixing the problems that plagued transit riders during the recent snowfall. Because of the condition of the roads, Metro managers had to leave most of our articulated buses out of service during most snow days, which meant that the system was operating at only about 50 percent capacity.
I salute Metro’s employees for their diligent work under extremely adverse conditions. However, I was also dismayed by the serious communications failures I learned of from the media, my constituents, and my bus-riding employees. I wrote to Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond two days before Christmas outlining my concerns with the goal of meeting with him personally in the first week of January and arranging a County Council briefing shortly thereafter. The issues I raised in my letter included Metro’s phone and website communications, the difficulty of getting information on modified (snow) routes to bus riders, bus frequency to popular destinations, and the general issue of areas which were completely unserved by transit during the snowfall.
Although the Seattle area rarely gets a snowfall of this size or duration, we need to learn from both mistakes and successes and to improve performance under adverse weather and other emergency conditions.
One more Metro-related note: The agency spokesperson who has proactively worked to get us information about some of the system’s issues during the past few weeks, Linda Thielke, did come up with a page that includes more details on the upcoming technology upgrades to make Metro buses more trackable (she had mentioned earlier that GPS location would be in place by 2010) – read about the “smart bus” plans here; online references we found independently say it’s a $25 million project.
Just in time for the (snow-challenged) holiday-shopping season, the Senior Center of West Seattle reopened its renovated Stop and Shop thrift store. Now the shop’s hoping to get some volunteer help and donations as it heads into a new year – here’s an update from Cindy Gwinn:
We are looking for volunteers for all shifts. We are open from 10-4, 7 days a week. We work 3-hour shifts, 10 to 1, 1 to 4. They would be running the cash machine, setting up displays and meeting and greeting shoppers. Students looking for community hours for college, or needing retail experience. Would love all help.
All donations can be dropped off 7 days a week, and can be left in the back of the Center in the covered parking area. Please, no TV’s or stereos. For more information, call Cindy at 206 915-5595 or come by the Shop.
Never been there? SE corner of California/Oregon (map), street level.
Out of the WSB inbox, from Krystal:
This is kind of odd. I live across from the old Huling Brothers lot on Fauntleroy Way (@ Edmunds) [map], on the west side of the street. For about 3-4 months now, we have been seeing tons of bones being tossed out on the fence and in and around our parking lot of our apartment building. We generally see them right off the alley, as if someone threw them out the window as they were driving down the alley, and they usually end up on the fence right along the alley (the fence is for an abandoned parking lot on the SW corner of Fauntleroy and Edmunds). They are also sometimes in the 4-5 parking spaces behind the Belle Mente preschool. We have some rib bones in our parking lot, and the other day, on top of our snow, a very large knee bone. We are assuming these are from a cow? However, since we have a curious dog, who fortunately knows the ‘leave it’ command, we have noticed these maybe when others haven’t. We do not think it was garbage related because the bones appeared when the garbage trucks didn’t come by during the past few weeks. I am concerned that this may be bait for a dog, raccoon, etc., especially since there have been dog poisonings in the Genesee area (about 1 mile away). I just wanted to see if anyone else has noticed this nearby, and just for dog and cat owners to be on the look out for suspicious bones.
If the melting snow revealed storm-related damage – King County wants to hear from you ASAP. Here are full details on what to do, who to call, etc.
After the wind kicked up this morning, that window at Lessie Woodruff‘s Junction insurance office blew in — thanks to Scott M for mentioning it in an earlier comment; we went over for a photo, and she told us the crew of Ladder 11 came over and cleaned up the mess – as she subsequently explained in the comment section of our earlier wind report:
Junction Firehouse Ladder 11 ROCKS!!!
Took the morning off, then received calls from WaMu and two neighbors that the window to my office had been blown out ( that is OUT ) no glass inside, go figure. Ladder 11 was on site sweeping up the glass and hanging plastic over the opening. Cookies for the Junction Fire Dept. are in order. I’m buying mine from Hazel at Blue Willow. (side bar) I am a 64 year old grandmother and mother, but please note that the men of Ladder 11 were adorable and handsome to a fault. No TV show could have done better casting.
Also in The Junction, a stop sign that seems to have fallen victim to something – may or may not have been the wind:
And as reported by scores of people, trash cans have now become IFOs (identified flying objects) – or at least identified FALLEN objects, even if full (the first scene seemed particularly iconic – blown-over can meets leftover “snirt”):
Hope we’re not speaking too soon, but the wind seems to have calmed a BIT over here. ADDED 3:55 PM UPDATE: The updated forecast is out this hour and this isn’t even the strongest system coming through this week, per the forecast discussion. Meanwhile, another photo to share – Scott C got this south of Alki Point (tide too low for the classic waves vs. seawall at this hour but nice surf nonetheless):
5:47 PM UPDATE: Got a report via Twitter of a toppled street tree in The Junction – heading out to check on that.
Now the official city statements are flying in. We just added one from Council President Richard Conlin to our post from this morning, which followed our e-mail exchange with him about what the City Council plans to do to examine the snowstorm-response woes (read the new addition, with extra details on hearing/meeting plans, here). And moments later, in came this news release from the mayor’s office regarding post-snow pothole problems:
Mayor Greg Nickels today encouraged residents to call the city’s pothole repair hotline at 684-ROAD (684-7623) as the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) turns to clean-up operations after a series of winter storms.
When he began as Mayor, Nickels pledged the city would fill any pothole within 48-hours. That commitment remains today, as four crews of Pothole Rangers dedicated to pavement repair are currently dispatched across the city.
“Ice and snow are not kind to city streets, but we’re providing relief to smooth out the ride,” said Nickels. “We’re asking the public to tell us where to go first, and we’ll add additional Pothole Rangers if needed to get the job done.”
Asphalt is best poured in dry conditions. With intermittent rain forecast for Seattle, SDOT is filling most potholes with “cold mix” – asphalt and gravel. SDOT will return in warmer weather to pour a more permanent solution.
SDOT responds to residents’ calls first, and then will fix potholes spotted by city crews.
If you see a pothole crew in action in West Seattle, please send a photo – firstname.lastname@example.org – we’ll be on the lookout too.
We’ve told you about both of these before, but reminders are circulating today in non-Web ways, so we thought we’d point you to the basics again: First, our postal mail brought a reminder about the Delridge Skatepark public meeting January 14th (first mentioned here), 6 pm at Youngstown Arts Center – the city is proceeding with design though it doesn’t have construction money right now. Second, e-mail from the city just brought a reminder about the Elliott Bay Water Taxi/Seacrest dock improvements meeting January 15th (first mentioned here), 7 pm (with 7:30 pm presentation) at Alki Community Center.
(windblown, rain-pelted tree around 12:15 pm – before the sun came out again – fast-moving weather!)
The forecast said “breezy” but this deserves a stronger word. Amy just e-mailed about a power flicker on Gatewood Hill. The latest “hourly observations” posted by the National Weather Service include 39-mph wind at Alki Point (look for K91S on this list; KSEA is Sea-Tac, KBFI is Boeing Field, SP is the sustained wind-speed category while GS is wind gust). Checking for official forecast updates. Multiple reports of finally-emptied trash containers blowing into streets, needless to say. 12:28 PM UPDATE: Also received word of brief power loss in High Point. 1:09 PM UPDATE: The tree in our few seconds of video above also guest-stars toward the end of this clip by Frank. Desiree sent this alert via mobile:
Hi – I just drove down Fauntleroy from Morgan Junction to WS freeway and counted seven garbage cans on Fauntleroy. Most are blocking lanes. Lids are also careening around like stray hubcaps! Drive with extra caution around West Seattle today.
1:27 PM UPDATE: Also reports of power flickering in Hansen View (south of Providence Mount St. Vincent). National Weather Service has not changed the forecasts or posted a watch/warning for our area aside from a “gale warning” for Puget Sound waters that went up in late morning, in effect through 4 pm.
In the middle of Snowstorm ’08, we published an update on the school-closure process, which is proceeding AS SCHEDULED, the district reiterates, despite some changes and cancellations because of the weather. If you missed that update – read it here; it includes links to the official transcript from the 12/16 Genesee Hill school-closure hearing, and the rescheduled Lowell hearing date. And if you are opposed to school closures – specific or in general – you may want to know about a meeting tonight that just appeared on our radar (thanks to Nora!) – a citywide organizing meeting to oppose closures, by a group we hadn’t heard of before. Here are full details; it’s at 6 pm tonight, Garfield Community Center (map). Meantime, Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson is still scheduled to present her “final recommendations” for closures a week from tomorrow; the most recent recommendations still call for closing the old Genesee Hill Elementary building and making Cooper Elementary in Pigeon Point (left) the new home of Pathfinder K-8, dispersing the current Cooper students elsewhere. The “Cooper School Works” closure-fight site continues to add info, by the way; we just discovered this page with some of their main points.
Just heard back from City Council President Richard Conlin (left), after e-mailing him to ask what kind of inquiries/hearings will ensue regarding Snowstorm ’08-related woes. We decided to ask him because he runs the Environment, Emergency Management, and Utilities Committee, so trash — among other things — would be under his auspices. He says a “more formal response” is coming out later today, but since we asked. First, a “full council briefing” is planned a week from today, January 5th. Next day, Tuesday 1/6, a joint meeting of his committee and the Transportation Committee (chaired by Councilmember Jan Drago, overseeing roads and snowplows among other things), “at which point we will go over the situation in detail and also have a public comment opportunity,” Conlin says, adding, “After that, we will lay out a set of issues to review and work on, and determine how we will involve the public and carry out the review. Our last review (after the 2006 windstorm/flooding) involved a set of joint meetings between EEMU and the Energy Committee, including an evening public comment time, and resulted in a work plan for the Utilities that made an important difference in the performance of City Light in particular in this situation — outages were relatively few (thanks to some proactive tree trimming and other preparation), and were handled and reported back to the public promptly (thanks to some better preparation and organization).” So if you want to address the council personally at your first opportunity, sounds like 1/6 will be your first chance. To e-mail or otherwise contact them now, seattle.gov/council will point you in every possible direction; Conlin’s info is here; Drago’s info is here; EEMU Committee info here; Transportation Committee here. We’ll let you know when times and places are set for the aforementioned meetings/hearings (and any others), and they’ll be on the WSB Events calendar (where we list meetings large and small, outside WS too when it’s of WS relevance like this, as well as other types of events). 2:48 PM UPDATE: The detailed “formal response” promised by Councilmember Conlin has just arrived in our inbox and we suspect many others – read on for the full text, which includes some times (will add to our calendar shortly):Read More
The inquiry we sent to the UPS media team last week just got answered – so we’re asking them, for starters, if their company considers this area to be all caught up, but if you know of any specific cases where someone’s still waiting – in West Seattle – please leave a comment or e-mail us.
1:44 PM UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who has left comments and sent e-mail about missing packages. We talked by phone with Ronna Charles Branch in United Parcel Service media relations. “Looks like we’re doing a good job today of getting through the packages that have been held,” she said. “We had several trailer loads of packages at multiple locations throughout the Pacific Northwest because we couldnt get through what we HAD sorted. Today in one particular Seattle facility, they’ve gotten through half, meaning they unloaded half the trailers, sorted those (packages), and put them out for delivery.” She said they think they’ll have “everything delivered by the end of the week” – but here’s an important caveat: UPS is closed Wednesday and Thursday (New Year’s Eve-Day). So if you don’t get your package(s) by the end of tomorrow, you won’t be getting them before Friday. No plans to work extra time over the “holiday” to catch up, we asked? No, she said. Also: Air/Express packages are being delivered as priorities – “the ground ones will trickle in by the end of the week,” she said. If you have a question about something you’re awaiting, the hotline is 800-PICK-UPS. We asked the question that some WSB’ers have posed – why did USPS make it to some neighborhoods that UPS has not served? She didn’t have an explanation beyond accessibility and truck size/weight, “being able to get up the terrain.” We also asked about perishable deliveries, since at least one WSB’er brought that up — her advice was to talk with the vendor, rather than UPS, about how compensation/replacement would be handled.
5:37 PM UPDATE: Went out for a drive a little while ago. Just before 5, saw a UPS truck coming off a side street onto Delridge just north of Arco/Home Depot/etc. Thanks for all the comments and notes re: UPS status – we plan to check with UPS again tomorrow to see if there are any additional updates/status reports.
7:36 PM UPDATE: UPS truck sighting just down the block from us (within a block of California/Thistle; map). We saw them during the storm, too – including one week ago, just after sunset, same time Seattle Public Utilities reps stopped by for an in-person interview at WSB HQ.
10:14 PM UPDATE: Got a message via Facebook (where we are WS Blog) that someone in Arbor Heights received a package after 9:30 tonight.
(Map updated as of 4:02 pm with areas where WSB’ers have reported trash and/or recycling pickup)
As we reported last night, Seattle Public Utilities says it’s going to try to reach Monday-pickup homes today — for trash/recycling, NOT yard waste — and that would mean the first pickup in three weeks for West Seattle’s Monday neighborhoods. We’re opening this post for any updates on the trash situation during the day – both your sightings of trash trucks (leave a comment, or e-mail us) and also any new information we get.
9:40 AM UPDATE: Thanks for the updates! MargL sent the first “photographic proof” from Arbor Heights, when recycling pickup showed up first:
We’ve also received e-mail about sightings at 47th/Erskine and 64th/Hinds. Crunching a quick Google Map just to note where they’ve been so far. 10:36 AM NOTE: It’s REALLY windy out there right now … hope the accumulated, not-yet-picked-up trash/recycling is well-battened-down.
11:22 AM UPDATE: This note from Cass in Gatewood:
I just spoke with my recycling guy, who did pick up *all* my recycle. I asked him if he got paid for the 2 weeks he had to take off because the city wouldn’t plow the streets. NO PAY. He said he was new, so he didn’t have any accrued vacation time. It’s not HIS fault that he couldn’t work, so I don’t think he should’ve had to take vacation pay anyway. I told him they should sue the city for lost wages, and he looked at me like I was nuts. How many people lost wages because of this fiasco????? And the retailers who went broke?
11:39 AM UPDATE: Noted this in the comment section, but we’ve had a sighting in our neighborhood (this was on Sullivan near California):
Keep the sightings coming, and we’ll keep updating the Google Map that’s now atop this post. 2:14 PM UPDATE: Another truck has just passed through our neighborhood. By the way, a few scattered people around WS have reported yard-waste pickup too, though city reps had told us that was going to wait till after they caught up with trash and recycling. 2:33 PM UPDATE: Scott C sends word of a truck sighting along Alki Ave’s condo row – and a photo:
5:23 PM UPDATE: We just came back from a drive around some of West Seattle’s main streets. Saw a truck heading southbound on the south stretch of Beach Drive. Meantime, the latest official news release from Seattle Public Utilities came in while we were out – read on (note the update on yard waste):Read More
First, that reminder: Long before Snowstorm ’08, as we were reminded last week, Metro had been planning to run a “partial holiday schedule” for most of the time between Christmas and New Year’s. That includes today through Wednesday, plus Friday; here’s the list of routes that are affected. (Thursday, New Year’s Day, will be on a Sunday schedule.) (Note added: This morning Metro published a specific page to address this week – check that here.)
Now, the “questions answered” part – over the weekend, we received some additional information from Metro’s Linda Thielke, after she read the “editorial-esque aside” we included in this post – it’s about why bus-tracking didn’t work so well, and why it should in the not-too-distant future – for that and more, read on:Read More