day : 06/01/2009 11 results

West Seattle Weather Watch: Wind advisory and flood warning

Keep the flashlight at bedside, just in case – this is the wind advisory renewed by the National Weather Service a little more than an hour ago:





A flood warning also is in effect through Thursday morning for possible “small stream” and urban flooding. We’ve just been out for a drive around some of the usual areas where this hits first – no trouble yet but if heavy rainfall continues as expected for hours to come, could be a different situation by morning.

12:28 AM UPDATE: We’re working on some other stories so we’re keeping watch on weather too; midnight readings from the NWS included 30 mph sustained/40 mph gusts at Alki Point (K91S on our favorite hourly list). Nothing on the City Light online list of outages.

1:14 AM NOTE: 34 mph speed, 44 mph gusts at Alki Point at 1 am.

Council snow-response briefing #2: Talking trash (trouble)

(12/29 WSB photo)
Seattle Public Utilities is the focus of our third report (first one: snow-clearing; second one: Metro) on today’s three-hour Seattle City Council briefing regarding Snowstorm ’08 and how public services were delivered while the city was snowbound. SPU reps actually talked with council members about gearing up for possible pipe trouble during the pre-snow deep freeze, and gearing up for possible urban flooding when the snowmelt began, but since neither of those happened – and trash troubles DID – that’s the part of the discussion we’re writing about – read on for details:Read More

2 utility notes: Yard-waste pickup catchup; power-outage alert

PICKUP CATCHUP, THE LATEST: Seattle Public Utilities finally officially confirmed that yes, they’ve been catching up today on some yard waste that wasn’t picked up yesterday — for those who would have had yard-waste pickup yesterday on the NORMAL schedule (check your “normal scheduled” online here) – and if yours still hasn’t been taken away, do call to report it (684-3000). Meantime, we’re working on the SPU angle from the city briefing earlier today, so that’ll be posted as soon as it’s done.

POWER-OUTAGE ALERT: Just in case the wind and rain intensify (video clip shot within the past hour – showing how fast the low clouds were moving in the wind) and lead to outages, Seattle City Light has issued a news release with reminders about what to do, what not to do, and who to call – click ahead to read it:Read More

Update: Cooper on list of school-closure “final recommendations”

(photo added 3:12 pm)
ORIGINAL 2:04 PM POST: Just a small note – we’re off to Seattle Public Schools HQ, where the “final recommendations” in the latest school-closure process are to be released within the hour. You’ll see them here as soon as we have them.

2:52 PM UPDATE: Just handed out. Cooper is still recommended for discontinuance. Genesee Hill building still recommended for closure, with Pathfinder K-8 moving to the Cooper building on Pigeon Point.

2:56 PM UPDATE: Full list: Building closures, Genesee Hill, Mann, TT Minor, Van Asselt, Old Hay (with subtext “may be temporary depending on enrollment.” Relocated programs: Half of Lowell APP to Thurgood Marshall. Half of Washington APP to Hamilton. NOVA to Meany. Pathfinder K-8 to Cooper (as mentioned). SBOC to Meany. TT Minor Montessori to Leschi. Thurgood Marshall EBOC to Dunlap and Hawthorne. Van Asselt to AAA. Also: New programs, New K-8 at Jane Addams. Discontinued programs: African American Academy, Cooper, Meany, TT Minor, Summit K-12. Again, the Cooper program closure/Genesee Hill building closure/Pathfinder move is the only West Seattle component of the list. This will now be introduced at the School Board meeting tomorrow night; final vote scheduled for January 29, and certainly the plan could change before then.

3:03 PM NOTE: Just FYI, we are in the board room at district HQ, where Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson, Chief Academic Officer Carla Santorno, and other district officials will brief the media shortly and answer questions. We will add anything West Seattle-specific, and a full report later. A few more details about Cooper programs: The two autism self-contained and one inclusion program, as the district describes them, would “REMAIN at Cooper to become part of Pathfinder K-8,” according to the documents we’ve been given. The plan for other Cooper students is described in the summary as “reassign … to other schools in West Seattle.” District PR says this will be on the district’s website shortly – we’ll add the link when we see it.

3:13 PM UPDATE: Thanks to the commenter who found the link first: Here it is. One detail we omitted: West Seattle APP elementary students would go to the Thurgood Marshall half of the split program.

3:19 PM UPDATE: In case this part is not on the website yet, we are reading the detailed briefing book about the final recommendations. Here’s what it says about Cooper students:

Students who attend Cooper Elementary and live in the Cooper reference area are assigned to Pathfinder, Gatewood, Sanislo, or West Seattle Elementary depending on where in the reference area they live. Students who live within the walk zone for Cooper as well as some additional students who live near the Cooper building would be reassigned to Pathfinder where they could continue in the same building and become part of Pathfinder. The other reassignments (listed in the book) contemplate that the Cooper reference area would be merged with the Sanislo reference area, putting it in the West Seattle South Cluster.. Transportation would therefore be provided to students in the Cooper reference area who attend a school in the WS South Cluster. Transportation is also provided to WS Eleentary from both the West Seattle North and West Seattle South Clusters. Cooper studnets whose reference area is in the West Seattle North Cluster and who live close enough to walk would be reassigned to their reference area school. If not, they would be reassigned to West Seattle Elementary.

3:31 PM UPDATE: We just asked the superintendent about the fact that this would mean two buildings closed in the past few years in the West Seattle North cluster, which has had far less excess capacity than the south. She says a process is under development that will keep the district from getting to this kind of capacity imbalance in the future – no specifics yet, but it’s in the works.

3:38 PM UPDATE: The superintendent says there WILL be a “design team” process for Cooper if the final recommendation for program closure does get final approval – in which a group will be assembled to work through the transition of its students to other schools. As for what happens to its teachers – she says “the teachers go with the students” in general since enrollment isn’t declining, students are just moving; as for how it will be determined where teachers, like those at Cooper, go, she says that will be determined “by existing labor contract” terms.

3:44 PM UPDATE: The briefing has just ended. More links with long and short versions of the recommendations, as well as an updated FAQ and the official news release, are all now linked to the “Capacity Management” page that the district has used as a central repository for information on the ongoing process. Here’s that link. We’ll be writing a more detailed update a bit later; the superintendent had some comments about why the final list, citywide, was so dramatically different from the original “preliminary recommendations,” and also the role advocacy played or did not play in the final determination of what’s on this list.

5:16 PM NOTE: Before we get to that update – leafing through the full report, we see the “why the preliminary recommendation changed from Arbor Heights to Cooper” explanation is in it – if you want to read that, follow this link and click ahead to page 20. In part, it says:

In general, the Cooper building is a more logical choice for the relocation of the Pathfinder program. The building is nearly 30,000 square feet larger than Arbor Heights, and the building layout is more suitable for a K-8. Typically, K-8 programs prefer to physically separate the elementary and middle school students and the Cooper building allows for this. Cooper also has a full size field suitable for middle school PE. Cooper is also located on a large site that has a natural area that can be used by the Pathfinder program in support of their environmental education focus.

6:43 PM NOTE: One more link’s been added to the SPS website – the final report with appendices added – click ahead to page G-9, which is actually about 50 pages in, in order to get the specifics on where current Cooper students would be reassigned, depending on what “reference area” they’re in now.

Council storm-response briefing #2: Metro’s “bottleneck” explained

Now, our second report (more to come) on the Seattle City Council‘s second day of briefings on December snowstorm response: This time, we focus on what the council heard from, and asked, Metro director Kevin Desmond. Biggest revelation – It’s clear now where the bus system’s customer-communication system broke down – there’s a major bottleneck. More about that in a moment. First, Desmond opened by stating the obvious: “This was the most severe weather, snow emergency in Metro’s history … We appreciate our customers’ patience and understand their frustration. Nobody likes to wait by the curb for a long time, for a bus that may or may not show up or may pass by because it’s crowded.” His bottom line: Metro has a snow plan, but it had to go out the window because it was written for a less-severe, shorter-duration situation. It’s an “80 percent” (service) plan, but he says Metro needs a “50 percent” plan, one that can be pro-actively put into effect with enough time to warn customers. That observation was just the beginning – read on: Read More

Council snow-response briefing #2: Too little extra plowing help?

(December 23 WSB photo)
The City Council‘s second briefing on the December snowstorm response wrapped up a short time ago – after more than three hours. So much was said, we will publish several separate reports, each focused on a particular area, rather than one mega-report. First: An encore appearance by SDOT director Grace Crunican, toward the hearing’s end (following her stint on the hot seat yesterday), to talk more about the problems of getting, and keeping, the roads cleared. One key point was the issue of whether more help could have been called in. For example – the road grader you see above was one of several pieces of equipment borrowed from other city departments. SDOT also procured a small amount of private contractor help. Crunican revealed those details today: Two contractors were called in, one for three days, one for one day. She said they were called in at the peak of the problems, and discontinued because they felt they had a handle on the situation. In hindsight, she says, she realizes that wasn’t the case. Councilmember Nick Licata said at that point, “It’s clear that information was being exchanged between (city) departments, but was it being COORDINATED? We’ve talked a lot about departments communicating to the public, but what about the information from the public, to the departments? If SDOT thought it had a handle on the situation, that’s not what people were telling us.” West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen also reopened the issue of who decides which routes get plowed first — Crunican said the official, publicly distributed SDOT plan (see it here) is evaluated annually — and voiced a concern that in WS, nothing west of California SW is on the map (see it here). Crunican (also a West Seattleite) mentioned that at one point, Admiral Way was plowed to 63rd, after the primary routes were cleared. Rasmussen suggested that Alki SW and Beach Drive should be on the plow routes and quipped that people who live uphill from there could “slide downhill on garbage bags” if they had to, to at least be able to catch buses along those routes. And back on the topic of bringing in private contractors, Councilmember Jan Drago said, “I’m the only councilmember who was also here in ’96 (the last major “snow event”) and this whole issue is ‘deja vu all over again’ … There was a huge public outcry to buy more snowplows. I want to know if the decisions that were made then are still in place. What we decided then was that storms were so infrequent, we weren’t going to invest in a big fleet of snowplows, but we did agree to retrofit a number of our own vehicles.” Crunican noted that the city had fewer than a dozen plows then and has 27 now, so, she said, “The question is, do you want to staff up for more, do we want to go the contracting route, or do we want to look at (retrofitting) other city vehicles?” She also said: “I’m not immune to the fact we didn’t get the job done for the public.” More recaps to come – next, we’ll write about how Metro director Kevin Desmond explained what went wrong with his system and how its status was, and wasn’t, communicated to riders.

Update on Zack the cat: Surgery done, but not paid for yet

We first told you December 27th about Zack the cat — found by Jane, who has adopted him after being unable to find his original owner, and then discovered he had an injury that required costly surgery she couldn’t afford. WSBers answered her request for help, in a variety of ways, and Jane finally is able to provide an update:

I wanted to thank you all for your loving concern for Zack and for your donation. I was unable to raise enough money for Zack’s surgery at West Seattle Animal (Hospital) and they had to return those donations. I did make arrangements at Lien Animal Clinic at a lower cost for the surgery and if you would like to forward your donations on Zack’s behalf to Lien Animal Clinic, 3710 Alaska Street, Seattle, WA. 98126, it would be much appreciated.

Sincerely, Jane

After receiving that : The surgery has been done, but the bill hasn’t yet been paid. Zack’s leg was removed, and he was neutered. The donations that had been made through the previous clinic totaled about half the $1500-plus cost; those checks are being returned and Jane is asking the donors to please rewrite the checks to Lien (here’s its website) – and she is hopeful that more donations will be made to help cover the full cost. As we did following the first report, we would be happy to forward any e-mail to her if you want to correspond with her directly:

Welcoming new WSB sponsors: West Seattle’s NiaDivas

This morning, we’re welcoming new WSB sponsors offering you a chance to start 2009 with a unique way to keep your New Year’s resolutions for fitness and fun: West Seattle’s own NiaDivas. Jill Pagano (left) and Lesley Tinker (right) invite you to start your new year by stepping into fitness the Nia way. The Nia Technique(R) is a low-impact, aerobic exercise of dance, martial arts, and healing arts such as yoga. Done barefoot to music, semi-choreographed, Nia delivers a whole-body workout. More than a physical workout, Nia also strengthens mental awareness and inspires a self-expressive spirit. The happy results are a stronger body, increased flexibility, better overall fitness and lots of fun. Jill and Lesley, known as NiaDivas, are so sure that you’ll love Nia that they offer a FREE Welcome Class the second Saturday of every month at the beautiful dance studio in the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center on Delridge Way. What’s the best way to describe Nia? Jill and Lesley, who have been teaching Nia in West Seattle for three years, sum it up with “it’s inspirational fitness for an extraordinary you.” Click here to sign up for the next FREE Welcome to Nia class — coming up THIS Saturday! WSB welcomes the NiaDivas to our sponsor team; full list is here, with info on how to be part of it!

Trash/recycling/yard-waste pickup catchup, and today’s briefing

Seattle Public Utilities is checking on the official pickup-catchup status for us, on behalf of those who reported last night that they were missed yesterday — but we can report in the meantime that yard waste (including Christmas trees) in our neighborhood, scheduled for yesterday, has just been picked up now. Meantime, SPU is supposed to be part of today’s City Council briefing on the December storm response — yesterday’s briefing before the entire council focused on two departments; this one’s wider in scope, before a joint meeting of the council committees responsible for Emergency Management/Utilities and Transportation, and includes public-comment time. 9:30 this morning, City Hall, you’re invited to be there, or you can watch via Seattle Channel, cable 21, online. 9:32 AM UPDATE: The briefing has begun. As we did yesterday, we’ll “tweet” a few in-progress updates (they’ll turn up here and in the turquoise box in the WSB sidebar), and write a full article afterward.

Video: A Snowstorm ’08 story that almost went untold

(video unavailable due to demise of

Just before the extra round of snow hit on Sunday, Bill Reiswig — best known as president of Sustainable West Seattle — sent us that video from December, along with the reminder that what we experienced for those two weeks wasn’t all a “Snowmare”:

For two straight nights my pals Dan Pitt, Randy White and I skiied from the literal top of Seattle (the watertowers at 35th and Myrtle) all the way down to Puget Sound by skiing Othello and Myrtle/Frontenac. While the latter is a steeper route, you can ride Othello down, across California, across Fauntleroy, and down Lincoln Park Way from 520 elev. to sea level in about 3-4 minutes. Our descents are, I believe the first documented descent of Seattle top to bottom on skis, thanks very much. The Beveridge Place Pub was open till 2 am, and we stopped in for beers for a break. Truly good skiing right here in West Seattle, without the fossil fuels spent to get to the mountain.