Southwest District Council talks new city-money rules, and more

October 8, 2009 10:34 am
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 |   Southwest District Council | West Seattle news

Headlines from Wednesday night’s meeting of the Southwest District Council: Two briefings regarding changes in the ways citizen-proposed projects get money from certain city funds. One set of changes, for the Neighborhood Street Fund, didn’t draw much controversy as SDOT’s Krista Bunch explained things, but the other, for the Neighborhood Matching Fund, did. Read on:

As noted in our recent story about the regrouping of the Westwood Neighborhood Council, many neighborhood projects are initiated by neighbors rather than by the city itself. One source of funding: The Neighborhood Street Fund. For example, this year in the western section of West Seattle that the city considers the Southwest District, projects it funded included the Alki Point (photo from last summer, below) and “Snake Hill” sidewalk improvements:

Next time around, Bunch explained, instead of issuing a call for new proposals to divvy up the city’s 4.5 million available dollars, they’re going to keep the 133 unfunded projects from around the city under consideration, with a chance for district councils (West Seattle has two – Southwest and Delridge Neighborhoods) to propose a few more. The district councils will have to make their choices by January regarding which projects they think should move forward; then the Bridging the Gap Oversight Committee will recommend to the mayor — keep in mind a new one will be in office by then — which should be funded.

Council members asked some questions for clarification, but no real controversy reared its head. Not the case when SuJ’n Chon from the Department of Neighborhoods (center of the photo at left) explained changes to the Neighborhood Matching Fund, source of money for projects too numerous to recount.

Some changes drew no challenges – reducing the number of yearly application cycles for the Small and Simple Fund (up to $15,000) to two, from the current four; celebrating completed projects rather than having an awards ceremony when people first get their funding; combining the Outreach and Small Sparks grant programs.

But then: “Sometimes we get projects that don’t fit into a specific district, so there’s a new citywide category,” Chon explained.

The concept of this proposal was challenged by Vlad Oustimovitch, who represents the Fauntleroy Community Association on the SWDC. “I’m very concerned (about that),” he told Chon. “The Department of Neighborhoods was set up for neighborhoods; we already have a City Council to handle what’s citywide. Citywide projects can be funded in a variety of ways through the City Council – I’m worried a lot of money will be sucked out of the neighborhoods into these big citywide efforts that could be funded in other ways.”

Susan Melrose from the West Seattle Junction Association echoed Oustimovitch’s concern, saying, “A department focused on neighborhood programs is an asset not all cities have.”

You can read more here about the Neighborhood Matching Fund changes.

One other city rep appeared before the SWDC – Dante Taylor from SDOT, recapping the proposed Junction parking changes first unveiled at the last meeting of the Junction Parking Project Committee. Nothing different from what we detailed in our report on that meeting; the background material and maps are on the city website (and a mailer’s going out too). The major changes that SDOT is proposing involve the addition of some 2-hour-limit zones, and changing some 1-hour zones to 2 hours, as shown on this map:

Taylor said the 1-hour-to-2-hour conversions are mostly for “ease of efficiency for enforcement”; Sharonn Meeks of the Fairmount Community Association asked, “Will enforcement be increased?” Taylor replied that’s an SPD issue, not SDOT. He also said they’re also looking for somewhere to put a bicycle-parking facility in The Junction – one that would take up the equivalent of a car space on the street; WSJA’s Melrose said there’s interest in having it in front of Elliott Bay Brewery. Overall, Taylor requested more citizen input: “We want to know what people like about the plan, what people don’t like about the plan, what we could change about the plan.” E-mail your thoughts to

When time came for individual reps to share news, Fairmount’s Meeks mentioned that the date seems to have been finalized for the multi-community meeting to follow up on neighborhood-plan status checks (the followup meeting promised at this big one back in July): November 5th. However, the location is still under discussion; Meeks says a Central District site has been proposed, rather than having the “south” neighborhoods meet in West Seattle. Oustimovitch suggested it’s unfortunate that West Seattle is being lumped in with other “south” neighborhoods, since the peninsula’s issues are unique, and the population represents 20 percent of the entire city. Meantime, Meeks also mentioned that her association’s got a meeting coming up, 6:30 pm October 21st at Providence Mount St. Vincent (as noted in our Link update).

Also from SWDC members’ updates: WSJA’s Melrose mentioned a meeting with Southwest Precinct Lt. Steve Paulsen to talk about Junction crime concerns, and reported good news about a “stronger partnership” between the community and the officers who patrol regularly. She talked with him about not just some of the recent incidents but also ongoing trouble like suspected drug use and “open drinking.”

From Judy Bentley, representing the Southwest Seattle Historical Society: They haven’t received a response yet from Alki Homestead owner Tom Lin regarding the letter they sent him requesting that the fire-damaged landmark be restored rather than redeveloped. Bentley also reminded attendees about the society’s upcoming Halloween brunch fundraiser (previewed here).

The group also discussed the West Seattle Candidates’ Forum it’s co-sponsoring with the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council on October 15th, including a list of potential candidate questions that Morgan Community Association rep and SWDC co-chair Chas Redmond brought. He said they’re expecting to ask a lot about transportation.

The Southwest District Council meets the first Wednesday of the month, 7 pm, board room at South Seattle Community College (WSB sponsor), and the public is always welcome.

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