Southwest District Council: Of trolleys, tools & neighborhood plans

From last night’s Southwest District Council meeting: First topic doesn’t directly affect West Seattle, but you’re invited to have a say on it just the same. The county is thinking about getting rid of Metro’s “electric trolley” buses and replacing them all with diesel-hybrid buses, explained on the county website, and covered last fall by Central District News. No electric buses run in West Seattle, but they’re seeking region-wide reaction; electric buses cost more to buy, but there was much concern last night that the costs are higher, and that electricity is more sustainable, in the long run. A survey you can take will be online shortly; Jim Del Ciello also booked presenter Jonathan Dong (of SDOT) on the spot for next Tuesday’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting. Item #2 is West Seattle through and through – a progress report on Sustainable West Seattle‘s plans to create a Tool Lending Library for the area. SWDC co-chair Chas Redmond made the presentation. Read on for those details and a couple other notes from last night:

The tool-lending library has been taking shape for the past six months – patterned after what Redmond says is a very successful version in the Phinney area of North Seattle. He says they have a 144-square-foot space on the South Seattle Community College (WSB sponsor) campus now, courtesy of the Horticulture Department, with secure locking storage and desk space.

The reason he brought an update to the Southwest District Council is to request a letter of support for the $20,000 city Small and Simple Fund grant that Sustainable West Seattle is pursuing for the project. That’ll help with liability insurance and a safety program, as well as development of software to run the tool-lending library, which will offer tool rentals at a fraction of the commercial rate.

In Phinney, for example, he says they sometimes have 300 people using the library in a single day – so they are bracing for potential major usage here. Redmond says the plan is taking shape in a big way; tool-rental companies and hardware stores in West Seattle and White Center are interested in becoming partners, along with West Seattle-based GardenCycles, CoolMom, and Community Harvest of Southwest Seattle.

They’re planning seminars (home gardening, home carpentry) as well as simply offering tools (nothing gas-powered), with the lending library likely open Thursdays/Fridays/Saturdays. (If you want to find out more firsthand, Sustainable West Seattle’s next meeting is Tuesday, Jan. 19, and the following night, Redmond will give the same presentation he gave last night to the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council. As he put it, “It’s an attempt to change the dynamic from using your neighborhood as a resource, to using your entire community as a resource.”) SWDC voted yes on writing a letter of support (Redmond abstained from the vote).

Also discussed: The City Neighborhood Council, which, as noted here yesterday, is now led by two West Seattleites – Redmond is chair, Del Ciello is vice chair (Morgan Community Association‘s Steve Sindiong is on the CNC too). Its goal this year is to increase its membership and also to help improve access to meeting spaces citywide; Redmond noted that while libraries, community centers and schools seem like natural places for meetings, “many are locked at 5 pm but most folks can’t get to meetings BEFORE 5 pm.”

Speaking of membership, the council discussed potentially expanding its rolls. A neighborhood/business group has to be in existence for 90 days before membership can be considered; there was discussion of two major areas of West Seattle without representation, Arbor Heights and Genesee, and whether resurgent groups there might be able to join. (Others asked about similarly unrepresented neighborhoods – Seaview and Avalon, for example.)

And there was a discussion of neighborhood planning citywide – what happens next. Sharonn Meeks is on the Neighborhood Plan Advisory Council, which is scheduled to meet one more time before disbanding because of a lack of funding. She told the group that no decision has been made about whether a West Seattle neighborhood plan might be updated this year (though recent languaging from the city suggested that this part of town certainly might qualify).

SWDC co-chair Erica Karlovits (president of the Junction Neighborhood Organization, which meets next Tuesday, 6:30 pm, at Ginomai) wondered if the council should decide on its big-picture view of what’s next with neighborhood planning. Meeks suggested the SWDC should take a closer look at the three plans in the area it covers (West Seattle Junction, Admiral, Morgan Junction): “If we were to go through the exercise of understanding what these plans are, let’s have a Southwest District approach to the plans, and take it back to our respective (neighborhood/community) organizations).” They agreed to set aside time at meetings in the coming months to look at plans one by one, shepherded by reps from the affected areas. In the meantime, each council member also will come up with bullet points about their respective neighborhood/community group’s biggest neighborhood-plan related priorities/concerns, and SW District coordinator Stan Lock will put together a list.

QUICK NOTES: SWDC agreed to continue participating in 2010 in the West Seattle Volunteer Recognition program (co-sponsored by Delridge Neighborhoods District Council and WSB; nominees are reviewed and voted on by a group of volunteers from the district councils) … New City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw has asked to attend the next SW District Council meeting, and the group also will be inviting new Mayor Mike McGinn … Another bit of library news (following up on yesterday’s schedule and staffing reports) – Jane Appling from Southwest and South Park libraries told us after last night’s meeting, be on the lookout for a citywide strategic-planning process for Seattle Public Library this spring, in which your opinion will be sought and welcomed.

Southwest District Council meets the first Wednesday of the month, 7 pm, at the SSCC board room.

4 Replies to "Southwest District Council: Of trolleys, tools & neighborhood plans"

  • jay January 7, 2010 (12:20 pm)

    I think that a West Seattle Tool Lending Library would be just about the coolest thing in the world. I’ve been dreaming about trying to start one for the past 1 1/2 years, but was too busy remodeling our house (and buying tools) and it was on my 2010 list of things to do.

    This could be a great resource, and I hope to get involved with the group soon.

  • sabrinaks January 7, 2010 (3:40 pm)

    my husband and i have also dreamed of starting this in Seattle—Berkeley has an amazing tool lending library!

  • Melissa January 13, 2010 (8:27 am)

    Any news on when a survey on the trolley busses will be posted online?

    • WSB January 13, 2010 (8:34 am)

      Well, we have an interim measure – Christopher got the survey in hard-copy form at last night’s Junction Neighborhood Organization meeting and posted it in the WSB Forums so you can e-mail your answers. Will look for an updated ETA on the real online version, though. Here it is in the forums:

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