Highland Park Action Committee: Annexation; auto theft; trails…

At 8th/Roxbury, on the north side of Greenbridge, you can stand on the edge of White Center and look across the street at a “Welcome to Highland Park” sign. So HP has reason to pay close attention to the prospect of a November vote on whether Seattle should annex White Center and most of the rest of the unincorporated area that will remain when Burien completes its North Highline South annexation this spring. That’s why WC residents who support Seattle annexation addressed the Highland Park Action Committee meeting Wednesday night, briefly drawing audience reaction that hinted at some of the strong opinions over the area’s future. That was just part of a very busy HPAC agenda – read on for the toplines, starting with the community crime report:

HIGHLAND PARK CRIME TRENDS: Community Police Team Officer Jill Vanskike said the area’s been hit with “quite a few auto thefts – all Hondas.” They generally are recovered within a few days, NOT stripped, “just joyriding,” usually taken at night. “If you see a vehicle slowly rolling by, or something else that doesn’t look right, call 911,” she implored. She also mentioned there were four burglaries in the area between Feb. 2 and 15, and five robberies – people walking down the street, not paying attention to their surroundings. While she suggested “meth heads” were to blame for a fair amount of crime, she confirmed they’re seldom seeing labs – usage is the problem, but the drug is being made elsewhere. Vanskike also mentioned that her area of emphasis is SW Holden to SW Roxbury north to south, South Park to 16th SW east to west.

CRIME SIDE NOTE – GRAFFITI VANDALISM: In Q/A, an attendee told Officer Vanskike about neighborhood tagging problems. The officer said she “really hates” graffiti vandalism – and urged victims to report it. Ron Angeles, Delridge District Coordinator for the Department of Neighborhoods, reminded everyone that he has a “graffiti wagon” with supplies for painting out vandalism – also pointing out that if it’s not your property, you need the owner’s permission before painting.

Next – a topic you might call “a walk in the park”:

(Photo courtesy Dina Johnson)
SEATTLE PARKS’ TRAILS PROGRAM: Above, Jacobo Jimenez (a West Seattle resident) from Seattle Parks. He described himself as one of two people the city has working on a program with 120 miles of trails, and said volunteer help is crucial to fill in the gap. He talked about the West Duwamish Greenbelt in eastern West Seattle, stretching from Highland Park Way all the way north to Pigeon Point, including a Parks and Green Spaces Levy Opportunity Fund proposal by the Nature Consortium to get money to develop a master plan for the greenbelt, “so everyone can put in their 2 cents” on where the trail work should focus. He urged HPAC to watch greenseattle.org for word of work parties: “People really do step up when they feel there’s a need – I’m asking you to step up one more time.”

Next – the annexation talk:

(Photo courtesy Dina Johnson)
SEATTLE ANNEXATION SUPPORTERS: From left, Peggy Weiss, Mark Ufkes and Don Malo told HPAC they believe White Center joining Seattle “is the right thing to do.” They believe it makes sense for a host of reasons, including social justice and removal of what they see as an artificial boundary down the middle of Roxbury. Weiss said they’ve talked with city council members and “we think they’re also recognizing, it’s time.” They support Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn‘s proposal for an annexation vote this November (which requires City Council approval), and say they are touring to speak to “neighborhood groups” about their support for Seattle annexation. From the audience, Liz Giba – who has publicly advocated for Burien to annex all of North Highline – questioned Ufkes’ stated credentials as president of the White Center Homeowners Association and asked when the group met; some tension ensued until HPAC chair Dan Mullins said Giba would be welcome to request a spot on the agenda to address his group at a future meeting. Ufkes said, “We deserve the right to vote,” and urged those present to e-mail the Seattle City Council to voice support for a vote.

DELRIDGE MATTERS: Ron Angeles briefed HPAC on the June 5 Delridge Day festival plan (covered extensively at last week’s Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting). He focused on the plan for the event to stress walkability, with prizes up for grabs for those who walk to the festival. (Jimenez also chimed in that June 5th is National Trails Day, with the theme “get out and hike and use these infrastructures for what they were made for.”) He also summarized what the DNDC is up to – including last weekend’s retreat (see participant Pete Spalding‘s summary here), and the intent to work to look at the district – broadly, eastern West Seattle – as a unified area, in addition to being a collection of “villages.” Angeles mentioned that City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw will be at the DNDC’s next meeting in three weeks (March 17, 7 pm, Youngstown Arts Center), and that everyone’s invited.

(Photo courtesy Dina Johnson)
BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT: Every meeting, HPAC spotlights a Highland Park-area business – and this time, it’s the new coffee stand, Portside (featured here last month), with the distinctive design resembling a boat. Owners Sara and Justin said things are going well and they’re about to start hiring; they’ve lived in Highland Park for about three years. They donated a $25 coffee card for HPAC’s traditional meeting-ending raffle. One question they fielded from attendees: “So, no ‘naughty baristas’ down there?” Laughter percolated. “No, much to the disappointment of some of the truck drivers down there!” they laughed. “We’ve had a few requests.”

JAIL: No new developments as an environmental report continues to be developed for the regional jail that’s not off the table yet, but chair Mullins warned that the group must be vigilant. Tonight, for example, he says jail opponents in the Aldercrest area north of Seattle plan a presentation to Shoreline, which they’re hoping will annex their prospective jail site as a park. He also read from e-mail he had received from someone in Bartlesville, OK, who now has a jail in their back yard and was trying to find someone to ask about the appropriate type of fencing for jails abutting neighborhoods. “Here’s somebody who lost the battle,” Mullins warned. “Even though we have a new mayor, county executive and city attorney all against the jail, it could still happen.”

AT THE PROSPECTIVE JAIL SITE … at West Marginal Way/Highland Park Way, a raggedy orange netting fence has been up since the Nickelsville eviction at the site more than a year ago. Mullins said he’s trying to get the city to get rid of it because it’s an “eyesore” at “the gateway to our community.” Most recently, he said, he was told it’s still up because Nickelsville is still “threatening to move (back to the site).”

ANNOUNCEMENTS: March 4, HPAC will have a group reading Dr. Seuss to kids at Highland Park Elementary … March 21, Highland Park Improvement Club’s Spring Clean (10 am, meet at HPIC) … a reminder about the West Seattle Blockwatch Captains Group on Facebook … April 24, 2nd annual “Wines for Our Times” at HPIC, $10 admission plus bring a bottle of wine worth $10 or less, and get ready for tastings at tables … April 24 (as noted here) is also the date for the next meeting about West Seattle (Westcrest) Reservoir Park (Mullins said that Parks is trying to reach out to anyone who uses the park for birding, to make sure they are represented at the next meeting) … And there also was an announcement from Highland Park Peace and Justice:

(Photo courtesy Dina Johnson)
That’s Christian Skoorsmith, talking about David Rovics‘ upcoming appearance March 11, and Patrick Dodd on May 1, both at the Highland Park Community of Christ building. “They’re both great musicians, songwriters, with songs of social significance,” he explained.

Highland Park Action Committee meets the fourth Wednesday of the month, 7 pm, at HP Improvement Club. Find them online at highlandpk.net

8 Replies to "Highland Park Action Committee: Annexation; auto theft; trails..."

  • Aim February 25, 2010 (2:41 pm)

    We’re in the above-described Highland Park area, specifically 15th and Trenton.

    Had another suspicious door knocker yesterday. My husband was home sick from work and someone came up and knocked on the door. Husband asked “who is it” and the man ran away very quickly, as if he didn’t want to be seen. Tall, very dark skinned man – possibly African immigrant – aged late 20’s or early 30’s.

    We didn’t call it in because the last time we called one in (the day after a neighbor was burglarized) the officer said “let your neighbors know” and refused to take down any info. So, we’re letting the neighbors know, and posting it here.

  • Liz February 25, 2010 (6:50 pm)

    There were at least two actual White Center homeowners there who seriously oppose annexation. We tried to bring some balance to Mr. Ufkes’ spiel.

    The problem with Ufkes’ position on a vote is that he doesn’t even suggest that the people of North Highline (it’s not just White Center, folks), should have the facts before we vote. An ignorant vote is a sham.

    Years ago, I asked Mayor Nickels to paint us a picture of what our community would look like if we became part of Seattle. He said that was a “reasonable request.” Nonetheless, we are still hearing vague references to “better” services. We aren’t getting any specifics. Where is Seattle’s plan?

    Given the lack of information, it makes sense to look at what Seattle has documented in it’s Comprehensive Plan. Despite Kenny Pittman’s assurances to me years ago that I was misreading it, Seattle’s Comp Plan clearly designates North Highline as a potential Urban Village. That means multi-family, high-density zoning. That is just what investors who are concerned about profit as opposed to community would love to see.

    In areas like ours, multi-family, high-density zoning translates into a lack of community stability and economic segregation. Economic diversity is the key to ethnic diversity and a healthy community. Where is Seattle’s plan to ensure that its Urban Villages are economically diverse?

    We certainly don’t want to be gentrified out of our community. The more realistic question for North Highline is: “How much concentrated poverty can a neighborhood absorb and still be healthy?” What will North Highline look like in 10 to 15 years if we become another Seattle Urban Village?

    It’s unfortunate that there was not enough time or opportunity to explore the various facets of annexation at last night’s meeting. I look forward to the opportunity to explain to HPAC members why Burien is the far better choice for us. We can only hope HPAC members wait to have the full story before making a decision to advocate for “offering” the people of North Highline an uninformed vote.

    I would hope Mark Ufkes would agree. After all, that was the strategy he espoused when many of us on both sides of Roxbury were working diligently to stop Seattle’s proposed jail. If the prospect of a jail looms again, many of us will work with HPAC to stop it. Will HPAC work with us to ensure that we get an informed vote?

  • Stephen February 25, 2010 (8:21 pm)

    Priceless scowl on the Ufkes mug!

  • Mark Ufkes February 26, 2010 (4:25 pm)

    Personal attacks aside, four members of the White Center Homeowners Association were granted an opportunity to share our ideas about the future of White Center at the Highland Park Action Committee meeting and how Seattle is a better fit for us. We were treated with warmth and respect from the HPAC membership attending and we appreciated it. We had flyers and factual handouts about the breadth and depth of services that Seattle provides to its residents. And we talked about these issues and our eagerness to bring this services to White Center. It is interesting that the person above (who attended the meeting) talks more about one of us, not the other three. If you can’t fight an issue with facts, attack the person. Sounds like a closet Republican strategy. The over 30 members of the White Center Homeowners Association (we all support Seattle annexation) will not be following what we call the “We Hate Seattle” crowd around at their presentations making personal attacks on them. Instead we will keep doing our work to bring about the needed changes in White Center that will make our neighborhoods safer and more livable. White Center is not a possession owned by the person who has lived there the longest.

    Thank you HPAC members for your kindness, and your inspiration at how to build community. Please send in those emails in support of White Center and Seattle annexation to the Seattle City Council. All we want is a vote. Seems like a reasonable request in a democracy.

    Warm regards

    Mark Ufkes

  • Liz February 27, 2010 (2:22 pm)

    An informed vote, please.

  • Patty February 27, 2010 (9:48 pm)

    With 30+ years of Homeownership in North Highline (not only White Center), we have tried in the past to join the Assoc. Mr Ufkes is President of. But, the meetings must be held in secret, as there are no public records or announcements of them to be found, and when anyone asks Mr Ufkes about the meetings, he screens them for their annexation preference of Seattle vs Burien.
    This does not seem to represent all of us Homeowners as the Assoc. name seems to suggest.
    We also feel Seattle (not Mr Ufkes & his neighbors) needs to provide alot of information to the NH residents they would like to vote in their favor. We need to know what Seattle plans to offer us. Everyone should be able to make an informed decision. When will Seattle start the Outreach process ?

  • Barbara February 28, 2010 (4:52 pm)

    FACT – The White Center Homeowners Association is a group that is closed to anyone except those that are in favor of Seattle annexation. Mr. Ufkes does not allow members who have differing opinions. So my question, Mr. Ufkes, is how can you say that you represent the homeowners of White Center, when most people are not welcome in your association. Mr. Ufkes, on your tour of the neighborhood groups, there should be full disclosure of who you represent – a small group of people (some who are real estate developers, like you – as noted in your White Center Chamber of Commerce resume)who are in favor of Seattle annexation – all others need not apply.

  • Bob March 1, 2010 (4:37 pm)

    I would like to pose a question for the HPAC to ask Mr Ufkes. He states that he is president of the White Center Homeowners Association. But, he has never stated how this came about. Having been a White Center Home Owner for 30 years, I would like to join his organization or at least find out what it consists of. Mr Ufkes always makes comments for the group, but never produces much, if any, of the group nor any records of meetings conducted, nor how many or who is in attendance. Mr Ufkes complains that he is always being attacked and belittled of his Homeowners Association? If he has a fair and good organization, then he should welcome its exposure instead of getting mad and upset when questioned about it. Many of my friends and White Center homeowners somewhat resent being told that we are being represented by him/them without any chance to attend meetings or be allowed access to their actions. Also, Mr Ufkes seems to think that White Center is all there is to the North Highline Area that is in question. White Center is only a small part of the area involved and that needs to be addressed. The entire area needs to be given all the facts and not just White Center Facts before a vote is requested and accomplished. If Mr Ufkes is trued and blued, then he should welcome all the facts and information for the entire area and not just White Center. Thank You. I hope that you will keep an open mind and address the entire area and question some of his limited statements.

Sorry, comment time is over.