“If you could change 1 thing about Westwood, what would it be?”

Story and photo by Jonathan Stumpf
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

If you live in Westwood and have an idea of how to improve the neighborhood, now’s your chance.

The hot-button topic at Thursday night’s Westwood Neighborhood Council meeting wasn’t the choice of artist or location for an upcoming grant-funded mural, or whether county leadership might reopen the conversation about the West Seattle RapidRide route.

There was minimal discussion around those subjects, as well as the P-Patch that is going in at 34th and Barton at the old Seattle Public Utilities site, or about the letter of intent filed for a Parks and Green Spaces Levy Opportunity Fund grant to improve the Longfellow Creek trail near SW Thistle. The majority of the meeting discussion swirled around the very existence of the group – its shortage of membership, volunteers and general interest, and what can be done to change that.

Donn DeVore (at left in the photo above) has been running the group since September of 2009 and expressed frustration with the overall lack of effort or volunteers committed to the council during his tenure. Numerous times throughout the meeting as ideas were suggested, he said, “Unless I get some kind of help, I can’t do all this by myself.”

In attendance from the Department of Neighborhoods was Neighborhood District Coordinator Ron Angeles, who suggested the group apply for a Small Sparks grant of $1000 to get back on track. Although DeVore suggested the group use that money for a direct mailing to the 2,300 residents within the neighborhood, Angeles said, “An $800 mailing isn’t the way to go,” suggesting “some kind of plan or strategy” instead.

The eight in attendance began brainstorming ways to get the word out, increase participation in the Westwood Neighborhood Council, and encourage people to take an active role in their community. “We need something active, not passive,” said one resident. While it usually takes an issue or a really special guest to get residents out to neighborhood meetings – WNC had well-attended meetings two years ago, when the Denny/Sealth shared campus was a hot issue – the consensus was that the group now needs a plan.

Angeles and co-worker Laurie Ames suggested the group participate in a one-time strategy or branding session facilitated by a third party, saying the Highland Park Action Committee had done that successfully. Ames also suggested possibly using an outreach technique that had been tried in the Greenwood neighborhood: Suggestion boxes were placed in local coffee shops posing the question “What would you change about your neighborhood?” Ask people, she said,”If there was one thing you could change about Westwood, what would it be?”

As a result of the WNC brainstorming session, watch for more activity in the community – a Tabling Outreach Committee was formed and will be led by Mary Quackenbush — so if you live in Westwood, and have an issue, idea, suggestion or problem, you can visit the WNC website, sign up for the e-mail list, and get involved.

26 Replies to ""If you could change 1 thing about Westwood, what would it be?""

  • Danielle February 12, 2010 (8:16 am)

    Add a movie theatre showing current flicks!

  • rob February 12, 2010 (8:23 am)

    The parking lot is designed poorly, My car has almost no room to park in that nightmare.

    How about discussing a grocery store on Delridge? I avoid Westwood at all costs.

    And what in the hell is wrong with public grant funded art? I am an artist and I am tired of the people bitching about public art. If you don’t want to see public art, move to Vietnam!

    • WSB February 12, 2010 (8:28 am)

      Rob – I will look at Jonathan’s story again but I don’t believe anyone said there was anything wrong with grant-funded art. The point he was trying to make is that various topics were discussed but none so much as “where is this group going” … TR

  • Amanda February 12, 2010 (8:27 am)

    Thanks WSB for posting a link for getting on the email list. Helpful!

  • RainyDay February 12, 2010 (9:02 am)

    Tough choice, but I think removing the BANK off the main property so I don’t get caught up in robbery would be nice – oh, and please stop pumping out that god awful grape smell. :)

    • WSB February 12, 2010 (9:09 am)

      Thanks to those who are commenting – always great to see discussion generated by the neighborhood-council stories. But to make sure it’s clear – Westwood does NOT refer only to the shopping center – this is regarding the Westwood neighborhood in general, which stretches far beyond even the immediate streets around the center.

  • datamuse February 12, 2010 (9:10 am)

    Heartily seconded on the shopping center parking lot. I swear, I average three close calls in that parking lot every time I go there, and the sightlines and signage are terrible.

  • old timer February 12, 2010 (9:23 am)

    Is this group to be about the neighborhood, comprised of homeowners and renters and business owners, or is it to be about micro-managing a privately held shopping center?

  • cclarue February 12, 2010 (10:43 am)

    When the Highland park action committee was not flourishing as it is now a neighbor went to a meeting and thought how sad why isnt anyone involved? The jail site location at the bottom of the hill had just been listed as an option. So we made flyers and took to the streets inviting lots of the neithborhood to the meeting. Tons of people showed up. Now there was a pressing issue to fuel the motivation but that doesnt mean that making up an announcement of the next meeting on a flyer and having the current attendees split the neighborhood into zones and go knock doors and invite folks. Many people probably dont know about the meetings and if invited would show. Its worth a try.

  • Vanessa February 12, 2010 (1:43 pm)

    Bring in Trader Joe’s AND a movie theater. Barton St.in front of the main entry of the shopping center and Daystar,is a major problem because people think it is more than two lanes. the street is so wide, that people think they can just pass on either side of you, if you happen be going too slow for their liking. Can’t there be better striping or lane delineations on that stretch of Barton St.?

  • Geri February 12, 2010 (2:02 pm)

    WE LIKE THE ALIGNMENT OF THE PLANNED RAPIDRIDE ROUTE! Folks who live in Westwood need the planned stop on 35th. It is a critical link to areas south. RapidRide needs to go to Westwood. Do not re-open this discussion. King County led a huge multi-year public process on the alignment. Keep the current alignment, and let’s get it going!

  • KBear February 12, 2010 (2:04 pm)

    Actually, Vanessa, it IS more than 2 lanes, because of how wide it is.

  • SarahScoot February 12, 2010 (2:21 pm)

    Wow, poor reading comprehension abounds, as illustrated in these comments. Rob, you’re overreacting to your own misinterpretation of the statement regarding public art. It was Jonathan’s way of illustrating a point: that this is a neighborhood that is still working on its foundation; it’s not yet to developed enough to be thinking about public art installations (like those we see in the Alaska, Admiral, and Morgan Junctions.)
    Everyone else: as pointed out, this is about the Westwood *neighborhood*, not the shopping center. They aren’t looking for parking lot gripes. I’m sure the residents of the Westwood neighborhood are well aware of Westwood Village’s shortcomings, given that it’s the retail core.

  • KBear February 12, 2010 (3:55 pm)

    Well, maybe if they had named it “Upscale Strip Mall With Crazy Parking Lot” instead of “Westwood Village”, people wouldn’t be confused between Westwood neighborhood and the shopping center.

  • Hepcat February 12, 2010 (5:32 pm)

    What’s wrong with a jail in the area? Given the ever increasing crime in the Westwood area, why not make it easier for the boys in blue to make a shorter trip to the clink with these scofflaws.(sorry, I’ve been wanting to say “scofflaws” for a long time.)

    As for Westwood shopping, forget it. Horrible parking, crazy drivers, the lack of average size parking spaces and, oh wait….We have a liquor store moving in! Message to the criminals: Swing by the liquor store, get hooched up, sideswipe a few cars trying to park in the parking lot on your way to rob the bank, and call it a day.

  • What's In A Name Anyways February 12, 2010 (6:09 pm)

    Folks of Westwood –

    ask how your neighborhood got it’s current name! Westwood is the name of the Canadian parent development company that owns tge shopping center.

    Ron Angeles, our devoted SW Department of Neighborhoods coordinator, once told me that it was considered part of Highland Park before that. Corporate Power moved in and took over. Ron was a resident of that neighborhood as a child and he was speaking to the change of identity that area underwent.

    So, as Old Timer, WSB, KBear and Sarahscoot have TRIED to suggest, Corporate Identity overtook your hood.

    Maybe Westwood Council needs to take back that “identity” back and reclaim the original sense of place of their neighborhood. I am not imagining your hood as Highland Park, but I CAN imagine you changing the identity to the Longfellow Creek neighborhood.

    Sometimes such changes are NOT possible or warranted, but I think the development and management company has snookered folks into thinking shopping center and profits before people and community.

    Just saying.

  • datamuse February 12, 2010 (6:11 pm)

    So evidently one thing that needs improvement is awareness that the Westwood neighborhood exists…

  • What\'s In A Name Anyways February 12, 2010 (6:44 pm)

    Maybe change the name of the full area between the boundaries from Westwood to Longfellow Creek.  Create an identity that speaks to a different sense of place. 

    Seriously, get out from under the grip of that corporate identity.  Westwood is the Canadian/US owner/development company and affiliated management Corp.  Before that Canadian company arrived, your neighborhood was considered Highland Park. 

    Reclaim and build an authentic hood built around a different icon – a natural landmark identity and the families that surround it – versus a corporate entity’s identity.  

    Just saying think about it.
    People and place before profits.

  • What\\\'s In A Name Anyways February 12, 2010 (7:49 pm)

    Geesh. Sorry for the duplicate posts.

  • Mike February 12, 2010 (9:01 pm)

    Sorry, but the area around Westwood Village has never been considered by it’s residents to be a part of Highland Park.

    Before Westwood was built in the mid-60’s (and decades before the Canadian company took over) I’d heard the neighborhood called Roxhill, Roxbury, and just plain “The Hollow”.

    Richard Hugo called the Westwood area Barton Street Flats. He began his “Letter to Matthews from Barton Street Flats”:

    This is where the Nisei farmed, here where the blacktop of a vast shopping complex covers the rich black bottom land. Lettuce sparkled like a lake. Then, the war took everything…

  • JDunn February 13, 2010 (8:35 am)

    Thanks to this Neighborhood Council for bringing these issues to our attention and devoting your time and effort in improving our community.

    One improvement I’d like to see is raising the bar on the neighborhood appearance and cleanliness. Residents should be proud where they live and would likely get more involved with community efforts.

    For example, education and enforcement for littering in this neighborhood resulting in extreme fines. On numerous occasions I’ve seen garbage lofted out of car windows and candy and chip wrappers intentionally dropped by kids leaving school.

    Stricter convenance on unused or abandoned vehicles parked in front yards and roads.

    I suggest launching an awareness and education campaign around keeping Westwood neighborhood clean!

  • CSM February 13, 2010 (8:40 am)

    Whatever the name, Westwood is a wonderful neighborhood. It has everything you need. You can walk to shops, library, parks, community center. It has great bus service. There are nice neighborhood streets with nice homes. Big yards and tons of gardens. This is a safe neighborhood where people walk their dogs or jog at all hours of the day. Westwood even has some of West Seattle’s best schools.

    The only problem with Westwood is that everyone thinks 35th Avenue is the dividing line between “good” and “bad”. This neighborhood is essentially red-lined through school district decisions, neighborhood district boundaries, valuation/assessment areas…look at the maps.

    The reality, however, is that Westwood is a hidden gem, a great neighborhood that we can take pride in.

  • CSM February 13, 2010 (8:49 am)

    I post again. Here is one issue for the Westwood Neighborhood Council. Note that our neighborhood is losing trees at a fast rate these days. We were once known throughout the West Seattle Peninsula for our beautiful large mature trees. See the link


  • DBurns February 17, 2010 (2:08 pm)

    The company that owns Westwood Village is actually called Wesbild. The mall was already “Westwood” when they bought it.

  • stuart crandall February 17, 2010 (2:39 pm)

    If you have any comments or suggestions regarding Westwood Village, feel free to contact stuart crandall, the property manager of westwood village at scrandall@wesbildshopping.com or (206) 932-4750 ext. 4.

  • Kirk February 18, 2010 (2:04 pm)

    Wow, silly me – I actually enjoy Westwood Village. It is a nice part of our community.

Sorry, comment time is over.