West Seattle, Washington
(WSB photo from Alki Polar Plunge 2010)
Can you “bear” to jump into the 40-something-degree water off West Seattle’s most popular beach? Looks a wee bit gray tomorrow for the Special Olympics/Washington-benefiting Polar Plunge at Alki (which WSB is proud to co-sponsor again this year). But the spirits will doubtlessly be bright – just look at some of the scenes from last year, when more than 350 people showed up to brave the chilly waters of Puget Sound, including law-enforcement leaders from all over the region. They’ll be back, as will last year’s Spirit Award winners, the Chief Sealth International High School delegation. How about you? It’s quite the scene – with the Seahawks’ Blue Thunder drum line performing ahead of time, among other pre-Plunge excitement. The Polar Plunge itself is at noon, with festivities in the hour or so ahead of time. Here’s where to go to sign up online; you can also show up after 9 am to sign up by the Alki Bathhouse. See you there!
(Crash site after the car was moved)
7:37 AM: Caveat that this isn’t on the 911 log and we haven’t gotten there yet to verify, but a caller says that a car has crashed into/onto the median on Harbor Avenue north of The Bridge, and that it’s affecting bridge-bound access on Harbor. 8:07 AM UPDATE: It was closer to the businesses south of the Harbor Avenue 7-11, and it’s just cleared. Appears to have been a vehicle vs. pole, and City Light crews have just wrapped up too. No official word on injuries, but there were no medic crews called.
(Photo by Katie Meyer for WSB)
There are a number of ways you could look at this crash. It struck us as “close call for the West Seattle Rotary Viewpoint Park totem pole.” Skid marks on SW Alaska across 35th SW (map) just west of the park suggest the van had trouble stopping until the westernmost raised planter in the little park, just past the sidewalk, managed to do the job, with the van ending up straddling the planter. The driver didn’t need medical attention, but could be heard with slurred speech as police questioned him before eventually driving off with him still in the back seat.
(Photo by Christopher Boffoli for WSB)
A driver from ABC Towing spent about 45 minutes engaged in an intricate operation to lift, shift, push, and pull the van this way and that, to get it off the planter without further damage. He explained he lives in West Seattle and “it’s my park too.” It was a little too late at night for too many looky-loos, but one woman came downstairs from a nearby residential meeting, saying she was worried about the totem pole and wanted to make sure it hadn’t been hit. It hadn’t – thanks to that planter.
Thanks to Susan Eng for sharing the photo of West Seattle author Paul Schmid signing his new children’s book “A Pet for Petunia” as it launched Thursday night at Secret Garden Books in Ballard. She says he cited daughter Anna as inspiration for, and consultant on, the book, which he wrote and illustrated. (Previously, he was published as illustrator of “The Wonder Book” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.)
Four hours after we reported here that jogger-attack suspect Duane Starkenburg was getting out of jail, with bond posted by his parents (10 percent of the $150,000 bail), TV crews caught up with him outside the jail. KING 5 has just posted the unedited video of their interview, which you can see above. We watched an edited version at 10, in which he repeated what he was quoted as saying in the court documents mentioned here earlier – that he went to Lincoln Park to exercise and would watch women run, because they’re “half-naked.” He also insists he’ll never go to “any park, anywhere, ever again.” And he says he was the victim in the 2005 road-rage case that’s on his record. Prosecutors are expected to decide tomorrow whether to file more charges against him.
This afternoon’s court hearing (with video)
Noontime report of more possible charges
Wednesday night report with police sketch related to December attack
Wednesday afternoon hearing (with video)
First report, from Tuesday evening, with info on suspect’s criminal record
Two quick West Seattle Crime Watch reports from the WSB inbox tonight. First, from Susan:
My car was stolen today from my work at the Harbor Marina Office Park at 1001 Klickitat Way. It is a 1998 Blue Subaru Outback wagon license plate 324 ZOR. Please post on the blog in case anyone sees it.
And from K:
We are in the 3200 block of 48th Ave SW near Hinds. Car prowlers were out last night. Neighbor’s car door was open this morning and the entire vehicle ransacked. Kind neighbors found the contents of the glove compartment and placed it in their mailbox. Had to happen between 11 PM and 5 AM this morning. Just a warning to keep doors locked and your vehicles empty of anything important.
Alert neighbors can make a difference – as police reminded us again today with this burglary-busting success story.
ADDED: One more report arrived late tonight, from Mark:
Just wanted to let WSB readers know there was a burglary today in the 9300 block of 31st PL SW. Happened sometime between 1:30 and 6:00 pm. Thieves shattered the back sliding glass door and took off with a laptop and 3 video game systems. Not very smart individuals as they left behind their cell phone and one of their gloves, both taken into evidence by the SPD. Officers also dusted for fingerprints. Hopefully this will lead to their arrest and prosecution.
(Photo by Dina Lydia Johnson)
Meet the new slate of officers for the Highland Park Action Committee! Elected at last night’s monthly meeting were, from left, secretary Mike Shilley, co-chairs Billy Stauffer and Carolyn Stauffer, and at right treasurer Michelle Glassey – to the left of Michelle, if you don’t know him, that’s now-past HPAC chair Dan Mullins. (Not pictured, vice chair Nicole Mazza.) The group also discussed the issue of a new name – something more open and inviting, some suggested; others countered that the group’s name has value since it became well-known during the jail fight. End result – Mullins, in his last meeting as chair, suggested everyone come to the next meeting with ideas, and see where it goes from there. Also last night:
NATURE CONSORTIUM: Mark “Buphalo” Tomkiewicz explained some of what’s going on along the West Duwamish Greenbelt, much of which is in Highland Park. Next month, he said, 4,200 new plants will come in. He also discussed clearing in Riverview Park – with volunteers going out right now on Thursdays and Saturdays, and more often later in the year.
ANN OWCHAR: Former HPAC chair Blair Johnson talked about how vital she was to both HPAC and Highland Park Improvement Club; he and wife Dina Lydia Johnson attended her recent memorial. Neighborhood District Coordinator Ron Angeles also talked about Ms. Owchar’s pioneering work in neighborhood organizing.
LOW-FLYING AIRCRAFT PETITION: This continues to be in circulation; Mullins said it’s up to 174 signatures. (You can see it here.)
MOVIES: They’re in the works monthly at HPIC, third Friday, admission free – next one hasn’t been chosen yet.
Highland Park Action Committee meets the fourth Wednesday of each month, 7 pm (after a 6:30 potluck) at Highland Park Improvement Club HQ, 12th/Holden.
West Seattle bus riders have been on notice since our first report back in October: Metro has some notable West Seattle changes starting on February 5th. They’re sharing a detailed reminder tonight – read on for the details:Read More
(WSB photo from January 9th)
The day after we reported that the driver in the 47th/Charlestown crash, Mohammad Nema, was out of jail but shouldn’t have been (here’s our story), we just got word from King County Jail Commander William Hayes that he is now behind bars:
I have had an opportunity to obtain more information regarding Mr. Nema. Our Department never took over guarding him from SPD on January 16th. One of our officers understood that we were to guard him so he booked Mr. Nema into our system. An hour later, it was determined that Mr. Nema was not at the hospital prior to us taking possession. Because we could not take custody of him, we could not book him, and it was coded as an error in the system. However, today Mr. Nema was scheduled for a hearing in court today at the MRJC. He was arrested by the King County Sheriff’s office when he arrived and booked into jail. He is now in our custody.
We just verified that via the jail register – he was booked at 2 this afternoon, bail set at $100,000. We’ll continue to watch the case as he progresses through the system.
(Quick recap if you don’t recall the story: Nema was driving the car that hit a pole at the bottom of the steep Charlestown hill early the morning of January 9, cutting power for hours to more than 2,000 West Seattle homes and businesses. He and his passenger, a woman described as his estranged girlfriend, who had protection orders against him, were cut out of the wreckage by rescuers. Both wound up in the hospital. She got out before he did. He is charged with vehicular assault/domestic violence; investigators believe he was driving drunk.)
Beach Drive resident Mike Winter, who lives across the street from the repeat-slide zone that was discussed by the City Council Transportation Committee on Tuesday, kept his promise to summarize last night’s closed meeting between city officials and neighbors. He just sent the summary – including word that the neighbors, disappointed, are looking into hiring a lawyer. Full report after the jump:Read More
(ADDED 6:25 PM: Final 2 1/2 minutes of this afternoon’s hearing; you’ll hear the defense lawyer and judge)
2:57 PM REPORT: We’re at the King County Jail, where Lincoln Park attack suspect Duane Starkenburg has just returned to court.
(ADDED 9:25 PM: Seattle Times photo by Jim Bates, used with permission)
As noted earlier, additional charges are under consideration against him. Besides the two potential cases of “indecent liberties” we reported here around noontime, a third was mentioned in court – a possible case of attempted indecent liberties. Starkenburg’s parents, with whom he lives in Gatewood, were again in court, and addressed the judge, saying they could vouch he would stay out of trouble. His lawyer characterized the alleged grabbing incidents – while not confirming his client had definitely been responsible – as “an inept attempt at meeting people.” The judge cited potential danger to the community in setting bail at $150,000 – less than the $250,000 requested by the prosecutor. He has another court date scheduled tomorrow afternoon, which is also the deadline for the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to file official charges against him (he is already formally charged in the Tuesday Lincoln Park grabbing incident, but that is filed with Seattle Municipal Court as a misdemeanor). More to come.
3:23 PM UPDATE: A bail bondsman has told reporters (including us) outside the jailhouse that the Starkenburg family is posting bond to get him out of jail. (The jail register has yet to show that, or the increased bail amount.) We also have just received paperwork to clarify what he’s being investigated for, in addition to the Tuesday incident. The two others happened on August 11th and December 8th – near Colman Pool and near a Lincoln Park stairway. The documents we’ve just received from the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office tell the story of what victims and police say happened – we will transcribe excerpts here shortly.
3:36 PM UPDATE: In light of word that Starkenburg may be out of jail, we should note that the judge at today’s hearing also ordered him to stay out of Lincoln Park. It was also mentioned that he has a problem with alcohol. Notes from the “probable cause” documents, ahead:Read More
Another burglary arrest confirmed by Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Steve Paulsen:
We just arrested a subject for Investigation of Burglary in the 8400 blk of 18th Ave SW. Big kudos to the observant citizens who reported suspicious activity in the neighborhood. Our officers were able to quickly respond and apprehend the suspect. The suspect will be booked into the King County Jail for Investigation of Burglary. Thank you West Seattlites for taking good care of your neighborhoods. Your willingness to call 911 helps us catch criminals!
46-year-old Gatewood resident Duane Starkenburg is now booked for investigation of 2 counts of indecent liberties, in connection with attacks in addition to the one in Lincoln Park for which he was arrested two days ago (first WSB report here). His bail status is currently “denied” – a change from the $25,000 set at yesterday’s hearing (WSB coverage here) – but the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office says he has a bail hearing set for this afternoon. This comes hours after Seattle Police released a sketch they say is related to a December attack in the park (see it here), and urged anyone who might have been a victim of “unwanted touching” anywhere in West Seattle to come forward.
ADDED 12:58 PM: According to KCPAO spokesperson Dan Donohoe, the attacks involved in the new potential charges were in August and December. We reported on an August incident here; December is the time frame mentioned in the SPD sketch release last night. We’ll have more details after this afternoon’s bail hearing.
(Click for a larger view; photo courtesy Safeway)
Days after Safeway shared that aerial of the Admiral construction site, a project change has turned up in the city Land Use Information Bulletin (a twice-weekly online publication): Instead of 40 residential units plus flex-work spaces, the building on the southeast side of the site (upper right side of the photo) is now proposed for 78 residential units and no office spaces. That building is being handled by a separate developer, not by Safeway itself, as listed on this section of the online documentation. According to the notice published today, comments on the change will be taken through February 10th.
1:12 PM UPDATE: We’ve also received a formal statement from Safeway, with graphics, regarding this change:
Safeway wants to update the community on the status of the redevelopment of its Admiral neighborhood property. Safeway is continuing to move forward with its redevelopment, and it looks forward to reopening to serve the community in August, 2011. Since obtaining its final permit approvals, there has been one slight modification to the project, which was dictated by the existing financing market. As approved, the project included both flex-work units and apartment units. After the approvals were obtained, Safeway’s development partner, who was going to construct the residential and flex work part of the project, learned that the banks would not finance flex-work units. For this reason, Safeway and its development partner have adjusted the project to eliminate the flex-work component and add additional residential units in place of the flex work spaces.
As can be seen in the proposed “before” and “after” renderings, the proposed change will not affect the exterior dimensions or design of the buildings except to add upgraded window treatments and some small balconies. There are also no parking or traffic impacts from the proposed change. In order for Safeway to open on time, it is important that construction continue on both the grocery store and residential phases of the development. Safeway is working with the City to obtain the necessary minor revisions to its project approvals to accommodate the change so that the entire project can be completed on time. If you have any further questions, please contact Safeway’s Real Estate Manager, Sara Corn at email@example.com
Here’s the “before/after” mentioned – 16-page PDF.
Just up at partner site White Center Now: Seattle and Burien leaders’ reaction to a new City of Seattle report showing just how much it would cost Seattle to annex White Center (and other parts of the remaining unincorporated area). The Seattle mayor’s office, for one, is backing away from what at one point looked like a drive toward a vote this year. Here’s the story on WCN.
Just in from SDOT: It’s a downtown alert, but if you take The Viaduct home and use Columbia Street to get to it, these might affect you – both delays today, and permanent changes – read on:Read More
As of about half an hour ago, West Seattle’s newest café is open – Meander’s, in the former Jade West Café at 6032 California SW. As previously reported (here’s our December story), chef Miranda Krone – seen above making fresh whipped cream for French toast – took over the space after Jade West’s Wah Wong decided to retire, still recovering from injuries suffered when a drunk driver hit him on Beacon Hill more than a year ago. (Here’s the Wong family’s message, published here last November.) Meander’s will be open for breakfast, for starters, Tuesdays-Sundays, 8 am-3 pm; we borrowed a menu and will add notes on it shortly. The French toast, for starters, is $6.95: “Three slabs of vanilla bourbon-battered challah grilled and topped with whipped cream, maple syrup on the side.”
ADDED 9:31 AM: Read ahead to see what else is on the menu, and how much it costs (PLUS A FEW MORE NOTES ADDED THURSDAY NIGHT):Read More
The Mount Rainier lenticular cloud, photographed Wednesday by Christopher Boffoli, evokes the spirit of this morning’s fog down here – except, nobody had to drive in it. Be careful out there. Meantime, a busy day/night ahead: The West Seattle Democratic Women hear from renowned political strategist Cathy Allen at their 11:30 am lunch meeting (West Seattle Golf Course) – call 206-935-3216 to see about a last-minute RSVP … Next to the golf course, tonight’s the night for the Camp Long ropes-course meeting, 7 pm at the lodge (more details here) … School events tonight include the Pathfinder K-8 PTSA meeting and auction kickoff, 6:30 pm; Lafayette Elementary open house, 6:30-8 pm (more details here) … Sanctuary at Admiral is having an open house, 5-8 pm, RSVP to 206-937-8464 … Residential design is in the spotlight as Lidunn Øverdahl Cain discusses “The Changing House,” 6:30 pm at West Seattle (Admiral) Library … And Seattle Housing Authority leadership is expected at tonight’s High Point Homeowners’ Association meeting at High Point Neighborhood Center, 7 pm. … Lots more in the WSB West Seattle Events calendar, including free workshops on goal-setting and home-buying – go here.
P.S. From partner site White Center Now: This is opening night for the new bar Company (4 pm, 9608 16th SW).
Two new coyote reports from the WSB inbox. This one came in late last night, from Derek:
Just a heads up. Out walking my two small dogs at 10:15 this evening and a coyote came trotting towards me down Morgan St and ran across California Ave down towards Fauntleroy. We both startled one another.
And received a few hours before that, from Karrie in North Delridge:
A neighbor on my block (25th Ave. SW between Brandon and Findlay) in Cottage Grove spotted 2 coyotes on our block last night and one on 21st up the hill from us. He sent an e-mail to neighbors on our block to encourage everyone to keep cats indoors.
Haven’t checked out the “coexisting with coyotes” advice lately (which includes tips on how to make sure they keep their distance)? Find it here. Meantime, our archived coyote-sighting reports, newest to oldest, are here.
(WSB photo from 47th/Charlestown investigation scene, January 9th)
The driver charged with vehicular assault in the 47th/Charlestown car-vs.-pole crash earlier this month is out of jail – but wasn’t supposed to be, and a warrant is out for his arrest. So confirms Commander William Hayes of the King County Jail, though he tells WSB they are still investigating how the mistake happened. You might recall that after the crash on January 9th, 23-year-old driver Mohammad Nema and his passenger – an estranged girlfriend who had a protection order against him – both wound up in the hospital. She got out a few days later, but he was still in the hospital when we followed up on January 14th – that’s when we reported that, after investigators determining that he had been driving under the influence, prosecutors charged him with vehicular assault/domestic violence. We kept checking the King County Jail Register for signs that he was out of the hospital and in jail – and then suddenly discovered a few days ago that he was listed as having been in jail for about an hour on January 16th, with the release reason listed as “error”:
Trying to find out who could tell us how that happened, we finally spoke this afternoon with Commander Hayes, who says he doesn’t know – in situations like this, patients are supposed to be transferred to county custody before getting out of the hospital, and apparently Nema wasn’t – the arrest warrant filed yesterday says simply that he “left Harborview.” (The brief notation from January 16th was apparently a mistaken “booking in absentia”). Cmdr. Hayes hopes to have more information on the investigation by the end of the week. We’ll be checking on that, and we’ll keep watching to see if Nema turns up in custody; at the time of the crash, he had a Burien address.
In case you aren’t on Facebook or Twitter, where we have been talking about this for going on four hours now: Our server-management company WiredTree, historically wonderfully reliable for the years we’ve used them, has been dealing with a “denial of service attack” that took down many of the sites who run on its servers. For at least an hour, that meant no one could get into our site; then at some point, we noticed some people were starting to get in, and finally figured out that access had been restored for everyone but Comcast users. We switched immediately to our Qwest access and got right in. Not sure why that happened – the folks at WiredTree have been working frantically to figure out how to get around the attack; perhaps they had to block Comcast. Checking the logs again, it appears Comcast users ARE now starting to get through, so hopefully this means everyone’s access is restored.
Though we had no direct technical control over this, we of course apologize – as a 24/7/365 news service, we are committed to absolute reliability, and have taken many other steps toward achieving that, but this is a new one, so we’re exploring how to set up redundancy that would kick in immediately if anything like this (or another server problem) happened again. Thanks for your patience and support! We’ve got a few more stories in the hopper that had been waiting for things to normalize, so back to the news …
To “educate our membership,” as board chair Dave Montoure put it, the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce invited them to come learn about the potential benefits of the Highway 99 tunnel – a project the Chamber has officially endorsed. Dozens of members filled a community room at The Kenney to hear from a pro-tunnel panel – Port Commissioner John Creighton, Manufacturing Industry Council‘s Dave Gering, and South End Advisory Group member Vlad Oustimovitch, who also was a member of the original Stakeholders’ Advisory Group that reviewed multiple alternatives before the tunnel became the “preferred alternative.” Above, our video of the first half-hour of their remarks and Q/A. Each panelist listed what they considered the most appealing aspects of the tunnel; a common theme was the fact it can be built without shutting down the existing viaduct. They fielded a variety of questions, including concerns about the tunnel’s capacity, which they contended tends to be underestimated.
The audience included more than just curious lunchgoers; it also included WSDOT‘s project leader Ron Paananen and tunnel opponent Elizabeth Campbell, whose group Seattle Citizens Against the Tunnel plans to submit its initiative petitions to the city next week. As for the tunnel’s official status, it’s still under environmental review.
New development tonight in the wake of yesterday’s Lincoln Park attack and arrest. Tonight police have gone public with that sketch they say was made because of an attack in the park last December. They want to hear from anyone and everyone who not only might have had a suspicious encounter in the park, but anyone who might have been subject to “unwanted touching” elsewhere in West Seattle. As we reported earlier today, the man arrested yesterday, 46-year-old Duane Starkenburg, is currently charged only in one incident – and police are working hard to see if there are others he might be responsible for. Here’s their full update.
MONDAY MORNING NOTE: Starkenburg’s entry on the jail register now suggests he’s being held without bail – we’re checking on that – and adds “investigation of indecent liberties.”
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