Street trees, bridge project, more @ Southwest District Council

January 5, 2012 3:15 pm
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 |   Southwest District Council | West Seattle news

Toplines from last night’s Southwest District Council meeting – with a wide-ranging agenda from street trees to bridge work to development, and beyond:

STREET-TREE ORDINANCE: Lots of discussion after we covered last month’s West Seattle community meeting about proposed changes to the city rules, which haven’t changed in half a century. City arborist Nolan Rundquist stressed that they are looking for as much comment and opinion as possible – here’s how – before this gets to the City Council. His summary: The proposed rule will better define who’s responsible for which trees, public or private, and a “no-fee permit process” will be put into place to deal with removal, pruning, replacement, etc., as well as who is allowed to handle such tasks. But he says “small work” – such as pruning branches that aren’t bigger than two inches in diameter – won’t require a permit.

FAUNTLEROY EXPRESSWAY: The council had invited project communications consultant Josh Stepherson back to provide an update once the intensive phase of the earthquake-safety work, with some overnight closures (next ones Jan. 9-12), got under way on the west end of the West Seattle Bridge. Morgan Community Association rep Chas Redmond asked about an anomaly he’d spotted (which we have noticed too, in late-night drives):

That anomaly: “Bridge closed” signs are turning up much earlier, some nights, than when the work actually begins. That problem should be fixed now, said another project rep, because they have reminded workers not to put the signs out until just before they are ready to close the west end of the bridge for the actual work – in some cases, apparently, they had indeed put them out a few hours early. (Watch here for the latest on closures, and we’ll update you on announcements too.) According to Stepherson, the work remains on track to be completed by June.

COUNCIL PRESIDENT RICHARD CONLIN: He’s expected to turn over that title to Councilmember Sally Clark at the council’s first meeting of 2012 next Monday, but still had a lot of big-picture information to share. For one: He said the Department of Neighborhoods needs to be revisited, proactively, regarding its role in city government. The council and mayor will be talking about that over the next six months, he said. Next: The 2013-2014 budget that’ll be put together later this year looks “grim.” Even though the economy in general is promising, according to Conlin, that won’t improve the revenue picture, so there are “tough decisions” ahead.

Next: Development and planning, now that he is expected to be chairing the renamed committee handling those areas (Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability). That turned talk to the recent council approval of Triangle rezoning; Redmond asked about building height – since part of it will allow 85-foot buildings – and potential “dark urban canyons.” Conlin’s reply: There are policies about public views, but not private.

The last big topic was transportation. He had general words of praise for West Seattle-area proposals submitted to SDOT, but no specifics, even when Admiral Neighborhood Association vice president Karl de Jong pressed him on a major sore spot for that area – the request for a stoplight at 47th/Admiral, where ANA recently led a demonstration (WSB coverage here) centered on a tribute to Tatsuo Nakata, the City Council staffer killed while crossing there five years ago. Conlin said the city is well aware of the concerns, but did not commit to any action (the intersection is on the list of potential new-signal locations, but it’s a list that isn’t attached to much money, so progress tends to be slow).

EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS LETTER: One more note – councilmembers will vote by e-mail on whether to send the City Council a letter asking that emergency preparedness be a priority for Council planning this year (there wasn’t a quorum of reps last night to finalize it then). The draft letter includes this paragraph:

“Actively support Emergency Preparedness on the individual, neighborhood and District levels and recognize the needs and critical importance of the work of Seattle’s Office of Emergency Management in encouraging and supporting citizens to work with their neighbors to improve Emergency Preparedness in Seattle.”

Cindi Barker of West Seattle Be Prepared was there to discuss the topic with the council. (P.S. Know where your emergency-communication hub is? Find it!)

SEATTLE PUBLIC LIBRARY’S FUTURE: We’re writing about this topic separately; we’re told reps also will be at the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting in two weeks (Wednesday, January 18th, 7 pm, Youngstown Cultural Arts Center), if you’d like to hear from them firsthand.

The Southwest District Council – which includes reps from major community councils and other organizations around western West Seattle – meets the first Wednesday of most months, 7 pm at South Seattle Community College‘s board room.

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