West Seattle, Washington
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
First, the buzz: Radio stations, in particular, were intrigued. KIRO-FM’s Dave Ross and Luke Burbank talked with us this morning; later, we talked off-mike with a reporter working on a KPLU story. The nationally popular website Boing Boing found West Seattle’s “hum” intriguing enough for a blurb.
But the question remained: What is, or was, to blame for “the hum”?
More theories turned up in the 170-plus-comment discussion following our Wednesday story. The audio clip provided by Julie Schickling of Highland Park was even taken by one person who e-mailed us, David Voy, and turned into a visualization:
Reader Ben mapped the spots where it was heard, when WSB commenters mentioned a location, and invited others to add to this map – here’s what it has so far:
Then tonight, KING 5’s Jim Forman hooked into the possibility it might be a sound made by fish – the plainfin midshipman fish. They talked with two scientists who are apparently out on the Duwamish River listening tonight; in the version of the story that we saw on KING’s 10 pm broadcast, they said that a ship’s hull could amplify and reflect the vibration the fish makes.
Here’s their story:
You can also hear the sound of the plainfin midshipman fish in this NPR story from 2009.
(Added Friday morning, thanks to a tip from Mike) You can see/hear it in this video published on YouTube by the Associated Press in 2008:
Meantime, in case it does turn out to be man-made … In our original story yesterday – sparked by e-mails, phone calls, and WSB Forums threads about “the hum,” also covered here back in 2009 – the city said they couldn’t do much without complaints specifying the suspected source.
When we checked back today, Department of Planning and Development (which has noise jurisdiction) spokesperson Bryan Stevens told WSB they’re officially investigating:
An inspector has been following this issue since Wednesday. Complaints have come in from areas including South Park, Fauntleroy, Lincoln Park, and even Vashon Island. Our inspector is checking in with some of the complainants to first verify they’re all hearing the same thing. We’ll also be conducting a field inspection to see what that yields. Noise is a fickle thing that can be impacted by conditions such as topography, wind and even temperature. We’re working it, but it’s going to take some time to nail down, if that’s even possible.
Of course, if it’s a fish, no amount of city-citation threats would stop it. We’ll see what the researchers have to say – and whether the “hum” returns in the strength that brought so many reports over Labor Day weekend.
Sealth scored first; West Seattle answered quickly, and scored again in the second half. That was the final, 2-1. WSHS is now 1-0, Sealth 0-2. Both teams play again Tuesday – West Seattle hosts Cleveland, Sealth visits Rainier Beach.
That’s the design for this year’s official West Seattle Junction Car Show, courtesy of show organizer Michael Hoffman from Liberty Bell Print and Design. The show (with co-sponsors including WSB) is one week from Sunday, and here’s his update tonight:
We have many preregistered cars and are looking forward to the day of show sign ups. Again, there will be a charity raffle to support West Seattle Rotary’s Pencil Me In For Kids. This program provides school supplies for children in need in the West Seattle area. Once again this year, the raffle will included an assembled $350 Weber gas grill donated by Junction True Value.
Regarding the shirt design, Michael explains, “To keep up with trends, this year’s shirt has a honey badger sitting on the car’s hood. After all, honey badger don’t care if he scratches the paint!” (Explained here, if you missed that trend …; last year’s shirt, you might recall, featured a coyote.) The show is 8 am-4 pm Sunday, September 16th, in The Junction, and motorcycles and mopeds are welcome this year too – all the details are on the official website.
AFTER THE CAR SHOW – A CLASSIC MOVIE! As a WSJ Car Show after-party, Feedback Lounge (WSB sponsor) is screening The Who’s “Quadrophenia” – 8 pm Sunday 9/16.
Could a historic district help keep the latest wave of intensive development from completely changing the face of the heart of West Seattle?
That was a big topic last night for the Southwest District Council, with five groups (West Seattle Junction Association, Alki Community Council, Morgan Community Association, Admiral Neighborhood Association, Fauntleroy Community Association) sending representatives to the group’s first post-summer meeting at South Seattle Community College.
Only one guest this time – Columbia City resident, property owner, and revitalization activist Rob Mohn, invited to talk with the SWDC about historic preservation and neighborhood revitalization. As SWDC co-chair Susan Melrose from the WSJA explained, community leaders are wondering what they can do to “preserve the charm” of the neighborhood even as redevelopment revs into higher gear.
Mohn says the Columbia City Landmark District – one of seven in the city – far predated him, founded in the late ’70s. He says that district has design-review authority for projects in the area it covers, instead of a city-convened volunteer Design Review Board like the Southwest DRB that has jurisdiction here. He said the district originally was founded with a lot of guidelines about renovations, “to preserve the stock of buildings during a time when (there wasn’t much development).” Now, there is development interest, he pointed out. The district is seen as a plus, he believes, because of the area’s “sense of place.” And because it’s helped preserve older building stock, rents are lower and a “funkier” mix of small businesses remains, he said. New building proposals – like a 65-foot, 193-unit apartment building over a supermarket that’s on the drawing board – are reviewed for compatibility. But even the existing buildings, he said, are catalogued as either contributing to the district or not contributing to it, with different standards and rules for the buildings in the latter category.
But – “I’m afraid (that) for you guys, the horse is already out of the barn,” he said, though council members pointed out that none of the “good” buildings are slated for redevelopment – yet.
Fauntleroy’s Vlad Oustimovitch brought up Ballard, which also has preserved its historic buildings via a historic district.
This discussion continued an exploration that began at SWDC meetings earlier this year, looking at possibilities for preservation – landmark status for individual buildings, or perhaps a district that would focus on West Seattle’s historic trolley network spanning all three junctions (Admiral, Alaska, Morgan). Melrose and Morgan’s Chas Redmond plan to walk the area to map its features.
“That’s what it’s ultimately about – people in the community getting organized, and (then) getting support from the larger community,” said Oustimovitch.
As he put it, it would be a “long and winding road” to develop a historic district – while suggesting there are two points to focus on first: Developing the narrative, and finding funding. The council itself has few resources – its members are volunteers representing local organizations. So the discussions will continue, while Redmond and Melrose do some initial work to explore possibilities. She said, “It’s an opportunity to galvanize the community and get people to work together.” The council also plans to invite Southwest Seattle Historical Society leadership to a conversation to help put all this in the area’s historical context. (“The trolley (network’s history) may or may not be the vehicle,” cautioned Oustimovitch.) The council hopes to reach beyond its mostly-western-West-Seattle borders for support, too.
The meeting started with notes from the neighborhoods that were represented:
*Admiral – Jim Cavin talked about the successful 4th of July Kids’ Parade (WSB coverage here) and the just-completed six-concert ANA-presented Summer Concerts at Hiawatha series.
*Alki – ACC president Tony Fragada said he will be attending tonight’s Ballard public meeting about the environmental assessment for the proposed Greener Skies package of flight-path changes and more (which he brought up during Mayor McGinn’s Town Hall in West Seattle last week, as reported here).
*Fauntleroy – Board member Oustimovitch mentioned the RapidRide station construction and the Barton Pump Station upgrade project next to the ferry dock, as well as the briefly proposed, then killed, Go Ape project (WSB coverage archive here). The Fauntleroy Fall Festival is happening on October 14th. He was asked about the Murray sewer-overflow-control project at Lowman Beach and reminded everyone of next Tuesday’s city hearing.
*Junction – Upcoming development and looking ahead to fall events, which start with the West Seattle Junction Car Show a week from Sunday.
*Morgan Junction – Board member Chas Redmond also mentioned the Murray CSO project hearing. MoCA is also talking with the city about whether park-levy money might be available to purchase the land immediately north of Morgan Junction Park (as reported here in June, it’s up for sale).
One more meeting note: The council’s meetings, long held at SSCC, might move next year; the Southwest Teen Life Center was mentioned as a possible new location. SWDC meets the first Wednesday of most months.
Just received from Seattle Parks – news of a fundraising tournament at West Seattle Golf Course September 22nd, to help make sure more kids can afford Parks’ programs – read on for the announcement:Read More
If you use Jack Block Park on the northeast West Seattle waterfront, you might have seen signs about a park closure next Monday (September 10). We first found the event listed on the City of Seattle’s online Special Events Calendar. The National Tactical Officers Association is meeting in Seattle next week, and will be using Jack Block Park for a running event and barbecue. Peter McGraw from the Port of Seattle (which owns/runs the park) tells WSB that the entire park will be closed to the public for the entirety of what would be its operating hours Monday. A spokesperson for the NTOA tells us participants will be running a 5K course “on the sidewalk” to and from the park during the event, so in case you see more runners than usual along Alki at some point Monday, that’s what it’s about. (Though the city listing says street closures will be involved, so far everyone we’ve talked to says that’s not the case, they’ll be on the sidewalks.)
Been waiting for the 1st Avenue South offramp on the eastbound Spokane Street Viaduct to reopen? Good news. It won’t stay closed until the end of September, after all. SDOT has just announced that the offramp will reopen Wednesday, September 19th. That’s also when 1st Avenue S. will be restored to two traffic lanes each way between the bridge and Horton and when eastbound lower Spokane St. will reopen between East Marginal Way S. and 1st Avenue S.
If you’re interested in supporting a good cause with a good pie for Thanksgiving – you might want to make plans to pre-order one of Diane Niemi‘s Heritage Pumpkin Pies next week. We photographed her at the West Seattle Eagles‘ Junction headquarters yesterday afternoon during the first of her planned weekly order-taking sessions – and she says she only has 23 10-inch-pie pre-orders left to sell (though an ample supply remains for the 5-inch pie pre-orders). As noted in the calendar listing, Diane is making the pies to raise money for Alzheimer’s/dementia research, in honor of her 90-year-old mom, who taught her the pie recipe – which originated with Diane’s great-grandmother. She’ll be back at the Eagles’ HQ next Wednesday (September 12), 2-8 pm.
(Added 1:41 pm: Metro’s been putting up new bus-stop signs; this one’s on Beach Drive)
After our Saturday report on the Metro changes coming up September 29th – “restructuring” as well as the start of RapidRide for West Seattle – some riders had questions, and now the transit system has answers. Metro spokesperson Jeff Switzer says their Trip Planner is now “live” with the upcoming changes, so you can use it to figure how you’ll use the bus system starting September 29th (if you’re going to check it now, be sure to put in a date of 9/29 or later). Some people asked about the new route maps, and those are available online too – start here, and follow the tabs on the right side to see maps, including the one for the new Route 50 (update; per commenter question, we’re checking on its accuracy). Switzer adds, “Route maps and schedules will be available in hard copy in a few weeks, and on the Web the day before the service change.”
Mind Unwind in the Admiral District is the site of an event on September 16th that might provide a new way for you to get “new” outfits – a clothing swap! It’s being hosted/organized by $tyle Cents and we’re told they still have spots left, but the registration deadline is next Monday.
Drop your clean, consignment-quality clothing (no tears, stains, broken zippers, etc.) and accessories at Mind Unwind Friday or Saturday, September 14 or 15th from 12 noon to 5 p.m.
Please bring between 10 and 20 (but who’s really counting?) clothing items and any additional accessories (including shoes, jewelry, purses and scarves)
Linda from Style Cents will help you decide what is a yay or nay and assist in creating new outfits on the spot! It’s a swap with a stylist!
All unwanted items will be donated to Jubilee Women’s Center
Drinks are part of the event, with Skinny Girl Margaritas as a sponsor. After you drop off your items on the 14th or 15th, the actual swap/sip/style event is 1-4 pm Sunday, Sept. 16th. Rhttp://mindunwind.org/event/tylecents-clothing-swap/egistration fee is $20 – sign up online here.
TONIGHT’S TRAFFIC ALERT: Another 9 pm-5 am closure of southbound 99/Alaskan Way Viaduct.
TOWING/IMPOUND FEE-LIMIT PROPOSAL DISCUSSION: The first City Council discussion of the proposed limit on towing fees (here’s our story from last weekend) is at 2 pm today, Government Performance and Finance Committee meeting, City Hall downtown. You should be able to watch via Seattle Channel (seattlechannel.org or cable 21) if you can’t be there in person.
MARRIAGE-EQUALITY PHONE BANK: Kol HaNeshamah and Alki UCC Church congregations invite the community to join them in their ongoing Thursday night phone banks seeking support for marriage-equality Referendum 74. Details here.
DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION WATCH PARTY: 5-8:30 pm at Heartland Café (new location; 4210 SW Admiral Way), join local Democrats to watch tonight’s convention proceedings, including President Obama‘s acceptance speech, scheduled around 6:30-7:30 pm.
FLIGHT-PATH HEARING: Not in West Seattle, but as noted in our coverage of Mayor McGinn‘s Town Hall here last week (and past WSB coverage), as well as in a recent Seattle Times (WSB partner) story, the FAA is now taking comments on the environmental assessment of the “Greener Skies” plan, which would include more flights turning over Elliott Bay, closer to northern West Seattle. The environmental assessment would include noise issues. Tonight, there’s an open house/presentation in Ballard, 6 pm at the library there, 5614 22nd NW (presentation scheduled for 6:30 pm). Comments will also be taken through the FAA till September 14th – all the info, and contacts, here.
HIAWATHA COMMUNITY CENTER OPEN HOUSE: Come find out more about the classes (and more) available at Hiawatha – drop by 6:30-8 pm.
LAFAYETTE PLAYGROUND PROJECT: Master-plan presentation tonight at 7 – more on the current status of the project in this WSB report from last week.
Want to know what’s happening tomorrow? This weekend? Next month? Browse the calendar here.
7:23 AM: A man in his 30s, described by police as “mentally ill,” is in the hospital this morning after police used Tasers to try to subdue him early today during their third run-in with him in 24 hours, according to SPD Blotter. The first incident happened early Wednesday at the 35th/Avalon 7-11; the second, Wednesday night at the man’s apartment in the 3200 block of Harbor SW, and though police say that one ended with the man being “involuntarily committed … for a mental-health evaluation at an area hospital,” six and a half hours later, he was back at the apartment building, and reportedly on a vandalism rampage in the building with a sword. Police say he ignored orders to drop it, moved toward them, and that’s when the report says they “tased” him – three times – and that didn’t subdue him, but he “eventually went down and was motionless,” at which time they started CPR. The SPD Blotter report from this morning has full details.
7:49 AM: Just asked Seattle Police spokesperson Det. Mark Jamieson a few followup questions. Regarding why the man was back at his apartment so soon after being sent to a hospital to be committed for a mental-health evaluation, he says police could only recommend “involuntary commitment” – the decision was up to the hospital (Highline, with which we will check next). He also confirmed that no officers were hurt, and that the man had regained a pulse (after CPR) and is still alive at last report.
The Issaquah is fixed and the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth ferry route is back to full strength, according to Washington State Ferries‘ update this morning. Backups and delays resulted yesterday when it was out of service for repairs.