Development reviews, school-safety projects, parade, podcast, more: What the Southwest District Council discussed and heard

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The Southwest District Council‘s increased focus on development/land-use issues was a key topic of its monthly meeting last night, along with the plan for neighborhood organizations to pursue a higher profile in this year’s West Seattle Grand Parade, and an SDOT briefing on Safe Routes to School-related projects in the council’s area of emphasis (western West Seattle). Wondering what might be coming to a school zone for you? Read on for full details, including a look at the city’s list:

First, the development discussion:

WEST SEATTLE LAND USE COMMITTEE & OTHER DEVELOPMENT DISCUSSION: SWDC co-chair Vlad Oustimovitch says it’s taking a bit longer to get the new West Seattle Land Use Committee up and running than they had hoped. They’re working to set a meeting date, and it will be set up as a peninsula-wide group, including participation from the SWDC’s eastern West Seattle counterparts on the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council. “There are a lot of land-use issues that are ongoing in West Seattle,” he said, so they are hopeful of getting it up and running soon. Tonight’s public-comment meeting about the 40-apartment, 5-parking-space 4439 41st SW project was mentioned (7 pm, Senior Center of West Seattle), as was the ongoing appeal over the 30-apartments, no-parking 6917 California SW (the Hearing Examiner session that was originally planned for this week has been postponed until May 20th). Part of the California SW project appeal is based on the fact that the project appears to be taking advantage of a loophole in the zoning code that has led to less oversight for higher density than lower density. One thing both projects have in common is that they’re in the Lowrise 2 zoning, of which Oustimovitch says there’s “a lot” in West Seattle. Cindi Barker, who’s been focused on land-use issues, says that the city is getting ready to release information on the “low-rise-code corrections.”

There’s a movement afoot to get back to what was mentioned in the 1990s neighborhood plans, for the Department of Neighborhoods to advocate for residents on land-use issues. It was suggested that the SWDC support funding to restore that function to the DoN. They plan to bring that up in the forthcoming budget process (which will bring a meeting to West Seattle next week). Design Review was implemented, Oustimovitch pointed out, to help with neighborhood development disputes, but it’s not what it used to be, either, he said, and now “there’s so much litigation, so many issues going on, that (the process) hasn’t been functional (for a long time).”

As Susan Melrose from the West Seattle Junction Association said, at least groups that are closely monitoring and projects provide an opportunity to “say no, to fight back.” Oustimovitch mentioned that one challenge is that there’s no funding – in a process with the Hearing Examiner, for example, the city is there with its own lawyers, the developer is there “all lawyered up,” and then there’s the appellant, aka the neighborhood group, often lawyerless. “It’s David and Goliath but sometimes David gets crunched,” he observed.

Before the discussion moved on, it was repeated that anyone interested in area development should show up at tonight’s 4439 41st SW meeting, even if they don’t have anything to say about the project, because there’s no decision on it from the city yet and that puts advocates in a unique position.

SAFE ROUTES TO SCHOOL: SDOT’s Brian Dougherty brought an update on the city’s Safe Routes to School projects in the SWDC jurisdiction.

He started by mentioning Wednesday morning’s Bike To School activities in West Seattle (WSB coverage here). He also mentioned that the speed cameras in school zones around the city are providing money for safety projects. In the Southwest District (basically western West Seattle), a list he provided (embedded above) mentions the SW Roxbury safety project, some work already under way in the Roxhill Elementary area, a curb bulb going in this summer at Fauntleroy/Myrtle for Gatewood Elementary, and some potential future projects including two in the Denny International Middle School/Chief Sealth International High School vicinity – at SW Kenyon, “there’s a muddy path that connects to the back side of Denny, we’re going to look at paving that potentially,” and at 25th/Thistle, possibly a marked crosswalk and other “enhanced pedestrian improvements” because of kids crossing to the bus stop.

When Dougherty asked about concerns, those raised included crosswalks at schools that might need repainting. Dougherty said 700 crosswalks around the city are slated for that work this year. He also mentioned the brightly colored post covers that have been going up on traffic-safety signs, and said that signals close to schools around the city are all being converted to include pedestrian countdowns. Meeting attendees also pointed out safety concerns at 42nd/Oregon, along with the traffic circle at 42nd/Genesee (near Holy Rosary, Seattle Lutheran, Hope Lutheran), with vegetation that might be too overgrown for safety’s sake.

As previously announced, Roxhill and Holy Family will be getting speed cameras. (Safe Routes to School is now getting funding from the speed cameras’ proceeds.)

HISTORICAL SURVEY GRANT: Chas Redmond said they were still awaiting word on possible 4 Culture funding for a historical survey of California Avenue (explained in this WSB story from January). SWDC co-chair Sharonn Meeks pointed out that a grant list had been made public and that SWDC’s project wasn’t on it; after the meeting, Redmond learned that the SWDC grant apparently IS a go, according to a different list. More details on the process to come.

WEST SEATTLE PARADE PARTICIPATION: Neighborhood groups are planning an entry in the West Seattle Grand Parade this July. David Whiting from the Admiral Neighborhood Association talked about it and said it seems like the bigger the entry the better, “like a nucleus of 25 people.” Cindi Barker from Morgan Community Association also had been advocating for participation. What kind of entry/ies, has yet to be determined. Whiting says Admiral, for example, will hand out flyers for the concert series that will be starting shortly thereafter. Talk ensued about how to get the various groups involved. Parade participation applications are coming, noted Jim Edwards, longtime parade co0coordinator who attends SWDC meetings as a rep of the Senior Center. An ad-hoc committee will be formed to plan a potential parade entry; that committee might apply for a grant. More logistics were discussed (the parade route is a mile and a half long).

WEST SEATTLE SUMMER FEST: WSJA’s Melrose said there’ll be an opportunity for local groups to be represented in a community area at Summer Fest, possibly in four-hour shifts. (Watch for info on that soon, here on WSB).

WEST SEATTLE COMMUNITY GARAGE SALE DAY: WSCGSD (here’s the map for Saturday) came up for brief informal discussion and Barker mentioned on behalf of West Seattle Be Prepared that they’re looking for emergency-type equipment.

VIDEO PODCAST: A new one has debuted with neighborhood information and West Seattleites’ involvement; Barker talked about it as a source of somewhere to talk about neighborhood information/education, citywide – she and Redmond participated in the early edition:

It’s called “Seattle Neighborhood Crier“; you can find it (and future editions) via this YouTube channel.

RELAY FOR LIFE OF WEST SEATTLE: A rep from this upcoming fundraiser (here’s our coverage of last year’s event) made a pitch to get more people involved. This year it’s June 27th-28th. They already have hundreds of people participating but hope for more, with a goal of raising tens of thousands of dollars for the American Cancer Society. If you’re interested in participating, go here.

GRANT PITCH: David Toledo from the arts-based youth nonprofit Unified Outreach spoke to let SWDC know about a project that’s seeking a major city grant (the Southwest District Council reviews such projects). It’s a work-training project; he says there’s a problem with kids getting trained to do something but then not what to do with it afterward. He talked about the organization’s fashion-show event last year, helping kids figure out how to make money in that industry. Now they’re hoping for a grant to assist them with staging an animation festival, potentially at the Admiral Theater – with youth not just creating the animation but also voice over, promotion, “a full work-training” program “so when these kids come out they can actually go out in the field and get jobs.” It’s targeting ages 12-18. His nonprofit is based at Ginomai Arts Center in The Junction.

ACTORS NEEDED FOR WEST SEATTLE EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS HUB DRILL: The drill on May 17th will include a scenario of a lahar is wreaking havoc. West Seattle Be Prepared needs actors to portray roles in the drill. Interested? Contact information is on the WSBP website.

The Southwest District Council meets first Wednesdays most months, 7 pm, at the Senior Center.

5 Replies to "Development reviews, school-safety projects, parade, podcast, more: What the Southwest District Council discussed and heard"

  • WS rules May 8, 2014 (11:35 am)

    Thanks for the great story, good to hear! Think all this discussion is good news for WS, but have a question?

    Susan Melrose from the West Seattle Junction Association said, at least groups that are closely monitoring and projects provide an opportunity to “say no, to fight back.”

    Can you clarify if the position of the Junction Association position is no and fight back on development? This would be helpful to know. Thank you!

  • Diane May 8, 2014 (11:49 am)

    what is the date this year for the parade? and the summer fest?

    • WSB May 8, 2014 (12:10 pm)

      Parade is July 19th. Summer Fest July 11-13.

  • doubtful May 8, 2014 (11:51 am)

    i would guess they (WS Junction Association) won’t publicly state here on WSB, WS rules. I also think “opposition” is too broad a word. Careful oversight and meaningful process with sustainable community benefits might be more productive and accurate terms.

    Now, I could be wrong. I HOPE I am wrong, but I have yet to see a business in the Junction that is opposed to the inevitable increase in their customer base and bottom line. Why would a business object to making more money, after all? Why would an association with a bunch of businesses (ranging from as large as the Y downward) support something against those interests? I am doubtful they would or will. They seem to “soften” opposition (the desire for thoughtful planning) until meaningless – “

  • WS rules May 8, 2014 (2:42 pm)

    Thanks doubtful! That makes more sense now. In speaking to other business owners directly about this very subject at least the 7-8 I know, they have said they they want to see more growth, for the exact reason you stated. That’s why I don’t sometimes quite understand the directors comments. It’s quite contrary to other neighborhood BIA’s. IMO, neighborhood groups should be advocating for their hoods- which most do a pretty nice job, but shouldn’t a merchants association be advocating what’s best for merchants? Somewhere between the two is where you get that right balance that works for everyone.

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