day : 04/06/2014 10 results

As-it-happened: Talking West Seattle development with Councilmember O’Brien

6:42 PM: We’re live at American Legion Post 160’s headquarters in The Triangle as the community conversation with Councilmember Mike O’Brien gets under way.

On behalf of the hosting Southwest District Council, Cindi Barker (below left) has just announced that Saturday, June 28th, the Department of Planning and Development will come out for a conversation of its own – time (morning) and location TBA.

Councilmember O’Brien starts off by saying he’d like it to be a productive conversation for both sides. He says, “I never asked to be land use chair … I’m learning a lot. It’s a field that goes from the experience we all completely understand, living our lives, down to all sorts of laws I’m still trying to appreciate.” We’ll be updating as this goes. About 50 people are here and there’s room for more.

First question is from West Seattle developer John Nuler, who asked about the recent action to regulate smaller lots, in light of the city’s encouragement of backyard cottages and other accessory dwelling units. He says the original recommendation was 2,000 square feet, rather than the 2,500-sf lot size, and wonders why the change, which he says resulted in some lots being rendered unbuildable. O’Brien says he doesn’t have all the details on that, but his legislative assistant is keeping track of the questions, so that answers can be procured later.

Second question is from someone who says he considers zoning changes have resulted in “the rape of West Seattle” and wonders how many people can be crammed in here. “I’m not buying this urban-village rationale. … How far is it going to go in West Seattle?”

O’Brien: “I don’t have an answer to ‘how far it’s going to go’.”

Next question: “Is there a citywide movement for reforming land use?”

O’Brien: “There are all sorts of specific aspects of land-use code that specific individuals (&) neighborhoods have concerns about …” He lists the small-lot issue, the low-rise-code issue as examples. “DPD is addressing these issues as they come up, and there are a lot of them.” But, he said, they’re not going to “throw the (zoning) out and start from scratch.” He goes on to mention the Comprehensive Plan and its “major overhaul” that’s under way (aka Seattle 2035). “I think the hope of the city is to take a look at it and really rethink how growth happens, where it happens, how we manage that growth in the city …” more big picture than small details, he said.

At that point, Barker, who is moderating, mentions the next public meeting on Seattle 2035 – Seattle Center, June 24th, regarding its “key directions.” (We’ll have a link for that shortly.)

6:51 PM: Jim Guenther talks about what happens when the city rules change and projects suddenly are allowed such as buildings without offstreet parking, and how it affects “quality of life” for residents who were already there.

“There’s a balance we’re trying to strike between the common good and individual rights,” O’Brien begins. He says that things have evolved as “lots that weren’t interesting to developers became interesting,” in the case of the small lots, for example. “Something like 45 percent of the lots that are zoned single family 5000 are smaller than 5000 square feet.”

“Where do we get heard (when our quality of life is affected)?” Guenther pressed. O’Brien says, “I don’t have a good answer for that,” but mentions that even though, for example, one house was on a lot, the owner might have always known it was really two lots that might qualify for two lots someday. O’Brien tries to say that the city didn’t really change the rules.


Followup: Man arrested, charged in Roxbury/24th attack, rape

FIRST REPORT, 3:35 PM: The King County Sheriff’s Office believes it’s finally solved the vicious attack and rape of a 58-year-old woman in the 24th/Roxbury area three months ago – a case that drew regional attention. The attack happened early March 7th, as first reported here; investigators circulated a sketch, a photo of the victim’s purse, and went door to door. Now, DNA evidence has made a match, according to this announcement:

Police in Oklahoma arrested a 25 year old male for the March rape of a female in the White Center area.

The case was solved when the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab developed a DNA profile from evidence collected at the scene which matched the male. He had apparently been visiting King County from Oklahoma when the crime was committed.

The King County Prosecutor’s Office filed charges of Rape in the 1st degree and Assault in the 1st degree. An arrest warrant was issued and law enforcement in Oklahoma arrested him yesterday.

The suspect will have to go through the extradition process before being returned to King County.

We’re working to find out more.

5 PM UPDATE: The charging documents we just obtained from the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office identify the suspect as 25-year-old Christopher Anthony Brown. They say his record in Oklahoma goes back seven years and includes convictions for burglary and assault/battery on a justice/social-services system worker.

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Update: Police took 2K+ plants from North Delridge warehouse, left 45, say dispensary operator and SPD

(Screengrab from @raincitycannabis Instagram feed)
While we await more information from Seattle Police on why they raided a North Delridge warehouse – as reported here Tuesday afternoon – we’ve spoken with the man who says the operation was his: Matthew Segal of Rain City, which has dispensaries in Rainier and Magnolia, says he is mystified as to why his operation at 28th/Yancy was raided. He has posted photos on Instagram showing the aftermath; we found him after a tip about the photos. [Editor’s note: They are now showing as “unavailable” from the embed mode; we’re substituting an earlier screengrab above.] He says more than 2,500 plants were growing, and that police told him he could keep 45 – the amount allowed in one “collective garden.” Segal says the raid happened without warning, and that there have been no arrests, and no explanation. He says he was working with the state Liquor Control Board on licensing this location as a legal growing site for the recreational-marijuana business, and that he is registered with the state Labor and Industries Department as a cannabis grower.

He says Rain City serves 4,500 patients/clients. But he acknowledged that the amount of allowed plants at a facility like this is a “gray area,” as much of the medical-marijuana industry has been for the past decade-plus. All he knows for now, he told us, is that he got a call yesterday “saying that police were at my warehouse … and then I came down,” and found the plants being removed. He says he had been growing there for three years and was buying the building (county records show him listed as its owner since a $1,050,000 purchase in March) . He hasn’t decided on his next steps, but hasn’t ruled out legal action, while saying he’ll “figure something out” about how to get a supply to stay in business. “I just don’t understand, it really … it’s going to haunt me.”

Meantime, we checked again with police this morning, seeking more information beyond what Narcotics Unit Captain James Dermody had told us at the scene yesterday; SPD spokesperson Det. Renée Witt said they were still gathering information to share with media. We’ll update this story whenever that information is available.

4:47 PM UPDATE: We stepped away from the desk for a few minutes, and that’s when the SPD Blotter post went up. New information includes police saying they searched two homes, one of them in West Seattle, as well as the 28th/Yancy warehouse:

After receiving complaints from neighbors about an overwhelming smell emanating from a large marijuana grow operation, the Seattle Police Narcotics Unit and Anti-Crime Team officers served a warrant — signed by a King County District Court judge — at a home and a warehouse in West Seattle and another house on Beacon Hill Tuesday evening, and recovered what detectives say is an unprecedented number of illegally-grown marijuana plants.

After police began an investigation into the two homes and warehouse — in the 2400 block of S. Morgan St, 6500 block of 44th Ave SW and 2600 block of SW Yancy St respectively — detectives learned the three illegal marijuana grows were operating under the guise of a medical marijuana collective and were growing far more plants than allowed under state law.

The West Seattle warehouse had more than 2200 plants alone, well over the 45 plant limit allowed for medical marijuana grows in Washington. Police seized 206 and 227 plants at the two homes.

All told 2663 plants and 86 pounds of processed marijuana were seized during the operation.

Detectives say this is the largest illegal marijuana grow operation they can recall investigating.

Police also believe the owner of the grow operation was harvesting marijuana from the grow operation and selling it through a dispensary — which he also owns — violating the state’s regulations on collective gardens.

Detectives left 45 marijuana plants at each location, along with 72 ounces of processed marijuana and growing equipment, and let the growers at each site select which plants they wanted to keep. Detectives were interested only in bringing the operation back under the limits of state law, and in addition to leaving plants and equipment at the scenes, also opted not to book anyone involved in the operation into jail.

Charlestown Court to be reviewed again for possible landmark status, with demolition/development proposal pending



(Historic photo from King County Assessor; 2008 photo by WSB’s Christopher Boffoli)
In 2007, facing demolition for site redevelopment, the Charlestown Court apartments at 3811 California SW were nominated for possible city-landmark status. In a process extensively covered here, the Landmarks Preservation Board ruled in 2008 that it didn’t qualify. A new development proposal preserving the building’s facade subsequently emerged – but the recession hit, and it was never built.

Five months ago, we discovered a new demolition-and-redevelopment proposal in the early stage of public review – this time, to tear down Charlestown Court and build eight townhouses. And now, another twist: Visiting the city Landmarks Preservation Board website for research on an unrelated story, we discovered that Charlestown Court, a Tudor-style brick fourplex built in the 1920s, first will be reviewed again for landmark status, and a hearing is coming up this month.

In a conversation with WSB this morning – before the official notice of the nomination came out – Erin Doherty from the Landmarks Board explained that the documentation was submitted pre-emptively by the owners/developers, as it was likely that as part of the review of their demolition/development proposal, they would have been required to do this anyway – the process is explained in this city document. A new review is required because the last one was more than five years ago.

The first hearing before the Landmarks Board is set for its meeting on Wednesday, June 18th, at 3:30 pm, on the 40th floor of the Municipal Tower downtown – here’s the official notice. The full nomination document can be seen here (though it’s dated April, Doherty tells us it had been under review for the past few weeks and actually just went online yesterday). The meeting notice has information on how to comment before the hearing.

South Park Bridge to open on June 30th, 4-year anniversary of old bridge’s closure; big party on June 29th

(Photo by Long B. Nguyen)
Four days ago, showing that aerial of the almost-complete South Park Bridge, we mentioned it’s close to opening. And now, the date’s just been announced – June 30th, the four-year anniversary of the old bridge’s closure:

King County Executive Dow Constantine today announced that the newly constructed South Park Bridge will open June 30. The previous drawbridge, built in 1931, was closed and dismantled in mid-2010 due to safety concerns.

“I made a promise five years ago that we would build a new, safer bridge to connect our industrial heartland to the rest of King County — and we’re ready to deliver,” said Executive Constantine. “Not only will this help local manufacturers and family-owned businesses, it will reunite working communities in the Lower Duwamish area.”

The new bridge is expected to carry 20,000 vehicles and nearly 3,000 heavy-duty trucks each day. It will also carry an estimated 10 million tons of freight each year, including aerospace parts to local Boeing facilities.

ADDED 11:52 AM: The county has a gallery of images of the new bridge accompanying this announcement on its website, including this one:

(Photo by Ned Ahrens, King County DOT)
See the rest here.

3:20 PM UPDATE: While June 30th will be the official opening to traffic, information that’s come out in the past few hours clarifies that the big party will be on Sunday, June 29th, so mark your calendar for that.

Tonight’s calendar highlight: Come talk about West Seattle development, land use, zoning with Councilmember Mike O’Brien

(May aerial looking eastward over Spruce, the ex-“Hole”; photo by Long B. Nguyen)
One more reminder about tonight’s highlight event – City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who chairs the Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee, comes to West Seattle for what community advocates are billing as a conversation about development, land use, and zoning. This isn’t about one specific project – this is the “big picture”; O’Brien’s committee has been reviewing major issues/areas of concern – most recently, microhousing, with another discussion just yesterday resulting in a plan to create a new “stakeholders’ group” before new city rules are finalized. What is YOUR biggest concern? What do you think councilmembers could/should do regarding development and land use? Be there, to ask questions, speak out, even just to watch and listen. The event is led by the Southwest District Council, in lieu of its regular monthly meeting, along with the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council, and is at a bigger venue than usual so there’s room for everyone: 6:30 pm, American Legion Post 160/Pershing Hall, 3618 SW Alaska in The Triangle – which by the way is shown in the photo above, top right.


Update: School Board math vote tonight; local schools lobbying for ‘Singapore Math’ – board approves it for all

(UPDATED Wednesday night with board vote)

ORIGINAL REPORT, 9:31 AM: Tonight the Seattle Public Schools board is scheduled to vote on which math curriculum it will use for the next seven years. The recommendation before the board is to go with a curriculum called enVision, instead of the current Everyday Math. At least two West Seattle elementaries that have obtained a waiver to adopt an alternative for recent years – Math In Focus, also known as “Singapore Math” – are calling for last-minute shows of support to be able to keep it. Schmitz Park Elementary, in particular, has been hailed for its success following its fight to adopt Singapore Math; on its website, there is a call for families to contact the board before tonight’s meeting – read it here. K-5 STEM has a similar call on its website. As pointed out there, West Seattle’s school board member Marty McLaren is one of two board members proposing an amendment for the district to offer two alternatives, with one of them being the Math In Focus (Singapore Math) curriculum, so that they could make the choice. The agenda for tonight’s meeting is here; if you are interested in voicing an opinion to the board, e-mail and phone information is on the right side of its official webpage.

10:08 PM: As reported in the comments, board members didn’t vote for a dual adoption – they voted to adopt Singapore Math for the entire district:

TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Wednesday updates & alerts

June 4, 2014 6:34 am
|    Comments Off on TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Wednesday updates & alerts
 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle traffic alerts

(WS Bridge and Highway 99 views; more cams on the WSB Traffic page)
Good morning! We start with the road-work alerts for today and beyond

ALKI PAVING PROJECT, THROUGH THE END OF THE WEEK: Finally got the details from SDOT about the Alki Avenue paving that continues through Friday.

Looking ahead:

*This weekend, Friday night 6/6 until Monday morning 6/9, southbound 99 will be closed between the Battery Street Tunnel and West Seattle Bridge to reconfigure lanes, as explained here; see the expected results here (along with the results of a similar northbound closure two weeks later).

*Saturday is the start date for Metro’s next service change, detailed here. The only West Seattle route with changes is the 21, with a route change for several afternoon runs.

Log House Museum totem-pole celebration countdown: The arrival

If you pass the east side of the Log House Museum on 61st SW at Stevens any time between now and midmorning Friday, that’s what you’ll see – the former Admiral Way totem pole, restored by experts, awaiting its grand unveiling during a big street-closing event Friday morning. Its proud new perch is just yards from where it spent years in repose behind the museum – where we photographed it in December 2011:

Four months later, the pole was trucked off to Artech in April 2012. Tuesday, after an extensive renovation project, they brought it back and installed it outside the museum in an intensive and much-photographed operation:

West Seattle resident Roger Waterhouse and Cody Thomaselli of Artech were the hands-on installers. The Southwest Seattle Historical Society had to get city permits and Landmarks Board approval for what otherwise might have seemed like a simple project – how hard could it be to put up a stand and place the pole on it, right?

Actually, once the pole was hoisted upright, it was somewhat painstaking – move it a bit this way, then a bit that way – until it was just right. We rolled video on the last few minutes:

In the Artech wrapping – later removed once the pole was covered up in the material you see in the top photo – the features were somewhat visible:

If you can, come see the unveiling Friday morning at 10:30, with students from Alki and Schmitz Park Elementaries coming to fill the street (which will close for the occasion) along with West Seattle-rooted dignitaries led by King County Executive Dow Constantine, Mayor Ed Murray (who grew up nearby), and former Mayor Greg Nickels. The pole gets a new interpretive plaque, too, shown off Tuesday morning by SWSHS executive director Clay Eals:

If you just can’t get away at midmorning Friday, make plans for a museum visit sometime soon – a special exhibit will open inside. The museum’s hours are noon-4 pm Thursdays-Sundays.

P.S. With this event and much more in the works this summer, including the West Seattle Bridge 30th anniversary commemorations, volunteer power is more vital than ever to the nonprofit museum’s success – and you can be part of it. This Saturday, the day after the totem-pole celebration, 11 am-1 pm, come to the museum for its next volunteer orientation.

West Seattle schools: Opera at Lafayette Elementary

Opera is for kids too! On Tuesday, it was in the spotlight at Lafayette Elementary, reports Luckie (who also shared the photo):

Lafayette’s final PTA arts assembly for this school year was a short opera, Heron and the Salmon Girl, performed by four soloists from Seattle Opera‘s “Opera Goes to School” program. This program offers an opportunity for elementary students to perform alongside the professional singers. For the past three weeks, Opera teaching artist John Coons (who also sang in the opera Tuesday) taught and rehearsed a group of Lafayette 3rd through 5th grade students once a week to sing in the chorus. Through song and movement, the 23 students accompanied the singers with their portrayal of the waters of a river and Puget Sound. Afterward, each student singer was awarded a certificate of achievement from Seattle Opera recognizing their performance in Heron and the Salmon Girl. (Pictured: the Lafayette chorus performing with Thomas Thompson as Turtle and John Coons as Orca.)

“Heron and the Salmon Girl” is the first of the three operas comprising Our Earth, aimed at young operagoers.