day : 09/01/2015 11 results

Holiday-giving postscript: What you gave at West Seattle Lights

(Jim’s video of one of this year’s new songs, which you’ll likely recognize)
A little over a week since this year’s West Seattle Lights/Helmstetler Family Christmas Spectacular music-synched shows came to a close, and we’ve just heard from show designer/mastermind Jim Winder, with the final word on this year’s donations made by showgoers/fans – all of which goes to charities; Jim has the impressive five-year tallies too:

West Seattle Food Bank

1,050 lbs of Dried Foods

5-Year Totals
5,600 lbs of Dried Foods

Northwest Parkinson Foundation


5-Year Total

Grand Totals – Including Brian Teachout ($500), Dr. Kingston ($1200) and Pushing Boundaries ($391)


So a BIG THANKS to the people of West Seattle and Maple Valley that made it all possible and VERY worthwhile!!

Jim Winder and Debi Selix, The Helmstetlers, and West Seattle Lights

(Double-take on “Maple Valley”? Jim added a show there for the 2014 holidays.

Followups: No jail for driver who hit bicycle rider; bail hearing for Alki burglary suspect; Beach Drive death investigation

Three followups this evening:

NO JAIL FOR DRIVER WHO ASSAULTED BICYCLIST: In King County Superior Court this morning, Judge Regina Cahan sentenced 38-year-old Erika Soerensen, the woman found guilty of assault last year for driving into 33-year-old Jake Vanderplas as he rode his bicycle on 26th SW in North Delridge. Prosecutors had recommended 3 months in jail for Soerensen, who has no felony record; the judge sentenced her to 240 hours of community service, and revoked her driver’s license for a year.

BAIL HEARING FOR ALKI BURGLARY SUSPECT: The 32-year-old White Center man arrested Thursday afternoon after an Alki burglary remains jailed tonight. A judge set his bail at $20,000 for this case, but he also has a no-bail warrant for a probation violation. We obtained the probable-cause document after his bail hearing; it says that after he stole a package from inside an apartment building in the 6000 block of SW Stevens, a resident saw and followed him. The suspect allegedly took containers of prescription drugs out of the box and dropped the box. The witness confronted him, and he gave those unopened bottles to the witness. He asked the witness not to call police, and then fled; the witness called 911 and stayed in pursuit. Along the way, the documents say, the suspect dropped more medication, threw his backpack into a recycling bin, and eventually hid in a backyard treehouse along the 6200 block of Admiral Way. The witness waited nearby for police; they soon found the suspect, who surrendered. They tracked down his backpack and found a smaller bag inside it that contained “hand tools commonly used in the commission of burglaries.” A check of the court system shows the suspect’s record goes back at least a decade.

BEACH DRIVE DEATH INVESTIGATION: The King County Medical Examiner’s Office says they still don’t know what caused the death of a woman found in the water off Emma Schmitz Overlook early yesterday, but they know who she is. We added that information to our original report earlier this evening.

No jail for some crime suspects? Mayor tells County Executive: ‘This proposed plan presents an unacceptable public-safety risk…’

ORIGINAL REPORT, 3:05 PM: If you think some crime suspects get out of jail too quickly now – wait until next month, when, according to a story KING 5 broke last night, the county might not allow some of them to get booked into jail at all – they’ll be brought downtown, processed, and released. We just heard about this when Mayor Murray’s office sent a news release, saying he has sent County Executive Dow Constantine a letter objecting to it:

Mayor Ed Murray has serious concerns about a King County proposal to release additional felony suspects in property crime cases immediately after booking in downtown Seattle. The mayor outlined his concerns today in a letter to King County Executive Dow Constantine.

“This proposed plan presents an unacceptable public safety risk to the residents of Seattle and will undermine our mutual efforts to reduce drug and property crimes,” wrote Murray. “This proposal also has serious potential policing and budget implications for the City of Seattle.” (Full letter embedded below)

On Feb. 1, King County plans to reduce the inmate population by instituting a “book-and-release” policy for several felony drug and property offenses, including auto theft, hit and run (with injury), malicious mischief, reckless endangerment, stolen property, theft, vehicle prowl and drug possession.

The proposed plan will mean that suspects arrested for these crimes in communities around King County will be brought to Seattle to be booked and then released onto the streets of downtown.

Currently, judges individually assess each suspect booked at the jail to decide whether to hold them pending trial. The proposed County plan would eliminate a judge’s review in favor of a presumption of release for these non-violent offenses.

In his letter, Murray outlined alternatives to reduce burdens on the jail (reducing the time between a suspect’s arraignment and trial), as well as reduce impacts on the city (remote booking or mandatory return transportation for suspects brought downtown for booking from jurisdictions outside of Seattle).

We’ve asked both the county and city for a copy of the memo that Murray says police chiefs received this week, and we’ve asked the executive’s office for reaction to Murray’s letter. We’ll add whatever we hear back.

5:13 PM UPDATE: To answer journalists’ questions including ours, the executive’s office set up a conference call last hour, and your editor here was one of four who asked questions. The toplines:

*This is a done deal at this point – it was part of the county budget approved by the County Council and Executive.

*Rather than a budget cut, this was a budget request that didn’t get granted. The County’s director of adult/juvenile detention William Hayes, one of three county reps on the call, said it would cost $5.2 million to open another section of the jail to handle the increase in daily population expected over the next year if everything was status quo – last year’s average daily county jail/detention population (Seattle and Kent) was 1900, 50 over projections, and this year was expected to be 1920. There’s room at the jail – but not the personnel to staff it. That request was not granted. This policy is the result.

*The key talking point was that this would mean a difference of a few hours or few days in time most of these suspects would have spent in jail. It was also stressed that police will have the option to say, we don’t want this suspect released. In response to that, we pointed out that police might not get immediate access to the suspect’s full record, or warrant status. The county reps say that if technical problems keep them from finding out whether there’s a warrant out for someone, they won’t be released until the status can be verified.

*Overall, the county reps (also including Constantine spokesperson Chad Lewis and a budget-office staffer, Krista Camenzind) said a “chronic structural gap with the county’s general fund” is to blame. 70 percent of the general fund goes to criminal justice, from deputies to prosecutors to defenders to judges to jails, and it’s been going down even as the population grows, with a $54 million gap to cover this time around. We asked, couldn’t the civil system have been cut instead of the criminal? Reply: It already had been.

*We asked for a copy of the memo that the mayor mentioned, received this week by police chiefs around the county pointing out which crimes this generally would affect. The county reps say that was a draft memo and they don’t have a final version yet because suggestions were made by chiefs at a meeting yesterday and some of them are being incorporated into the final version.

Overall, Lewis summarized, the county considers this change the “best of bad options that are available.” Hayes said it’s not as if the suspects are being set entirely free – they will have to come in for court dates, and even if they fail to appear, “at some point (the legal system) is going to catch up to them.”

The cynical person might wonder if this is a setup for a forthcoming ballot measure to ask for more criminal-justice funding, we suggested. Lewis said no, there are no plans to seek any kind of a funding measure for public safety; Constantine is pursuing the Best Starts for Kids initiative, Lewis pointed out, an early-childhood initiative that he hopes will reduce the need for criminal justice, years down the road.

ADDED 6:12 PM: The mayor’s office has provided, at our request, the document mentioned in Murray’s letter, circulated to police chiefs earlier this week. Read on for the full text – including the proposed list of crimes; note that not all property crimes are involved – for example, residential-burglary suspects would still be held as they are now, this memo says:

Read More

Trying to get around the Sound? King County launches multi-agency transit-trip-planner app

Before raising the 12th Man flag at noontime today, King County Executive Dow Constantine had an announcement intended to draw cheers from transit users:

Delivering on his initiative to better coordinate transportation services, King County Executive and Sound Transit Chair Dow Constantine today announced the launch of a free smartphone app that makes it easier for riders to plan trips with 11 transit agencies across Puget Sound.

The Puget Sound Trip Planner — available for Apple and Android mobile devices — allows riders to plan a trip that includes buses, rail, ferries, streetcars, and water taxis. It merges popular features available on existing trip planners and offers real-time predictions for bus arrivals.

More info, and the full list of participating agencies/services, can be found here.

Blue Dot Industries: Welcoming a new WSB sponsor

January 9, 2015 2:02 pm
|    Comments Off on Blue Dot Industries: Welcoming a new WSB sponsor
 |   West Seattle businesses | West Seattle news

Today we welcome Blue Dot Industries as a new member of the WSB sponsor team. Here’s what they want you to know:

Blue Dot Industries offers general contracting services, with affordable / competitive pricing, and with customer appreciation for the integrity in their business practices: “We ALWAYS guarantee our work.”

Licensed General Contractor Max Hewson and Interior Designer/Operations Manager Bernadette Stone are the Blue Dot Industries team. Max is a master carpenter and licensed electrician with 30 years’ experience building and renovating residential and industrial facilities.

Since they do most of the work, especially with the initial contact and discussions, their customers don’t also have to deal with a middleman – you’re always dealing with Max or Bernadette. While they have only been in West Seattle for a few years, Max is a Washington native, having grown up in the Grays Harbor area, then living and working in Snohomish County for most of his adult life.

Blue Dot Industries prides itself on referrals via word of mouth from happy customers who tell them that in the end, “we have built what they have imagined.” Read more about what they do here; see some of their work here. Call Blue Dot Industries at 206-948-9724, or send them a message by going here.

We thank Blue Dot Industries for sponsoring independent, community-collaborative neighborhood news via WSB; find our current sponsor team listed in directory format here, and find info on joining the team by going here.

West Seattle traffic-alert update: Junction crash scene cleared

January 9, 2015 1:32 pm
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 |   West Seattle news | WS breaking news

1:32 PM: Police and Fire are at the scene of a crash at California/Alaska involving a motorcycle, and we’re hearing that northbound traffic on California is blocked. Apparently no major injuries, as the medic unit has been cancelled and a private ambulance summoned.

1:39 PM: Added a texted photo (thank you); our crew is en route. Looks from that photo and this one on Twitter that the motorcycle is down on California just north of Alaska.

1:51 PM: Emergency vehicles have cleared the scene and everything’s open again.

West Seattle Crime Watch: Another Lincoln Park car prowl

Yet another car prowl at Lincoln Park. Today’s report is from Luna:

We had our car broken into between 8:15 and 8:50 this morning in the Lincoln Park south lot. There was nothing in the car for them to take. Everyone that stopped while we were cleaning up and getting someone to come and pick up our kiddo was so nice and surprised, it makes me glad to live in West Seattle even if this happens at our local park! We also chatted with a couple who were broken into in the same spot last week, so be careful, everyone! There really was almost nothing visible in our car and they didn’t take the kids Patagonia jacket that was on the floor, so it seems like they were definitely looking for a purse/wallet. Just wanted as many people as possible to be aware!

This is the third reader report we’ve received this week about Lincoln Park car prowls; we tried checking the police-reports map again for the latest tally, but it’s not working so well at the moment. We also have a message out to local police leadership to ask how they’re tackling this problem, and will add whatever we hear back.

West Seattle Blue Friday: ’12th Flags’ in North Delridge, downtown

After someone asked whether the huge “12th Flag” would go up at West Seattle Corporate Center before tomorrow’s Seahawks-Panthers playoff game, we went over to Delridge/Andover and found it flying! Well, “flying” is a bit of an exaggeration – not much breeze this foggy morning – but we stood around, camera ready, until it caught a hint of movement.

BACKSTORY: The 1,500-square-foot, Tacoma-made flag first went up last year, days before the Seahawks’ Super Bowl win.

P.S. If you’re downtown, you are invited to cheer as King County Executive (and native West Seattleite) Dow Constantine raises the 12th Man flag at the King County Administration Building at 12:12 pm today – 500 4th Avenue.

12:24 PM UPDATE: The aforementioned downtown flag-raising was accomplished with the help of the executive’s baby daughter Sabrina – here’s the video just tweeted via @kcexec:

(If you are having trouble getting that to play – you can view it on its host site, here.)

Followup: Crash-damaged Longfellow Creek footbridge reopens

January 9, 2015 10:49 am
|    Comments Off on Followup: Crash-damaged Longfellow Creek footbridge reopens
 |   Delridge | Safety | West Seattle news | West Seattle parks

Since the crash that damaged a Longfellow Creek footbridge three weeks ago, we’ve been checking with Seattle Parks about the status of repairs. This morning, Parks spokesperson Joelle Hammerstad tells WSB the footbridge has reopened:

While working to make repairs to this bridge … we determined that the main structure is sound. We have re-opened the bridge and re-installed temporary fencing where the railing was damaged. The repairs/upgrades will take longer than expected but patrons, will be able to use the bridge while our carpentry staff order supplies and fabricate needed parts.

As reported here last week, the driver who crashed the pickup eastbound on SW Yancy, through the railing, and into the creek, 40-year-old Rossindo Ramos, is charged with DUI and reckless endangerment. He and his passenger escaped serious injury. We’re following up with Parks on what the repairs will cost and whether they’ll pursue restitution.

West Seattle Friday: On the way to 2015’s second weekend

Got patience? That’s what it takes to get an image like that, says photographer Mark Wangerin (it’s a male Anna’s Hummingbird, at Jack Block Park) – “taken from 10-12 feet away, (requiring) stealth/standing still for up to an hour.” Thanks again to Mark and other wonderful West Seattle photographers who share images, from birds to breaking news and beyond, for us to share in turn with you. Impatient to get to the weekend? Here’s how today/tonight gets the party started:

FRIDAY AFTERNOON AT THE MOVIES: Classic films are screened at the Senior Center of West Seattle, 1 pm Fridays, suggested donation of at least $1 – check the schedule here. (Oregon/California)

THE TRUE ROMANS @ SALTY’S: Start your weekend right after sunset, with live music at 5 pm at Salty’s on Alki (WSB sponsor), no cover/minimum (but happy-hour specials are on until 6 pm) – rock-cover band The True Romans will perform tonight. (1936 Harbor SW)

FREE TEEN ART CLASS: 5 pm every other Friday at High Point Community Center – details in our calendar listing. (6920 34th SW)

FRIDAY NIGHT SKATING: 6:45-8:45 pm, get rolling at Alki Community Center! Details in our calendar listing. (5817 SW Stevens)

PETER MINTUN IN CONCERT: 7:30 pm, pianist Peter Mintun plays at Kenyon Hall – details in our calendar listing.

EVEN MORE … on our calendar!

TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Foggy Friday; northbound I-5 trouble

(WS high/low bridges and Highway 99 views; more cams on the WSB Traffic page)
7:01 AM: The fog is back, and this time, as the traffic cams show, you’ll be driving through it on the main outbound routes too. If you’re headed for northbound I-5, be aware there’s a crash just before Seneca, blocking the two left lanes – and, further north, that side of the freeway is closed just before Northgate because of a fatal incident.

7:24 AM: The NB I-5 crash at Seneca has cleared; one lane is now open at the Northgate scene, but backups headed that way will last for quite some time. (added) SPD says two lanes will be open there soon.

7:41 AM: Still one lane there and might be for a while after all. And now another downtown problem – a stalled vehicle reported on NB I-5 at James.

REMINDER FOR MONDAY: Access to the downtown Water Taxi and state ferry docks changes because of seawall/99 work – as detailed here.

8:07 AM: Northbound I-5 has fully reopened at the scene near Northgate.

9:04 AM: An alert via Erika’s comment: “Be careful on the 99 ramp – a big pile of nails and screws seemed to have been dumped just prior to merging onto 99N.”