day : 01/06/2015 12 results

FOLLOWUP: Fauntleroy Creek salmon-release season wraps up

June 1, 2015 11:27 pm
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 |   Environment | Fauntleroy | West Seattle news | West Seattle schools

(Photo by Dennis Hinton – creekside sign created by Taproot School)
One incredibly busy month of visits by salmon-raising schools – starting with Pathfinder K-8 on April 30th (WSB coverage here) – is over at Fauntleroy Creek. Judy Pickens has the wrapup report:

The last of 20 salmon releases in Fauntleroy Creek occurred May 28 when second- and fourth-graders from Concord Elementary brought their coho to Fauntleroy Park.

All told, volunteers with the Fauntleroy Watershed Council hosted 750 students this year and an additional 175 adults and younger siblings. Their participation in the Salmon in the Schools program resulted in the release of nearly 1,700 fry that will spend the next year in the creek.

Also this spring, volunteers documented 31 coho smolts leaving the creek for two years in saltwater, a dozen more than in 2014.

Next big season for volunteers on the creek will be this fall, when they watch for returning spawners – 19 last year.

UPDATE: Comcast Internet trouble in West Seattle (and beyond)? No, it wasn’t just you

7:37 PM: No official word from Comcast yet, but its Internet service seems to be having some trouble, not just in West Seattle but elsewhere in the metro area, and in the Bay Area too. We started hearing about it via Twitter a short time ago and it seemed widespread enough to mention here. Also via Twitter, you can see the Comcast support account responding to messages from users.

10:09 PM: Readers report service returning to normal – see comments – and @ComcastWA on Twitter also reported areas “coming back up.” No explanation from Comcast of what went wrong (aside from acknowledgment of what users had reported, that it was a DNS issue).

11:34 PM: GeekWire quotes Comcast as saying its people are “working through a root cause analysis to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

West Seattle Crime Watch: 1980s-vintage bicycle stolen

In a West Seattle Crime Watch report earlier this afternoon, we mentioned that crime will be the focus of tomorrow night’s Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meeting. Since then, the person who sent the announcement, co-chair Amanda Kay Helmick, has sent a Crime Watch reader report of her own:

I had my 1980s Panasonic ladies bike stolen from my porch last night. 10 speed with Schwinn cruiser handlebars. It has a rear fender and bike rack. A light and bell on the handlebars and a clip for a basket on the front. Lots of star stickers, a Proletariat Pizza sticker and an sticker too. It’s not worth a lot, but it’s My Bike! You know? I reported it to the police, and I’ve been driving around the ‘hood like a stalker…. the picture is from when I first got it almost 5 years ago. So BUMMED!

If you see it … let police know, and then consider commenting here as well.

RECENT BICYCLE CASES: None of these have been resolved so far as we know, so we’re mentioning them again (all three have photos too): 12-year-old boy’s silver Fuji Absolute stolen May 28th, also in Westwood; child- and adult-size bicycles found in Westwood and Highland Park respectively, published here May 20th – we suggested to the finders of the latter two that they be reported to police for pickup.

West Seattle High School’s annual All-School Reunion next Saturday

June 1, 2015 5:53 pm
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 |   West Seattle history | West Seattle news | West Seattle schools

As summer approaches, so do reunions – including some that span multiple years, like the annual West Seattle High School All-School Reunion, set for next Saturday. From the WSB inbox:

Calling all WSHS students and faculty, current and former, to join us at the first Saturday in June (6/6/15) annual All-School Reunion. 2-3 pm sign-in, 3-5:30 individual class reunions and program including honoring Hall of Fame inductees, Scholarship recipients and more. Renew your membership and receive a beautiful alumni license plate frame (while supplies last)! Sign up in advance for a group photo of family/friends/classmates by student photographers in their studio, just drop an email to for scheduling. AND HELP US SPREAD THE WORD BY SHARING THIS EVENT WITH ALL YOUR ALUMNI CONTACTS!

You can see a photo of the license-plate frame on the All-School Reunion’s Facebook event page.

VIDEO: Denny IMS Youth Ambassadors ask visiting Seattle Police Chief for more protection

Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole spent about an hour with students at Denny International Middle School this afternoon. It ended with that group photo, following a bouquet presentation and an exchange of warm words of thanks, but the message the chief heard before all that was clear and unmistakable: Students want more help staying safe.

That’s just one of the “Youth Ambassadors” who spoke to the chief; others showed her a student-produced video showing some of the area concerns, including Roxhill Park, and recapping some of the incidents targeting students earlier this year. (Added: We captured most of the short film on video, but hope to get/find a direct copy to substitute eventually:)

O’Toole promised to step up patrols, but also spoke of prevention and intervention; she advised the students to stay watchful, telling the story of what she learned, working as a decoy officer, right after mentioning she’d been discussing the area with former Southwest Precinct commander, now Assistant Chief, Steve Wilske:

The Youth Ambassadors told the chief they’re seeking a $2,500 “Small Sparks” grant from the city Department of Neighborhoods for their safety project – that’s related to the Block Watch-style effort the Denny PTA told us about earlier in the year. Their class, as explained by the event announcement from Seattle Public Schools, is facilitated by Lori Markowitz and Denny staffer Matthew Riippa, and “emphasizes peer mentorship, leadership and compassion.” They explored “issues of student safety” as part of their “acts-of-compassion projects”; part of that involved surveying about 150 eighth graders. More photos to come.

One student suggested to Chief O’Toole that schools should be included in the new SPD Safe Place anti-hate crime campaign; the chief mused aloud that Denny might be a good site to try a pilot version of that.

P.S. Lots of citywide media covered this event, so if you’re seeing TV trucks in the Denny/Sealth area (one person has already called us to ask), that’s what it’s about.

Rule changes for ‘lowrise’ development? Public hearing @ City Hall tomorrow

Most of our reports on development are about individual projects – from buildings with hundreds of apartments, to lots where an old house is torn down and replaced with several new places for people to live. The latter type is what comprises much of what’s happening in West Seattle right now – especially in zones known as “low rise,” especially along major streets such as California Avenue SW. (That’s the light-olive-green shading in the map above – see the map full-size here.)

Once in a while, there’s a big-picture issue – like this: Tomorrow, a package of potential rule changes for development in low-rise zones goes before the City Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability (PLUS) Committee for a public hearing, and neighborhood activists around the city want to be sure that you know about this before it’s too late to have a say, whether pro or con.

The changes known together as the Low-Rise Multifamily Code Corrections have been in the works for more than a year, starting as an attempt to fix “unintended consequences” of changes made to low-rise zoning in 2010. Those changes in turn had resulted from concerns tracing back two years further, to 2008, mostly centered on what was then the prevalent design for townhouses.

City Councilmember Mike O’Brien leads the PLUS Committee now. You can read his summary of the current proposed zoning changes by going here. Toward the end, he mentions what didn’t make it into the final revision of the proposal, and one of those points is key for neighborhood leaders who have been working on this issue: An extra 4′ of height for buildings with a floor that’s partly underground. Their concerns about the allowable size of buildings also include wanting those “partially below grade” levels not to be exempt from a project’s “Floor Area Ratio” – explained by the city as “the amount of floor space developed on a parcel compared to the size of the property.” They also want FAR exemptions removed for “unenclosed stairs, hallways, and breezeways.” And they are concerned about how the changes will calculate out to how many units are allowed per lot – again, we’re not talking about single-family zoning here, but about multi-family zoning, so this is already land where townhouses and rowhouses are allowed, so the question is, how many units will be allowed.

One citywide group called Seattle Speaks Up collected signatures in various neighborhoods to help kickstart the revision process but now says in this letter about tomorrow’s hearing that what’s coming up for a hearing tomorrow is “a hollowed-out shell in lieu of genuine substantive legislation,” blaming lobbying by developers. The developer/builder-supported organization Smart Growth Seattle has sent its own letter asking that the entire package be scrapped, calling it “unnecessary from the beginning, born mostly of red herrings from angry neighbors.”

And then all this is also being viewed through a prism that wasn’t much of an issue during the 2010 round of low-rise zoning changes: The city’s shortage of affordable housing. The proposed zoning changes also have been reviewed by a subcommittee of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) advisory group; HALA was convened by the mayor to come up with recommendations for how to build more affordable housing. Here’s their letter about the code changes, supporting some and opposing others (the attachment it mentions is here).

If you are interested in any aspect of development, growth, and housing, and aren’t already up to speed on all this, take a look – here’s the entire text of the Council bill – and tell the City Council what you think. If you can’t be at tomorrow’s 2 pm public hearing during the PLUS Committee’s meeting (second floor of City Hall downtown), you can e-mail Councilmember O’Brien at The committee isn’t expected to vote before its subsequent meeting on June 16th.

West Seattle Crime Watch: North Admiral car prowl; south WS discussion at WWRHAH

Two notes in West Seattle Crime Watch:

CAR BREAK-IN: From Yvonne:

I just wanted to report a car prowl incident that happened today in the North Admiral district off of SW Waite Street.

Today when I entered my car parked in front of our house on a residential street, I noticed that the contents of my glove box was emptied out onto the floor and my old iPhone was stolen out of my center console.

They also stole a Quickbooks 101 book from my back seat. Nothing of real value was taken and no damage was done to my car but I wanted to alert the WS community in case anyone else experienced a car break in/theft/prowl last night or this morning.

She filed a police report – which SPD urges, even if “nothing of real value” (or nothing at all) was stolen. You can even file online by going here.

CRIME CONCERNS IN SOUTH WEST SEATTLE? Be at the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meeting tomorrow night. From co-chair Amanda Kay Helmick:

Please join us as we welcome Seattle Police, Department of Planning and Development and the City Attorney’s Office to discuss crime in the Westwood/Roxhill/Delridge Triangle area. We have been working with SPD for over three years on theft, drug use/dealing, prostitution, squatting, assault, and gun violence. Our area needs an update on what is being done to address our challenges. No formal agenda – all are welcome.

WWRHAH’s meeting runs 6:15-7:45 pm Tuesday at Southwest Branch Library (35th/Henderson).

Should Seattle annex White Center and vicinity? City Council committee to discuss Wednesday; ‘intention’ notice due Friday

Will the Seattle City Council move ahead with an attempt to annex White Center and the rest of unincorporated North Highline?

(Potential annexation area is in green)
The topic will come back before the council’s Education and Governance Committee, chaired by Councilmember Tim Burgess, this Wednesday morning, largely because time is running out for a specific notice to be filed, if the city wants to keep its options open for accessing a tax credit that would make annexation more financially viable. Details are on our partner site White Center Now; we’re also putting the question “annex, yes or no?” out to all nine City Council District 1 candidates.

Four from the calendar for your West Seattle Monday

(Male Anna’s Hummingbird, photographed by Mark Wangerin)

From the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar:

SCHOOL BOARD DIRECTOR’S COMMUNITY CONVERSATION: 6-7:45 pm at Southwest Branch Library, it’s the last community-conversation meeting of the school year with the Seattle School Board director for West Seattle/South Park, Marty McLaren. Drop in for Q/A. (35th/Henderson)

WEST SEATTLE BOOSTER CLUB: 7 pm at the West Seattle High School library, last meeting of the year for the organization that works to support student athletics at WSHS; all welcome. (3000 California SW)

MONDAY NIGHT MEDITATION: 7:30 pm at Sound Yoga (WSB sponsor), wrap up the first day of your week, and the first day of the new month, with drop-in meditation. (5639 California SW)

PUB QUIZ: Monday night is usually low-key in local nightlife but the Monday night pub quiz is a fixture at Shadowland in The Junction, starting at 8 pm. (California/Oregon)

TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Welcome to June! Monday updates

June 1, 2015 7:02 am
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 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle traffic alerts

(Four WS-relevant views; more cams on the WSB Traffic page)
7:02 AM: Good morning. Nothing out of the ordinary through/from West Seattle so far.

9:31 AM NOTE: And it stayed that way. The rain’s back, though.

FOLLOWUP: Middle College High School’s West Seattle supporters not giving up

(WSB file photo, teacher Alonzo Ybarra and MCHS High Point students in fall 2012)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Supporters of Middle College High School‘s West Seattle program are fighting to save it, and asking for community support.

We first reported nine days ago that Seattle Public Schools had abruptly announced it would cancel the alternative high-school program’s longtime West Seattle branch, which moved to Neighborhood House’s High Point Center three years ago after more than a decade and a half at South Seattle College (WSB sponsor). The district now says that even after three years, that “was a temporary lease while SPS assessed transition to other Middle College sites.” The three that remain are all in North Seattle.

The district blamed the closure primarily on low enrollment. In response to one of the questions we asked last Friday, asking for elaboration on that, the district responded:

Enrollment projections are generated by Enrollment Services and the second round of projections (for the 2015-16 school year) for all SPS schools are currently being finalized. These projections (went) out to principals on May 29th. High Point ended the 2013-14 school year with 58 students. The 2014-15 projection for High Point was 60 students and they were staffed with 2.2 core teachers. On October 1st, enrollment had dropped to 50 students. In the beginning of February 2015, the enrollment dropped again to 36 students. Enrollment numbers stayed at high 30’s until the High Point staff was told to stop enrolling students.

The district seems to be blaming teachers for the enrollment trouble: “Many students enroll through word of mouth but this year we have had much fewer due to the poor climate at High Point this school year. Teachers have been unhappy with the schedule and have communicated their discontent to students.”

MCHS-HP teacher Alonzo Ybarra, who sent first word of the impending closure, has said that MCHS’s principal Cindy Nash “forcefully imposed an arbitrary schedule that severely diminished our abilities to deliver exciting and creative curriculum and instruction.”

He says the staff has yet to hear directly from her. He is circulating this letter outlining what can be done to show support for MCHS-HP; it was shared with us by a West Seattle resident who received it and asked us to publish it:

On the MCHS blog-format website, Ybarra has published some of the letters of support that have come in so far – you can read them here. One letter is from a former MCHS student who is the parent of a current student; he writes in part, “It makes absolutely no sense shutting this program down. These teachers and this program should be the gold … no, platinum standard for our school district. I’d go as far and say that all Seattle Public High School teachers should job shadow the teachers at Middle College. This program should not be reduced, it should be expanded, and publicly promoted.”

West Seattle’s school-board rep Marty McLaren, though, told WSB she “couldn’t make a strong case against” closing MCHS-HP. Her response to our request for comment last week:

I had been briefed by Alonzo and visited the SSCC site in 2012, and have regularly visited and/or maintained contact since the move to HP, and have advocated for MCHS in the southwest area ever since. There have been various issues in the last two years that have indicated to me that the strength of our program was in question by district. My main way of addressing this has been to make absolutely sure that district leaders were hearing all sides — to facilitate communication. At various points, MCHS staff members maintained that they had not been given adequate chance to meet with leadership; although I couldn’t force meetings, I did make sure, with MCHP staff permission, that their communications were seen by district leadership, and did repeatedly remind our leaders of the value the community places on the program. I think I’ve heard of a recent meeting between MCHP staff and district leaders, but am not sure.

As far as the closure announcement: I learned over a month ago, I think, that staff had been told not to enroll for MCHP for next year. I was told that enrollment had been down, but I don’t have figures. At that time, I pushed with inquiries about the future of the program; there were enough issues that I couldn’t make a strong case against the impending decision to close the site. Staff knows that I am adamant that SPS needs to find a way to serve the kinds of students who have thrived at MCHP.

SIDE NOTE: Some wondered what Neighborhood House plans to do with the space that MCHS-HP has been using. (The district says it was paying $28,000/year to lease the space.) From NH’s David Johnson:

. The “classroom” is really a couple of shared spaces, Middle College successfully used a large partitioned area for their main classroom, and another space, designated as a Teen Center for an office and secondary classroom. Both are in shared hallways, amidst the many offerings from Neighborhood House and other providers.

. SPS leased the space through SHA, which is a traditional and strong partner of NH, both in the operations of the building and in its support of the construction of the building. NH is the owner and leases space to SHA in a long-term relationship, that benefits the entire HP community.

. There are currently no plans as of this date for another tenant or agreement on the uses of those spaces. There are discussions happening with SHA and our other partners about the best uses of these spaces.

. I would also say we were happy to host Middle College, that the students and staff brought a liveliness to our space and community that will be missed.

WHAT’S NEXT? Ybarra says they are asking supporters to turn out at the next School Board meeting, this Wednesday (June 3rd) at district HQ in SODO; public comments start at 5 pm (advance signup is required and starts this morning, as shown on the agenda). That happens to conflict, though, with the MCHS-HP graduation ceremony, 5:30 pm the same night. But, he vows, “we will have a presence” at the board meeting. Meantime, if you have any questions about this for School Board rep McLaren, her last community-conversation meeting of the year – open to any SPS topic – is tonight (Monday, June 1st), 6 pm, at Southwest Branch Library, 35th and Henderson.

Police checking on reports of what sounded like gunshots

June 1, 2015 12:48 am
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 |   Delridge | High Point | West Seattle news | West Seattle police

In case you’re wondering, as are some who’ve messaged us – police are checking on reports of possible gunshots heard between High Point and Delridge. One texter said it sounded like six to eight shots in the Home Depot area; the area officers are investigating is west of there, near 27th and Shinkle (map). No report of anyone or anything being hit so far; often it’s impossible for officers to know whether it was gunshots or fireworks unless they find shell casings and/or property damage. We’ll update if we find out anything else.