West Seattle, Washington
You probably recognize WestSide Baby‘s executive director Nancy Woodland at left-center of the photo, provided by the King County Council, whose members hosted her and Eastside Baby Corner‘s Renee Zimmerman on Monday in honor of Diaper Need Awareness Week. We feature WS Baby’s big drives throughout the year, and those donations are vital – to stay dry, clean, and healthy, a baby/toddler needs an average of 50 diaper changes a week, and diapers can’t be purchased with food stamps or WIC vouchers. That fact affects 10,000 babies/toddlers in King County whose families are living below the federal poverty level. The county announcement quotes Woodland as noting, “Diapers for one child can cost upwards of $70 per month, and most daycares won’t accept children without an adequate supply, leaving parents without child care unable to get to work and trapped in a cycle of poverty.” Here’s how to help.
(WSB photo from August)
New developments in a neighborhood group’s challenge to what would be West Seattle’s biggest microhousing building, 104 “bedrooms” at 3050 SW Avalon Way: The city and developer Columbia Builders are both asking the Hearing Examiner to dismiss the latest appeal filed by Seattle Neighbors Encouraging Reasonable Development (NERD), which was founded in the neighborhood just north of Avalon. The group’s fight, now in its third year, continues to center on the city’s definition of microhousing and the reviews that are required, or not required, because of it. In this case, while the 3050 Avalon project will include 104 “bedrooms,” each a unit with a private bathroom, they’re clustered around shared kitchens, allowing the city to consider it 14 “dwelling units.” That means it falls beneath thresholds for environmental and design review, because in both categories, that threshold is 20 “dwelling units” in the midrise zone where the property is located.
This latest appeal relates to an announcement in early August, as reported here – an “interpretation” which Seattle NERD had requested, regarding whether the development really could be viewed as “14 dwelling units” and therefore exempt from those reviews. The city said yes:
The question raised for interpretation was whether the 104 bedrooms in the proposed building should be regulated as separate dwelling units. Each of the bedrooms has a private bathroom. Early versions of the plans showed counters with sinks in each bedroom, outside the bathroom, but those features were eliminated before the plans were approved. The interpretation concludes that the individual bedrooms are not designed and arranged as separate dwelling units, and that the proposed building is appropriately regulated as a 14-unit apartment building based on the plans as modified.
On the environmental front, the site does include what the city considers a “steep slope,” which triggered a limited environmental review, but otherwise, the city issued a “determination of (environmental) non-significance.” A full environmental review would include issues such as traffic effects; this building, like most microhousing buildings, was designed with no offstreet parking.
The appeal currently is set for a November 5th hearing before the examiner, if the dismissal motions aren’t granted. The points on which they are argued are complicated but basically contend that the examiner doesn’t have jurisdiction, and that SeattleNERD made a procedural error by not appealing the “underlying decision” on the issue. You can read all the documents in the case here.
The project has now been in the pipeline for almost three years; we first noticed and mentioned it in November 2012. It’s been almost exactly a year since the city told its developers – among others – that, as the result of a court ruling, they would have to undergo Design Review if they didn’t change their plans. This project, and the microhousing building under construction at 3268 Avalon, did that, and continued on through the system.
West Seattle-founded and headquartered Nurturing Expressions (WSB sponsor) is planning a cross-Sound expansion in hopes of helping more mothers, babies, cancer patients, and others who use its growing array of services. This video explains:
It’s not only showing off what they’re going to do in Kitsap County – where, founder Tracy Corey says, the services are very much needed, but the video was also their entry for the small-business-assistance edg3 FUND competition, in which Nurturing Expressions is a semi-finalist, with finalists competing for a $20,000 grant. Getting to the next round involves votes, and yours can help NE reach across the water to help. You won’t be asked to sign up or “like” anything, but you will be asked for your e-mail address as part of a verification process, since it’s limited to one vote per address (the final step is checking your e-mail to verify) – scroll down this page to find Nurturing Expressions. Voting ends this Wednesday at 5 pm.
P.S. Nurturing Expressions’ West Seattle shop, if you haven’t been there, is in The Junction at 4746 44th SW, suite 201 (second floor).
(WSB file photo by Christopher Boffoli)
Just announced: A special meeting about the West Seattle Bridge Corridor – not just about what’s in that new city “action plan” first reported here a week ago, but also about what you think should be done to fix its often-snarled state. We just found out about this from the office of City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who’s hosting the meeting; they’ve scheduled it with three weeks’ advance notice so you have time to make plans to be there if you’re interested. The basics: 6:30 pm Monday, October 19th, at the Sisson Building (home of the Senior Center of West Seattle), southeast corner of SW Oregon and California SW. If you missed the report and its 27 possibilities for improving the flow in what the city is now calling the West Seattle Bridge-Duwamish Waterway Corridor, follow the link above, or take a look at the “white paper”:
(Photos courtesy South Seattle College)
This just might be the final “back-to-school” day of the year in West Seattle. It’s the first day of fall quarter at South Seattle College (WSB sponsor), headquartered at 6000 16th SW on Puget Ridge. SSC spokesperson Kevin Maloney tells WSB that more than 5,000 students are enrolled, including 103 13th-Year Promise Scholars, and that students “were greeted this morning with breakfast bars, coffee, and a warm welcome by staff members scattered throughout campus.” Those staffers include Computer Science instructor Ravi Gandham:
The fall quarter, which includes 55 instructional days, ends on December 16th; winter quarter starts January 4th.
P.S. A “Welcome Fair” is scheduled for noon-2 pm Thursday by the Clock Tower (which is shown in the top photo).
After the big move, Westside School has tons of free stuff to give away! On Friday, October 2, from 10 am-3 pm, Westside School will be opening the doors of its old building and giving away tons of great school furniture.
Chairs of all sizes
Come check it out at 7740 34th Ave SW. Everything is first-come, first-served.
And yes, Hoffman says, they’ve already worked with recipients before just opening the doors for this: “We spent quite a bit of time giving away items to local schools, but still have a bunch of stuff.”
(Photo courtesy Liann Sundquist: Fauntleroy Church kids have signs ready for Sunday’s Crop Walk)
Take a walk along Alki this Sunday, and help fight hunger with every step – locally and globally. Judy Pickens shares the invitation:
Scores of West Seattleites are lacing their shoes for the annual Crop Hunger Walk on Sunday, October 4, and more walkers and donations are welcome. The three-mile walk along Alki Beach aims to raise $23,000 for nutritious food and clean water, plus awareness of hunger concerns here and around the world. Start time is 1 pm at Alki United Church of Christ (6115 SW Hinds).
Program coordinator Church World Service will direct 25 percent of the funds raised to local food initiatives such as the West Seattle and White Center food banks. The remainder will go to initiatives around the world, including on-the-ground assistance as Syrian refugees cross Serbia.
The West Seattle walk is one of 1,300 happening across the country this fall. Ten West Seattle congregations will have contingents.
You can register to walk, and/or donate, right now – just go here.
(Photo taken from Alki today, by Trileigh Tucker)
10:51 AM: Multiple reports of whales in the Alki Point vicinity. First, the Orca Network cited a WSF report of orcas; Jeff from Killer Whale Tales says it might instead be the humpbacks that have been in the area. Off to look!
11:24 AM: Breezy morning so lots of whitecaps off both Constellation Park and Alki – hard to see whale spouts unless you’re really close (or have a great eye/telescope). Jeff says the humpbacks have been breaching in the ferry lanes north of Alki Point. (West Seattle-based The Whale Trail offers a species-by-species guide if you’re not sure you’d know the difference between a humpback and an orca.)
12:41 PM: West Seattle photographer Trileigh Tucker saw one from Alki – and has the photo to prove it. Added above – thanks!
(June 2015 WSB photo)
8:50 AM: Three and a half months after its Polar Pioneer rig left West Seattle, Arctic-bound, Shell announced overnight that it will “cease further exploration activity in offshore Alaska for the foreseeable future.” Shell said it “safely drilled (an exploration) well to a total depth of 6800 feet” and found “indications of oil and gas,” but not enough to justify continuing, so the “well will be sealed and abandoned.”
In addition to the controversy over Arctic drilling itself, Shell’s local presence still had some unresolved issues, including a pending city Hearing Examiner decision on the appeal of last May’s Department of Planning and Development “interpretation” saying more permits were needed for its use of Terminal 5 as part of Foss Maritime‘s lease. After multiple days of testimony over the summer, documents are still being filed in the case.
But the immediate question is whether any of Shell’s fleet will be headed back this way; besides the Polar Pioneer, several Shell support vessels used T-5 before heading north to the Arctic Ocean.
(May 2015 photo by Paul Weatherman: Shell’s Aiviq and Polar Pioneer @ T-5)
We talked this morning with Foss spokesperson Paul Queary. He says the company is “obviously disappointed” about Shell’s decision to abandon the offshore Arctic, but they don’t know yet what the oil company will do “regarding the vessels coming back to T-5.” Queary says there are still some loose ends at the very least, including items “to be picked up” and cargo to be offloaded. Shell or no Shell, he says, Foss still has a lease with the Port of Seattle and is “seeking other opportunities” for utilizing the space.
We’ll be following up on other aspects of the Shell announcement and will add to this story as the day goes on.
11:38 AM: Earthjustice, which went to court to try to stop the lease the port signed in February, sent a statement: “Shell’s departure from the Arctic Ocean removes for now a major threat to the region’s wildlife, already suffering from climate change more rapid than anywhere on earth. Arctic Ocean oil drilling is a thing of the past. The world cannot afford to burn the vast majority of known fossil fuel reserves, let alone to search for unknown oil in Arctic Ocean, risking an irreplaceable region and wildlife in the process. President Obama now has an opportunity to build on his climate legacy and end Arctic Ocean drilling for good. It’s time to invest in the future of clean renewable energy and a sustainable climate for future generations.”
12:04 PM: A statement from Mayor Murray: ““I am pleased that Shell has ceased their Arctic drilling operations. The people of Seattle stood up to oppose the use of our city as a base for expanded Arctic drilling. With today’s announcement, it is time to move forward. I am committed to working with the Port and our critical maritime industry to build a clean economy of the future that provides high-paying maritime jobs and preserves our environment.”
1:26 PM: And from County Executive Dow Constantine: “While we should all be relieved that Shell Oil decided not to drill in the Arctic, this will not be the last proposal to drill for fossil fuels in that region, posing both local and global environmental risks. Let’s seize this opportunity to make King County a hub for clean-technology development and take the lead in creating a sustainable 21st-century economy.”
Biggest event on tonight’s local calendar is about the two Seattle Public Schools levies headed for your ballot in the February 2016 election. They’re not finalized yet, so if you have something to say – or just want a preview – this is your chance: 6:30 pm at West Seattle High School (3000 California SW), it’s a community meeting about the Operations and Buildings/Technology/Academics/Athletics (BTA IV) levies. The district has a page of background links here. As reported here in August, the biggest local item proposed for the BTA IV levy is money to renovate and reopen E.C. Hughes Elementary in Sunrise Heights (photo at left), the site leased for the past five years by Westside School (WSB sponsor), which has now moved into its own permanent location in Arbor Heights, leaving the Hughes building empty again, 26 years after its original closure. E.C. Hughes (7740 34th SW) would be renovated and expanded to hold up to 550 students. The proposed project list specifies work at other local schools, including the roof at WSHS and the HVAC system at Gatewood Elementary. At tonight’s meeting, the announcement says, SPS staff “will present information, ask for comments and answer questions.”
(Four WS-relevant views; more cams on the WSB Traffic page)
6:51 AM: Good morning! We start with a transit alert:
WATER TAXI RUNNING LATE: King County just texted that the West Seattle Water Taxi is running about 15 minutes late due to “a vessel swap for mechanical reasons.” Water Taxi Watch shows the backup vessel Melissa Ann headed toward Seacrest right now.
7:15 AM: Metro just texted/tweeted this bus cancellation:
Transit Alert – Route 37 to downtown Seattle due to leave SW Alaska St & 35th Av SW at 7:13 AM will not operate this morning.
— King County Metro (@kcmetrobus) September 28, 2015
Metro’s general manager Kevin Desmond is to brief city councilmembers about the cancellations when they meet this afternoon as the >Transportation Benefit District Board, which is supposed to oversee how the voter-approved tax to raise money for more bus service in Seattle is spent.
7:23 AM: West Seattle Water Taxi’s back on schedule, per King County alert.
7:30 AM: From commenter NewNative: “Looks like a #56 stalled on the Seneca hill. Still there when we approached and our driver #57 sat there not knowing how to pass it. Despite a metro supervisor directing traffic.”
4:27 PM: Another cancellation just announced:
Transit Alert – Route 55 to the Admiral District due to leave 5th Av and Wall St at 4:59 PM will not operate this afternoon.
— King County Metro (@kcmetrobus) September 28, 2015
The meeting we mentioned earlier, with a briefing expected by Metro’s GM, is just now under way at City Hall; we’re monitoring via Seattle Channel online.
4:55 PM: And another one:
Transit Alert – Route 55 to the Admiral District due to leave 5th Av and Wall St at 5:22 PM will not operate this afternoon.
— King County Metro (@kcmetrobus) September 28, 2015