By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Two hot topics brought a big turnout to last night’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting – about 50 people at the start.
SW ADMIRAL WAY SAFETY PROJECT: As shown here earlier in the day, SDOT has revised its plan for rechannelizing SW Admiral Way west of California SW. The original proposal, introduced at April’s ANA meeting and discussed at an at-times-raucous “open house” in May, included removal of more than 200 parking spaces, and drawn howls of protest from some who live along the stretch, not just because of the reduction, but because it would have left some stretches with parking only on one side. The new configuration would remove the center turn lane in spots instead.
Dawn Schellenberg and Sam Woods from SDOT led the presentation about the revised version, going again through contextual information about collisions and bicycle use, with questions that had emerged before emerging again from attendees – how many collisions were the fault of drunk drivers, how many bicycle riders are using the road, etc. Numerous documents are now online – scroll down this page to find them.
The new plan includes a reduction of lane width – SDOT says wider lanes encourage speeding. Currently, between 63rd and 60th, the drive lanes are 12 feet wide, and will be narrowed to 11 feet. Between 60th and Stevens, there will be a “door zone” buffering drivers from the new bike lane (and vice versa) on the downhill side. Going uphill, the buffer will be between the bicycle rider and the driver. Between Stevens and Lander, the lanes are 11.5′ and will narrow to 10.5′; between Lander and 47th, “where we didn’t see a lot of parking no matter what time of year we studied it,” … and between 44th and 47th, standard bike lanes, and between 44th and California, no changes, to maintain the left-turn lane.
Additional safety features are now under study on the west end – maybe an all-ways stop at 59th/Admiral, which currently only has a pedestrian signal, leaving people to be confused about traveling in the non-controlled directions when someone is using the signal.
On first take, the revisions did not seem to be receiving rave reviews.
A couple of people voiced concerns that this will bring safety risks rather than solve safety problems. One wondered aloud if the city has a “hidden agenda.” Schellenberg declares there’s no “hidden agenda” but that the city wants to “add another travel option” to the stretch. Asked what that is – she says, “Bicycling.” Yet another attendee suggested that’s what she considered to be a “hidden agenda,” contending that Alki/Harbor Avenue should be sufficient for bicyclists in the area, describing Admiral lanes as “donating” a quarter of the street to riders.
Don Brubeck, a project-zone resident who is president of West Seattle Bike Connections and on the city’s Bicycle Advisory Board, tried to explain that bicycle riders need a safe route in that area, that Alki/Harbor won’t get them to stores and other destinations in central WS.
Things grew briefly acrimonious again, and then settled down, until a few last words from someone: “Please save the parking.”
SDOT is asking for comments on the revised plan through October 1st. One week from tomorrow, at Hiawatha Community Center at 6:15 pm September 17th, they’ll hold another “open house” – a meeting including a presentation as well as a chance to talk to project reps one-on-one. When it was pointed out that the date conflicted with the regular monthly meeting of the Alki Community Council, which represents part of the project zone, the city reps expressed surprise. Could they change the date? No, because the mailers had gone out.
HAMILTON VIEWPOINT PARK: The discussion of safety in the park was supposed to include Seattle Police as well as Seattle Parks, but those in attendance were told that SPD’s Community Police Team Officer Jon Flores had to cancel because of a family emergency. So three Seattle Parks managers took centerstage: South and Central East Park Resource Manager Robert Stowers, South Seattle park resources manager, West Seattle crew chief Carol Baker, and security supervisor Marlan Teeters.
In addition to general ongoing concerns about troublemakers in the park, recent incidents have raised the concern level higher, including the August incident that started as a robbery at Hamilton Viewpoint and led to a shooting in North Delridge (the suspect charged in the case is still in jail – we just checked) – and the Palm Avenue incident in which a man was confronted by gun-wielding youths in his driveway.
For starters, Stowers said, Parks is aware of what’s going on and it’s “going on in every neighborhood … but we always seek a solution.” He said they would do a few things right away, from vegetation reduction to different operating hours:
“Landscapers want to make it more visible so we’re going to be taking out some of the vegetation and making it more exposed to police as they drive by, so they have a sightline into the park – we’re doing this for a lot of our parks.” He also said a contractor will be accountable not just for locking the gate at a certain time but also going through the park and making sure everyone is out first. “Another thing we’re going to do is – we have a proposal out to the superintendent to change the hours at the park permanent, with a trial period first, then we’d go for permanent.” That drew applause even before Stowers said “6 am-10 pm” would be the new hours.
He said they talked about some features they could put in to try to deter people from hanging out but “that would interfere with the beauty of the park.” He also urged people to report problems – they looked at police reports to find support for making changes, and didn’t find very many incidents reported, despite people saying there were endless problems. Neighbors, though, said they call “all the time” and vowed to continue to call. The security rep said that the more calls there are, the more resources they will be able to dedicate. Another neighbor stressed the importance of calling 911, not the non-emergency number. Yet another one complained that people who are camping out on nearby parkland “come into our neighborhoods, break into our cars – how does Parks work with the police?”
Baker talked about how they post “no camping” alerts when they get word of an active camp via the Citizens Service Bureau: “We are bound to respond to any report – we haven’t had a lot of fresh ones, we have 1500 acres in West Seattle and cannot systematically go out and check everything,” but when they get a report, they check it out.
Baker mentioned that Hamilton Viewpoint “is a wedding venue,” so they are trying to balance that status with clearing ways for neighbors and police to see in and be able to report if something is amiss. An attendee said he would like to see police pass through a couple times per shift just to show “a presence” and to deter people loitering, speeding, etc. Stowers said they could ask Superintendent Jesús Aguirre to ask Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole about regular visits.
Another attendee mentioned seeing SPD tweets indicating police are at the park for “exclusion” all the time, but wondered if any arrests or other actions ensued.
Then came a question: When are trees going to be trimmed so that Hamilton Viewpoint Park will be a viewpoint again? Baker said action would be taken that would be “horticulturally correct” and would “open up view lines” but would maintain “sense of enclosure, which is a big part of the park.”
Back to the safety issue, “What if we called the mayor and the city council every day?” Stowers said, “You do what you have to do. Every neighborhood has problems. They’re writing letters, they’re talking to the superintendent … the Police Department is short-staffed, there’s an agreement with the Justice Department, there’s a lot of restraint. We do have an exclusion policy that people can be excluded from the park.” Teeters elaborated on that, saying those involve “trespass warnings” unless they are major crimes such as those involving weapons.
Stowers thought the new hours for Hamilton Viewpoint would take effect within a few weeks.
HIAWATHA CONCERT SERIES RECAP: Whiting delivered the update that we published here last week, and asked the attendees for any thoughts. “Outstanding bands!” one person declared.
The Admiral Neighborhood Association meets second Tuesdays, 7 pm, at The Sanctuary at Admiral (42nd SW & SW Lander).