Morgan Community Association, report #2: From police to politics, with housing and traffic calming along the way

We’ve already reported two of the many topics covered at the quarterly Morgan Community Association meeting this past week – but there was much more.

Those topics included the recent arsons – the most recent one had happened in Morgan Junction earlier that day, so everyone was on guard. Engine 37 firefighters came to share fire-deterring tips (as circulated here earlier in the week); Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis came with an update on the investigation (we recorded it on video and added it to the update we’d published a few hours earlier).

SPD was originally on the MoCA agenda to talk about the area’s “micropolicing plan” and the new citywide Public Safety Survey, both with Seattle University involved, so Seattle U research intern Jennifer Burbridge, who’s been working with the SW Precinct and neighborhood groups, joined the presentation.

Morgan’s key areas of concern:

*Property crime
*Problems in the parks
*Speeding and traffic issues
*Non-residential property crime (shoplifting, armed robberies)

Police are working on specific strategies for each of these issues. Also mentioned: SPD’s new Crime Data Dashboard, unveiled earlier in the day – you can look up month-by-month crime stats for many neighborhoods.

Capt. Davis echoed a lot of what he had said at the previous evening’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting, including that police are working with prosecutors regarding how to keep repeat offenders behind bars for longer.

What can we do to help? one attendee asked. Another suggested that when you hear someone’s been arrested – let the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office know that you are concerned, show community concern, and maybe a plea bargain will be less likely.

Here’s what else happened:

MURAL RESTORATION: See our separate report on this.

DISTRICT 1 CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATE PITCHES: Lisa Herbold spoke and answered questions toward the start.

She had to head out to the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting; Shannon Braddock was staying for the rest of the MoCA meeting, so she deferred the chance to speak until its end, which, to provide context for her much-shorter remarks, was running overtime by then:

Theirs is one of many races/issues on your November 3rd ballot.

GET TO KNOW YOUR CITY: MoCA has been featuring various city departments at its quarterly meetings, so people can “get to know” the departments and services. This time around, Todd Burley from the city Office of Housing explained what it’s about. They’re NOT the Seattle Housing Authority, he said – SHA handles about half the subsidized housing in the city, while his agency handles the other half, about 12,000 rent/income-restricted housing units that are “regulated for 50 years – long-term affordability” for much of a building’s lifespan.

This year, Housing had its “largest funding round ever, $43 million to be loaned to nonprofit groups” to build housing. They also have incentive programs for private developers, he said. He also mentioned the recently expanded Multi-Family Tax Exemption, which he says will create “more affordable units” from hereon out. Right now, 2,000 units are part of that project, and 2,000 more are “in the pipeline,” he said.

Affordable housing equals paying 30 percent for your housing and utilities, he said. That’s harder to find, he said, because rent has gone up 29 percent in the past few years for a 1-bedroom apartment, for new construction; 14 percent for existing construction. $1800 is the average rent for a new 1-bedroom. “It’s bad, we all know that, I probably didn’t have to say that.” 45,000 households in the city spend more than half their income on housing, he said, with a side note: If you’re qualified for the utility discount program and not signed up, you’re wasting money – 60 percent off your utility bill if you qualify.

He mentioned the much-discussed Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) recommendations briefly, and also the Housing Levy, which expires next year and so will be proposed for renewal – doubled – “under $300 million.” He said they leverage state and federal dollars with what they raise, so taxpayers’ dollars go farther. “We do a good job, we’re a pretty lean machine.”

SPEAKING OF HALA: MoCA’s Cindi Barker, who was a member of the HALA advisory committee, briefed the group on some key points . She talked about how the committee had thought its recommendations would come out, get digested, and then the mayor would say what he supported. Instead, he announced his “action plan” simultaneously with the HALA recommendations. While the number 65 has been bandied about in terms of how many recommendations it contains, the report really contains more like 145, she said. HALA now has a program manager and an outreach manager, and they’ll be invited to MoCA’s January meeting, she said. Also, the City Council has now published its “work plan” for the recommendations; the mayor has made his priorities public; but what will other departments pick up on? The “urban village boundary” is one possible effect that Cindi Barker listed – possibly leading to “adjustments” in single-family zoning that remains within urban-village boundaries. Some changes might be removing the limit on how many unrelated people can live in “a unit” (currently it’s eight).

She also mentioned the much-touted “Grand Bargain” component of HALA, involving developers and affordable-housing advocates, saying that it actually happened outside the business that HALA was conducting. She said they’re still trying to figure out what the GB will result in – whether a 30-foot zone will actually wind up with 7 floors enabled, if some of it is affordable housing. Since Morgan is an urban village, it’s going to get more people – “our cut will be maybe 3,000,” she guesstimates, and then urged everyone to go to the upcoming Seattle 2035 comprehensive-plan meeting at the Senior Center of West Seattle, November 12th at 6 pm.

FRIENDS OF MORGAN JUNCTION PARKS: Barry White updated the group on the group‘s worth with not only Morgan Junction Park but also smaller public spaces around the area – November 14th at 2 pm is the pre-winter two-hour work party, tools provided, to help get the parks ready for the winter. All welcome.

49TH AND GRAHAM: A resident spoke to MoCa about the quest for traffic calming at 49th and Graham, on behalf of about three dozen neighbors, several of whom joined her at the meeting. She said she’s lived there 20 years and has “heard the neighborhood complain about the intersection the entire time” – but residents were “galvanized” by last month’s on-its-side car crash, the type of crash that neighbors considered “a matter of not when, but if.”

(WSB photo, September 2nd)
They surveyed 113 houses in the area; 33 surveys were returned, all in favor of “some type of safety improvement.” Stop signs, traffic circle, and a painted intersection mural were the preferred options, in that order. The first two might not be feasible, she said, because the first aren’t supported for “uncontrolled intersections” – of which the city has thousands – and the traffic circle would need more crashes to qualify, with such a long queue. So they’re going to try for a “painted mural” and are hoping for MoCA’s support. “Our goal is to prevent future accidents.”

An attendee mentioned a successful attempt to get a traffic circle at 38th and Graham. But the 49th/Graham neighbor said that even if they collected signatures and raised all the money, they still couldn’t get a circle, because SDOT has too many in line ahead of them. Further discussion ensued that stop signs are no panacea. They said they could make the mural happen within the next six months but they still want to campaign for a traffic circle over the next several years.

MoCA MINUTES: These quick mentions included:

*Contract rezone for the townhouses on Church of Nazarene-owned land just south of 42nd/Juneau is advancing – the City Council approved comprehensive-plan changes including this one on October 12th. The townhouse project now will move toward Streamlined Design Review.
*Contract rezone mentioned as in the works for 6921 California SW project (first reported here back in August).
*All nine business-district bicycle racks are in; some concrete was set recently for the final two.
*Sidewalk project – As the city has since announced, it’s now set to start November 5th.
*Neighborhood-plan update? The city’s not going to do them, so if Morgan (or any other neighborhood) wants one, they’ll have to take it on themselves.
*Convening Morgan businesspeople – Eldon Olson is working on this and hoping to set up a networking event in spring.
*Planning for next year’s Morgan Junction Community Festival – that’ll start “right after Christmas.”

NEW BOARD MEMBERS NEEDED: VP Jason Wax moved out of Morgan Junction, and Southwest District Council rep Tod Rodman relinquished that position. No one still on hand by this point of the meeting, after 9 pm, volunteered, so it’ll be brought up again next time.

MoCA meets quarterly, usually on a third Wednesday; watch for info between and before meetings at

9 Replies to "Morgan Community Association, report #2: From police to politics, with housing and traffic calming along the way"

  • M October 26, 2015 (10:38 am)

    Maybe SHA should sell some of its buildings in the Morgan Junction that contain million dollar water views for its residents and use the proceeds to increase affordable housing capacity sans the views.

  • M October 26, 2015 (10:40 am)

    Any update on the proposed rezoning of the Cafe Ladro property? I really hope they don’t put in a 7 story building in the middle of our residential neighborhood just for the sake of affordable housing.

  • pupsare best October 26, 2015 (11:23 am)

    In the immediate aftermath of the 49th/Graham “on its side car crash” last month, I pointed out the equally dangerous intersection of 48th/Graham.
    The stop sign for traffic heading eastbound on Graham is totally obscured by a small tree, an accident waiting to happen.
    I am still curious as to why law enforcement officers, who surely must see this, as they use the intersection on a regular basis, do not address it.
    No new traffic circle required, nothing more complicated than having the tree either severely pruned or removed.
    Oh, well…

  • Deb October 26, 2015 (2:17 pm)

    Re: Pupsarebest – As a resident in this neighborhood several years ago, I submitted the neighborhood fund application for traffic calming and speed bumps installed on 48th (Please no comments about how useless they are…) I wanted to share with you that per SDOT, the intersection at 48th at Graham is not eligible for a traffic circle as 48th is a bus route.
    But there WAS an accident at this intersection this past spring, so I will ask the neighbor to again prune his his tree so the stop sign is more visible.

  • flynlo October 26, 2015 (3:04 pm)

    Interesting that SFD vehicles can navigate traffic
    circles but METRO vehicles can’t!!!!

  • pupsarebest October 26, 2015 (4:08 pm)

    Thanks, Deb!
    Just to clarify, I was not suggesting a traffic circle be implemented, I was pointing out the solution for this particular dangerous intersection is as simple as addressing the issue of the tree obscuring the stop sign for eastbound drivers.
    I hope your neighbor will cooperate. 👍🏻

  • Brian October 26, 2015 (6:40 pm)

    @pupsarebest You know you can take a photo with your phone and submit this kind of thing using FindItFixIt and it will get addressed pretty quickly, right?

  • pupsarebest October 26, 2015 (9:52 pm)

    No, Brian, I was unaware of the option you’ve suggested—thank you!

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