West Seattle, Washington
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Homelessness is an emergency, Mayor Ed Murray and County Executive Dow Constantine proclaimed today. This excerpt from their announcement spells out why:
Last winter’s One Night Count found 3,772 men, women, and children without shelter in King County, including more than 2,800 in Seattle – a 21 percent increase over 2014. In 2015, 66 homeless people have died in King County, including 47 on the streets and in unpermitted encampments in Seattle. The state now reports that 35,000 people in King County become newly homeless at some point during the year.
Part of the declaration includes a city plan to spend $5 million more on getting people off the streets and, for those who are on the streets, covering some basic needs, like sanitation. The plan will be discussed at a special City Council meeting tomorrow, and is to be funded through the sale of city property in West Seattle, according to the city documents related to today’s announcement. From the Frequently Asked Questions document:
How is the City paying for this new investment?
The $5 million investment is funded from the proceeds of the sale of excess property located on Myers Way South.
We’ve reported in recent years about the city process of figuring out what to do with that land, the “Myers Parcels“ in southeast West Seattle, next to the Joint Training Facility. Some community advocates have lobbied for preserving some of it as greenspace, as reported here most recently back in February.
The city Finance and Administrative Services Department clarified, when we inquired, that the property hasn’t been sold yet. More on that later.
First, what today’s announcement means for helping homeless people:
Both Murray and Constantine signed emergency proclamations. Murray was quoted in the city announcement as saying, “The City is prepared to do more as the number of people in crisis continue to rise, but our federal and state partners must also do more. Cities cannot do this alone.” Constantine was quoted as saying, “Emergency declarations are associated with natural disasters, but the persistent and growing phenomenon of homelessness – here and nationwide – is a human-made crisis just as devastating to thousands as a flood or fire. We call on the federal and state governments to take action, including shouldering more responsibility for affordable housing, mental health treatment, and addiction services.”
Go here to see what the city is proposing, or read the details below:
On the county side, Constantine is proposing $2 million in spending, some of it “already pending before the King County Council, to address immediate human needs and the root causes of homelessness,” according to the news release, which adds that both entities already invest heavily: “The City of Seattle already invests more than $40 million annually to assist people at-risk of or experiencing homelessness, including single adults, youth, families, domestic violence survivors, older adults, and veterans. King County invests $36 million a year to assist individuals and families at-risk of or experiencing homelessness.”
That represents a bigger share of those services than ever, says the city announcement: “A decade ago, City resources represented less than 40 percent of the total funding for homelessness services. The City is now responsible for over 60 percent of homelessness investments.”
Thousands of those who need help are children, the city says:
There are 32,000 homeless children in Washington state, with nearly 3,000 homeless children currently attending Seattle Public Schools. On average, that’s more than 1 student per Seattle classroom.
The city announcement says they’re trying to be strategic with the spending:
The City is currently analyzing all homelessness investments and expanding data collection to ensure resources are targeted at the most effective strategies. Seattle is also launching a new effort to reduce administrative burden on agencies by allowing non-profit partners to provide a range of services under portfolio contracts, rather than separate contracts for each type of service.
We don’t know yet what share of the new funding might be spent in this area. We checked with one local agency that offers emergency help to people in crisis, West Seattle Helpline, whose executive director Chris Langeler told us it’s good news in general:
We are excited by Mayor Murray and Executive Constantine’s announcements today declaring a “State of Emergency” and new resources dedicated to alleviating, preventing, and ending homelessness in Seattle and King County. The West Seattle Helpline has served hundreds of members of our community this year who are homeless or at-risk of experiencing homelessness by providing rent & utility assistance, transportation assistance, or clothing. With rents continuing to rise and utility costs increasing as winter approaches, we are seeing heightened demand for assistance and more of our neighbors facing the threat of eviction.
We have initiated a dialogue with the City of Seattle’s Department of Human Services and are exploring ways that we can work with the City to be a part of the solution to homelessness. We’re hopeful that the heightened focus and additional resources will help more of our West Seattle neighbors-in-need stay safe in their homes.
Now, back to the $5 million in city funding for extra services, described as coming from Myers Way sale proceeds. A document late in the day looking ahead to tomorrow’s meeting clarified that the $5 million will for starters come from an “interfund loan” out of the city’s “Cash Pool,” to be repaid from sale proceeds of some of the “Myers Parcels” land. That sale is still in the future, we found out from Cyndi Wilder in the city Finance and Administrative Services Department:
The Myers Way excess property has not yet been sold. The Myers Way property is still under active property review, meaning the City is working on strategies for the reuse and disposition of the property. We anticipate selling a portion of the site for commercial development, but a larger portion of the property, including certain wetlands and much of the tree canopy, would be retained for environmental protection. In 2016, the City Council will review legislation to authorize land to be retained and land to be sold. We understand that proceeds from the sale of any portion of the property not needed for identified future City purposes or retained for environmental protection would be directed toward the emergency response to homelessness. Information about the property is available here, and we’ll be updating that page with information about the property disposition as it becomes available.
Tomorrow’s meeting to finalize the emergency-response plan is at 2 pm at City Hall.
This year’s Community Art Showcase at Southwest Library featured 112 creations by 57 artists and musicians – and librarian Jane Gibson says that if you’re among them, tonight and tomorrow are your last chances to go get your work and bring it home! She shared the photo collage of participants; click the image for a larger version. The library at 35th SW & SW Henderson is open until 8 tonight and 10 am-8 pm tomorrow.
This is the third full day that the Chipotle restaurant in West Seattle has been closed, along with the 42 other Chipotles in Washington and Oregon, after a regional outbreak of suspected E. coli-related illness. We checked with the state Health Department today to ask if they had any new information, including whether they would be identifying the six locations where the people with the known cases were reported to have eaten. The reply: No update today, but health authorities plan a media briefing tomorrow. Here’s their newest summary, in the meantime:
The restaurants under investigation are linked to 19 cases of E. coli illnesses in Washington. Four more cases were reported from Oregon, also associated with Chipotle restaurants. Seven of the Washington patients and two Oregon patients were hospitalized; there have been no deaths. An investigation is underway. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is testing food samples from Chipotle restaurants at their lab in Bothell. Biological samples from people who were infected have been tested at the Public Health Laboratories (Department of Health) in Shoreline.
Here’s our report from Saturday morning. The state advised later in the day that anyone who “thinks they may have become ill from eating at a Chipotle restaurant in the past three weeks” should see their health-care provider.
In West Seattle Crime Watch this afternoon – first, two car-prowl reports received over the weekend from the same area of Arbor Heights, 37th/98th vicinity:
Robert unintentionally left a case of teaching materials in his car – and by morning, they were gone. Someone found some of the items more than a mile away, near 35th/Thistle, but he is still looking for a “black Travel Pro wheeled carry-on” and “an instructional manual for Phonics Boost, a few children’s books–Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel, a couple of George and Martha books–and a few more, and some manila file folders with notes. They also took a tool tote with a bunch of teaching tools, markers, calculator, etc.” The items that were recovered with a few of his other items, by the way, included “a nitrous tank and some key rings (and) also a receipt of some sort from Volkswagen.” If you have seen any of the items Robert is still missing, please comment.
In the same area, Danny reports that someone stole change from his car: “I am not sure if I didn’t lock it as there was no visible signs of damage done to it. I also heard there is some kind of universal key that can open car doors without the alarm going off. … There was also mail from several blocks away scattered in from my house. There is also a house that is being built that has a Honey Bucket in front of it that had mail from my neighbor across from me in it two Thursdays ago. I am wondering if this could be related. … There was also Halloween decorations and a few plants stolen from my porch Halloween night.” (Regarding the “universal key,” this story was referenced in a recent comment thread about the topic.)
Another car-prowl report, from Aaron:
Just wanted to report that my friend’s car was broken into a week or so ago in from of my house on 38th and Charlestown. They broke both passenger side windows and stole her work bag from the back seat. Nothing of value to them, but she had a lot of important paperwork for the insurance company she works for. Sucks to hear about so many break-ins.
One more report, not definitively connected to crime but likely, as many stolen bikes are dumped this way:
FOUND BICYCLE: Jenny found a “Kulana Makamaka, black with red splash guard in the back, missing one in the front. From the images I’ve found of this bike online, it looks like it probably had a front splash guard when new.” Missing one? She says it has some stickers the rightful owner should be able to identify.
Haven’t voted yet? Don’t miss the chance to choose the first-ever District 1 City Councilmember, to settle the fate of the $930 million Seattle Proposition 1 transportation levy, and to make more than a dozen other decisions. Lots of last-minute voters again this election, judging by how few ballots have been returned so far – in D-1 (West Seattle/South Park), 9,141 out of 60,177. You have until tomorrow evening to vote, and you can do it for free by dropping your ballot off at a King County Elections ballot van or box – the full list is here, and it includes the drop vans at West Seattle Stadium (4432 35th SW, until 5 pm today and 10 am-8 pm tomorrow) and at Greenbridge (8th SW south of SW Roxbury, same hours). If you’ve been to the one in WS before, you’ll notice a new location – we just stopped by for a photo and discovered they’re by the stadium’s west entrance instead of along the driveway (200 ballots today, as of 1 pm). You also can mail your ballot, as long as it’s postmarked by tomorrow, but that’ll cost you 49 cents worth of postage.
11:36 AM: Thanks to Trileigh for the tip: Whale watchers commenting on the Orca Network Facebook page have been tracking whales heading in this general direction all morning, southbound, including sightings from Golden Gardens (Ballard) within the past hour. So this is your early alert. Please let us know if and when you see any from West Seattle – texting 206-293-6302 is the best way to reach us immediately – so we can update. Thanks!
2:55 PM: Haven’t heard of any sightings here, and it seems they might not have made it this far south before heading back north, according to the ON FB thread.
(NOTE: Click “play” to see live feed when Council is meeting – budget hearing resumed just after 2 pm)
10:27 AM: The City Council‘s next round of budget-related discussions is set to start shortly (10:30 am) and today’s list of potential additions/changes to the original budget proposal includes transportation items. Among them, two related to the West Seattle Bridge Corridor “action report” made public in September.
The first item would specify $700,000 to be spent this way:
… The proposed budget action would allocate $200,000 for further analysis of physical and operational improvements in the Corridor. The following evaluations or studies would be conducted if the green sheet were included as part of the City’s 2016 Adopted Budget:
1. Evaluate the feasibility and benefit of installing center barrier sections so response vehicles can make U-turns to speed up response time.
2. Evaluate the feasibility and benefit of installing markings and signs to provide one designated emergency lane in each direction of the West Seattle Bridge upper roadways for use during emergencies.
3. Coordinate with WSDOT to determine the feasibility of traffic management modifications to improve eastbound Spokane Street Viaduct connections to south- and northbound I-5.
4. Evaluate Lower Spokane Street chokepoint relationships to determine if rail, truck and bridge opening blockages can be better coordinated to avoid cumulative impacts.
5. Evaluate better communications protocols for Port of Seattle cooperation with truck queue management and dispersal.
6. Evaluate the process and capability for providing data reports to the Washington State office of Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in order for FRA to enforce the maximum 20 minute blockage rule.
7. Initiate an SDOT/WSDOT Peer Review Team to review traffic operational and safety improvement opportunities on the West Seattle Bridge upper and lower roadways and make recommendations.
In addition to the feasibility studies, the green sheet would add $500,000 for installing ITS infrastructure to help communicate delays and wait times associated with train activity in the Corridor. This project would install ITS equipment including Bluetooth readers and dynamic message signs along the Corridor between Airport Way South and Port of Seattle Terminals 5 and 18 in order to collect and display real-time travel time information to trucks drivers and other motorists. Traffic signal system improvements at the intersection of Chelan Avenue Southwest and West Marginal Way Southwest could also be included in the project scope.
The second item, at unspecified cost, basically calls for a report on how the “action report” is being followed up on:
… This Statement of Legislative Intent requests the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) prepare a written progress report on the implementation of initiatives described in the West Seattle Bridge Corridor Whitepaper and Priority Investment List.
The report should describe the Executive’s planning and progress implementing the 2015 West Seattle Bridge Whitepaper and Priority Investment List (the Investment List) recommendations to the Transportation Committee or the appropriate Council committee. The report should be transmitted to the Council no later than March 31, 2016 and should include the following information:
1) A description of all anticipated 2016 SDOT maintenance and capital project activities planned for the West Seattle Bridge Corridor (the Corridor). The report should identify all planned Corridor project activities included in the Investment List and any planned Corridor project activities not included in the Investment List.
2) A comprehensive schedule review defining SDOT’s timing for implementing the Investment List’s recommendations including any multi-year initiatives or projects that may not have full funding.
3) Estimated total investment of City resources in both staff and funding to carry out Investment List recommendations in 2016 and beyond.
4) A description of the on-going metrics SDOT will use to measure the effectiveness of the recommended investments and a Corridor-wide assessment of traffic conditions for all modes in 2016.
See the full list of items to be discussed at today’s budget meeting – no votes, since this is “Round 1” of the budget review – by going here; you can watch the meeting live via Seattle Channel, online (the “live” player is embedded above) or cable channel 21.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? To comment on anything in the budget process – which will continue until a final vote before Thanksgiving – click the “Send Us Budget Feedback” button on this page.
12:17 PM UPDATE: The West Seattle Bridge-related items hadn’t been reached yet when the council recessed for lunch, due back in session at 2 pm.
2:58 PM: They’ve just reached the West Seattle Bridge Corridor items now. (a moment later) Both went by without discussion, aside from a bit of context from Councilmember Tom Rasmussen.
Illegal dumping is a problem at multiple spots around West Seattle, but what that photo shows in a Sunrise Heights alley is something we haven’t seen before. An area resident sent the photo and this report:
Sometime after 4:30 pm yesterday someone dumped upwards of 100 pumpkins in the alley between 32nd and 34th SW, cross street is Kenyon. Going to file an illegal dumping report with City of Seattle.
(Six WS-relevant views; more cams on the WSB Traffic page)
7:17 AM: There’s a crash response at Fauntleroy/Avalon – not sure yet how it’s affecting traffic there (if at all); the initial SFD response was big but closed fast. We’re en route to look.
7:35 AM: Whatever it was, it’s gone – our crew’s not seeing anything except the usual heavy morning traffic.
8:25 AM: Thanks for the tips on a jack-knifed Metro bus that’s causing trouble in Fauntleroy’s Endolyne area, right by the mini-business district there:
(Thanks to James Bratsanos for that photo.)