West Seattle, Washington
“People living on our streets are living harsh and dreadful lives.”
Minutes before Mayor Murray said those words in his live speech to the city about the homelessness emergency – they had been underscored.
Five people were shot in the unauthorized freewayside encampment known as “The Jungle.” Two did not survive. No one’s been arrested yet.
— Seattle Times Photo (@SeaTimesPhoto) January 27, 2016
While the attack – called “targeted” by Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole – suddenly overshadowed the mayor’s speech, you might want to watch it, with West Seattle taking another spotlight role in the homelessness crisis shortly, as an RV “safe lot” is readied in Highland Park.
(Updated) You can watch it on the Seattle Channel website by going here – or below:
We watched and listened for key points:
“This is what income inequality looks like … We are dealing with an extraordinary crisis. … Emergency responses alone are not the answer. … We must shift the focus to long-term solutions.” He said he will pursue “a new strategy based on outcomes … (to) shift more resources to (keep people) from ever becoming homeless.” Once people do become homeless, “we know very little about the people living in those tents.” Murray vowed to change that. And he said affordable housing is key to the solution; he promised citywide meetings and also a doubled housing levy, saying that “as a city there is nothing more important we can do this year than to pass this levy.”
He repeated throughout the speech that the federal government must do more, that our city already is spending almost $50 million a year and can’t solve it alone. To get the remaining 3,000 people into emergency shelter would require another $50 million, he said.
And finally, he challenged Seattleites to face the problem “without denigrating each other,” decrying how people have vilified and dehumanized homeless people: “In one tent on our streets you might find a family that lost their home in a personal financial crisis. Go to an encampment, you might find someone struggling with addiction. Go to another you might find someone committing crimes to feed their habit. Polarized one side fits all rhetoric we hear from both sides is unhelpful.”
He also said that the claims the city is doing nothing, or that it’s doing the wrong thing by sweeping encampments, are both wrong.
And – chillingly, knowing what had happened just before his speech, he spoke of people dying on the streets, living in “encampments where some have been murdered or raped.”
He mentioned the “safe lots” to be opened for people living in vehicles, one of which will be in West Seattle, on a Highland Park paved lot adjacent to a former unauthorized encampment closed more than two years ago. Tomorrow night, Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim and City Councilmember Lisa Herbold will be among city reps at the Highland Park Action Committee meeting to talk about it and to listen; 7 pm at HP Improvement Club (12th SW/SW Holden).
ADDED WEDNESDAY MORNING: As noted in comments, tonight’s HPAC agenda – including questions for the city – can be seen here.
This story was breaking just before other news of the day took precedence, but we did want to make note of it in case you didn’t hear elsewhere – a lawsuit over pollution in the Duwamish River. Announced by the office of City Attorney Pete Holmes this morning:
The City of Seattle is suing three “Monsanto” corporations to make them pay to remove cancer-causing chemical compounds known as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) from the City’s drainage system and the Duwamish River. Monsanto was the sole producer of PCBs in the United States from 1935 to 1979.
PCBs — found globally in bays, oceans, rivers, streams, oil and air – are an equal opportunity toxic that destroys populations of fish, birds and other animal life as well as harming human immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems.
At issue in the complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Seattle is PCB contamination in 20,000 acres that drain to the Lower Duwamish, a federal Superfund site, and in areas that drain to the East Waterway adjacent to Harbor Island, a separate federal Superfund site. PCBs were detected in “82 percent of samples of sediment in drainage pipes” and in “73 percent of samples collected from catch basins in street right-of-ways” in Lower Duwamish drainage basins.
Here’s the full lawsuit document, provided by the CAO:
The news release continues:
8 PM: Police and fire converged on the 2400 block of SW Holden a short time ago, not far from the Southwest Precinct, where we’ve been covering the West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network meeting and heard the sirens. What we’ve found out so far is that one woman has gone to the hospital after falling from an apartment window. Whether it was an accident or deliberate, police are trying to sort out.
8:56 PM P.S. We’re not likely to be able to find out more about this until morning, because of this incident which was unfolding in South Seattle at the same time.
Tomorrow (Wednesday, January 27) at 5 pm, you’re invited to Southwest Pool for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the brand-new fitness room. Assistant coordinator Anne Barnes says there’s an extra incentive – a free gift for everyone who attends, and a discounted fee for those who stay for the 5:30 pm lap swim or Masters swim program afterward ($2/lap, $3/Masters). It’s also your chance to find out more about what’s at Southwest Pool – more than just swimming. The Fitness Room has been a decade in the making, as Parks announced:
The Southwest Pool fitness room project began following a proposal from the Southwest Advisory Council in April 2006. The room was originally an unutilized space following the completion of the gym at the then Southwest Community Center. Construction and planning was led by Seattle Parks and Recreation in partnership with the Southwest Advisory Council and Ravenna-Eckstine Advisory Council and the Associated Recreation Council.
The fitness room was completed in December 2015 and provides machines for weight training (powered by compressed air), stretch bands and balance discs, and space for static stretching. The space will allow for community members and regular swimmers to diversify their workouts while still in the same facility, decreasing the risk of overuse injuries and promoting cross-training. The fitness room is located at the south/shallow end of the pool deck. Hours of operation are identical to Southwest Pool hours of operation and may change quarterly based on public program schedules.
SW Pool is at 2801 SW Thistle.
If you’re thinking about a beach walk late today or tonight now that the rain’s lifted – you don’t have to worry about contaminated water along Alki Point.
Four days after the sewage-pipe leak that brought emergency repairs and beach closure south of Alki and beyond, the King County Wastewater Treatment District reports the water quality has “returned to normal” near the leak site, and that while health authorities closed Alki Beach Park itself to swimming as a precaution, its water tested at normal levels all along.
According to county spokesperson Doug Williams, the county estimates 14,200 gallons of wastewater/sewage spilled before they started work to stop and fix the leak last Friday near 63rd SW/Beach Drive SW. It was caused by a failed joint seal. After they fixed the pipe, it was buried in concrete, and now they’re restoring the landscaping by the south end of Constellation Park (a crew was still there when we went by an hour ago). The sewer line there, almost 4 feet across, pipes West Seattle wastewater to the West Point treatment plant across Elliott Bay.
2:37 PM: Two eighth-grader girls from Denny International Middle School say older boys/men “grabbed and pushed” them on Monday. That’s according to this letter just sent to Denny and Chief Sealth International High School families by Denny principal Jeff Clark (who shared it with WSB) and Sealth principal Aida Fraser-Hammer:
Dear Denny and Chief Sealth Scholars and Families,
This morning, two of our 8th grade female scholars reported to us that they were approached by two males on their walk home yesterday near SW Trenton St. and 22nd Ave SW. They reported that the males followed them and then grabbed and pushed them towards a yard.
Our scholars did a great job by screaming, getting away, and running off. Our scholars believed that the males were in their late teens and approximately 5’7”. Both of the males had their jackets zipped up partially blocking their faces and had hoods on, so we have a limited description.
Our scholars did the right thing by screaming, getting away, and telling an adult at home and at school. The families reported the incident to the Seattle Police Department last night and they are investigating today. The Seattle Police and Seattle Public Schools staff will both be providing extra presence in that area.
As a pre-caution, we are reminding our scholars this afternoon about safety tips for walking to and from school. We would appreciate your help by having a similar conversation at home. The walking safety advice includes:
GENERAL SAFETY TIPS
• Pay close attention to your surroundings, avoid “automatic pilot.”
• Walk with a purpose; project an assertive, business-like image.
• Use common sense; plan your route to avoid uninhabited parks, parking lots, garages and alleyways.
• Stick to well-lit areas.
• Develop a plan before you see trouble. Crossing a street or entering a store may get you out of a potentially bad situation.
• If a car follows you or beckons you while you are walking, do not approach it. Instead, turn and quickly walk the opposite direction.
• Consider wearing clothing and shoes that you can move freely and quickly in, especially when walking or waiting for the bus.
• Carry minimal items; overloading yourself can make you appear vulnerable.
• Always plan your route and stay alert to your surroundings. Avoid shortcuts. Walk confidently. Scan your surroundings and make eye contact with people.
• Avoid walking alone at night. As much as possible, walk or travel with a friend, even during the daytime.
As always, thank you for your help and partnership!
P.S. If you didn’t see it in the comments earlier – here’s the SPD Blotter writeup about the incident – same basic information.
Another death under investigation right now in West Seattle – under the West Seattle Bridge, apparently someone who died by suicide. Police were still in the right lane on the eastbound bridge as of a few minutes ago, with a vehicle believed to have been related to the incident.
That’s all we know right now but as we always mention in relation to cases of suicide, if you or someone you know is considering self-harm, the Crisis Clinic is one of the resources available to help 24/7 – 206-461-3222.
(SCROLL DOWN for newest information)
10:52 AM: A big Seattle Fire response is headed to a “trench rescue” call in the 3000 block of 36th SW (map). More to come.
10:56 AM: From the scanner – first crews on scene say this is a person “buried up to his head” in an 8-foot deep, 3-foot wide hole. They’re working to dig him out. We won’t know until our crew arrives if it is related, but city files show a side-sewer repair permit for the address listed on the 911 log.
(WSB photo by Patrick Sand)
11:09 AM: If you’re in the area, you’ll see specialized SFD vehicles heading that way – technical rescue equipment. (The heavy-rescue vehicle, shown above, is already on scene.) We’re awaiting an update from our crew.
11:16 AM: They’ve confirmed this happened during sewer-repair work. SFD’s public-information officer is on scene and gathering information from the SFD crews, more of which are still arriving. There’s also at least one TV helicopter in the area.
11:21 AM: Just announced via radio communications – “this is now a recovery operation, not a rescue operation.”
11:52 AM: Also just announced – state Labor and Industries, which investigates workplace incidents, is on the way. Seattle Police will investigate the incident for starters, according to SFD, whose spokesperson Corey Orvold has just briefed us and other media at the scene (update: here’s the video):
They say the soil was too dense for them to get to the victim in time – there was no real way to make a path for air.
They’re still using vacuum equipment to try to clear it. 36th SW remains closed between Hanford and Stevens and likely will be for a while.
2:21 PM: Some crews remain at the scene. We’ll be checking back there within the hour. No additional investigation information so far. A few lines above, we’ve added the video of the early briefing SFD gave media at the scene.
4:25 PM: Only TV crews left at the scene. Meantime, we just talked with Elaine Fischer at Labor and Industries. She says this was the first trenching fatality in our state since 2008. And she confirms what our search of online records indicated – there was no history of safety investigations for the company doing the work, Alki Construction LLC of Burien. L&I doesn’t have any information about the person who was killed – that would come from the Medical Examiner, likely no sooner than tomorrow. No additional information from SPD, who SFD had indicated would be doing some investigation too.
ADDED WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON: The King County Medical Examiner has identified the victim as 36-year-old Harold Felton. We have a message out to L&I to find out if there’s anything new in the investigation.
In West Seattle Crime Watch today – a reader report from Kyle:
My family’s home was burglarized (Monday) afternoon.
I came home from work to find my back door kicked in and two Apple computers stolen as well as an XBOX one, Samsung sound bar, etc. The bad thing is the iMac that was stolen had our entire 7-year-old’s life of pics and movies on it! We have most saved on an external hard drive but it still hurts.
We live in the Westwood area and just wanted to spread a warning that people who don’t care about other humans are on the prowl. If you see an older iMac or MacBook Pro with a dent in the top, please let us know. Thanks!
And one more reminder that a briefing on local crime trends is on the agenda for tonight’s West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network meeting – all welcome, block-watch captain or not – 6:30 pm at the Southwest Precinct, 2300 SW Webster.
From the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar:
TODDLER STORY TIME: 10:30 am at West Seattle (Admiral) Library – bring your toddler for free fun. (2306 42nd SW)
WATERCOLOR PAINTING: New class series at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor) with Jennifer Carrasco starts at 6 tonight, as previewed here on Monday. Learn to paint, or work on advancing your technique. (5612 California SW)
WEST SEATTLE BLOCK WATCH CAPTAINS MEETING: As previewed here last night, WSBWCN resumes its monthly meetings tonight, 6:30 pm, at the Southwest Precinct. You’ll meet SPD’s new local Community Police Team officers and hear about crime trends from precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis. All welcome – you don’t have to be a block-watch captain or even member! (2300 SW Webster)
MAYOR’S SPEECH ON THE HOMELESSNESS EMERGENCY: As previewed here last night, Mayor Murray plans a 7:30 pm speech to be broadcast/webcast via Seattle Channel (cable 21 or seattlechannel.org), aimed at a citywide audience.
BABY KETTEN KARAOKE: 9 pm at The Skylark – sing it! (3803 Delridge Way SW)
SOMETHING FOR OUR CALENDAR? Please send it to email@example.com – thanks!
(Click any view for a close-up)
6:29 AM: No incidents in or from West Seattle so far this morning. Rainy, though.
7:48 AM: Texter reports a crash on the eastbound bridge near Nucor. No fire callout on the 911 log, so apparently no major injuries.
8 AM: Just had the dispatch for that. Right lane blocked; no injuries reported but “one vehicle is not drivable” so it’s not going to clear quickly.
8:25 AM: Now another dispatch for a crash on the eastbound bridge, this one described as closer to the 99 exit. So if you’re headed toward the bridge – beware. Consider waiting a while if you can.
8:31 AM: That one has cleared, but the other one is still blocking, further west, as SDOT tweeted:
UPDATE: Collision: Eastbound W Seattle Bridge west of Delridge Way SW, left lane remains blocked. Expect delays pic.twitter.com/WI6X1QeYEU
— seattledot (@seattledot) January 26, 2016
8:42 AM: SDOT says that crash is now clear too – so the bridge should be getting back to something resembling normal.
10:05 AM: … but not for long. Now, yet another crash on the eastbound bridge, this time reported to be under the 99 overpass.