day : 17/01/2017 11 results

‘Can a 1930 document control our actions 86 years later?’ Ruling awaited in tree-vs.-house case

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The fight over 3,166 square feet of land and one ~100-foot tree is in the hands of city Hearing Examiner Sue Tanner, who is awaiting final written arguments after her 2+-hour hearing on the case.

Once they’re in, her ruling is expected by early February.

We first reported on the clash seven months ago, when neighbors went public with their hopes of keeping the city from granting a special exception to allow a house to be built at 3036 39th SW (map), taking out a towering Ponderosa Pine which meets the city’s definition of “exceptional tree” and has been dubbed the “gentle giant” of the neighborhood. The exception was granted; an appeal was filed; last Wednesday, we published this preview on the eve of the appeal hearing, with neighbors saying the fight had become about more than the tree.

The tree was not the topic of last Thursday’s hearing, it should be noted; it was scarcely mentioned at all. The neighbors’ other issues, such as the thousands of dollars charged by the city for the “interpretation” that facilitated the appeal, wasn’t, either. The testimony was all about the ground beneath, and around, the tree, and what its owner intended for that part of his property when seeking the building permit in 1930 to build the house to its south at 3038 39th SW.

For the city to grant a “historic lot exception” – which it did in October, leading neighbors to pursue their challenge – the Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) had to determine that it was considered a separate building site going back more than half a century, though nothing ever had been built on it. SDCI staffers who have written, by their admission, hundreds such determinations were the department’s main witnesses at the appeal hearing.

The focus was on the minutiae of what information the department uses to make those determinations – which seemed to be portrayed as more of an art than a science, as the specifics, SDCI reps acknowledged, are not written into the city code. Read More

WEST SEATTLE CRIME WATCH: Found bicycle; smashed windows; break-in attempt

January 17, 2017 8:19 pm
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 |   Crime | West Seattle news

Two reader reports and one police report in West Seattle Crime Watch tonight:


FOUND BICYCLE: From Mark – “Found a black Roadmaster bike today along Harbor Avenue. Probably stolen. If yours, email to

SMASHED WINDOWS: An alert from Allison, if you live near 16th/Trenton in Highland Park – “In the last 2 days I’ve seen my two immediate neighbors with the driver-side windows on their cars smashed.”

And from the SPD report files, this burglary attempt from last Thursday night has narrative information available:

ALKI BREAK-IN THWARTED: Police were called to a building in the 1200 block of Alki Avenue SW around 10 pm and arrived to someone running up to their car yelling, “They went that way!” They explained that the two people running away had tried to break into the apartment above theirs. The witness heard a “loud bang” and went upstairs to find that someone had tried to pry open a deadbolted door. The suspects were then seen leaving the building; they were described as “a white male, wearing a white snow jacket, black jeans, a white head scarf, and white Adidas tennis shoes (and) a white unknown sex suspect, wearing a white snow jacket and light-colored jeans.” Two crowbars were found on the ground nearby. Police were working with management to get a copy of surveillance video that shows the suspects.

WEST SEATTLE RESTAURANTS: Alki Fatburger closes; B’s Po Boy on the way


By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

After a little more than three years in business, Alki Fatburger has closed.

Thanks for the tip that sent us over to look for the telltale sign on the door. But with this restaurant closure, unlike many, we know what’s going to follow.

First, the backstory: Fatburger, part of an international chain, opened at 2738 Alki SW in October 2013, not long after the closing of Bada Bistro, which was in business for less than five months. The bistro had been a rebranding of the space that its then-owners operated as Beachside Café for about two years. That in turn was the successor to the abruptly shuttered Alki Bakery, a corner fixture for 25 years, until November 2010.

Back to the present – the sign on the door at the now-ex-Fatburger promises “an exciting new concept.” And we have just spoken to one of the co-proprietors who will be opening it within a few months.

Deborah Borchelt and her husband Ryan Borchelt are new West Seattleites who moved here from Indianapolis, where they founded B’s Po Boy, which she describes as “a Cajun-themed restaurant with authentic po boy sandwiches.” They will open its second location here.

How authentic? “If you’ve ever been to New Orleans, what really makes a po boy is the bread. We were thrilled to find out we’ll be able to get that bread here in Seattle, the same bread we use in Indiana.”

The menu – slightly expanded from what they have in Indianapolis, because the kitchen is larger – also will include gumbo, red beans and rice, beignets, salads, and other sandwiches. Also, she says, “vegan options.”

They’ll have “beer, wine, and spirits,” too.

They’re keeping the Indianapolis restaurant open as well as opening on Alki. So how did they wind up in West Seattle? It’s a love story – they fell in love with our area while visiting good friends here last summer. Those friends, she says, “said you’ll love it here …and we did fall in love, head over heels.” The friends, at the time, were renting on Alki, and had discovered another restaurant for sale. Deborah and her husband started talking and realized they could do business anywhere – so they pursued the idea of moving here and opening another B’s Po Boy.

It took four trips before they settled things, she says, and they were adamant that both their home and restaurant had to be in West Seattle – “that’s how much we love (it).”

So they have been in their home for a month and, this Friday, they close on the now-ex-Fatburger space. They will be working with the design-build firm Mallett to renovate it – nothing major, she says, “we’re not moving walls, but it will have a totally different look and feel.”

They hope to open within two months of closing but realistically, she says, it might be more like three. The hours will be similar to what they do in Indianapolis – opening daily at 11, closing at 9 Sundays-Thursdays, 10 Fridays-Saturdays, during the winter, adding an hour in summer. Maybe later, she says, depending on what they discover about business at the beach.

It will be a full table-service restaurant, with carryout too, and probably some catering.

Borchelt says they’ve seen lots of signs that things were meant to be. Even, she laughs, Alaska Airlines starting nonstop Seattle-Indianapolis service this spring!

She says they’ve talked to some West Seattle “merchants and neighbors” – without divulging their future location until now – and says “everyone’s been welcoming … we feel like we made a great decision.”

VIDEO: West Seattle Fish House in spotlight for King County’s new restaurant ratings


Big crowd at West Seattle Fish House (35th SW/SW Henderson) just before lunchtime today – but they weren’t there for the fish, chips, and chowder. It was a big media event to show off the new restaurant-rating system and signage that Seattle-King County Public Health is rolling out, starting now. Above are King County Council Chair Joe McDermott and County Executive Dow Constantine – both West Seattleites – with WSFH proprietors Senait Beyene, Muzit Evans, and Stan Evans. Here’s a closer look at the new emoji-inspired signage:


As explained in the official announcement of the new system, the first in the nation that takes an average of inspections:

The four food safety ratings are:

Needs to Improve: The restaurant was either closed by Public Health – Seattle & King County within the last year or the restaurant needed multiple return inspections to fix food safety practices.

Okay: The restaurant has had MANY red critical violations over the last four inspections.

Good: The restaurant has had SOME red critical violations over the last four inspections.

Excellent: The restaurant has had No or Few red critical violations over the last four inspections.

The window signage will eventually be displayed in all restaurants in King County. Here’s more about what they mean:

Executive Constantine pointed out that he spent a lot of time working in the food and beverage business – starting out by making fish and chips “down at Alki Beach.” Also at today’s event, inspector Ann Jackson demonstrated some of what she and other inspectors do:


Though West Seattle was chosen for today’s announcement, you won’t see the rating signs in restaurants here until April, the second phase of this year’s four-phase countywide rollout – that’s when they’ll be posted in zip codes including 98106, 98116, 98126, 98136, and 98146. Meantime – you can look up restaurants’ inspection results here.

FOLLOWUP: Mayor officially moves to authorize 3 encampments including Myers Way

2:11 PM: A month and a half after announcing three “new” authorized encampments around the city, including the Myers Way Parcels site that is already home to an unauthorized encampment, Mayor Murray is following through. Here’s the announcement, including plans for a community meeting:

Today, Mayor Ed Murray sent emergency orders to City Council authorizing three previously announced encampment locations for people experiencing homelessness in Seattle.

The orders call for three new encampments, each with capacity for 60 to 70 people, to be established at 8620 Nesbit Avenue North, 9701 Myers Way South, and 1000 South Myrtle Street. These locations will be permitted for one year, with an option to be renewed for an additional year. The City has been actively meeting with residents and neighborhood leaders ahead of today’s announcement and will continue to engage with the community as the sites are established. Upcoming community meetings are:

Monday, January 23, 2017

Georgetown Community Council Meeting
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Old Georgetown City Hall, 6202 13th Ave South

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Myers Way Community Council Meeting
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: City of Seattle – Joint Training Facility, 9401 Myers Way South

Additional meetings with South Park and Aurora/Licton Springs community groups are being scheduled.

The emergency orders sent to City Council today are part of Bridging the Gap to Pathways Home, Mayor Murray’s interim plan to address the immediate needs of people living unsheltered, while the City fully implements its long-term plan, Pathways Home.

We are following up with the mayor’s office to ask for a copy of the “emergency orders” and also to ask whether a decision has been made on whether the Myers Way encampment will continue to be self-managed as Camp Second Chance (which moved there, unauthorized, last summer) or whether a nonprofit is being sought to run it.

ADDED 4:41 PM: Here’s the order for the Myers site. Mayoral spokesperson William Lemke says they’re still working on who will operate it.

Mystery remains in southwest Washington matched to missing West Seattleite Richard Arneson

Eleven months ago, Seattle Police announced they were looking for a missing 62-year-old from West Seattle, Richard Arneson.

The search is over. DNA testing has determined that Mr. Arneson is the man whose remains were found last May along the Columbia River in Wahkiakum County, according to this report today in the Chinook Observer.

How he got there – and how he died – remain mysteries, and the Observer report says SPD is still investigating. Just last week, months after the remains were found near Pillar Rock (map), Wahkiakum County’s Coroner/Prosecutor Dan Bigelow had gone public with a sketch and some information about more of what was found with them.

Then came the DNA match, with the help of samples provided by Mr. Arneson’s family, the Observer reports. We’ll be checking with SPD to see if they have anything more to add.

TRAFFIC ALERT: Trash truck vs. tree in Delridge


Thanks to the reader who just sent this photo and report: “I live on 24th and Graham and access to Delridge is blocked off by a stuck garbage truck. It appears to have encountered a tree.” No injuries, apparently, since this isn’t on the 911 fire/medic log.

West Seattle Tuesday: Crime Prevention Council, Junction Neighborhood Organization, more…

January 17, 2017 12:10 pm
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 |   West Seattle news | WS miscellaneous

(Lynn Hall photographed the Great Blue Heron checking out a streetlight along Duwamish Head)

Before too much more of the day gets away from us … five things for the rest of today/tonight, from the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar:

‘TRY IT TUESDAY’ AT THE Y: As the West Seattle YMCA (WSB sponsor) expansion/reopening celebration continues, nonmembers are invited to stop in and try the Y on Tuesdays – open until 10 pm. (36th SW/SW Snoqualmie)

EARLY DAYS: The Early Days drop-in support groups have two days/locations in 2017. Today – and every Tuesday – 1-3 pm, you’ll find Early Days at Nurturing Expressions (WSB sponsor) in The Junction – details in our calendar listing. (4746 44th SW)

JUNCTION NEIGHBORHOOD ORGANIZATION: As previewed here last night, this is one of two JuNO meetings to get ready for the city’s upcoming workshop on proposed rezoning as part of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda. 6:30 pm @ the Senior Center/Sisson Building. (4217 SW Oregon)

WEST SEATTLE CRIME PREVENTION COUNCIL: As previewed here over the weekend, tonight’s special guest is an SPD expert on “active shooter” situations. The meeting also brings you an update on local crime trends and a chance to ask police about your crime/safety concerns. 7 pm at the Southwest Precinct. (2300 SW Webster)

SOUTH SOUND NIGHT OF STARS: Live music at Parliament Tavern, 8 pm – details here. 21+. (4210 SW Admiral Way)

EVEN MORE … on our complete calendar page.

White Center annexation vote in 2018? City Council committee briefing Wednesday


The city of Seattle currently has two potential annexations on the table – one in the South Park/Duwamish River area, the other in White Center/North Highline. A briefing on both is set for tomorrow’s meeting of the Seattle City Council’s Education, Equity, and Governance Committee (2 pm Wednesday, City Hall downtown, also live on The documents in the agenda indicate that if the city decides to send North Highline annexation to the area’s 8,600+ registered voters, that’s more likely next year than this year (which had been previously mentioned as an option). See more in our preview on partner site White Center Now.

P.S. The committee meeting also includes updates on two voter-approved, levy-funded initiatives, the Democracy Voucher program and the Seattle Preschool Program, which according to the briefing slide deck now has half a dozen sites in our area.

TUESDAY NIGHT NOTE: The agenda has been revised and the Democracy Vouchers briefing is no longer planned.

INAUGURATION WEEK: Student walkouts

The Seattle Public Schools administration has sent SPS families a note saying they’ve heard school walkouts are likely on Friday. No specific schools were mentioned. But overnight, we received this:

I am a student at Madison Middle School writing to inform you of a walkout happening January 20th at Madison Middle School.

This will occur 6th period, or 1:30. We will walk from Madison, down California, and then to the Junction and back. It would be helpful if you could post the walkout on the blog to spread the word.

Thank you for your time,
A Madison Student

Here is what SPS sent families (thanks to those who forwarded it to us):

We have heard from some principals and through social media channels that our middle and high school students may choose to participate in a planned walkout on Inauguration Day, Friday, January 20. This call to action is not endorsed or sanctioned by the school district. The “National Student Walkout Against Trump” has been organized by a group called Socialist Students.

In November, ten thousand of our students safely walked out of school in response to the presidential election results. The district supports students’ rights to express their views in a peaceful manner. However, when civic engagement includes missing class, there are appropriate and standardized consequences. Students should understand that if they choose to participate in the January 20 walkout, they will receive an unexcused absence per board policy.

Board Policy 3121 (pdf)

Superintendent Procedure 3121 (pdf)

Following an unexcused absence, students do not have the right to make up school work. Any make up is at the discretion of the principal and classroom teacher. The opportunity to make up work will depend on the course syllabus and other factors. If students do choose to walk out, you will receive a notice from the individual school. At this time, it is hard to predict how many schools and students will participate, if any.

Educators and other school staff have been asked to remain at school. Staff participation in the January 20 walkout, for reasons other than ensuring the safety of our students, will be treated as a personnel matter.

Finally, any time we know of a planned walkout, the district’s Safety and Security department works very closely with the Seattle Police Department (SPD). We are already in contact with SPD regarding this potential event.

In closing, if you have questions or concerns regarding the potential January 20 walkout you can send them to or direct them to your child’s school principal.


(SDOT MAP with travel times/video links; is the ‘low bridge’ closed? LOOK HERE)

(Click any view for a close-up; more cameras on the WSB Traffic page)

7:02 AM: Good morning! With the temperature in the low 40s, it’s almost a heat wave out there. As for traffic – SDOT reported a crash at 31st SW/SW Cloverdale a short time ago, but SFD has already closed out of the call.

7:20 AM: Sound Transit says its express buses, including West Seattle-serving Route 560, are all running about 20 minutes behind due to “heavy traffic.”

7:51 AM: Charlie reports, “I’m on a rt 57 right now. Firefighters blocking the bus lane on 99. Helping someone in a stopped vehicle. Just north of the Starbucks building.”

8:14 AM SDOT says the 99 situation has cleared.