West Seattle, Washington
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
We’re covering all the West Seattle forums, including the latest one presented today by the West Seattle Democratic Women, during their monthly meeting in the WS Golf Course banquet room.
First, if you’d like to watch/listen, here’s our unedited video of the entire hour-and-a-third forum featuring six candidates:
Ahead, text highlights of what they were asked and how they replied, as voting time approaches:
6:17 PM: If you haven’t headed out for the West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s light-rail-routing workshop at The Hall at Fauntleroy (9140 California SW) – you’re not too late. While the official start time was 6 pm, people are still milling about at tables with maps, talking about possibilities. Very informal – just drop in; there’ll be a presentation at some point, but otherwise, it’s not a major “sit down and listen” type event, definitely meant to be interactive. The goal: Gather community thoughts about station siting, routing, etc., before Sound Transit officially launches its work on the West Seattle project this fall – 13 years before the service is scheduled to start. Sound Transit reps are here, by the way, if you have questions for them, but this is a community-led meeting, so they’re here to observe and support rather than to present. We’ll be updating as the night goes.
6:25 PM: WSTC chair Michael Taylor-Judd has given the workshop intro, reminding people that this is a community group, not the ultimate decisionmakers. He’s one of two speakers before everybody will head to breakout tables to talk about routing and stations – the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure proposed three West Seattle lines for the 2030 spur from SODO. Here’s a ST document that WSTC provided, from 2016, showing “representational alignment” – sort of a draft version of where the stations might be:
There’s one table per station, as well as one for “the kitchen sink,” any related issues you want to bring up. He says WSTC will “collect and collate” notes made on maps at the tables, as well as whatever people write on paper comment forms that are available here. It’ll be provided to Sound Transit and SDOT as well as used for guidance in what WSTC does in the months and years ahead.
Taylor-Judd says Metro is represented here too, as the Sound Transit West Seattle line will affect future bus routes/service, too. He wraps his introduction by noting that WSTC is a volunteer community group (launched almost four years ago, originally the WS Transit Coalition) that doesn’t collect dues, so he’s circulating a basket if anyone wants to contribute (totally voluntary) toward the costs of renting this room and related expenses.
6:33 PM: He’s followed by former Transportation Coalition board member Tom Linde, who’s giving a sort of Light Rail 101 presentation – not what it is so much as how it’s planned.
This early stage of the West Seattle planning is “generating options,” e.g. the “representational alignment” shown in the embedded document above (or see it here, PDF). “Somewhere along the line there’ll be a preferred alignment generated by Sound Transit,” Linde continues. Options include at grade (surface), elevated, subway (underground), and Linde is detailing the pros/cons of each. (Since light rail has to cross the Duwamish, a separate bridge is expected, so far.)
After an explanation of those three routing possibilities, Linde walked through “what we know now” – the “representational alignment” (very early-stage) – likely an elevated station at the north end of Delridge, with the train continuing down Delridge, turning toward Genesee, up and across Avalon, then bending toward Fauntleroy, with an elevated station somewhere around 35th/Avalon; the train would continue along Fauntleroy, turning westward onto Alaska, and ending with an elevated station in The Junction. And he’s advising people to head on over to the tables and think about the challenges and opportunities: “As you ponder what (it) would look like – it’s a substantial change to our environment, if it ends up as something elevated or at grade – it will affect the functionality of West Seattle for 100 years.” He exhorts everyone to “build your own argument for your idea” and then head over.
In Q/A, someone brings up the Fauntleroy Boulevard project – “doesn’t make sense … to spend $14, $15 million and then tear it up again.” (That’s been brought up multiple times at discussions of light rail and of the Fauntleroy project, like this one last month at the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce meeting.) At that point, City Councilmember Lisa Herbold says she has been trying for more than a month to get that question answered; she was told the mayor and ST had a meeting today and she is hoping for an answer soon.
6:58 PM: Q&A continues. Marci Carpenter, a West Seattleite who’s on the city’s Transit Advisory Board, has just come forward to say she’s here to listen and observe tonight. The board meets 6 pm 4th Wednesdays at City Hall. Linde fields one last question – what do stations look and sound like? announcements? noise? – he said he spent hours at the Angle Lake ST station in recent weeks and the trains are quiet, “surprisingly pleasant experience.” Just after 7 pm, everyone is off to breakout tables; we will circulate to listen in. (About 50 people are here.)
7:42 PM: Seen at the tables:
What’s immediately above is a representation of what elevated track heading through The Junction might be like. Meantime, here’s our short walkthrough of the table zone:
Soon, everyone will regroup to “report out” on highlights from the tables.
8:05 PM: Those reports begin. WSTC’s Deb Barker was at the Junction station table. “A lot of talk about undergrounding,” she said. “The other themes that were voiced were a proposal for the above-ground seems to be ruining/impacting different things that you might not have thought out before – shadows, driving under these structures in a very tight area …”
WSTC’s Larry Wymer spoke for the 35th/Avalon table. He said there were many concerns about the coordination of the Fauntleroy Boulevard project and the possibility that light rail will go down Fauntleroy, more Sound Transit/SDOT coordination, “maybe push off the Fauntleroy improvement project until we have a better handle on that.” An elevated station like Angle Lake could be 400 feet long, Sound Transit says, they noted. Also: Maybe look at using part of the golf course, or at least tunneling beneath that area. And: This is a major entrance/exit to/from West Seattle- what will the construction timing be like and how will access be handled? Someone also wondered if the Alki Lumber site might be appropriate for a station.
The Delridge table was represented by Josh, who said people are concerned about “crossing over neighborhoods and houses, and if we can minimize that at all, it’s great.” They also talked about going over the golf course, and they wondered why it diverges from the existing bridge and why an established path isn’t what would be followed. Also, if a new bridge is to be built over the Duwamish, what about building it sooner and opening it to bus rapid transit even before light rail is ready?
Speaking for the “bird’s-eye view” table, Peter said concerns included the siting of the Avalon station where homes are now, the possibility that the track would be 150 feet in the air, and what about consolidating three stations into two stations and dropping the Avalon plan? Maybe a future station could be by West Seattle Stadium. And people were asking what happens south of The Junction.
Finally, the “kitchen sink” table: WSTC vice chair Marty Westerman said “there’s a lot of concern about construction, where are commuters going to park … During construction, there’s concern about using Alaska for bike and vehicle traffic … Second concern, eminent domain or homeowners being priced out … Third, this is the wrong technology, it will be obsolete in relatively short order … and, a lot of concern about why don’t the agencies responsible for planning work together?”
NEXT STEPS: WSTC will aggregate the comments “into some kind of functional format,” said Linde. It’ll go to Sound Transit, to Metro, to City Councilmember Herbold. And at 8:17 pm, the event concluded.
Next time you’re at Junction Plaza Park (42nd SW/SW Alaska), look for that plaque on the center bench on the west side. The Lions Club of West Seattle worked with the city to get it placed in honor of their parent organization’s centennial, and in a short ceremony this morning, club leaders were joined by City Councilmember Lisa Herbold to celebrate its placement:
The councilmember read a special proclamation in the club’s honor:
The Lions wanted to add a new bench to the park, not just a new plaque, but couldn’t get that worked out with the Parks Department in time. If you’re not familiar with the Lions, they’re a community-service organization that supports sight- and hearing-impaired people as well as students seeking scholarships – read more about their work here, and go here to find out about events at which you’re welcome to join them.
Nine West Seattle/South Park projects to choose from, and eight days left to vote in Your Voice, Your Choice:
As shown in our June 3rd start-of-voting story, that’s the guide spotlighting the local projects. Three will be chosen in each district (ours is 1), so vote for your three favorites. As explained in this reminder on the city website, you can vote online (ages 13 and up) by going here, or on a paper ballot (ages 11 and up) available at city libraries and community centers. The voting deadline is June 30th; the projects were proposed by local residents – more than 200 suggestions in our district alone.
In case you wondered too – since we hadn’t heard anything about a “car-free day” on Alki this year, we checked with SDOT, and they tell us that there won’t be one. What began with a “Car-Free Day” in September 2008 moved to May the next year and was renamed Seattle Summer Streets. That continued annually through 2014. Nothing in 2015; Then last year SDOT brought it back to September and called it Seattle Summer Parkways. This year, in response to our inquiry about whether there would be a car-free day this year, SDOT’s Sue Romero replied:
Summer Parkways is taking a break this summer, and will resume in Summer 2018. As we consider the direction of the program, we are finalizing plans for 2018 and will share them with you when complete.
Instead, she says, SDOT’s “car-free” program is focusing this year on 10 Pike People Streets days in July and August and could spread here:
Resulting from the piloting done on the People Street concept in Capitol Hill, we’re starting to get inquiries from other neighborhoods, including West Seattle, that are interested in establishing their own regular People Street events. We see this as another promising development in our overall public space activation strategy.
Alki will of course be the scene of other events this summer, including the Seafair Pirates Landing on July 8th and the Alki Art Fair July 22-23, but the street stays open to all modes for those events, which are centered on the beach and/or boardwalk.
First, from Adam:
Our garage (on the alley bounded by 46th, 47th, Genesee, and Dakota) was burglarized last night and a number of things were stolen. The most valuable was a black and green Specialized Rumor FSR Comp Mountain Bike (S/N WSBC601045128I). I attached our best picture of it.
The list of stolen items, as best we can tell:
Specialized Rumor FSR Comp Mountain Bike, black with green accents
Sierra Bike Helmet, black and pink
A bike pump, tool kit, and water bottle (attached to the bike)
A pair of skis and bindings (yellow, can be seen behind the bike in the photo)
A cordless DeWalt drill and reciprocating saw in a black plastic case and several associated drill bits and blades.
A pneumatic nail gun, also in a black plastic case
A DeWalt orbital sander in a small fabric tote
An assorted set of tools in a gray plastic case (sockets and drivers, screwdrivers, Allen keys, fixed and adjustable wrenches, pliers, wire cutters, a tape measure, bit drivers, etc.)
No police incident # yet – Adam was still awaiting an officer at last report.
BICYCLE-THEFT DETERRENCE: Southwest Precinct Crime Prevention Coordinator Jennifer Burbridge just happens to have focused her next newsletter on advice for bicycle owners:
If you can’t read it embedded above, here’s the PDF version.
The city’s Utility Discount Program is expanding, adding help for more seniors, as announced by Mayor Ed Murray in a media briefing today at the Senior Center of West Seattle, with Councilmember Lisa Herbold and Seattle Public Utilities general manager Mami Hara.
This has to do with seniors receiving Social Security and being on Medicare – 3,000 are not getting “the help they need or the help they deserve,” because some benefits are being counted as income even though they’re not, so the city is changing eligibility rules to make sure they can get it. This can save more than $1,000 a year per household, “making their lives a little bit more affordable.”
The city already had a push under way to make sure more people eligible for the program took advantage of it, and participation has more than doubled in the past three years.
Herbold – who chairs the committee that oversees SPU – said she first heard about this eligibility problem last fall, and is glad it’s been fixed. “Another change we made was for folks to qualify for time payments when they have past-due bills” – more people can get some time to do that. She says it’s a matter of “connecting problems that constituents face on a day-to-day basis with the policy work we do in the office.”
Hara said that SPU bills can be discounted 50 percent under the discount program, and for City Light bills, it’s 60 percent. The utilities are working to be “responsive,” she said. And those who sign up for this program only need to renew their registration every three years. Signing up also gets you free passes for transfer-station use, worth up to $145 a year, and free backyard collection of trash and compost for those who can’t get theirs to the curb because of mobility issues.
You can find out more about the Utility Discount Program by going here. Councilmember Herbold also said that the city will be retroactively reviewing those who have been turned down for the program to see if they’re now eligible.
SIDE NOTE: And if you’re a senior with other resource problems/questions – or have someone in your family who is – West Seattleite Irene Stewart from the Age-Friendly Seattle program tells us you can call the free Community Living Connections hotline, 844-348-5464.
Andy Cote and his neighbors on SW Portland Court [map] call it “The Hole.”
It’s not anything close to the size of the West Seattle development excavation that held that title for years. But they’re having trouble understanding why it hasn’t been fixed. The city claims that it addresses road holes quickly. Andy says he’s been reporting this one for three years. But it’s not shown on the city’s pothole map – either as fixed or as pending.
We talked with him and his neighbors this morning, as the return of summer sunshine showed it in all its glory.
This one isn’t a deep hole. The problem is that it’s a spot in the road where the pavement has literally eroded away.
Among the handful of homes on their cul-de-sac, two residents require wheelchairs, and they have a problem too – no curb cuts.
What curbs they do have, are also crumbling. They wonder if development just to the east, with a retaining wall built five years ago, is to blame. Whatever it is, they say, it’s nothing they have any control over, and since the city owns the road and sidewalks, they’re looking for a little help.
And what burns a bit – neighbor Hillairee says SDOT will “show up for something we haven’t bugged them about.” Like, if “sidewalk closed” signs related to work nearby nearby are moved. (Portland Court is just off 26th SW, which leads directly to Denny International Middle School and adjacent Chief Sealth International High School down the block to the south.)
So this week, they put out a call for help – to City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, among others, and cc’d us. Andy explained in the note, “Our cul de sac is crumbling. I am assuming it was paved one time in the early 1950s. With the 8 houses on the cul de sac and the multiple deliveries coming and going every day with the changing retail environment, the pavement is gone in a spot. If that spot is not corrected soon, the entire bottom portion of the cul de sac will be gravel. Already there is a 6 foot square that can no longer be pavement.”
Not long after we stopped by this morning to talk with neighbors by The Hole, Andy e-mailed to say that they had received a reply from Herbold, who said she’s sorry he hasn’t heard from SDOT, and added:
By the way of this email, I am bringing this situation directly to the attention of Scott Kubly, Director of the Department of Transportation, as well as Elliot Helmbrecht, the Department of Transportation liaison to the Seattle City Council. Director Kubly and his staff are best equipped to address this problem.
Will they? We’ll be following up.
(Newly fledged female downy woodpecker, photographed by Mark Wangerin)
From the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar:
LOW-LOW TIDE, WITH BEACH NATURALISTS: Another round of low-low tides starts today, and Seattle Aquarium volunteer beach naturalists will be out at Constellation and Lincoln Parks 9 am-noon today. (Low tide is -2.4 feet at 10:06 am)
MAYORAL FORUM: The West Seattle Democratic Women are hosting a mayoral-candidates forum at 11:45 am at West Seattle Golf Course. Details in our calendar listing, including reservation information. (4470 35th SW)
COLMAN POOL REOPENS: Seattle Parks says the pool’s mechanical problem is fixed and the saltwater pool on the shore at Lincoln Park is ready to reopen – that means today is the belated start of its 7-day-a-week schedule for summer, noon-7 pm.
RESTAURANT SUCCESS ORIENTATION: 3-4:30 pm at Delridge Library, “learn about resources available for restaurant and mobile food business owners.” (5423 Delridge Way SW)
WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL – WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SEE? Before the official Sound Transit work on the West Seattle light-rail line starts later this year, bring your thoughts on routing and stations to the West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s community-led workshop tonight. 6-9 pm at The Hall at Fauntleroy. (9140 California SW)
VESSELS AND WHALES: Presented by The Whale Trail at the Dakota Place Park Building, 7 pm – learn about the ECHO Program, working to reduce the impact of vessels on whales in our region’s waters. Full details here, including how to check if tickets remain for tonight’s talk. (California SW/SW Dakota)
ACOUSTIC SINGER-SONGWRITERS: 8 pm at Parliament Tavern, William Hall, Amanda Navares and Below Blackstar perform. No cover. 21+. (4210 SW Admiral Way)
THERE’S MORE … just check our complete-calendar page.
6:59 AM: Good morning! No incidents to report right now – a crash on NB I-5 just past the West Seattle Bridge has just been cleared, per WSDOT.
TONIGHT: Interested in our area’s future light rail? The West Seattle Transportation Coalition, an all-volunteer community group, invites you to a workshop to talk about stations and routing, collecting feedback before Sound Transit starts its work on the project later this year. Here’s our preview. 6-9 pm at The Hall at Fauntleroy (9140 California SW).
8:18 AM: Incident-free so far. By the way, for Water Taxi riders – Brent Champaco at King County DOT says the vessel lineup should be back to normal this afternoon; Sally Fox has been out for minor repairs, so Spirit of Kingston‘s been on the West Seattle run, while Doc Maynard handles Vashon.
Wednesday night’s second Class of 2017 commencement ceremony at Southwest Athletic Complex launched more than 220 West Seattle High School graduates into the world. The class adviser, Tom Burggraff, called them “this school’s finest graduating class ever.” He explained why, in his speech following the welcome by ASB president Sean McCabe, who starts this clip:
Burggraff also is the parent of a 2017 grad (Andrew Burggraff), and saluted other grads’ families and friends, who filled the stands and cheered throughout:
Valedictorian Michaela Coontz spoke of concluding “the busiest year of our lives” and urged her peers to be flexible, instead of worrying about deciding their futures immediately, or worrying that whatever path they were setting out on couldn’t be changed:
After the diploma presentation, one more student spoke, ASB vice president Nahom Kassaye. Like adviser Burggraff earlier, he also hailed the Class of 2017 as the school’s most-successful class, and “most impactful.” And then, musical reassurance from an ensemble of graduates (plus a guest from another school), a 40-year-old song by Bob Marley – “Every Little Thing’s Gonna Be All Right”:
Then it was off to the staff receiving line as the grads left the field. Among those there to wish them well, Ruth Medsker, at her last commencement ceremony as WSHS principal:
Before the ceremony, we saw her successor, Brian Vance, on the sidelines:
With new beginnings on the way for many – the Class of 2017 went off into the night.