@ Highland Park Action Committee: Roundabout update, crime & safety, and Westside Neighbors’ Network

Toplines from last night’s Highland Park Action Committee meeting:

ROUNDABOUT UPDATE: $500,000 of funding is in place so far for the proposed roundabout at the top of the Highland Park Way hill – the $200,000 announced at the Find It Fix It Walk in May, and another $300,000 from the Move Seattle levy. They’re now awaiting word on a state grant of more than $1 million, with hundreds of community members expressing support as well as city, county, and state elected officials plus U.S. Rep Pramila Jayapal. HPAC co-chair Michele Witzki says they hope to find out in November whether that grant will happen – it would virtually finish the funding for the roundabout. “This is exciting!” resounded around the room. Co-chair Gunner Scott noted that it’s far from the area’s only transportation need, though (as also discussed during the FIFI Walk). Witzki said that they’re awaiting a city report that will show the status of some of those other projects.

CRIME UPDATES: Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Ron Smith told HPAC that car prowls in Highland Park are down 49 percent from this time last year but “crimes against persons” – anything from domestic-violence assault to lewdness incidents like indecent exposure – are up five percent.

Robberies are down. Auto thefts and commercial burglaries are the categories of property crime that are up. The automated license-plate reader used by SPD helps catch stolen cars but the precinct only has one, and is trying to get a second. Highland Park “shots fired” – confirmed gunfire – calls are up slightly; six confirmed incidents (casings and/or property damage found) so far this year. Lt. Smith said a regional task force is addressing the gang problem that’s blamed for many if not most shots-fired incidents, and he mentioned the White Center arrests related to that situation.

Co-chair Scott said there’ve been social-media reports/discussions of bias crimes including harassment based on gender identity, including destruction of signs that express support for diversity. Detectives are investigating an increase in bias crimes around the city, Lt. Smith said, and said that the SPD Safe Place program is expanding to businesses in Westwood Village. He said that’s a good area for it for a variety of reasons including its proximity to local schools. Scott said HPAC is working to set up a weekend training for allies, and also looking into support signage. Lt. Smith said that’s good to hear because: “We want people to feel safe in their city.”

Asked if there are any suspects yet in the Westcrest Park murder of Derek Lopez-Juarez, Lt. Smith said all he can say is that it’s an “open and active investigation.”

MYERS WAY: Asked for an update on the situation there, Lt. Smith mentioned a new city attorney precinct liaison has found ways to enabled some sweeping of unsanctioned camping along the road – enforcing the rule about vehicles wider than 80″ not being able to park during certain hours, for example. Lt. Todd Wiebke is getting RVs towed if necessary after “making every effort to provide assistance.” He said they’re getting more enforcement for the 72-hour “move or else” rule – you can’t just move a vehicle one block or so.

One attendee said some RVs are using access roads “to actually go into the woods”; Lt. Smith said that’s on state property, and “this issue is a lot bigger” than what SPD alone can handle. He said they’re also examining issues including stability of the ground on the slopes on the east side of Myers Way. And he said that he believes Myers Way’s sanctioned encampment, Camp Second Chance, itself should be more stable with the change of operators from Patacara to LIHI.

WESTSIDE NEIGHBORS’ NETWORK: Judie Messier has been making the rounds of community groups as this “virtual village” to support aging-in-place gets ready to launch. This is the first time she’s spoken at HPAC. The organization officially incorporated as a nonprofit back in February. WNN is having its first-ever public event tonight, 5:30-7:30 pm at Ephesus (5245 California SW), a wine-tasting gathering with appetizers. “Everybody’s invited,” Messier says. She explained that WNN has two types of membership, as mentioned in our coverage of her presentation at the Southwest District Council earlier this month.

Phil Tavel joined Messier in talking about WNN, saying that the level of membership will determine the level of activities. “We’re asking people to join, to help build this,” so it will grow as the three other villages already in existence in the city are growing. Messier noted that when people join, they get to contribute to a “wish list” of what they hope WNN will grow to include, and they are using that to aggregate lists of who’s interested in what, and help them connect with each other. Is this redundant with organizations such as the West Seattle Timebank? Messier said it’s complementary, adding that it works differently – the membership payment here entitles you to a certain level of support, while organizations such as Timebank work on sort of a barter basis, with you entitled to receive providing you contribute.

CHANGING MEETING FORMAT: Starting in a few months, HPAC will create a new hybrid meeting format that will start with big-group conversation and updates, and then small-group breakouts for committees working on specific neighborhood issues. That will include existing groups such as West Duwamish Greenbelt Trails. And it will likely incorporate more partnerships with other neighborhood groups Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Coalition.

LEADERSHIP: Scott has spent two years as chair/co-chair and is ready to pass the baton. HPAC will be discussing its next wave of leadership in the months ahead.

PLANTING PARTIES: They’re planned for the new roundabouts on 12th, after the 7700 Block Club got grants for plants.

NEXT MONTH: Seattle City Light will come to HPAC to talk about the installation of automated metering, and the group will also hear about the new combined-sewer-overflow-control facility in Georgetown (near the north end of the 1st Avenue South Bridge).

Highland Park Action Committee meets fourth Wednesdays most months, 7 pm, at Highland Park Improvement Club (1116 SW Holden).

29 Replies to "@ Highland Park Action Committee: Roundabout update, crime & safety, and Westside Neighbors' Network"

  • Jort September 28, 2017 (11:46 am)

    I am tremendously happy to see that the uphill, southbound approach to the roundabout on Highland Park Way involves a lane-reduction from two lanes to one.

    I have seen some criminally reckless behavior from people trying to cut the queue on this street before. I will be very happy to see that many Speedy McSpeedersons will be literally forced to slow down as they enter the roundabout, instead of zipping up the hill at 60 mph and merging into the turn lane at the last possible second.

    Few things in life bring me as much joy as seeing two cars pull up even with each other on the uphill portion of Highland Park Way, matching their speeds while an apoplectic, insane luxury car driver darts back and forth between them to try and find a way around and save themselves roughly 2 or 3 more seconds on their overall commute time. 

    • WSB September 28, 2017 (11:55 am)

      Don’t get too excited yet, J. This is an early diagram from more than two years ago. Don’t know what the final design will look like. But yes, speed reduction would be an aim, given some of the incidents there over the years, not to mention the challenges for all modes in navigating Highland Park Way/Holden. – TR

      • KM September 28, 2017 (12:11 pm)

        Okay, I won’t get too excited either, but I also love lane reduction and design and will be letting the forces that be know exactly that. That climb up the hill–it’s a scene, man.

        • Jort September 28, 2017 (2:24 pm)

          It will be very difficult, though, because forcing people to drive slower causes a visceral, deep-seated lizard-brain panic reaction. Remember, we still have “engineers” who think that drivers should be allowed to drive at whatever speed they, personally, “respect,” regardless of the documented and scientifically proven correlation between higher vehicle speeds and greater risk of fatality and injury for all road users.

    • J September 28, 2017 (12:09 pm)

      Buses can’t get up that hill faster than 15ish mph, have you ever driven behind one? I’m not sure how they could effectively turn it into one lane without creating a huge backup at the bottom intersection

      • KM September 28, 2017 (2:52 pm)

        It’s a pretty long stretch, I imagine that there would be two lanes from the intersection to at least halfway up the hill? The point (I assume) would be to prevent people from cutting in too close to where there’s an intersection of cars, pedestrians, cyclists all joining together, i.e. calming traffic a bit before the roundabout. That area is cut out of the image though, so not sure.

  • Coldheart Craig September 28, 2017 (1:40 pm)

    In the interim it’d be nice to get a little law enforcement attention along ‘Highland Park Speedway’ which I can only imagine would be cheaper than the roundabout. I live halfway up the hill on the left side and I can’t count the number of times someone’s flown up behind me only to have to slam on their brakes to avoid rear ending me. I’ve had more middle fingers shown to me just following the traffic laws here than anywhere else.        

    • Wsrez September 28, 2017 (4:04 pm)

      Remember when Seattle (generally) wasn’t like that? Wasn’t too long ago. I miss those days.

  • old timer September 28, 2017 (1:40 pm)

    Would be nice if the presentation took the form of maps, that is, with North at the top.

    Had to Google the spot to see what/where this is.

    Having Id’d the place, it looks like a reasonable approach to this intersection.

    • WSB September 28, 2017 (1:57 pm)

      Sorry, I don’t make the maps, it’s all I can do to cover the meetings and write the words. No one has ever mentioned that before in the many times we’ve shown this. North is to the right. If turned so north was at the top, at least one of the street labels would be upside down.

      • old timer September 28, 2017 (2:50 pm)


        I am very sorry that you took my remark as a criticism of WSB.

        I am very grateful for your tireless, night and day coverage of all things West Seattle.

        The presentation was  obviously not made by you.

        I am old, and I grew up using maps to get around, and so looked at the “picture”as a map.

        My comment was just that, a critical comment of the “picture”.

  • Gene September 28, 2017 (2:12 pm)

    J- my thought as well- just came up that hill- huge flat bed with big cement pipes in the right lane- going less than 15 mph I’d guess. Was able to go past in the left lane- but if  there was only one lane- you’d be seeing BIG backups for sure.  Those kind of trucks may be a rarity- but as you say busses that don’t go much faster are common- you want a traffic nightmare going up HPW- change to one lane.

    control speeders- or “Speedy McSpeedersons” with  enforcement- NOT a road diet.

    • Jort September 28, 2017 (2:28 pm)

      Enforcement is a great idea, but our police force is already stretched quite thin. 

      In order to make it easier to enforce speeding regulations, would you be willing to support automated speed enforcement via cameras and radar? If you break the speed limit, you should get a ticket, and the automated system would not only ensure 100% accurate enforcement, 100% of the time, it would also free up our officers to tackle the tougher issues in our city.

      Can I put you down as a “yes” for speed cameras?

      I’m not saying that this is you, but lots of people think speeding can “only” be fixed by police enforcement, when there are actually multiple (and demonstrably far more effective) tools for reducing excessive speeding, including street design, traffic calming and automated enforcement. A lot of times people think speeding is actually OK … just not if you get caught by a human cop!

      • WSB September 28, 2017 (3:03 pm)

        Please note, the only speed cameras authorized in the city currently are for school zones. While Highland Park Elementary is not TOO far away (1000 block of SW Trenton), this is not a school zone.

      • Gene September 28, 2017 (3:46 pm)

        You’re right- I don’t think police enforcement is “ the only” way- yes I do know our police are spread pretty thin. I don’t  think speeding is ok. Yes I favor any kind of enforcement- be it cameras, actual officer enforcement –  maybe in form of emphasis patrols- whatever- I just personally think reducing HPW to one lane will cause major traffic back ups- surely something else can be tried first.

        • Wsrez September 28, 2017 (4:11 pm)

          As we all know, many areas are in need of enforcement. 35th, Admiral Way hill, West Seattle Bridge, etc. kinda sad people break the laws so often but I think it’s because no one’s keeping them accountable because SPD can’t do it often enough due to staffing. People notice consciously or unconsciously and speed, park illegally, etc. I don’t want a police state but people are so entitled these days they will and do take advantage when no one is minding the store.

  • flimflam September 28, 2017 (2:23 pm)

    roundabouts slow things to a crawl…the worst is if you are unfortunate enough to be driving west on hwy 2 on a sunday afternoon.

    • WSB September 28, 2017 (3:04 pm)

      We discovered them in wide use on a recent trip. Particularly in Grand Junction, Colorado, where Patrick and I met 30+ years ago and where the population/traffic has grown dramatically in the ensuing years. – TR

  • CarLover September 28, 2017 (3:33 pm)

    Jort. You’re clearly anti-car. But I have to ask you this. You claim to live in the junction and have no car. How come you know so much about traffic in this area?

    • Jort September 28, 2017 (4:12 pm)

      I appreciate your efforts to study and follow my life history via internet comments. Thank you for your deep interest.

      I once lived in the Junction, and I most certainly did have a car. Believe it or not, I also drive, from time to time! The big difference between a “carlover” like yourself and me is that I don’t think the entirety of our transportation planning needs to center around the desires and whims of car drivers to the exclusion of safety, security and convenience of alternative transportation users. For the last 75 years, we have designed our streets, and much of our society, around facilitating the use of private automobiles for nearly all transportation needs. This is not scalable, not sustainable, and it will need to change for our city to accommodate continued growth and urbanism. No city in recorded human history has ever solved traffic congestion by making it easier for people to drive their cars. Seattle won’t be the first.

      I will gladly drive 15 mph up Highland Park Way if it means one fewer person from my community is killed, senselessly, in traffic violence caused by speeding. And my ultimate goal is that every citizen in Seattle will no longer have to rely exclusively on owning and using a personal car for their transportation needs, though, in the spirit of compromise, I am willing to recognize that this goal is still a few years away from being achieved.

      Thank you again for reading, I always love meeting new fans.

      • sam-c October 2, 2017 (4:34 pm)

        Since you are responding to fans, I had a question too.  Are you also ‘Jort Sandwich’  ?

  • Mark September 28, 2017 (5:35 pm)

    There are two SB uphill lanes yet only one entry depicted.  There is a sizable SB to WB right turn movement that should be provided a separate approach, aka use both uphill lanes.  Departing the RoB NB down the hill the single lane can flare into two.

    Keeping 2 approaches SB is more critical, due to grade trucks and busses are geared down and cannot maintain speed.

  • Melissa September 28, 2017 (6:36 pm)

    WSB-  Thanks for the Coverage 

  • Sunny.206 September 28, 2017 (9:00 pm)

    Is there a daily car count listed somewhere this stretch of road? Wouldn’t  it be easier to paint some lines at the top of the hill to direct traffic better,? I know there haven’t been any painted improvements there ever. It probably won’t stop the speeding but would make it a lot safer.

  • 1994 September 28, 2017 (10:15 pm)

    How about a traffic light at the top of the hill at this intersection?

    Our mayoral candidate Cary Moon’s quote in the Seattle Times today, ” Frankly, our city spends too much on car convenience.” More gridlock on the way if she is elected?

    • Jort September 28, 2017 (11:32 pm)

      More gridlock is on the way no matter who gets elected, because no city in the recorded history of human civilization has solved the issue of traffic congestion, ever. Seattle won’t be the first. 

    • ScottRAB September 29, 2017 (1:16 pm)


      People using
      the road make mistakes, always have and always will.
      will always be with us, but they need not result in fatalities or serious injury.
            Modern roundabouts are the safest form of
      intersection in the world – the intersection type with the lowest risk of fatal
      or serious injury crashes – (much more so than comparable signals). 
      Modern roundabouts change the
      speed and geometry of one of the most dangerous parts of the system –
      intersections.  The reduction in speed and sideswipe geometry mean that,
      more often than not, when a crash does happen at a modern roundabout,
      you usually need a tow
      truck, not an ambulance.  Roundabouts are
      one of nine proven road safety features (FHWA). 

      The life
      saved may be your own.

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