day : 06/02/2018 10 results

WEST SEATTLE WILDLIFE: Seal Sitters update, plus bonus underwater video from “Diver Laura”

(Uno the harbor seal, photographed last week by David Hutchinson)

Have you seen a seal lately? Many have, and Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network is busy. Here’s an update from volunteer David Hutchinson:

While Seal Sitters’ “Blubberblog” site has not been updated recently, due to ongoing technical difficulties, our volunteers have been on duty responding to vulnerable young harbor seals hauled out on West Seattle beaches. Our normal busy season (September – November) was slower than usual but 2018 has started off with a flurry of calls to our Hotline (206-905-7325).

One seal, “Uno,” has accounted for the majority of responses this year. After first coming ashore on January 4th near Colman Pool, Uno has decided that the shoreline of Elliott Bay is her preferred location (you can tell it’s the same harbor seal by comparing the spots on the faces). She has become a familiar sight to passersby who frequently ask our volunteers how Uno is doing that day. Monday, volunteers were stretched thin when two additional young seals came ashore at separate locations in West Seattle.

Responses to these live seals is a positive experience compared to the one-week period in January when we had to deal with three near the north end of Lincoln Park that weren’t as fortunate. One was reported as deceased on the raft at that location, and another dead animal was recovered from Lowman Beach. The third arrived onshore with respiratory distress. After being examined by a NOAA consulting vet, that seal was transported to PAWS, where it later died. All three animals will be necropsied by WDFW.

We have received a number of inquiries about becoming a volunteer. These people will be receiving an email notice when a final date is set. As of now, Seal Sitters plans on holding its next training session in the late spring. Look for an announcement at

P.S. Bonus underwater seal video! This is from “Diver Laura” James – not Uno, she says, but another harbor seal, and a very curious one at that:

That’s some of her 360-degree-video equipment; she promises to share its video soon.

SCHOOL-BUS STRIKE: Day 5 on Wednesday; union asks district to fine First Student

(Tuesday morning photo courtesy of striking driver Al)

Tomorrow (Wednesday, February 7) will be the fifth day of the strike against First Student, which is contracted to provide yellow-bus service for Seattle Public Schools. Some drivers continue to cross the picket lines, and some local families are getting district notifications that their routes will be served – the district said in its Monday night update that about 70 of the almost 400 drivers had gone to work that day. Today, the drivers’ union Teamsters Local 174 published a call for the district to fine First Student, pointing to the text of a letter it said a district official sent the bus company three months ago, warning that it faced a fine of up to $1.2 million a day.

We asked district spokesperson Kim Schmanke about the contract; she confirmed that it “requires uninterrupted service, with liquidated damages as an option for the district,” which she added “is continuing to track and calculate” those potential damages, and “will address collection of those damages in conjunction with legal counsel as this situation unfolds.” (If you’re interested in contract details, here’s what went to the School Board for approval a year ago.)

ADDED 11:02 PM: One more note – the teachers’ union, the Seattle Education Association, plans a show of support for the striking drivers on Wednesday, after classes end for the day (Wednesdays have been early-release days all year), and are planning to wear red as part of it.

FOLLOWUP: Child-rape charge filed against former Seattle Public Schools employee, subject of notification letter

We first reported last Friday night that a former Seattle Public Schools employee had been arrested and jailed for investigation of child rape. While the accusations involved incidents at a school outside West Seattle, Denny International Middle School parents received a letter because the suspect, 40-year-old Albert Virachismith, had worked at that school at some point, and we found out about the situation when a parent forwarded us that letter. Today, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office charged Virachismith with one count of child rape and one count of child molestation, alleging that he raped a child multiple times while working as an instructional assistant at John Muir Elementary School in southeast Seattle last school year. The suspect remains in jail, bail set at half a million dollars. We asked Seattle Public Schools for additional information about Virachismith’s district employment but they say Seattle Police have asked them not to release anything more while they continue to investigate.

PEDESTRIAN SAFETY: See what the city has scheduled for West Seattle in next 5 years

Often, city projects that seem to appear out of the blue were actually in the works for years, contained in voluminous city Master Plans. So we thought you might be interested in a plan that was presented to a City Council committee this afternoon – the Implementation Plan for the recently updated Pedestrian Master Plan. It contains lists of specific evaluations and projects planned for specific intersections and streets around the city, so we broke out what’s on the lists for West Seattle, and when (for the full citywide lists, see the document, embedded above or here in PDF):


35th Ave SW & SW Graham St – New Signal
SW Roxbury St & 32nd Ave SW – Pedestrian Refuge Island
SW Roxbury St & 28th Ave SW – Pedestrian Refuge Island
SW Roxbury St & 23rd Ave SW – Pedestrian Refuge Island
SW Roxbury St & 21st Ave SW – Pedestrian Refuge Island
35th Ave SW & SW Snoqualmie St – Evaluate for Signal
29th Ave SW & SW Barton St – Evaluate for Crossing Upgrade
62nd Ave SW & SW Admiral Way – Evaluate for Crossing Upgrade
Delridge Way SW & SW Webster St – Evaluate for Crossing Upgrade

California Ave SW & SW Brandon St – Evaluate for Crossing Upgrade
24th Ave SW & Delridge Way SW – Evaluate for Crossing Upgrade
28th Ave SW & SW Thistle St – Evaluate for Crossing Upgrade
23rd Ave SW & Delridge Way SW – Evaluate for Crossing Upgrade
Delridge Way SW & SW Cambridge St – Evaluate for Crossing Upgrade
26th Ave SW & SW Cambridge St – Evaluate for Crossing Upgrade
8th Ave SW & SW Cambridge St – Evaluate for Crossing Upgrade

Olson Pl SW & SW Cambridge St – Evaluate for Signal
18th Ave SW & Delridge Way SW – Evaluate for Crossing Upgrade
21st Ave SW Turn Road & Delridge Way SW – Evaluate for Crossing Upgrade
60th Ave SW & Alki Ave SW – Evaluate for Crossing Upgrade
9th Ave SW & SW Cloverdale St = Evaluate for Crossing Upgrade
Garlough Ave SW & SW Admiral Way – Evaluate for Crossing Upgrade
16th Ave SW & SW Orchard St – Evaluate for Crossing Upgrade
48th Ave SW & SW Admiral Way – Evaluate for Crossing Upgrade
9th Ave SW & SW Trenton St – Evaluate for Crossing Upgrade

3rd Ave SW & Olson Pl SW – Evaluate for Signal
California Ave SW & SW Findlay St – Evaluate for Crossing Upgrade
25th Ave SW & SW Barton St – Evaluate for Crossing Upgrade
10th Ave SW & SW Henderson St – Evaluate for Crossing Upgrade
51st Ave SW & SW Admiral Way – Evaluate for Crossing Upgrade


35th Ave SW between SW 100th St and SW 106th St – 6 blocks


SW Orchard St between SW Myrtle St and Dumar Way SW – half-block

24th Ave SW between SW Thistle St and SW Barton St – 4 blocks


SW Edmunds St between Cottage Pl SW and 23rd Ave SW – stairs

SW Kenyon St between Delridge Way SW and 24th Ave SW – walkway

The implementation plan also mentions the new RapidRide corridors around the city – including the scheduled-for-2020 H Line on Delridge – as providing “potential crossing improvements and curb ramps,” and mentions Delridge, Fauntleroy, and 35th SW as “Vision Zero corridors.” No specifics on what’s next for 35th SW, which is running behind previously announced timelines for Phase 1 updates and Phase 2 plans. As for the Implementation Plan itself, SDOT says it will be updated each year. Committee members voted in favor of the resolution that formally adopts this plan, though that doesn’t mean everything in it will become reality – scheduling, funding, and other details would be separate.

ADDED TUESDAY NIGHT: Seattle Channel video from today’s meeting:

FOLLOWUP: State Patrol identifies driver killed in Myers Way exit crash

In this morning’s traffic/transit coverage, we mentioned a fatal crash at the southbound Highway 509 exit to Myers Way. This afternoon the Washington State Patrol says the driver’s next of kin has been notified and so they are identifying him as 42-year-old Felix Alvarado-Rodriguez of Seattle. The WSP “media memo” about the crash says he was driving a 2017 Jeep Renegade which, for reasons still under investigation, “left (the) roadway to (the) right, struck a tree.” The original emergency callout was just after 6 am.

WEST SEATTLE CRIME WATCH: High Point man charged with buying sex from 16-year-old

Charges are now filed in a case that’s attracted some national attention because of the defendant’s profession. 36-year-old High Point resident Jess Cliffe is charged with one count of commercial sexual abuse of a minor for allegedly buying sex from a 16-year-old he met online. Cliffe is described as the co-creator of the popular online game Counter-Strike. He’s been mentioned before here on WSB for his work on the website Vintage Seattle, noted when he moved to West Seattle in 2008, as well as volunteer work at what was then Kitty Harbor, mentioned here in 2010.

Charging papers say Cliffe’s arrest follows an investigation dating back to last June, when detectives interviewed a 16-year-old girl who said she “began to use (an online dating site) to meet with men who offered to pay her money to have sex with her.” She identified two men, and one, police say, turned out to be Cliffe. When detectives first met with her, she told them she had discontinued her contacts with him at some point between April and June. She said they made arrangements mostly via texting and that he picked her up at an intersection near her Beacon Hill residence and drove her to his house in High Point. She said they had at least three encounters in which he paid her $300 for an hour, including one in which she said he recorded video without her consent. She said she wasn’t sure he knew her age; he told detectives he thought she was in her early 20s, and they say her profile on the website said she was 18.

After five months of investigation, the documents say, police went to Cliffe’s house last Wednesday; he agreed to meet them an hour later at the Southwest Precinct, where he is reported to have told them he was a user of multiple dating websites, but when shown a photo of his accuser, he initially said he didn’t recognize her. That changed, the charging documents say, after detectives showed him call and text logs they obtained via a search warrant – he said he only had one meeting with her; she mentioned three. When told she was 16, the documents say, he “acted as though he was surprised to learn that before saying that a person has to be 18 years old” to join the dating website, and “immediately began questioning the legal responsibilities of the website for not incorporating an effective system to prevent minors from creating (an) account.” Police subsequently arrested him, and he was booked into King County Jail early Thursday, with his bail set at $150,000 on Friday; he got out Friday night after posting bond. Next step in the case will be arraignment in about two weeks.

West Seattle Tuesday: Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Coalition; Dine Out for Chief Sealth IHS; more…

(Common Merganser, photographed by Mark Wangerin)

From the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar, for the rest of today/tonight:

PEDESTRIAN PLANS: The agenda for this afternoon’s meeting of the City Council’s Sustainability and Transportation Committee – 2 pm at City Hall downtown – includes a discussion of the Seattle Pedestrian Master Plan 2018-2022 Implementation Plan and Progress Report, with planned dates for projects here and citywide. (600 4th Ave.)

BASKETBALL: Chief Sealth International High School‘s varsity teams both have Metro League qualifier games – 4:30 pm, girls at Roosevelt (1410 NE 66th); 7:30 pm, boys at Lakeside (14050 1st Ave NE).

DINE OUT FOR SEALTH: 4-8 pm at Marination ma kai @ Seacrest – part of the proceeds go to Chief Sealth International High School‘s PTSA! (1660 Harbor SW)

CAFE MIA’S FIRST WINE TASTING: 5-8 pm at the new café in The Junction, wine tasting with nibbles. Info in our calendar listing. (4310 SW Oregon)

WESTWOOD-ROXHILL-ARBOR HEIGHTS COMMUNITY COALITION: 6 pm at Southwest Library. Tonight’s agenda includes:

6:00-6:10: Short Community Announcements/Quick Discussion Items

6:15- 6:25 pm: Lt. Ron Smith, Monthly crime stats update, recent incidents discussion.

6:30-7:45 pm: Coalition Committee Planning

Update! Roxhill Park Bog Wetland meeting with SPU – next steps with grant funding
Roxhill Park Community Programs kickoff meeting is Feb 27th – outreach plan.
HALA: FEIS New neighborhoods that have joined appeal, City-wide community meetings have started, fundraising outreach/ City’s Special Committee Hearings.
Design Hearing – 9201 Delridge on Feb 15th @ 6:30 pm
EC Hughes (Roxhill Elementary) playground grant
Neighborhood Matching Fund deadline
SW Crime Prevention Council – January meeting update

(9010 35th SW)

HIGHLAND PARK ELEMENTARY KINDERGARTEN PREVIEW NIGHT AND TOUR: Got a kindergartener going to Highland Park Elementary next school year? Or thinking about it? Be there tonight at 6:30 pm. (1012 SW Trenton)

WEST SEATTLE BIKE CONNECTIONS: 6:30 pm monthly meeting at HomeStreet Bank (WSB sponsor) in The Junction. (4022 SW Alaska)

FREE LEGAL HELP: 7-9 pm, Senior Center of West Seattle – set up an appointment in advance; here’s how. (4217 SW Oregon)

HAPPY HUNDREDTH BIRTHDAY! Wes Jensen celebrates a century today

West Seattle has a new centenarian today: Wes Jensen. The announcement is from his family:

Family & friends are celebrating the 100th birthday of Wes Jensen. Born in Montana on February 6, 1918, one of 7 children; his family moved to Medina when he was young. He played football for Bellevue HS and basketball for Garfield HS, where he graduated. Wes served in the Army in World War II; after the war, he met and married his wife Helen, and they raised 3 children in West Seattle.

He worked for and retired from ADT. Wes is a member of the Elks and loved to fish and golf- he played into his 80s and is extremely proud of his hole-in-one! After his wife Helen passed away, Wes moved to Ballard, then to Shoreline – he moved back to West Seattle 3 years ago and now resides at Homecomings.

Wes enjoys watching the Mariners and Seahawks and usually has a thing or two to say about current politics! Above all, Wes is a kind & loving family man, and his 3 children, 6 grandchildren, and 8 (#9 is due in April) great-grandchildren are blessed beyond measure to be able to celebrate his wonderful life.

WEST SEATTLE CRIME WATCH: Stolen red Ford F-150 truck

That’s Kevin‘s truck, a red 2016 Ford F-150 stolen this morning after 6:30 am from in front of his house, 4100 block of 39th SW [map]. License plates WA C90967F. If you see it, call 911.

TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Tuesday watch; SB 509 crash

February 6, 2018 6:52 am
|    Comments Off on TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Tuesday watch; SB 509 crash
 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle traffic alerts

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

6:52 AM: One incident to report in the area – Seattle Fire says a man in his 40s has died after his car hit a tree at the SB 509 exit to Myers Way. So if you use SB 509 and usually get it to it from anywhere north of that, investigators will likely be on scene quite a while.

Other alerts and transportation notes:


FAUNTLEROY/WILDWOOD CLOSURE: Second day of work closing this intersection just south of the Fauntleroy ferry dock, and rerouting the C Line and Route 116.

TRAFFIC-SIGNAL WORK: As announced Monday by SDOT, crews will be working to tweak six West Seattle signals today.

7:06 AM: The State Patrol says the Myers Way ramp from SB 509 has reopened.

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