West Seattle, Washington
The Seattle Public Schools Board meets Wednesday for a work session meant to get their consensus on what to ask voters to fund via the BEX (Building Excellence) V levy next February. And information prepared for the meeting suggests that staff is recommending major projects for only two schools in this area of the city: An addition for West Seattle Elementary and a rebuild for Alki Elementary.
As we’ve chronicled since last year, possible projects under discussion for BEX V also had included an addition or rebuild of Lafayette, as well as a rebuild of the original Roxhill site. Expansions for Louisa Boren STEM K-8 and Madison Middle School had been considered along the way too.
But now, a priority list is in the agenda for the Wednesday work session, out even before Tuesday night’s last-in-this-round public feedback meeting (at Meany Middle School; we covered this area’s meeting two weeks ago at West Seattle High School). The board has the final say, but this is a map of priorities:
(See the full agenda/info packet here.) Alki’s potential rebuild is envisioned as keeping the existing gym while expanding the student capacity to 500, 131 above current capacity. The WSE addition is envisioned as adding eight classrooms, which would expand capacity by 113 students.
Other West Seattle-area proposals for a slice of BEX V money include seismic improvements at the former Schmitz Park Elementary, which would be an interim site if for example Alki Elementary was indeed chosen for a rebuild. (For those who remember Schmitz Park’s portable-laden past before the program moved to Genesee Hill Elementary, built with money from the expiring BEX IV levy, note that portables are planned when it serves as an interim site.) With other levy components such as technology projects, the agenda proposes a potential six-year cost range from $985 million to $1.3 billion.
Though Wednesday’s 4:30 pm work session at district HQ (3rd and Lander) has the stated intention of “Consensus on BEX V Capital Levy projects” and “Consensus on Operations and BEX V Capital Levy amounts” (the Operations Levy, which covers three years, also is expiring and goes to voters in February), it’s not the final decision. That process will play out next month, including a public hearing likely to be set for the week of October 22nd. Wednesday’s work session, meantime, is open to the public but does not include a public-comment period. Here’s how to contact the board.
Police are investigating an incident in Gatewood, just reported to us by text:
Police just left our home. We had our window shot with some sort of gun/bullet, two bullet holes in window and glass damage interior and exterior, tonight around 8 pm right next to Gatewood (Elementary). School was searched, no clues or leads, shot appears to have come from near Woodside/Fauntleroy [map]. We want people to be aware in the neighborhood of Gatewood.
No one hurt, but the resident says it was a close call: “If we were in the kitchen we could have been injured, glass ricocheted and would have been eye level!”
As we’ve chronicled over the years, West Seattle is rich in writing talent. The latest local author to publish a book invites you to its launch party in The Junction Wednesday night.
Admiral resident Shepherd Siegel, Ph.D., says his book “Disruptive Play: The Trickster in Politics and Culture” has been a work in progress for decades. He began journaling in his teen years, keeping notes of things he’d seen in books, intuitive notions, and other observations. Eventually that led to the central theme of his book, the notion that all humans need to be in touch with their own playfulness – that we can create a happier and more peaceful existence by rediscovering in ourselves the sense of playfulness we had as children.
Kirkus Reviews describes “Disruptive Play” as “philosophically provocative and original.” Throughout the book, the author makes the case for people rediscovering a sense of play by discovering the tricksters in our midst, those playful spirits who try to keep the powerful off-balance, not for the sake of gaining power, but to, as Dr. Siegel puts it, find a sense of love and wonder in the world. His examples stretch back into ancient times, but include contemporary examples from Robin Williams to Bugs Bunny. The trickster, he says, fools the powerful into seeing that their seriousness serves no one. Out of that example, he thinks people can find a way to discover a non-competitive cooperative play that can enrich their lives. Play, Siegel notes, is common to all species, yet somehow humans manage to set it aside as they become older.
“Disruptive Play” puts up a timeline across human history that shows how people have been socialized into putting aside a childlike sense of play in order to adopt more adult roles. The timeline also puts forth an alternate view showing artists and entertainers, especially musicians, who have set aside the roles foisted onto them and have become the tricksters of their various artistic forms.
Siegel has lived in West Seattle for more than 25 years (and, disclosure, your WSB co-publishers have known him since we were all new arrivals in the early ’90s). From 1996-2012, he worked at Seattle Public Schools headquarters as manager of the district’s Career and Technical Education program. His launch party for “Disruptive Play” starts at 6 pm Wednesday (September 26th) at ArtsWest in The Junction (4711 California SW).
Are you a West Seattle author with a book on the way? Let us know so we can let your neighbors know too!
An early-stage proposal has appeared in city files for a 30-townhouse development in the upper Luna Park area, at 3101 SW Bradford [map]. Documents describe the site as “vacant”; a collection of what’s listed on the city website as “site photos” shows a greenbelt at the end of SW Bradford, downslope from the approach to the West Seattle Bridge. Also in the file: A city letter to the site owner saying the project will have to go through Design Review, so they need to arrange for Early Community Outreach to neighbors. The information available online so far suggests the townhouses would have 34 parking spaces in an underground garage.
The West Seattle Chamber of Commerce announced today that Lynn Dennis has officially resigned from her nearly 5 years as the CEO of the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce, effective at the end of the year.
Lynn has been the CEO of the Chamber since January 2014 and in that time has helped take the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce to a place amongst the most recognized chambers in the Pacific Northwest. Under Lynn’s leadership, the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce has grown its membership, increased member participation in its programs, built numerous partnerships, and has placed the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce on a path for future growth and success.
Lynn Dennis says, “It has been a privilege and honor to serve as the CEO of an organization consisting of businesses and nonprofits who take seriously their role as leaders of a community known for the core values of integrity, respect and commitment. The WSCC members are known for being as committed to the West Seattle community and other peninsula businesses as they are to their own success. Thank you for this gratifying experience”.
The Board of Directors of the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce has launched a search for a new CEO.
Chair of the Board of Directors Pete Spalding says that while the Chamber is sad to be losing Lynn, “This has been an exciting last few years for the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce. Under Lynn’s guidance and leadership our organization has grown its membership, outreach abilities and partnerships across the West Seattle peninsula. We cannot thank Lynn enough for her contributions to our organization.”
We e-mailed Dennis to ask about her future plans. She replied, “My family challenges need my focus and for me to be physically closer to home in Auburn. The West Seattle Chamber of Commerce is ready to take the next big step and someone is going to have the opportunity of a lifetime. It was a hard decision but my family needs me. Nowhere in the Chamber industry do you find such a engaged membership. In the words of Buzz Lightyear … ‘to infinity and beyond!'”
1:01 PM: As reported here three times in the past two weeks, Southwest Precinct police leadership have said a city cleanup of the east side of Myers Way – a longtime site of illegal camping – was imminent. And today, the city confirms it’s getting under way. We’ll be going there to check soon on what exactly is happening so far; in the meantime, the city has published an update saying the cleanup is “to reduce negative public health and safety impacts stemming from the encampment and to allow the City of Seattle to launch an effort to restore the forest and natural environment.” The update adds:
The encampment is large, covering over 20 acres of forest with multiple living structures and abandoned vehicles. At one point this year, the City of Seattle’s Navigation Team estimated there to be 50-100 people living unsheltered in Myers Way. The population has declined over the course of the year.
Impacts from the encampment have ranged from the presence of human waste and public safety issues, to garbage and illegal dumping impacting Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) drainage systems. A partial clean-up of the area occurred earlier this year to alleviate potential SR-509 flooding concerns.
Given the scale and logistical challenges presented by this encampment, this large-scale removal required months of planning and resource marshaling to clear this forested area. The Navigation Team and other outreach providers have been working over the last months to connect people living unsheltered to the resources and shelter required under City rules. Following the removal and clean-up of the encampment, Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation (Parks) will implement a multi-month activation process to restore the forest and encourage more regular recreational use of the greenbelt.
… The Navigation Team has been conducting repeated outreach to people living unsheltered in the encampment since the beginning of the year. Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) trash bag pilot has also been active on site (SPU dispenses and collects trash bags from occupants), however participation from encampment residents has been inconsistent and deteriorated over the year.
The Navigation Team designed an intensive outreach effort ahead of the removal, focusing nearly all outreach and shelter resources to the encampment during the month of September to help people move to safer spaces prior to the clean-up. This outreach effort includes bringing in multiple partner agencies to complement and expand the team’s efforts.
The residents of this encampment have been difficult to reach and connect to services. To date, the team has made over 250 contacts to people living in Myers Way, connecting less than 10 people to shelter.
However, as part of the intensive outreach leading up to the clean-up, the team successfully referred a mother and her 2 children to a tiny house village last week (September 10). Additionally, the team successfully moved a second young family out of Myers Way and into another tiny house village the week prior to the clean-up.
Written and verbal notice of the removal has been provided to all people living in the encampment. The encampment will received additional written notice 72 hours ahead of the clean-up, per City protocols.
Because of the advance outreach, some residents have voluntarily left the encampment to unknown destinations.
The City is working with multiple agencies to conduct the clean-up, including Parks, Seattle Department of Transportation, WSDOT, SPU, Finance and Administrative Services, Seattle Human Services, Seattle Police Department (SPD), and Seattle City Light (SCL).
Beginning September 24, the Navigation Team will lead initial clean-up efforts. The team will remove living structures and provide storage of belongings for encampment occupants. The team will continue to offer services and shelter during the clean-up. This effort will likely last the entire week. During the clean-up, other agencies will begin laying the groundwork for future activation by restoring access roads and preparing the property for work trailers.
Following the clean-up, Parks will implement a temporary multi-month activation effort to restore the forest and encourage more regular recreational use of the area.
This activation includes a daily staffing of the site, overseen by City staff, contractors, and volunteers. Workers will be on site every day to restore hillsides prone to landslides, removing brush and debris, and replanting appropriate plants and trees to the area. During this time, Parks will explore other uses of the site such as a dog park area and recreation trails.
With improved access and walking trails, SPD and Parks will be able to better monitor the area during the restoration process and beyond. The activation phase is anticipated to last from 3-6 months.
This area is separate from the city-sanctioned encampment Camp Second Chance on the west side of Myers Way, but some community members have said the sanctioned camp’s presence has led to more camping nearby. This new cleanup starts just two days before Mayor Jenny Durkan is scheduled to speak to the Highland Park Action Committee, which has voiced repeated concerns about Myers Way, as have other groups including the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council.
Myers Way sweep/cleanup zone is extensive. pic.twitter.com/Duh90z4ApE
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) September 24, 2018
4:23 PM: Just back from the scene. As our video (recorded from the passenger seat while headed northbound) shows, part of Myers Way is coned off while crews from multiple city departments work at multiple sites. Just before we headed over, we heard officers dispatched after these marijuana plants were found:
We talked briefly with Sgt. Eric Zerr, who’s long been working with the city Navigation Team (we first met him during preparations for a sweep by the West Seattle Bridge a year and a half ago). He expects this phase of the cleanup to last at least through this week.
There are flaggers in the area helping direct passing traffic.
(Seattle Channel video of mayor’s budget speech)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Mayor Jenny Durkan is announcing her budget proposal for the next two years. (
Click the “play” button above for the live stream from Seattle Channel at Fire Station 10 downtown.) It’s almost $6 billion a year. Just before leaving City Hall to present the speech, she hosted reporters in the mayor’s office conference room to provide background on toplines. We were among those invited – so here are some notes of interest.
She was joined by the city’s budget director Ben Noble, who acknowledged that the budget includes a “significant increase,” but he and Durkan stressed that it is balanced and includes “sustainable” sources of funding for a variety of city programs as well as recognizing that revenue growth is slowing, while inflation is on the rise.
A few big-picture notes – close to half the budget, $2.6 billion, goes to utilities: Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities. That’s separate from the city’s General Fund spending, which Noble said is proposed to go up six percent next year. The budget has a “focus on basic city services … that our taxpayers expect,” promised the mayor.
Some specific areas:
PUBLIC SAFETY: 40 new police officers – above attrition – are proposed, 10 next year and 30 in 2020. In the Fire Department, the mayor wants to add 120 new fire recruits. Noble said the added personnel are needed because maintaining required staffing levels is currently leading to lots of overtime. Durkan said that Chief Harold Scoggins found savings in other areas to cover the cost of adding personnel. We asked for specifics; fuel savings was mentioned, and they promised to provide details of others.
Back to police, the mayor does include money for 12 Community Service Officers – as originally called for by the City Council – and says they will be part of a new Collaborative Policing Bureau.
UTILITIES: 24 people will be added in the Customer Call Centers to reduce wait times. The mayor said City Light in particular needs a lot of “re-tuning” and she expects to spend a lot of time with new GM Debra Smith – assuming the council confirms her – doing that.
TRANSPORTATION: The city wants to pay the county to add yet more bus service – 100,000 more hours. In all, more than $600 million is budgeted for transit/transportation, including $101 million for “maintenance and replacement of key roads, trails, bike paths, bridges.” No specific projects mentioned for our area, but there was talk about dealing with the upcoming Period of Maximum Constraint downtown, including signal adjustments to keep transit and other traffic flowing. The mayor also mentioned going to Olympia to try to get approval for transit-lane-blocking enforcement cameras. (This would be a repeat try.) She promised they’ll be working “block by block” to figure out how to keep people moving.
HOMELESSNESS: Next year’s budget includes $89 million total in all areas in which the city deals with this, up a bit from this year’s $86 million. The spending includes “increased case management” for tiny-house villages (sanctioned encampments); we asked what that might mean for a specific encampment such as Camp Second Chance in West Seattle, and were promised details on that too. (Currently the city’s contracted camp operator. LIHI, provides a case manager, paid from what it gets annually to run the camp.)
The city’s going to try a “safe parking” program again for people who live in vehicles, with $250,000 allotted for that. No specifics of where/when, yet. And the Navigation Team will be increased.
NEIGHBORHOODS: $4 million is included to continue the Matching Fund program that funds many programs and projects around the city.
IF YOU REALLY LIKE NUMBERS: Noble explained that city revenues are “highly dependent on the local economy.” Sales, business/occupation, and utility taxes comprise more than 56 percent of what goes into the city’s General Fund. They’re continuing to grow but more slowly – this year sales tax was expected to go up 8.7%, but next year 3.5% and 2% in 2020; B&O is expected to grow 7.4% this year, 5.1% next year, 3.3% in 2020. The city expects construction activity to drop more than 10 percent over the next two years, while inflation is “creeping up,” in the three percent vicinity. But Noble stressed, “this is not a recession forecast – it’s a slowing of growth.” And new revenue streams are helping – $22 million a year from the “soda tax,” which at one point was expected to drop dramatically as the years went on, but, Noble said, other cities that have it are NOT seeing those drops so it “provides an opportunity to use these monies to fund more sustainable activities.”
THERE’S MORE: What’s above is just part of what was discussed at the briefing and a small part of what’s in the budget. The full document is due out now (update: find it here) and we’ll be reviewing it for other notes of interest that we’ll add to this report later.
WHAT HAPPENS FROM HERE: The City Council spends the next ~2 months reviewing the budget. District 1 Councilmember Lisa Herbold outlined the process – and how you can get involved – in her newest online update.
After summer hiatus, the West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network resumes monthly meetings tomorrow (Tuesday, September 25th, 6:30 pm, Southwest Precinct). The spotlight topic: Mental Health First Aid. From the announcement:
Most of us are familiar with or have attended First Aid classes to learn CPR, how to respond to someone experiencing a heart attack or identify signs of a stroke. As well, many of us are aware of the newer First Aid courses offered locally such as Stop the Bleed, and Disaster Response First Aid.
But, did you know that there is also a worldwide movement to train the public in Mental Health First Aid?
Our guest speaker will be Sue Wyder, King County Mental Health First Aid Coordinator and Valley Cities Mental Health Program Manager. Please join us to learn more about Mental Health First Aid and King County’s new free 8-hour certified course on this topic.
How can learning Mental Health First Aid help you help someone? Why is it important? Statistics suggest that you are more likely to encounter someone in emotional or mental crisis than someone having a heart attack. It’s especially important to recognize the signs that someone close to you — family, friends, co-workers, neighbors — may be in crisis, and to learn and understand Mental Health First Aid techniques so you can help them and others who may be in need.
As this first fall meeting gets underway, we’ll also have introductions; a few announcements; and an in-depth update from SW Precinct leadership, Captain Pierre Davis on recent crime and safety issues.
The precinct is at 2300 SW Webster. You don’t have to be a Block Watch Captain – or even in a Block Watch – to attend; everyone’s welcome.
Enjoy creating art? Share it with your West Seattle neighbors! Everyone’s an artist when it’s time for the Southwest Library‘s annual Artist Showcase – and the 27th annual showcase is just days away! Your first step – create up to three pieces of visual art to show off, or choose up to 3 works you’ve already created. Second step: Take your entries to SW Library (9010 35th SW) this Thursday through Saturday (September 27th through 29th). Then be there for the artists’ reception at 2 pm Sunday (September 30th)! The artists’ creations are shown at the branch through October, and the month is highlighted by opportunities to “See Art/Make Art.” (See the event list here.)
7:20 AM: Good morning. No incidents in/from West Seattle so far this Monday.
STADIUM ZONE: Mariners finish the season with a weeklong homestand starting tonight, 7:10 pm vs. Oakland.
9:45 AM: If you have to go east any time soon – don’t take the high bridge. A collision east of the Delridge onramp is blocking multiple lanes.
9:55 AM: Just cleared.
This is the first weekday since Metro‘s latest “service change” kicked in on Saturday. For West Seattle, Routes 56, 57, 120, and RapidRide C Line have added weekday trips. But there’s one more important note: As noted here last Tuesday, timetables were printed with the belief that the Viaduct-to-tunnel Highway 99 change was happening soon – but as you no doubt have heard by now, it’s not happening until January 11th. So Metro wants to be sure you know this:
Transit service will continue to operate on the Alaskan Way Viaduct until early 2019
In a revision to previously published information for Metro’s September 22 service change, routes 21 Express, 37, 55, 56, 57, 113, 120, 121, 122, 123, 125 and the RapidRide C Line will continue to operate on the Alaskan Way Viaduct, and along Seneca and Columbia streets, until early 2019, instead of changing to SODO surface streets as previously planned.
The Alaskan Way Viaduct is now scheduled for closure in early 2019, and until it is closed, the routes that have been operating on it will continue to do so.
Updated schedules are online
While Metro works to update all of its data information systems, use the timetables posted on Metro’s website to plan your trip. During morning peak hours, some buses may arrive in downtown Seattle slightly earlier than scheduled.
When using Metro’s online Trip Planner, watch for the ‘Alert!’ symbol on affected itineraries, and check posted service advisories for routing or stop revisions. Revisions will be fully integrated in the Trip Planner by or before October 20.
New red timetables
Routing and operating times in new red paper timetables for viaduct routes that were distributed prior to September 22 do not reflect this late change to actual operation.
Affected timetables are being revised. Use online timetables or note that, because scheduled running time was added for the expected surface street operation, buses may seem to run earlier or later than the times shown in those timetables.
Downtown routing revisions for some viaduct routes
In the downtown area, some morning peak hour buses have revised routing. After exiting the viaduct, routes 21 Express, 121, 122, 123 and 125 that used to operate a short distance north on 1st Avenue or south on 2nd Avenue are all now operating via Seneca Street to 3rd Avenue, where they will continue north on 3rd, except for Route 125, which will continue south on 3rd.
To get to points south of Seneca St, transfer to applicable service southbound on 2nd or 3rd avenues from posted bus stops just south of Seneca St, or enter the transit tunnel at 3rd Av and Seneca St and transfer to southbound buses or Link light rail.
Some onboard stop or landmark information for viaduct buses in the downtown Seattle area may temporarily not be announced or may be announced incorrectly.
Listen for operator announcements or check with your driver if you need assistance with stop information for your route. These systems are also in the process of being updated.
Service change information
Information about all fall service revisions is posted online, and is included in new red timetables.
P.S. If you have questions about January’s Viaduct-to-tunnel transition, bring them to the West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting this Thursday (September 27), 6:30 pm at Neighborhood House High Point (6400 Sylvan Way).