By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
One day into 2019, West Seattle community advocates filled a room at the Sisson Building/Senior Center for the Southwest District Council‘s first meeting of the year.
Here are our toplines of what they heard and discussed:
POLICE UPDATE: Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Steve Strand said the precinct has three new officers and another one on the way, so is at or “close to” full staffing; there had been concern that the Bike Squad or another “proactive” group would be “taken away” but nothing has happened so far to indicate that’ll happen. The Bike Squad is “still active,” often in The Junction, sometimes at Westwood Village.
He also had year-end stats for the precinct’s jurisdiction (West Seattle and South Park):
Property crime up two percent, crimes against persons down seven percent. Auto theft, as is the regional trend, remains up, but he said police have arrested some “chronic” offenders and continue to recover stolen cars with the help of Automated License Plate Reader technology.
He recapped the recent Juneau Street Market attack and police circulating in the area to address safety concerns afterward. (From our post-meeting check: Suspect Farrall M. Ditschinger remains in jail in lieu of $750,000 bail, charged with assault and attempted robbery, and recently ordered to undergo a pretrial competency exam.)
Two attendees brought up concerns about tent campers in two areas – along Harbor Avenue SW, and along the new pathway north of Westwood Village. Camping concerns generally have to be addressed with the Navigation Team, Lt. Strand said, although if someone is camping on private property without the property owner’s permission, police can address that as a trespassing situation.
HALA/MHA STATUS: This update was led by Deb Barker, who represents the West Seattle Transportation Coalition on SWDC but is also Morgan Community Association president and has long been active on land-use issues. She offered the newest information on the City Council “fast-tracking” the Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning legislation, now that the citywide coalition appeal ruling is in.
The schedule (also now on the city website): The next council meeting is Monday, January 7th, 10:30 am, with a briefing; January 14th, 2:30 pm, the council committee will discuss amendments for Districts 4, 5, and 6; at 9:30 am January 16th, Districts 1, 2, 3, and 7 amendments will be presented. At 9:30 am on February 8th, the council will take a big picture look at the process, and then will hold a big public hearing 5:30 pm February 21st. The vote on amendments and other changes is scheduled for 2:30 pm February 25th, and a final full council vote is currently set for 2 pm March 18th. Also coming up in this whole timeline, for example, Morgan Junction’s proposed comprehensive-plan amendments including the “permanently affordable housing” overlay that MoCA’s been talking about for at least a year. “We have to show up at a lot of meetings … to see if we can get something that works for our urban village,” Barker summarized. She and other West Seattle and South Park reps were planning to meet with Councilmember Lisa Herbold the next day to talk about potential amendments/resolutions.
SWDC’S 2019 PRIORITIES: This was an open discussion. Suggestions included: Fewer meetings where people sit and listen to presentations and more with interaction between participants to talk about big-picture issues and projects … Also suggested: Sharing information on what members’ respective organizations/groups are working on … Get ahead of city processes such as the budget at an early phase when input can make a bigger difference … Hear from and talk with District 1 City Council candidates when the campaign gets going later this year … Support requests for city grant funding for projects in which the community is interested.
DISTRICT 1 COMMUNITY NETWORK: As noted in this WSB story last month, this new West Seattle/South Park supergroup’s organizational meeting is January 9th, 7 pm at South Park Community Center, intended to define its structure and function “so we’re not just having a meeting to have a meeting,” as SWDC co-chair Amanda Sawyer put it.
PIER 1/2 HOLDOVER: Alki Community Council president Tony Fragada first provided some backstory on the Pier 1/2 proposal from more than a decade ago. What he wanted people to know, as an FYI more than anything else, is that $47,000 in community funds for public access to waterfront in that area is still in holding with the city Department of Neighborhoods. What will happen to it? No one’s sure. The land, Fragada said, still has private development proposals pending.
ANNOUNCEMENTS: The Junction Neighborhood Organization meets 7 pm next Thursday (January 10th) at the West Seattle YMCA (3622 SW Snoqualmie; WSB sponsor) … The Morgan Community Association meets at 7 pm January 16th at The Kenney (WSB sponsor) … Alki Community Council meets 7 pm January 17th at Alki UCC. … 34th District 10 am January 12th (check) Sen. Joe Nguyen is having an open forum at Delridge Community Center
The Southwest District Council – reps from community councils and other organizations around western West Seattle – meets first Wednesdays, 6:30 pm, at the Senior Center/Sisson Building (4217 SW Oregon); all welcome.