West Seattle, Washington
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
“We saved these whales once … we can do it again, but the clock is ticking.”
With warnings like that one, The Whale Trail‘s executive director Donna Sandstrom is doing everything she can. But the Southern Resident Killer Whales need more help, she explained at The Whale Trail’s midwinter gathering in West Seattle.
She offered specifics, as well as inspiration from a special guest, Maya Sears, who recapped the whales’ most-recent visits to our area.
The exhilaration of those visits is tempered by the increasing odds they will someday be just a memory.
Since The Whale Trail’s last gathering, another resident orca has vanished and is presumed dead, L41. That makes four lost in the past year. “That’s a lot.” This distinct population of killer whales is down to 72, only one above their historic low of 71
“So,” she said, asking aloud the logical question for everyone in the room, “why isn’t anything happening?”
After years of clamor for a fireworks ban in unincorporated King County – including White Center, just south of West Seattle – a deadly fire has finally ignited action.
As promised, King County Councilmember Joe McDermott – whose district includes West Seattle, White Center, and Vashon Island – is about to introduce legislation that would ban fireworks in the unincorporated areas of the county. See a summary below (or here in PDF):
See the full text of the legislation below (or here in PDF):
We talked this afternoon with Councilmember McDermott, who will officially get it into the system tomorrow.
McDermott notes that 25 jurisdictions within King County – including Seattle and Burien, which bookend White Center – already ban fireworks. And in addition to the deadly fire in North Highline, he’s heard from constituents with other concerns, including wildfire worries on Vashon Island.
Yes, he’s heard the concerns raised before – what does this really do if there’s no extra enforcement? “It sets a new norm,” McDermott contends, and use will be reduced. What about the organizations that have raised money through fireworks sales? They’re going to have to find a new, not potentially deadly way to raise money. McDermott says the fundraising-related concerns were a factor in a related bill that has died for the year in the State Legislature, 34th District Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon‘s proposal to change state law so that fireworks bans could take effect faster. The stalling of that bill means that if McDermott’s proposal passes, it wouldn’t take effect until next year, so fireworks would still be legal in unincorporated King County this summer.
What are the chances it will pass? McDermott says he can count on support from at least a couple council colleagues, but he’s not taking anything/anyone for granted. If you have a strong opinion on the proposal, contact all the county councilmembers (here’s how). There also will be a committee hearing on the proposal, in the Local Services Committee chaired by Councilmember Reagan Dunn (no date for that yet).
P.S. Professional fireworks displays would still be allowed in unincorporated King County – as they are in the cities with fireworks bans – by permit.
Spring sports are almost here, so it’s time to sign up with the West Seattle YMCA (WSB sponsor), which has registration open for multiple sports right now:
Let’s get in the game! Find the spring sport for your child, ages 3 through 15. At the Y, youth sports are all about helping kids learn the rules and skills of the game, while emphasizing the importance of self-development, team building, sportsmanship, positive self-image and, of course, having loads of fun. Plus, we make sure our programs are affordable for all, so explore financial assistance if that is appealing to your family’s budget. Registration is open now for baseball & t-ball, volleyball and futsal. Learn more and sign up here!
More townhouses on the way to California Avenue SW. This time they’re not replacing an old house, but instead replacing a parking lot. This early-stage proposal has appeared in city files for 5420 California SW [map], currently a parking lot south of commercial buildings. The site plan (PDF) by Patano Studio Architecture has two configuration options. Both show two live-work units facing the street and six townhouse units behind it, with four parking spaces off the alley. “Option A” shows two units with their own garages; “Option B” shows four units with garages.
1:35 PM: Thanks for the tips. Avoid Fauntleroy through The Triangle – big police response centered on the long-closed Midas. We are working to get more information.
1:41 PM: Police describe it as a “potential hazard at a closed business.” Fauntleroy is closed/closing and traffic is being diverted. As the reader photo above shows, they’ve taped off the closed Midas.
1:46 PM: “Possible explosive device” in the closed Midas. Arson and Bomb Squad will handle.
2:04 PM: Not resolved yet. SFD is being called in to stand by across Fauntleroy Way.
2:14 PM: While police are keeping people back – see the tape across Fauntleroy in the photos we’ve added above – they have not issued any sort of evacuation order.
2:19 PM: Police have removed two bags of items from the scene.
2:32 PM: We’re still at the scene; just heard via emergency radio, “you can open up traffic, we’re secure.”
2:36 PM: Just talked to two people who say they’re the ones who called this in. They are contractors who were asked to check out a “hole” in the back of the closed building. They looked in – and saw “grenades,” and called police.
2:39 PM: The road is reopening. SPD confirms the recovered items were “harmless.”
The morning swept by without a chance for our usual daily highlights – you can always check the full WSB West Seattle Event Calendar – but we did want to remind you about one major public event, the February meeting of HPAC. This is the community council recently expanded to span South Delridge and Riverview as well as Highland Park. During the 7 pm gathering at Highland Park Improvement Club (1116 SW Holden), as previewed last weekend, the big topics will include what you need to know about the city Department of Neighborhoods, voting for new HPAC leadership, and strategizing what to propose for Your Voice, Your Choice parks/streets grants. Maybe there’s a community concern you’d like to bring up? Be there!
Il Nido, Chef Mike Easton‘s mega-popular restaurant at the historic-landmark Alki Homestead, is up for one of the food world’s most prestigious awards. The James Beard Foundation announced its 2020 Restaurant and Chef Awards semifinalists this morning and Il Nido is on the list of 30 nationwide up for Best New Restaurant – the only one from Seattle. Il Nido opened last May. See the full list of semifinalists here. The nominees are announced March 25th, and the awards will be presented May 4th in Chicago. West Seattle has had three Beard Foundation semifinalists in the past decade – Mark Fuller (of what was then Spring Hill and is now Ma’Ono) in 2010, photographer Christopher Boffoli in 2012, Bakery Nouveau founder William Leaman in 2013.
King County Councilmembers have presented their annual Martin Luther King Medal of Distinguished Service awards – here’s who received one in our area:
King County Councilmember Joe McDermott has awarded West Seattle resident Michael J. Scott with the Martin Luther King Medal of Distinguished Service, an award that recognizes individuals whose work has answered the question asked by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “What are you doing for others?”
“Michael Scott’s work at Swedish Hospital and as an SEIU 1199NW Union Delegate exemplifies the spirit of the Martin Luther King Medal of Distinguished Service,” McDermott said. “These awards provide us an opportunity to honor unsung heroes like Michael who have shown a commitment to improving the lives of those around them, while typically receiving little recognition for the good they do every day.”
Scott has served as a union delegate for the last 15 years with the Service Employees International Union local 1199 Northwest. In his work with the union, he has fought for better patient and staff safety, high standards for infection control, and better recruitment and retention of healthcare workers, an important factor in providing the best care for patients. Most recently, Scott and his union made patient safety concerns a top priority in contract negotiations.
Scott has also served as a member of the union’s executive board, helping to set goals that improve the lives of both health-care workers and their patients. Scott is a graduate of Seattle Central Community College and lives in the Avalon neighborhood of West Seattle.
This marks the fifth year that councilmembers have each selected someone from their district whose work embodies the spirit of King’s question.
6:58 AM: Good morning! We just checked around – no current alerts or incidents to report.
WEEKEND REMINDER: The SB Highway 99 tunnel will close Friday night into Saturday morning for repair work, 10 pm-8 am.