Toplines from last night’s meeting of HPAC, the community council for Highland Park, Riverview, and South Delridge:
DEPARTMENT OF NEIGHBORHOODS OVERVIEW: Osbaldo Hernandez Sahagun is the South Region community-engagement coordinator for this city department (one of 4, where years ago there were 14). He presented overviews of key DoN initiatives such as the department’s funding opportunities – Your Voice, Your Choice (more on that later); the Healthy Food Fund (funded by the Sweetened Beverage Tax), Small Sparks Fund (for small community-building projects up to $5,000), Community Partnership Fund (up to $50,000, three application deadlines a year). Leadership training, too:
That includesPACE and commissions (Youth, Renters, more) on which you can serve. Programs – P-Patch gardens, historic preservation. Interaction and engagement – the department is now budgeted for a South Park Public Safety Coordinator; the DoN has also been working on engagement between communities and SDOT regarding major transportation projects. HPAC members offered feedback on past frustrations with DoN programs and processes and Hernadez Sahagun promised to take those concerns back and advocate for improvements.
LEAD: Highland Park has long asked for access to this alternative to the criminal-justice system (LEAD is short for Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion). HPAC’s guest Melodie Reece explained it as a “pre-arrest and pre-booking diversion service” for suspects in “low-level, like drug charges, theft” to, instead of being jailed, be “funneled into really intensive case-management services.” The case managers “meet folks where they’re at,” using a “harm-reduction-type model” to try to set goals with clients in hopes of “mak(ing) communities safer.” Right now it’s in every SPD precinct except Southwest but local law enforcers are eager for it to be expanded, she said. What’s been holding them up? Their capacity for case management, pending new funding that the mayor has yet to free up (though the City Council approved it); the program plans a new effort next week to show the mayor why that funding is needed, stat. Outside the city, LEAD is in Burien and “just starting up in White Center,” too. “Ultimately we’re trying to reduce crime and get chronic low-level offenders … into better outcomes.” HPAC chair Gunner Scott outlined the area’s trouble with exactly that kind of crime, especially over the past decade that the area has been home to encampments. “It’s important to note that LEAD is not a housing or homeless program,” she stressed, though many of their clients may be committing low-level crimes out of extreme poverty, behavioral health, and substance-abuse issues.
YOUR VOICE, YOUR CHOICE: Possible ideas for this funding source were discussed, since the “suggestion” phase is now under way . A pathway along SW Webster on the south side of Riverview Playfield, to/from the West Duwamish Greenbelt, was proposed by an area resident.
She sees it as a way to increase access, safety, and usability, especially for those with wheelchairs, strollers, etc. Another attendee proposed an improvement for the 16th/Holden vicinity that Scott thought would be better suggested as part of the SDOT Highland Park Safety Project, which will be the subject of an upcoming meeting. Speed reduction on 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, and other side streets is something Scott plans to re-propose. Deadline for suggesting ideas is March 18th, as explained here.
HPAC LEADERSHIP ELECTIONS: Nobody present wanted to run nor to nominate someone who was not present. So elections were deferred to March. Scott has served multiple terms as chair and encouraged those in attendance to consider running, noting that it really doesn’t take a huge commitment of time..
NEXT MEETING: HPAC meets fourth Wednesdays most months, so be at HPIC (1116 SW Holden) at 7 pm Wednesday, March 25th.