‘Stay Healthy Streets’ explained, discussed @ Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board

(WSB photo, Beach Drive “Stay Healthy Street” on Wednesday afternoon)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Pre-pandemic policy for the city usually featured what some deride as “the Seattle process” – propose something, talk about it a lot, finalize it.

In the case of the city’s new “Stay Healthy Streets” – 23 miles of streets now closed to through traffic, open to walking/riding/rolling, including three stretches in West Seattle – things happened in the opposite direction: Action, then talk.

The first public discussion of them, four weeks after the first ones were announced, happened this past Wednesday, when the Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board met via videoconferencing/phone.

Most of the meeting was devoted to a hour-plus discussion of Stay Healthy Streets, bookended by two public-comment periods. The first one opened with West Seattle resident Loren Schwartz calling the newest West Seattle SHS, Alki Avenue and Beach Drive around Alki Point, “transformative,” “amazing … phenomenal … paradise.”

That opinion was not shared by Steve Humphrey of Duwamish Head, who said this is pushing all the “negative-type traffic” onto the rest of Alki. Closing a stretch of road “doesn’t make sense,” he said, when the Constellation Park area has speed bumps already and draws school buses and lighthouse visitors in summer.

West Seattleite Andrew Moskowitz expressed concern about the change being made without public process.

The main speaker from SDOT was Summer Jawson, who is in charge of the Stay Healthy Streets program. She said it started in response to park crowding and parking-lot crowding, a “loud cry from the community to open more public space” so people could get outdoors. Many of the city’s sidewalks are 6 feet wide, she said, so it’s hard to pass somebody while maintaining safe distancing.

The routes chosen for most were based on the city’s Neighborhood Greenway network – a program Jawson had headed – with long corridors so people using them could go one or two miles, after overlaying other considerations such as the city’s Race and Social Justice Initiative, housing density, access to open space, and restaurants that are open for pickup/delivery. The Beach Drive/Green Lake Way segments were chosen “in conjunction with the Parks Department,” Jawson added.

SPAB chair David Seater noted that the city’s urban centers/villages don’t have greenways, so the program might be leaving people out. SDOT’s Brad Topol noted that the greenways have been the focus so far because they already have features lending themselves to “quick implementation,” such as pedestrian crossings.

Since the mayor has announced that at least the first 20 miles will be permanent, Seater asked, what will that look like? Jawson said current signage will be kept but they’ll also “look at more-durable materials,” possibly attached to the pavement, so SDOT crews won’t have to go out daily and make sure the signage is still in place. She was also asked about how the signage would be made accessible to vision-impaired users; she said that hadn’t been addressed yet but suggestions would be welcome.

So how much use are these getting so far? Jawson said they had done some preliminary monitoring and the Constellation Park stretch was getting the most use when they checked, even beating out the Green Lake segment. Driving on SHS was down 90 percent. They’re working on a longer-term monitoring plan.

Seater asked what the “complete Stay Healthy Streets network” might eventually look like. Jawson had no specifics but said they’re “receiving new requests daily” for additions, and that SDOT is discussing potential expansion with the mayor’s office. She also said they’re trying to differentiate the park-adjacent stretches – including Beach Drive/Alki Avenue – by calling them “Keep It Moving Streets” to riff on the Parks’ exhortation. (We checked earlier today and there’s no change in the signage, at least at either end.) She also suggested those are NOT likely to be permanent, unlike the 20 miles first announced.

The discussion touched on some other recent SDOT projects as well, such as adjusting signals so that pedestrians get a head start; Topol said they’re already almost up to their full 2020 goal, 250 adjusted signals citywde, “which is 25 percent of our citywide signal network.” He added that the speed-limit-lowering project also is proceeding quickly. Jawson noted that overall, West Seattle is getting extra attention because of mobility concerns following the high-bridge closure.

In the second round of public comment, following the discussion, Moskowitz said he was concerned that automotive use of “public streets … a constrained resource” wasn’t being given enough consideration. Humphrey asked what kind of public process was planned as this program continued. SDOT traffic engineer Dongho Chang answered that, noting that the greenway routes already “went through an extensive public process” but saying that overall, “we’ll definitely engage with the community.”

The next public commenter identified herself as a High Point resident and said that stretch went by lots of open space and seemed “unnecessary.” She thought perhaps the city wasn’t aware of that open space because they’re parks that aren’t part of the city system. Jawson said they are definitely aware.

The board also heard from Capitol Hill, First Hill, and Maple Leaf residents who generally supported the concept, as well as from Doug MacDonald – a North Seattle resident and pedestrian advocate who is also a former state transportation secretary – who said the program needs an environmental study so the public can understand it and comment on it. One final WS commenter said the Alki area needs more painted crosswalks.

What’s next? Again, this is an advisory group, so its members don’t and can’t take action, but rather serve as a sounding board. SDOT said on May 7th that a community survey would be out the following week “asking for your observations of Stay Healthy Streets, ideas for improving, and approaches to future expansion,” but we haven’t seen it yet, so we’ll be asking about its status this coming week.

56 Replies to "'Stay Healthy Streets' explained, discussed @ Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board"

  • Alki Resident May 17, 2020 (7:49 pm)

    “So how much use are these getting so far? Jawson said they had done some preliminary monitoring and the Constellation Park stretch was getting the most use when they checked, even beating out the Green Lake segment.” …

    “She also suggested those are NOT likely to be permanent, unlike the 20 miles first announced.”

    .
    .
    So the most used “Stay Healthy Street” is unlikely to be permanent???

  • Lin May 17, 2020 (7:52 pm)

    Actually took the family on a walk on the stay healthy street on alki today. We really loved it. The street was quiet, smelled like the ocean and felt serene. The few cars that drove by were slow and careful since many pedestrians and cyclists were on the road to observe social distancing.

    • West Seattle Hipster May 17, 2020 (8:21 pm)

      West Seattle is quite far from the nearest ocean (the Pacific Ocean is about a 2.5 hour drive)

      • WSB May 17, 2020 (8:53 pm)

        Puget Sound is part of the Pacific Ocean.

        • K. Beck May 18, 2020 (9:59 am)

          I really hope that the street closure along Alki/Beach Drive does NOT become permanent .  I am a long time West Seattle resident with a physical disability and I love to go to that area and walk with my walker.  It is the only area along Alki where my husband can find easy curbside parking for my walks, which are short based on my physical limitations.  These walks are the highlight of my week!  It was so disappointing to go there last week and not be able to gain access.  This strip of Alki is necessary for the elderly in our community!

          • WSJ May 18, 2020 (2:28 pm)

            There is ADA parking now

      • Its Something May 18, 2020 (8:11 am)

        smells like….quit trolling!

    • Sunflower May 17, 2020 (8:49 pm)

      I went to Constellation Park one day last week and also thought it was nice. I easily found parking fairly near the park, like right near the corner of Beach Dr and the park and was perplexed by others recent comments suggesting it would be hard to park on another street and walk there. Perhaps post-pandemic when more people are out, it could be harder to find parking and walk there. For now at least seems great for people!

  • Ally May 17, 2020 (8:25 pm)

    Was an ADA process evaluatedwill there be sufficient ADA parking?have they or will they evaluate impact on surrounding streetsstill seems like a rush job based on a anti car agenda and a small group benefit and have a private compound paid by all citizens 

    • WSB May 17, 2020 (8:47 pm)

      There IS ADA parking, at least at Constellation Park – haven’t looked in the other spots.

    • Steven Lorenza May 18, 2020 (8:14 am)

      Greenways don’t require any parking.  I’m not following.  SDOT has informational memos on ADA parking on their ADA request website. Have you looked there?

      • WSB May 18, 2020 (9:35 am)

        The ADA parking is for park access, where that applies.

        • Paul Hage May 19, 2020 (11:32 am)

          If the street is closed how do I access the ADA SPOT?

          • WSB May 19, 2020 (11:58 am)

            The street is not closed. It’s closed to through traffic. If you are disabled, the city has set aside parking for you. When we were there last Wed., it was on SB Beach – water side – just north of 63rd.

          • heartless May 19, 2020 (12:02 pm)

            WSB, how much do you get paid again?  I’m pretty sure you’re due for a raise.  : P

    • SCC May 19, 2020 (2:00 pm)

      OK WSB..SB Beach-water side- just north of 63rd?………How does one park SB just north of a street closed sign without going some distance and turning around?  Certainly it would be improper to do that with all the unsocial distancing going on.  Someone may be interrupted doing whatever they’re doing in THE STREET.  Oh yea…If anyone wants to go to Lincoln Park don’t forget……the parking lots are CLOSED for us to stay safe and healthy.  Hmmm does anyone else see the pattern?

      • WSB May 19, 2020 (2:24 pm)

        The south parking lot in Lincoln Park is open for ADA parking, as we have reported. As for getting to the ADA parking spot at Constellation, yes, of course you’d have to drive on the street to reach it – that’s NOT “through traffic.” The most direct route would be via 64th to Beach, and take a left turn. https://goo.gl/maps/254oN9L6RvjZ2pMX6 * Caveat, that was as of what we saw walking the Beach Drive section of the street last Wednesday. Might have changed since then. If any helpful residents are still reading this thread, perhaps they can advise; otherwise we might get a chance to check later today. – TR

  • m May 17, 2020 (8:26 pm)

    17th Ave SW between Cambridge & Holden is getting A LOT of use every day by people walking, biking, skateboarding and running. People are coming over from neighboring streets to use it. This neighborhood has no park within walking distance so adding this public space for exercise is much-needed and appreciated. 

  • Barb May 17, 2020 (9:14 pm)

    I was on Beach Drive by Me-Kwa-Mooks at 4pm today, and unfortunately the groups of guys who hang around their souped-up cars blocking the sidewalks, drinking, smoking, etc. and definitely not following social distancing seem to have moved from Constellation Park to this location.  One problem solved, another created.

    • Bradley May 17, 2020 (10:18 pm)

      City officials have found a clever way to kick young people of color out from in front of the view homes owned by the wealthy and privileged between 63rd SW and Constellation Park. They claim that SHS are part of their “race and social justice” efforts. But I mainly see young people of color now no longer being allowed to bring their “souped-up” (ie; nice) cars to Alki Point and forced a mile down the road. Not much social justice after all.

      • Jim May 18, 2020 (6:44 am)

        Bradley – The car enthusiasts are causing a disturbance (documented) in a neighborhood and you think because they are “young people of color” (your description) that they shouldn’t be held to societal standards.  You really are talking about privilege, but just the opposite of what you intended.

      • McGruff May 18, 2020 (7:38 am)

        Bradley, your ‘the City hates POCs’ argument is a straw man; stop it. If there was any problem along Beach Drive at Constellation Park, it wasn’t the color of people’s skin, but their behavior. I do agree with you the City’s rationale of closing that stretch to create a safe walking zone was a convenient excuse to deal with other issues. The problem is not that the ‘car crowd’ was simply hanging out. If that was the case, there would be no problem. The problem was with loud exhausts, loud music, illegal drinking and drug use, etc. All you have to do is stroll down there and see the skid marks on the pavement from various motorized meatheads. ..This is why you can’t have nice things. Keep it up down at Mee-Kwa-Mooks, and they’ll get thrown out of there too.

      • Steven Lorenza May 18, 2020 (8:15 am)

        Social justice for illegally modified vehicles that don’t comply with noise ordinances?  I’ve heard it all now.

        • Bradley May 18, 2020 (11:20 am)

          I’ve been going to the stretch between Constellation Park and 63rd SW for 30 years to run, ride, and sightsee. There are almost no people of color who live in that area, yet there are thousands who flock there from far more diverse parts of the city. But now they’ve been denied entry except via foot while those who live there and their guests can drive right in. If they drive in there to park, they will be open targets for SPD when the privileged residents call 911 on them as they “obviously don’t live here”. 

      • Eric1 May 18, 2020 (10:01 am)

        Bradley.  Why you gotta be like that?  Not everything in life is about the color of your skin. Most of the time, being a jackass is universal.  Not many people like the sound of fart-cans on 4 cylinder grocery getters: especially when they block sidewalks. I am sure that the residents are equally happy that hairy, tattooed, white guys are restricted from cruising by with Harleys. Yet I don’t hear the crowds whining about Safe Streets oppressing somewhat affluent white males undergoing a middle age crisis. Indeed, it is a double whammy.   The bald ones probably drive the majority of Corvette convertibles on Alki.  Ahhh,  the evils of driver stereotypes in the world. 

      • WS98er May 18, 2020 (2:59 pm)

        Bradley – This isn’t a social justice issue, it’s a very small stretch of road that includes apartment buildings and smaller homes, not just wealthy people. IMO, there are way too many people (mostly young and of all ethnicities) hanging out closely with friends, without masks and in larger groups all around the West Seattle waterfront so I hope this will ultimately expanded southward past Me-Kwa-Mooks Park, along Alki and around Harbor Ave, especially on weekends.

        If people can’t comply, I’m all for making access more difficult to keep everyone safe, especially residents.

        I would also like to see more police patrols, it’s nearly impossible to avoid the huge pot clouds and sometimes alcohol when cycling with my young children in the Constellation and Me-Kwa-Mooks areas. I’m not against either but blatant public display of either is offensive, illegal and not ‘cool’.

        • Bradley May 18, 2020 (4:43 pm)

          My wife and I have adult children of color. I don’t expect you to be able to understand.

          • heartless May 18, 2020 (5:03 pm)

            Look, having a spouse who may have come from a foreign country, being of a minority religion, having children of color, hell, even BEING a person of color doesn’t mean you’re not sometimes a racist jackass.  None of that gives you a special card that ensures you are never in the wrong when it comes to social or justice or race issues… 

            You’re still gonna be judged on how you act and how you present–and you’re still gonna get called out on it–and when you do, you’re not going to magically get off the hook by pointing out that you married a minority or have children of color or have a black friend or etc., etc., etc.!

          • WS98er May 18, 2020 (10:31 pm)

            My wife and I have children of color so I completely understand.

  • Chris May 17, 2020 (9:27 pm)

    Seems the crowds & traffic from Constellation Park just moved south to Me-Kwa-Mooks with streets jammed and sidewalks crowded with crowds mulling around not practicing any type of social distancing and blocking sidewalks from pedestrians walking thru.

    • Herongrrrl May 17, 2020 (10:32 pm)

      Yep. It’s completely crazy there now. Cars completely lining both sides of the streets for blocks in both directions while cars and motorcycles are  speeding around a curve and no crosswalks anywhere. Never mind obnoxious behavior of groups of mostly young men blocking pedestrian traffic, forcing walkers and runners out into traffic, and being rude to anyone who suggests they should not block the sidewalk or follow social distance guidelines. Sure is an improvement! And will be really healthy for whichever unfortunate pedestrian/bicyclist gets taken out by the insane traffic. I urge anyone else who is concerned about the situation to contact the mayor, parks superintendent, SW precinct, SDOT and city council before someone actually does get killed there. I have seen more close calls than I can count.

      • Sunflower May 18, 2020 (8:00 am)

        Yikes. What do you suggest for a solution?

        It’s starting to sound like closing the entire Alki drive to car traffic might need to be considered and put to a vote. There seems to be a lot of problems with this drive destination, as neighbors regularly share.  There would be some concern that this would just drive this traffic into the neighboring streets, but I don’t think that would have the same draw… I think the draw is driving right along the beach. It’s too bad that there are so many issues, because there are others who simply want to drive by and enjoy the view. However, it really sounds like there is an ongoing dangerous and disruptive situation for the neighborhood, both for those who live there, and other visitors who want to visit and enjoy the outdoors. What do others think? Other ideas to solve these issues along Alki?

        • Mark Schletty May 18, 2020 (11:35 am)

          As I have suggested to the Mayor, Council President Gonzales, and Council Member Herbold, and in a formal appeal of this street closure to SDOT Director of Transportation Zimbabwe, the solution is simple. Take the handcuffs off of our police and direct them to aggressively enforce the many laws being broken by the miscreants. Don’t just run them out, cite them over and over again until they tire of having to go to Municipal Court to challenge the citation. When they don’t show up they will get a default conviction. Then cite them for the no response to the conviction. Then go after their drivers license, and impound their vehicles. They make others miserable, return the favor. All it takes is the will and this problem can be solved. This solution applies to any area these jerks decide to move to and continue their illegal behavior.

          • Lura Ercolano May 18, 2020 (1:59 pm)

            Mark, sorry to say this, but when you demand aggressive police actions against annoyance behaviors, you seriously damage your prior argument for careful consideration of maintaining ADA access. Before, you were making a reasoned argument for maintaining auto access to parks, a position where many agree with you.  But this new argument? Many will read this as a demand for biased police work, which is illegal.

          • Mark Schletty May 19, 2020 (3:43 pm)

            Lura—  I have carefully stayed away from any suggestions that might involve biased police work. I would oppose any such thing.  I am not suggesting police take aggressive action for annoyance behaviors. I think noisy 3 year olds are an annoyance. I am suggesting that the police take action against illegal activity. Illegal being the operative word. 

      • Dan May 18, 2020 (9:03 am)

        Young people with muscle cars, aggressive driving, it’s a conflict for safe streets. Recently before the pandemic, I was almost clipped by someone pulling out from constellation park running the stop sign.My 2 cents, as long as the west seattle waterfront is a ‘drive’, for better or worse this is going to be an issue where the 2% of bad apples spoil the bunch. 

    • Craig May 18, 2020 (9:29 am)

      Me Kwa always has more people than Constellation and now even more. If the closure of the roads for Constellation Park was to ensure 6 feet distance between people, then why in the world has Me Kwa also not been addressed by that same rule? There has to be better solutions than what’s in place now. Ideas: 1. Make the roads near Constellation  one way only. 2. Add a protected bike and walking lane (similar to what Alki has). 3. Close the road near Constellation only during high traffic/risk hours (hot weekends). Beach Drive has long been a place to show off car engines at all hours of the day and night, but the city has decided not to put in speed bumps or calming devices (with exception to the two speed bumps 200 yards apart (?) on all of Beach. Why not move all parking on Beach to one side of the road and install bike/walking lanes for the thousands that use it to connect parks?  There is no clear thinking from SDOT about this issue. I’m disappointed by the city’s blunt approach to this “solution” of social distancing and safety. 

      • Chris May 18, 2020 (9:05 pm)

        Craig -Your suggestion makes the most sense of any I’ve seen. Well thought out and articulate. Wish you were our council member.

  • Chemist May 17, 2020 (9:41 pm)

    For all the attention SDOT is giving to create safe spaces to exercise, they’re dropping the ball on making the multi-use trails in the city safe for walkers.  After 1 year of pilot, Seattle Parks and Rec implemented 15 mph speed limits on trails they control, which SDOT is responsible for posting signage for and Seattle Police is tasked to enforce.  Has anyone seen 15 mph signs posted on Seattle segments of the Alki, Duwamish, Mountains to Sound, Elliott Bay, Burke Gilman, Melrose Connector, and Ship Canal trails yet?  This will become even more important as more West Seattle residents start biking to work due to the bridge closure.  From the SEPA DNS needed to implement the trail policies – 

  • Worried May 17, 2020 (11:17 pm)

    On SW Webster, west side of 16th Ave SW – 18th SW, two sign boards, all the closed street signs and orange cones have gone missing for over a week. Reported it to SDOT, but still waiting for replacements. Geez, it’s difficult enough to walk on our streets since we don’t even have sidewalks!

  • mem May 17, 2020 (11:42 pm)

    Trenton needs to be returned to a street for cars. Totally think this is a good program but please rethink this closure. Why not Cloverdale  instead?

  • Greenwood Girl May 18, 2020 (7:25 am)

    The Greenwood Stay Healthy Street should be renamed the Greenwood Get COVID Here Street, with 100s of people jamming the streets, people stopping for picnics in the medians, people Instaposing, and no one wearing masks.  

  • Kyle May 18, 2020 (7:48 am)

    Maybe I missed it but is there a program email or form to provide feedback on Stay Healthy Streets? I couldn’t find one on their blog posts, I tried emailing the generic 684-road@seattle.gov but no one emailed me back.

  • DeadEnder May 18, 2020 (10:43 am)

    Many parts to this ‘problem’. City-wide there was tons of concern (at least expressed) for Vehicle vs. Human collisions, be they bicyclists or pedestrians. We were made aware at City Council sponsored meetings that 50 times per year there was a ‘serious’ accident defined as Hospitalization for 3 days through to fatalities. That is one per week with 2 weeksvacation that many jobs offer. The City’s strong Bike community organized, making themselves known to the public and Public Officials r.e. how terrible this statitis was/is/should (in their opinion) and NOT CONTINUE TO BE. Oddly, Seattle was celebrated as one of the safest auto vs. human cities in America that same year.Of course this depends on who you listen to, and why they are advertising such analysis. The City, County, State, and the Nation have never decided a level of safety / accidents that could be a benchmark for acceptability, beyond which mitigation steps ought to kick in.But I digress.Seattle has an issue with roads and usage, if you were unaware. Beyond topography, soils for roads and tunnels, waterways and infrastructure, as well as many who want different things out of municipal shared space.Near High Point, due to our failed West Seattle Freeway / Bridge experiment to garner a Navy aircraft graving yard, a new ‘arterial’ has been created out of Sylvan Way SW which was NEVER intended as more than a way through a higher density residential area. People cutting through the neighborhood, and around the one light at Morgan & California was “not the issue” but the City had a slogan for shutting the street down to auto traffic, even though it is not shutting down streets to auto traffic.This should be your first clue that something is wrong, terribly wrong. The City is not telling the whole truth, but it is trying hard to keep people safe. Make no mistake, jammed streets bodes poorly for anyone who has an accident at 5:00 on a Friday.  I hate the road ‘calming’ and the apparent ‘war on cars’, but at least in Columbia / HIllman City neighborhoods, the number of auto vs. pedestrian and auto vs. building collisions have fallen from 1/week to “nearly zero”. I can argue that I want to drive the way I expect others to drive, but…survival is a hard to argue against.The complaint about the POC with roadsters is mostly about their inability to congregate, like they did so often at Jack Block Park and the Don Armeni Boat Ramp. Open the Boat Ramp area so they can go there in the evenings, and the Me-Kwa-Mooks issue is immediately resolved. The point of Alki is one messed up chunk of road, r.e. parking and bicycles and pedestrians and rolling autos sharing the same space. Yes, it is a high property value, high tax zone, but if you have driven around it, as I have been doing often since lockdown, it is not an area where going the posted speed limit is often safe.Those POC with roadsters are as entitled to using space as are school children and any grandparents overseeing them, handicapped residents and dog walkers. They are also flush enough with cash to have autos, afford gas, and their modifications. They will persist in their congregation one way or another. More power to them. But, continuing to move them around is NOT what the city’s goal is, even if it may be a side benefit for some complainants.Keeping people safe, letting traffic flow, and preventing emergency service response comes first, second and third to your concerns. Get a grip.

  • Kathy May 18, 2020 (12:32 pm)

    Maybe only ban fossil-fuel burning vehicles. There is no justifiable reason to be cruising around  in one just for the fun of driving, polluting the air and water and exacerbating climate warming.  If they need to drive, have them stick to the arterials. Unfortunately, we can’t leave it up to people’s consciences, too many people just don’t care. Maybe issue a permit sticker for people living on those streets who need to use their oil and gas burning vehicles.

  • wetone May 18, 2020 (4:18 pm)

    Agree with many of the other comments here on noise, speeding and partying issues in Alki area.  All city officials and SDOT have done is move a problem and not deal with it. Becoming all to common over last 20yrs through-out Seattle not just Alki . Life long Alki area resident, same problems back in 70’s 80’s 90’s. Back then SPD would take charge and either tell you to leave area, ticket or take one to jail if violation was serious enough, they dealt with issues. Me-Kwa-Mooks area has become a much more dangerous area with road around Alki Point being shut down. No common sense anymore.

  • Paul Hage May 18, 2020 (6:09 pm)

    The problem at Constellation Park is certainly worse on nice summer weekends.  It is much less problematic on weekdays (Mon-Thu) and rare during the off season any day.  An approach that may gain support of most people is to close the road on summer weekends to non-residents and lift the restriction the rest of the time.  An 8PM closure as with Alki Beach might make sense for weekdays under current conditions.  There is no justification for off season closure.  As to Don Armeni – the loud cars and music have caused SPD to rout them out regularly – a kind of cat and mouse game.  That may explain their presence at Constellation and now further south.  It remains an SPD issue.  There are laws.  

  • LS May 18, 2020 (9:18 pm)

    There’s clearly a lot of discussion on the 1/3 mile of Beach Drive SW on Alki Point that is now “Local Access Only” as part of the “Stay Healthy Streets” program. I think it’s useful to understand how this section of street differs from the other three miles of Beach Drive south of it and even the rest of the waterfront streets in West Seattle. 1). Unlike the rest of Beach Drive, (and Alki Ave SW west of 63rd Ave SW and Harbor Ave SW beyond it) this is a non-arterial street that regularly experiences arterial traffic levels. When cars park on both sides of the street, cars cannot easily pass each other in both directions. Cars must take turns driving in one direction through the narrow opening. This results in traffic backing up in both directions sometimes for blocks. 2). This section of street is essentially a park. Constellation Park which is a quarter mile stretch of a residential street with sidewalks on each side penned in by a railing on the water side. There is beach access in a few spots and many go, but far more simply walk or jog on the sidewalk or cycle down the street or park their car and stay in it or stand on the sidewalk beside it. Thus, for the majority of “park goers” the street and the adjacent sidewalks are the park. 3). The street is very close to the much larger Alki Beach park. It’s only a quarter mile away and many walkers, joggers and cyclists pass between Alki Beach and this section of Beach Drive/Constellation Park. 4). Traffic flows primarily from Alki Beach and has not decreased on this section of Beach Drive despite shelter in place and the West Seattle Bridge closing, this at a time when traffic is down approximately 50% in Seattle as a whole. 5). As noted accurately by many here, this 1/3 mile portion of street is a favorite destination for car clubs and car enthusiasts from all over the Seattle and beyond.  Car clubs and car enthusiasts drive and gather in large groups, to be seen and heard, they stand on the sidewalks and sit on the railings of Constellation Park. Racing, burnouts and donuts with pedestrians and children present are not uncommon.  This can be seen by the many skid marks on the street.  This behavior along with loud stereos, revving engines, drinking, graffiti and more have the police responding to 911 calls here on a consistent basis and deter other park goers. This narrow 1/3 mile non-arterial street/park has been hazardous due to the convergence of pedestrians, heavy traffic, crowds, aggressive motorists and bad behavior, particularly for the last several years. But at a time when social distancing is important to individual and public health, this street/park was not safe at all. Making this section of street Local Access Only as part of the Stay Healthy Street program has made this street safer for walkers, joggers and cyclists who can now social distance. It has also become attractive to families and children at all times of day in a way that it was not before. If you haven’t visited this section of Beach Drive since it was converted to Local Access Only you should. Walk, jog, bike or drive and park your car. There is parking on adjacent streets and there are ADA spots available. Try to visit at sunset on a nice evening or a weekend during the day or night and watch the children playing and families biking together. Then try to imagine the street congested with loud cars and motorcycles and crowds of people gathered and blocking the sidewalks.  After you’ve done that see if you agree this is a positive change. And that keeping this street “Local Access Only” makes sense now, and makes sense permanently. FINAL NOTE: Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook .7 miles further south on Beach Drive varies slightly from the Constellation Park section of Beach Drive because it is on an arterial street and the has some small grassy areas, concrete terraces below street level and Me-Kwa-Mooks across the street and is not nearly as close to Alki Beach. That said, it too has a beautiful view and experiences many of the problems that Alki Point does. They should be solved too.  This is not a zero sum game. Both parks/streets can be solved. It’s not one or the other. The latest Stay Healthy Streets proposal submitted by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways suggested parking along the stretch of Beach DR that borders Emma Schmitz park be closed on the water side in an attempt to mitigate some of these problems there and further enable social distancing. This might not solve all the problems but this combined with additional police presence would be a good start.

    • WSB May 18, 2020 (9:27 pm)

      Note that, as I reported from the meeting, the Parks Department now has reiterated that the Constellation Park change is meant to be temporary – today’s update is atop this page (which also includes a new email address for feedback):

      https://www.seattle.gov/transportation/projects-and-programs/programs/greenways-program

      • LS May 18, 2020 (11:00 pm)

        Thank you for this link. The mayor’s and city’s definition of this program seems to be fluid and evolving quickly.  So despite this new classification of Stay Healthy Streets and Constellation Park, I believe the change has been positive for the reasons mentioned and still encourage others that feel the same way to ask that it be made permanent.  

      • Rick May 19, 2020 (2:54 pm)

        It’s temporary until it’s not. As in the 20 miles.

  • Native West Seattleite May 19, 2020 (3:28 pm)

    I think creating “Safe Healthy Streets” is a cool idea, but there is A LOT more things the City should be focused on right now than this…i.e…COVID 19, the opioid epidemic, the homeless population, or the West Seattle Bridge closure just to name a few. My Pop’s who is over 60 and goes to Constellation Park to get exercise during the week has had to stop going due to so many people blatantly not following social distancing rules. I think if the City shuts down a Public road they at least should have SPD patrol it to make sure people are following the State and Local COVID 19 guidelines…

  • KP May 24, 2020 (5:16 pm)

    In my neighborhood (Riverview), vehicles have been intentionally knocking down and running over the Stay Healthy signs. I have witnessed this at least 3 times (a fourth was a larger commercial vehicle and may have been accidental). The many pedestrians using the street typically stand them back up within minutes, but the sign near my house is now permanently damaged. WSB, do you know how or where I could report this behavior to the city in hopes we could get a more durable sign? I haven’t been able to find any email address or comment form on the city webpages and blogs related to the stay healthy streets.

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