West Seattle, Washington
Midway through the fifth month of the virus crisis in our area, here’s what’s new:
NEWEST KING COUNTY NUMBERS: Here’s today’s daily summary from Public Health – the cumulative totals:
*12,099 people have tested positive, 155 more than yesterday
*604 people have died, unchanged from yesterday
*1,698 people have been hospitalized, 5 more than yesterday
*214,388 people have been tested, 6,892 more than yesterday
One week ago, the totals were 11,140 /591/1,623/190,005.
STATEWIDE NUMBERS: See them here.
WORLDWIDE NUMBERS: See them – nation by nation – here.
EXTENDING THE MISSION: We’ve reported on National Guard help at both local food banks (West Seattle and White Center). The governor is asking the White House to keep funding the mission so they can stay on duty in our state until year’s end.
NO FOOD LIFELINE DISTRIBUTION THIS WEEK: Checking FL’s website for updates, we found this announcement:
We learned today someone in direct contact with Food Lifeline’s operations tested positive for Covid-19. Out of an abundance of caution, we have chosen to suspend food distributions for the remainder of this week so our facilities can be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection recommendations.
Health and safety will always be our highest priorities during this pandemic. We will continue to provide the highest level of safety for our clients, partners, and staff. We are working in partnership with King County Public Health to ensure we continue to work as safely as possible as we return to operations.
GOT SOMETHING TO REPORT? firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-293-6302, text/voice – thank you!
Have you answered one or more of the surveys launched on Friday as part of what SDOT calls Reconnect West Seattle? According to an email shared with us by a community advocate, SDOT already had 5,000 responses by mid-morning today. There are multiple ways to participate – a 33-question survey for everyone in West Seattle, aimed at gathering data about how you traveled off/on-peninsula before the bridge was closed March 23rd, and what it would take for you to try an alternative while the bridge is out, plus four neighborhood-specific surveys with potential projects to mitigate the effects of bridge-detour traffic. They’re all linked in our Friday story and available in eight languages via the Reconnect West Seattle website. They’re open until the end of the month.
2 West Seattle Crime Watch reports involving local businesses:
PEGASUS BOOK EXCHANGE: The Junction book shop was hit by theft over the weekend – $200 in already-purchased books. “People can help us out by donating via the WSJA. People’s amazingly generous donations have already helped us recoup the cost of the loss,” Emma from Pegasus tells us. Any overage will go toward some security improvements. (Thanks to Elise for the tip on this.)
TOOLS TAKEN: Jack at Be Green reports, “My crew had some landscaping tools stolen this morning in Gatewood. These are battery operated and of course the stupid thieves didn’t realize the tools did not have the batteries in them. I’m guessing they are just going to dump them somewhere. If anyone finds them, there is a small reward. There was a mower and weed whacker. The suspect car was a ’90s purple Accord with no plates, just a paper sticker in the back window. (Here) is a picture of a car that represents this color and model.” And stock photos of the types of tools taken are here and here.
The city is getting $3.5 million in federal funding for two projects related to the bridge. The money will be routed from the Puget Sound Regional Council, and the City Council gave its unanimous approval today to accepting it. Here’s how the council staff’s memo explained the plan:
The PSRC Executive Board has agreed to allow the City to use $2 million of the grant award to
conduct a Type, Size, and Location Study for the eventual replacement of the West Seattle Bridge. This study will allow SDOT to explore replacement concepts, such as rebuilding the bridge or pursing a shallow immersed tunnel. This conceptual analysis would lead to future environmental review of alternatives and development of cost estimates.
The remaining $1.5 million of the grant award will be used to support One Center City Transportation Demand Management programs. SDOT intends to use these funds to respond to the West Seattle Bridge closure and focus these programs on providing alternatives to single-occupancy vehicle trips between West Seattle and Downtown. The PSRC funding would provide for program incentives, marketing, user survey assessments, and staff time.
That’s all separate from federal funding that would be pursued toward actual repair and/or replacement of the bridge. P.S. As for what’s happening with the bridge itself, stabilization work is continuing, as updated at last week’s Community Task Force meeting.
2:16 PM: Delridge Way is being shut down at Oregon because of a gas leak – second one on Delridge in less than a week. Updates to come.
2:26 PM: They’re closing traffic at Genesee on the north.
2:37 PM: Per radio exchange, the Community Center has been evacuated while firefighters continue taking air readings. This is several blocks south of last Friday’s problem.
2:46 PM: The gas leak is reported to have been “secured,” and Delridge will reopen shortly.
4:18 PM: Was SDOT’s contractor to blame? We asked. Reply: “The City and PSE are still investigating what caused today’s leak and will determine if there are any connections to a similar one in the area last week.”
Back on Friday night/Saturday morning, clear skies meant Comet NEOWISE was visible to those who were up VERY late/early. (These photos were among the results.) Now the clear weather’s back and the comet is expected to be visible at a more reasonable (for most) hour – your West Seattle neighbor Kevin Freitas tweeted the invitation:
Join me tonight for some socially distant comet-gazing! (BYO binoculars — highly recommend — and masks) I'll setup 9:30pm on Alki Beach seawall just across from Cactus.#C2020F3 #c2020f3neowise #wawx pic.twitter.com/C92fzF70OX
— Kevin Freitas (@kevinfreitas) July 13, 2020
10:36 PM: Last Friday night, we reported on Police Chief Carmen Best‘s letter to Mayor Jenny Durkan, saying that closing the Southwest Precinct would be a likely effect if the SPD budget were halved. The letter followed news of a majority of City Councilmembers voicing support for cutting this year’s SPD budget, though no specific legislation is out yet.
(Added: Seattle Channel video)
This morning, the mayor and chief have just wrapped up a media briefing with their counterproposals: They say they can cut $76 million from the department’s $400 mlllion budget – next year. The mayor decried the council’s voiced support for an immediate 50 percent cut as “irresponsible.” She also criticized councilmembers for taking the stand without talking to the chief or to constituents. Durkan said next year’s cuts could be accomplished via moving the 911 call center out of SPD, moving parking enforcement from SPD to SDOT, and moving the Office of Emergency Management and Office of Professional Accountability out of SPD. Those, she said, would save $56 million, while another $20 million could be cut via a hiring freeze and overtime reductions. In followup Q&A, the mayor said her intention for OPA would be to make it a standalone independent agency. The mayor also voiced hope that some councilmembers will relent.
Meantime, the Southwest Precinct’s new commander, Capt. Kevin Grossman, posted an introductory message to social media today, including this:
I also want to address the initiative making its way through City Council to defund the Seattle Police Department by 50%. Last week, Chief Best communicated to the Council–and to the public–the reality of what those cuts would look like, including the elimination of half of our workforce and the Southwest Precinct itself. When I started with SPD, my training included rotations through three different precincts, including the South Precinct. At that time, officers from that facility had to commute across the Duwamish to respond to calls for service in West Seattle. Just the drive alone resulted in long response times–sometimes exacerbated by boat or train traffic. I can only imagine what response times would be today from the Rainier Valley with the West Seattle Bridge closed. Further, in my humble opinion, it is simply unconscionable for a city of over 700,000 people to be staffed by a police department with only 630 employees.
There was no further discussion in this morning’s mayor/chief briefing, by the way, of the chief’s suggestions such as possibly closing the precinct. And again, from the council’s side, there’s no formal proposal yet, but the council meets again on Wednesday as the Select Budget Committee (the basic agenda has just appeared online) and that’s one place a proposal might emerge. We have had a request for comment out since Friday to District 1 City Councilmember Lisa Herbold; as of now, still no reply.
3:51 PM: Just watched the Seattle Channel recording of the council’s “morning briefing” meeting, which overlapped with the mayor/chief briefing. Most councilmembers repeated their support for dramatic change in the SPD, including Herbold, whose turn comes at 1 hour, 17 minutes in, with her turning to the SPD topic after four minutes.
She noted that action is not imminent, saying the council is “in the beginning stages of developing proposals.” She also took issue with a couple points of what the chief’s letter to the mayor said would likely be necessary if a 50 percent cut were to be implemented immediately. For one, she contended that the chief would have an option other than to lay off newer officers first, via the “out of order” process (though the chief said earlier that it’s “complicated”). Regarding the chief’s suggestion that the Southwest Precinct could be closed, Herbold noted only that the city charter requires “adequate police protection for all areas.”
That’s the trailer for the hourlong documentary “Black Girls in Suburbia,” which is being screened outdoors at Admiral Church tonight, 8 pm. It’s part of the “Tell the Truth About Race” series, co-presented by the church and West Seattle Meanngful Movies. No admission charge; masks and distancing required. The church is at 4320 SW Hill.
6:03 AM: It’s Monday, the 112th morning without the high-rise West Seattle Bridge.
Major work continues on Delridge Way, with lane reductions, as the RapidRide H Line conversion project continues – here’s what crews are working on this week;.
The 5-way intersection camera is back (Spokane/West Marginal/Delridge/Sppkane/Chelan):
Here’s the restricted-daytime-access (open to all 9 pm-5 am) low bridge:
Check the @SDOTBridges Twitter feed for info about any of those bridges opening for marine traffic.
Metro – Still reduced service and distancing – details here.
Water Taxi – Back to its “winter” schedule, plus the 773 and 775 shuttles – see the schedule here.
Trouble on the roads/paths/water? Let us know – text (but not if you’re driving!) 206-293-6302.