Toplines from the District 1 Community Network‘s July meeting last week:
WHO WAS THERE: Always hard to get a full roll call in online meetings, But this one included attendees from neighborhod-based groups (South Park, Fauntleroy, Pigeon Point, Pelly Place, Admiral, Highland Park, Alki, The Junction) as well as peninsula-wide groups such as West Seattle Bike Connections and the West Seattle Transportation Coalition, the Emergency Hubs. A few individual attendees were there too; we noted one from Fairmount Springs. D1CN is open to anyone with an interest in West Seattle and/or South Park. The group has an administrator (Larry Wymer) but no officers; each meeting has a volunteer facilitator – for this one, it was Phil Tavel.
WHAT THEY DISCUSSED – THE BRIDGE: The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force was a hot topic – three members were in attendance:
Deb Barker, Aley Thompson, and Marci Carpenter. The D1CN meeting came one week after the CTF’s third meeting; they noted the project lists for addressing detour traffic in “host neighborhoods.” (SDOT had said those lists would be out this past Monday but they’ve been delayed until at least Thursday, we were told today.) Be sure to vote when those lists come out. They also recapped the decision to open the low bridge to all traffic 9 pm-5 am nightly. In ensuing discussion, Pete Spalding, veteran of many advisory groups, said in his observation so far, it seems the CTF is being herded along to stay on time rather than to be sure enough info’s getting aired. The members at the D1CN meeting noted that’s already been called to the attention of CTF co-chairs Paulina López and Greg Nickels. … The advocacy group West Seattle Bridge Now is continuing and hoping to grow its following, said Tavel.
BRIDGE CLOSURE AND DEVELOPMENT: How should the city handle development while the bridge is closed? This was a continuation of last month’s discussion about a withdrawn development appeal. Spirited discussion ensued – yes, the bridge is a temporary problem, but it could have long-term effects such as a lack of affordable housing getting developed, some observed. The issue of how the bridge is affecting West Seattle should get more illumination. Maybe this is a CTF issue? it was suggested. Won’t be in the short run, it was noted, as tbe CTF has other priorities.
WEST MARGINAL WAY SAFETY PROJECT: At least three D1CN members attended a meeting (not publicly announced) a day earlier. This is the Duwamish Longhouse-vicinity work that is being planned to allow safe crossings of West Marginal Way SW between the longhouse and the parks across the street, important cultural sites for the tribe. SDOT will be assigning a project manager soon, reported Tamsen Spengler, saying the design money was being protected but more mpney is needed for the rest of the project.
GONDOLA? Marty Westerman briefly presented the “aerial tram” idea he’s long been advocating as a light-rail substitute. It would be 80 percent less expensive and carry at least 5,000 people an hour. “Systems like this are running all over the world – they’re reliable, they’re scalable… they’re quiet … (and) they’re not slope-challenged.” It could be completed within five years, for $64 million a mile, compared to $500 million a mile for light rail, he said. The electric-powered system could run in other parts of the city, too, as well as covering more of West Seattle – Westerman said that it could ideally link Junctions, serve and run on the Delridge corridor, and could even serve North Admiral. Westerman said they’re trying to get it into the Sound Transit EIS but if they don’t, they’d need support from public comments to get it considered.
PERMANENTLY AFFORDABLE HOUSING: Cindi Barker recapped that she’s been talking to affordable-housing developers who were supposed to come talk to people in West Seattle a few months ago – until the pandemic hit. In-person meetings seem unlikely for a long time so she planned to schedule an online version.
STAY HEALTHY STREETS ALKI POINT: Community members advocating for making the Alki Avenue/Beach Drive closed-to-through-traffic stretch permanent had a last-minute conflict. (The city’s survey remains open for one more week, by the way.)
WHAT ISSUES SHOULD D1CN BE TACKLNG BUT HASN’T? One answer – COVID-19 – so the group’s forming a “task force.” Potential focus areas include hunger, worker safety, and rent relief.
ORGANIZATION: The group has no board and no policies for how it can take action. So it had a soul-searching discussion. For one, most current participants are representing groups/organizations. Are they empowered to vote on behalf of those groups, or would they have to take an issue back to that group? Or are those other groups better venues for taking action? Tavel observed,”This is a group where people show up because they want to show up,” not because of a formalized structure. David Hancock warned that many voices are missing at the table. They decided not to change how things work. One thing they agreed – they’re going to look for someone to take minutes, and member Jim Guenther volunteered to fund a stipend.
NEXT MEETING: Though community groups traditionally skip August meetings, with so much going on, D1CN plans to meet – 7 pm Wednesday, August 5th.