West Seattle, Washington
Two West Seattle Crime Watch reader reports:
BUILDING BREAK-IN ATTEMPT: The photos and report are from Ken:
I’m the HOA president for Harbor Crest condominiums at 1639 Harbor Ave SW across the street from the Water Taxi. (Tuesday) night we caught these two guys on our HD cameras attempting to get into the garage after breaking the locks on our back gate by rotating the locked handle 360 degrees with a special tool which didn’t work on the garage doors handles because it wouldn’t rotate beyond the steel door jam so they couldn’t get in.
No case # yet because the report was filed online.
STOLEN STATUE: The photo and report are from Ara:
We live in North Admiral on 47th Ave, and recently had a Buddha statue stolen from our front porch. It was around 3 feet tall, rather heavy and very loved. Attached is a picture with my son.
If you’ve seen this statue, let us know and we’ll connect you with Ara.
Here are tonight’s pandemic-related toplines:
NEWEST KING COUNTY NUMBERS: From the Public Health daily-summary dashboard, the cumulative totals:
*19,819 people have tested positive, 108 more than yesterday
*729 people have died, 5 more than yesterday
*2,239 people have been hospitalized, 5 more than yesterday
*367,481 people have been tested, 2,272 more than yesterday
One week ago, those four totals were 19,049/715/2,204/347,654.
ANOTHER AREA DEATH: 98116 just recorded its fifth death, its third in the past week. For the record, here are the current totals for the other four zip codes that are entirely or partly within West Seattle:
98136 – 3
98106 – 4
98146 – 13
98126 – 14
STATEWIDE NUMBERS: Find them, county by county, on the state Department of Health page,.
WORLDWIDE NUMBERS: See them, nation by nation, here.
VACCINE? The state Department of Health sent this statement to try to clear up conflicting reports about where the quest for a vaccine stands:
The Washington State Department of Health is closely monitoring progress toward development of a vaccine for COVID-19. We are engaged in vaccine planning efforts and we will be ready to distribute a safe and effective vaccine as soon as the time comes. However, all vaccine candidates are still in clinical trials to determine their safety and efficacy.
DOH’s position is that any COVID-19 vaccine should complete Phase 3 trials before being distributed, unless an independent board of scientists reviewing the data finds otherwise based on data from those trials. At this crucial juncture, it is incumbent upon the federal government to critically evaluate these new vaccines for their safety and efficacy in an unbiased way.
In the meantime, DOH will continue working with federal and local partners to build the infrastructure needed for distribution. When a vaccine is ready, we will be prepared to deploy it in a manner ensure that is equitable, safe and timely for the people of Washington.
STATE HEALTH OFFICIALS’ WEEKLY BRIEFING: That was one of the topics at today’s weekly briefing by state health leaders. “COVID-19 activity in the state is declining overall,” declared health officer Dr. Kathy Lofy, while stressing that it’s not yet as low as it needs to be. You can watch the briefing here.
BUS SAFETY: Metro announced today that it’s adding new safety features – partitions and mask dispensers.
NEED FOOD? United Way-King County wants to ensure families who are available for Pandemic EBT apply for it before it’s too late:
More than 30,000 King County students who are eligible for a one-time, $399 food benefit have until Sept. 11 to apply for Pandemic EBT, an emergency federal program that provides families cash assistance to buy food while schools are closed due to COVID-19.
Pandemic EBT is available to all children in public schools in Washington who receive free or reduced-price school meals. Across the state, over 150,000 eligible students can still apply.
Many low-income families rely on the free and reduced-price meals students get at school. With school closures, those families are struggling to feed their children. Pandemic EBT aims to fill that gap and ease the food insecurity many in our community are experiencing.
Pandemic EBT is not subject to public charge and does not affect or require proof of immigration status.
Families can apply online on the Washington Connection website. People who need help with the application process can call 2-1-1 and ask for assistance.
Applicants should ensure their children’s names match the spelling they used when they registered them for school. While the application includes a field for a Social Security number, it is not required.
GOT INFO? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone us, text or voice, at 206-293-6302 – thank you!
Weather notes – and some cool photos from this morning that came in too late for our daily preview:
Something else you might see tomorrow and beyond: Smoke. The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency warns that a plume of smoke from California wildfires is headed this way,. Tomorrow it will be overhead and likely to have minimal impact, but if it lingers through the weekend, we could have air-quality challenges. On the bright side, the weather is expected to be warm through Labor Day!
Temperatures may get into the 80s tomorrow and Tuesday, and highs are forecast as “near 80” for the days inbetween.
Tomorrow morning’s moonset is 7:48 am.
Metro‘s September “service change” is now 2 1/2 weeks away, so today the transit service officially announced what’s changing, as well as new safety features.
CHANGES: Saturday, September 19th, is this fall’s “service change” date; all the changes – including continued suspensions – are listed here. A West Seattle highlight: “Almost all service” will be restored on Routes 55, 56, and 57. You can follow those links for new timetables, or, Metro suggests, ” Riders can use Metro’s online trip planner and enter a date of Sept. 19 or later to see options.”
SAFETY: Also in today’s announcement:
Metro is now installing safety partitions to allow front-door boarding in preparation for restoring fares, targeted for Oct. 1, although a firm date has yet to be announced.
The plexiglass safety partitions will swing into position when a driver opens the front door, minimizing interaction between boarding passengers and the driver. The partition also can be opened manually by the driver to allow them to leave their seat to assist passengers, including those who use mobility devices. …
Each automated partition is estimated to cost $3,200, about half the $6,000 cost for a comparable manual-only door from an outside vendor. Metro is using CARES Act funds to help pay for the equipment.
Metro has more than 1,000 barriers out of 1,444 produced today, and expected to have all partitions installed by October.
The new partitions were “designed, engineered, and fabricated by Metro’s in-house vehicle maintenance staff,” the announcement says, along with this:
Alongside new safety partitions, Metro is installing mask dispensers on 102 buses this month, starting with RapidRide buses on the A and F lines in south King county and 60-foot trolley buses on routes 7, 36, 43, 44, and 49 in Seattle. Metro intends to install more dispensers on other high-ridership routes in the future.
Each dispenser holds about 150 masks, and Metro will monitor demand and refill them as needed. The King County Council designated funds to purchase and make available masks on public transportation.
Metro says it sampled mask compliance on four high-ridership routes recently and it ranged from 72 percent to 85 percent. Ridership, meantime, is less than 40 percent of what it was last year (on weekdays).
3:53 PM: A reader reported seeing what he believed were plainclothes federal agents outside a house near the Endolyne business district in Fauntleroy just after 10 this morning. Now we know what was going on: They arrested a man on charges of making a bomb threat. Here’s the news release:
A 36-year-old Seattle man was arrested today and appeared in U.S. District Court in Seattle for making a threat to damage or destroy a building – in this case a Portland, Oregon, police precinct, announced U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran. Kyle Robert Tornow is accused of using an online communication system to claim he had planted explosives at a Portland, Oregon, Police precinct.
According to records in the case, on July 24, 2020, Tornow allegedly used the Portland Police TrackIT system to send a message claiming he had planted an explosive at one of the city’s police precincts. Using an alias, Tornow claimed he had planted a bomb that was “undetectable” to canine searchers and that if he were caught, “others will take my place and immediately detonate the bomb.” The communication claimed it was a “felony threat” and needed to be taken “seriously to avoid death.”
FBI agents were able to trace the communications back to Tornow, and he was arrested without incident this morning.
Making a threat to damage or destroy a building is punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine. … The case is being investigated by the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Woods.
Charging documents in the case say Tornow was traced via an email address he used when sending the threat to the City of Portland, as well as an IP address, and that his threat, addressing Portland police directly, was to blow up a precinct “Unless your officers disengage your war with the citizens of Portland.” We’re checking on his custody status.
ADDED WEDNESDAY EVENING: The U.S. Attorney’s Office tells us he is out of custody, granted conditional release.
September’s here but summer’s not over yet. West Seattle Reign Volleyball sent this announcement:
We have fall volleyball teams with open spots for September-October.
These are Co-Ed teams grouped by age; 10-11, 12-13 & 14-17.
Details and registration information can be found at https://bookwhen.com/westseattlereign
As explained at that link, “All teams will maintain social distancing and mask requirements per Washington State’s COVID-19 guidelines.”
Sorry for the late word on this – affected families hopefully already have heard directly, but just in case, there are two online meetings for Chief Sealth International High School this afternoon:
Seattle Public Schools’ 2020-2021 year starts Friday.
11:06 AM: As previewed last night, interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz and Mayor Jenny Durkan are briefing reporters on plans to move 100 SPD staff into patrol operations. You can watch live above (we’ll substitute the archived video later); we’ll also add notes below, as it goes.
This will “enable us to respond to 911 calls … on a more-rapid basis,” says the mayor. She also says this is a move toward saving some money on overtime, with “more, shorter shifts” being added. She also says this “lays the groundwork for future changes” in SPD. But ‘we know we still need police,” she declares, saying they’ll evaluate what 911 calls require “traditional armed police response” and which don’t.
11:15 AM: Chief Diaz takes the microphone. He says the department currently has the lowest number of officers in patrol operations “in recent memory.” The moves will address a concern consistently voiced by community members, he says – the lack of police presence in neighborhoods. He hopes this also will enable officers to get out of their cars and make connections with residents, delivering a “neighborhood-based style of policing.” This also means less reliance on “emphasis patrols” to address ongoing problems.
11:20 AM: No further specifics, so it’s now on to Q&A. First one: How do they anticipate the council (which recently voted to cut 100 officers) reacting? “Positively,” says the mayor. How will the moves affect ongoing detective work? 40 percent of the moves will come from units already doing similar work – community police teams, traffic enforcement, etc., Diaz says. Will it encourage more attrition if those who haven’t been on the street for years are asked to move back? Diaz says it will actually affect more younger, newer officers than veterans. In response to another question, he mentions one of the new shifts will be a 4-day 3 pm-1 am shift, covering the time when call levels are at the highest.
The timeline, the chief says in response to another question, is “within the next few weeks” – as soon as the week of September 16th.
11:44 AM: The briefing is over. We are following up to ask for more specifics on the reassignments, including how individual precincts will be affected.
2:13 PM: The archived video is now available above. Meantime, SPD says it can’t comment yet on details of the reassignments because it’s “in the process of making notifications to employees in detective and other units about redeployments to enhance our 911 response. Once employee notifications have been completed in the coming days, the department will provide further information about the units impacted by personnel redeployments.”
The orcas we’ve been seeing in local waters lately are transient killer whales, but the Southern Residents are expected soon. When they get here, some advocates want to be sure they’re not hounded by whale-watching boats – especially considering three of the endangered whales are pregnant. Today those advocates, including West Seattle-based The Whale Trail, are issuing a challenge to whale-watching operators to take this pledge:
On behalf of my company, I pledge to increase protection for the Southern Resident orcas and give the pregnant orcas in all three pods the best possible chance of having healthy calves, by giving them more space and quieter waters to find food and communicate with each other. Between now and September 2021:
• We will stay 1/2 nautical mile (1,000 yards) away from the southern residents.
• We will focus our tours on other ecotypes of killer whales and other wildlife, and will not intentionally plan or route trips to view them.
• If we encounter southern residents incidentally while viewing other whales, we will slow down (as Washington State law requires) to reduce our vessel noise, but will not approach or follow them.
• If we encounter southern residents incidentally while in transit, we will slow down (as State law requires) and not approach or intentionally follow them while continuing to transit. If it is unsafe to maintain a 1/2 nautical mile distance while transiting we will maintain the distances required by State law.
See the full letter here. The problems caused by noise, particularly from whale-watching vessels, was discussed at The Whale Trail’s February meeting – more than 100 operating in the region, morning through night. The Southern Resident population is down to 72, barely above its historic low, and advocates fear that further losses could put this species on an irreversible path to extinction.
Here’s what’s happening in the hours ahead:
SPD ANNOUNCEMENT: Barring major breaking news, we’ll carry this live at 11 am, as Interim Chief Adrian Diaz and the mayor explain the newly announced plan to move 100 SPD staffers “from specialty units into patrol.” The livestream will be via Seattle Channel.
FREE FRUIT: As previewed last weekend, City Fruit‘s next West Seattle pop-up – offering free homegrown fruit to anyone who wants it – is 4 pm-6 pm at the High Point Market Garden (32nd/Juneau).
DISTRICT 1 COMMUNITY NETWORK: 7 pm online, this coalition of West Seattle/South Park community groups and advocates has its monthly meeting – public welcome. Here’s the agenda, including connection information.
Earlier this week, we published a report from a reader who got dive-bombed by an owl at Lincoln Park. We’ve since received this, from Molly:
At approximately 6:50 pm (Monday) night, I was attacked by a very large (and beautiful) owl on the upper south/west trail of Schmitz Park, not far from the wood carving trail (which I was heading toward). The owl silently dove and grabbed my scalp at my very long ponytail. Scared the crap out of me as it felt like a person clawing at my head. I spotted the owl watching me as I backed away down the trail. Not sure if it is nesting right there, liked my hair, hated my mask, or hates the increase of people using its yard as their playground.
I am totally ok. Owl is ok. Either way – wanted to give fellow neighbors the heads-up and to remind everyone to be mindful of being in animals’ territories.
In addition, our neighbor’s kids were sleeping out in their trampoline (the same) night and this owl sat on the top of the trampoline net and watched the kids for a while.
We’ve had past reports in this park too, same time of year.
6:03 AM: It’s Wednesday, the 163rd morning without the West Seattle Bridge. Yesterday was, by many accounts, one of the worst commutes of the post-bridge-closure time – here’s hoping today’s better.
*The Delridge project that’s paving the way for RapidRide H Line continues. Here’s the newest bulletin about where work is focused this week.
CHECK THE TRAFFIC BEFORE YOU GO
Here’s the 5-way intersection camera (Spokane/West Marginal/Delridge/Chelan):
Here’s the restricted-daytime-access (open to all 9 pm-5 am) low bridge:
The main detour route across the Duwamish River is the 1st Avenue South Bridge (map) . Here’s that camera:
The other major bridge across the river is the South Park Bridge (map). Here’s that camera:
Going through South Park? Don’t speed.
Check the @SDOTBridges Twitter feed for info about any of those bridges opening for marine traffic.
Metro – No recent changes – still reduced service and distancing – details here.
Water Taxi – Still on its “winter” schedule, with the 773 and 775 shuttles running – see the schedule here. (No service on Labor Day.)
Trouble on the roads/paths/water? Let us know – text (but not if you’re driving!) 206-293-6302.