West Seattle, Washington
(Seattle Channel video of Wednesday morning’s committee meeting)
“Our audit was not an investigation into the specifics of (the West Seattle Bridge closure),” stressed deputy auditor Sean DeBlieck. It was, though, a result of the sudden closure almost 6 months ago – soon afterward, committee chair Alex Pedersen called for it. We reported on the audit when it was made public Monday, in advance of today’s presentation. Here’s the slide deck they used:
Continuing the presentation, assistant auditor Jane Dunkel noted that while the report mentions 77 city-owned bridges, SDOT cites 124, because its count includes pedestrian bridges and co-owned structures.
No West Seattle bridges were in the “poor” category in SDOT’s most recent inspection ratings. But as Councilmember Lisa Herbold pointed out, pre-closure, the West Seattle Bridge was rated “fair,” so some of those bridges may have repair needs long before getting into the “poor” category.
A key point of the audit, as mentioned in Monday coverage – SDOT has averaged $6 million on bridge maintenance annually over the past 14 years, but should be spending $34 million to $100 million a year. (It should be noted that this was not an audit of SDOT’s budget in general, so auditors weren’t necessarily saying the agency needs more money, just that it should be spending more on bridge maintenance.)
The report’s 10 findings included that SDOT could be out of federal compliance, as suggested in an “informal” state/federal review last year (at SDOT’s invitation), which could cost the city dearly if it’s found ineligible to compete for federal grants, such as the ones that might factor into West Seattle Bridge repair or replacement funding.
Other recommendations included that SDOT should spend less time doing “reimbursable work” for others and should spend less time maintaining private bridges. SDOT deputy director Lorelei Williams noted that the department does not agree with the recommendation to cut back on reimbursable work, as, she said, it allows them to afford more staff. “Sustainable, scalable sources of revenue” are overall a big challenge for the department. Yet even if they had all the money more bridge maintenance would cost, she said, scaling up staff would take a while.
Williams also repeated a point SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe made in his written response to the audit, that SDOT does not believe the West Seattle Bridge problems resulted from any deficiencies in its maintenance program. She also mentioned that SDOT set aside Roadway Structures – which includes bridges – as its own division just last year. Its acting director Matt Donahue also participated in the meeting; Herbold asked him for clarification on the new load rating that the city has to do for its bridges because of new classifications of vehicles approved by the feds; the re-rating was ordered in 2015, to be completed by 2022.
Bottom line, the maintenance backlog and funding gap – identified as a nationwide challenge – was summarized as a “complicated and expensive problem.” Auditor Jones told councilmembers that this report isn’t a one-time check-in with SDOT – they’ll check with the department each year to see how the implementation of recommendations is going.
Tonight’s pandemic-related toplines:
NEWEST KING COUNTY NUMBERS: From the Public Health daily-summary dashboard, the cumulative totals (keep in mind, these are the first since Monday):
*21.158 people have tested positive, 145 more than yesterday
*748 people have died, 1 more than yesterday
*2,317 people have been hospitalized, 8 more than yesterday
*405,290 people have been tested, 1,841 more than yesterday
One week ago, those four totals were 20,440/741/2,283/386,938.
STATEWIDE NUMBERS: Find them, county by county, on the state Department of Health page,.
WORLDWIDE NUMBERS: See them, nation by nation, here.
VACCINE PLAN: In today’s weekly state Health Department briefing, it was noted that states have to get their vaccine-distribution plan ready for the feds by October 16th, so they’re working on it. “Essential” workers such as health-care workers are likely to be the first to whom a vaccine would be made available. More than 40 potential vaccines are in clinical trials around the world, Secretary of Health John Wiesman said.
ALSO AT THE BRIEFING: State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy talked about new data regarding contact tracing (here’s the news release) – in short, many are reluctant to participate. Watch the full briefing here.
WEDDINGS & FUNERALS: New rules announced today by the governor’s office:
The update allows wedding and funeral receptions to resume, as long as they meet specific requirements.
-Receptions and ceremonies must be capped at 30 people, or 25% of venue occupancy, whichever is less
-All tables at the reception must be seated by household, with table sizes capped at 5 people
-Facial coverings are required, and social distancing must be maintained
GOT INFO? Email us at email@example.com or phone us, text or voice, at 206-293-6302 – thank you!
6:33 PM: For the first time in days, we saw a hint of the downtown skyline from Seacrest while out on late-afternoon errands. Looking to the west, the sun was pink through the smoke/fog – we didn’t photograph that, but Marc Milrod did:
Dare we hope the worst is past? The latest “forecast discussion” says cautiously, “A front moving through the area late Thursday into Friday is expected to help clean out some of the smoke.”
ADDED 8:56 PM: Thomas just sent this photo of what the smoke looks like from above – that’s Mount Rainier barely poking through in the distance:
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Junction Plaza Park just passed its 10th anniversary. In those 10 years, it’s been the site of many celebrations and gatherings, including the annual community Christmas tree lighting.
Right now, it’s a source of concern.
Since the city installed a “hygiene station” there four months ago, though it already maintains a public porta-potty a block west, the West Seattle Junction Association has been receiving reports of what it summarizes as “escalating violence and drug use in the park.”
Out of “the continued frustration of our citizens, coupled with the escalating violence, compounded by zero response (or accountability) from Human Services,” WSJA executive director Lora Radford has just launched a webpage meant to call public attention to some of those concerns and ask for community support in seeking a city response.
One example of the escalation of trouble in and near the park: The recent rampage at the QFC across the street, for which a suspect has been charged and remains in jail. But that’s just one incident mentioned in some of the anecdotes and observations posted on the page so far. While trash and discarded needles are mentioned, so are concerns about personal safety:
“… while I was sitting on a bench in the park trying to comb my dog, a young man approached me and accused me of staring at his girlfriend, then promptly flashed a large knife at me and told me to leave the park.”
“… There was a police response as a belligerent and violent man was accosting his fellow transients but also two innocent men who were literally just walking by on the sidewalk.”
“… We have had instances of our tenants being verbally accosted while trying to cross the street at that location and an instance where a colleague was chased by one of person s congregating in the park.”
The WSJA’s page makes it clear that it’s fully aware that the big picture involves “significant health, economic, and social challenges” and services are needed. But in the meantime, it’s concerned about safety – of the vulnerable people in the park as well as others in the area. It is asking all those with concerns to contact the Human Services Department (info). So far, after previous contacts, the only response from the city is a reply that just acknowledged the concerns and added:
You are correct that providing mental health and drug addiction counseling services is a broader question that needs to be addressed city-wide.
The Hygiene Station program team includes representatives from the Human Services Department (HSD), Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR), Office of the Mayor, Finance and Administrative Services (FAS) and Department of Neighborhoods (DON). Many team members are also working on COVID-19 and homelessness response issues and policies.
Aside from that acknowledgment a week ago, nothing, says Radford. So here’s how you can help if you have concerns too:
When you observe illegal behavior or see drug and mental illness issues in the park – first and foremost, please call 911. Please do not engage with the persons.
Send an email to Human Services. Together, we can work to elevate the need for more mental and drug counselors at the park. Let’s get people to the services they need, and support accountability:
Copy/paste into the send line of your email
Tom.VanBronkhorst3@seattle.gov; Frank.Coulter@seattle.gov; Bill.Benzer@seattle.gov; Tess.Colby@seattle.gov; Lisa.Gustaveson@seattle.gov; Donna.Waters@seattle.gov
Or Call Human Services
Tom Van Bronkhorst
Other business districts in the city have similar concerns; WSJA recently joined with some of its counterparts in this letter to the city. An excerpt:
We ask you take small businesses and the owners, employees, customers, and adjacent residents into consideration when assessing the public safety needs for the constituents of this city. Seattle is at a crossroads and is choosing its path forward. It’s time for us to ask our leaders, both legislative and executive, to find a way to work together to achieve what they essentially agree on: a reimagined municipal social contract—especially around public safety—that protects and lifts up all of us. Confronting and dismantling systemic racism and providing a safe environment for our neighborhood business districts are not mutually exclusive; indeed, they rely on each other completely.
For the Junction Association, the bottom line is at the end of its new page: “Join us. It’s time for action.”
New to bicycling around the peninsula? Cascade Bicycle Club has a new set of maps and videos meant, according to the announcement, ” to help West Seattle residents impacted by the West Seattle Bridge closure more safely and confidently bicycle to downtown and throughout their community.” (Cascade also is advertising on WSB to help get the word out.) The featured routes:
Cascade says those routes “encompass the most common commutes for West Seattle residents.” You can find the maps and more on this resource page that “also includes links to free resources designed to help bicyclists of all levels become confident riding on the streets, learn the rules of the road, and get a bike in road-ready shape.”
Another way to help this weekend, if you can donate: Hope Lutheran Church in The Junction is hosting a drive-thru collection on Saturday (September 19th) from 10:00 am-noon.
All proceeds benefit The Welcome Table, which is run by WIN – Westside Interfaith Network. This is a free community event that happens every Saturday at Body of Christ Church in White Center. They serve neighborhood families who are low-income or homeless. Each week a meal is provided. Other items are also offered such as used clothing, personal toiletries, and food. Many families use this “pop-up food bank” each week to help ends meet.
Please consider donating these items (please, no expired items)
Cartons of shelf-stable milk – regular, soy, almond, rice, oat
Canned fruit, vegetables, meats
Canned meals such as Spaghetti-o’s, ravioli
Cup of noodles
Laundry detergent pods
Underwear- new or clean used, sizes M, L, XL
Men’s shirts/pants used, in good condition, all sizes
Blankets, Backpacks or Duffel bags – new or used, in good condition
Coats, Hoodies – Men’s L, XL, 2X
Cash Donations also accepted
Hope Lutheran Church is at 4456 42nd Ave SW. Enter our parking lot by turning in on 41st Ave SW and exiting to SW Oregon Street. NO-CONTACT DONATION – Volunteers will be on hand to unload your backseat or trunk so you don’t even have to get out of your car.
Need some more brightness after all these smoke-hazed days? Beautiful flowers like that can help – but they don’t just magically appear at local markets. They are grown on small farms. And like so many, those farmers have been hard-hit in these times. So they’re having a flower fundraiser, with online orders through tomorrow, and a Saturday pickup spot in White Center. Explains Cynthia Yongvang of the Hmong Association of Washington, who emailed to let us know abut this: “Our fundraiser would benefit both the Hmong flower farmers who are struggling financially during this pandemic and also our 4 very small communities (Mien, Hmong, Khmu, and Lao) in the Puget Sound area by providing rental-assistance relief to families in need so that they won’t be displaced during this time.” The order form is here, and it explains, “This weekend, based on the farmers’ selection of flowers, the mix bouquets will include sunflowers, dahlias, lilies, phlox, statice , snapdragons, gladiolus and greenery for $25, with $10 of every bouquet going to our rental assistance program.” Orders will be accepted until 3 pm tomorrow (Thursday, September 17th), with pickup options (also listed on the order form) including 9 am-noon Saturday in White Center.
Two reports in West Seattle Crime Watch this morning:
CAR STOLEN: From Cynthia:
Our son’s 2000 beige Honda Civic was stolen from our driveway at 3642 Beach Dr SW, Seattle, WA 98116 sometime during the night. It was reported to the police this morning, but thought we’d get the word out in case someone finds it and for neighbors to be on the lookout for suspicious activity on Beach Drive. Here is a picture after a recent hit and run.
Call 911 if you see it.
WINDOW-SMASHING: Staffers at DogCity in The Triangle (36th/Oregon) arrived this morning to find windows smashed on cars outside as well as on their building. Here are two of the photos they sent:
So far, it does not appear burglary was the motive. They’ve reported it to police.
Friends and family are remembering Monica Stenberg, and sharing this with her community:
Monica was born Monica Eklöf on October 2, 1944 in Gothenburg, Sweden. She grew up there with her mother and her two younger sisters. During the summers they moved out to their mother’s family home in a small fishing village on the island of Mollösund off Sweden’s West Coast.
As a young adult, Monica got a job working in the finance department of a shipyard in Gothenburg, and it is there that she met her future husband Bengt Stenberg, who was originally from Malmö, Sweden. In 1969, Monica and Bengt moved to the United States, first to New Orleans and then Santa Monica and finally Seattle, where they remained for the rest of their lives. Bengt passed away in 2004. After so many years in the US, Monica felt more and more American, but kept Sweden in her heart and always had a love of the sea.
Monica worked for many years at Seafirst Bank in West Seattle, which later became Bank of America. She enjoyed visits with her Swedish family, travels in Europe and the US, and adventures with friends in the Pacific Northwest. Monica also liked going to opera, musicals, plays, and celebrating the holidays with a traditional Swedish Christmas Eve julbord dinner with friends.
Monica was a happy and energetic person, and was always ready to laugh. She was known for her quick wit and many jokes, and she was a fun person to be around. Monica had a big heart and never forgot the birthdays of her friends and family. Monica was a loyal friend and beloved sister and aunt.
She is greatly missed by her friends and family in both the US and Sweden. Monica is survived by her two sisters, Gertie Skeppstedt and Margreth Eklof, niece Petra Myhren, and nephew Mathias Skeppstedt, and their children.
(WSB publishes West Seattle obituaries by request, free of charge. Please e-mail the text, and a photo if available, to firstname.lastname@example.org)
6:21 AM: It’s Wednesday, the 177th morning without the West Seattle Bridge.
The first company to deploy them in Seattle’s new “pilot program” is scheduled to start distributing them early today. Please let us know if you see any in West Seattle!
ROAD WORK, ETC.
*Delridge project: Here’s the latest update, with closures the next two weekends.
*1st Avenue S. Bridge: Tonight is the last scheduled NB overnight closure for the deck-panel replacement project.
*Westwood Village parking lot: We checked on this project Monday. If you have to go to the post office, use the SW Trenton entrance – but don’t use that to try to get anywhere else at WWV.
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 – Routes 125 and 128 are now stopping at South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) on Puget Ridge. Otherwise – still reduced service and distancing, with some changes starting this Saturday (September 19th), and the potential return of fares on/around October 1st.
Water Taxi – Still on its “winter” schedule, with the 773 and 775 shuttles running – see the schedule here.
Trouble on the roads/paths/water? Let us know – text (but not if you’re driving!) 206-293-6302.