day : 22/02/2021 9 results

CORONAVIRUS: Monday 2/22/2021 roundup

School news tops tonight’s pandemic headlines:

SEATTLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS’ START DATE DELAYED: No deal yet between the district and the Seattle Education Association, so the original March 1st restart date for some in-person education is now pushed back at least one week.

GOVERNOR TO VISIT SCHOOL: Gov. Inslee is pushing for more kids to get back into classrooms, and on Tuesday he’ll tour an elementary school in Spokane “to see how a return to class under COVID-19 restrictions is working for students and educators.”

NEWEST KING COUNTY NUMBERS: Here are the key points of the daily summary from Seattle-King County Public Health:

*81.277 people have tested positive, 102 more than yesterday’s total

*1,345 people have died, unchanged since Friday

*5,082 people have been hospitalized, 10 more than yesterday’s total

*892,520 people have been tested, 4,179 more than yesterday’s total

One week ago, those totals were 80,303/1,321/5,001/877,501.

STATEWIDE NUMBERS: See them here.

WORLDWIDE NUMBERS: 111.7 million cases, 2,474,000+ deaths – and the U.S. has passed half a million. See the other stats – nation by nation – here.

VACCINATION SITUATION: No new local opportunities announced today/tonight; we checked the lookup sites, nothing open there either.

NEED FOOD? This week’s nearest Food Lifeline distribution is 2-5 pm Friday (February 26th) at 815 S. 96th.

GOT SOMETHING TO REPORT? westseattleblog@gmail.com or 206-293-6302, text/voice – thank you!

WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE: 3 notes, high & low

Tomorrow marks 11 months since the West Seattle Bridge closed. Tonight, 3 notes:

WHO’LL FIX IT? As SDOT‘s consultant WSP continues designing the repairs, and the process of hiring a contractor approaches, City Councilmember Lisa Herbold’s weekly newsletter has this note:

One aspect of the West Seattle Bridge project that hasn’t received a lot of attention is the potential use of a community workforce agreement, and use of geographic hiring preferences.

The City’s Department of Finance and Administration is pursuing an exemption from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to allow us to use a Community Workforce Agreement (CWA)/Priority Hire on the project. Early in the Trump administration, USDOT withdrew proposed rulemaking that would have allowed geographic hiring preferences. In light of termination of the pilot program, these type of issues require FHWA’s consultation with the USDOT Office of the Secretary and Office of General Counsel. SDOT says, “We will work in partnership with FAS, with Build America, NACTO, other allies, and our congressional delegation to ensure Secretary of Transportation Buttigieg has this issue near the top of his agenda.”

Here’s a city document explaining CWA/Priority Hire. As for the timeline, as of the February 11th West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meeting, SDOT expected to start seeking bids as soon as this week.

LOOKING WAY INTO THE FUTURE: Also from Herbold’s newsletter:

SDOT is continuing work on scoping for a study for replacing the bridge, which will eventually need to happen. They are coordinating with the Sound Transit Engineering Working Group to discuss Sound Transit’s assumed marine navigational clearance requirements as well as how to best align initial screening of alternatives with their DEIS release for the West Seattle to Ballard Link Extension project.

One potential wrinkle, though, is the Sound Transit “realignment” that could push back West Seattle light rail even further than the recently revised date of 2031. ST’s board is scheduled to look at some realignment scenarios when it meets this Thursday afternoon.

LOW-BRIDGE TICKETS: This is the fourth week that citations are being issued to low-bridge rulebreakers, seventh week since the cameras were turned on. In the first two weeks of $75 citations – February 1st through 15th – Seattle Police tell WSB they’ve sent 3,277 citations from the camera photographing vehicles headed eastbound, 4,099 from the camera photographing the westbound direction. If all of those resulted in $75 payments, that’s more than half a million dollars. However, the money doesn’t all go to the city. It contracts with Verra Mobilityformerly American Traffic Solutions – to run the cameras, and a cut goes to the state, as explained in our coverage last year pf the ordinance authorizing the cameras:

After paying for administrative costs, half of the remaining funds are to be remitted to the state’s Cooper Jones active transportation safety account, which the state uses to fund grant projects or programs for bicycle, pedestrian, and non-motorist safety improvements. The remaining half of the funds may only be used for transportation improvements that support equitable access and mobility for persons with disabilities.

If you need a refresher on the current rules, go here.

WESTSIDE AWARDS 2021: Nomination time, for ‘stories of hope and perseverance’

This year’s Westside Awards, presented by the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce after collecting nominations from the community, have a special focus. Here’s the announcement:

Every year in the Spring, the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce gathers to celebrate four categories of businesses, individuals and non-profits that have made notable contributions to the West Seattle business community.

This Spring, the Chamber recognizes that 2020 was an incredibly difficult time for businesses and individuals alike. For that reason, we are changing our annual Westside Awards business-nomination process to honor stories of hope and perseverance in 2020!

At a time when individuals may not have the job, home, or food security they deserve, and when businesses have been forced – through legislation or circumstance – to close doors, there are uplifting stories of those who soldiered on, to help others and to help support their West Seattle community.

Businesses and individuals are thinking outside the box, tightening their belts, and acknowledging that now is not the time for “business as usual.” These businesses and individuals deserve our recognition.

If you know of a business, non-profit, or individual that deserves recognition for personal or business actions taken in 2020, please let us know by filling out a nomination form. Click this link to take you to the form site.

Here’s who won last year.

CRIME WATCH: Crash-and-grab business burglary; armed-harassment suspect arrested

Two Crime Watch reports today:

BUSINESS BURGLARY, VIA CAR: Also published on our partner site White Center Now:

That security video shows a burglar inside Grocery Plus at 16th/98th on Saturday night around 10:30 pm – a burglar who got in by crashing a car into the doors:

A member of the store owners’ family provided the video and photos, saying the burglar(s) “drove a mid-sized car/suv in a dark forest green color that police found was stolen into the front doors of the shop. Witnesses across the street have live footage they shared with the police, and the store also has a few surveillance videos that show the suspect rummaging through cigarettes and scratch tickets.” One of those clips is above; here’s a screengrab:

A plate from the car was left behind, and deputies told the victims it was stolen. If you have any information, report it to KCSO, and refer to case # C21005703.

HARASSMENT ARREST: A Highland Park case was spotlighted today on SPD Blotter:

An alert officer spotted a suspect from a harassment call involving a gun days later outside the location of the original altercation.

Police were originally called to the 8800 block of 9 Avenue SW on February 13th for a report of a man who had entered the business and threatened a clerk with a firearm. Witnesses said the man left the scene in a green Honda Pilot SUV. Officers searched the area but were unable to find the suspect or the vehicle.

On February 19th an officer on patrol in the same area spotted the suspect’s vehicle parked nearby and even recognized the man based on a tattoo over the suspect’s eye that was visible on surveillance video. The officer quickly moved in and arrested the 30-year-old suspect and recovered a firearm. The suspect is a convicted felon and legally prohibited from possessing a firearm. Police booked the man into King County Jail for investigation of harassment as well as unlawful possession of a firearm.

When will thousands of students return to Seattle Public Schools? No sooner than March 8, district says

Seattle Public Schools promised an update today on the status of returning thousands of students to in-person learning next month. Here’s the promised update:

On December 17, the SPS School Board directed staff to begin implementing plans for a phased increase of in-person instruction for students enrolled in Special Education Intensive Service Pathways beginning second semester and no later than March 1 and for preschool, kindergarten, and first-grade students on March 1.

Central office staff have been preparing for many months. Health and safety protocols have been implemented, Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) is in place, and the district has prepared for student transportation and meals.

An increase of in-person instruction also requires we negotiate new working conditions with Seattle Education Association. Unfortunately, we don’t yet have an agreement with SEA. To begin phasing in students on March 1, we needed an agreement by Monday, February 22. Without an agreement, the in-person return date has been delayed until at least March 8.

Staff continue to prioritize the phased return of students in Special Education Intensive Service Pathways first, followed by students in PreK-1 grade.

A special Board Meeting will be held on February 25 from 4-5:30 p.m. to discuss next steps and take action on the OSPI required Washington School’s 2020-21 Reopening Progress Report Template. Families and staff are encouraged to watch or listen to the board work session. (See the agenda here.) The meeting will be broadcast on television or can be viewed on the SPS TV YouTube channel. To listen by phone, dial 206-800-4125 and use Conference ID 931 417 102#.

District staff are committed to continuing negotiations in good faith. SPS has requested mediation support from the Public Employment Relations Commission to help facilitate a timely resolution. PERC is impartial and will help the district and the union explore solutions that lead to a mutual agreement. At this time, Seattle Education Association has declined mediation services.

You can review the most current bargaining update, the district’s proposal to SEA, including a racial equity analysis, on the Bargaining webpage.

The union’s updates, meantime, are here. More recent than those posts is this video update from bargaining-team members. (added) SEA also has just responded to the SPS statement with a Twitter thread, saying in part, “The District’s inability to implement needed health and safety protocols is delaying return to in-person learning.”

City Council to consider temporarily loosening some rules for running businesses from home

Some small-business proprietors are working to stay afloat by moving operations into their homes, at least temporarily. But certain city rules can get in the way. So the City Council is considering CB 120001, titled “Bringing Business Home.” This was noted during this morning’s just-concluded weekly council briefing meeting, with an explanation that under current rules, if somebody files a complaint against a business that’s operating at home, the city doesn’t have the option to not pursue it, so this bill would loosen the rules that often lead to complaints. From today’s announcement:

The requirements that would be suspended are:

*Customer visits are by appointment only
*There is no evidence of the home-based business visible from the exterior of the structure
*No more than two persons who are not residents of the building may work in a home-based business
*The home-based business shall not cause a substantial increase in on-street parking congestion or a substantial increase in traffic within the immediate vicinity
Home-based businesses would also be allowed to operate in a house’s off-street parking stall or garage and have one non-illuminated sign with the business name if it is not larger than 720 square inches.

To be clear, city rules already allow home-based businesses, but the conditions for operation are stringent, and this would loosen some of them, for the next year (unless extended). You can read the full text of the proposal here; it will be considered in the Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee at 9:30 am this Wednesday (February 24th) – we’ll link the agenda when it’s out – with a full council vote likely on March 15th.

BUS CUTS? Here are the options Seattle Public Schools board will discuss Tuesday

We’ve been reporting since last month on the Seattle Public Schools proposal to drop bus service to most “option schools” – including Louisa Boren STEM K-8 in Delridge and Pathfinder K-8 on Pigeon Point – to nibble at a budget crunch. The suggestion is from district staff and has not yet gone to a vote of the School Board, which won’t finalize the budget until summer. But since the idea came to light after a budget work session last month (here’s our first report), it’s stirred opposition at affected schools, and the board has a “work session” tomorrow to focus specifically on transportation funding, including this proposal. The agenda is out now and notes that the district’s transportation costs have risen sharply. Its contract with yellow-bus provider First Student was $26 million in 2017-2018, and $36 million for 2020-2021. Cutting bus service to 1,100+ students at 12 option schools including the two serving West Seattle/South Park was estimated to be a potential $740,000 savings. Here are some other possibilities for transportation savings that will be presented to the board tomorrow:

Here are recommendations the staff plans to propose:

District staff also call attention to the need to “fix” state funding for school transportation, and to keep districts’ funding from suffering because of pandemic-related enrollment drops. The full agenda and slide deck is here and includes information for watching/listening to the 4:30 pm Tuesday meeting, which does not include a public-comment period. (You can send comments any time, though, to spsdirectors@seattleschools.org.)

Gardening this year? Grow your plan with HPAC this Wednesday

Ever since the West Seattle Bridge closed 11 months ago, transportation topics have dominated most neighborhood meetings. But this Wednesday, HPAC – the community council for Highland Park, Riverview, and South Delridge – has a palate cleanser: Gardening. Here’s the agenda for the online meeting at 7 pm Wednesday (February 24):

Announcements – learn about upcoming free compost giveaway events!

Report from Waste Management on best compost practices

Presentation & Discussion:

Your Pandemic Garden 2.0: “You started it last year, now what?”

Led by neighbor gardener and Seattle Tilth Alliance Community Education Manager Chris Hoffer. Learn more about starting and maintaining a garden to grow food in the city. Meet other neighborhood gardeners and share ideas and inspiration!

Chris will take us through:

Getting Started: Beds, Boxes and Containers
Plants for Success
Tips for Long-term Success
Resource sharing + Q&A

Participation info is on the HPAC website.

WEATHER, TRAFFIC, TRANSIT: February’s final Monday

6:07 AM: Good morning. Breezy weather with off-and-on rain today.

ROAD WORK: Here’s the plan for the Delridge project this week.

TRANSIT: Metro is on its regular routes. … The Water Taxi has its regular vessel, regular schedule … The Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth ferry route has 2 boats but with Sealth filling in for Cathlamet, which will be out for about a month of work.

BRIDGES AND DETOUR ROUTES: 336th morning without the West Seattle Bridge. Here’s how things are looking:

Low Bridge: Seventh week for automated enforcement cameras, while restrictions are in effect 5 am-9 pm daily. Here’s a bridge view:

West Marginal Way at Highland Park Way:

Highland Park Way/Holden – with a new left-turn signal for northbound HP Way, turning to westbound Holden:

The 5-way intersection (Spokane/West Marginal/Delridge/Chelan):

The 1st Avenue South Bridge (map):

For the South Park Bridge (map), here’s the nearest camera:

To check for bridges’ marine-traffic openings, see the @SDOTBridges Twitter feed.

See all local traffic cams here; locally relevant cameras are also shown on this WSB page.

Trouble on the streets/paths/bridges/water? Let us know – text (but not if you’re driving!) 206-293-6302.