With summer approaching, the Alki Community Council focused on beach concerns at its monthly meeting online tonight. Here’s what happened:
POLICE UPDATE: Representing the precinct was acting Lt. David Terry, a 20-year SPD veteran who currently leads the night shift. He started off by saying that “a lot of officers are dedicated to Alki” because it’s a priority for the precinct, which has “added extra resources” to work in the beach area. He mentioned the SPD crime-data dashboard, which you can use to track incidents in specific neighborhoods, Alki included. In the last four weeks, 3 misdemeanor assaults, 12 property crimes. West Seattle in general has seen 2 shots-fired incidents with no injuries and 1 injury shooting (16th/Roxbury) recently. One person complained that she was on hold for 20 minutes one recent night and never saw police despite street racing and other problems. Lt. Terry explained that some major incidents have taken away personnel – such as a South Seattle shooting response that required officers to be pulled from the Southwest Precinct. He said SW commander Capt. Kevin Grossman has since tried to work out a way that the local precinct won’t be totally depleted by any such future calls. Some West Seattle calls have taken every available resource too, like the aforementioned shooting. On weekends, they have extra OT crews until midnight on Alki. If something is happening now, call 911, not the non-emergency line, he stressed. The attendee said she had been told by an officer later that they weren’t supposed to interfere with street racing, and Lt. Terry said that’s not true – there is no such directive – so he’s talking to his officers to stress that they are not under orders to “stand down.” Racing calls are now “priority 1.” he said, which means mandatory dispatch – even if that means pulling someone from elsewhere in the city.
Another attendee said that on recent nights, officers have shown up near Duwamish Head around 11 pm and “swept the area,” and that seems to help keep the trouble down. They’ve been closing the gates at Don Armeni Boat Ramp when needed, but that does mean they need to go back if that traps boaters inside. Could exit spikes be requested? he was asked – allowing people to get out of the lot via the exit but not back in? Terry said he’d actually suggested that recently himself.
Five streetlights are missing between Duwamish Head and Harbor Avenue – lost to a crash or other problems – so the streets are too dark, said another attendee. He also asked about speed humps/cushions; that would be an SDOT decision, Lt. Terry said.
One participant asked for more clarity about when to call 911 and when not to. We’ve covered that extensively (here’s one report on a presentation by a 911 manager). Lt. Terry said his short definition is “can it wait?” or “is it a matter of life safety?” But, he noted, all calls, whether to 911 or the non-emergency number, all go to the same queue. “The officers don’t pick and choose” which calls they go to, he said – “if your call’s on. hold and an officer’s not there, it’s not their fault, the dispatchers (decide).”
That participant also had been researching and said she’d done a survey on social media to ask about the worst problems in Alki. Sixty people answered. The results:
-Lack of patrols
-Pedestrian/scooters/bikes/strollers interacting dangerously on the boardwalk (with signage needed)
She said some also mentioned trash and fireworks as problems. As a result of the survey, she had emailed various city officials about the issues. SDOT was the least responsive, she noted; they’re still waiting for a response in the boardwalk signage, and from Parks regarding the trash issue.
Regarding reporting recurring problems, Lt. Terry said calling them in is vital – if you email, it’s not going to wind up in data, which is what’s used to dispatch and plan resources.
Another participant who had been doing research said they requested call totals to compare pre- and post-Stay Healthy Street (Keep Moving Street) designation around Alki Point, and they’d noted a 76 percent drop.
Before Lt. Terry’s segment of the agenda added, a participant offered words of gratitude for the police work so far this year. He said he’d take that back to his officers.
STAY HEALTHY STREET: ACC president Tony Fragada brought up Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s recent post featuring the options SDOT is considering (though the city officially calls Alki Ave west of 63rd and Beach Drive north of 63rd a “Keep Moving Street,” everyone at this meeting used the term “Stay Healthy Street”).
One of the residents who’s been working on the issue reiterated that his neighbors are hopeful it will be made permanent. (The city has said it will remain closed to through traffic at least until next year.) The limitation of cars on the street have “made it a pedestrian-first area,” he said. It’s clear that some improvement is needed to further separate the cars from bicycles/pedestrians, and the park itself should be reimagined. He said the city has promised more public outreach, and advocates are waiting to hear about the next steps. Another attendee asked if an Environmental Impact Statement would be required before finalizing it – not ecological, but for example, how other neighborhoods have been affected. The advocate said design solutions for other areas of Alki would definitely be in order: “Hopefully they’ll hear that as well.” That would mean, another attendee said, making it less possible to, say, park 60 cars in a spot elsewhere along Beach Drive, or at Don Armeni. They’d like to put together a coordinated effort Alki-wide to pressure the city to “calm traffic and make things safer for all of us” – to look at the area holistically. It might be difficult to make all of Alki Avenue a Stay Healthy Street, one person suggested – but that would be ideal. As an example, one participant said walking at the beach is a challenge just trying to get across a crosswalk – sometimes the traffic just won’t stop.
One of the advocates said they’re hoping to organize work parties to get more people involved. They asked for authorization to do that in the name of the ACC, and it was granted.
DEVELOPMENT: One attendee brought up the 1001-1116 Alki SW proposal, describing it as a “pretty massive building with no setbacks to speak of.” He said they’re “most alarmed” by a proposed Environmentally Critical Area exemption the project is seeking. He’s a resident next door and said they have a working group that’s hoping to get the project to fit into the neighborhood a bit later, making it less “un-Alki.” He said they’re working with another area resident who had led the campaign against the original 1250 Alki project (125 apartments, later changed to 40 condos).
ALKI BEACH PRIDE: Organizer Stacy Bass-Walden introduced herself – the dates set this year for Alki Beach Pride are August 14-15, with a car parade from Jack Block Park (here’s our coverage of last year) and “Love Wins” specials at restaurants, then bicycles and other human-powered parading from the Statue of Liberty to Seacrest.
NEXT MEETING: The Alki Community Council meets third Thursdays most months – next month that’ll be June 17th.