By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The Admiral Neighborhood Association‘s every-other-month meeting tonight featured reps from two city departments that handle the bulk of the most contentious community issues, SDOT and SPD – not to give presentations, but to answer questions on whatever attendees wanted to talk about.
The meeting was facilitated by ANA vice president Joanie Jacobs (who’s rising to president as a result of tonight’s elections – more on that later) at Admiral UCC Church.
SOUTHWEST PRECINCT POLICE: Lt. Mike Watson opened by asking if anyone had any questions. Jacobs said she knew multiple businesses had experienced burglaries, including an Admiral restaurant just a few days ago. What can they do? “Look out for each other,” he said, for starters. Camera video is helpful. So are signs such as “this area is being video-monitored.” He noted he was asked at a past meeting about catalytic-converter thefts, so he brought that stat – 2,120 citywide so far this year – West Seattle is averaging 40 or 50 a month. They can be sold for up to $350. Toyota Prius, Honda CR-V, Lexus RX-400, Honda Element are all popular targets. Don’t try to confront a thief – people have lost their lives doing that – call 911. Someone else brought up street racing, and neighbors who don’t have valid license plates. Street racing should be reported, Watson said, because there’s a regional task force working on it. Then another person asked about expired tabs. Watson mentioned they’re not allowed to pull people over for them. But a parking-enforcement officer can cite a parked car for expired plates/tabs. What about the double shooting on Alki? The victims both survived, but no one’s been arrested. From the SPD dashboard, he cited some West Seattle stats – robberies are up 18%, aggravated assault up 12%, motor-vehicle theft up 43%, 105 shots-fired incidents so far this year. Cars are usually stolen to commit other crimes, he noted. Despite all that, “West Seattle is the safest part of the city – by far. … You can feel safe here.” (He attributes that in part to strong block watches.) One last question: How’s police staffing? “Down 450-500,” he said. One attendee thanked Lt. Watson for excellent service from officers who responded when he was in a car crash recently.
SDOT: Introduced as being there on a “fact-finding mission” was Matt Beaulieu, there to listen to questions. He was accompanied by Danielle Friedman from the Department of Neighborhoods. First issue, trying to cross Admiral’s south side. There are no crosswalks for several blocks south of the business district, residents pointed out. A resident near the Admiral Way Viewpoint totem pole mentioned crashes from speeding drivers, An SDOT traffic study was mentioned as having found 40 as the “average” speed in the area – “so that means 5,000 drivers are going 60.” The resident who mentioned it has long agitated for traffic calming there. Another attendee brought up the graph of survivability at various speeds. Another attendee talked about the crossing at 47th/Admiral having been installed after a deadly crash, but not getting heeded because “it’s in an odd spot.” What about speed cameras? Some recent laws might loosen up the current restrictions on school zones only, “Photo enforcement is a powerful tool, but you install it and hope it fails” because people stop speeding, Beaulieu said. Friedman mentioned that the recent study of West Marginal Way, blocking off a southbound lane to simulate the conditions during the future protected bike lane, really resulted in slower driving.
What does it take to get something installed? Most of it is based on collision history, when they decide where to spend money, Beaulieu said. So for starters, make sure crashes get reported to police, because otherwise SDOT has no data to refer to. He also noted that they’re studying the best way to deal with arterials. And be sure to contact SDOT directly – maybe they can’t help initially, but your problem will at least be on their radar.
Another question: Aren’t traffic deaths up since Vision Zero began? Beaulieu acknowledged, “We are not trending to zero.” Isn’t it making things worse? The attendee had worked on a school safety committee and requested a four-way stop but said SDOT was resistant – yet now there are new 4-ways and crosswalks by West Seattle High School and Madison Middle School. Aa for VZ in general, Beaulieu mentioned one of the first actions new SDOT director Greg Spotts had decreed – a “top to bottom” review of the program, in hopes of figuring out why it’s not working.
Another resident near 39th/Hanford, close to a new crosswalk, noted that the intersection has numerous crashes each year, some taking out utility poles. Can you put speed cushions on arterials? That’s an “evolving practice” too, said Beaulieu.
Also mentioned – gratitude to SDOT for repaving much of California north of Admiral. (Though there was some puzzlement on why one particular block was skipped.)
ELECTIONS: The meeting ended with a chance to nominate and vote on leadership for net year. Elected to lead ANA in 2023 (and shown left to right in photo above):
President Joanie Jacobs
Vice President Stephanie Jordan
Secretary Carrie McCann
Treasurer Bridgett Markillie
They were the only nominees, and were elected in unanimous approval of the slate.
(Board members, committee leads, and an adopt-a-street coordinator are other roles in the ANA, and they’d love to have more community participation.) Voting was open to members, who pay a $25 annual fee to belong.
P.S. ANA has a business membership program too – $50/year – and plans to more actively promote local businesses. Businesses are donating $25 gift cards for a raffle at ANA meetings, and Mission Cantina donated one for tonight – the winner was drawn before meeting’s end.
EVENTS: This Saturday, Admiral Church is hosting a Christmas Market (as featured in our calendar and West Seattle Holiday Guide). West Seattle Grounds (which Jacobs manages) has launched a toy drive – that will be in our Holiday Guide shortly – and donors get a discount. She also mentioned the Festival of Trees gala at Brookdale Admiral Heights.
SUMMER CONCERTS: After missing three years for the pandemic and venue unavailability, the 2023 concert series will happen one way or another, either Hiawatha if it’s available by summer, or Hamilton Viewpoint. “Our goal this year is that IT WILL HAPPEN,” Jacobs vowed.
NEXT MEETING: ANA is having general meetings every other month, so the next one is likely on the second Tuesday in January, which will be January 10, 7 pm at Admiral Church (4320 SW Hill). Watch connecttoadmiral.org for updates.