West Seattle, Washington
That security-camera image is from charging documents in the case that the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has filed against an alleged serial shoplifter, 25-year-old West Seattle resident Joseph E. Herdrich. It is described as showing Herdrich exiting the Marshall’s store at Westwood Village on October 5th with more than $850 in stolen merchandise. He wasn’t arrested that day, but just two weeks earlier, he had been arrested there in similar circumstances – here’s a security-camera image from that day, in which he is accused of stealing $700 worth of merchandise:
Three and a half days later, on September 24th, with no charges yet filed, he was released from jail. But he’s there now, two weeks after yet another arrest at Westwood Village, after allegedly shoplifting more than $500 in items from the QFC store on November 18th. In that case, store security confronted him and got the items back; he was still outside the store when police arrived and arrested him. Now the KCPAO has charged him with three counts of second-degree burglary for all three of the incidents we’ve mentioned, The charging documents say Herdrich had already been banned – “trespassed” – from both those stores and from other businesses in Westwood Village, but keeps going back to shoplift. An SPD detective wrote in a September report that Herdrich had been under investigation for months for thefts at both the same Marshall’s store and Delridge Home Depot and that he was “driven by his fentanyl addiction.” Herdrich’s arraignment is scheduled for December 7. His bail was set at just $250 by a judge who prosecutors say was unaware of his previous arrests; they argued for raising it to $5,000 given the added facts in the case, but the court docket says that motion was denied.
“A big win for the whales.” That’s how Donna Sandstrom of The Whale Trail describes a new recommendation from the state to require some boaters and paddlers to give Southern Resident Killer Whales more space. She served on the governor-appointed task force that advocated for SRKW protections including keeping boats further away from the endangered orcas. Here’s what the state has announced:
A new report released by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) recommends that the Legislature increase the vessel buffer for recreational boaters, commercial whale watching operators, and guided paddle tours around Southern Resident killer whales to 1,000 yards to further support orca recovery.
Prompted by Senate Bill 5577, the report considers the effectiveness of rules for recreational boaters and commercial whale-watching operators aimed at protecting Southern Residents from the effects of vessel noise and disturbance.
Listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 2005, Southern Resident killer whales face three main threats: lack of food, contaminants in their food, and vessel noise and disturbance as they forage and communicate using echolocation. Center for Whale Research’s September 2022 census recorded the Southern Resident population at just 73 individuals.
Just this past summer, the Department designated 12 Southern Residents as vulnerable after researchers demonstrated they were in the lowest body condition state—the bottom 20% for the whale’s age and sex—which is associated with a two-to-three times higher rate of mortality.
The news release also notes:
The Department also recommends maintaining the definition of commercial whale watching and the license requirement, but recommends changes to reduce the potential financial and administrative burden of the license and rules, simplifying where possible, and further distinguishing between motorized commercial whale watching and non-motorized, guided paddle tours. While the report recommends a 1,000-yard buffer around Southern Residents, it doesn’t suggest any changes to commercial or recreational viewing of other, healthier populations such as Bigg’s killer whales, humpback whales, gray whales, or any other whale species currently in the area, which comprise most whale-watching opportunities in Washington.
The full 86-page report is here. Sandstrom says The Whale Trail was part of a focus group interviewed while the report was being prepared, and supports its recommendations. She points to research “quoted in the report shows that female Southern Resident orcas stop foraging when vessels approach closer than 400 yards, and that SRKW exhibit behavioral changes when vessels approach closer than 1,000 yards.” That study (summarized here) was by researchers including West Seattleite Jeff Hogan. The current regulations are a 300-yard buffer on either side for recreational boaters and 400 yards in front and behind, while commercial whale watchers have to stay 1/2 nautical mile away October through June but are allowed to view the Southern Residents from 300 yards away for two 2-hour periods each day July through September.
The Legislature would have to take action to put this new recommendation into place – but in the meantime, she notes, “Until the law is changed, boaters can voluntarily pledge to stay 1/2 nautical mile from SRKW by taking the pledge at GiveThemSpace.org.”
We’ve been by already twice for previews (here and here) – and tonight’s the first official night for the Menashe Family‘s famous Christmas lights at 5605 Beach Drive SW. Our photo doesn’t really do it justice, so if you love lights, you have to see it in person. Here are two special dates you might consider visiting:
SANTA & MRS. CLAUS PHOTOS, DECEMBER 10: Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there 5 pm-9 pm Saturday, December 10, for DIY photos with kids. No charge but you’re asked to bring a nonperishable-food donation for the West Seattle Food Bank. (The WSFB donation barrels will be there starting the previous night, Friday, December 9, through Sunday, December 11, so you are invited to bring food donations those nights too.)
SANTA, MRS. CLAUS, & REINDEER PHOTOS, DECEMBER 20: The Clauses will return for photo ops Tuesday, December 20, 5 pm-9 pm, this time with real reindeer. The family hopes this will be a food-drive event too but they’re still working on logistics.
Got lights? Seen lights? See what we’ve shown here, and suggest what we should show next by emailing email@example.com – thank you!
After being closed Tuesday and Wednesday for a staff shortage caused by illness, Southwest Pool opened for limited operations today. Now we have an update on the next two days:
Southwest Pool will run normal programs Friday, December 2nd, but we are closed for Saturday, December 3rd.
We still have multiple staff members out sick and are unable to operate full programs safely.
Friday normal operations.
Adult Swim 12-2:30 pm.
Seattle Public Schools Swim Meet 3-6 pm.
Lessons and programs cancelled. Lesson participants will receive a refund for the missed lesson.
We are working to return to full operation as soon as staffing allows. Check Southwest Pool’s webpage or call 206-684-7440 for updates.
Four days after a sewage leak was detected and repaired at Lincoln Park, testing shows the beaches in the area are safe to use again. That’s the word from the King County Wastewater Treatment Division, which is responsible for the equipment that failed and caused the leak – an air valve in a vault along a “force main” that carries wastewater and stormwater north from the Barton Pump Station north of the Fauntleroy ferry dock. KCWTD spokesperson Marie Fiore says they estimate 13,000 gallons had leaked before th problem was fixed, but they don’t know how much of that got into Puget Sound, as some of it was contained by the vault and pumped out by Seattle Public Utilities before crews zeroed in on the problem and handed it off to the county. Fiore told us earlier this week that the vault is inspected frequently and had gone through an inspection less than two weeks before the valve failure.
As David Hutchinson‘s photo from Alki shows, this morning’s snow was followed by north wind and a 12-foot high tide splashing the Sound over the seawall. If the newest forecast holds out, that’s as lively as things should get until at least tomorrow morning, which is when the National Weather Service sees a “chance” of more snow. Tonight is likely to get icy again, with the temperature expected to drop below freezing.
Recently we noticed online permit activity for 3401 California SW, long the home of the West Seattle location of Spiro’s Pizza and Pasta. The owners weren’t ready to comment on their restaurant’s future until today. Here’s their announcement:
Dear West Seattle,
Since 1991, Spiro’s Pizza & Pasta and the Voltsis family has had the privilege and honor of being a part of the community. From the little location at 3401 California Ave, we have been able to grow our businesses, as we have been able to watch the area expand as well. Through our modest doors we have seen generations of families come in, and watch their children grow, and through time come in with their children. We are forever grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful neighborhood over the past 31 years.
After three decades at this location, it is time for us to sadly say goodbye to West Seattle. We will close our doors in West Seattle for the final time December 16th, 2022. We ask that you welcome the new tenants, West Seattle residents Mike Meckling (Woodinville Cut Shop, Neumos) and Ben Jenkins (Shadowland, Dumplings of Fury) who will be opening a family-friendly Mexican restaurant offering authentic Mexican food by chef Danny Ludwig.
We will forever remember our time in West Seattle, and we thank you for the many years of patronage and friendship.
With our sincerest gratitude to West Seattle,
Jim, Sia, Evan and Eleni Voltsis
You can read the backstory of the multigenerational family pizza business here. West Seattle was their first location; Spiro’s is also in Shoreline and Mukilteo.
Two reader reports:
PACKAGE THEFT: Jessica reports this person stole a package Wednesday on 14th SW and her security cam got the thief and his getaway car:
Couldn’t make out a license plate #. Saw him drive away in person and it looked like the plate was covered with a yellow paper/advertisement.
CAR PROWLS: Libby sent this report:
Writing on behalf of two of us neighbors in the 5900 block of 38th Ave SW. We both left our cars unlocked and they were rummaged through (Tuesday) night sometime between 11 pm and 4 am. The thieves took miscellaneous items, vehicle registrations, and insurance cards. We have filed police reports. A good reminder to lock your vehicles!
Longtime WSB sponsor SoundYoga wants you to know, “We’re still here!” despite one big change. Here’s the announcement, and a request:
On February 2, 1998, Chris Dormaier, Yoga instructor and author, founded and began operating the SoundYoga studio at 5639 California Avenue SW.
For nearly 25 years at this location, Chris and her fellow teachers have provided various levels of Yoga classes and Yoga teacher training to many of our West Seattle and broader Seattle-area residents. This past summer, Chris was notified by her landlord that the SoundYoga lease would not be renewed. Well, the time has come to close the beautiful SoundYoga studio space. However, like many businesses, SoundYoga had pivoted to providing online classes during COVID and we will continue to offer online classes after the studio space is gone. We will also offer a limited number of in-person classes near our former studio. If you have studio space to share, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our last day in the studio was November 30, 2022, and we look forward to continuing to serve the West Seattle community and beyond via our online classes found at SoundYoga.com.
SOUTHWEST POOL REOPENS: After a two-day closure, the pool at 2801 SW Thistle is back open today but on a limited schedule – details in this update.
FESTIVAL OF TREES: Drop in to see the dozen-plus decorated, donated trees and wreaths on display at Brookdale Admiral Heights (2326 California SW) before 5 pm, and if you like one (or more) consider bidding for it in the Rotary Service Foundation‘s benefit auction next week!
HIGHLAND PARK RUN CLUB: Also at HP Corner Store, meet up at 6:30 pm Thursdays for a ~3-mile run.
MENASHE FAMILY LIGHTS: Tonight is the first official night for West Seattle’s brightest holiday display (5605 Beach Drive SW). Here’s our preview from earlier this week.
MUSIC AT THE COFFEEHOUSE: 7 pm, Bill Davie and Amy Read perform at C & P Coffee (5612 California SW; WSB sponsor).
WEST SEATTLE’S SILENT BOOK CLUB: It’s gotten so popular, it’s meeting at multiple locations tonight, 7 pm – the list is here.
PIANO BAR: Larry Knapp and Friends provide the music – and you could too, as there’s an open mic as well as the option to just sit and enjoy the music. 7-10 pm at Senior Center of West Seattle (4217 SW Oregon), $5 entrance fee. Drinks and fruit/cheese trays available for purchase.
COMMUNITY MEETING: If you live in White Center or vicinity, the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council is your community council, meeting monthly online to discuss a variety of issues. Here are details on tonight’s 7 pm meeting and how to watch/listen/participate.
“I have people here … They need to be treated with dignity.”
And that’s why Keith Hughes keeps opening the doors of the West Seattle Veteran Center to people who need someplace to go during cold-weather emergencies.
Some have asked what kind of help he could use right now. Warm-clothing items like hats and gloves. Volunteer help, too. And also – understanding.
If you know of someone who needs shelter – or have hats/gloves to donate – the center is at 3618 SW Alaska.
(Latest ‘live’ view from California/Admiral SDOT camera)
Good morning. It’s Thursday, December 1st. Icy (and then snowy) weather has led to some changes this morning. (Anything to add? Text/call 206-293-6302)
Several schools and neighboring districts are starting late, as announced last night and this morning. See the updated list here. (6:36 am update: Updated on the list but also FYI, Vashon Island SD has now changed to “all schools closed.”)
The Winter Weather Advisory is still in effect through 4 pm, warning that more snow is possible throughout the day (6:19 am, light snow is falling now) but so far the main challenge is ice. (7 am: Cars are coated in snow up here.) (7:53 am: Mostly stopped for now.)
TODAY’S TRANSIT STATUS
–Metro buses are on regular routes and schedules in our area but snow routes in the service’s East Region; watch @kcmetroalerts for trip cancellations/reroute alerts, and here for weather-related changes.
-The West Seattle Water Taxi is
back to its full schedule. (6:51 AM UPDATE: West Seattle run now out of service – mechanical problem with Spirit of Kingston. 7:23 AM UPDATE: Metro expects WSWT service to resume with 7:40 am run from downtown to WS.) (12:30 pm note: A short-term “staffing shortage” has the WSWT canceling one more round trip today: “Thurs. Dec. 1, 12:30 & 1:00pm Water Taxi departures canceled due to temporary staffing constraints. Regular service resumes with the 1:30 p.m. departure from downtown and the 2:00 p.m. departure from West Seattle.”)
-WSF’s Triangle Route is back to 2 boats – check here for alerts/updates.
8:12 AM: Truck has gone sideways on the NB I-5 ramp to WB West Seattle Bridge:
Check the live camera here.
10:33 AM: The ramp has reopened.
High Bridge – here’s the camera at the top.
High Bridge – the view from its southwest end (if SDOT points the 35th/Avalon/Fauntleroy camera that way).
Low Bridge: Or nearby, depending on where SDOT points the camera.
1st Ave. S. Bridge: The south route.
Highway 99: Here’s the northbound side at Lander.
All functional city traffic cams can be seen here, most with video options; West Seattle and vicinity-relevant cameras are also on this WSB page … Are movable city bridges opening for vessels? Check the @SDOTBridges Twitter feed.
If you see a problem on the roads/paths/water, please text or call us (when you can do so safely) – 206-293-6302.