West Seattle, Washington
After two years as chair of our area’s biggest political organization, the 34th District Democrats, Carla Rogers watched tonight as her successor was elected.
Graham Murphy (right) is now the 34th DDs’ chair, winning the only contested seat of the night; David Toledo also ran for the spot. Murphy promised to lead the group forward as it prepares for two key election years – with an open City Council seat this year, and a presidential race next year.
Others elected at tonight’s online meeting:
1st Vice Chair – Rachel Glass
2nd Vice Chair – Jordan Crawley
State Party Representative – Chris Porter
State Party Representative – Roxanne Thayer
King County Central Committee Representative Bunny Hatcher, Leah Griffin (alternate)
King County Central Committee Representative – Ted Barker, Preston Anderson (alternate)
Treasurer – Julie Whitaker
Secretary – Steve Butts
ENDORSEMENTS: The 34th DDs voted to support passage of Seattle Initiative 135, the “social housing” measure that is the only thing on your ballot for the February 14th special election. A rep from House Our Neighbors, the Real Change political committee that gathered signatures to get it on the ballot, acknowledged questions about how the housing would be funded; they’d go to various government agencies, she said, but if need be, they might even have to put forth another ballot measure for a funding mechanism. She was also asked why I-135 hadn’t been on the November ballot; she said they weren’t able to gather enough signatures until three weeks after the deadline.
Also endorsed: Longtime 34th DDs member Chris Porter, in his bid for re-election as a King Conservation District supervisor. This is an entirely different election that’ll be held online, with three weeks of voting starting January 24th.
APRIL ELECTION? While votes were counted in the chair contest, the group heard from two elected officials – King County Executive Dow Constantine and County Councilmember Joe McDermott – who both mentioned the behavioral-health levy that’s expected to go to King County voters in April.
The 34th District Democrats meet second Wednesdays of most months – watch for updates at 34dems.org.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Washington State Ferries‘ staffing shortage isn’t just about difficulty in hiring.
WSF says it’s also having trouble holding onto workers, WSF says, for reasons including abusive customers.
So, WSF managers said today at the first of two online community meetings, they’re trying something new: Violate the Code of Conduct, and you’ll get handed a yellow card. Rule violations could even lead to WSF calling in the State Patrol to have you “trespassed” – ordered to stay away from WSF vessels/facilities. Here’s what the card will say on its two sides (printed on yellow stock, WSF says):
Ferry riders will hear announcements about this soon. The new effort is needed, WSF says, because its employees are subject to abuse including threats and racist and sexist insults. “We can’t rebuild this workforce if employees don’t feel it’s safe or if they feel we aren’t supporting them.” Will line-cutting be included? asked one meeting attendee. No, WSF says, as most of that happens off WSF property.
Here’s what else the hour-and-a-half meeting – which will be offered again at 6 pm Thursday – touched on:
BACK TO THE STAFFING SHORTAGE: As was explained at the last round of ferry-system community meetings six months ago, WSF is short on people, and that’s a major factor holding up full restoration of service on many routes. (The Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route has been on two boats instead of three for many months.) So WSF leaders including top boss Patty Rubstello and chief of staff Nicole McIntosh exhaustively explained training and recruiting efforts, after detailing the shortage:
They’re also working on accelerating training programs aimed at moving employees up the ladder: “In essence, we’re growing our own.” Once they have more qualified crew members, they’ll be more able to fully restore routes. Another six-week training program starts this weekend. In some cases they’re also trying to make the positions more attractive – offering more full-time work, for example.
SPEAKING OF RESTORING ROUTES: WSF is currently testing restored full service on the Edmonds/Kingston route, and once that’s declared a success, it’ll be on to testing restored full three-boat service on the Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth route. No projected date, though.
VESSEL SHORTAGE: Having enough boats is also vital, along with having enough crew. Part of that involves maintenance and repair of the current fleet; WSF says three boats that would otherwise be retired soon will have to be kept in service – Yakima, Kaleetan, Tillikum. It’s also working toward building five new hybrid-electric ferries, though the first won’t be ready before mid-2027; M/V Wenatchee is being converted to hybrid-electric and will be back in service on the Seattle/Bainbridge route early next year.
FAUNTLEROY TERMINAL PROJECT: WSF offered quick updates on projects including this one. Rubstello noted that more than 700 community comments have been received in the past year. Next milestone is completion of the Planning and Environmental Linkage study by year’s end. (That appears to be a timeline slip, as the project website lists midyear for completion.) She reiterated that two options are now under consideration – either rebuilding the dock/terminal at its current size or expanding it, in the current location, to 124 to 186 cars. Later, in Q&A, someone asked if a second slip was under consideration. WSF’s David Sowers said it’s not currently in the plan but wouldn’t rule it out if it were shown to have “a significant operational value.”
ONE MORE NOTE: Toward the start of the meeting, Rubstello offered some toplines from the past year:
A recording will be posted to the WSF website, but in the meantime, you’re invited to see/hear the same content presented at 6 pm tomorrow night (with written Q/A accepted during the meeting) – register here to get the link.
P.S. Here’s the full slide deck from the meeting.
Two West Seattle Crime Watch reports this evening:
THIEVES SHUT DOWN ANOTHER CHARGER: Thanks for the tips. Seattle City Light confirms that both of its electric-vehicle chargers on 39th SW are out of service because of theft. One charger’s cable was cut/stolen in November; now the same thing has happened to the other charger. And SCL’s Jenn Strang told WSB today the charger hit first was hit again last month: “The cables on the northern station at Alaska Junction were stolen in November and December and cables on the southern station were stolen between January 9th and 10th. Given that all cables have been lost at the Alaska Junction location, City Light was unfortunately forced to set these stations to unavailable.” So what’s the plan now? we asked: “In November, we submitted a request for a full contingent of replacement parts for both stations and still await delivery from the manufacturer. We are looking at solutions to help mitigate this issue moving forward, while also attempting to source replacement and back up parts to minimize downtime impacting our customers.” We also asked how widespread the problem is; Strang replied, “City Light has had cables stolen from 8 chargers in the last year, and we are seeing similar impacts to other public charging providers.”
One item from today’s police reports:
THWARTED ESCAPE IN STOLEN CAR: Around quarter past 10 this morning in the 7700 block of Detroit SW in southeast West Seattle, police say, they spotted what turned out to be a stolen Ford Escape. As they drove up to the front of the parked car, its driver threw it in reverse – crashing into an SPD vehicle behind it – then, trying to go forward, crashed into the SPD vehicle in front. Police say this cycle repeated until the driver, a 33-year-old woman, finally surrendered. According to their report, they found – either on her or in the vehicle – “multiple credit cards, checks, IDs, and more than 200 pieces of mail, which did not appear to belong to the suspect (and) a ballistic vest … that had been stolen from a law enforcement agency.” She was booked into King County Jail.
(SDOT time-lapse video of Sunday’s cylinder removal)
As we reported on Sunday, SDOT has removed the leaky turning cylinder from the West Seattle low bridge (aka Spokane Street Swing Bridge) and is now doing testing that will help determine how soon it can reopen to street/path traffic. From SDOT’s update this afternoon:
Bridge engineers are continuing to work to reconfigure the eastern span of the bridge to run on one turning cylinder and continue testing to verify when the bridge can safely be reopened. …
Bridge engineers have reprogrammed the computer system which controls the bridge equipment, and are now working to reconfigure the hydraulic system to function with one cylinder. Technicians are replacing the valves and hoses on the hydraulic power unit pumps which send fluid to the cylinders that open and close the bridge. During testing this week, engineers determined that several of these valves were broken and needed to be replaced to ensure the bridge operates safely and reliably.
Once the hydraulic power unit pump valves and hoses have been replaced, bridge operators will continue testing the bridge systems to determine when it can safely be reopened to the public. People may see the bridge moving as we open and close the bridge for these tests.
Once the bridge reopens, the eastern span of the bridge will operate on the one remaining turning cylinder while the broken cylinder is being refurbished. During this time, opening and closing the bridge for passing ships will take about 10-15 minutes longer than usual.
The low bridge has been closed to drivers, riders, and foot traffic since December 23rd. SDOT says the leaky cylinder and others were planned for overhauls anyway – and the breakdown forced the process to accelerate. The cylinder removed Sunday is now at a hydraulic-repair shop.
Busiest week of the month for meetings – here are toplines from last night’s monthly meeting of the Fauntleroy Community Association board.
FERRY DOCK PROJECT: No new developments in planning for the Washington State Ferries dock/terminal replacement. Meantime, FCA has sent letters and petitions of support – with more than 700 signatures – to urge the City Council to renew its longstanding opposition to expanding the doc when it’s rebuilt. This week’s WSF community meetings were also mentioned (we just covered the first one, held at noontime today, and will publish our report later today; you can sign up here for the 6 pm Thursday meeting).
SDOT WALKING TOUR FOLLOWUP: What happens next after their tour four weeks ago with SDOT director Greg Spotts (WSB coverage here)? They haven’t heard anything yet.
NEW TRANSPORTATION CONCERN: In addition to fees going up this year for Restricted Parking Zone permits, the city is no longer issuing stickers to permit holders – your license plate will go into the system, and that’s it. So how will someone know to report a violator? it was asked. (Not to mention, it was pointed out, the restricted time period in the Fauntleroy RPZ is 2-5 am, and currently Parking Enforcement Officers aren’t on duty during those hours anyway.)
SAVE THE DATE: The annual Fauntleroy Food Fest – the FCA’s annual general-membership meeting, with attendance incentives including tastes from local eateries – is currently set for March 21st at The Hall at Fauntleroy (9131 California SW).
BOARD RECRUITING: They’ve had some attrition lately so will be going to the community soon to recruit new members.
The Fauntleroy Community Association board meets at 7 pm second Tuesdays most months, and anyone with an interest in Fauntleroy is always welcome, in person or online.
Just announced by Seattle Public Utilities:
On January 10, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) responded to a sewer overflow due to a broken side sewer located along Beach Dr near Cormorant Cove. As a result, beaches in the area are closed to water activities, including Cormorant Cove as well as beach access between 61st Ave SW and SW Charlestown St.
Staff will sample the water and work with Public Health-Seattle & King County and Seattle Parks Department to determine when the area can be safely reopened. We will provide an update when we have more information.
SPU is working with the property owner, and repair of the side sewer is scheduled for Friday, January 13.
If you find flooding or sewer backups, please report them to the SPU 24/7 Operations Response Center at 206-386-1800.
This area’s had private-property sewage problems before; SPU confirms this is also at the address from which those problems originated, the Harbor West built-over-water condominiums.
(This morning’s rainbow – photo sent by Susanna)
From community meetings to nightlife, here’s a reminder of what’s yet to come on this Wednesday:
FERRY MEETING: 12:30 pm, you’re invited to the first of two community meetings for Washington State Ferries‘ winter updates, including the service-restoration plan (Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth is one of the routes awaiting full restoration). Register here to get the link.
TRIVIA x 6: At 6 pm, Locust Cider (2820 Alki SW) now offers trivia … at 7 pm, you can play trivia at the West Seattle Brewing Mothership (4415 Fauntleroy Way SW); Larry’s Tavern (3405 California SW) hosts Wednesday-night trivia starting at 7:30 pm; there’s 7:30 and 8:30 pm Sporcle Pub Quiz at The Lodge (4209 SW Alaska); trivia starts at 8 pm at Beveridge Place Pub (6413 California SW); at 8:30 pm, trivia at Talarico’s (4718 California SW) with Phil T.
LIVE AT EPHESUS: Kimball & The Fugitive Trio now plays Ephesus Greek Restaurant (5245 California SW), 6:30 pm Wednesdays.
LIVE AT LOCOL: Locöl (7902 35th SW) spotlights live music 6:30-8:30 pm Wednesdays, no cover, 21+, rotating artists.
34TH DDs CHOOSE LEADERSHIP: 7 pm online, our area’s largest political organization, the 34th Legislative District Democrats, choose their new leadership. Register here to get the link.
MUSIC BINGO: Play weekly at The Good Society (California/Lander), 7 pm.
SKYLARK OPEN MIC: 7:30 pm signups @ West Seattle’s longest-running open mic – no cover to watch. (3803 Delridge Way SW)
Have an event – one-time or recurring – to add to West Seattle’s only comprehensive event calendar? Please email email@example.com – thank you!
9:57 AM: We’re getting multiple reports that Chief Sealth International High School and Denny International Middle School are/have been in “shelter in place.” We’re checking with SPD; its Twitter call log classifies a call earlier this hour as “weapon”-related, but that only indicates what was reported, not necessarily what was found.
10:10 AM: And now (thanks again for the tips) we’re told the SIP has been lifted. Haven’t heard back yet from SPD or Seattle Public Schools but we just found the original dispatch audio – someone at CSIHS thought they saw someone with a gun possibly “trying to make entry to the school.”
10:18 AM: SPS spokesperson Tim Robinson tells WSB, “This involved a situation with one student at one of the schools. There was a false report regarding a possible weapon. It turned out to be nothing.”
10:45 AM: An SPD spokesperson also confirms, “We received a report of a suspicious person in the 2600 block of SW Thistle. Officers investigated and did not find any evidence of a crime.”
11:05 AM: SPD adds, “While police were unable to find any indication of a crime, officers will continue to have a presence in the area.”
SIDE NOTE: The two schools’ PTSAs were already planning a joint meeting for next week, 7 pm Tuesday (January 17th) at the Sealth library, with both principals scheduled to discuss the campus safety plan.
Help keep others warm for the rest of this winter! Here’s an invitation from Alki Beach Pride:
Do you have gently used teen/adult clothes & coats looking for a new home?
Alki Beach Pride is hosting a Coat & Clothing drive to help a cause that is close to our hearts, We would love the help of our community in donating at one of our many drop off locations.
Huge shout out to the businesses supporting us this year for our first ever coat drive 🌈☺️ We couldn’t do it without you. Thank you, thank you, thank you
• Admiral Theatre
• Berkshire Hathaway, Ramone Myers
• Harry’s Beach House
• The Lumber Yard Bar
• Tibbetts United Methodist Church
• Youngstown Coffee
& thank YOU for looking through your closet for a cause – West Seattle is the Best Seattle
The drive continues until January 27th.
8:57 AM: Texters report an incident is blocking the Delridge onramp to the bridge. … SDOT says it’s a stalled vehicle.
9:07 AM: Moving again.
6:01 AM: Good morning! It’s Wednesday, January 11th.
This is the 20th day the low bridge has been closed to surface traffic.
We’re awaiting word on what’s next after SDOT removed a leaky cylinder Sunday.
We reported Tuesday on what’s happening with 35th/Avalon and two nearby intersections.
Rain returning today, high in the low 50s.
TODAY’S TRANSIT STATUS
Reminder that while the low bridge is out of service for surface traffic, free Metro/Water Taxi rides are available via an app.
–Metro is on a regular schedule today but still down buses for repairs (we’ve asked for an update on how many are still out) – keep watching notification channels such as @kcmetroalerts for trip cancellations and route suspensions.
-The West Seattle Water Taxi is on its regular schedule.
-WSF’s Triangle Route remains on its two-boat schedule- check here for alerts/updates.
Delridge cameras: Updating this recent report, five are now live. Besides the one below (Delridge/Genesee), cameras are also up at Delridge/Oregon, Delridge/Juneau, Delridge/Orchard, and Delridge/Henderson.
If you see a problem on the roads/paths/water, please text or call us (when you can do so safely) – 206-293-6302.
(Reader photo, South Park on December 27)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
With more than four dozen South Park homes and businesses suffering “substantial damage” in flooding two weeks ago, a City Council committee convened a briefing Tuesday morning. They heard city departments recount what they’ve done since what one speaker described as an “absolutely extraordinary event.”
The City Council’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee also wanted to know what’s being planned in case the Duwamish River has another disastrous spillover – particularly, what’s being done to prevent a potential repeat during winter’s final “king tides” in less than two weeks.
Senior Deputy Mayor Monisha Harrell led the multi-department delegation. Here’s the full slide deck that was shown, and you can watch the video starting 1 hour, 6 minutes in:
Key numbers: 49 homes and businesses “have substantial damage.” 14 agencies are involved in the response/recovery operation. In the city response, the Office of Emergency Management is helping with some on-scene work, but Seattle Public Utilities and Human Services are most involved. They’re working with King County to find “funding opportunities,” possibly from the state. But they repeatedly stressed the importance of the community-based organizations that are involved, especially the Duwamish River Community Coalition.
SPU deputy director Keri Burchard-Juarez said SPU had sandbags and an advance contract with Just Health Action. But forecasters did not predict that the river would overtop its banks so “we really weren’t prepared” for that. But it happened, and they worked to provide emergency housing for up to 15 families, as well as setting up a trailer and tents (as we reported last week), plus portable showers, toilets, and laundry facilities.
They’ve moved on to focus on cleanup, including inside people’s homes, and the focuses this week also include hazardous-materials mitigation. They had a community meeting with flood victims last weekend and will have another within a few weeks.
Regarding preparing for the next king tide – it’s predicted to be two feet lower than December 27th, but the wild card would be a low-pressure storm system causing a similar situation. SPU will implement an Incident Command Structure, will monitor weather very closely, will have an on-site presence. They’ve also observed several locations along river where it overtopped and will strategically place sandbags there, as well as trying to get a berm installed at one location, an under-construction pump station, 8th, Chicago. “Putting in as many precautions as possible.”
What happened “was absolutely extraordinary” and yet they’ve known something like this was coming, city reps acknowledged. They’ve been working for five years to develop a “resiliency district” for the Duwamish Valley, including South Park and Georgetown. They’ve been looking at property acquisition along the river. They know there will be “future investment needs.” SPU has already been working on a road improvement and drainage project. And they’ve worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on a cost-benefit analysis for more potential work.
The Human Services Department talked about assistance for flood victims, including collaboration with the community organizations and check-ins “every 24 to 48 hours” with the affected people, plus ensuring they have housing and food.
When does the housing assistance expire? asked City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who chairs the committee. HSD told her it’s now been extended until at least the end of the month. The homes are being evaluated for safety – mold, asbestos, etc. She also wanted to know from SPU, how much more studying needed to be done before action is taken: “We don’t always have to do things sequentially, we can do them simultaneously.” SPU general manager Andrew Lee explained that his mention of a “feasibility study” to be done was not redundant with previous work such as the cost-benefit analysis. That analysis, he added, shows a “high benefit” from doing certain flood-control work, so this will evaluate the options more closely. Meantime, the city is meeting with the congressional delegation to talk about potential federal funding.
HOW YOU CAN HELP: This wasn’t part of the discussion, but you can still support the community groups who also are working with the flood victims – find links and info here.
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