By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Crime updates and parking enforcement were the primary topics at last night’s Southwest Precinct Crime Prevention Council meeting, facilitated in person and online by chair Melody Sarkies and the precinct’s Crime Prevention Coordinator Jennifer Danner.
POLICE UPDATE: Lt. Dorothy Kim, the precinct’s second-in-command, offered the same overview we’ve heard at other recent community meetings – most categories of crime are down, except for auto theft, which remains way up. One other category that’s up, homicides – West Seattle has had four unsolved shooting deaths in the past six months. Lt. Kim said she had checked with homicide detectives about the most recent two. In the case of 20-year-old Ka’Don Brown, found dead a month ago on the Chief Sealth International High School campus, investigators are “waiting on search warrants” and also still hoping to hear from people with tips, information, or security video that might help (206-233-5000 is the tipline).
In this week’s shooting death of 41-year-old Chad Anderson, found dead on 15th SW between Barton and Cambridge, Lt. Kim said the murder was “probably associated with a house we’ve had issues with in the past,” though she didn’t know whether that house was near where the victim was found (there was some question that morning about whether the shooting had happened there or elsewhere).
There also was a question about the unauthorized encampment at Myers/Olson. No new information since the meeting we covered at Arrowhead Gardens on Monday, just a reiteration that “working with (multiple jurisdictions’ bureaucracies) is slow.”
PARKING ENFORCEMENT: Clayton Harrington, who’s been with city for barely a month, is Parking Enforcement Manager. RV remediation “is a big issue for us,” They have rules and laws to follow. Also there was SDOT’s engineering and design manager Matt Beaulieu – “we’re doubling down on Vision Zero” to improve safety. He said various strategies are being emphasized – “no turn on red” is a big one, Home Zones, trying to focus on where the majority of our collisions occur. Safety work is not its own silo, Beaulieu said. What are you going to do to solve the safety problem? asked Sarkies. “If it was easy, we would have already done it,” Beaulieu acknowledged.
Fauntleroy residents were there to ask about concerns regarding the Residential Parking Zone going to “virtual permits,” no more tags hanging in cars, so no simple way to know if someone’s in violation, and they don’t want to call a police officer to come scan a car to see if they’re permitted or not. Over time, people from Vashon and Kitsap may go back to parking on the streets overnight, if they find it’s not being enforced. Another Fauntleroy resident said houses were long unmarketable in that area because the streets were overparked. The RPZ solved that, but now, “It’s being violated every day,” he said.
Another attendee brought up the RV-parking situation and wondered what PEOs can really do. Harrington said he was at the meeting to hear about challenges and concerns like that. Harrington said he couldn’t commit to bringing on personnel in the middle of the night to check for RPZ offenders, though. “Right now we barely have resources to deal with the stuff we need to deal with in the middle of the day.”
And there’s an important point, said Lt. Kim – SPD doesn’t have the technical capability to read whether plates are signed up with the RPZ system; their plate numbers can detect if a car is stolen or not, and that’s it. Harrington said he wasn’t previously familiar with that issue so he doesn’t know yet what’s being done about it. It could run afoul of the city’s surveillance policies – as city attorney liaison Joe Everett noted, another review process might be needed to expand the readers to check something else, such as whether a vehicle is permitted to park in a certain zone. This might require City Council changing the laws. Lt. Kim suggested one problem regarding junk RVs might be that Lincoln Towing‘s yard is out of room to store more.
Next question again from Fauntleroy – the plan for getting speed bumps seems to have changed, with residents having to pay part of the cost, she said. And, she said, SDOT told her the process of getting a speed bump could take four years. “It seemed like a lost cause,” she said. She said another block had paid to get an unauthorized speed bump installed at their own cost and maybe her block would just do the same, “since SDOT never came and took it out.” Beaulieu said that the formerly well-supported Neighborhood Traffic Control Program went away around pandemic time and was largely replaced by the Home Zone program that installed many dozens of traffic control bumps and other things while the West Seattle Bridge was closed. What they’re asking people to do now is to go through Neighborhood Matching Fund – and that’s where the neighborhood covering part of the cost comes in. “We recognize that’s not an ideal process,” Beaulieu acknowledged. But right now “that’s the best tool we have.” The attendee said, “But the more the city puts speed humps on arterials, the more people gravitate toward residential streets.” She mentioned rogue traffic-calming attempts like putting garbage cans in the street to try to slow people down.
An online attendee asked about no-parking signs that have been discussed for Harbor Avenue – “no parking 11 pm to 5 am,” for example, even if it’s not regularly enforced. The Harbor Avenue rep at the in-person session said there are also proposals out to change zoning so that RV parking wouldn’t be legally allowable on the water side of the street. He said that all the residents’ proposals have been turned over to the mayor’s office.
NIGHT OUT: Registration opened this week. Danner said the registration process is a bit different this year – you can opt into a “public-facing map” of street parties if you want to. SPD will also proactively send out important info to registrants, such as how to properly close their street, how to tell whether their street is an arterial, etc. Night Out is Tuesday, August 1st, this year.
NEXT MEETING: Tentatively set for Thursday, June 8, 6 pm, with Jim Fuda of CrimeStoppers as a spotlight guest.