911 explained, crime stats detailed, ‘natural drainage’ project updates, more at HPAC’s first 2024 meeting

January 25, 2024 12:28 pm
|    Comments Off on 911 explained, crime stats detailed, ‘natural drainage’ project updates, more at HPAC’s first 2024 meeting
 |   Delridge | Highland Park | Neighborhoods | West Seattle news

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Another in-person meeting last night began the 2024 calendar for HPAC, the community coalition for Highland Park, Riverview, and South Delridge. They’re testing various locations since their longtime meeting quarters at Highland Park Improvement Club remain out of commission, so last night’s meeting was held at Southwest Library, which meant an earlier start and fixed cutoff time, since the branch clears meeting rooms 15 minutes before 8 pm closing time.

Nonetheless, the 1 1/4-hour meeting facilitated by HPAC co-chair Kay Kirkpatrick delivered plenty of information. Here’s how it unfolded:

SEATTLE POLICE: The Southwest Precinct team that’s appeared at multiple recent community meetings, Lt. Josh Ziemer and community liaison Officer German Barreto, were asked about the shooting death at Southwest Pool/Teen Life Center on Tuesday, but said they could not divulge any updates. In crime stats, so far this year, Highland Park had three assaults, 6 motor-vehicle-related thefts (car prowls, etc.), 7 motor-vehicle thefts and attempted thefts, including “one restolen from a tow lot,” 1 aggravated assault, 1 attempted burglary, 1 store robbery, 1 residential burglary. 2 larceny (one attempted mail theft and one mail theft). Year to year, 2023 compared to 2022, homicides, aggravated assaults up, motor vehicle thefts up, burglaries down.

For South Delridge, also in HPAC’s coverage area – so far this year 2 assaults, one motor vehicle theft, one hit-run, one business burglary, one robbery (phone snatch) – robberies are down year to year, thefts down, except for vehicle thefts, which are up.

Asked about the 1st/Cloverdale encampment just off the sharp turn west of Highway 509:

Officer Barreto said he’s “on it” but it’s mostly state property, so a state-coordinated effort is needed, as with the encampments on highway right-of-way east of Myers Way and near the 1st Avenue South Bridge; they hope that will happen soon (we’re following up with WSDOT). He said the city’s Unified Care Team has been going in to try to connect people at the encampment with services. The attendee who asked about the encampment said in the meantime it’s an urgent traffic hazard because cars are partly blocking the road right on that curve. Barreto said that SPD has been trying to at least get a no-parking sign for that spot.

CARE DEPARTMENT: The city’s third and newest public-safety department was explained by Davonte Belle, a former dispatcher and 911 supervisor now working as strategic adviser for community engagement. 911 has been separated from SPD since 2022 but the CARE Department was just recently created. “We actually enjoy being away from PD and having our freedom” – it’s what he advocated for as president of the guild. “But we still support them, they’re our customer.” Crisis-response teams started up last fall – sometimes as a dual response with SPD – and that’s part of CARE as well. The team of 6 is focused on the downtown core right now but they’re hoping to expand later this year. They hope to scale up to 24 so they can work around the clock, and eventually citywide “but we’re not sure where we’re going to go (next)” – probably not here, though. Goal is to free up police and fire from welfare checks, downed people, etc. and to “make 911 the main data hub.”

Speaking of 911, Belle acknowledged people perplexed by “the questions that we ask” when you call – first he noted that 911 has had “a huge” turnover in past few years, lost 50 people last year – about 75 percent of current staff has less than five years experience – “just give them some time.”

How to be a better caller? he also was asked. Just let the calltaker direct your call – don’t just blurt out a lot of information the second someone answers. The first thing they really need to now is your location – they don’t necessarily automatically see it — “know where you’re at.” If you’re at a business and don’t know its address, give them the name. They need descriptions of people too, so they know who they’re looking for (not just the suspect but others involved). Also important to understand that if you don’t want contact, “there’s not a lot that (responders) can do” – they can’t take action without talking to you. Where does your info go when you call? The calltaker is sitting in front of multiple monitors – “as you’re talking to us, we’re entering the information into the system.”

HOLDEN NATURAL DRAINAGE SYSTEMS UPDATE: Project manager Wan-Yee Kuo from Seattle Public Utilities led this briefing on the project planned for SW Holden west of 16th, with its intent both cleansing runoff water in the Longfellow Creek basin, and traffic calming. After recapping background, here’s what she said:

Currently they’re “a little past mid-design” (as noted before a neighborhood pop-up in November). They’ve talked with community members and heard concerns about components including parking removal resulting from moving the curb line. (She also noted the property transfer planned for the ex-substation in the project zone – a requedt for proposals will be out in spring, and a developer will likely be chosen by fall, and construction will be in the next three to five years.)

Also explained by the team accompanying Kuo: The existing speed cushions will remain (but be refreshed); with 17th/Holden intersection narrowing, they’ll be putting in some more drainage facilities. Water will come in via curb cuts and pipes, percolating through bioretention soil, into underlying rock. All the facilities will be maintained by SPU.

They’ll take about six more months to get to full design, going out to bid in fall, and expecting to go into construction in early 2025, though Puget Sound Energy will be doing some utility-relocation work this year. Next project outreach event is planned in April/May.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT COMMISSION: Marcus White visited HPAC to explain what this city-convened advisory group is doing. More than seven years have passed since then-Mayor Ed Murray caused an uproar among established neighborhood groups around the city by announcing the commission as a replacement for longtime city support of those groups; White said the mission remains helping people who are historically underrepresented and disenfranchised get more engaged. But the commission advises the city on how to do that, rather than doing the engagement work itself. Nonetheless, here he was, visiting HPAC, saying that the commission hopes to become a “nexus” between city government, community groups, and the City Council, and is currently in a “trial and error mode.” The commission also is trying to be “situationally aware of what’s going on” – he for example is personally troubled by trends such as last year’s historically low turnout in city elections and wondering how to combat that trend. HPAC said it would welcome advice on reaching more of its community members; White suggested that showing “advocacy for people’s problems” would be a good step. (White is also a leader of the Queen Anne Community Council.)

WHAT’S NEXT: HPAC meets many months on fourth Wednesdays – time and location TBA since as mentioned earlier, they’re in roving mode – watch hpacinfo.wordpress.com for updates.

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