Decision delayed for Delridge/Highland Park ‘Healthy Streets’ future, HPAC hears at April meeting

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Alki Point Healthy Street: Permanent.

High Point Healthy Street: Permanent.

Delridge/Highland Park Healthy Streets: Undecided.

And it might remain that way until late this year, the community coalition HPAC heard last night at its monthly meeting, facilitated by co-chair Kay Kirkpatrick.

SDOT’s Michael Taylor-Judd was there for the discussion during HPAC’s meeting at Southwest Library. He stressed that while he’s an outreach person for the Healthy Streets program, he’s not a decisionmaker, but promised he would convey what he heard. Here’s the stretch under discussion:

Taylor-Judd said it will get upgraded signage by summer, he said. He was asked to describe what a “Healthy Street” is; he went back to their pandemic roots, acknowledging the city said it was originally temporary, but “what we heard from the public was that people really liked the increased space” to walk, roll, and ride. “That led to an evaluation of all of them … to see if this is something that neighborhoods want to keep or not.” In most cases (Alki Point being an exception) these were rolled out on streets already designated as greenways, Taylor-Judd said. They are intended to be “safer routes” for people to use. They were evaluated on factors such as whether more people are walking, rolling and biking, is there neighborhood support, are fewer people driving? The stats he showed dated back to 2020 and 2021, but he said new data is to be collected soon. Two attendees said they haven’t seen pedestrian or bicyclist traffic on these stretches of streets. He said the decision is not likely to be made until year’s end, later than originally thought. The three questions would be:

-What part of the network should be kept/improved?
-What kind of barriers, amenities, signage are preferred?
-What part(s) should return to general usage?

Taylor-Judd explained that Healthy Street signage says Street Closed for legal requirements but they really are “local access.”

When the floor was opened for questions/comments, one person mentioned signage that obstructs view when turning. If the Healthy Street is made permanent, it will have smaller signage, Taylor-Judd said.

A resident near 18th/Trenton pointed to the problem with the Healthy Street designation for Trenton – nobody walks or rolls because traffic makes it too dangerous, she said. People are coming through off 16th and turning onto Trenton.
“Let’s open it back up,” she implored. “We need to allow the rest of our community to use the historic arterial. … Please, I wish it would go away.” Taylor-Judd said that as the outreach person, he’s heard a lot of feedback along those lines. No one in attendance countered that. Kirkpatrick said Trenton in that area is a vital corridor for the area – to get to food, schools, etc., that east-west route is important. Further east, what about near Highland Park Elementary? Another attendee said drivers have to dodge the signage in the area and it just needs to open up. Yet another said he’s in favor of removing all barricades that “block the street.”

17th is a greenway in the area. So what’s the difference between a Healthy Street and a greenway? Taylor-Judd was then asked. Not much, currently, he said, “but I think you will see more distance in the future between the two.” with SDOT planning and implementing more-permanent features that will further discourage cut-through driving.

Another area resident said he supports many sections of Healthy Street and has often replaced signage that is moved or defaced. It’s a subject of tension, he said, recounting how one neighbor “has even threatened (an SDOT worker) with a gun,” he said, adding that the problem in his view is drivers’ bad behavior, not the signage. But that bad behavior is a result of the signage, others countered; the resident begged to differ, saying he bikes “thousands of miles” through the city each year and sees many examples of that “bad behavior.” Taylor-Judd said they hear the gamut of comments, from people who want streets to be cars-only to people who want streets to be car-free.

Next concern voiced was about drivers who feel they can “park anywhere they want” or “any way they want” including both sides of a street, rendering it one lane – which, Taylor-Judd said, is legal.

Also brought up: All the speed bumps added in recent years, mostly as part of the Home Zone program. An attendee who said they mostly seem unnecessary to him but there’s “one block” of 10th between Henderson and Trenton (near HP Elementary) where at least one would be helpful.

The meeting time ran out, but Taylor-Judd stressed that this stretch of Healthy Street is still open for community feedback until fall – or 206-900-8760 – leave a message and Taylor-Judd or someone else on the outreach team will call you back.

In closing, Kirkpatrick asked about the goal of the evaluation. Everything on the map in purple is yet to be decided, said Taylor-Judd, so they need to figure out what to do about that. What’s the process? she then asked, hoping for a “more robust process.” He said more traffic-data gathering is planned as well as more outreach to community groups and other advocacy groups, local schools, etc. “If you want to make sure you don’t miss any updates,” sign up for project emails via the website. Kirkpatrick clarified, “I think what the community is hoping is that there’s not a quiet time and then suddenly a decision drops.” Taylor-Judd said he’d do his best to ensure it doesn’t play out that way.

SEATTLE POLICE: Earlier, HPAC heard from SPD Community Liaison Officer German Barreto. Highland Park and South Delridge crime stats: Most categories including aggravated assaults and burglary are down year to year, he said; remember that if something does happen, call 911 (NOT the non-emergency number, he reminded everyone – the calltaker will “triage you” and figure out the best way to deal with your call). One person voiced concern about RVs on Henderson and “sexual activity”; that too would be a 911 call, Barreto said. What about illegal parking in general? asked another attendee. Officer Barreto said they have to try to get people to voluntarily comply – especially if it’s a vehicle in which someone seems to be living – rather than aggressively towing as in long-ago days. Is there any initiative to bring back more Community Police Team officers, as they had years ago? Barreto noted that he’s the lone “community liaison” for this precinct, a job five people used to do, and addition of more is unlikely any time soon because of the SPD staffing crunch. Speaking of the staffing crunch, any hope of it easing? asked another person. Short answer, not right now, in the officer’s view … he said they’ve been making suggestions to councilmembers, though, for ways to enhance hiring and retention, such as offering medical coverage after retirement, which some other police departments do. … He reminded everyone that Saturday’s Drug Take-Back Day also will feature free shredding, up to three boxes, 10 am-2 pm at the Southwest Precinct (2300 SW Webster).

DELRIDGE TRIANGLE PARK: Kirkpatrick had another update on this SDOT-owned site that community members had long hoped to convert into a park – the city’s eventual plan is to vacate the 18th SW street end so that the triangle can be joined with another nearby piece of city-owned land.

GREENBELT HIKES: West Duwamish Greenbelt Trails‘ free guided monthly hikes have launched – 30 people showed up last Saturday, said Craig Rankin. Next one is May 18.

NEXT HPAC MEETING: The coalition meets fourth Wednesday most months, various locations and/or online. Watch the HPAC website for updates.

24 Replies to "Decision delayed for Delridge/Highland Park 'Healthy Streets' future, HPAC hears at April meeting"

  • Marianne McCord April 25, 2024 (6:36 pm)

    There has been huge opposition to the Trenton St. closure. The signage/ barriers caused real public safety issues. Trenton St is a vital traffic street for the residents of Highland Park and South Delridge neighborhoods- we use it to get to Westwood Village, HP Elem, HP Corner  Store, Westcrest Park, the dog park, Southwest Library, etc.  Most importantly, the Trenton St. closure has never been utilized in the same manner as the already approved Stay Healthy Streets listed in this article.   You will NEVER see anyone “walk,  roll, ride” down the middle Trenton Street- there are sidewalks on both sides and the number of cars have not decreased significantly to make it a viable option to do so. At last night’s HPAC meeting, NO ONE voiced the opinion that Trenton street closure should become permanent. You’ve asked for it, you’ve got the feedback….SDOT and the City of Seattle PLEASE listen to the residents of Highland Park and South Delridge- RESTORE TRENTON STREET AS IT WAS IN 2020- DO NOT MAKE IT A PERMANENT HEALTHY STREET!!!!

    • Keep Trenton Healthy April 25, 2024 (10:39 pm)

      I’m sorry, wat? I didn’t use Trenton before 2020 and the only time I have used it is on bike And walking. All of the places you listed I go to as well and there are plenty of ways to get there. Cannot fathom how it saves any time given the light at Delridge. FTR, I do roll in the street and when I use it, it doesn’t seem to have nearly as much traffic as Holden, Thistle, or Henderson. haven’t heard any one complaining about this and seriously question the public safety claims. Count me in the side of making it permanent. 

    • Bbron April 26, 2024 (10:56 am)

      “You will NEVER see anyone “walk… down the middle Trenton Street” incorrect. this is the most frequent street i walk in once a week (i live in the Westwood Village area)

      • Kyle April 27, 2024 (9:30 am)

        Just use the sidewalk.

  • AMD April 25, 2024 (7:08 pm)

    I generally like the Highland Park one, but the intersection of 17th & Trenton is a problem – if you come upon the intersection without knowing it becomes a healthy street, you have nowhere to go except making a u-turn, which is not the safest maneuver for pedestrians.  Hopefully they can address this when deciding the future of this healthy street.

    • Bbron April 26, 2024 (10:52 am)

      “nowhere to go except making a u-turn” with the intersection being a traffic circle that’s a none issue, right? if a driver is struggling to safely perform a full turn around a traffic circle, i’d be more concerned they’re on the road at all.

      • AMD April 26, 2024 (7:21 pm)

        That’s the problem.  Either the circle is within the “healthy street” zone and cars aren’t supposed to use it, or it’s meant for cars to use and the two “healthy streets” are disconnected from each other at the intersection.  It’s not a design that’s helpful for cars OR pedestrians, so it seems like a good candidate for further review.  

        • Bbron April 26, 2024 (8:17 pm)

          not really a unique problem to this intersection b/c every intersection between a healthy street and a regular street has the option of thru traffic crossing it. by your definition of “disconnected”, no healthy street in unbroken past a block. using the traffic circle to turn around would actually have less impact b/c instead of traffic speeding on thru (witnessed quite a few drivers ignoring the stop signs as a bonus) they should be slowing as they approach the intersection and see the incoming street is closed. this intersection is no more special than any other, and drivers struggling to navigate it, again, should probably not be driving at all.

  • Seth April 25, 2024 (7:53 pm)

    I personally love walking on 26th ave though I wish there was more barriers to thru traffic. People fly by all the time, so many people walk the street but people cruise down the street.

  • Cs in hp April 26, 2024 (6:09 am)

    Please open Trenton up again, I haven’t heard of anyone that actually lives in highland park, except that one person that commented above, who wants to keep Trenton closed to traffic, it’s a vital route for the neighborhood and we hate the signs and visual clutter everywhere this program has caused, much less the stupid dance cars have to do to get around those signs. It’s stressful for everyone. Please remove it and clean it all up. 

    • 1994 April 26, 2024 (10:04 pm)

      Maybe the locals there should just remove it? The signs  definitely create an unsafe situation.  SDOT created an unsafe situation with those signs and sure seems like a liability suit waiting to happen. Our tax dollars waiting for a lawsuit.

  • Jeepney April 26, 2024 (6:40 am)

    Encouraging pedestrians to walk on streets designed for automobiles is lunacy.  There are perfectly good sidewalks in place to walk on, let alone an abundance of parks to exercise in the immediate area.  

    • Bbron April 26, 2024 (10:59 am)

      streets are not only for automobiles. lessening them from a street improves the experience for all other modes. i encourage you to expand your imagination and think outside a ca maximalist mindset.

  • Jack April 26, 2024 (8:57 am)

    The people that are truly inconvenienced by the city’s transportation planning are not drivers, but people who want to use other modes of transportation to navigate safely through the city. I’m sorry, but drivers complaining they have to slow down at Healthy Street signs in the neighborhood is laughable. Sorry you can’t speed along like you used to. That said, I do find the Healthy Streets program to generally be a waste of time and money. Putting up signs and markings in the street to say they are “safe” is arguably more laughable than drivers complaining they have to slow down a bit. Does anyone – especially pedestrians, bikers, families, and kids – think their streets are any safer because some paint in the road says it is? No chance. What we need to do is redesign our main arterials like Henderson, 9th, and Roxbury. This includes wider sidewalks, bike lanes, and narrower roads. Henderson is such a sad eyesore in the community. It’s nearly as wide as Roxbury and encourages dangerous speeds. There is no safe place to cross from the south side of Highland Park to the north side. I’d say instead of shutting Trenton down, let’s focus our attention on roads and space with much simpler solutions.

    • KM April 26, 2024 (1:19 pm)

      Spot on, Jack.

  • Ross April 26, 2024 (9:09 am)

    As a 38 year resident on the highland park/delridge neighborhood I believe these streets need to be given back to us, the signs and closed roads need to go. I’ve been considering removing the signs myself as they are obstructions and eyesores, especially as of late. They have been hit and beat up over the past few years, they look awful. 

  • Foop April 26, 2024 (9:30 am)

    I walk along 17th regularly to get to white center for a coffee or a burrito, unfortunately I never walk in the street, even when the sidewalks are super busy around 3-4 in the afternoon because cars don’t yield or respect the healthy street. It’s still just as dangerous to cross at controlled intersections as ever.too many apartments mean a lot more people need to drive in and through to go home, get deliveries, etc. The road design is terrible for non cars. When I bike; i go down 18th unless white center is my destination. 18th being more SFH it’s generally quieter wrt to traffic.17th and Cambridge is also an incredibly dangerous intersection and needs to be redesigned. I’ve almost been hit several times by cars speeding off of Delridge or flying toward Delridge while pedestrians can see / be seen behind all of the parked cars / cars parked illegally too close to the curb ramp.

  • Dwg April 26, 2024 (9:40 am)

    These signs and partial closures actually succeeded in bringing our neighbors together in the street, though not in the way the city intended. We kept going outside to remove these dangerous driving hazards on Trenton and 16th. 

    • Abe April 26, 2024 (1:50 pm)

      The shameless disregard for law and public order these days is absurd. Car people are so mad at a sign telling them not to illegally speed on a residential street they’re vandalizing public property, and bragging about it 

      • Dwg April 26, 2024 (6:36 pm)

        Not sure about you, but I actually live on this street. The only thing that sign did is blind drivers to what’s behind it when attempting to turn off 16th and onto Trenton. 

  • Jay April 26, 2024 (10:13 am)

    I wish they could take the money they’re wasting on these “stay healthy” streets and spend it on the low-cost sidewalks option as well as more traffic calming devices. MAKE THE STREETS ACTUALLY SAFER. It’s dangerous to walk in Puget Ridge, people drive 40mph even on the Stay Healthy street on 21st. It’s hard to watch the rich people at Alki Point get a bunch of expensive hard infrastructure with no driving need just to raise their property values while the less affluent neighborhoods are hard to even walk through. SDOT has deaf ears to the average West Seattle resident. SDOT is doing a lot of performative work while ignoring real fixes and best practices recommended by modern traffic and infrastructure engineering. A colored asphalt at-grade sidewalk costs $100,000 per block, half that if they only did one side. A $4 million hard infrastructure “improvement” project on a Stay Healthy street could instead fund EIGHTY – that’s 80 – blocks of walkability improvements.

  • Bbron April 26, 2024 (11:19 am)

    “give us back our streets! 😡” “i remove the signs myself 😏” drivers really out here embodying Scrooge, lol. y’all realize that the gray lines on the map are regular streets? the amount of redundancy you have compare to the modicum of infrastructure being somewhat given back to non-car modes of transit is ridiculous. the length y’all go to describe the slightest of inconveniences like driving around a sign as legitimate oppression is astounding. blaming signage as a cause of bad behavior like emotional reasoning goes flying out the window as soon as you get behind the wheel. it shows that y’all are hardly interacting with the environment around you outside of a car when going from point A to B; otherwise, you’d stop yourself from posting such hilariously over-the-top reactions. SDOT really dropping the ball in delaying this permanent healthy street which is closer to WC while more opulent areas get there’s…

  • KB1000 April 26, 2024 (1:59 pm)

    I’ve lived in Highland Park for nearly 20 years. I walk around the area near HP elementary every day, multiple times a day. Trenton and the other “safe streets” are are total hazard for walkers and bikers. Either completely close the road or don’t. The signage is terrible, drivers and walkers are both using the streets. It’s completely unsafe and SDOT is completely at fault. If they want to make it safe for walkers, then actually close the streets. What they have right now, says, “closed,” but it is not closed.  Once again, Highland Park gets the short end of the stick when it comes to SDOT. 

  • TheArroyos April 28, 2024 (12:39 am)

    More round abouts throughout our neighborhoods. Slows down traffic, no barriers. for bikers, and pedestrians walk against traffic safely with head forward.  Simple   

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