District 1 Community Network’s final meeting, report #2

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Community-group meeting seldom have surprise endings. Wednesday night’s District 1 Community Network meeting did, as a scheduled discussion about logistics quickly pivoted into a disbandment decision.

More on that later. First, here’s what else happened:

HIGHLAND PARK WAY HILL PROJECT: James Le from SDOT, who led the project presentation and discussion at HPAC last month (WSB coverage here), did the same at the D1CN meeting. He was joined by project teammate Willow Russell. We’ve written about this project several times since it emerged four weeks ago – four years after SDOT decided to shelve a possible uphill bike lane for the stretch. Le recapped the three options – all of which would replace the current outside downhill vehicle lane: A protected bike lane, a multi-use path, or eventually both. This was the last scheduled public presentation during the feedback period, which is scheduled to close in a week.

After a relatively short presentation, the SDOT reps fielded questions.

One question was about current bicycle volumes on the hill; Le hadn’t brought those numbers but pointed to the WSB followup in which we published them, after following up on a similar exchange at the HPAC meeting. From SDOT as featured in that WSB story:

Other questions:

How many people have given feedback so far? Russell said 1,600 had answered some or all of the survey questions, including 300 who said they bicycle on the hill. Who are the “key community members” referred to by SDOT as having been consulted for feedback? Russell listed a variety of local groups and institutions, including Pioneer Industries, a large business at the bottom of the hill, and South Seattle College. Why is this a priority if there have been only two serious-injury crashes in five years? Le cited the 43 mph average speed (18 above the limit) and the presence of bus stops in the area (although his presentation had noted they are low-usage, “a handful of people”), plus the department’s commitment to Vision Zero. “We have to do this because it’s part of our city’s safety goals,” he said. He reiterated SDOT’s description of this as a “self-enforcing design” to slow traffic. How would traffic flow be handled if a downhill vehicle broke down and blocked that one lane? “People will have to slow down and drive around,” replied Le. Had they talked to SPD about it? “No, it’s very early, we’re at like 5% or 10% design. We’re talking to you guys before we talk to them.” (Two SPD reps were at the meeting, one offering questions and comments, including hope that SDOT is studying traffic in multiple seasons before making a final decision on this.)

More questions:

Could traffic be slowed with photo enforcement and expansion of the existing path instead of lane reconfiguration? “Typically we look at all our engineering options” before camera enforcement is considered. What about a disaster, if this is the only exit route, how are people going to get out? “Highland Park Way is not the only path out (of West Seattle),” said Le. “Well, Myers Way, but that doesn’t get to hospitals,” was the participant reply (although that would point people toward Burien, which does have a hospital). Could a one-month trial be done to see how it works, before making it permanent? Le said, “That’s a good comment, I could bring it back and flesh that out some more.” Has SDOT evaluated how capacity would be affected? Le said that at the top of the hill, there’s already enough capacity in the narrowed intersection, but then people are sideswiping each other as they get to the four-lane hill. “It’s very early – we could modify things at the bottom of the hill too.” Meeting facilitator Deb Barker stressed that broader outreach was important; Russell said they’d sent a mailer to a mile radius of the project zone. “Peninsula-wide would be good,” suggested Deb Barker. The SDOT survey remains open until June 15.

PORT UPDATES: Kate Nolan brought the same updates she’d presented at the May West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting – she noted that both Terminal 5 berths are now operational, and that the Quiet Zone is now about six weeks away from completion – by end of July. She also discussed the project to work toward zero-emission drayage (short distance) trucking in cargo operations.

COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENTS: The Georgetown Carnival is on Saturday, noon-10 pm … Rethink the Link‘s light-rail-route walk is Sunday, 10 am … The Alki Community Council‘s Summer Celebration is 5-8 pm June 20 … The Morgan Community Association‘s Morgan Junction Community Festival, 10 am-2 pm on June 15, will include Bubbleman emerging from retirement, and vendors will be back, behind the Zeeks/Whisky West building, as well as Morgan Junction All-Wheel Association showing ideas for the all-wheel spot in the future park … This part of the meeting is where Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Nate Shopay mentioned what we’ve already reported separately, that the precinct has been working with the Traffic Unit to get some spot enforcement patrols around this area.

D1CN DISBANDING: Final agenda topic of the night looked on the surface like a matter of logistics, with this message from Larry Wymerte, the longtime administrator, handling behind-the-scenes details like assembling and circulating the agenda:

With major changes in the make-up of the City Council, it is even more important that we all work together to help to make D1CN a vibrant and impactful organization. He’d love to work with you to help strengthen and expand our outreach to all relevant community groups and leaders. D1CN strives to be a bottom up organization (i.e. no board, no officers, etc.) to provide a forum and opportunities for District 1 Community groups and leaders to communicate with each other. With this in mind, we look to all of you who are on our email distribution list to help out if and when you can by organizing and leading a meeting. We work best when we all take turns taking the gavel as a MEETING FACILITATOR. Let me know if you are interested in at least discussing the possibility.

Back when D1CN launched five and a half years ago, lining up facilitators hadn’t been so difficult, but at some point post-pandemic-peak, Deb Barker wound up as default facilitator for most if not all meetings. And when Wednesday night’s discussion started, she and Wymerte said they really needed to disengage. But no one stepped forward to offer to facilitate future meetings (the group had already cut back to alternating months) – so the discussion quickly turned into, is this the end? And no one put up much of a fight.

Though it didn’t launch uptil early 2019, D1CN had its roots in then-Mayor Ed Murray‘s 2016 decision to cut city support for neighborhood district councils. West Seattle had two at the time, Southwest District Council and Delridge Neighborhoods District Council. Both carried on for a while without official city support, but toward the end of 2018, some local advocates came up with the idea of a unified group (explained here). It launched in early 2019; later that year, the Delridge council went on “indefinite hiatus,” and the Southwest council officially disbanded. D1CN’s end leaves the area without a general-purpose coalition; a review of which neighborhood- and issue-specific groups remain will be a topic for another night.

18 Replies to "District 1 Community Network's final meeting, report #2"

  • Wseattleite June 8, 2024 (12:20 am)

    SDOT is obviously going to charge ahead with their plans for HPW regardless of community feedback or any common sense.  “We have to” they say.  It is with great satisfaction that I can say “not my problem anymore”. I am moving to where one can be pulled over for reckless speeding. Where activists are not trying to make everyone live on top of each other. Where all forms of transit are respected commensurate to their actual use, not used as agents for ideological behavior modification. Where crime is managed by a culture of intolerance of such behavior. A place where one is free to live one’s own life, and locals are not trying to make everyone else to behave like they think everyone else should. Where “crises” are not used for personal agendas in keeping people from driving in front of their house.  Good luck with all that.  I shan’t miss it.  

    • Bbron June 8, 2024 (12:41 am)

      “much freer to live the lives they want” as long as the government overly subsidizes my mode of transportation. car maximalists making the “freedom” argument seem to forget that roads are incredibly expensive, not built by private entities, and require revenue sources that never come close to covering the costs resulting in other services losing out on funding they rightfully deserve so we can placate the driving class.

      • Anne June 8, 2024 (9:12 am)

        “Revenue not coming close to covering costs” if you’re speaking about public transportation-you’re spot on. Current  fares are not nearly adequate-& SDOT & KC Metro don’t enforce collecting the fares  they do charge in any meaningful way. Everything is incredibly expensive-not just maintaining roads. Keeping them in good condition is critical-not something this member of “ the driving class” ever forgets as you assume. When & if public transportation ever truly becomes efficient & safe there might-I repeat-might be a bigger swing towards using it. In the meantime -let’s build  more bike lanes  if  practical -as well  as maintain our roads -cars aren’t going away-not in my lifetime anyway. 

        • Km June 8, 2024 (1:37 pm)

          Anne, I hate to break it to you, but automobiles are the most subsidized form of ground transportation. 

          • K June 8, 2024 (2:22 pm)

            This.  Also, SDOT isn’t in charge of any fare collection on any form of transportation.

        • Bbron June 8, 2024 (5:41 pm)

          Anne, like many car drivers you fail to see how people using public transit benefit the infrastructure as a whole that fare prices could be $0 and there’d still be a net gain in terms of available revenue for our city/county. this is due to a lack of considering the externalities of car dependency. there’s a laundry list, but to name a few: 1) much less expensive road maintenance per person moved; 2) ability to reduce the amount of land dedicated to pavement while maintaining capacity (think of parking lots and the incredible waste of land, especially in terms of paying taxes on non-revenue generating space for a business); 3) the incredibly higher amount of death and injury cars cause (look at insurance costs as proof); 4) the pollution that has measurable and extremely significant impact on the environment, our children’s learning, and everyone’s health (look at impact studies in South Park due to 99). these are both profound measurable and immeasurable costs that put how much we subsidize cars way, way ahead of any public service (expect maybe police). please don’t come at me with little gotchas if you won’t take the time to try to come up with a good rebuttal.

  • SHARON June 8, 2024 (6:42 am)

    In regards to Highland Park Way,  There is no reason to take a lane for cars away.  there is plenty of room to enlarge the path for both bikes and people and leave the car lanes alone, common sense should apply here.  Why spend thousands of dollars to make a bike lane that a small handful of people use. I drive this road all the time very rarely do I see walkers or bikers on it. It was stated in the conversation that if there was a car blocking in the one operable lane that cars would have to go around. This would make it a very dangerous approach, when with two lanes there is no problem.  Let’s work smarter not harder, it seems like there are a handful of people who want to make Seattle so bike friendly that they think they are the only ones that matter.  Bikes are never going to be the major method of transportation no matter how much some people want them to be.  LEAVE THE CAR LANES ALONE!

  • CarDriver June 8, 2024 (10:41 am)

    I have yet to see proof that those here on the blog saying cars are always the problem actually don’t own or use or ride in a car. Or, that they don’t order something online that requires a car to deliver. leading by example gets better results 

    • K June 8, 2024 (2:32 pm)

      I own a car and I know my car is part of the problem.  I would love to live in a world where I never need to drive, but I don’t (yet).  I advocate for road designs that discourage speeding because I know how often I *feel* like I’m driving a reasonable speed and then realize I’m 15 over and would have to slam on my brakes if a pedestrian appeared.  Road design matters.  Nothing makes me happier as a motorist than protected bike lanes because it gets the bikers out of my way.  Most people use more than one form of transportation.  Did it ever occur to you that this multi-modal perspective is exactly why so many people favor changes to the roads?

      • Canton June 9, 2024 (11:29 am)

        So, hypocrite activism? Like telling people drinking alcohol is bad, while sipping on a glass of wine.

    • Bbron June 8, 2024 (6:03 pm)

      hey, it’s me! haven’t owned a car in the 12 years I’ve lived here, take exclusively PT or my e-scooter to get groceries, take out, or anything (yes, everything in my home including my furniture) and have taken those long bus rides out to the mountains for hikes and skiing. don’t have food delivery or an Amazon account. all that said, car driving for some is an unpleasant reality and they want change so they could choose to live a car free life, so the ol’ “gotcha” about people still using cars while they advocate against them has no merit and proves the opposite: society forces car ownership on those that don’t want it. not what you’re framing it as that everyone’s a hypocrite. if your position relies on everyone advocating against it to be disingenuous, then your position has no foundation.

      • CarDriver June 8, 2024 (7:05 pm)

        Glad it works for you. Reality is that you’re an EXTREME minority as the majority of us want to go places in a reasonable amount of time. Example:I’m going to lake Chelan it’s a 3 1/2 hour drive there is transit there 9 hours plus a 1/2 mile walk to the rental unit you may be happy to do it doubt anybody else is Oh, by the way you say you take the bus to ski What bus goes to the ski areas in. winter? And tell us how you pick up and move a tv and a couch on your e scooter

        • Bbron June 8, 2024 (9:55 pm)

          so suspicious, CarDriver. I don’t have a TV (gasp), and furniture came flat packed; easy to carry on the back of the scooter with a $20 accessory and a strap. a little Googling would’ve given you the Steven’s Pass Shuttle (hopefully you’ll consider it now you know). my question: how can you say “Reality is that you’re an EXTREME minority” and not connect that’s directly due to building our environments around cars first and humans second? additionally, you have tons of people that advocate to have a choice to be car-free, but can’t now because of the built environment, and you write them off as disingenuous. if anything, maybe you’ll come out of this letting go of that incorrect notion that those on the other side of the car debate than you aren’t lying cause you can’t empathize with the feeling of driving but not wanting to for every day tasks.

          • Canton June 9, 2024 (11:38 am)

            As you said, you “choose” to live car free. Your types want to FORCE us into YOUR chosen lifestyle. What exactly, is so great about your lifestyle, that we must become your disciples? Does this lifestyle include the responsibilities of child raising?

          • Bbron June 11, 2024 (8:16 am)

            @Canton you’re sorely mistaken as to which lifestyle has been forced on others. is every business connected by roads or by bike lanes? how often are there roads without sidewalks compared to sidewalks without roads? which modes of the transportation have suffered the budget cuts year over year and which one has been guarded and subsidized to the extreme? it’s telling that re-utilizing a fraction of a right-of-way for non-cars causes drivers to have the hyperbolic reaction of “i’m being forced to change my lifestyle!” when in reality the most impact will be a minute or so additional commute time in a mode of transportation already made so convenient at the expense of humans. these changes are bare minimum to give people the freedom to chose a non-car means of transportation. it’s funny you bring up raising kids when it’s due to car-centric infrastructure that kids aren’t able to navigate it without the assistance of an adult, and if you rode the metro you’d see that kids are empowered to be independent when they’re able to go places without a car (because, as it turns out, a transportation network that favors cars that kids can’t drive means it doesn’t benefit our kids). why do kids not deserve a safe option to move around the city?

        • K June 9, 2024 (7:47 am)

          No, Cardriver, the people that can only envision getting around using one form on transportation are the extreme minority.  As Bbron said, there are many who do use cars, even exclusively, who want a better future where they don’t have to.  You’re example trip to Lake Chelan isn’t a “gotcha” it’s an example of transit opportunities that have yet to come to fruition.  How do you expect efficient public transit to Lake Chelan to happen when you’re fighting this hard over making alternative modes of transit easier on a quarter-mile stretch of a single road?  Just open your mind a little bit.  The vast majority of people use multiple modes of transportation.  

  • Steve June 9, 2024 (5:41 pm)

    The survey is flawed! The first questions should be, “Do you support remove a travel lane?”

    Budget implications: With the city facing a budget deficit of $240 million next year, this isn’t the time to force a change on 99% of the hill users – those in cars and buses, to benefit the less than 1% of other users (bikes, walkers, and rollers) on the hill – who currently have an existing dedicated pathway adjacent to the travel lanes. This is money very poorly spent!

    Emergencies: Obviously SDOT did not learn their lesson with intentionally blocking lanes and reducing capacity on major thoroughfares.  The limited travel capacity on Delridge Way SW now delays first responders who have difficulty maneuvering around traffic in the confined one lane of travel in each direction blocked by planters in the median ever since the 2-way left turn lane was removed.  SDOT’s answer for emergency responders and drivers on the hill to go around a broken down car or bus if they go ahead with one of their recommendations of reducing the downhill lanes to only one lane:  Go around using the oncoming traffic lane.

Sorry, comment time is over.