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WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Draft Environmental Impact Statement delayed again, as ‘potentially affected’ property owners receive notification letters

Thanks to everyone who tipped us that Sound Transit has sent letters to owners of properties that ST might have to acquire for developing the West Seattle light rail line. (See the letter here.) While researching this, we asked ST about the status of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the West Seattle-Ballard extension – most recently expected to be released before year’s end – and learned it’s been delayed again.

ST spokesperson Geoff Patrick tells WSB, “Given ongoing coordination needs and the upcoming holidays, Sound Transit now expects to publish the Draft EIS for public review and comment in early 2022. While we have not yet identified a specific date for publication of the DEIS, it was a priority for Sound Transit to send out the notifications in advance to ensure property owners have the opportunity to learn about the project, how to engage, and how and when project decisions are made.”

As for who got notices and why, Patrick says the DEIS “identifies potential property acquisition needs associated with each of the project alignment options that is under consideration. We have sent letters to owners of approximately 1,400 potentially affected properties. This notification of potential impact does not mean a decision has been made to purchase property. It should be noted that while we’re studying multiple routes, in the end we’ll just build one. So, ultimately, many of those properties we are currently notifying won’t need to be acquired to build the project.”

All the routing possibilities that are being studied for the DEIS are shown on this website. The final routing decision will be up to the Sound Transit Board to make, after the final Environmental Impact Statement is published, currently expected in 2023. Patrick says there’s more information for potentially affected property owners on this ST webpage. The letter received by property owners invites them to participate in virtual briefings, with dates offered in November and December.

It was only this past June that the Draft EIS release was announced as delayed until fall. At the end of last year, the projected timeline was “mid-(2021).” As a result of the recent “realignment” decision, the expected opening date for the West Seattle extension is likely 2032, two years later than what was originally planned when voters approved the ST3 ballot measure five years ago.

9 for the rest of your West Seattle Thursday!

September 26, 2019 11:29 am
|    Comments Off on 9 for the rest of your West Seattle Thursday!
 |   West Seattle news | WS miscellaneous

(Great Blue Heron, photographed by Mark Wangerin)

If you haven’t already checked the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar, where you will find hundreds of local happenings, days and often weeks in advance, here are highlights for the ~12 hours ahead:

HELP FIREFIGHTERS ‘FILL THE BOOT’ FOR MDA: Until 5 pm tonight, and again tomorrow, West Seattle firefighters are in The Junction, receiving donations for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. (California/Alaska)

SOUND TRANSIT BOARD: 1:30 pm-4 pm, the full board gets the same briefing its System Expansion Committee got two weeks ago (WSB coverage here) on the “assessments” of potential West Seattle-to-Ballard options. In the ST board room downtown. Agenda here. (401 S. Jackson)

DROP-IN ARTIST GROUP: 2 pm at Senior Center of West Seattle – info in our calendar listing. (4217 SW Oregon)

AFTER HOURS AT HOMESTREET: The West Seattle Chamber of Commerce‘s “After Hours” networking event is at HomeStreet Bank (WSB sponsor) in The Junction, 5:30-7:30 pm. (4022 SW Alaska)

COMMUNITY ART JOURNALING CLASS: 6 pm at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor) – description here;

TALKING TRANSPORTATION: 6:30 pm at Neighborhood House High Point, the West Seattle Transportation Coalition will hear from SDOT and Sound Transit, as previewed here. All welcome. (6400 Sylvan Way SW)

HIGH-SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL: West Seattle HS hosts Chief Sealth IHS at 7 pm. (3000 California SW)

‘SUNSET BABY’: 7:30 pm curtain for the new production at ArtsWest (WSB sponsor), by Dominique Morisseau:

When the tough, independent Nina is visited by her father, a former revolutionary in the Black liberation movement, she can’t tell what he’s after–a fix to their broken relationship, or the cache of letters that ties their fates together. As father and daughter circle one another, old wounds are revealed, generational differences exposed, and blazing truths laid bare.

Ticket info here. (4711 California SW)

INTO THE COLD + GUESTS: Rock ‘n’ roll, 9 pm at Parliament Tavern. $5 cover. 21+. (4210 SW Admiral Way)

MUCH MORE HAPPENING … see our full calendar here.

Awaiting the California SW ‘upzone’ report: The hearing recap

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

If you saw a woman with short white hair, perhaps a notebook too, roaming the 3200 block of California purposefully over the weekend – that just might have been City of Seattle Hearing Examiner Sue Tanner.

She’s the most powerful city official you’ve (probably) never heard of, and she announced at the end of last Wednesday’s combined hearing on that block’s three-years-in-progress “upzoning” request that she would make a site visit before writing a report on the request and ruling on a related appeal, “probably (visiting) on the weekend.” (Whether last weekend or next, we won’t know till her report.)

“But if you see me,” she warned, “do NOT approach me.”

Though you are not asked to rise when she enters her chambers on the 40th floor of the Municipal Tower downtown, Tanner’s role is similar to that of a judge. She listens to sworn testimony, sometimes to public comment, in hearings on matters that may sound mundane from a distance, unless you are the one whose livelihood and/or property will be directly affected by the ruling – as is the case for most of those involved in this case, both the neighbors along the blocks immediately behind the block proposed for a zoning change, and those who own the dozens of parcels that would be eligible for higher buildings and larger commercial spaces if the zoning is changed.

On Wednesday of last week, the rezone proposal occupied the Hearing Examiner’s docket for the entire day, which began with most of the 30 or so seats in her chambers filled – mostly with the aforementioned neighbors, wearing lime-green ribbons – and ended seven hours later with most of the seats empty.

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Seattle Public Schools closure vote, as it happened (video added)

(12:42 am note: Video clips have been added to the coverage below, at the spots relevant to when they were shot. Also: Here’s the official district news release)

8:34 PM UPDATE: It’s all over – including the shouting. Just small groups talking, hugging in the hallway (video clip above, added 8:47). Topline to everything below: The closure plan passes largely as-is, with Cooper Elementary‘s program to close, Cooper’s building to become the new home of Pathfinder K-8, the once-closed building that has housed Pathfinder for more than a decade – Genesee Hill – to be shuttered. All this takes effect as of the next school year, and planning/transitioning/communicating is to begin immediately.

8:02 PM UPDATE: Bass has said she wishes there were more time, to work out a better plan. The final vote is getting closer. Bass says after this, she wants to speak with anyone and everyone about the assignment plan. She says it’s leadership to stand alone sometimes. She says she wanted to give money to Pathfinder over Sealth (and other things), but “it wasn’t popular.” Final closure vote (with no changes to buildings/programs that were to be changed/closed): 2 no 5 yes. Most of the crowd is leaving and heading out into the hallway, chanting – there was some yelling here in the main room too. Police are hovering. People are shouting hey hey, ho ho, school board members have got to go. You will be able to see that part on the TV newscasts – we’re staying put in case something actually happens in here informationally. (Added 9:15 pm – our clip from the departure of most of the crowd members, before those last pieces of the proposal were voted on)

The voting isn’t over yet – there are policy votes that have to be made in order to facilitate the main motion. There are people in the audience in here saying “Honor the 2006 Board member to the SBOC” (photo added above); now cheering in the hallway. Police and security have not all left the main area here. The chanting in the foyer has moved on to “these closures are racist.” The first of the accompanying motions has passed. Now, the motion that merges what will be the former Cooper reference area into the Sanislo reference area. (“Sanislo is full!” came a shout from the audience, which is true.) Motion passes. Meeting over.

7:51 PM UPDATE: Now, to the final vote on the official plan, which, for West Seattle, now remains: Cooper Elementary program closes (autism programs stay in the building), Pathfinder K-8 moves into Cooper’s building, Genesee Hill building closes. West Seattle APP elementary students would be reassigned to Thurgood Marshall, where approximately half the current APP elementary population will move (the other half remaining at Lowell). The board members are now making their final statements, Chow first, “now is the time” for action; must deal with “brutal facts.” Crowd now shouting. Chow is shouting to some degree, too, particularly the phrase “25-million-dollar deficit.” It’s clear she will vote yes. Sundquist has just made a speech, saying he too isn’t happy about Cooper, but that it’s time to finally move on with getting Pathfinder into another building. (here’s the clip – with heckling throughout)

Now Mary Bass is crying – she says she tried not to lose her composure.

7:41 PM UPDATE: Final amendment of the night before the final vote – Maier proposes granting “priority assignment” to students who, because of the eventual vote, will not be able to attend their current schools next year. By the way, if you’re having trouble keeping score, so far the “final recommendations” have not been altered – the only amendments that have passed affect some of the side effects of the potential eventual vote. And again, Martin-Morris and Bass vote no on this. It’s been a 5-2 split on everything.

7:32 PM UPDATE: Martin-Morris reads his amendment to keep Genesee Hill open and cancel closing Cooper. He says “it’s the right thing to do” and says closing it sends the wrong message: (video added 10:19 pm)

Mary Bass seconds. Sundquist says he won’t support it. Amendment fails, again only with Martin-Morris and Bass voting yes. Sundquist now reading his “reassign Cooper” amendment. “TO WORSE SCHOOLS!” shouted from the audience; Sundquist is called “a patronizing S.O.B.” Audience unruly again. People yelling, “Racist!” DeBell trying to quiet them down. Carr says the decision about Cooper was “the hardest” one to make but thinks Sundquist’s amendment will at least keep some of the students together. Vote on the amendment: everyone yes except Martin-Morris and Bass.

7:24 PM UPDATE: Martin-Morris’s update that would break Summit (which otherwise is closing) into K-8 and 9-12 at other sites, is now being considered. Summit families yell “We don’t want it!” It almost went without a second, then Bass seconded it. Martin-Morris’s update to cancel the Cooper program closure will be next (technically it would cancel the Genesee Hill building closure, which then would keep Pathfinder there, and Cooper in its building). By the way, besides us, several others are covering this meeting live via Twitter – twitter.com/phylfletch and twitter.com/sableverity among them. DeBell says he has been sorely frustrated by his inability to “find Summit a home.” From the audience: “Find us a home.” DeBell says Summit is “caring” and has been “pushed out to the edge of the district” but “some of the tough facts we are facing in the district right now fall heavily on Summit K-12 .. the K-12 model is very difficult to fit into a building unless it is a secondary school, and we have very few (of those) now.” He also says the transportation costs are challenging. Summit vote: Martin-Morris and Bass are again the only yes votes, it fails.

7:15 PM UPDATE: Vote on Mary Bass’s amendment for Central Cluster changes to the closure proposal is coming up. Sundquist says he will not support it. Martin-Morris says he will. DeBell says he will not. Shouts from the crowd. DeBell: “There is too much capacity in the Central Cluster.” Bass, Martin-Morris are the only yes votes; amendment fails. Boos from the crowd. This means among other things APP at Lowell will NOT be kept together – West Seattle APP students will be going to Thurgood Marshall (unless the final motion fails). The amendments failure triggers a Carr amendment regarding letting students who live in the Lowell walk zone to attend APP at Lowell. That amendment passes with all yes votes except Martin-Morris and Bass.

7:00 PM UPDATE: Now they are moving to the vote. Sundquist is reading motions. Then each member gets to read his/her amendment. Mary Bass reads hers first and is explaining at length why she proposed changes to the Central Cluster plan. If it goes the way that we’ve been told, each amendment will be voted on individually before a final vote – anything that is approved, becomes a change to the plan in the final vote. Now Cheryl Chow is recounting the history of the African American Academy, which is proposed for closure. “Unfortunately,” she says, “the program is and has been underenrolled .. and the school is not succeeding as all would want. Even if (it is closed),” she says, she believes the “Afrocentric” culture will continue in the building. Chow says the building will still be called the African American Academy unless the board votes to change it; much shouting ensues from the crowd. DeBell now says, please stop interrupting the meeting.

READ THE REST OF OUR AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGERead More

Details: King County Sheriff’s budget warning (and jail talk)

That’s King County Sheriff Sue Rahr, talking about one of the budget cuts she may have to make if the county’s budget picture still looks ugly by fall; she says the thought of having to stop investigating certain kinds of crimes makes her “sick.” She spoke Friday night at SeaTac City Hall, in one of several public meetings she’s called to talk about potential effects of massive budget cuts ordered by county leadership; the possible cuts in the criminal-justice system could affect West Seattle not only through services the county provides for the city such as prosecution, but also because many of the cuts would have to be made in the ranks that serve unincorporated areas such as White Center, right next door. But the first headline of the night for West Seattle interests was what the sheriff had to say when asked about the jail-sites situation – and that’s where our full report begins;Read More