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School-closure fight: Arbor Heights meeting tonight

That’s Arbor Heights Elementary PTSA president Suzette Riley, telling WSB co-publisher Patrick Sand that they’re not taking anything for granted, even though AH is off the closure list – for now.

We first posted that news here just after 5 pm tonight, when Seattle Public Schools released the revised list online, even before Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson formally announced it during a 4 1/2-hour School Board “work session” at district HQ. This new list, described as “potential final recommendations” — as opposed to “preliminary recommendations” in the preceding list — proposes “discontinuing” the Cooper Elementary program, rather than the Arbor Heights Elementary program, to create a new home for Pathfinder K-8, which has been in the subpar Genesee Hill Elementary building for 15 years — starting five years after the district “closed” that building the first time.

The new list came out less than an hour before Arbor Heights’ scheduled meeting tonight with a district official. School parents and staffers went ahead during that meeting to make their cases for why AH shouldn’t be a closure target:

As Suzette Riley mentioned in our first video clip, those on hand for tonight’s meeting didn’t get all the information they were hoping for; the district official who was there, Patrick Johnson, wouldn’t answer questions about the newly unveiled list, even though it had gone public almost an hour before the meeting started. As we mentioned in our earlier coverage, Johnson also asked WSB not to take video of the meeting, a request which we declined, a stance supported by AH’s acting principal.

We spoke with SPS communications staff at district HQ after the meeting there; they apologized and explained that some of these meetings are intended to be school-community-only sessions, if the principal so chooses, but shouldn’t be treated that way if they’ve been publicly advertised, as this one was, so we shouldn’t have had to deal with that “request.” (As it was, we rolled video on Johnson’s presentation, but it contained nothing newsworthy, just a district overview powerpoint that’s been used at the last several meetings, recapping the budget woes, etc.)

Next scheduled meetings: Cooper has one Thursday night; next Tuesday, you can expect to hear from Cooper, Pathfinder, and likely Arbor Heights parents at the public hearing at Genesee Hill; the night after that, it’ll be the next official School Board meeting, which also will start with public comment. Here’s the official district chart, screencapped from tonight’s news release:

From right below that part of the news release:

To sign up to testify at a public hearing on Dec. 15, 16, or 18, call the public hearing phone line at (206) 252-0042 or e-mail hearing@seattleschools.org. Testimony will be limited to 3 minutes per speaker, and should focus on the school building about which the hearing is being held. Note: To sign-up to testify at School Board meetings on Dec. 17, Jan. 7, 21 or 29; call (206) 252-0040 or e-mail hearing@seattleschools.org. beginning at 8 a.m. on the Monday prior to the meeting.

Additional information is available at www.seattleschools.org/area/capacity. Comments or questions on the recommendation can be emailed to capacity@seattleschools.org or to schoolboard@seattleschools.org, or mailed to School Board, PO Box 34165, MS 11-010, Seattle, WA, 98124-1165. School Board office: (206) 252-0040.

Breaking news: Burien and Seattle reach annexation agreement

We’re breaking this at our partner site White Center Now: After weeks of mediation, Burien City Manager Mike Martin has announced that Burien, Seattle, and two fire districts have agreed on important points to pave the way for potential annexations of the White Center/North Highline area. Details here as his council briefing (under way right now in Burien) continues – one big part of the deal relating directly to West Seattle is that a King County fire station has been carved out of the original Burien annexation proposal zone, because Seattle said it was important for the continued protection of Arbor Heights.

School-closure fight: Arbor Heights at Westwood Village tonight

December 5, 2008 1:59 pm
|    Comments Off on School-closure fight: Arbor Heights at Westwood Village tonight
 |   Arbor Heights | West Seattle news | West Seattle school closure | West Seattle schools | Westwood

Like last night’s Holiday Bazaar (WSB coverage here), Arbor Heights Elementary had long been planning a book-fair event tonight at Westwood Village Barnes and Noble – but now it’s taken on an added dimension. First, the book fair: 10 percent of B/N purchases made today through Sunday, with the voucher number 413831, will benefit various programs at AH, such as kindergarten assistant teachers and books for the school library. Meantime, Arbor Heights families will be there tonight for a kids’ pajama party starting at 5 pm, with kindergarten teachers presenting story time at 5:30, and in the meantime, the “Save Arbor Heights” campaign will be active outside, with signs and petition-signature-gathering. Tomorrow, they’re planning to be at the next “community workshop” (9:30 am) as well as School Board rep Steve Sundquist‘s Delridge Library gathering (3-5 pm) – more info on the Save Arbor Heights website.

School-closure fight: Arbor Heights parents at district “workshop”

December 4, 2008 10:50 pm
|    Comments Off on School-closure fight: Arbor Heights parents at district “workshop”
 |   Arbor Heights | West Seattle news | West Seattle school closure | West Seattle schools

It’s a long series of meetings between the first announcement last week of proposed Seattle Public Schools closures and changes and the final vote scheduled for January 29th. But you never know when one of those meetings will yield some news — so we’ll be covering as many as we can. Tonight — a public “workshop” at district headquarters, first of two in this particular format. It began with Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson presenting the closure criteria and the latest on the district budget shortfall (last night, finance boss Don Kennedy presented grim new numbers to the board). She said she was presenting that information to create context for the budget problems the district faces, noting that closing buildings is just one way to make up for the financial shortfall and deal with the district’s excess capacity.Read More

Happening now: Arbor Heights Elementary holiday bazaar

That’s Kelsey, who’s selling her glass ornaments at the holiday bazaar that’s under way till 8 pm tonight at Arbor Heights Elementary – and modeling the new fashion statement that you’ve seen in our photos from meetings in the past few weeks, with AH fighting a district proposal to close its “program” and relocate Pathfinder K-8 to the AH building. But this bazaar has been in the works a long time, long before the closure proposal started drawing on the community’s time and energy, and it’s a biggie – this is just one of two jampacked rooms full of merchandise, activities, and treats:

Some of the merchandise is kid-made, like Kelsey’s very professional painted-glass ornaments, but there are adult vendors here too – we were especially enchanted by these “presents” that are really crystal-clear sculpted plastic with lights inside:

Some whimsy, too – at this table, the “fish soap” looks from a distance like those little plastic bags of goldfish in water that we all brought home from carnivals a hundred years ago:

Again, the bazaar’s on till 8 o’clock tonight; if you live in north West Seattle, you may not even have been to Arbor Heights before (we lived on Beach Drive our first 2 years in WS and hadn’t ventured south of California/Fauntleroy till we were house-shopping!), but it’s worth the trip (here’s a map) – check the view we got after parking our car before walking to the bazaar pre-sunset:

Other schools’ holiday events are on our Holiday Happenings calendar (tomorrow night, for example, Lafayette Elementary has a craft fair, and everyone’s invited!).

Video: Arbor Heights parents make their case to the school board

(photo by Arbor Heights parent Craig Harrold)
We reported toplines from Wednesday night’s Seattle School Board meeting as they happened – now, we have video of all six Arbor Heights parents who spoke (after a concerted campaign to get onto the list when bookings opened Monday) about district staff’s recommendation to close their school “program” so the school “building” can become home to Pathfinder K-8, whose deteriorating Genesee Hill building would then be shut down. First, Arbor Heights PTSA co-president Suzette Riley laid out the four alternatives they are proposing:

“This proposal would close a popular, successful neighborhood school, and would also cost the district money,” Riley said (among other points). We also have video of each of the five other Arbor Heights speakers from the meeting, each uploaded in its entirety – click ahead to see any or all of them, and also to see what happens next:Read More

West Seattle Christmas Lights, 12/3/08

From Arbor Heights, a cheerful display, 12000 block of 39th SW (map). Gratuitous reminder – Join us for the annual West Seattle Community Christmas Tree Lighting, 5 pm Saturday in The Junction (Farmers’ Market parking lot), with your WSB co-publishers helping emcee an all-star lineup for one hour of holiday fun — including the Endolyne Children’s Choir, “Plaid Tidings” cast members from ArtsWest, singalong holiday caroling, and the first drawings in The Junction’s $5,000 Holiday Giveaway (multiple chances to win gift certificates! – have you entered yet?). And in the meantime, please send us Christmas lights photos and/or addresses!

Arbor Heights’ fight: School Board meeting begins

We’re at school district HQ in Sodo, with a standing-room-only crowd here to speak out about the school-closure/changes plan at tonight’s School Board meeting – and half the room (photo above, taken moments ago) is dominated by Arbor Heights Elementary School families, fighting to keep their school “program” from being eliminated, because district management is proposing to move Pathfinder K-8 there. No decision will be made tonight, but this is the first official board meeting since the closure/change plan was announced eight nights ago. We’ll add updates as things develop – in addition to scheduled public comment (six AH reps are on the list, which is compiled from people who called and e-mailed starting first thing Monday morning), Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson is scheduled to present an update on the closure/change plan; you can watch the meeting live on cable channel 26. Side note: District HQ is formally named the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence; a few days ago, Nov. 28, marked 10 years since the passing of the legendary superintendent (taken by leukemia at age 60) after whom this facility is named.

6:36 PM UPDATE: The first four Arbor Heights parents to speak have just taken their turns. They are focusing on four alternative proposals: Wait for Denny Middle School to be vacated when it moves to a new building on the Chief Sealth campus; close Roxhill and move its students to Arbor Heights, Highland Park, and Gatewood; move Pathfinder to Cooper Elementary or West Seattle Elementary. Two more Arbor Heights parents are still on the speaking list, along with people speaking on behalf of other controversial closure/change proposals elsewhere in the city.

6:50 PM UPDATE: Eric Iwamoto, co-president of the Arbor Heights PTSA, spoke, focusing on “why isn’t a high school being closed?” – he says Franklin, Cleveland, or Rainier Beach (which has 1300 seats but barely a third of them filled) all have aspects that could qualify them for potential closure, and he says closing a high school would save the cost equivalent of closing two elementaries.

7:20 PM UPDATE:
The public comment period of the meeting is over; the board is taking a brief break so the superintendent’s “update” on the school closure/change proposal can be technically set up for display on the big screen.

7:54 PM UPDATE: Before the school-closure briefing, a budget briefing from district financial boss Don Kennedy – district may be $37 million short next year, not just the $24 million already anticipated. Thanks to the SPS Community Blog at saveseattleschools.blogspot.com for noting that the superintendent’s presentation, including the closure update, is already posted online here. From that presentation, in a section that addresses some of the questions board members asked when the recommendations were presented last week:

Questions about locating Pathfinder at Arbor Heights or at Cooper
○ Response: At the work session on November 25 the School Board indicated that the option of altering the Student Assignment Plan to permit the location of Pathfinder at Cooper should be evaluated. Staff are evaluating this option.

The superintendent also is proposing another workshop (next Tuesday, apparently, will update when time/day/place is finalized) about the closure/change proposal, with these goals (from the presentation linked above):

□ Review of functional capacity numbers
□ Review of comments heard at December 4th and 6th
community meetings
□ Review of questions/concerns raised after November 25
work session
□ Review of potential final recommendations

“Functional capacity” is being evaluated now with walkthroughs at schools (it was mentioned last night that Arbor Heights had just gotten such a visit).

8:30 PM UPDATE: Board members have been asking more questions about the superintendent’s presentation. They’re saying they’re glad it’s obviously an “iterative” process.” Next events, a reminder – tomorrow night, a public “workshop” here at Stanford Center 6:30-8:30 pm; another one Saturday morning, Filipino Community Center, 5740 Martin Luther King Way, 9:30-11:30 am (map); that day, Saturday afternoon, Steve Sundquist will have another informal community gathering to discuss this (and other school issues) – 3-5 pm, Delridge Library.

8:50 PM UPDATE: The aforementioned work session, with lots of data etc., will be 4 pm next Tuesday here at district HQ “and we’ll go till we’re done,” says Dr. Goodloe-Johnson. She says feedback at any time can and should be sent to:
capacity@seattleschools.org
but mail also welcome at
schoolboard@seattleschools.org She just also mentioned an Arbor Heights-specific meeting for next Tuesday as well – checking on that.

9:24 PM NOTE: We have all of tonight’s Arbor Heights speakers on video and will upload those clips later tonight when we’re back at HQ – more pix too, like this:

ADDED 11:40 PM: Still working on the next report but in the meantime, here’s the info on the Tuesday meeting at Arbor Heights: 6 pm, per this district webpage. Concurrent with part of the aforementioned board workshop.

Arbor Heights strategizes for tonight’s board meeting, and beyond

They’re not showing all their cards yet, but Arbor Heights Elementary families and other supporters are certainly assembling their hands. That much was clear at last night’s meeting in the school cafeteria, called primarily to discuss the school community’s coalesced campaign to fight Seattle Public Schools proposal to close the program and turn the building into the long-overdue new home of Genesee Hill’s Pathfinder K-8. Above, PTSA secretary Dana Varon exhorts the crowd to make a strong show of support at tonight’s School Board meeting, the first since the closure/change proposals were announced at a special board “work session” one week ago. Read on for what else they’re planning:Read More

“Save Arbor Heights” campaign goes public with “fact sheet”

(added Monday night: one of the “Save Arbor Heights” campaign signs that are being printed)
The Arbor Heights Elementary PTSA has just finished a “fact sheet” about its school, which (to recap) is proposed for closure by Seattle Public Schools staff — not the building itself, but the school that’s currently housed in it. AHPTSA describes it as “being evicted”; SPS staff proposes dispersing AH students to other “West Seattle South cluster” schools, and moving the Pathfinder K-8 alternative program into the AH building (after closing the deteriorating Genesee Hill building where it’s long been housed). One of the points that AH reiterates on the fact sheet: In a time when SPS leaders have said they want to move back toward “neighborhood schools” (after years of “school choice” tending to scatter people) — buildings where a high percentage of the students are from nearby neighborhoods — AH already is succeeding on that front, with 50% of its students from the immediate area (described by SPS as the “reference area”). If that doesn’t sound like much to you, consider the stats for other West Seattle elementary schools (according to the “demographic summaries” available on the SPS website – you can choose any school from the “school reports” pulldown on this page):
21% for Alki Elementary
29% for Cooper Elementary
32% for Gatewood Elementary
47% for Highland Park Elementary
42% for Lafayette Elementary
26% for Roxhill Elementary
31% for Sanislo Elementary
51% for Schmitz Park Elementary (the only one higher than AH)
36% for West Seattle Elementary
(Thanks to Michelle for pointing out this info also is available in map form)
Here again is the new Arbor Heights fact sheet; next steps for the “Save Arbor Heights” campaign, a community meeting in the school cafeteria at 7 tomorrow night (as reported here last night). Side note: Tomorrow is also a big night for dozens of West Seattle parents affected by the proposal to move the citywide APP (top-level gifted) program out of Lowell Elementary in the north end and split it between two schools (West Seattle APP students would move to Hawthorne) – their advisory committee is having a meeting at Lowell with a briefing from district staff.

Tuesday closure-fight meeting planned at Arbor Heights Elementary

After a long weekend of strategy planning, PTSA leaders at Arbor Heights Elementary have announced a special meeting for 7 pm Tuesday at the school. That’ll be exactly a week after Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson proposed ending the AH Elementary “program” so that its building can become the new home of Pathfinder K-8, long headquartered in the badly deteriorated Genesee Hill Elementary building. PTSA leaders are hoping for a big turnout Tuesday night from the entire community, not just those with direct ties to the school — one of the major arguments of the “Save Arbor Heights” campaign is that it is truly a community school, with more than half its students coming from the immediate neighborhood, a much-higher percentage than many other area schools. (Another note for everyone in West Seattle affected by the new school closure/change proposal – tomorrow morning is when the district starts taking signups for speaking slots at the Wednesday night School Board meeting – the closure/change proposal isn’t officially on the agenda outside of the “superintendent’s report,” but the public comment period is open for any subject. Starting at 8 am tomorrow, people interested in speaking that night need to either e-mail boardagenda@seattleschools.org, or call (206) 252-0040.)

School closures: “Walking on Logs” becomes “Protesting on Logs”

Returning home from the downtown parade, we spotted the Walking on Logs sculptures decked in Arbor Heights Elementary School T-shirts, with signs like the one you see above (a bit soggy in the rain). Handmade signs are nearby (with identical ones across the northeastbound Fauntleroy Way end of The Bridge):

As evidenced by those displays – and other less-public actions — many members of the AH Elementary community are working frenetically through this “holiday” weekend, days after hearing Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson propose to end their school’s existence so the building could be given to the Pathfinder K-8 program (which has been stuck for years in the subpar ex-Genesee Hill Elementary building). The Arbor Heights troops are researching facts, crafting a battle strategy, planning a community meeting (date/time TBA), and preparing for the public-comment period at next Wednesday’s School Board meeting. They also are updating the Save Arbor Heights blog that was created even before the official announcement (as we reported Wednesday afternoon), with entries including this customized timeline of key dates/events between now and the final School Board vote in late January. From what we’ve monitored so far, it is clear they are taking to heart the advice offered by West Seattle board rep Steve Sundquist at his standing-room-only coffee hour on Wednesday – don’t bring the board raw emotion, bring research, ideas, alternative proposals – with the focus less on “don’t do that” than on “do this, instead of that.” Meantime, the holidays wait for no one, and the Arbor Heights Elementary community also is preparing for its long-planned holiday bazaar Thursday night, 4-8 pm — now juxtaposed with one of the school district’s “community workshops” (6:30 pm that night at district HQ in Sodo) on the citywide closure plan.

Freedom Church free feast also “more than just dinner”

November 27, 2008 3:28 pm
|    Comments Off on Freedom Church free feast also “more than just dinner”
 |   Arbor Heights | Holidays | West Seattle news

The volunteers serving free Thanksgiving dinner at Freedom Church (in the old Safeway building at 35th/Roxbury) were crazy-busy when we dropped in a few minutes before their 3-6 pm free dinner began – but we did get to see that, like the Fauntleroy volunteers, they’re sharing more than a meal:

Groceries for those who need them, and nice clothing:

They also had shampoo and soap available. Which reminds us that many West Seattle businesses, churches, and other organizations are colleecting those types of items as well as food and clothing (and diapers for WestSide Baby!) donations this holiday season – keep an eye on the WSB Holiday Happenings page for those opportunities, and also please let us know if you and your business/school/etc. are offering people the chance to reach out. If you have something to offer, you can also consider posting it in the WSB Forums‘ Freebies/Deals/Sales section (where an offer of “free bikes” has just been posted, to add to what’s already there).

Sharing the bounty: Free Thanksgiving dinners this afternoon

You probably don’t have to cook for a crowd the size of the one that Don is preparing for. We caught him with huge pots of gravy (etc.) in the kitchen at The Hall at Fauntleroy, where Tuxedos and Tennis Shoes Catering is again serving up the annual free Thanksgiving dinner, noon-3 pm (map). The tables are waiting, as sun dapples through the huge south-facing windows:

Those who come also will be able to take something home – donated clothing and other items are laid out:

Also offering a free Thanksgiving dinner in West Seattle today: Freedom Church (35th/Roxbury), 3-6 pm. Many people are spending part of their holiday volunteering to make these events possible – we are thankful to live in a community with so many who give so much.

Toplines on the school announcements, and what’s next

Following up on our live updates from last night’s 4-hour-plus School Board session where school closures and changes were officially proposed, here are the toplines/bottom lines on West Seattle effects, and what happens next:

-Ex-Genesee Hill Elementary building (map; photo right) proposed for closure
Pathfinder K-8 proposed to move out of Genesee Hill, into Arbor Heights Elementary building (map; photo above)
-Arbor Heights Elementary would cease to exist as a “program”
-Arbor Heights’ current “regular” students would be dispersed among other West Seattle South cluster elementary schools (list)
-Arbor Heights’ current “special-ed” students would stay and become part of the Pathfinder K-8 “program”
-West Seattle students in the Advanced Placement Program (APP) would be assigned to Hawthorne Elementary (map), tabbed as one of two new homes for APP elementary students, who till now have all been housed together at Lowell (that building is to close) – this affects more than 50 West Seattle students (thanks to Molly for forwarding district documents that show how many West Seattle students from each “reference area” attend schools outside their “area,” including Lowell – here’s the WS north version, here’s the WS south version)

DETAILED INFO

All the presentations from the Tuesday night meeting are linked from this page (look under the Nov. 25 meeting header); for supplementary info, here’s Genesee Hill building history and Arbor Heights building history; Arbor Heights has set up a Save Arbor Heights site; before last night’s meeting, we published some background on the last round of school closure proposals, meetings, protests., etc.

NEXT STEPS

HOW TO COMMENT ON THE PROPOSALS: Various options all detailed here (including an e-mail announcement list you can sign up for)

TODAY: West Seattle’s School Board rep Steve Sundquist invites one and all to his monthly coffee chat at Coffee to a Tea with Sugar this morning, 9 am, in The Junction (map).

NEXT WEEK: First School Board meeting post-announcements, 6 pm Wednesday @ district HQ

AFTER THAT: The timeline remains the same as the one the district outlined previously:

□ December 4 – Community Meeting, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., John Stanford Center, 2445 3rd Avenue South
□ December 6 – Community Meeting, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., Filipino Community Center, 5740 Martin Luther King Way
□ December 15, 16, 18 –Public hearings at buildings proposed for closure
□ Tuesday, January 6 –Final recommendation announced by Superintendent
□ Wednesday, January 7 –Board meeting: Capacity management motion introduced
□ Wednesday, January 21 –Board meeting
□ Thursday, January 22 –Final public hearing
□ Thursday, January 29 –Special board meeting (final vote)

Note that the 12/15-12/18 hearings will be at the BUILDINGS proposed for closure – so Genesee Hill will get one, though Arbor Heights, as a PROGRAM proposed for closure, apparently will not. The dates for those hearings are not yet set – we will publish that information as soon as it’s available.

School closures: Before the announcement, some background

Looking ahead to the official announcement of the school-closure (and probably, consolidation, moving, etc.) plan at 6 pm tonight (district HQ in Sodo), some background: It’s been two years since the previous closure process hit its low point, an ugly ruckus during a board meeting in October 2006. Before that, the most controversial West Seattle aspect of the fall 2006 proposal was a plan for Pathfinder K-8 to move out of the ex-Genesee Hill Elementary and “merge” into the Cooper Elementary building in Pigeon Point; Roxhill Elementary was also proposed for closure; earlier in the process, there had been an even-more controversial proposal to move Pathfinder to Boren (where Chief Sealth is temporarily headquartered now). When all was said and done some weeks later, Pathfinder and Cooper kept their status quos — even though all agree the Genesee Hill building is in sorry shape — and ultimately, the Fairmount Park Elementary building was closed, with that school’s “program” merging into the underenrolled then-High Point Elementary, since renamed West Seattle Elementary. We’re heading out shortly to district HQ and will start up the “live” post once we’re settled in there. Another place to watch in addition to WSB is the always-excellent Seattle Public Schools Community blog (which started up during the 2006 closures process, at saveseattleschools.blogspot.com).

West Seattle Crime Watch: Two angry break-in victims

Two of your West Seattle neighbors have e-mailed to let you know what happened when burglars targeted them – one in Arbor Heights, one on Genesee Hill. Sometimes, the Crime Watch reader reports we get are simple and emotionless, but not these two:Read More

West Seattle outage updates: Monday’s electricity, today’s cable

FIRST UPDATE: We promised to check on the cause of the outage that left an estimated 4,000-plus south West Seattle homes and businesses without power for more than an hour, right about this time yesterday. Just heard back from Scott Thomsen at Seattle City Light; he says it’s listed as an underground cable failure – those happen from time to time for a variety of reasons, anything from age to damage caused by weather conditions in earlier months and years. SECOND UPDATE: We checked on the Arbor Heights/Fauntleroy Comcast outage reported by Hopey this morning in comments on this post; Comcast’s Shauna Causey tells WSB that two technicians are in the area right now and if it’s not fixed yet, it should be shortly.

Happening today/tonight: Safety rally, Scouting, more …

October 7, 2008 8:10 am
|    Comments Off on Happening today/tonight: Safety rally, Scouting, more …
 |   Arbor Heights | High Point | Westwood | WS miscellaneous

Highlights from the WSB West Seattle Events calendar (besides this of course being the night of Presidential Debate #2):

PEDESTRIAN-SAFETY RALLY: As first mentioned in this report, everyone concerned about safety on West Seattle streets is invited to join a rally 3-4 pm today at 35th/Juneau in High Point (map) – that’s the intersection where a 15-year-old girl was hit last month.

SCOUTING: Another local Cub Scout pack is signing up new members tonight – the sign-up meeting for Cub Scout Pack 799 is at 7 pm tonight, Arbor Heights Elementary lunchroom. Boys 1st-5th grade are invited.

DENNY/SEALTH PROJECT DEPARTURE ADVISORY COMMITTEE: As mentioned in our report from last night, this group is reviewing the request for zoning “departures” required by the Denny/Sealth combined-campus proposal – less parking, more height. The public’s invited to tonight’s meeting, 7 pm at the Denny cafeteria (more info here).

West Seattle Weather Watch: All’s well so far

Seriously breezy but not catastrophically windy; no major problems reported overnight or currently. The National Weather Service‘s morning “forecast discussion” says this system is moving through “as advertised” and things should quiet down later this morning, with the next notable development some colder air on Thursday with daytime highs as low as the upper 40s. 7:43 AM UPDATE: In comments, Hopey notes a Fauntleroy/Arbor Heights Comcast service outage. We’ll update if we can find out more about its status.

Updates: Power outage in south West Seattle

Working on details – more shortly.

City Light says about 4000 customers are without power as of 1:15 this afternoon. The boundaries are listed as Webster SW on the north down to 113th Place SW, 30th SW on the east to Puget Sound on the west. Crews have been dispatched and as of 1:45 no time was given for when power would be restored.

Update 2 pm: According to Mike it’s affecting some traffic signals near Lincoln Park.

websterout.jpg

Update 2 pm: The Webster and Cloverdale signals are out (Webster shown in photo above, taken just before 2 pm), as are the ferry dock toll booths.

Update 2 pm: Fauntleroy power just came back on. Still waiting to hear back from City Light about the cause. Thanks to everyone who sent e-mail/text tips about the outage!

West Seattle web notes, first-day-of-new-month edition

ARBOR HEIGHTS ELEMENTARY TECH PIONEER NOTED NATIONALLY: The Wall Street Journal‘s “Blog Watch” gives a shoutout this week to Arbor Heights’ Mark Ahlness, who in 1994 created the website that made AH Elementary one of the first grade schools in the U.S. with an online presence. You can follow his blog here (and he’s on Twitter too!).

SAY HI TO SEATTLE’S MOST FAMOUS NEWSPAPER BLOGGER: Monica Guzman from the P-I’s Big Blog is bringing her weekly BB meetup to West Seattle today, 5:30 pm at Uptown in The Junction. All welcome. We’ve met Monica several times and there are many things we could say about her – all positive! – but we’ll summarize with “she’s just plain good people,” so if you’re in the vicinity, drop by; we plan to.

THE NEXT TIME WE’RE LIKELY TO SEE MONICA, AND YOU’RE INVITED TO THIS TOO: Monica and your editor here are among the speakers set for the whimsically named BigFoot Blogging Conference (along with, among others, Goldy from HorsesAss.org, one of the political blogs covered on the new WSB Election page). 10 am-4 pm October 11th at Kane Hall on the UW campus; admission free, but space is limited.

LAST BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST – THANKS FOR ANOTHER RECORD MONTH!!!! We try to follow a philosophy from our TV days – though you get ratings daily, don’t stress about the ups and downs, look at the monthly trends. When you run a website, you get “ratings” minute by minute, but the trends are what matter. And thanks to you, the trends continue to be amazing – September was the fourth consecutive month with more than half a million WSB pageviews, setting a new record at 564,283 (40K more than last month, even though September has one less day). That’s not just because of all the people who read WSB – most importantly, it’s because of everyone who shares information with the rest of West Seattle via this site, whether it’s a Forum post or e-mailing/calling us with a tip (like the half-dozen people who e-mailed this morning to ask about the film crew in Lincoln Park – thanks to those tips, our in-person and online followups brought full details within about half an hour). This site is viewed as one of the most successful experiments so far in community-centered independent online-only news (our media coverage links are halfway down the “About” page), and we are thankful to have you as a collaborator. We also want to know how this site could better serve your needs — call, e-mail, text, or tweet any time.

Update: Arbor Heights garage-fire cause “undetermined”

garage4.jpg

garage6.jpg

As of 8 am there’s still no word from the Seattle Fire Department about the cause of the fire early this morning in the 10000 block of the alley between 40th and 41st SW. Though the fire was centered in one garage, there is damage to another, and an adjacent house appears to have some heat damage as well. As soon as there’s an update we’ll have it for you. Here’s some pictures of the damage taken at 7:45 this morning. Click here for our breaking news coverage from earlier. 10:12 AM UPDATE: SFD has updated its media info on the fire; spokesperson Dana Vander Houwen says investigators “have ruled the cause (as) undetermined.” Dollar estimate on the damage: $80,000.