Highland Park – West Seattle Blog… https://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Wed, 15 Aug 2018 08:02:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 UPDATE: Highland Park ‘road work’ near a place to play https://westseattleblog.com/2018/08/happening-now-highland-park-road-work-near-a-place-to-play/ https://westseattleblog.com/2018/08/happening-now-highland-park-road-work-near-a-place-to-play/#comments Sat, 11 Aug 2018 17:43:24 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=925186

10:43 AM: Another traffic alert of sorts – a project under way by Highland Park Elementary. Thanks to Sam Drucker for the photos and report:

After a couple of years of planning, and in collaboration with Children’s Hospital, the Duwamish, and a local artist (and HPE alumnus), we are spending this morning painting the intersection by the entrance to our new playground.

The project is meant to help slow traffic around the school, honor and recognize and thank the tribe whose land our school and community reside on, and provide another opportunity to get people together to build relationships.

4:36 PM UPDATE: Here’s the finished mural:

The photo is from the artist, Marianne Maksirisombat.

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WEST SEATTLE CRIME WATCH: Stolen black Honda mini-van, ‘desperately needed for doctor appointments and therapies’ https://westseattleblog.com/2018/07/west-seattle-crime-watch-stolen-black-honda-mini-van-desperately-needed-for-doctor-appointments-and-therapies/ https://westseattleblog.com/2018/07/west-seattle-crime-watch-stolen-black-honda-mini-van-desperately-needed-for-doctor-appointments-and-therapies/#comments Mon, 09 Jul 2018 22:00:27 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=921888 Another stolen vehicle to watch for – Ayn and her family really need it:

It was stolen the morning of the 8th between 2:30 am and 8:00 am. From in front of our house near the corner of 18th Ave SW & Elmgrove.

It is a Black 2018 Honda Odyssey, license plate# BJX 7919. Has a license plate holder that says SODO Honda of Seattle.

I’m disabled and have three children with Autism. We desperately need our vehicle for doctor appointments and therapies.

My disability placards and walker with wheels and seat were also in the Van.

Call 911 if you see the van – and/or an abandoned walker, too.

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Second-to-last day of school makes a splash at Highland Park Elementary https://westseattleblog.com/2018/06/second-to-last-day-of-school-makes-a-splash-at-highland-park-elementary/ https://westseattleblog.com/2018/06/second-to-last-day-of-school-makes-a-splash-at-highland-park-elementary/#comments Thu, 21 Jun 2018 22:46:01 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=920264

Big fun at Highland Park Elementary on this second-to-last day of school – a Field Day celebration! Thanks for HPE’s PE teacher Chellie LaFayette for inviting us to stop by. Third- through fifth-grade students had fun for an hour and a half in the morning, which is when we visited:

Then in the afternoon, preschoolers through second-graders got their turn, and the school day was scheduled to end with free balls for everybody courtesy of the YES Foundation. P.S. The district’s school year ends with one-hour-early dismissal tomorrow.

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TRAFFIC ALERT: Another crash at Highland Park’s problem intersection https://westseattleblog.com/2018/06/traffic-alert-another-crash-at-highland-parks-problem-intersection/ https://westseattleblog.com/2018/06/traffic-alert-another-crash-at-highland-parks-problem-intersection/#comments Mon, 18 Jun 2018 05:22:42 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=919919 (WSB photo)

No major injuries but two cars are damaged after colliding at Highland Park Way and Holden. The Highland Park Action Committee continues trying to get traffic calming for this intersection and took a mayoral assistant on a walking tour earlier this week for a firsthand look.

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FOLLOWUP: Fact-finding visit in advance of mayor’s now-postponed Highland Park visit https://westseattleblog.com/2018/06/followup-fact-finding-visit-in-advance-of-mayors-now-postponed-highland-park-visit/ https://westseattleblog.com/2018/06/followup-fact-finding-visit-in-advance-of-mayors-now-postponed-highland-park-visit/#comments Thu, 14 Jun 2018 23:26:26 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=919551 (WSB photos. Foreground from left, HPAC vice chair Gunner Scott, mayor’s rep Kyla Blair, HPIC board member Kay Kirkpatrick, pas HPAC co-chair Michele Witzki, HPAC chair Charlie Omana, Dutchboy Coffee’s Jenni Watkins)

Mayor Jenny Durkan‘s promised visit to Highland Park has been postponed – Highland Park Action Committee still meets June 27th as usual, but will feature other guests. However, a member of her staff, Kyla Blair, kept her date to meet with HPAC leadership and other community advocates to scout out top concerns – particularly the SW Holden/Highland Park Way traffic mess.

We were invited to go along with the delegation as they walked Blair down from Highland Park Improvement Club (12th/Holden) to the problem-plagued intersection during the Wednesday morning outbound commute. They got to show her, firsthand, driver cut-throughs on side streets (above, SW Portland) to escape the logjam at the intersection.

And they told the story of the roundabout that has gone unfunded, despite a state grant application that had high-profile support plus more than 400 community members’ petition signatures. The mayor’s assistant got to see students and others crossing Highland Park Way without benefit of a crosswalk.

The roundabout saga is just the latest in 80 years of traffic concerns at the intersection, as shown in city records – and in WSB coverage (a few high-profile crashes were brought up). Overall, there’s long been a “lack of city investment” in Highland Park, as HPAC chair Charlie Omana described it. “It’s a historically redlined neighborhood,” vice chair Gunner Scott added. Durkan’s predecessor Ed Murray visited for one of his Find It, Fix It Walks last year, but little has resulted. Meantime, as noted along the way, both Highland Park Way and Holden are seeing redevelopment, further adding to traffic.

Though the actual walk on Wednesday morning had to be limited to the Highland Park Way/Holden visit, there was also discussion about the need for improvements at 16th/Holden; Jenni Watkins, in her second year of operating Dutchboy Coffee at that intersection, talked about seeing crashes and helping people who got hurt. Before long, Blair had to get back to City Hall, and promised she’d convey what she heard. Meantime, Omana will be booking a new date for the mayor’s visit.

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Mayor finally sets the date for Highland Park visit https://westseattleblog.com/2018/06/mayor-finally-sets-the-date-for-highland-park-visit/ Mon, 11 Jun 2018 23:48:38 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=919291 During Mayor Jenny Durkan‘s West Seattle “town hall” in February (photo at right), Highland Park Action Committee vice chair Gunner Scott invited her to visit HP – and she accepted. HPAC has been working since then to get a commitment for a date, and they finally have one. HPAC announced today that the mayor will be guest speaker at their June 27th meeting. It’ll move up half an hour as a result – 6:30 pm (doors open at 6:15 pm) at Highland Park Improvement Club (1116 SW Holden). From HPAC’s announcement:

We have requested the focus of the Mayor’s remarks to address the infrastructure needs of Highland Park, specifically, the Highland Park Way & SW Holden St. intersection. This has been HPAC’s preponderant infrastructure project, which we have been working to bring to fruition for many years. Further, Highland Park has been working to make this intersection safer in varying capacities for well over 70 years!

Here’s our coverage of SDOT’s update on that project at last month’s HPAC meeting.

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FOLLOWUP: Highland Park Action Committee, North Highline Unincorporated Area Council voice disappointment at Camp Second Chance extension https://westseattleblog.com/2018/06/followup-highland-park-action-committee-north-highline-unincorporated-area-council-voice-disappointment-at-camp-second-chance-extension/ https://westseattleblog.com/2018/06/followup-highland-park-action-committee-north-highline-unincorporated-area-council-voice-disappointment-at-camp-second-chance-extension/#comments Fri, 08 Jun 2018 19:05:10 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=918997 We published the city Human Services Department‘s announcement of another year for Camp Second Chance shortly after receiving it on Thursday afternoon. Since then, the two community councils closest to the sanctioned encampment – the Highland Park Action Committee and North Highline Unincorporated Area Council – have sent HSD interim director Jason Johnson this expression of disappointment:

The neighborhoods of Highland Park and the various neighborhoods comprising the unincorporated urban area of North Highline are extremely disappointed to hear that the City of Seattle has extended the permit for Camp Second Chance for an additional 12 months at the Myers Way Parcels (Fiscal and Administrative Services PMA #4539-4542). With this extension, the camp will have effectively been present at the current site for 2 years and 8 months, easily exceeding the allowed 2 year stay duration for encampments as outlined in Seattle Municipal Code Section 23.42.056, subsection E.1.

Camp Second Chance established itself on the Myers Way Parcels on July 23, 2016 (“Myers Way Parcels,” 2016), 10 days after former mayor Edward B. Murray declared that the property would be retained by the City of Seattle for the purposes of expanding the Joint Training Facility and for expanding recreational space (“Mayor Murray announces,” 2016). Polly Trout of Patacara Community Services—the organization which would become the sponsor for the camp—is reported to have used bolt cutters to break the lock on the fence that had been securing the property (Archibald, 2017a), thereby allowing the group of campers, who had defected from SHARE Tent City 3 earlier that year (Archibald, 2017b), to trespass and establish their new camp. The status of the camp remained in limbo for some time thereafter.

In a post on her blog concerning a possible eviction of the camp, Seattle City Council member Lisa Herbold (2016), who represents the district in which the camp is located, relayed that she had “urged the Executive [branch of city government] not only to have its work guided by established public health and safety prioritization criteria, but…asked whether outreach workers have the ability to ask for more time if – in their estimation – more time would help get campers access to services.” Seattle City Council member Sally Bagshaw and King County Council member Jean Kohl-Welles, who are not representatives of the area where the camp is located, had requested from Mayor Murray that the camp not be immediately evicted (Jaywork, 2016). Within 5 months of the camp’s establishment on the Myers Way property, the Murray administration proceeded to officially sanction the encampment (“West Seattle Encampment,” 2016), thereby delaying the community’s request to have the Myers Way Parcels relinquished to the Parks and Recreation department for future development of the site in accordance with community wishes.

I want to make clear that the communities surrounding the encampment are not strangers to disadvantage. Our neighborhoods have suffered from a lack of investment going back at least a century, and from redlining in the 1930s. The lasting effects of this lack of investment in our neighborhoods are palpable to this day!

Data from the American Community Survey (5-year Series, 2009-2013) show that Highland Park (Census Tract 113) has a lower median income ($53,182) and a higher proportion of residents who identify as a race or ethnicity other than White (49.8%) than Seattle as a whole ($65,277 and 29.4%, respectively). The King County census tract immediately to the South of Highland Park, which encompasses the land area where the Myers Way Parcels are located, shows even starker demographic departures from Seattle.

Census Tract 265 overlays the southeastern-most portion of Highland Park in the City of Seattle, as well as a portion of White Center, which is part of the North Highline unincorporated urban area. There, the proportion of residents who identify as a race or ethnicity other than White increases to 60.1%, while the Median Household Income drops to $35,857.

Like most Seattleites, residents of our neighborhoods are compassionate and wish to address the homelessness crisis with empathy. However, in as much as the City claims to promote equity, we ask that neighborhoods like ours not continue to be overwhelmed with the responsibility of shouldering the burden of the City’s homelessness policies while wealthier, less diverse neighborhoods remain largely unscathed.

Over the past decade, Highland Park has hosted three encampments and served as a staging area for a proposed safe lot for individuals residing in recreational vehicles. This burden has impacted not only our neighborhood, but the neighborhoods immediately south of us along the city limit. No other neighborhood in Seattle has willingly or unwillingly taken on as much and to the same extent!

Given this history, the Highland Park Action Committee (HPAC) has sought resolution from the Human Services Department on a number of items, including

1) The adoption of a set of best practices (manifested as our “Neighborhood Protocols for Sanctioned Encampments” which have been provided to the department on many past occasions and are again enclosed below) by which the City of Seattle will abide prior to sanctioning an encampment in any given neighborhood.

2) That the Finance and Administrative Services Department accelerate the relinquishment of the Myers Way Parcels to the Department of Parks and Recreation.

3) A plan resolving jurisdictional issues that arise from the presence of sanctioned and unsanctioned encampments at the interface of city, unincorporated county, and state land.

4) A 10% increase in the number of police officers assigned to the Southwest Precinct Patrol to help mitigate the increased burden on our current resources. (At 124 Full-Time Equivalents for budget year 2018, the Southwest Precinct Patrol Budget Control Level is the lowest in the city.)

Despite a reply on April 18 from Catherine Lester, the previous director of the Human Services Department, the Highland Park Action Committee does not feel that our requests have been satisfactorily addressed. We understand that some of our requests will require coordination with other departments. However, it is our belief that the City needs to take a holistic approach to its encampment-sanctioning process. To date, the methods employed have lacked transparency and eroded neighborhood trust in city government.

In an effort to allow residents of Highland Park and surrounding neighborhoods to get a better understanding of the City of Seattle’s homelessness response, the Highland Park Action Committee invites the Director of the Human Services Department (whomever that may be at the time) to attend our scheduled meeting on September 26, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. PDT for a moderated discussion on homelessness policy.

We kindly ask for confirmation of acceptance or declination of this request by August 17, 2018.

Sincerely,

Charlie Omana
Chair, Highland Park Action Committee

Liz Giba
President, North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

Highland Park’s decade-long history with encampment goes back to the first camp that called itself “Nickelsville,” which was evicted from public land at Highland Park Way and West Marginal Way SW less than a week after it set up in September 2008.

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TRAFFIC ALERT: Crash at 8th/Cloverdale https://westseattleblog.com/2018/05/traffic-alert-crash-at-8th-cloverdale/ https://westseattleblog.com/2018/05/traffic-alert-crash-at-8th-cloverdale/#comments Thu, 31 May 2018 01:01:47 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=918173

Thanks to Dennis for the photo and report: “This is the second at least that I know of, in a year. This time there is an injury. How do I go about getting the city to sign this uncontrolled intersection???” We’ve been asked that question before, regarding other intersections. This page offers some advice. Anyone reading this who’s been through the process is also invited to offer theirs!

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From the roundabout to the triangle @ Highland Park Action Committee https://westseattleblog.com/2018/05/from-the-roundabout-to-the-triangle-highland-park-action-committee/ https://westseattleblog.com/2018/05/from-the-roundabout-to-the-triangle-highland-park-action-committee/#comments Fri, 25 May 2018 01:18:20 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=917513 Transportation headlined last night’s Highland Park Action Committee meeting, led by chair Charlie Omana:

(Early concept for proposed Highland Park Way roundabout – final design may NOT resemble this)

ABOUT THE ROUNDABOUT: James Le from SDOT recapped the history of the long-proposed, little-funded Highland Park Way/Holden roundabout proposal, including the 2017 Find It, Fix It Walk during which $200,000 for design and $300,000 for construction was announced. While an application for a state grant was unsuccessful, the project got lots of support from local leaders, including U.S. House Rep. Pramila Jayapal. Another grant is being sought now – Le says WSDOT encouraged SDOT to seek the City Safety Grant for this project “because it ranked really high.” (No word yet when the decision is due. Le says SDOT has a grant coordinator who wrangles all that.) So far they have spent $50,000 of the design money and they are currently mapping the spot; another $100,000 will be spent to come up with two alternatives for the location, and the final $50,000 is being set aside as grant matching. The estimated cost for the project is $2.5 million (that’s up from a $2.1 million estimate in 2015). That includes, Le explained in response to a question, $800,000 labor and materials, and about $500,000 design costs.

Some of the design challenges will include how the roundabout would handle the intersection’s grade. And, in response to another question, Le reiterated that the eventual design might not resemble the existing concept rendering, which dates back a few years. HPAC leadership and attendees had lots of questions about how the proposed roundabout might work, and the bottom line right now is that it’s too early in design to tell. Some things mentioned: Maybe there would be a barrier about halfway down the hill. If you’re interested in seeing the city step this project up, lobby the City Council, because they too have the power to allot money.

Meantime, what about other urgent Highland Park transportation-safety needs? asked HPAC vice chair Gunner Scott. “What can be done at this point to start putting this on the map so people can see there’s some progress happening? … What can we do now?” Le said his scope of involvement is limited to the roundabout project and HPAC would have to talk to a Transportation Operations rep. Could a crosswalk – envisioned as part of the roundabout project – be installed first? Omana asked. Short answer from Le, it’s more complex than it sounds, so, no.

ONE MORE TRANSPORTATION NOTE: Later in the meeting, Omana mentioned he’s also talking to SDOT about left-turn signals at 16th/Holden.

DELRIDGE TRIANGLE: Kim Barnes (who you might know as Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Coalition co-chair) spoke about her project to get this spot improved. A Your Voice, Your Choice grant has been awarded to get it designed; a separate grant would be needed to be built, and a Neighborhood Matching Fund grant is being sought. Barnes came in hopes HPAC would support that. She also invited everyone to Roxhill Park‘s newly announced June 9th community barbecue.

HPIC UPDATES: Uncorked last weekend raised more than $25,000, reported Christie Sjostrom. Coming up – Corner Bar first Friday, Art Lounge with live (clothed) models second Friday, Movie Night third Friday, and the second Saturday in June will be second annual Album Side Saturday, 4-8 pm with food and fun outside. (You can keep up with HPIC events via the website.)

ADU OPTIONS: Scott pointed out that the city is seeking feedback right now on Accessory Dwelling Units (aka backyard cottages, mother-in-law units, etc.). It was pointed out that these are wide-ranging changes proposed in the Environmental Impact Statement, which is what’s being commented on right now. (Find out more here.)

CITY UPDATES: Scott mentioned that Andres Mantilla, the acting Department of Neighborhoods director, is a Highland Park resident and was in attendance at last week’s Delridge Neighborhoods District Council. He also mentioned the request for feedback on SDOT‘s search for a new director.

RV PARKING: One of the city’s hottest topics came up at HPAC too. Discussion centered on what are, and aren’t, the current rules. RVs are parking at Riverview, attendees said. They’re going to invite SPD leadership to a future meeting, and perhaps other department reps.

SPEAKING OF THE CITY … MAYORAL VISIT: Scott invited the mayor to Highland Park, and she accepted, during her Town Hall meeting at the Senior Center of West Seattle. HPAC is still working on scheduling this.

FUTURE MEETINGS: HPAC meets fourth Wednesdays at HPIC (1116 SW Holden), 7 pm, all welcome. Watch hpacws.org for updates between meetings.

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Will Highland Park’s roundabout ever be funded? SDOT update Wednesday https://westseattleblog.com/2018/05/will-highland-parks-roundabout-ever-be-funded-sdot-update-wednesday/ https://westseattleblog.com/2018/05/will-highland-parks-roundabout-ever-be-funded-sdot-update-wednesday/#comments Tue, 22 May 2018 18:39:02 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=917405

(Early design concept for proposed Highland Park Way roundabout)

Tomorrow night, the Highland Park Action Committee gets an update on the long-in-the-works roundabout proposed for Highland Park Way and SW Holden. SDOT’s James Le is expected to be at the meeting with the newest information. After last month’s meeting, HPAC chair Charlie Omana learned from SDOT that SDOT has been “performing a survey of existing site conditions which should be completed within the next month. Once the survey is complete, project design can proceed, and SDOT intends to engage the public with multiple opportunities for feedback.” But, he added, only $200,000 of the project’s estimated $2.5 million cost has been committed. SDOT says it’s applied for a grant from the WSDOT City Safety Program but won’t hear until later this year. (It’s been half a year since the project was turned down for a different WSDOT grant.) Omana says, “After 5 years of working on this project in its current capacity, to have only $200k committed is disappointing. HPAC is concerned about the effects that increasing construction costs will have on the feasibility of this project over time. … HPAC will continue pushing to bring this project to fruition sooner rather than later.” And that includes Wednesday night’s discussion (7 pm at Highland Park Improvement Club, 1116 SW Holden).

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West Seattle weekend scene: Highland Park Uncorked’s 10th anniversary https://westseattleblog.com/2018/05/west-seattle-weekend-scene-highland-park-uncorkeds-10th-anniversary/ Mon, 21 May 2018 05:22:34 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=917225 (WSB photos)

Historic Highland Park Improvement Club had a full house Saturday night for the 10th anniversary of their fun and festive fundraiser Uncorked. It’s evolved from its origins as a sort of DIY wine-tasting event, where the partygoers brought the wine, to an event with 10 participating wineries! Along with beverages, appetizers, and good company, an art auction was part of the festivities – here’s some of what we noticed:

Proceeds help keep HPIC in good shape – it’s almost a century old, and hosts numerous events, classes, and meetings. P.S. This year’s Uncorked co-sponsors included WSB.

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HAPPENING NOW: Highland Park Elementary’s new playground needs a little more help https://westseattleblog.com/2018/05/happening-now-highland-park-elementarys-new-playground-needs-a-little-more-help/ Sat, 05 May 2018 18:30:21 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=915751

Got some time to spare right now? Get over to Highland Park Elementary! The photo and invitation are from Connie Wolf:

The Highland Park Elementary PTA was hoping that May 5th would feature a Grand Opening Party for our school’s new playground, but as is typical for big projects, the construction took much longer than expected. Happily, as of yesterday, all the construction is complete! The work we have left to do is to move the engineered wood fiber (play chips) under our new net climber and slides. It’s a big job and a good workout. If you have an hour or two to spare, please join us [now] to get the “pit” filled in. Thank you everybody for your support!

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City Councilmember Lisa Herbold asks for investigation into whether landlord ‘loophole’ all but emptied a Highland Park building https://westseattleblog.com/2018/05/city-councilmember-lisa-herbold-asks-for-investigation-into-whether-landlord-loophole-all-but-emptied-a-highland-park-building/ https://westseattleblog.com/2018/05/city-councilmember-lisa-herbold-asks-for-investigation-into-whether-landlord-loophole-all-but-emptied-a-highland-park-building/#comments Sat, 05 May 2018 03:30:54 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=915709 (WSB photos)

When older apartment buildings are put up for sale, the accompanying listing often assures prospective buyers that a little work can bring the rents up to market level. That might be good news for the buyers, but not necessarily for the renters. West Seattle/South Park City Councilmember Lisa Herbold says the city is investigating what happened after a building in her neighborhood, 900 SW Holden in Highland Park, changed hands. This is republished from her weekly newsletter, published on the city website today:

Last Wednesday, while I was walking from my house to the Highland Park Action Council (HPAC) meeting I noticed one of the large apartment buildings in my neighborhood was boarded up. I didn’t know why that had happened, and because I work hard to keep up on what is going on in my District, and especially my neighborhood, I was feeling disappointed in myself for not being aware that a new major development was apparently occurring just two blocks away from my home. But then, during the meeting with HPAC, one of the attendees mentioned that the very building I had noticed on my walk to the meeting had been recently cleared by the landlord of all its tenants and some of them had become homeless as a result.

This immediately alarmed me because the City of Seattle has, since the 1980s, had a Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance (TRAO) that gives renters at least 90 days’ notice and financial moving assistance whenever a building is going to be renovated, demolished, or if there’s a change of use. It was immediately apparent to me that there was no way that the legal process for the Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance could have occurred so quickly and I became worried that people had been improperly displaced. On my way home that evening, I walked around the perimeter of the building and indeed, it was apparent that all but a couple of the units were vacant.

When I got home that evening, I looked up the address on the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) website to see what development activity was planned at the site. But there were no planned development activities associated with TRAO or a demolition, renovation, or change of use associated with the address. This further confirmed my suspicion that renters in the building had been improperly forced to move. The next morning, I contacted SDCI and asked them to send an inspector out to the property.

I am saddened to report that I learned yesterday that SDCI has found that the tenants in the building recently had received a 100% rent increase and that this increase led to 20 of the 23 households being displaced from the building. Again, I’ve been told by my neighbors that several of these households are now homeless. This is, I believe, a shameful result and an abuse of a landlord’s right to increase rent free from any regulation.

The TRAO says that it is unlawful for landlords to use excessive rent increases to circumvent the requirements for 90 days’ notice and access to moving expenses assistance. But, there is no limit to how much a landlord can raise the rent. You see, the TRAO entitles low income renters who must move because of renovations to money to help them pay their moving costs ($3188). But if a tenant moves because of a big rent increase, they won’t get the assistance.

Not only do rent increases in Seattle lead the nation, but some rent increases are actually used to circumvent other tenant protections such as the TRAO. In 2014, Councilmember Nick Licata brought attention to the fact that “each year more and more tenants find out they were deprived of critical relocation assistance following a massive rent hike due to loop holes created by state law” and that some property owners do this as a regular business practice. You may remember the story of the Lockhaven Apartments and the Prince of Wales. In 2014 and again in 2015, State Senators David Frockt (46th District) and then State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles (36th District) introduced legislation to disincentive for the practice of using rent increases to circumvent TRAO.

A number of landlords and their lobbyist testified against the bill, and it did not pass the State Legislature, so in response, Councilmember Licata worked to amend Seattle’s Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance (TRAO) to help tenants deprived of relocation assistance and 90 days’ notice to move that they would have otherwise received if their landlord followed TRAO instead of displacing them with a large rent increase. Specifically, the law prohibited rent increases for the purpose of avoiding the required Tenant Relocation Assistance process. If a landlord increases rent by 20 percent or more, which results in a tenant vacating a unit within 90 days, then applies for a permit to substantially rehabilitate the unit within 6 months, the owner can have their building permit denied until the owner pays the penalties. Penalties are $1,000 per day for each day from the date the violation began. The change Councilmember Licata made to the law has helped a lot of people, see this article from March, where under the new TRAO law, SDCI was able to require a landlord to pay $168,268 in relocation payments to 46 households that were living at 104 Pine St.

But somehow, and sadly, people who want to avoid their obligations seem to manage to find new loopholes as soon as you close one set of loopholes. The owner of this property that has displaced 20 Highland Park household with a 100% rent increase found yet another loophole in TRAO. From SDCI’s investigation we have learned that the property was purchased in January 2018 and the new owners, after the rent increase of nearly 100%, and after 20 tenant households vacated as a result of the rent increases, is now doing a rehabilitation that includes painting the exterior, painting interior units, tearing out carpeting and replacing some appliances. None of this work requires that the owner obtain a permit and it does not meet the definition of substantial rehabilitation (which requires work of $6000 or more per unit).

I am thankful that SDCI is continuing to investigate and will be requesting the owner sign a certification that the rent increase was not for the purpose of avoiding application of TRAO. If people are in touch with the displaced renters, please encourage them to contact me so that I can put them in touch with SDCI for purposes of this ongoing investigation.

lisa.herbold@seattle.gov is her e-mail address. Records show the 51-year-old complex was sold for $4.2 million in January to a Renton-based LLC led by a real-estate investor who also leads the corporation that holds an Everett building that the Daily Herald reported was the subject of discrimination accusations in 2015. The listing flyer for 900 SW Holden, meantime, noted that its rents were 30 to 40 percent below market level, and that more than 80 percent of its tenants were month-to-month.

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WEST SEATTLE CRIME WATCH: Gunfire, confirmed https://westseattleblog.com/2018/04/west-seattle-crime-watch-gunfire-confirmed/ Mon, 23 Apr 2018 07:58:41 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=914709 Seattle Police, according to radio communication, have found at least one shell casing while investigating reports of gunfire in Highland Park. The discovery is reported in the 8400 block of 10th SW, not far from some of the locations where 911 callers reported hearing it – from the 8600 block of 12th SW to the 9200 block of 21st SW. No reports of anyone being hurt.

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WEST SEATTLE CRIME WATCH: Westcrest Park car-prowl victim’s warning https://westseattleblog.com/2018/04/west-seattle-crime-watch-westcrest-park-car-prowl-victims-warning/ https://westseattleblog.com/2018/04/west-seattle-crime-watch-westcrest-park-car-prowl-victims-warning/#comments Sun, 22 Apr 2018 17:08:14 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=914631 From a reader reporting anonymously:

(Friday) sometime between 12:00-1:30 pm, in the South parking lot at Westcrest Park, my car was broken into – no sign of forced entry and nothing obvious taken – except for my wallet, from the glove compartment. I was playing with my son for about 20 minutes at the small play area there in front of the lot, and did take passing note of a sketchy looking man hanging out listening to his radio and possibly reading a newspaper in a beat-up old-model white pickup truck.

After 20 minutes, we walked the dog into the dog park, then played for an hour or so at the Westcrest playground and then returned to the car around 1:45 pm. I noticed my wallet was gone only when I went to grab it before heading into a store around 2 pm. I then started receiving text alerts about suspicious charges about 15 minutes later. The thieves racked up over $11,000 or charges at Apple, Nordstrom, Macy’s, and other stores, all at Southcenter – within probably 20 or 30 minutes, before their charges started being declined and I was notified. While filing a police report, I was told by the officer that it is relatively common for thieves to use signal-boosting devices for RFID key fobs to mirror the correct frequency to a vehicle and thereby gain entry without any apparent sign of forced breaking and entering. These devices can work over a fairly sizable range: the playground we were at near this parking lot would be well within range. I had no idea such a thing existed and hopefully others can learn from my mistake:

1) Westcrest parking lot, in the middle of the day, as per other reports on here, is still a high car prowl, sketchy place.

2) Be aware of suspicious looking car-sitters and remove all valuables from your car. The glove box is the first place they target after any visible purses on seats.

3) Thieves can essentially gain entrance to your vehicle if you have a keyfob and hang out relatively near your vehicle for a while. Consider getting an RFID blocking device and place your key in it.

Regardless of whether they’re using an electronic device, car prowlers can work quickly, we’ve heard from police and victims time and time again, without those nearby, even in busy areas, being aware of what’s going on.

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