West Seattle, Washington
Callers to 911 reported hearing gunfire and a speeding-away vehicle around 18th/Dawson on Puget Ridge just after 5 pm last night. Police were gone before we could get there but we finally have confirmation today that responding officers did find “evidence of a shooting” (in other words, casings) but did not find property damage or injured people, The police-report summary says one witness saw “shots being fired into the air from a moving vehicle (and a) second vehicle was also seen following the first and believed to be related.” The summary, however, does not include a description of either vehicle.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
We often hear from people upset about RV encampments. We seldom hear from the people who live in them. Tonight we talked with an RV resident because of this:
Last night, that note was called to our attention on Twitter by local “mutual aid” volunteers. They said the note was found last night by vehicle residents on Puget Ridge. “We have been asked by our friends to help call attention to this, hoping that putting a spotlight on this will grant them some small level of protection should the author of this letter attack them or their homes,” the volunteers tweeted. When we asked a followup question, they offered to put us in touch with a recipient. This morning, they provided a name and number, and tonight we spoke by phone with Michelle.
She and her husband recently moved their vehicles (including a truck) to 16th SW alongside South Seattle College (WSB sponsor), where earlier today we counted three RVs and two trucks. Michelle says they found a copy of the note on their windshield; another woman who lives in a vehicle on the block found a copy stuck in her door. It’s not the first time they’ve been harassed, Michelle says, citing incidents of people throwing things at them, from rocks to dog poop.
They aren’t longtime vehicle residents, she says, but they are longtime West Seattle residents – 17 years. Her husband is a 33-year longshore worker who suffered a stroke last fall. They’re looking for an apartment, she says, and thought they’d found one recently, but the landlord changed their mind. So they’ve been moving from parking site to parking site – Westwood and Highland Park before the current stop in Puget Ridge.
For people like her who live in vehicles, Michelle says, what would really help is a place to park. Even a space they’d have to pay rent for. (The City Council budgeted money for a “safe lot” and the Regional Homelessness Authority has awarded a nonprofit a $1.9 million contract to get one going – LIHI, the same nonprofit that runs tiny-house villages including West Seattle’s Camp Second Chance – but they haven’t set one up yet, saying they’re still seeking a site.) A place to park where they wouldn’t get harassed.
Which brings us back to the note. If you could talk to the anonymous note-writer, we asked Michelle, what would you tell them? That their allegations are wrong, she says. Nobody there currently is a sex offender, drug dealer, or addict, as the note alleges, Michelle insists. In fact, she suggests, if they’re worried about sex offenders, they should be more concerned about a “halfway house” she says is somewhere nearby. (For the record, the sex-offender-search website shows 4 within a mile radius of that location, but nothing suggesting a cluster.) She does acknowledge that sometimes they “make a mess” – she and her husband have three dogs – but “we pick it up.”
As of our conversation tonight, nobody had yet to carry out the note’s threats. And she says it’s apparently on police’s radar, as officers came by earlier to check in. (Making threats like those in the note is a crime.) But for now, she asks for a little tolerance: “We’re not trying to be out here – we just have nowhere else to go.”
ADDED 2:38 PM TUESDAY: Just saw this in the SPD report summaries:
On 02-20-2023 in the early morning hours, a victim heard a noise outside his RV and observed an unidentified subject placing something on vehicle windshields. The victim was able to obtain some evidence but could not identify the subject. The victim later discovered the item was a note which referenced the RV owners’ housing status. The letter continued with threats to damage the vehicles, among other threats. The victim called 911 to report the incident. A total of four victims were identified and had all received the same letter. Patrol attempted to contact a suspect at his home but did not receive an answer. Bias crimes notifications were made.
The incident # is 23-048910.
5:20 PM: Thanks for the tips. As of about half an hour ago, Seattle Public Utilities is handling a water problem on Puget Ridge. It’s centered near 17th/Myrtle, according to SPU’s map. Though the map also projects a restoration time of 10 pm, we offer the same caveat as in power outages – those estimates are really just guesses, so could be much sooner or much later. If you’re having trouble and you’re not in the area shown on the map, call SPU at 206-386-1800 and be sure they know you’re affected too.
7:39 PM: We went to Puget Ridge and tried to find any SPU crews working around 17th/Myrtle; no luck. Water in the street, more than would be residual from the last round of rain, was in evidence on Myrtle between 16th and 17th, though.
It’s the only “edible park” in West Seattle – Puget Ridge Edible Park – and it’s right here on the peninsula. A recent arrival to Puget Ridge who has been chronicling her family’s journeys on YouTube, Melissa Smith, discovered PREP (18th SW and SW Brandon) and wanted to tell its story. After she sent us the link to the resulting video (embedded above), we asked her for the backstory about her storytelling:
Since summer 2022, we have been traveling by van across the West Coast from Santa Cruz, California, where I first converted a 1/10 acre property into a micro food forest. As former middle-school science teachers, my husband and I decided to pursue our dream to start a regenerative farm and are now on the road searching for where to buy land and immerse ourselves in a community with our farm and education center.
In late October, we decided to settle for the winter and looked around the Seattle area. We fell in love with West Seattle after experiencing the Halloween bash downtown. We found a furnished space to rent and have started to explore areas locally. I just so happened to walk by PREP and immediately fell in love. I met Stu [Hennessey] and asked if it would be possible to share all he and this community have done to create such a powerful place.
It is a dream to help others create similar spaces like PREP in their communities.
PREP itself is the fruition of a dream dating back into the ’00s, finally funded in the ’10s by the city Parks Levy Opportunity Fund, transformed and maintained by community volunteers,
Back in October, we reported on Dr. Rosie Rimando-Chareunsap, who had been South Seattle College president for four years, becoming Seattle Colleges interim chancellor. Now SSC has announced its new interim president:
Dr. Jean Hernandez, an educational leader with nearly four decades of experience, has joined South Seattle College as interim president through the current academic year. The position opened when Dr. Rosie Rimando-Chareunsap, SSC’s former president, became interim chancellor of the Seattle Colleges District.
Hernandez retired from Edmonds College with the title of president emeritus in 2017 after serving seven years as president. She has earlier connections to SSC, including serving as vice president of instruction and a prior stint as interim president in 2010. More recently, Hernandez has supported SSC in improving student success as a Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges Guided Pathways coach.
“I have experienced the heart and soul of South Seattle College and am honored to serve as interim president and offer a sturdy bridge to continue the many exceptional educational and community services that we offer,” said Hernandez. “I am passionate about the college’s collective impact on student lives through educational programs that lead to high-wage employment, career mobility and flourishing communities.”
Over a 37-year career, Hernandez has extensive experience at both community colleges and universities. She is known as a student success champion who is strongly committed to removing barriers for students from K-12 through their higher education years. In particular, she has worked to advance women in the STEM fields, address education reform for students who are in prison, and developed successful partnerships with both industry and community organizations.
“As a first-generation college graduate and Latina, I can identify with the diverse backgrounds of many of our students, and I am proud to work with colleagues who are committed to changing lives on a daily basis. South Seattle is the community’s college, enriching its growth with a talented, trained workforce,” said Hernandez. “We are dedicated to uplifting our surrounding communities, including West Seattle, White Center, Burien, Georgetown, Beacon Hill, Rainier Valley and beyond.”
Hernandez holds a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Education from the University of North Texas, as well as a Doctor of Education from the University of Washington. Since 2018, she has worked as a leadership coach for Achieving the Dream and a guided pathways coach for the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. She currently serves on the Western Governors University Washington Advisory Board, Junior Achievement Washington Board, and University of Colorado Denver, School of Education Program Advisory Committee.
South Seattle College’s main campus is on Puget Ridge in West Seattle, with a satellite campus in Georgetown.
(2020 WSB photo, Puget Ridge Edible Park)
Puget Ridge Edible Park (18th/Brandon) is an ongoing neighborhood collaboration and demonstration of what could be achieved in many more neighborhoods – a step toward true community sustainability by growing food. The project is already supported by many volunteer hours. Now it’s time to seek monetary donations too – with a specific goal: Catching more rainwater to use during the dry season. Longtime sustainability advocate Stu Hennessey explains:
This year, the Puget Ridge Edible Park produced a large quantity of produce to feed over 40 families that come regularly for harvesting and many more that harvest from our free farmstand. This year we would like to expand our demonstration for rain harvesting to use less municipal water. This example of resilience is a big part of our mission.
All over our nation, water supplies are becoming scarce. Without water, crops will fail. There is plenty of water available during the year, just not during our growing and harvest season. Last summer in Seattle, from June 21st to September 21st, we received 0.5 inches of rain. October was also the driest and warmest on record, with a fall season record-high temperature of 88 degrees on October 16th. Rain harvesting is the only way to offset the effects of our changing climate. We hope our efforts will be an example of resilience for the future.
To collect water during our rainy season, we need to build an overhead structure to fill our 2 current cisterns at the cost of $2,000. We would also like to expand our water collection by installing a 3,000-gallon Norwesco cistern, which costs $2500 plus $500 for delivery. Rainwater harvesting is very important, and gardens thrive on the natural water free of chlorines and fluorides which are meant to kill essential soil bacteria and microbes. Rain harvesting is the future of farming.
If you can donate, here’s where to go.
(Photo courtesy South Seattle College)
West Seattle’s booming wine scene now has the full participation of the South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) Northwest Wine Academy once again, after more than two years. It’s reopening to the public tomorrow – here’s the announcement:
South Seattle College and the Northwest Wine Academy (NWWA) are excited to announce the NWWA Tasting Room, Wine Bar and Retail Store is reopening on Nov. 4, 2022. Hours of operation will be 1-6 p.m. on most Fridays and Saturdays.
The tasting room has been closed for the past few years, and NWWA looks forward to welcoming the community once again to share amazing local, student-produced wines.
We are also pleased to introduce the Academy’s new Winemaker and Winemaking Instructor John Darin to the program and community. Darin’s extensive background in winemaking and cellar logistics has been developed after years of working with a diverse spectrum of grape varietals and winemaking practices. His experience, as well as his time working with many industry leaders, brings critical first-hand knowledge from the winemaking industry directly to the classroom.
Hours and dates of operation
The Northwest Wine Academy Tasting Room, Wine Bar and Retail Store is open again as of Nov. 4, 2022! Hours of operations will be (most) Fridays and Saturdays, 1-6 p.m.
November: Open Nov. 4-5; 12; 18-19 (closed Nov. 25-26 for the holidays)
December: Open Dec. 2-3; 9-10; 16-17 (closed the remainder of the month and reopening in January)
Please note: At this time only credit and debit cards are accepted for purchases
The NWWA is on the north side of the SSC campus (6000 16th SW) – look for it on the east side of the north parking lot.
12:43 AM: Seattle Fire has a “scenes of violence” response on the way to the 5200 block of 17th SW, where a man in his 30s is reported to have a gunshot wound to the back. No information yet on circumstances.
1:03 AM: Still no further information. Emergency-radio traffic has been usurped by an unrelated major incident on I-5 in North Seattle, so we might not be able to find out more until later this morning.
1:39 AM: Police now say the man died. They are canvassing nearby residences for security video.
2:27 AM: Still awaiting details. The last deadly shooting in West Seattle was in June, when 56-year-old Anthony Gonzalez was killed in a tent at 26th/Juneau. His accused killer was arrested and charged days later.
3:02 AM: Here’s all police are saying about what happened this morning:
At 12:22 a.m., police responded to the 5200 block of 17th Avenue SW for reports of shots heard. Officers arrived and found a man with a gunshot wound inside a residence. Police and Seattle Fire Department medics attempted lifesaving measures, but medics declared the man deceased at the scene.
Members of SPD’s Crime Scene Investigation Unit responded to process the scene for evidence.
Homicide Detectives also responded and will lead the ongoing investigation.
Anyone with information about this incident should call the Violent Crimes Tip Line at (206) 233-5000.
8 AM: Police were still at the scene 7+ hours after the shooting.
Thanks for the tips. We went over to the 16th/Graham RV-encampment area a short time ago after reports of a large police response. There, the officers described it as a “person in crisis” situation. It was originally dispatched as a report of “threats.” No other details so far.
P.S. A neighbor with whom we spoke sent us this photo of signage indicating the “remediation” this week will be followed by a sweep on Thursday:
Parking-enforcement officers were out a short time ago at the 16th SW RV encampment, where many of the vehicles are now marked with the distinctive orange warning tags.
We had gone to check the area because a commenter on our most-recent update said City Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s office had told them remediation was scheduled for today, though the city’s homelessness-response spokesperson had told us only that a team was “inspecting” the area last week. No-parking signs in the area are up for today through next Monday, with “remediation” noted on the attached explanatory sheets.
This stretch of 16th SW, with South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) to the east and houses to the west, is one of the areas where the number of vehicles has increased since other RV-encampment areas in West Seattle were cleared.
TUESDAY NIGHT UPDATE: As we noted in a comment below, the notices that precede sweeps are posted in the area (see photo in this story), warning that personal belongings need to be gone by Thursday morning.
After recent sweeps of other areas, 16th SW near South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) remains one of the larger RV-encampment areas in West Seattle. As of this morning, half a dozen RV/camper vehicles were parked alongside the campus, with two more just north of it, and the encampment included other vehicles such as several box trucks and a van.
The area was discussed during last month’s HPAC meeting. We’ve been trying to get an official city status report and finally received a response from homelessness-response communications manager Linda Robson, who told us, “Crews from SDOT are scheduled to inspect the (area) in the next few days to get an accurate assessment of the current conditions and determine the perimeter, and that inspection will be used to determine next steps.” She says no timeline estimate is possible because “the Unified Care Team calendar is very fluid and the teams are working hard every day to respond to as many sites as they can.” Bottom line, apparently no action is imminent in this area.
Installed this week at 18th/Myrtle [map], just east of Sanislo Elementary, that’s the newest city-funded Art Interruptions work to appear in West Seattle. Thanks to Katie Kauffman for letting us publish her photos – she was there when artist Toka Valu was working with a crew to get the work in place:
The inscription at the north end of the mural explains:
“Lukia e Tenifa”
One of the most cherished ngatu (traditional Tongan mulberry bark paper cloth) motifs from Tonga is the Amoamo Kofe, loosely meaning “caressing bamboo.” Visually, Amoamo Kofe is often depicted to look like 4-5 consecutively larger diamond cutouts stacked on top of one another. This motif can be found on the larger shark and along the water swirls while Octopus displays a series of repeating diamond shapes common throughout Pasifika to represent strength and wisdom in times of conflict. Shark and Octopus continue to honor their peace pact today following their colossal struggle many generations ago.
If you are looking for something low-impact to do this afternoon, the Seattle Chinese Garden‘s Kite Festival is on until 5 pm. You can make a kite ..
fly yours and/or watch someone else fly theirs …
listen to guzheng music by Angell Li …
Happening at @SeaChineseGrdn – Kite Festival, with music pic.twitter.com/UJ1gCwuodp
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) September 10, 2022
and enjoy the garden, which is on the north end of the South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) campus at 6000 16th SW, just east of the Arboretum. ($5 suggested donation for entry.)
Summer’s not over yet! Another chance to enjoy music in a local park is happening one week from today.
That’s local folk musician Thaddeus Spae, who’ll be performing at Puget Ridge Edible Park next Saturday (September 10th). Got the announcement today from Stu Hennessey on behalf of the PREP crew. It’s a celebration of the harvest season at this local park devoted to growing food. All are welcome – to listen, dance, and/or just walk through the PREP gardens – starting at 3 pm nextSaturday, 5265 18th SW.
5:15 PM: Thanks for the tip. On our way to 16th/Myrtle to find out more.
5:25 PM: Just arrived north of the crash scene. 16th is blocked both ways.
5:35 PM: 2 vehicles, 5 people hurt but no major injuries. Police believe the SUV driver was speeding, northbound, and trying to ‘get around’ the other vehicle when the collision happened. (Residents on this stretch of 16th have long been fighting for something to be done about speeding.)
6:28 PM: The scene is clear.
With a field full of antennas and a parking lot full of trailers and tents, three local ham-radio groups are teaming up for this year’s Field Day, which continues into the night and until late tomorrow morning on the north side of South Seattle College (WSB sponsor). It’s a chance to educate the public and also part of a nationwide contest.
As Greg (W7GFW) was doing while we were there this evening, the radio operators are logging as many contacts as they can make. Different atmospheric conditions and different radio bands make for varied chances to reach others far and near. There are two main ways to make contacts, we’re told – either “search and pounce,” seeing which frequencies have activity and jumping in, or “run a frequency” – choose where you’re going to hang out and wait for others to come find you.
Ham radio continues to grow in popularity, we learned from Eric Linxweiler, who showed us around and explained much of what was going on. All ages, too – he works with Scouts and says his troop has several newly licensed hams. Another aspect of Field Day is testing out your setup and equipment, with an eye toward being able to operate off the grid in case of catastrophe:
Hams have long been working on disaster response – Cindi Barker explained one program they’re working on at Field Day, involving volunteers relaying messages from region to region, email sent over radio waves, to help reconnect people if disaster breaks regular communication methods:
You’re welcome to stop by tomorrow morning before Field Day ends around 11 am – they even have a tent where visitors can “get on the air” and see what it’s like. But if you can’t get out there this weekend, reach out any time to the West Seattle Amateur Radio Club (one of the three Field Day participating groups, along with the Puget Sound Repeater Group and Seattle Auxiliary Communications Service).
(WSB photo from Field Day 2018)
Yet another big summer event returning after a pandemic hiatus: Field Day, whose organizers say you could call it “Ham Radio’s Open House.” And a big open house it is, spanning 24 hours, tomorrow morning through Sunday morning, this time in the north parking lot at South Seattle College (6000 16th SW; WSB sponsor). You can drop by for one or more of many presentations on topics from “Making a Family Communication Plan” to “Solar Power and Batteries” – the full schedule is here – or take advantage of a chance to take a turn at the mic. You can also just listen in as local hams participate in the contest that’s at the heart of Field Day – “where operators attempt to make as many two-way radio contacts as possible during a 24-hour window.” Three groups are participating – West Seattle Amateur Radio Club, Puget Sound Repeater Group, and Seattle Auxiliary Communications Service. Ham radio has seen a surge in the past few years, they note – 775,000 licensed hams in the U.S. now, up nearly 50,000 since 2019. You can stop by between 11 am Saturday and 11 am Sunday to see what it’s all about.
Last Saturday, our highlight list included a guided hike for National Trails Day. Judy Bentley shares this report, with photos, on how it went, and what’s next:
Forest restoration expert Steve Richmond led 25 hikers on trails through the Puget Creek watershed Saturday, June 4, on National Trails Day. Richmond has lived on Puget Ridge for 60 years and worked to bring the creek and its health to the community’s attention. He has motivated countless work parties spanning several decades.
The walk highlighted the origins of the creek near Puget Ridge Edible Park at 18th Ave. SW and Brandon Street to its undergrounding near the Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center on West Marginal Way. Sponsored by the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trails group, the event highlighted efforts to maintain the health of the creek and its watershed. Joanna Florer talked about water quality monitoring of the creek.
Hikers came from as far away as Snoqualmie (the West Seattle Blog reaches far) for the event. The West Duwamish Greenbelt Trails group has resumed Saturday guided hikes in the greenbelt this summer. The next is Saturday, July 2, an exploration of tribal uses of native plants found in the greenbelt. Check wdgtrails.wordpress.com for more information.
If you appreciate some color in this gray-sky spring, consider visiting the Seattle Chinese Garden as this year’s Peony Festival continues tomorrow. Today, the color wasn’t just from the flowers, but also from Lion Dancers who performed at noontime:
They were a hit, especially with young festivalgoers. Other performances are planned tomorrow, but you can also just go to admire the flowers:
Festival hours tomorrow are 10 am-4 pm. The garden is on the north end of the South Seattle College (6000 16th SW; WSB sponsor) campus on Puget Ridge. The garden’s worth a visit even when there’s no special event happening – here’s its history.
11:03 PM: Police have reported finding evidence of at least one shot fired, after multiple reports of gunfire on Puget Ridge, near 16th and Graham [map]. No injuries reported, and officers are checking the area for property damage.
FRIDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: From SPD’s preliminary summary report:
On 04-07-2022 at 22:45 hours, officers responded to the area of 16 AV SW/ SW Graham ST for a report of a male shooting a gun and yelling. Officers arrived and located a scene … at the top of a pedestrian staircase. The witness reported hearing a disturbance at the top of the stairs and looking out through her kitchen window seeing a heavy-set male yelling and pointing a handgun westbound from the stairs, firing a single shot. The witness reported hearing the shooter say something to the effect of “You’re not going to steal from me anymore”, and general yelling about not stealing on the block anymore. No property damage was located.
One mini-bulletin from tonight’s HPAC meeting, just wrapping up – SDOT has canceled the plan to reconfigure the 16th/Austin intersection. We reported on it three weeks ago after a reader tip. SDOT’s Sara Zora indicated at tonight’s meeting that they got a lot of feedback, and after their traffic-operations team re-examined the plan, they decided to shelve it. They’ll “continue to monitor” the intersection for collisions or other problems. (Our report on the rest of the HPAC meeting will be published tomorrow.)
ORIGINAL THURSDAY NIGHT REPORT: A resident along 16th SW near SW Othello texted us to say they heard “gunshots … about 6 or 10 in a row, super loud” a short time ago. Police are in the area now and have just told dispatch that they’ve located a casing. No word of any injuries so far.
ADDED FRIDAY: SPD’s preliminary incident summary says no witnesses could be found, just “broken glass from a vehicle and evidence of a shooting were recovered from the street in the 7300 block of 16 Ave SW.”
Maybe you’ve noticed the new, roughed-in lane markings on 16th SW near SW Austin and SW Holden [map]; Jimmy did, and emailed us about it:
We just drove south on 16th to go to the 1st Ave Bridge and when you drive up to 16th and Austin (intersection right before left turn to Holden) noticed some new lane markings in the southbound lanes. This divides up the road right before the light with the left side going straight and the right side right turn only. Previously everyone had been lane-splitting there anyway and used the right side for going straight as well, as to continue south on 16th, as the left-turn line onto Holden is almost always backed up. Additionally, on 16th just south of Austin there are white lane markings to indicate no one should be in the right side there.
We asked SDOT about it; here’s the explanation:
We do have a traffic improvement scheduled for that location. The layout marks were put down on Friday in advance of the permanent paint line striping.
The reason for this intersection project is to simplify the operations for SB traffic and address some complaints that we’ve received about drivers changing lanes just south of the 16th and Austin intersection. Southbound drivers trying to get around the tail end of the southbound left turn queue to Holden inadvertently change lanes. They change lanes without awareness that there is a second SB lane that they are cutting off.
No date set yet for the permanent restriping – it’s weather-dependent.
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