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SUMMER: How to keep yourself safe in the water – and how to help someone else who might be in danger

(WSB photo from a 2019 water-rescue callout)

Summer weather is finally about to arrive, and with it, more people will be out on the water. That makes this prime time for reminders. First one is from the WSB inbox, sent by Jay:

It’s drowning season. The weather is nice and people both new and experienced are going out to Alki on paddleboards and kayaks not appreciating how cold the water is.

At a bare minimum the safety gear is a life jacket and a leash for paddleboards. A wetsuit, even a thin one, is helpful as well (dress for the water, not the air). A whistle can get people’s attention when you have a problem.

But life jackets don’t look cool in Instagram photos, and a lot of people think the water is just cold and not as dangerously cold as it really is. Or they get overconfident.

(A day before emailing) I rescued a paddleboarder who had been in the water more than five minutes and had given up trying to get back on the board. If it weren’t for a beachgoer who had seen her fall in and called my attention, there’s a good chance she would have died. She had no life jacket and no leash.

There were a dozen paddleboarders out when I was paddling and zero of them besides me had a lifejacket or leash on their ankle.

Second reminder is from the Seattle Fire Department – how best to help them help someone in trouble in the water, whether you’re helping from land or from a boat. Read SFD’s advice/recommendations here.

Westwood neighbors and SPD discuss community safety and Block Watch

By Jason Grotelueschen
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

Concerns about safety in and around Westwood Village were the focus of a community forum organized and hosted by the Seattle Police Department.

The meeting was held online last week by Southwest Precinct Crime Prevention Coordinator Jennifer Danner, at the request of staff and residents at nearby Daystar Retirement Village (WSB sponsor), but was open to neighbors and the general public (as we previewed here). The agenda included safety trends, suggestions for how to best communicate with neighbors and report issues to SPD effectively, and how to best use the neighborhood Block Watch model.

Danner was joined in the meeting by Southwest Precinct officer Tammy Frame, along with Crime Prevention Coordinator colleagues Sarah Lawson and Katelyn Yep (from SPD’s North Precinct).

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WEED WARNINGS: Two reader alerts about plants that people and pets should avoid

From the WSB inbox, two reader reports about plants to steer clear of:

FOXTAIL: J sent the photo, hoping to warn pet owners about “the dangers of foxtail grass, which is becoming more ubiquitous every spring and summer around West Seattle. The awns can embed themselves into an animal through the skin, nose, ears, or eyes, and once they are in, they can cause infection or even death. I see huge patches of foxtail right around many of our dog-friendly apartment buildings, as well as in parks and private lawns. (In early June) I spotted it all along the beachfront path at Lincoln Park. Pet owners should clear any foxtail on their private property, know to avoid it while out and about, and be able to spot the symptoms that require veterinary care. A good primer is here.” The photo is from the Lincoln Park sighting that J mentioned.

HEMLOCK: Bronwyn reports this “large patch of hemlock next to the sidewalk on the east side of 36th Ave SW on Seattle city property, Lander is the closest cross street. Neighbors often forage for blackberries here”:

Hemlock, which can be deadly, is on the “control required” list of weeds in King County – see the full list here; you can report them here.

RETURNING: Night Out block parties

Yet another summer tradition is returning this year for the first time since 2019: Night Out block parties to celebrate community safety. Southwest Precinct crime-prevention coordinator Jennifer Danner just announced that registration is open if you’re interested in closing your (non-arterial) street for a block party – find the link here. Night Out is the first Tuesday in August, so this year that’ll be August 2nd. (Here’s our coverage of 2019’s Night Out around West Seattle.)

READER REPORT: Suspicious sighting at Hiawatha

E sent this after family and friends urged her to tell others:

This morning at about 5 am, I was running at Hiawatha track. I had a fairly unnerving encounter around 5:15 am. I was doing my warm-up run, and suddenly noticed a guy watching me, hanging out by the portapotty, hadn’t been there on my previous laps. When he saw me notice him, he pretended to be reading a sign, but then went back to watching me and took something out of his backpack. I started switching directions and he kept standing there, doing odd things, but watching me. There was something not right about it. Then, luckily, I was getting near him but trying to stay clear and he looked intentional about approaching me. As if by magic the wonderful group of guys who normally do boot-camp class showed up. They seemed like they might have noticed something was off too, as they stopped and stared at him, and he looked between us and kind of shuffled off. He then moved to some other bushes at the end of the track and watched for a bit longer before finally disappearing.

I don’t want to be an alarmist, but something was very off about it. Just wanted to warn other early Hiawatha frequenters to be on the lookout. Like I said, nothing concrete, but I’d feel terrible not saying and finding out something happened and I could have warned others.

WEST SEATTLE WEEKEND SCENE: First Delridge Bicycle Rodeo

May 22, 2022 10:36 am
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 |   Delridge | Safety | Transportation | West Seattle news

Thanks to Don Brubeck of West Seattle Bike Connections for the report and photos from another first-time event that happened Saturday – the Delridge Bike Rodeo:

West Seattle Bike Connections partnered with Delridge Community Center’s staff for bike fun for kids, families. Britt Lord-Jacobson was the lead for Delridge CC. B, Xavier, and other SPR staff did lots of work.

WSBC did a skills rodeo including a rock dodge obstacle course, a slow race, and intersection ride-out. Kathy Dunn, Bryan Fiedorcyzk, Anthony Avery, and I were the wranglers.

Bike Works brought their mobile shop for free bike checks.
Outdoors for All brought adaptive cycles for riders with disabilities to try.
Children’s Hospital had a big crew to give away helmets to kids and do helmet fitting adjustments.
Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance was there for information on mountain biking.
Flip Your Trip was there to give information about transit and active transportation options.

Seattle Police came on bikes and rode horses from Westcrest to the event. Their miniature horse was a big hit.

FYI: Westwood community-safety meeting set for June 7th

May 19, 2022 9:49 pm
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 |   Safety | West Seattle news | Westwood

Safety at and around Westwood Village has long been a hot topic. So you might be interested in attending a community meeting just announced for June 7th. Southwest Precinct Crime Prevention Coordinator Jennifer Danner asked us to help get the word out: “We are holding a Westwood neighborhood Block Watch meeting. We have invited Daystar Retirement Community, as well as Westwood Village Property Management and Security. We are hoping our community will join us to talk about safety, how to communicate with one another, and how to report effectively.” It’s an online meeting set for 6 pm Tuesday, June 7th; you can participate via the link in our calendar listing.

FOLLOWUP: Report card on ‘driver report card’ West Seattle trial

(WSB photo from mid-April)

As chronicled here, the “driver report card” pilot project didn’t seem to have much effect on drivers stopping for pedestrians – and an SDOT rep has acknowledged that. This came during an update given to the city’s Pedestrian Advisory Board, meeting online last night (only two board members were in attendance pending a wave of new appointees expected to join soon).

As reported previously, the pilot project involved signs at two spots in High Point for six weeks, each reflecting the results of data gathering involving whether drivers stopped for pedestrians. Most weeks, the results were worse than the week before. SDOT’s Kadie Bell Sata acknowledged to the advisory board, “It didn’t have the huge impact that would have been great.” She said the project also gathered data – not reflected on the signage – about whether racial bias affected drivers’ tendency to stop, or not. The test has now moved on to Rainier Beach, where six signs are up, three at marked crossings, three at unmarked crossings. One simple change they made after High Point – larger signs. They’re still deciding on other locations around the city to continue the test, part of a grant-funded safety campaign that will also support the 25-mph speed limit. Later in the meeting, the speed limit was part of a Vision Zero safety-program update from Allison Schwartz, who said it’s had some success – a 20 percent decrease in injury collisions and 54 percent decrease in “top-end speeders.” But the city’s traffic death rate is still higher than it’s historically been, she said, with 10 people killed so far this year, including the man killed while walking across a West Seattle street last Friday night and a person killed while bicycling in SODO yesterday morning. Of those 10 people, Schwartz said, four were walking, four were in vehicles, and two were on bicycles.

FOLLOWUP: New developments on police-hiring, repeat-offender issues

Two updates from downtown this afternoon on public-safety issues of note:

POLICE HIRING: Last night we previewed tomorrow’s City Council Public Safety and Human Services Committee meeting, for which the agenda includes two divergent proposals by Councilmember Lisa Herbold – the committee’s chair – and Councilmember Sara Nelson. This afternoon, a news release announces that they have agreed to work together on the issue, though previously Nelson had noted that Herbold declined to co-sponsor her proposal, a resolution supporting hiring incentives such as bonuses; Herbold had proposed an ordinance that would cover moving expenses for new SPD hires and some other hard-to-fill city jobs, and pay for a police recruiter. The news release says both councilmembers have agreed to work with Mayor Bruce Harrell on “a unified approach and path forward to passing legislation related to hiring incentives in support of improving public safety.” He is quoted as calling both councilmembers’ original legislation “two thoughtful proposals.” Nelson now plans to offer a “friendly amendment” to Herbold’s proposal that would add money for “SPD’s recruitment advertising and outreach budget.” The mayor, meantime, promises to propose a “more comprehensive recruitment strategy … before summer.”

REPEAT OFFENDERS: According to another news release, Seattle Municipal Court judges have agreed to City Attorney Ann Davison‘s request to exclude certain repeat offenders – aka “high utilizers” – from the Seattle Community Court program. The announcement says they’ve agreed to this somewhat under protest – “The court strongly disagrees that Community Court has not been effective in dealing with the ‘high utilizer’ individuals.” The program, less than two years old, is described as intended “to assist individuals booked into jail on low level misdemeanor charges through access to services in the community instead of sitting in jail waiting for a court date.” Previously, the court had said it was “evaluating” Davison’s proposal.

WEEKEND SCENE: Drug Take-Back Day @ Southwest Precinct

April 30, 2022 11:28 am
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 |   Safety | West Seattle news | West Seattle police

Drug Take-Back Day outside the Southwest Precinct (2300 SW Webster) is more than just a dropoff event for your unwanted/expired prescription drugs – it’s also a chance to talk with SPD reps. In our photo are the precinct’s longtime Crime Prevention Coordinator Jennifer Danner and Officer Matthew Roberson. We stopped by in the first hour and dropoffs already had filled two boxes. This continues until 2 pm today.

SATURDAY: Drug Take-Back Day dropoffs at Southwest Precinct

Tomorrow you can take a simple but potentially life-saving action – check for expired/no-longer-needed prescription drugs, and take them to the parking lot outside the Southwest Precinct. It’s not just a police campaign – a community coalition is involved. Here’s the announcement from one of the partners, the Southwest Seattle Youth Alliance:

SW Seattle Youth Alliance, Westside HEY [Healthy Empowered Youth], SPD, and DEA will be hosting a prescription drug take-back event on April 30th, from 10 am to 2 pm, at 2300 SW Webster St. This event is for the public to dispose of unused or expired prescription medication in a safe and easy way. Prescription and over-the-counter medications will be accepted. Medications can remain in their original containers and labels do not need to be removed. Medications not in their original containers will be accepted too.

This take-back event supports a campaign from the Washington State Health Care Authority, called Starts with One. This campaign informs and educates young adults, their parents, and older adults about the dangers of prescription-drug misuse and the importance of safe storage, and disposal of prescription opioids.

According to the campaign website, “75 percent of opioid misuse starts with people using medication that wasn’t prescribed for them — usually taken from a friend or family member.” Simple steps, like safely disposing of medications, can stop them from being misused.
Participating in these take-back events is one thing that individuals can do to help address the opioid epidemic and protect their loved ones.

If you miss the event, some local pharmacies are permanent drop-off locations – you can look up the nearest ones here.

What are police and politicians doing about crime? Here’s what the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce heard

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The shrinking sworn staff of the Seattle Police Department doesn’t just mean fewer officers on the street. There are also ripple effects, as was evidenced in a public-safety discussion convened at noontime today by the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce.

Two examples: One participant mentioned going to the Southwest Precinct with an urgent matter and having to wait a long time for an officer since the lobby was closed and locked. Another, responding to precinct commander Capt. Martin Rivera‘s plea to report all crimes, said he tries, but “your online-reporting system sucks.”

Along with Capt. Rivera, today’s online meeting was headlined by the two city councilmembers whose divergent proposals for boosting SPD hiring were the subject of impassioned discussion at this past Tuesday’s meeting of the council’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee (WSB coverage here), West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold – who chairs that committee – and citywide Councilmember Sara Nelson. Our area’s King County Councilmember Joe McDermott was there too but not as a panelist. Here’s what happened:

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SHELTER SHIFT: Why one RapidRide stop just got reconfigured

Thanks to Ann for the top photo and tip. The RapidRide C Line shelter on northbound Avalon Way at Yancy [map] was hoisted Saturday, moved from the east side of the protected bike lane to the west side. We asked Metro’s Jeff Switzer about it, and got his response today:

This shelter relocation was planned as part of SDOT’s SW Seattle Paving: 35th / Avalon Project, which rebuilt/reconfigured SW Avalon Way in 2019/2020. To support the addition of protected bicycle lanes on this section of roadway, SDOT constructed a transit island for our existing northbound RapidRide stop far-side SW Yancy St to eliminate merging conflicts at the new protected bike lane and to keep this as an in-lane bus stop. We were just now able to finally perform this work with staffing levels stabilizing. Some (photos) from the team to help show our efforts and the result:

TRAFFIC ALERT: Be extra-careful around Genesee Hill Elementary tomorrow morning

April 27, 2022 1:45 pm
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 |   Genesee Hill | Safety | West Seattle news

Heads up from a Genesee Hill Elementary parent: More students will be biking, rolling, and walking to school tomorrow for GHES’s Bike to School Day, arriving 7:20-7:45 am, from all directions.

FOLLOWUP: Fauntleroy/Fontanelle tree gets root exam as advocates watch

As announced, a city crew showed up at Fauntleroy and Fontanelle this morning to examine the roots of a big chestnut tree that residents fear will be lost in a curb-ramp project. (Our previous coverage is here and here.) Indeed, city arborist Nolan Rundquist told them, the root system is too extensive to proceed with the standard ramp design – he spoke with the handful of people who looked on as the roots were examined, including Sara Macko, who lives in the house with the yard that’s home to the tree:

Another complicating factor in redesigning the corner would be the hydrant, the city crew noted.

But as planned, they’re going to take what they learned back downtown to talk about it. The tree’s roots, meantime, will be protected with burlap. The tree’s advocates, meantime, are hoping to learn more about what a redesign would cost so that they could do crowdfunding if needed.

FOLLOWUP: Rally planned Monday to urge city to save threatened tree

(WSB photo, earlier this month: The tree & the sidewalk, NE corner of Fauntleroy/Fontanelle)

We’ve been reporting on the possibility that a curb-ramp project just north of Solstice Park could lead to the removal of a big old chestnut tree. It’s on private property, but close enough to the sidewalk that its roots have spread out over time. As noted here last week, the city promises to assess it and try to save it, but Sara, who lives on the property that’s home to the tree, wants witnesses, and is organizing a rally:

The city is breaking ground at the foot of our ancient Horse Chestnut Tree in the morning of Monday, April 25th. We want to create a presence for the arborist, onsite workers, and city officials in order to show the community’s outcry for the tree’s preservation of life.

Sara adds:

We are gathering to advocate for the health of our environment! The removal of legacy trees such as this is severely reducing our city’s canopy tree cover, creating what are called “heat islands.” These heat islands are devastating to native plants and wildlife. Last summer, Seattle experienced a mass bird death in result of record-breaking temperature spikes due to climate change. One of the best actions we can take to help our habitat is preserve the lives of our ancient trees that provide shade, food, and refuge as our world grows hotter.

We are also here to express our support of the ramp! We want our friends on wheels to have ease of access to our lovely parks, and of course our lovely tree. We are here to emphasize that accessibility and sustainability are NOT mutually exclusive! Both accessibility and the preservation of wildlife and plant life are vital to our community’s health! Come join us!

Seating will be provided for those who cannot stand for long periods of time. [We have approximately 6 or 7 chairs.]

The gathering is planned to start at 10 am Monday on the lawn on the SW Fontanelle side of the Solstice Park tennis courts.

FOLLOWUP: ‘Driver report card’ signs, week 6

If SDOT sticks with the originally announced schedule, this could be the last update on the so-called “driver report card” signs in High Point, installed in hopes of raising awareness of the need to stop for pedestrians at intersections, whether they have marked crosswalks or not. Above, the 34th/Morgan marked crosswalk had a 26 percent stop rate in this week’s check, down 1 percent from last week. The unmarked crossing on Sylvan Way was up one percent:

We’ll be checking on Monday to see if the signs will indeed be moved elsewhere after this week. The original announcement suggested Rainier Beach would be next.

FOLLOWUP: ‘Driver report card’ signs, week 5

It’s the fifth week of what’s supposed to be a six-week experiment with “driver report card” signage showing what percentage of drivers stopped for pedestrians at two crossings in High Point, and things haven’t gotten any better. The signs are updated on Fridays, so that’s when we’ve been checking them. The one above is the sign at an unmarked crossing on Sylvan Way, and this week’s check showed only 9 percent of the drivers stopping, down from 17 percent last week, which is as good as it’s gotten at that spot. At the westbound sign, a marked crosswalk at 34th/Morgan, the 27 percent count was up a bit from last week’s 22 percent:

SDOT says the counts are taken midweek by student interns working with the Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association. The announcement of the project said it’s based on one in St. Paul, Minnesota, that “led to more drivers following the law.” (We found a slide deck from that city suggesting it was part of a broader pedestrian-awareness program; SDOT says there’s more to come in theirs too.)

GIVING: Nucor safety challenge yields big gift for WestSide Baby

A local nonprofit that helps thousands of families every year just got a boost from one of our area’s biggest businesses – here’s the announcement and photo sent by Nucor:

Today Nucor Steel Seattle, Inc. presented WestSide Baby with a check for $9,260.

This check was the result of an semi-annual behavior-based safety Observation Blitz, which is coordinated with the plant’s regular maintenance outages. During the Blitz which ran for three weeks, Nucor challenges their teammates to complete as many safety observations as possible and donates $5, for every observation completed, to a local charitable organization. For the first time, Harris Seattle also joined in on the safety challenge. Between the combined efforts of Nucor’s 1,255 and Harris’s 617 observations, Nucor was able to make this donation today.

WestSide Baby will be able to take that donation and turn it into approximately 65,000 diapers for families in need. In 2021, WestSide Baby provided approximately 2.5 million diapers, along with 1,612 car seats, and 2,075 clothing bags to our local community. Nucor is proud to partner with WestSide Baby as they work to meet the local needs.

Pictured in the check presentation are, left to right: DJ Williams, Observer Champion (127 observations), a Nucor Mobile Equipment Operator; Carina Schubert, WestSide Baby Director of Development; Samantha Steffeck, Observer Runner-up (55 observations), a Nucor Safety Engineer; and Oliver Lyles, Nucor’s Safety Director.

You can help local families too, by helping WestSide Baby – here’s how. You also can help by attending WestSide Baby’s spring fundraiser, set for May 10th.

FOLLOWUP: ‘Driver report card’ signs, week 4

Week 4 of what the city says is a six-week experiment – two signs in High Point displaying results from a weekly check of how many drivers stop for pedestrians. Above, the Sylvan Way count is up to 17 percent, for an unmarked crossing, from last week‘s 11 percent; below, the 34th/Morgan marked crosswalk takes a drop to 22 percent from last week’s 43 percent.

According to SDOT, the percentages are from a hand count done by student interns working with Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association. After six weeks, the signs are supposed to be moved elsewhere in the city.

FOLLOWUP: ‘Driver report card’ signs, week 3

It’s the third week for what SDOT says is a six-week pilot program tallying whether drivers are stopping for pedestrians. The two signs in West Seattle are updated on Fridays with results of a count taken by student interns earlier in the week. Above, the sign at the 34th/Morgan marked crossing shows 43 percent this week, up from 28 percent a week earlier; below, 11 percent at the unmarked crossing on Sylvan Way near Sylvan Heights, up from 10 percent a week earlier:

After six weeks here, SDOT says the signs will be moved elsewhere in the city, as it gets rolling on a two-year safety campaign.

REOPENED: Andover Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge, after 7 1/2-month closure

(WSB photos, this afternoon)

Thanks to Dawn for the tip: A West Seattle bridge has reopened. Not THE bridge, but close, literally – the walking/rolling bridge at Andover, which passes over the southwest end of the two-years-closed West Seattle Bridge, is now open again, SDOT confirms. This bridge, too, was closed suddenly – last August, SDOT declared it closed in advance of a planned seismic-improvement project, citing various concerns. The actual work on that project didn’t start until months later. It was expected to be done by the end of January, and then came the concrete strike. But a week and a half ago, SDOT said the contractor had obtained some concrete. Now, work is done and the bridge is back in service.

P.S. We’re working on an update about that “other” bridge.

FOLLOWUP: Here’s what those ‘driver report card’ signs show for week 2

When we reported last week on the “driver report card” signs in High Point, SDOT told us that student interns would be out weekly observing, and that crews would update the signage on Fridays. So we went over his evening to see if that happened. Above is the proof – the sign at a marked crosswalk on SW Morgan west of Lanham shows a lower rate of drivers stopping for pedestrians this week, at least out of the 25-driver sample that SDOT said the interns were tasked with observing. (The other sign, further east on Sylvan Way at an unmarked crossing, shows 10 percent both for “last week” and “record.”) SDOT says these will be up for about six weeks as they get going on a two-year safety campaign; they’re scheduled to be used in more than 10 other as-yet-unidentified locations around the city too.