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CURFEW: Here’s why it was just canceled

The citywide curfew is now canceled. Here’s the announcement just in from the mayor’s office:

After meeting with community leaders today, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan and Chief Carmen Best announced that the citywide curfew will end effective immediately. The curfew was originally recommended by the Seattle Police Department as a way to aid in crowd control and preserve public safety after violence on Saturday. However, the Mayor and Chief chose to rescind the curfew following feedback from community leaders and protestors who wanted to ensure no peaceful individuals who were demonstrating were arrested. The Seattle Police Department did not make a single arrest for violation of the curfew.

“These last few days have been deeply trying, and have caused a level of sadness, anger, and frustration from the community that makes crystal clear: At the City, we can work together to make changes,” said Mayor Durkan. “On Saturday, we first implemented the curfew as a tool to help the Seattle Police Department disperse peaceful crowds, keep vulnerable people in their homes, and preserve public health and safety. However, community leaders made it clear that wanted to ensure peaceful demonstrations could still occur and ensure there was no disruption for our workers, and small business owners. Throughout the day, we have seen peaceful demonstrations, and Chief Best believes we can balance public safety and ensure peaceful protests can continue without a curfew. Effective immediately, the curfew is no longer in effect in the City of Seattle. For those who are demonstrating, please keep making your voices heard peacefully.”

The City of Seattle will send a notice of the terminated curfew via Alert Seattle, which sends notifications directly to residents’ mobile phones. The City encourages all residents to sign up for Alert Seattle to receive notifications directly to their mobile device.

VIDEO: Update from mayor and chiefs; 9 pm-5 am curfew announced, nightly until Saturday morning

5:41 PM: Will there be a curfew again tonight? That’s one of the questions we expect will be answered at the briefing that’s just begun with the mayor and chiefs. We’ll add notes as it goes.

The mayor opens by saying she wanted to be sure to acknowledge the reason for the gatherings and protests – the killing of George Floyd, the inequities in our country. “We must make real and durable change. .. from economic justice to civil justice to criminal justice … These protesters’ demands must be our demands.”

5:52 PM: The mayor is speaking at length about concerns regarding police use of force, and also talking about changing policies that have led to additional concerns – “mourning badges” covering badge numbers, body-worn cameras not being used during protests.

6:06 PM: The police chief now takes the microphone, also reminding everyone that this is all about “the murder of George Floyd.” She says 86 people have been arrested in the past few days, which she says have been “very different” events than what SPD has seen in the past. She also says officers’ response on Capitol Hill last night will be reviewed.

The chief says a 9 pm-5 am curfew will be in place through Saturday.

6:20 PM: They’re in Q&A. The mayor is asked if SPD will be targeted for cuts because of the COVID-19 budget crunch; she says “every department” has been asked to look for savings.

What’s the point of the curfew? they’re asked. The mayor said it was recommended by Chief Best, who says it’s part of “us(ing) every tool that we can …” and to have it as a “fallback if needed.”

The event wraps at 6:27 pm.

8:05 PM: Here’s the news release with curfew details and a link to the actual order:

– Mayor Jenny A. Durkan today signed an Emergency Order to place a temporary citywide curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., each night between Tuesday, June 2 through Saturday June 6. During these hours, residents and visitors should remain in their home to the extent possible and should refrain from traveling in and through the entire City of Seattle. The curfew is intended to prevent violence and widespread property damage, and to prevent the further community spread of COVID-19 through continued gathering. The City encourages all residents to sign up for Alert Seattle to receive notifications about the curfew directly to their mobile device.

“Speaking with protesters today and hearing the voices of community, demonstrations can and should safely continue to speak out against injustice. This conversation and social movement must continue,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan. “At the recommendation of Chief Carmen Best, a curfew is critical that we protect their ability to peacefully protest and we believe this new curfew time will allow us to keep these protesters and the community at large safe.”

“The right to free speech is something we all honor and cherish as Americans. Meeting with community members and demonstrators today who came together to express their grief, anger, frustration about the murder of George Floyd was a reminder of how important the first amendment is,” said Chief Carmen Best. “I do not take the implementation of a curfew lightly, but I believe it is necessary—it’s a tool that helps us ensure public safety. We ask that residents who want to gather, continue to do so peacefully.”

The Mayor implemented a citywide curfew on Saturday, May 30 as pockets of demonstrations quickly escalated downtown and in surrounding neighborhoods, and fires proliferated. The Seattle Fire Department (SFD) was temporarily unable to safely access multiple fire incidents. The Seattle Police Department (SPD) has made zero arrests for curfew violation, and it will continue to be primarily used as a tool to encourage crowds to voluntarily disperse and keep streets and roads accessible for first responders to reach emergencies.

All residents should keep in mind impacts to roads and transit service could make it more difficult to get home. The City encourages residents to follow @kcmetrobus, @SoundTransit, @SDOTtraffic, and @wsdot_traffic on Twitter for updates on transit service and road closures. King County Metro and Sound Transit are both operating at reduced services because of COVID-19, so residents should check updated schedules regularly.

The City hopes that with additional notice, businesses and residents can plan accordingly for curfews over the next three days. The City is continuing to broadcast information about the curfew early and often, in multiple languages.

The temporary curfew does not impact people who need to commute to work during these hours, people experiencing homelessness, people in a medical emergency or people in a dangerous situation, first responders, health care workers, and the news media. In addition, the curfew does not require businesses to close while it is in effect, though businesses may close at their choosing.

FOLLOWUP: Added Seattle Fire apparatus, crews now on duty in West Seattle, South Park

Thanks to the tipster who texted that photo – West Seattle’s Fire Station 37 (35th/Holden) is now home to Ladder 13 as well as Engine 37. Four weeks ago, the city announced that extra SFD apparatus and crews would be stationed on this side of the Duwamish River because of the West Seattle Bridge closure – L13 in West Seattle, and Medic 26 at Station 26 in South Park. SFD spokesperson Kristin Tinsley confirms to WSB that both additions have arrived at their new locations, but their crews will be training for a few days before they’re fully ready to respond. (Our tipster says that for L13, for example, that’s 20 more people, to cover all shifts.)

UPDATE: At mayor, chiefs’ briefing, citywide curfew announced again for tonight, 6 pm-5 am; business closures

1:50 PM: Will there be a curfew for a third night? That and other questions should be answered in the briefing that’s just begun, with Mayor Jenny Durkan, SPD Chief Carmen Best, and SFD Chief Harold Scoggins. SPD has published a timeline of Saturday’s events – see it here – including that 57 people were arrested, “most for burglary and assault.” We’ll add notes as the briefing goes.

1:58 PM: The mayor has recapped some of what that timeline lays out, after spending several minutes emphasizing the difference between the peaceful protests and their message, and what she described as a “rapid” deterioration in the situation just before 4 pm Saturday. And she announces there WILL be a curfew again TONIGHT, 6 pm-5 am, citywide. … The mayor also stresses that incidents of police using force over the weekend are under investigation.

2:07 PM: SPD Chief Best takes the microphone.

2:13 PM: SFD Chief Scoggins says his department reported to more than 50 calls over the weekend related to the downtown unrest.

2:18 PM: Asked about any proof of the officials’ ongoing allegations that some came from “outside the city” to cause trouble, Chief Best says they’re still working to verify the identities (etc.) of those arrested.

2:28 PM: Pressed about the curfew and why some people were downtown as late as 11 pm without getting arrested, Chief Best says there were up to 800 people and it was “in the best interest of public safety … not to have a confrontation” but that police did eventually move them out.

2:38 PM: The briefing’s over. If you’re closing early because of the curfew, as some did over the weekend, let us know – just got a text that Target JUST closed. We’ll add here, if we hear about more.

ADDED – MORE BUSINESS CLOSURES: Commenter says Trader Joe’s is closing at 4 pm … Another says PCC is closing at 6 … Walgreens is reported to be closing early … Also note that Metro has suspended downtown service.

VIDEO: Mayor, governor, community leaders speak, urging that protests’ message not be lost

4:36 PM: Live via Seattle Channel above, another briefing for the mayor, and this time she’s joined by Gov. Inslee and “community and faith leaders to discuss the escalated incidents this weekend and the continued importance of seeking justice for George Floyd.” Meantime, crowds are again gathered downtown, and the second night of a citywide curfew order is slated to take effect at 5 pm (as an AlertSeattle bulletin just reminded everyone subscribed to that service).

4:43 PM: So far no new information. The mayor turns over the mic to the governor, and says he will be followed by Seattle Central College president Dr. Sheila Edwards Lange. Inslee stresses that the “important message (of the protests)” must not “be obscured” by the destruction that followed. He adds, “We have so much more to do to root out the inequities in our society.”

Dr. Lange says she hesitated to accept the invitation because she is “tired … angry … grieving.” She speaks of the protests’ message earlier in the day – and then seeing “mostly white men … with huge backpacks” who were not there to hear “the message of hope.” What can allies do? “Join us” in fighting for justice, for equity, and more. She is followed by Dr. Rev. Carey Anderson, pastor of Seattle’s First African Methodist Episcopal Church. He too speaks of the hopes and dreams expressed yesterday, and of the “pandemic of racism … that we must come to grips with.”

He is followed by Andre Taylor, founder of Not This Time. He tells his “story of redemption” and implores others to take hope from it – “When I am here, you are here as well … we all have a lot of work to do.”

5:02 PM: On to Q&A. Asked what proof the city has so far that the destructive agitators were from elsewhere, the mayor cites none, instead saying, “wherever they were from,” they came with a different agenda. Then, a question about the protests under way downtown right now – what will the police do differently? SPD Chief Carmen Best says they’re working to “manage” the crowd of about 1,000 people and that they “fully intend to enforce” the curfew that just took effect, working on a strategy right now.

Dr. Rev. Anderson says they’re having a prayer vigil at noon Monday at his church – with social distancing – all welcome. (1522 14th Ave.)

No numbers on arrests or injuries; the mayor notes that there were “no significant injuries.”

Asked why a citywide curfew, the mayor says among other things it provides a lawful basis to ask people to disperse. She also notes that the stay-home order remains in effect (without noting that it expires at midnight, five hours before the curfew ends). Will the curfew be extended beyond tonight? The mayor said they’ll be evaluating it after tonight. … The event wraps at 5:30 pm. When archived video is available, we will add it above in place of the live SC window. (added 8:10 pm – added).

UPDATE: What else you need to know today: Curfew, day 2; business changes

11:36 AM: One other look-ahead note: Reminder that the mayor’s citywide-curfew order (read it here) is in effect again tonight, with a 5 pm-5 am curfew. If you have questions about it, the city website has an FAQ.

While the city says businesses are allowed to be open during curfew hours, they’re not supposed to serve customers, so some businesses are closing early. So far we’ve heqrd about two changes, both grocery stores: Trader Joe’s is closing at 3 pm, PCC at 5 pm. If we hear of anything else, we’ll add to this post – westseattleblog@gmail.com or text 206-293-6302. (ADDED) Both Rite-Aids are closing at 5 pm …. (added) Freshy’s is closing at 5 pm … Target, Thriftway also closed early …

12:48 PM: Mayor Durkan, Police Chief Best, and Fire Chief Scoggins are presenting a briefing – you can wqtch it live via Seattle Channel. (The mayor opens by saying another media briefing is set for 4:30 pm.)

1:01 PM: No new information but the mayor spoke emotionally on several points including seeing community members who have gone to ravaged areas today to join in cleanup. … The police chief says “dozens” of people arrested yesterday (the mayor said no one was arrested simply for curfew violation, however). … The briefing ended at 1:30 pm. We’ll add the archived video when it’s available.

3:01 PM: Video of earlier briefing now added above. Meantime, the mayor will be joined by the governor and faith and community leaders at 4:30 – we’ll cover that separately.

UPDATE: Citywide 5 pm curfew, other emergency orders, after downtown demonstrators turn violent; some WS businesses closing early

5:04 PM: Mayor Jenny Durkan has just ordered a 5 pm citywide curfew – minutes before 5 pm – because downtown protests have turned destructive and dangerous.

5:22 PM: Here’s the mayor’s news release:

Mayor Jenny A. Durkan, Police Chief Carmen Best, and Fire Chief Harold Scoggins announced an 5:00 p.m. curfew effective today, May 30 and tomorrow, May 31. Mayor Durkan will soon be signing an emergency order. The curfew will be in effect from 5:00 pm – 5:00 am, and during those hours residents and visitors should remain in their residence to the extent possible and should refrain from traveling in and through Seattle. The curfew is intended to prevent violence and widespread property damage, and to prevent the further community spread of COVID-19 through continued gathering.

“While most of those protests were peaceful, there have been isolated but significant events of violence and destruction. This temporary curfew is intended to preserve the health and safety of our residents by keeping our streets safe and accessible for essential workers and first responders and preventing the further spread of COVID-19,” said Mayor Durkan.

The temporary curfew does not impact people who need to commute to work during these hours, people experiencing homelessness, people in a medical emergency or people in a dangerous situation, first responders, health care workers, and the news media. In addition, the curfew does not require businesses to close while it is in effect, and it will not alter public transit schedules. The Mayor and Chiefs ask all residents and visitors to voluntarily abide by the curfew. The City does not intend to enforce the curfew, except for violations that result in public health and safety threats including fires, extensive property damage, and violence.

Today, the Seattle Police Department, Seattle Fire Department, and Seattle Department of Transportation monitored the demonstrations and stood ready to provide assistance, manage traffic impacts, and preserve health and safety. Staff from Seattle Parks and Recreation and the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods were downtown distributing hundreds of disposable masks to demonstrators.

5:25 PM: From the governor:

Gov. Jay Inslee today activated up to 200 members of the Washington National Guard in response to a request from the City of Seattle to help protect against property damage and manage crowds and traffic during downtown protests. Guard personnel will be unarmed and work under the direction of City of Seattle leadership.

The guard was activated by a letter from the governor to Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty, commander of the Washington National Guard, as demonstrations were underway in Seattle protesting the death of George Floyd in Minnesota earlier this week.

“The National Guard is on stand by to assist the Seattle Police Department as requested by Mayor Durkan,” Inslee said. “They will be unarmed and assist with infrastructure protection and crowd movement. They will only be utilized if absolutely necessary and we appreciate their efforts to help in this important work.”

5:45 PM: The mayor is speaking with reporters at 6 pm. We’ll be phoning into that and will add notes.

6:10 PM: Still awaiting the mayor. Note that (as discussed in comments) at least a few West Seattle businesses have closed early because of the curfew – please let us know of any others (westseattleblog@gmail.com, or text 206-293-6302). We’ll build a list here:
Target
Meeples Games
Zeeks Pizza
Trader Joe’s
(adding as we hear of others)

6:18 PM: “For most of today, the demonstrators were peaceful,” says the mayor. “Unfortunately, in the late afternoon, (protests) downtown turned destructive and violent.” She draws a clear line between those who protested peacefully earlier, and those who turned violent later. The violent acts do not honor George Floyd, she notes, and won’t be tolerated. “We will take all steps necessary to protect residents and property …” She has issued three emergency orders: A civil emergency and a prohibition on weapons use, as well as the curfew tonight and tomorrow. (You can watch on Seattle Channel.) Both the mayor and fire chief have explained that firefighters were delayed from getting to some of the set fires downtown because it was unsafe.

After a few minutes of mayoral, police, and fire statements, it’s Q&A. First one: The timing of the curfew. The mayor says the 5 pm time was set at SPD’s recommendation “to get people safely home.” The mayor also notes that the statewide stay-home order hasn’t expired yet so people should be staying home anyway. In another response, she again differentiates the peaceful protesters who rallied earlier and those who “hijacked” the demonstration later and caused “such destruction and chaos.” The latter will not be allowed to eclipse “the message of hope, justice, and love,” she insists. She is then asked about earlier videos that appeared to show police using force, and she says that will be reviewed. But she also says force used against officers was not appropriate either.

In closing at 6:38 pm, she reiterates support for those who are grieving, and for their right to protest, but vows to restore order “and hold those people accountable” who caused the “chaos and destruction.” She says they don’t know yet if, like some other cities, those who caused it were from out of town.

6:48 PM: Details of the mayoral orders are here – the emergency declaration is here, and the weapons-use ban is here – that one is NOT citywide, and spells out a specific area (downtown).

8:25 PM: In case you were wondering: We just drove through the West Seattle business districts. Looked like most restaurants that are open for takeout/delivery this time of night were still open. Streets were relatively empty.

12:43 AM: Detailed Metro alert from late Saturday night:

Metro buses are not serving the downtown core area between Denny Way and Edgar Martinez Dr S, due to the events currently taking place in that area in conjunction with the City of Seattle’s curfew.

Metro riders are advised to avoid the downtown area, be aware of conditions in their immediate vicinity that my change quickly, revise travel plans as needed, and most importantly, stay safe.

As of 9:00 PM and until the end of service, including late night routes that operate after 1:00 AM, Metro plans the following, however, changes could occur without notice:

Routes 7 and 49 are staying east of downtown Seattle along Broadway and Boren through the Capitol Hill and First Hill areas.
Routes 10 and 12 are canceled.
Route 36 is turning back at S Jackson Street and will not serve Queen Anne.
Routes heading toward downtown from the north end will turn back or be rerouted at – or near – Denny Way, and will not continue into downtown Seattle. Board these routes northbound at stops north of Denny Way.
Routes heading toward downtown from the south end will turn back or be rerouted at – or near – Edgar Martinez Dr S, and will not continue into downtown Seattle. Board these routes southbound at stops south of Edgar Martinez Dr S.
Most routes (except trolley routes) that normally travel through downtown Seattle to continue as other routes – such as routes 5 and 21 or 24 and 124 – will continue to their destinations at each end, but will travel via non-stop routing that avoids the downtown core area.
Routes 40, 70 and the RapidRide D Line will serve their stops on Sixth Avenue S, but will not serve downtown Seattle south of Denny Way.
Metro Route 41 and Sound Transit Express Route 522 are not traveling south of Northgate Transit Center; riders who need to go south from there can transfer to Route 40 or other service, depending on their destination.
Eastside I-90 routes are terminating at Mercer Island and not continuing to downtown Seattle.
Eastside SR 520 routes are terminating at the South Kirkland P&R, except for Metro Route 255 and ST Route 545, which are continuing to the University District.
Link light rail is operating, but with some station closures and changing conditions; check Sound Transit Link alerts.

Use regularly published timetables, but expect likely significant delays during the operation described above. Predicted departure times in customer information apps will not be accurate.

Metro expects to operate regularly scheduled service at the start of Sunday morning. Watch for updates during the day on Sunday.

UPDATE: Gas leak briefly shuts down 9th SW in Highland Park

(Added: WSB photos)

9:46 PM: Police are closing 9th SW between Elmgrove and Kemyon in Highland Park because of what was described in radio communication as a gas leak that may have been caused by a crash. They’re also evacuating some nearby residents. More as we get it.

10:05 PM: The gas has been shut off and the street is expected to reopen soon. We are in the area to see what else we can find out.

10:29 PM: Raad’s open again. Police told us at the scene that the gas line, on a driveway serving multiple residences, was hit but the driver was gone when they arrived. No other damage.

Highland Park Way hill rechannelization on hold, and other news from HPAC’s discussion with SDOT

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The proposal to remove one downhill lane of Highland Park Way traffic and add an uphill protected bicycle lane is shelved for now.

That was the big headline from last night’s HPAC discussion with SDOT, a week and a half after that particular detail of the Highland Park Way/Holden safety project update came to light, sparking controversy.

Instead, SDOT will focus on figuring out how to expand the trail along the downhill lanes.

But first, HPAC got a West Seattle Bridge update that segued into traffic issues. SDOT’s Heather Marx recapped where things stand and what’s been done related to traffic effects – all of which we’ve reported on, but if you’re interested in a recap, check out this SDOT post from earlier this week, and our most-recent update. On the bridge itself, they’re preparing for Pier 18 work, and the new Community Task force and Technical Advisory Panel will have their first meetings the week of June 8th.

Traffic-mitigation projects will be focused on what can be done in less than a year and for less than $100,000 because that way SDOT doesn’t have to send them out to bid and can move faster. Plans, she said, will address effects on SODO, South Park, Georgetown, Highland Park, Riverview, South Delridge, Roxhill – in other words, the areas now getting barraged with detour traffic. When the draft traffic-mitigation plans are out, they’ll look for community prioritization. The timeline for the plans is approximately:

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What’s the long-term solution for waterfront driver gatherings? Residents, police discuss @ Alki Community Council

(WSB photo: Quiet moment on Beach Drive by Constellation Park, May 13)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Would removing parking solve the problem of drivers gathering along West Seattle’s public waterfront?

That was one of the suggestions as residents of three Alki-area neighborhoods dominated the discussion at the Alki Community Council‘s onlne meeting last Thursday night.

The meeting began with an update from Southwest Precinct operations commander Lt. Steve Strand. While police have launched their seasonal emphasis at Alki, he warned that the city’s COVID-19-related budget crunch is reducing the amount of money available for overtime to staff those extra assignments (and others). Nonetheless, extra officers were planned for two of the three days on Memorial Day weekend.

Addressing the driver-gathering concerns, he said the “Stay Healthy Streets” designation for Beach Drive by Constellation Park (and then Alki Avenue west of 63rd) was inspired by the ongoing problems there. The situation worsened after the Don Armeni Boat Ramp parking lot was closed, he noted, displacing the “car clubs” who liked to gather there. He acknowledged that the problem keeps shifting, and noted that they’re “looking at long-term solutions” if, as has been suggested by SDOT, the Constellation Park-side change is temporary.

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HIGHLAND PARK WAY/HOLDEN: What’s proposed next, for the intersection and beyond

9:45 AM MONDAY: For decades, the Highland Park community has been fighting for safety upgrades at Highland Park Way and Holden. Within a week of the West Seattle Bridge closure, a “temporary” signal was rushed into place, followed by a few other tweaks. But SDOT promised the full “safety project” would still happen, and has just officially unveiled an early-stage plan, outlined in a flyer that arrived in some HP mailboxes over the weekend (thanks for the tips!). It spans other streets too, despite the title, but HP Way/Holden is the heart of it. Here’s what the proposal looks like:

(You can see it larger here in PDF.) The plan includes a protected bike lane on the uphill side of Highland Park Way, from West Marginal Way SW at the bottom of the hill to Holden at the top. That is discussed further, along with other nearby plans, in the slide deck presented by project developer James Le in this video from the project website:

Here are two key slides showing potential side-street “traffic calming” (Monday afternoon update – the entire deck is now online):

Once you’ve considered all that, you can take the “early design survey” in which you’re asked to prioritize what you think the area needs. It’s open through May 31st. A few days before that, SDOT expects to be part of the next monthly HPAC meeting – 7 pm Wednesday, May 27th; watch for details at hpacws.org.

11:16 AM TUESDAY: We asked SDOT to clarify the channelization proposal for the Highland Park Way hill, and the reply, just in, confirms the interpretation that one lane is proposed for downhill motor-vehicle traffic:

Highland Park Way SW between SW Holden St and West Marginal Way currently has two southbound lanes and two northbound lanes. Creating a southbound uphill protected bike lane would provide a needed bike connection between the Duwamish Trail and the Highland Park neighborhood. Creating space for this bike lane would require removing one downhill, northbound car lane. This change would also have a safety benefit by reducing speeding toward West Marginal Way.

Traffic modeling and counts of the number of turning vehicles conducted prior to the West Seattle bridge closure indicated that removing the northbound car lane would have a minimal impact to traffic. However, we know that Highland Park Way SW is one of the most heavily used detour routes into and out of West Seattle. We have been listening closely to community comments and monitoring traffic since the bridge was closed and expect to make a decision on this proposed change in the coming weeks based on the community’s input and new traffic data.

‘Stay Healthy Streets’ explained, discussed @ Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board

(WSB photo, Beach Drive “Stay Healthy Street” on Wednesday afternoon)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Pre-pandemic policy for the city usually featured what some deride as “the Seattle process” – propose something, talk about it a lot, finalize it.

In the case of the city’s new “Stay Healthy Streets” – 23 miles of streets now closed to through traffic, open to walking/riding/rolling, including three stretches in West Seattle – things happened in the opposite direction: Action, then talk.

The first public discussion of them, four weeks after the first ones were announced, happened this past Wednesday, when the Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board met via videoconferencing/phone.

Most of the meeting was devoted to a hour-plus discussion of Stay Healthy Streets, bookended by two public-comment periods. The first one opened with West Seattle resident Loren Schwartz calling the newest West Seattle SHS, Alki Avenue and Beach Drive around Alki Point, “transformative,” “amazing … phenomenal … paradise.”

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SURVEY: Micro-Community Policing Plan feedback is happening online this year

Pre-pandemic, focus groups were a major means of feedback for SPD’s Micro-Community Policing Plans. This year, it’s happening online. The announcement is from Taylor Lowery, the Seattle University research analyst at the Southwest Precinct:

Seattle University is partnering with the Seattle Police Department to conduct ongoing research related to community crime concerns. Qualitative concerns allow SU researchers to collaborate with SPD leadership to improve the city’s community policing initiative.

As part of the Seattle Police Department’s Micro-Community Policing Plans, Seattle University’s Micro-Community Policing Plans Research Analysts invite those who live and/or work in Seattle to respond to focus group questions citywide in each of the city’s 58 micro-communities regarding community perceptions of crime, safety, and police legitimacy, as well as knowledge of and satisfaction with the MCPP. The focus group questions offer an opportunity to provide feedback to the Seattle Police Department on crime and public safety in Seattle, as a check-in between the administration of the Seattle Public Safety Survey every Fall. The questionnaire is accessible at https://seattleux.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_56jtU5ZxV67i6vH from May through August 2020.

Information obtained from the focus group will help inform your neighborhood’s MCPP, so please come share your concerns and suggestions! Thank you in advance for taking the time to offer your perspective on crime and public safety in Seattle via the online focus group questions. Please feel free to email me directly any questions that you have regarding the focus group.

She’s at lowerytaylor (at) seattleu.edu.

FOLLOWUP: Fallen Morgan Junction utility pole was ‘identified for replacement’

(Sunday night photo, sent by Beth)

11:56 PM: As promised, we followed up on the utility pole that spontaneously fell onto California SW between SW Graham and SW Raymond on Sunday night. As reported here, no one was hurt, but a car was damaged. Seattle City Light spokesperson Julie Moore tells WSB that pole had been “identified for replacement”; it was last inspected three years ago. “We are continuously inspecting poles, inspecting about 10% of our 92,000+ wooden poles per year,” Moore said. “This means we inspect each pole about every 10 years. Pole longevity can vary widely based on the wood species, treatment, and the environment where it is placed. A typical modern pole should last 40-60 years.” She also says that City Light has since checked 10 adjacent poles “as a precautionary measure” and “they all appear to be in good condition.”

P.S. If you see a pole with a clearly visible problem (leaning, etc.), info on how to report it is in this WSB story from a year ago.

1:41 PM: We asked for a bit more info on this pole’s history: “That pole was placed in 1953. Prior to 2017, it was inspected in 2010 and given a P5 rating, which is the top in our 1-5 rating system. Following the 2017 inspection, it was given a P2 rating, which is why it was identified for replacement.”

WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE CLOSURE: Extra SFD truck, medic unit on the way

(Seattle Fire Department photo of Ladder 13 in 2010)

Not long after the West Seattle Bridge‘s sudden shutdown, we and others started asking whether West Seattle would get additional SFD resources, as happened during the Spokane Street Viaduct Widening Project (east half of the bridge) in 2011-2012. The early answer was: It’s being discussed. New answer today: Yes. In addition to West Seattle-based Medic 32, SFD will station Medic 26, staffed with two paramedics, at Station 26 in South Park. And joining WS-based Ladder 11 will be an extra truck, Ladder 13, to be based at Station 37 in Sunrise Heights. The announcement says, “Beginning in June, these units will be in-service for responding to emergencies 24-hours per day, seven days a week.” (Ladder 13 was based at Station 11 in Highland Park during the SSV project.) The SFD announcement adds, “The new medic unit and ladder truck are coming from SFD’s reserve apparatus located at the City’s Fire Garage. The department will continue to have other apparatus on reserve to support scheduled maintenance and for any unforeseen mechanical issues. The funding required for staffing the two new units, apparatus maintenance and fuel, and room accommodations at the fire stations is approximately $2.5 million for the remainder of 2020 and will be covered from existing resources.”

FIGHTING CRIME: Southwest Precinct giving away ‘clubs’ (Update: All gone!)

May 8, 2020 3:15 pm
|    Comments Off on FIGHTING CRIME: Southwest Precinct giving away ‘clubs’ (Update: All gone!)
 |   Crime | Safety | West Seattle news | West Seattle police

3:15 PM: From Southwest Precinct Crime Prevention Coordinator Jennifer Danner:

In an effort to decrease auto theft incidents, the SW Precinct once again has free steering wheel clubs to give away to our West Seattle and South Park residents!

We have 81 clubs at this time, and we will be giving them out on a first come, first serve basis.

You must email me to reserve your club- I am unfortunately not able to take requests via phone or social media! Please email me at Jennifer.Danner@seattle.gov.

If you are selected to receive a free club- you will get a detailed email from me with instruction for when, where and how to pick up your club.

If you are not selected- you will receive an email from me with an apology and a link for where to purchase a club.

Please be understanding, as we have a limited amount to give away.

4:47 PM: All gone already!

SAFETY: Police plan ‘additional resources’ at Alki Beach this weekend

(WSB photo from last month, mobile precinct @ Alki)

2:30 PM: Even before we get to the summery weather expected this weekend, Alki Avenue and Beach Drive have already drawn summer-size gatherings of drivers. We heard last weekend from several residents of those areas who had called police about illegal parking, reckless driving, and noise, among other things, with photos like this:

(Reader photo, last weekend)

The Southwest Precinct plans to have “additional police resources” at the beach this weekend; precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis explains:

We have revamped our existing traffic emphasis program to include using parking enforcement and other assets that will further assist us as we address the dangerous driving and noise issues. Taking in account of the approaching warmer weather, we are going to post extra patrol officers in our highest areas of interest. We are also attempting to secure designated “Police Only” parking zones so that our traffic enforcement, emphasis officers and our stationary Mobile Precinct will be able to occupy and secure our most popular areas before the car enthusiasts have a chance to take over and engage in poor and reckless behavior. We are sincerely hoping that our City Officials and other City agencies support us in this ask.

Precinct operations commander Lt. Steve Strand says they’ve been there before but, “Unfortunately we can’t be there all the time and under current conditions the crowd shows up unexpectedly during various days and nights. Sunday evening in particular.” He adds, “We will respond to 911 calls but this is a lower priority than most other calls for service if it is only noise and nuisance, versus public safety. We have done some outreach to neighbors on how to report crime effectively and accurately because we are not enforcing the Governor’s stay home, stay safe order. We are asking for voluntary compliance with social distancing and assisting parks with trespassers if they close.” They’ve been in direct contact with some of the residents to try to clarify how and what to report. If you see reckless driving, you can call 911 because that’s an immediate public-safety issue; if police can’t respond immediately, Lt. Strand says, you also can send info such as plate numbers to steven.strand@seattle.gov.

Meantime, we expect to hear more shortly about the city’s other plans for the weekend, in a news conference with the mayor and Parks/SDOT directors – separate story ahead.

3:04 PM: Two things that just emerged at that news conference are relevant to this, so we’ll note them here first: “Major parks” including Alki (also Lincoln Park and West Seattle Stadium) will be closing at 8 pm starting this Friday, until the stay-home order lifts. Also, SDOT plans to add Beach Drive between Alki Avenue and 63rd to the “Stay Healthy Streets” list – we’re seeking clarification about how soon that will start.

WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE CLOSURE: 3-scenario emergency plan finalized

(WSB photo from April)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

While the city’s been working toward stabilizing the West Seattle Bridge and determining whether it can be repaired, they’ve also been working on an emergency-response plan in case the bridge was deemed at imminent or near-imminent risk of collapse – which currently, they stress, it is NOT.

Most of this has been taking place out of the public eye, with the city working with “stakeholders” who have operations close to the bridge, such as the Port of Seattle. This came up during last week’s inaugural meeting of the community coalition West Seattle Bridge Now (WSB coverage here), when a port rep noted that this emergency plan was front and center right now. We’ve been pursuing more information from SDOT, and today they are announcing key points of the plan.

SDOT stresses that the bridge is “stable” and that the cracks’ growth has “slowed” since the bridge was closed to traffic March 23rd. But “out of an abundance of caution” they’ve devised this plan for how they would get the word out, and what people would need to do, if bridge failure seemed likely before stabilization work is complete.

What they’re releasing today is what SDOT communications director Michael Harold explained to us in an interview this morning is the “essence” of the emergency plan; the plan itself will be released “soon.” Today’s announcement first notes:

We’ve established an interagency task force to coordinate a unified emergency response if conditions of the high bridge reach critical thresholds.

The task force includes the City of Seattle, King County, Washington State, Port of Seattle, Northwest Seaport Alliance, United States Coast Guard (USCG), and the US Army Corps of Engineers.

If we must activate the task force’s unified emergency response, a unified command will be led by the Seattle Fire Department (SFD), the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), the Seattle Police Department (SPD), and USCG.

These and other agencies will work together to prioritize public safety and provide clear communication. SDOT will manage traffic operations to assist emergency response and provide consistent updates to the public. SFD will manage evacuation and, if necessary, rescue of people near the bridge. SPD will manage traffic control and assist with evacuation. USCG will manage maritime coordination and communication. Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle City Light will manage utilities to reduce impact on customers.

SDOT stresses that the “only section of the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge that currently has cracks is the highest span directly over the Duwamish River between West Seattle and Harbor Island. … The rest of the bridge is relatively stable and doesn’t currently show signs of distress.”

But just in case, the emergency plan addresses three potential scenarios:

1) Immediate evacuation to be used if the daily in-person inspections indicates enough of a change to warrant the immediate evacuation of a small number of properties, though we could
have hours or days before actual bridge failure.

2) One to five days notice to be used if the new remote monitoring instrumentation, which will be fully functioning in mid May, indicates enough of a change to warrant execution of evacuation plans within one to five days. If failure is anticipated, but not immediate, SFD and SPD will clearly communicate, via direct site visits and other platforms, when evacuation must occur.

3) Controlled demolition to be used if the change in the condition of the high bridge indicates the need for execution of an evacuation plan followed by a controlled demolition.

The #1 response would involve evacuations in what’s considered “the Fall Zone.”

In what Harold calls a “very conservative estimate,” this area was identified via “modeling potential cracking scenarios” plus adding a buffer zone – it’s an area “225’ north and south of the bridge, 225’ west of Pier 15, and 225’ east of Pier 18, and includes the Spokane Street Low Bridge, parts of Harbor Island, the Duwamish Waterway, and areas on and around West Marginal Way.” (This is the type of information that the “critical failure modeling” mentioned in Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s update last Friday is addressing – not an estimate of when a failure could happen, but of how it might happen, IF it happened.)

Even if they don’t have to evacuate, some on Harbor Island could see travel affected, so: “It is recommended that people on Harbor Island who are non-essential leave the island using the eastern approaches if they receive any notification that the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge is at risk. Those staying should know that emergency response could potentially block vehicle access to the island.” (added 2:07 pm – traffic map)

The Fall Zone does NOT include any residential areas, not even Pigeon Point adjacent to the bridge, SDOT says. But SFD and SPD would close access to nearby roads.

A mailer is being sent later this week to all addresses within a quarter-mile of the “fall zone,” Harold says. But in the meantime, even if you’re NOT that close, everyone in West Seattle is urged to sign up for Alert Seattle – an opt-in service through which emergency messages are sent and one way through which the city will send any bridge-related emergency notification.

Today’s announcement also says any bridge-related emergency alert will also be sent through “Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) text messages … an alert system that sends text messages to all cell phones within a particular area. This is the same service that sends Amber Alerts. WEA will send text message alerts to all cell phones in the impacted area at the time of alert.” The Coast Guard also would send “an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast over VHF Channel 16 to warn mariners to avoid the Duwamish Waterway,
and they will use the USCG Alert Warning System to warn commercial operators and terminals on Harbor Island and the Duwamish Waterway.” Along with all those alerts, SDOT would also notify the media and publish warnings via its social-media channels.

But, Harold stresses yet again, they do NOT believe there is a risk of the bridge collapsing any time soon – they nonetheless have to be prepared. They’ve been installing instrumentation to enable real-time monitoring of the bridge status – in addition to continuing “near daily” inspections. We’ve asked how exactly that monitoring is being monitored, so to speak; Harold says they’ll be releasing those details this week too.

Questions? He says SDOT is ready to answer them via email or phone any time, 684-Road@seattle.gov or
206.684.ROAD (206-684-7623). Meantime, you also can find released-so-far info via the bridge-project website, where documents and information links are already archived.

WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE CLOSURE: Bicycle groups’ suggestions for ‘strategies and actions’

While we await a plan for how to move people from and to West Seattle without the high bridge when the stay-home order ends, we’re continuing to spotlight feedback that various groups are providing to SDOT. Tonight – here’s what bicycling-safety groups are suggesting for “strategies and actions to help mitigate the closure of the West Seattle high-rise bridge. This letter was shared with us this past week by Don Brubeck, president of longtime community group West Seattle Bike Connections, which along with three other groups sent it to SDOT:

You can also read the letter here (PDF). Previously, we’ve featured letters from a coalition of South Park/Duwamish Valley groups (here) and from the West Seattle Transportation Coalition (here).

About those surveillance-video trailers at Westwood Village

We’ve gotten lots of questions about the new solar-powered surveillance-video trailers at Westwood Village.

Five are in place around the center. The company that makes them, Utah-based LiveView Technologies, says 3,500 are in use at a variety of sites – construction, energy, retail, government. According to the company’s website and a promotional video, the trailers send streaming video, and have the potential for features from thermal detection to “vehicle recognition.” You might also have noticed they have speakers, so warnings can be delivered (as in this marketing video).

They’ve drawn media attention in other places where they’ve been used or considered – Walmart stores use them under the name Lot Cops, for example. In Eugene, Oregon, the police are considering using them; a cost of $20,000 to $85,000 each was cited in coverage there.

So you’re being watched. But who’s watching? We took that question to Westwood Village management. The center’s managers aren’t allowed to talk with the media, so they sent our inquiry to the communications team at their company, Madison Marquette. The resulting response was basically “no comment”:

Thank you for your inquiry. Because the safety and security of our shoppers, employees, restaurants and retailers is of the utmost importance, we do not share the specifics of our security programs or procedures since doing so could comprise our security efforts.

Right now, many WWV storefronts are vacant or closed by government order, so the security need is different than pre-COVID-19. But it was just a year ago that you might recall police had planned to deploy a monitoring tower at the center and elsewhere; that ultimately never happened.

FOLLOWUP: More 25-mph speed-limit signs going up in West Seattle

Thanks to everyone who has tipped us about SDOT crews installing 25-mph speed-limit signage – including that photo from 35th SW near SW Ida, sent this morning by Jennifer. So much has hapened theee past few months that you might not remember the city announced the change last December (here’s our report), saying it would be making the change “on major streets citywide” because serious-injury crashes were going up. The signage installation has just accelerated here, mentioned in two of this week’s West Seattle Bridge closure-related meetings as an emphasis along streets that are getting more usage because of bridge-related detouring.

(WSB photo: Newly installed sign on EB Thistle east of California – the small flags preceded the installation)

We asked SDOT about the new wave of sign installation and received this reply (which did not acknowledge that installation HAS resumed):

Since the beginning of the year we’ve installed new 25mph speed limit signs on Alki Ave SW and Harbor Ave SW. This work was completed in March.

We were just beginning to get started with sign installations in West Seattle when we temporarily paused this work city-wide due to the COVID-19 emergency response effort and the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. When work resumes, we will finish installing signs throughout West Seattle, prioritizing the corridors with the highest traffic volume increase due to the West Seattle Bridge closure.

This work is especially important to the area right now because about a quarter of the time we spend sitting in traffic is due to crashes. In other parts of the city, we’ve seen as much as a 35% – 45% reduction in crashes after installing 25 mph speed limit signs on comparable streets, so we expect that these 25 mph speed limits will be an essential part of our plan to keep West Seattle moving.

In our followup on the December announcement, SDOT told us the signage would eventually be installed along all arterials citywide, plus: “Over the next two years, the Seattle Police Department will also double the number of red-light cameras and add safety cameras at five new school zones. SPD will provide 1,200 additional hours of enforcement on high-injury streets focused on giving warnings and driver education.”

‘Stay Healthy Streets’ to launch with High Point greenway going almost car-free

The city news release that explains the signage we covered earlier also includes something new: “Stay Healthy Streets,” stretches of neighborhood greenway that will be “closed to through traffic – but not residents or deliveries – 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the duration of the emergency or until otherwise noted by the City of Seattle,” as explained in SDOT’s subsequent announcement, which adds, “People with destinations along Stay Healthy Streets – like residents, essential workers, emergency service providers, delivery providers, and garbage and recycling collectors will continue to have vehicle access.” One of the first two is in High Point (and a bit south), as shown on the map above, starting Saturday. The announcement says signage will go out starting tomorrow, and that these will likely be followed by other stretches of greenway – unspecified for now (West Seattle also has greenways in Highland Park and North Delridge).

WEST SEATTLE CRIME WATCH: Advice for preventing auto theft

As noted in last night’s roundup, auto theft is up 24 percent citywide in the past month. The Southwest Precinct is launching an emphasis on it, says crime-prevention coordinator Jennifer Danner, who sent this tipsheet:

You can also read it here in PDF.