Safety 1645 results

SCHOOL’S OUT: Lafayette Elementary celebrates street safety

Another after-school celebration on this last day of the school year – on SW Lander in the block on the south side of Lafayette Elementary, volunteers and local businesses teamed up to help kids learn about street safety. That included a giveaway of 25 bicycle helmets:

Volunteers helped fit them:

The businesses who partnered in the event included Alki Bike and Board, whose proprietor Stu Hennessey was there to help:

While school safety is important everywhere, Lafayette is the only elementary school in West Seattle that’s on a major street in the middle of a business district.

P.S. Other Admiral businesses contributing to the celebration included Bebop Waffle Shop, Menchie’s Admiral, and Good Society.

City Attorney proposes new fine for street racing, ‘takeovers’

Would a new city-imposed $500 fine discourage street racing and “takeovers” like the one caught on video in The Junction earlier this month? This announcement is from City Attorney Ann Davison‘s office:

Today, Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison introduced legislation to the Seattle City Council to address the growing incidence of illegal street racing and “street takeover” events in Seattle.

The legislation, which would adopt new state law expanding the definition of street racing to include drifting and street takeover events, also establishes a $500 civil infraction against the registered owner of a vehicle participating in these activities.

“This legislation responds to the recent rise in large street racing takeover events that pose a safety hazard to the public — pedestrians, cyclists, and other drivers,” said City Attorney Davison. “The new civil infraction will give police a tool to hold vehicle owners accountable when their cars are used at these events.”

Over the past several years, Seattle has seen an increase in street racing events comprised of large numbers of vehicles and observers. The participants and spectators literally take over city intersections for drifting, “donuts,” and other dangerous driving techniques. In July 2023, a woman was shot at one of these events, and in May 2024, dozens of drivers continued to participate in a takeover, despite police presence and repeated warnings from officers.

In 2023, state legislators adopted a new state law expanding the definition of street racing. That law went into effect on January 1, 2024.

The $500 infraction proposed by City Attorney Davison is an additional measure which is not in state law.

The proposal will first go to the council’s Public Safety Committee for consideration.

P.S. Police said today that the crash on Alki Avenue early Saturday was preceded by this type of driving – donuts and high speed.

WEST SEATTLE WEEKEND SCENE: Potter Construction’s Rampathon result

Thanks to Karl at Potter Construction (WSB sponsor) for sending the photo. On Saturday, Potter Construction again participated in the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties‘ annual Rampathon, during which volunteer labor and donated materials result in access ramps for residents in need. This year, Laurie at Potter Construction tells us, the recipients are “a local West Seattle retired couple, in need of a permanent ramp due to mobility issues.” The builders’ association takes applications from prospective ramp recipients each winter. Potter has been participating since the early 2000s.

LAST CALL: Final day for SDOT survey on Highland Park Way hill lane-change proposal

SDOT wants to replace the outside downhill lane of the Highland Park Way hill with a protected bicycle lane (1st rendering above), an expanded multi-use path (2nd rendering above), or both (bike lane first, expanded path later). Today’s the final day for this survey asking what you think. SDOT says it’s received almost 2,000 responses as of Thursday. We first reported on the proposal a month ago; back in 2020, SDOT proposed an uphill bicycle lane on the hill, then tabled that. Funding for a protected bike lane on HP Way is mentioned in one of the project lists in the proposed transportation levy currently under City Council review.

FOLLOWUP: Metro bus crash blamed on unoccupied scooter

We followed up with Metro today to ask what they could tell us about the crash reported here early Sunday, with a coach reported to have veered off SW Roxbury and through a fence. We took several questions to Metro spokesperson Jeff Switzer, who incorporated the replies into this response:

Based on preliminary information, about 3:06 a.m. early Sunday morning a RapidRide H Line bus traveling westbound on Southwest Roxbury Street left the roadway at 22nd Avenue Southwest to avoid striking a Lime scooter that was lying in the roadway that was mistaken for either an animal or a person. The bus went through a fenced driveway and partially into a backyard.

Seattle Fire Department responded to assist. The bus driver is doing OK and was not injured. One passenger was (treated for) what initially was reported to be a leg injury. Two other passengers remained on board for a period of time due in part to a customer mobility issue. They later boarded another bus. A Metro truck arrived about 3:56 a.m. to tow the bus back to base for inspection and repairs.

Traffic enforcement returning, police tell District 1 Community Network

(Traffic enforcement on Sylvan Way, 2021 reader photo from Sam)

First of two reports from last night’s District 1 Community Network meeting: Traffic enforcement is returning to West Seattle. Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Nathan Shopay said they’ve been talking with SPD’s Traffic Unit and they were going to get some spot enforcement efforts, as schedules allow. No dates/times/locations yet, but don’t be surprised if you happen to see a motorcycle officer with a radar gun in one of the local hotspots sometime soon. Years ago, SPD had regular traffic-enforcement operations, and SPD Blotter even used to regularly publish lists of where they’d been and what the fastest speeds detected had been (example: this 2011 story mentioning 55 mph on Admiral Way). Our story on the rest of the D1CN meeting – including the group’s decision to disband – is in the works for later, likely tonight Friday.

FOLLOWUP: Alki Point Healthy Street walking/rolling/biking lane installation begins

Thanks to David Hutchinson for that photo. As reported here, SDOT said last week that it would start installing the permanent features of the Alki Point Healthy Street as soon as Saturday, and indeed, David tells us, they’ve been out there all weekend, including placement of concrete wheel stops for the new 10-foot walking/rolling/biking lane alongside the waterside sidewalk by Constellation Park. The photo above is from this morning; we just went over – the crew’s gone now, and this is what we saw looking northward on Beach Drive from 64th:

David also sent this photo of Saturday work on the Alki Avenue stretch west of 63rd:

That hasn’t been discussed as much as the Beach Drive stretch, but that spot is where a “cul-de-sac” is being set up, per the project page, “to give drivers an opportunity to turn around before the ‘street closed’ sign.”

FOLLOWUP: Healthy Street additions ‘not responsive to our concerns,’ says Alki Point For All

(SDOT current/future cross-section comparison, from project webpage)

For the first time since SDOT announced last Friday that it would proceed with the Alki Point Healthy Street plan, adding a few features, we’re hearing from the group that had been fighting the plan. Alki Point For All says it wants to clarify that the SDOT changes did not constitute a compromise. Here’s their statement:

Last week the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) announced that it is proceeding with construction at Alki Point, with changes based on community feedback, including ours. To clear up any confusion caused by that announcement, the changes are not responsive to our concerns. SDOT has not addressed the substantive issues we have raised regarding the harmful impact of this project on social equity, safety, and marine education and conservation. At a recent meeting we encouraged SDOT to consider solutions that would better meet the needs of the wider community, while still achieving its goals. The small cosmetic changes announced last week bear little resemblance to the ideas we proposed, as described below.

1. Transformative Art. We encouraged SDOT to consider street art as way to organically slow traffic and increase safety. Bloomberg Philanthropies has proven this concept in projects all over the country: Asphalt Art Initiative and Asphalt Art Safety Study. We suggested that local artists like the Youngstown Arts Collective could be engaged to create the design. In piloting this approach, Alki Point could serve as a model for other Healthy Streets, and bring communities together rather than dividing them. Instead, SDOT will add decorative art to their existing design — missing the point, and the opportunity.

2. Welcome Signs. We proposed replacing the Street Closed signs with signs that said “Welcome to Constellation Marine Reserve. Go Slow.” The goal of that change was to alert drivers they are entering a special place, and encourage (or require) them to slow down, while at the same time welcoming the public to use a public space. SDOT liked our idea for “Welcome” signs, but plans to install them in addition to, not instead of, the Street Closed signs. It’s hard to imagine a more confusing message: welcome, and stay away.

3. Bus Parking. SDOT’s solution is insufficient for the need—the spaces they’ve identified are too small. When students come to Alki Point for field trips, the number of busses can range from two to nineteen. We recommended that SDOT contact schools to determine the actual need.

4. Time / Area Closures. Instead of a permanent “rolling” lane, we proposed using time and area closures such as car-free Sundays. Shorter temporary closures would be safer for people who want to recreate in the street, and allow more people to access the area year-round. That suggestion was ignored.

In October 2022, SDOT announced its preferred design for Alki Point, which called for the loss of five parking spaces on Alki Ave SW. In December 2023, the agency revealed its final design, which for the first time included the addition of a “rolling” lane and the loss of 62 parking spaces along the west side Beach Drive. These significant changes were made too late for public comment, without stakeholder notification or engagement, and in violation of their own guidelines for Healthy Streets.

SDOT has broken faith with its constituents in both how its decisions were made and how they are described. This latest announcement is more of the same. We expect more from a city that values transparency and accountability in governing. Nearly 1800 people have signed our petition asking the Mayor to halt this project.

So beyond this statement, what does the coalition plan to do? we asked on followup. Spokesperson Donna Sandstrom replied, “We are considering our next steps. Our goal in writing this was to set the public record straight – SDOT’s announcement created a false impression that they were responsive to community feedback. They were not. For now we are still encouraging people to sign our petition. We’re working on a website and reaching out to the people who came to our meeting. We see this as the first leg of a relay. We didn’t achieve our first goal of halting construction, but we are confident that this wrong will be righted in the long run.” She says the group also is heartened that City Councilmember Rob Saka has pledged to evaluate the project in the fall. Meantime, SDOT said earlier this week that construction of the permanent features, including a walking-and-rolling path replacing waterfront parking spots, will resume as soon as this Saturday (June 1).

West Seattle Transportation Coalition hears the newest plan for Vision Zero

One year ago, SDOT released its “top-to-bottom review” of the Vision Zero program, concluding that Vision Zero wasn’t making progress toward its goal of zero deaths and serious injuries on Seattle streets by 2030 because too little action was being taken. One year later, the trend has yet to reverse, and SDOT’s newly released Vision Zero Action Plan Update calls again for more to be done. SDOT reps explained what that will detail as the spotlight guests at this past Thursday’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting.

SDOT’s David Burgesser opened by saying it’s all put in perspective by remembering the humanity of each victim – the 1,700+ people seriously hurt and ~228 people killed since the program’s launch in 2015 (update: four this week alone, with deadly crashes in North Seattle and downtown in the hours before the meeting, and another downtown on Friday night, plus one as we wrote this story). A majority of the victims are those most vulnerable, he said – people walking, rolling, or riding.

The updated plan, he said, focuses on 22 strategies, and 80+ actions, most of which, he said, “fall within the safer roads/safer speeds category.”

Part of the plan also seeks better data – for example, while the city has many data dashboards, it does not have one for Vision Zero, but Burgesser said they are working on that. Two sections of the update also call for better correlation of SFD and SPD data from collision responses.

The WSTC meeting discussion didn’t dive into West Seattle specifics, so we browsed the Action Plan Update looking for them. What we found were mentions of some projects already planned or even under way. One was completion of the Terminal 5 Quiet Zone, safety improvements meant to enable trains serving T-5 to (mostly) avoid horn use. (A port rep in attendance at the meeting said the Quiet Zone work should be complete within a few months – that’s a bit behind what was estimated last fall, and way beyond the original plan for it to be done before the first modernized T-5 berth opened.) Another was to “Develop an updated plan to improve the safety of bridge expansion joints, railings, and barrier types for people biking, rolling, and walking,” and the soon-to-begin Admiral Way Bridge seismic-strengthening project was designated for that work. West Seattle light rail, though it’s not planned to launch until 2032, got a mention too: “Develop station access plans for future light rail stations and enhance the experience and quality of existing facilities that connect people walking, biking, and rolling along and across major transit corridors,” with a “2024 target” listed as “Develop a priority list of station access projects for the West Seattle Link Extension stations that can be supported with available station access funding from Sound Transit.” And it’s likely some West Seattle locations will eventually be part of citywide plans like these:

In Q/A, WSTC’s Deb Barker said she had recently visited Australia and learned that it too was having what she termed “abysmal” results despite working under Vision Zero. (We later found this story about that.) She asked Burgesser for an example of where it’s working. New Jersey communities were cited in response – no fatalities in 7 years in Hoboken (population 60,000), for example. (We found this recent story verifying that.) Why a three-year plan? That’s meant to give them an opening for “one more pivot” before 2030 if needed.

ALSO AT THE WSTC MEETING: Kate Nolan from the Northwest Seaport Alliance – the cargo-shipping authority for Seattle and Tacoma – talked about their zero-emission truck program; we weren’t able to watch that section of the meeting, but the full video will eventually be up on the WSTC YouTube channel (now at youtube.com/westseattletc). Asked how many vessels are using shore power now that it’s available at both T-5 berths, she said “about half” was what she’d most recently heard. … Board elections were postponed until the next meeting, July 25, to give time for recruitment efforts; there’s been a lot of attrition in the past year-plus, so lots of room to get involved – email info@westseattletc.org to find out more.

FOLLOWUP: Post-meeting, SDOT answers Highland Park Way hill project questions

Tomorrow (Saturday, May 25) you have one more chance to talk with SDOT reps in person about the Highland Park Way hill project – a proposal to remove one downhill motor-vehicle lane and replace it with a protected bike lane, an expanded multi-use path, or (eventually) both. SDOT will be at the Delridge Farmers’ Market (9421 18th SW) 10 am-2 pm Saturday. Meantime, as we reported yesterday, attendees at this month’s HPAC meeting had some questions the SDOT reps were unable to immediately answer – so we sent some of those questions to the department, and got answers late today, as follows:

WSB: “What are the cost estimates of the three options? … And how much money has been spent so far on this very early stage of the project?”

SDOT: “We are engaging the community to shape the scope before we develop draft cost estimates for the options. Generally speaking, Option 1 (protected bike lane) has fewer construction needs since it removes a travel lane and adds concrete barriers. Option 2 (multiuse path) has more complex construction needs since it involves moving a curb line, potential drainage work, and a wider landscape buffer and path. So far, we have spent $145,000 for this project.”

WSB: “(SDOT reps at the meeting) had the current car traffic data. What is the most recent bicycle usage and pedestrian usage data for that section of HP Way?”

SDOT: (Provided table as seen below)

“We plan to collect additional data this summer.”

WSB: “It’s oft-cited ‘if you build the infrastructure (for riders) they will come.’ So it was asked (at the meeting), what is the bicycle usage data for other semi-new lanes in West Seattle, like the Delridge lane post-Delridge rechannelizing?”

SDOT: “We have not measured the bicycle usage on Delridge since the project was completed. We do have data from the West Marginal Way SW Safety Corridor Project, gathered from August-October last year:

“·Weekday bike volumes have increased by 144% from an average of 103 bikers before the project was installed to an average of 251 daily bikers. Weekend bike volumes have increased by 53%.

“·The number of people walking or using a mobility assistance device (like a wheelchair or accessibility scooter) increased significantly, 96% on weekdays and 91% on weekends.

“Here are a few local and national studies showing the effect of bike lanes:”
seattle.gov/documents/Departments/SDOT/About/DocumentLibrary/Reports/NE65thSt_Evaluation_Report_91620-1.pdf
trec.pdx.edu/research/project/583/Lessons_from_the_Green_Lanes:_Evaluating_Protected_Bike_Lanes_in_the_U.S._
nacto.org/2016/07/20/high-quality-bike-facilities-increase-ridership-make-biking-safer/

Those aren’t all the questions HPAC attendees had, just the ones we asked SDOT in followup, so watch for more info from HPAC. Meantime, whatever you think about the project, you can also comment – June 15 is the deadline – via this survey, or via email at HighlandHolden@seattle.gov, or via voicemail at 206-900-8741.

Unanswered questions, project purpose draw scrutiny as HPAC meeting focuses on Highland Park Way hill lane-change plan

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The proposal to replace one downhill driving lane on the Highland Park Way hill with either a protected bicycle lane or expanded multi-use path is mostly about slowing down speeding drivers. That was made clear by an SDOT rep who was at last night’s HPAC meeting to talk about the plan.

The SDOT reps led by James Le were also there for Q&A, but more than a few questions went unanswered aside from “I’ll have to get back to you on that.”

First, if you are reading this before Thursday evening, you have another opportunity to go try to get answers in person, 4-8 pm tonight at Highland Park Corner Store (7789 Highland Park Way SW). That was supposed to be the last in-person event for now, but SDOT has just added another one this Saturday – more on that at the end of this story.

Backstory on the proposal: In 2020, SDOT had a plan for a bike lane on the Highland Park Way hill, but put it on hold. The concept re-emerged in a 2022 application for federal funding. Two weeks ago, SDOT formally announced a plan for a downhill bike lane and/or expanded path along about half a mile of the hill.

In the announcement of this plan on May 10, SDOT also opened a survey, which they tell us today has already brought in almost 1,000 responses. We don’t know how the opinions are going on that, but last night, with about two dozen people attending the online meeting, HPAC did an informal survey of its own:

(Zoom screengrab)

That “straw poll” had one option not in the SDOT survey or project plan – improving the existing path without removing a driving lane. Le was asked repeatedly if SDOT would consider an option that keeps the current motorized-vehicle-lane configuration, and Le eventually said, “Let me throw that back at you – how would you (slow traffic) without removing a lane?” He had repeatedly referred to traffic-slowing as a prime goal of the project, citing SDOT data showing that while the posted speed limit is 25 mph, hill traffic averages 43 mph, so, he said, “we have to redesign the roads.” The hill has too much “capacity,” he contended, which would be reduced by removing a driving lane. He cited 49 collisions of note in five years, including head-ons and sideswipes.

The danger of head-on collisions is one reason not to remove a lane, some attendees countered, saying that the lane reduction would mean nowhere to get around an obstacle, and asking if there was any consideration of a barrier between the two directions as a safety measure. Le said SDOT had considered “some barrier options” but none seemed feasible, so the lane removal is a “self-enforcing design.” One attendee said they were “strongly in favor” of that, and disagreed with other attendees’ contention that the single downhill lane would be a “chokepoint,” observing that drivers coming off Holden, for example, are in one lane as they turn onto the hill. That attendee was one of the few who identified themselves as riders, and also voiced support for the project providing a better connection for riders headed toward Georgetown.

Even if the hill seems to have “too much capacity” now, other attendees said, it should be preserved in case of access trouble such as a repeat of the West Seattle Bridge closure, which turned the Highland Park Way hill into a lifeline in and out of West Seattle for 2 1/2 years as the 1st Avenue South Bridge became the major detour route. “It’s a vital connector,” stressed one attendee. Le’s answer to concern about another West Seattle Bridge closure was, “I don’t think that will happen” – since the WS Bridge is expected to last its full lifespan following the repairs that reopened it in September 2022.

The questions that went unanswered included the cost/budget for the project. The SDOT reps said they didn’t have those numbers, repeating that it’s very early in the design process, and there’s no funding yet beyond “early design,” explaining that future funding would depend on what option they eventually decided to pursue. Attendees pressed the question of how much money is allotted so far, but that wasn’t answered. Nor was a question about how many bicycle riders and pedestrians use the hill path now. (We’ve sent those and other followup questions to SDOT’s media team today.) There also was a concern about how the bike path would be maintained, given that others – such as the relatively new one on Delridge – have been observed with leaves, broken glass, and other debris.

One attendee, identifying herself as a pedestrian as well as driver, said she wanted to see “traffic calming that is actually calming,” fearing the lane removal will be the opposite, invariably resulting in more road rage. What about stationing a police officer on the hill full time? asked another attendee. Le thought that would be “very expensive.” Also suggested: A “holistic” look at the traffic situation in Highland Park, considering all the changes implemented during and after the bridge closure, including the HP Way/Holden intersection work and all the “Home Zone” neighborhood traffic-calming installations.

Eventually the discussion ebbed and HPAC co-chair Kay Kirkpatrick ran the informal “straw poll” shown above. Le said all the feedback – including the HPAC meeting – would be compiled in a report that would be out midsummer or so. No date has been given for a final decision or for construction.

WHAT’S NEXT: As noted above, SDOT plans to be at Highland Park Corner Store tonight, 4-8 pm, and the project outreach team just told us this morning that they’ve added one more in-person tabling event for Q&A and feedback, this Saturday (May 25) at Delridge Farmers’ Market (9421 18th SW), 10 am-2 pm. The survey is open until June 15, and the project page offers an email address and voicemail line you can also use for feedback and/or questions. And though it’s not an official project-related event, the proposal is expected to be discussed at tonight’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting too (6:30 pm online, connection info here).

ADDED FRIDAY NIGHT: We took some of the unanswered questions to SDOT post-meeting; here are the answers.

Alki Point for All suggests alternative vision for ‘Healthy Street’

(WSB photo, late Tuesday afternoon, Beach Drive alongside Constellation Park)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Members of the Alki Point for All group tried last night to focus on what they propose, in addition to what they oppose.

The latter – the permanent features planned for the Beach Drive stretch of the city-designated Alki Point Healthy Street, particularly the foot/wheels path that will replace some parking spaces.

The former – traffic-calming alternatives such as street art.

Though SDOT has said repeatedly that construction is imminent, they are hopeful they can find a way to stop it. “I know we can do this,” said organizer Donna Sandstrom of The Whale Trail toward the end of the hastily called meeting at C & P Coffee (WSB sponsor), attended by 20+ people.

Another coalition member, longtime West Seattle architect and community advocate Vlad Oustimovitch, said, “I am absolutely certain there is a a way almost everyone can be accommodated in a plan and feel good about it – this (SDOT plan) is (not it) – there is a way to step back and look at it.” He offered examples of street redesign including large-scale pavement art.

Sandstrom added, “We’d like to see the STREET CLOSED sign replaced with WELCOME TO (the park) … GO SLOW … we think there is a version of the Healthy Street that meets the greater (good).”

Other coalition members introduced by Sandstrom included longtime volunteer responders from Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network. They explained that they are the ones whose work is potentially most impacted by the removal of shore-side parking, as they haul equipment such as sandwich boards and tape to beaches where harbor seals, sea lions, and other marine mammals strand.

Sandstrom stressed that they are not just concerned about their own access; she said SDOT offered them their “own private loading zone.” They are worried about all the other people who they say flock to the area for activities such as storm watching and tidepooling as well as whale watching and “seal-sitting.” Retirement homes bring vans full of people to park and enjoy the view, she said. “It’s important to a lot of people for many reasons, for generations.”

For the purposes of her organization – which has interpretive signage at 130 sites along the west coast of North America, where whales – especially Puget Sound’s endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales – might be seen. She estimates having helped thousands of people watch and learn about them from Constellation Park.

Victoria Nelson from Seal Sitters explained that the volunteer-powered organization has a “binding agreement” with the federal agency NOAA to tend to marine mammals that show up on the beach, alive or dead. “We are not just looking at seals – they are an indicator species on the Sound – if they’re ill they could be a danger to the community.” They partner with the organization SR3 to rescue and treat ailing animals.

(File photo of Constellation Park tidepooling, courtesy Alki Point for All)

Then there are the Seattle Aquarium‘s volunteer beach naturalist events at Constellation Park during low-low tides (the Aquarium is not part of its effort but local resident Buzz Shaw, who said he helped launch the program and was long involved with it, is). Those draw hundreds, Sandstrom said: “People are making connections to the Sound that can inspire conservation.”

She then recapped the four-year history of the Alki Point Healthy Street (Beach Drive and Alki Avenue, west of 63rd to where they meet at the point). Though the city touted surveys showing support for banning through traffic on the stretch, Sandstrom and other coalition members contend, the city never asked whether the plan – originally a Keep Moving Street early in the pandemic, now a Healthy Street – should be implemented, only how it should be implemented. Late last year “we were all surprised when they revealed a final design calling for the removal of 62 parking spaces,” she said, explaining that she didn’t feel she could sit back and watch it happen, because the changes already have depressed turnout when whales are present. People see the STREET CLOSED signage and turn around – “how is the impact being measured?”

Nelson said she originally was assured “no legal parking would be removed.” (This was reiterated on the city website, as shown in our February report.) Without the water-side parking on that stretch, she said, volunteers can’t “retreat to our car within line of sight” of the animals they’re watching. And people seeking to pull over and enjoy the view for a moment won’t be able to.

The coalition believes the decision wasn’t made with public comment aside from that early survey, and they’re skeptical about its participation – “58 percent residents, not a representative sample of who uses Alki Point.”

And yet, Oustimovitch said access to Constellation Park is important for people around the region. “It’s an entry drug to environmentalism.” That’s when he showed the example of a street in Asheville, North Carolina, with “illustrated pavement,” saying that immediately signifies it’s “public domain” – and yet the parking remains (added: here’s a safety study of similar projects) . “We have a whole arts community … that I’m sure would be really happy to be involved.” Maybe, he suggested, paint an “oversized octopus” onto the street. But instead, in his view – which includes 45 years of urban design work – “SDOT is erring on the side of brutal engineering options.”

They did get an audience with the city two weeks ago, Sandstrom said, but even after their presentation, like the one they gave last night, the department said it’s “going to proceed with construction as planned … and see what problems arise” (if any). Sandstrom said SDOT liked the “Welcome” sign ideas – “they’re going to put them right next to the ‘Street Closed’ signs.” The mayor’s office also told them they intended to let SDOT go ahead, she said, and evaluate it after a year. Nonetheless, she said, the coalition wants to figure out how to “halt construction, open the discussion, arrive at solutions that meet the needs of the wider community.” But time’s running out, she acknowledged, if they can’t generate “a lot of noise and heat” to convince the city to hit the brakes.

The subsequent Q/A and discussion was wide-ranging. Not everyone present was a supporter; one attendee said the coalition should be concerned about 15 storm drains that carry automotive fluid and debris into the Sound, unfiltered. She and Nelson engaged in a back and forth, with Nelson ultimately suggesting they could and should work together on a “surgical” solution to the road’s problems, not the planned blanket restrictions. (Sandstrom at one point addressed those who’ve said to her “how dare I be a conservationist and promote the use of cars … if there was another way to get (to Alki Point) but we’re not there yet … better thing is to give more people the chance to see (the whales) in their home.”)

Another person said he lives in the Alki Point area and was opposed to the Healthy Street restrictions until he saw how well they were working to calm the area, which had historically been a magnet for driver gatherings, partying, littering, and racing (as we reported in 2020, local police acknowledged the street restrictions were a way to solve that recurring problem). So he spoke repeatedly in favor of proceeding with the city’s plan, including declaring, “We’re talking about the convenience of parking for humans vs, the environment.”

Some suggested alternatives – what about closing the street at night and leaving it open all day? What about making it a one-way street? Sandstrom said they would love the chance to work with local residents on solutions “if we could just convince (the city) to go back to the table.” Another supporter warned that once the parking’s gone, “it’s never coming back – it’s gone forever . the only way to stop this thing, is to stop this thing.”

But how?

There may be legal criteria that would be an argument against restrictions, it was suggested – denying access to the shoreline? Thwarting specific educational uses of the waterfront? Legal action is possible, agreed Sandstrom, “some members of our group might be in favor” – but, she stressed, they strongly prefer to make progress through “persuasion.” But respectful persuasion, no demonstrations, sit-ins, picketing, etc. – “real discussions between real people is what I want to foster.”

Another attendee suggested that the city is “picking the wrong place, the wrong Healthy Street to advance … pitting people who care about good things (against each other).” And one who said she’d been in West Seattle a year after previously living in Fall City and bringing schoolchildren here at low tide noted that she knows people who have been scared away from the park by the “street closed” signage.

After two hours, the meeting ended with Sandstrom reminding attendees about their online petition and other potential action steps, inviting anyone interested in working with them to let them know.

Light turnout for city’s West Seattle/South Park public-safety forum

By Sean Golonka
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

Residents from across West Seattle and South Park expressed concerns about community safety and a desire to see more alternatives to policing at a city-convened public forum tonight, but most people in attendance described feeling at least somewhat safe in their neighborhood.

Among the few dozen attendees — who reported hailing from all over the area, South Park to Alki — 32 people responded to a poll at the event asking how safe they feel in their neighborhood, with 12% selecting “very safe,” 51% “somewhat safe,” 15% “somewhat unsafe,” and 6% “very unsafe.”

The forum held at Concord International Elementary in South Park was one of four community-safety forums held by the mayor’s office, with a fifth and final forum scheduled in Queen Anne later this week.

The Tuesday forum offered local residents a chance to speak with staff from about a dozen city agencies, including Seattle Police Department (SPD) and Seattle Department of Transportation, and was designed for local government officials to collect feedback meant to shape the One Seattle Safety Framework.

The framework, which has not yet been released, will guide the city’s strategic approach to public safety, and includes six key goals:

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Concerned about crime and other safety issues? Mayor’s regional forum Tuesday for West Seattle/South Park

If you want to hear what the city is doing about crime and/or other public-safety issues – and share your thoughts about what you’d like to see done – here’s another reminder: Tomorrow (Tuesday, May 14) brings Mayor Harrell‘s regional public-safety forum. It’s happening at 6 pm at Concord International Elementary School, 723 S. Concord in South Park (here’s a map). This is the third in a series of five, one in each of the city’s SPD-precinct areas (the Southwest Precinct serves both West Seattle and South Park). Here’s how the format’s been described in media advisories:

The public forum is part of a series of forums held in neighborhoods with community members across Seattle over the next month to share more about Mayor Harrell’s public safety framework and to receive input and feedback on safety priorities, allowing neighbors to engage in direct conversation with City leaders and representatives on public safety ideas and solutions.

Mayor Harrell and City leaders will make opening remarks, followed by interactive input sessions for participants. Community members will rotate in small groups to engage directly with City leaders and provide input informing action and policy priorities.

According to an SPD event announcement, these are the city departments expected to be represented:

Seattle Police Department
Seattle Fire Department
CARE (Community Assisted Response & Engagement Team)
Seattle Police Department Alternative Response Team
PARKS – Park Rangers
Seattle Police Department Youth Liaison
Department of Education and Early Learning
Seattle Department of Transportation
King County Metro
Department of Neighborhood
Office of Economic Development
(corrected) Human Services Department
Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs

They’re asking for attendees to RSVP – you can do that here.

New public-safety director for mayor’s office: West Seattleite Natalie Walton-Anderson

At the top of the list of mayor’s-office cabinet/staff changes announced today is a new role for a West Seattle resident: Natalie Walton-Anderson is the new director of public-safety for Mayor Bruce Harrell. Until recently, Walton-Anderson led the criminal division in City Attorney Ann Davison‘s office, appointed by Davison in 2021. Today’s announcement also notes her background includes management roles in the U.S. Attorney’s Office and King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. You can likely expect to see her at next Tuesday’s mayoral public-safety forum for District 1, 6 pm at Concord International Elementary in South Park (RSVP required – the link is in our calendar listing).

RAMP REPAIR: If you were wondering about the pothole on bridge ramp to 99 …

A few people have mentioned a new pothole in the ramp from the eastbound West Seattle Bridge to northbound Highway 99 – same ramp closed for a week by a through-and-through hole one year ago. We don’t have an image, but last night, we heard police dispatched to check it out, after a 911 call that it was “big as a tire” and showing rebar. The officer subsequently told dispatch that rebar was visible but it wasn’t a through-and-through hole. As we learned during last year’s situation, the ramp is a WSDOT (state) structure, so we asked spokesperson James Poling about it today. He says city and state crews have collaborated to address it:

SDOT was able to get our maintenance crews a picture overnight of this location. It was a small pothole at a location we have been monitoring. Unlike the significant closure in 2023, which was a hole through the bridge, this was a pothole above the rebar with a much smaller footprint (a few inches).

SDOT crews patched it overnight, and our crews briefly closed the bridge this morning (15 minutes) to further inspect the location, including the newly patched section of the bridge.

The ramp was built in 1959 (same year as completion of the now-demolished Alaskan Way Viaduct to which it connected).

READER REPORT: Suspected drunk driver crashes into Upper Morgan house

If you’ve traveled the SW Morgan hill east of Fauntleroy in the past few days, you might have noticed that plywood. Sabrina and Jenny sent the photos with word of what happened:

An unknown driver in an SUV crashed into (our) residence, 1:30 a.m. Thursday, SW corner of SW Morgan Street and 39th Avenue SW. It was late in the evening and the hill was wet with rain.

Police response was immediate. A patrol car was driving westbound on SW Morgan Street just after it happened and we did not have time to call 911. The driver fled but was apprehended, bleeding with a head wound, tended by fire fighters and taken away in a patrol car. Had our home not been reinforced with an above-ground concrete foundation on that corner, we would have awoken to the vehicle inside our building, built in 1915.

We sustained no interior damage but have been advised by the worker who temporarily weather-proofed the corner that our home has been structurally damaged. The corner beam is splintered and askew. We are awaiting assessment from our insurance company. We thank the officers and fire fighters on the scene and ask all drivers to consider their speed while driving. The accidents of late seem to be unreasonably violent for neighborhood streets with a 25 mph speed limit.

Sabrina and Jenny sent the photos and report over the weekend; we followed up with police today, and here’s the summary they provided: “When police arrived, there was no one in the car, but the driver returned to the scene. Investigators developed probable cause to arrest a 43-year-old man for DUI. He appeared to be hurt. Seattle fire crews responded to the scene to treat him and he was then taken to the hospital for further treatment. The man was the registered owner of the vehicle. It was towed from the scene.”

WEST SEATTLE WILDLIFE: Watch out for otters

Those two River Otters photographed recently by Theresa Arbow-O’Connor were seen by Anchor/Luna Park on Duwamish Head, not far from water. But otters’ dens are often far enough inland that they have to cross streets to get to them, so this is a reminder for drivers to beware: We received a report of a dead otter by the roadside near the north end of Delridge Way over the weekend. Whether or not it was hit by a driver, we don’t know, but certainly that area near the entrance to the bridge is busy and treacherous. And that area is not as far from the water as you might think, with Terminal 5 and other docks just downhill under the bridge. Otters are often seen crossing Alki Avenue, and several years back, two little ones made it all the way up Fairmount Ravine. So along with everything else to be mindful of if and when you drive – including people on foot and on wheels and in other vehicles – keep an eye out for low-to-the-ground creatures crossing. (Learn more about River Otters via this fact sheet.)

WEEKEND PREVIEW: Recycling and drug disposal Saturday, shredding both days

Here’s a reminder about three events this weekend that can help with your spring cleaning in a variety of ways:

FREE RECYCLING SATURDAY: That’s the list from Fauntleroy Church for its twice-yearly Recycle Roundup, happening 9 am-3 pm Saturday (April 27) in the church lot. (You can also see it here in PDF.) Just drive up or ride/walk up and Recycle Roundup partner DTG Recycle/1 Green Planet will take your item(s). The lot is at 9140 California SW.

DRUG TAKE-BACK WITH SHREDDING SATURDAY: Also on Saturday, the twice-yearly Drug Take-Back Day dropoff event is happening outside the Southwest Precinct (2300 SW Webster), 10 am-2 pm, and this year SPD is offering free shredding, too (up to three boxes) – bring nonperishable food for the West Seattle Food Bank.

FREE SHREDDING AND FOOD DRIVE SUNDAY: On Sunday (April 28), 9 am-noon, you can shred with John L. Scott Real Estate Westwood (WSB sponsor), which will be accepting food/money donations for the White Center Food Bank. Look for the canopy and truck in the northwest lot at Westwood Village (west of the former Bed Bath and Beyond, north of the future Daiso).

FOLLOWUP: Here’s the plan for yearlong Delridge Pedestrian Bridge project

(WSB photo, Tuesday)

As we’ve been noting in our weekday-morning traffic notes, the project to reinforce the Delridge Pedestrian Bridge is officially under way. SDOT says it’s expected to last about a year, during which time the Delridge/Oregon intersection will be narrowed. Here’s the official fact sheet for the project, and today we also have more information about the phases of work:

To complete the work as safely and efficiently as possible, the bridge will be closed to people walking, biking, and rolling during construction. In addition, we will be closing sidewalks and car lanes under the bridge on Delridge Way SW in three phases to divert people walking, rolling, biking, and driving away from where work is occurring. At least one lane of travel in each direction and a sidewalk on one side of the street will be maintained throughout each phase.

We understand these closures will impact everyone who uses the bridge and Delridge Way SW regularly and we will do what we can to minimize impacts. The three phases will include the following closures:

Phase One
Our first phase of sidewalk and lane closures is currently in progress. Delridge Way SW will be reduced to one lane in each direction, with car traffic shifted to the east. Between SW Genesee St and SW Oregon St, the sidewalk on the west side of Delridge Way SW will also be closed while crews work on the west side of the bridge. We will share a map showing the sidewalk and lane closure soon.

Phase Two
During the second phase of sidewalks and lane closures, Delridge Way SW will be reduced to one lane in each direction, with car traffic shifted to the west. Between SW Genesee St and SW Oregon St, the sidewalk on the east side of Delridge Way SW will also be closed while crews work on the east side of the bridge. We will share a map showing the sidewalk and lane closure in phase two as we approach the end of phase one.

Phase Three
Our final phase of sidewalk and lane closures will reduce Delridge Way SW to one lane in both directions. The innermost lanes will be closed and traffic will be shifted to the outermost lanes while crews work underneath the middle of the bridge. The sidewalks on both sides of Delridge Way SW will remain open to people walking and rolling during this phase. We will share a map showing the lane closures in phase three as we approach the end of phase two.

Though the project page doesn’t cite a number, the city previously has listed the project budget as $5 million; the successful “base bid” by Ferndale-headquartered contractor IMCO Construction is shown online as $2.3 million. At one point the city contemplated demolishing the bridge rather than upgrading it, but community feedback led to the city scrapping that idea.

SIDE NOTE: An earthquake-safety project is ahead for the Admiral Way bridges over Fairmount Ravine, too. The city is in the process of finalizing the contract for the north bridge, so we should have a timeline soon.

FOLLOWUP: Mayor announces dates, locations for public-safety forums around the city

April 24, 2024 4:30 pm
|    Comments Off on FOLLOWUP: Mayor announces dates, locations for public-safety forums around the city
 |   Neighborhoods | Safety | West Seattle news | West Seattle politics

That’s Seattle Channel video of the public-safety forum led by Mayor Harrell and chiefs/department heads last month, at which time it was promised that regional forums around the city would follow, one for each police-precinct area. Today, the dates and locations of those forums have just been announced; the one for our area will be Tuesday, May 14, in South Park. Here’s the city announcement:

Today, Mayor Bruce Harrell announced five additional community safety forums that will give the public opportunity to help shape the soon-to-be-released One Seattle Safety Framework.

Building on lessons learned from the citywide public safety forum held in March, the five community forums will be held in neighborhoods across the city, starting at Garfield High School on April 30, 2024. Each forum will give the public opportunity to share their ideas for how to make Seattle safer and interact with officials from the city’s public safety departments.

“Public safety is our highest priority – the One Seattle Safety Framework defines the outcomes we aim to achieve and the vision to help get us there, based on what we know works and have put into effect, new approaches, and our shared values,” said Mayor Harrell. “Ensuring the framework is informed by meaningful community input is critical for its success – and these public forums will help add and enhance specific actions most impactful to neighbors and communities. I am grateful for the hard work our emergency responders do every day, and I look forward to working with them, the City Council, the City Attorney’s Office, and our neighbors to continue building a safer Seattle.”

Mayor Harrell’s vision for the One Seattle Safety Framework is to create a city where everyone, in every neighborhood, is safe and feels secure. The framework includes six key strategies, which the public is invited to comment on at the upcoming community safety forums.

-Reduce gun violence and other violent crime with evidence-based solutions and enforcement strategies.
-Respond to 9-1-1 calls efficiently and effectively by hiring more officers and diversifying response options.
-Address the root causes and impacts of violence by investing in community-based solutions and upstream interventions.
-Prioritize a public health and trauma-informed approach to reduce overdoses, reduce violence, and better support victims and survivors.
-Coordinate community safety efforts to avoid duplication and inefficiencies by breaking down silos between departments.
-Build and maintain community trust through strong accountability systems and community engagement on law enforcement priorities.

Based on feedback received at the upcoming forums, the City will continue to refine a comprehensive One Seattle Safety Framework with detailed approaches for the above strategies. The City is also releasing a new promotional video showcasing the coordinated approach of the CARE, Fire, and Police departments under this framework, watch here.

The community forums “will feature staff from the Seattle Mayor’s Office, Police Department, Fire Department, CARE Department, Department of Transportation, and youth liaisons,” and will “include specific local information,” the city says. For our area, it’s 6-7:30 pm Tuesday, May 14, at Concord International Elementary School in South Park (723 S. Concord); RSVP here.

SUV on sidewalk after crash across from Jefferson Square

(Texted photo)

Thanks for the tips and photos. Close call in The Junction about an hour ago – what was dispatched as a two-car collision left one of the vehicles up on the sidewalk and against the exterior of Season’s salon on the ground floor of Mural, across 42nd from Jefferson Square.

(Photo sent by Mike)

The other car was a Camry. No serious injuries reported, nor was anyone reported hit on the sidewalk, but we’re following up with SFD to verify.

TRAFFIC ALERT: Highland Park Way/Holden signal work wraps up starting this week

April 21, 2024 7:57 pm
|    Comments Off on TRAFFIC ALERT: Highland Park Way/Holden signal work wraps up starting this week
 |   Highland Park | Safety | West Seattle news

(March 2020 photo)

Four years after the “temporary” signal went up at Highland Park Way/Holden, shortly after the West Seattle Bridge closure dramatically increased traffic there, the signal’s permanent replacement is almost complete. “Final steps” of the project start tomorrow, according to this advisory sent by SDOT:

We are on the final stretch of construction for the permanent traffic signal at the intersection of Highland Park Way SW and SW Holden St. Over the next few weeks, we will attach the traffic signal heads to the metal mast arms so they are no longer hanging from a wire.

After that, we will hang traffic cameras to monitor and adjust the signal in real-time and install traffic loops in the pavement on all four sides of the intersection so the signal can recognize when a person driving is waiting at the light. We will also activate the crosswalk button on the sidewalk, so people can request a signal change when they need to walk across the street.

All of these steps will improve traffic signal timing for people who are driving, while providing signalized crossings for people who are walking.

When

This work is scheduled from April 22 – May 10, though that could shift based on weather and crew availability. Our work hours are from 7 AM – 4 PM.

What to Expect

Alternating traffic lanes will be closed during some of this work, but there will always be one lane open for cars to get through. There will also be temporary sidewalk closures and detour routes for people walking. This is not particularly noisy work, but if you live or work in the area, you may hear construction equipment running and some beeping when crews back up equipment.

The signal is the centerpiece of a wider safety project at the intersection following years of community advocacy for improvements.