Southwest District Council – West Seattle Blog… West Seattle news, 24/7 Wed, 15 Aug 2018 01:30:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Nucor talks recycling, port talks pollution, and more @ Southwest District Council Fri, 08 Jun 2018 06:34:35 +0000 Of the three presentations at Wednesday night’s Southwest District Council meeting. two continued the environment/sustainability theme that began with last month’s meeting:

NUCOR: Pat Jablonski spoke for the steel mill’s environmental team =”We’re a recycling facility,” Jablonski said – they take scrap, melt it down, and make it into steel products, mostly rebar that can be used in construction, infrastructure, “any sort of major construction project around here, there’s a pretty good chance it’ll have our steel in it.” The plant’s been there since 1905. “The overall business model of recycling scrap and producing steel products” hasn’t changed over the years. More than 300 people work there; the average salary is $90,000 a year, with entry-level positions around $60,000.

The plant runs “lean” with a lot of decision-making autonomy, and the first 10 percent of profits are divided among workers, Jablonski said. He said energy consttutes a large portion of the plant’s operating costs, so “we have to be absolutely vigilant about minimizing our energy footprint.” He noted that the plant is heavily regulated and has a collaborative relationship with Puget Sound Clean Air Agency but “they’re watching over us and we have to be responsive to them.” Most of their competition is overseas and manufacture with an “integrated” process, often “from scratch” and attached to a coal-fired power plant. “If you compare a ton of steel from Nucor to a ton of steel from a Chinese plant, you’re talking about a … two-ton carbon emissions difference.”

Questions: Is your plant producing at full capacity right now? About 80 percent, Jablonski said.

Producing steel for local products also is environmentally friendlier – local steel built the Alaskan Way Viaduct, and then part of it was torn down, with some of that steel recycled into rebar used to build the tunnel.

What about water use? Emergency Communications Hub rep Cindi Barker asked. Reply: While they need a lot of water to cool things, they’re not discharging it – they’re saving and reusing it as much as possible.

SWDC secretary Roxane Rusch from the Admiral Neighborhood Association brought up the Slag Recycling Initiative, approved two years ago. She says the big slag piles are still visible along Harbor, and asked for the program’s status. Jablonski explained that the biggest customer so far is the asphalt industry. Slag has been recycled for decades, he said, and the legislation had to do with clarifying that there are different types, and what Nucor produces, for example, is not the same as copper-smelter slag. This year slag sales are up; last year they did a pilot project paving a section of North Sound highway with a 20 percent slag mix, and it worked better than the standard mix, he said. They’re working on a specification for slag and other things to make it “handy for engineers” to use. Yes, but when will the pile be gone? pressed Rusch. Can it be covered? Jablonski said they have worked to minimize the dust and in fact next year have hired more staff for the water truck and other means of doing that.

Next question was about the occasional loud noise in the middle of the night. “Once you bring this stuff up to temperature, it’s more efficient … and this is a 24-hour-a-day operation, it has to be for us to remain competitive.” They’ve installed various things to dampen the sound. They don’t do anything different at night than they do during the day, he added.

Want to tour Nucor? Contact Jablonski.

.PUGET SOUND MARITIME AIR EMISSIONS INVENTORY: Sarah Cederberg from the Northwest Seaport Alliance explained this report – we covered its presentation back in March. This inventory was first taken in 2005, then again in 2011, then again in 2016. The data is “modeled,” which means estimates rather than actual direct monitoring. It’s focused on container-shipping-related emissions, she explained. What they inventory are air pollutants and greenhouse gases. The latter have not dropped as much as the former. Reasons for the reductions include national/international regulations requiring low-sulfur fuel. The NWSA commission also has resolved to keep greenhouse-gas emissions in line with the Paris 2030 goals, even though maritime was exempt. “We’re the only port that has done this, and it’s going to require … a real shift in the technologies we’re using.” For truck emissions, for example, electric and zero-emission trucks are “starting to come online,” though they’re not likely to be in wide use for a few years. Having shore power for ships is important, too, and Terminal 91 has it for ships, it was pointed out. California is the only state that requires it; there’s been a lot of community concern about ensuring it’s provided when West Seattle’s Terminal 5 is overhauled.

The Clean Truck Program is up to 58 percent of its 4,400 trucks meeting the 2007 standard – a five percent increase from the 53 percent that were at the end of 2017. They have extended the deadline one last time – your truck has to meet the standard by next January, or else you’ll be turned away. They’ve learned through surveys related to the project that 83 percent of the trucks serving the port are independent contractors, most are between 45 and 55 years old, and 46 percent of the drivers identify as non-white (29 percent identified as white, 25 percent declined to answer). She went through details of what the port is trying to do to ensure that the maximum percentage of drivers will be able to meet the deadline.

Cederberg also explained the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy, on which the regional ports collaborate despite otherwise being “fierce competitors.” Its next update will be a “much more inclusive process” and community participation will be sought. That process probably will start this fall, she said. Look for public-comment opportunities October through next April.

Rusch asked how the to-be-redeveloped Terminal 5 will contribute to pollution. Sara said there’s a lot of standards that have to be met, so they hope it won’t contribute much.

The SWDC also hosted a guest outside the environmental theme:

SPD COMMUNITY OUTREACH: Felicia Cross took over this position two months ago after starting with SPD as a Crime Prevention Coordinator, succeeding Maggie Olsen. “It’s like a natural fit for me,” she enthused. The responsibilities include organizing SPD’s Citizen Academy. She said she’s looking at shaking things up a bit, taking a fresh look at the role. Other things she’ll be accountable for include Beds for Kids – last year, 600 were given away; this year, 200. She needs “lots and lots of volunteers” at November 17th to make it happen. Two detectives has been facilitating a personal-safety training course for women; she is looking at organizing one in West Seattle if people are interested

ANNOUNCEMENTS: No July SWDC meeting … The Junction Neighborhood Organization will meet in July, date TBA … The Morgan Junction Community Festival is coming up 10 am-4 pm on Saturday, June 16th … West Seattle Hubs will have a big preparedness event on October 7th, 2-5 pm at High Point, and Saturday, November 3rd, 9 am-noon, at Hiawatha – mark your calendar to be at one! … West Seattle Junction Association executive director Lora Swift reminded everyone that West Seattle Summer Fest is happening July 13-15 and hat the West Seattle PAWrade dog parade will precede the West Seattle Grand Parade on July 21st … Department of Neighborhoods rep Yun Pitre said Your Voice Your Choice voting will start June 16th.

POSTSCRIPT – NEIGHBORHOOD DISTRICT COUNCILS’ ROLE: An end-of-meeting discussion touched on the continuing question of whether the city is recognizing NDCs (since both the mayor and DoN director who decided to cut ties with them are gone), and what their role/value could be – could it be, holding the city accountable? And does the City Neighborhood Council still really exist? That needs to be determined. And if not, how are neighborhood leaders around the city going to work together on priorities? Along with some investigating, SWDC hopes to have a discussion with interim Department of Neighborhoods director Andres Mantilla. This will be a project over the summer.

Share This

]]> 11
Southwest District Council goes green for May meeting Fri, 04 May 2018 04:54:49 +0000 This month’s Southwest District Council meeting had an environmental theme. Two guests spotlighted that. First, Craig Kenworthy, executive director of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency:

In our photo, Kenworthy was showing a test strip that indicated air dirty enough for a burn ban. He gave the SWDC a primer about the most common particulates in our area – mostly fine particles that come from engine combustion – diesel and gas, cars, rail, or ships. (Added – here’s his slide deck):

Then there’s woodstove smoke, as woodstoves are used all around Puget Sound and are particularly dense in some part of Pierce County where natural gas is not available for home heating.

Kenworthy said that collective matter is what they look at trying to keep down, as it creates a health risk. He moved from there to talk about diesel in general as – while the others are a health risk to lungs and the circulatory system – diesel is the only item that is listed as a carcinogen. That’s why he said they’ve been working with the port to reduce the amount of diesel that’s being used by the vehicles that come and go with the freight. He said that one goal is to get the truck fleets to convert to newer vehicles that can burn
diesel 90 percent more efficiently than trucks made prior to 2010.

Originally the Northwest Seaport Alliance (the ports of Seattle and Tacoma) had a deadline of this past January 1st to only accept trucks that met the newer emissions standards, but that was extended to next January.

Kenworthy also talked about South Park as an area of air-pollution concern, but didn’t go into much detail other than to say its on their watch list for assistance.

In Q&A, he was asked about idling vehicles – he said that in areas where vehicles/drivers congregate, it’s especially important to shut the engine off while waiting – ferry lines and drawbridges, for example.

And before wrapping up, Kenworthy mentioned that his agency will have air-quality-measuring devices
that can be distributed to people around the area to monitor the air where they live.

Second guest was 34th District State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, now a West Seattle resident, who chairs the House Environment Committee.

He started by discussing that helping save the Southern Resident Killer Whales is a priority, with Governor Inslee having set up a task force earlier this year.

Another major topic: Oil transport via rail through our region. Though action was taken long ago regarding transport by water, to minimize the chance of disastrous spills, Fitzgibbon noted that much of the oil sent to North Sound refineries goes by rail, so that’s a big concern and a state priority for prevention and preparedness. As of just this week, he noted Burlington Northern Santa Fe has a contingency plan in place in case of a spill, as the result of legislation, similar to the one the state has in case of a marine oil disaster.

During the Q&A, Fitzgibbon was asked about vessel noise affecting the endangered orcas. He said some relief might come from the state, if it could run an electric ferry. He said the Volkswagen emissions settlement had included more than $100 million for the state and there’s talk that some of that might go toward an electric ferry. It would be more likely to run from downtown Seattle’s Colman Dock than from Fauntleroy, though.

The Southwest District Council meets first Wednesdays most months (but agreed to skip July this year since the first Wednesday is Independence Day), 6:30 pm, at the Senior Center/Sisson Building. Our coverage of SWDC is archived here, newest to oldest.

Share This

]]> 6
Southwest District Council catches up with Sound Transit light-rail planning, West Seattle Junction Association Fri, 06 Apr 2018 20:51:23 +0000 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

With one month until your next major feedback opportunity for West Seattle light rail, this week’s Southwest District Council meeting brought a chance for some to catch up on where the process is so far. Sound Transit reps were the spotlight guests, along with Lora Swift from the West Seattle Junction Association.


WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: This was something of a primer to catch up those who haven’t been following it much since the process of determining a “preferred alignment” for the West Seattle and Ballard extensions revved up three months ago.

Stephen Mak from Sound Transit first recapped the backstory that we’ve already covered here many times, including what’s currently the “representative alignment” – aka, the draft route – elevated stations at SODO, Delridge, Avalon, and The Junction, with a new light-rail-only bridge over the Duwamish River.

By this time next year, the Sound Transit board hopes to have a “preferred alignment” approved. Next feedback step, the first round of “neighborhood forums,” with one in West Seattle 10 am-12:30 pm May 5th (as announced last month). Before then, the Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) has two meetings, April 17th and 24th – and that’s when the official report on the public “early scoping” feedback from February-March will be made public, Mak said in response to a question from Deb Barker, one of two West Seattle community representatives on the SAG. He recapped the “early themes” described at last month’s SAG meeting, including suggested alternate routing, with some tunneling – all five of them are shown here:

Mak stressed, as briefers had at the SAG meeting, that these are not in any way final options – just an early look at some themes emerging.

Also from ST, Andrea Burnett spoke, noting that West Seattle already had the largest number of comments (remember that this process is for the West Seattle AND Ballard extensions), and talking about the neighborhood forum and reiterating that they would like people to RSVP – they have 90 already!

Might ST consider someplace larger than the venue (Masonic Hall, same place as the open house in February)? Burnett said there are few potential venues that could hold hundreds of people, but they’ll see how it goes, when planning future forums. The feedback from this, as with the “early scoping” feedback, will go to the Stakeholder Advisory Group and Elected Leadership Group.

Will there be cost information at the forum? Later in the process, said Mak.

When will the community get information on how many properties might be affected if the line remains elevated? Later in the process, was the answer to this too. Burnett said they would be happy to come out and talk with groups, neighborhoods, whomever, about how the process might work.

Other questions included when the design of the train equipment would be discussed. The reply included a reminder that the line is 12 years away from its planned opening, so things could change.

“Transit integration,” as Mak termed it, was a big Q&A topic too. ST is talking with Metro about how bus routes might change when light rail starts running (projected in 2030). So, the reps were asked, when will ST talk with residents about how buses and light rail will interface? That too will be later in the process.

WEST SEATTLE JUNCTION ASSOCIATION: Executive director Lora Swift started with an update about the parking-lot situation, acknowledging there’s been a lot of buzz about it. (Here’s our coverage from four weeks ago.)

(WSB photo from March: 44th/Oregon lot)

She recapped that the Junction Association rents the lots from West Seattle Trusteed Properties, and that while the relationship worked well for “many many many years,” they had to work out a new lease recently, which happened before a leadership change at WSTP put developers in charge of the organization, with a different view of the property’s worth. Meantime, the valuation of the land skyrocketed – and that matters because (as we noted last month) the property taxes are directly passed on to WSJA as part of the rent, which as a result has skyrocketed too.

She threw out a question to Southwest District Council attendees: Is it important to work to keep the parking lots free? Or is it time for the parking no longer to be free? Is it time for the land to be developed?

Various options were suggested – for example, Eric Iwamoto from the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Coalition pointed out the policy at Uwajimaya in the International District, with a certain amount of parking validated – and therefore “free” – for shoppers/diners who spend a certain amount.

Swift recapped that the lot adjacent to the meeting location – behind the Senior Center and businesses to its south – is the one of the most concern, as it includes almost half the 228 spaces totaled in the “free” lots, and is considered to be the one that its owners might want to see developed first.

Are the Junction parking spaces a matter of “civic pride,” as Swift says some view them? One attendee brought up the murals facing the parking lots, and the visibility of the flat space, “and you lose that when you put the parking into a garage,” referring to the Junction’s lease terms that say if any of the lot space was developed, the parking would have to be replaced within the development.

The Junction pays Diamond $600/month to monitor the time-limited lots, Swift said in response to a question. In response to another, she noted that there’s some talk Sound Transit could wind up interested in one lot as a station location. (The ST reps were gone by then.)

After a bit more discussion, Swift summed up that they’ll “continue to have these big conversations.”

She also was there to talk about a grant that WSJA and the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce got to address the business community’s challenges (as discussed at this event last fall). Over the course of about nine months, they gathered a lot of information and Swift said they’re resolved to not let the information go unused. Part of it resulted in a website,, that they hope will be widely used. It’s a link-list type of website, meant to help you figure out what to do and where to go if you have a question, concern, problem. Lots of links -and if something’s missing, Swift wants to hear about it. You can e-mail

They’re working on a followup grant to help businesses and organizations connect with new West Seattle residents. And SWDC co-chair Amanda Sawyer from the Junction Neighborhood Organization said they’re looking to work with other neighborhood groups on getting a grant for collaboration on outreach.

The Southwest District Council, including reps from community councils and other organizations around (mostly) western West Seattle, meets first Wednesdays, 6:30 pm, at the Senior Center/Sisson Building.

Share This

Parking changes and needle cleanup @ Southwest District Council Fri, 09 Mar 2018 22:09:33 +0000 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The city’s proposed changes in parking rules continue to make their way through the City Council, with another briefing in the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee this week.

Hours later, the Southwest District Council heard from, and talked with, the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections staffers who wrote the proposal.

We’ve covered the proposal previously, dating back to its introduction in November by then-Mayor Tim Burgess. It had been in the works for a while, dating back to the Ed Murray administration – we mentioned before a city HALA-and-other-initiatives open house in January that parking was on the table too. SDCI’s Gordon Clowers and Mike Podowski told the SWDC at its regular March meeting on Wednesday night that it’s the first time in many years the city has addressed parking in the zoning code.

Clowers mentioned the West Seattle case that led to proposed changes in defining Frequent Transit Service – which in turn affects how much parking is, or isn’t, required in Urban Villages/Centers and multifamily/commercial zones. But the broader scope of the parking changes includes housing affordability, he said, part of a “coordinated growth and mobility strategy that supports equity … which is one of the core principles of the Comprehensive Plan … to support people’s ability to get around town.”

He also noted the much-more-quietly executed reduction in parking requirements back in 2012. And he highlighted the “flexible parking” concept, affecting multifamily/commercial zones, where they want to lift restrictions on who can use offstreet parking – “we won’t be in a rat race with everyone searching for the last one or two places on the street” if they can do that.

Here’s the sheet the SDCI reps brought with highlights of the plan:

They opened the floor to questions fairly quickly. First question: Explain the changes in the definition of “frequent transit service.” Clowers said the definition had been so rigid that they needed to be able to count something close to what was aspired to – even if it’s say every 16 minutes instead of 15. “Our definition wasn’t in synch with what Metro does,” Podowski added.

What about measuring a quarter-mile walking distance – do you consider our hills? SDCI reps’ answer was basically, no.

Also noted, the issue of “park-and-hiders” – people who drive into The Junction to catch buses downtown. What about circulator buses instead? Clowers said that the flexible garage use, or maybe even saving some spaces as park-and-ride, could address the problem better, since circulator-type buses weren’t economically viable in most cases.

What garages in West Seattle might qualify? Clowers wasn’t sure about the specific names but he said one had something to do with Whole Foods (that could be The Whittaker [WSB sponsor], which we noticed on a recent visit has lots of open retail parking, without the store open yet). The “flexible parking” concept already was allowed in certain zones, he said.

Asked about trip generation – they assume .3 to .5 spaces per dwelling unit. “So they’re out on the street, then?” Actually, said Padowski, they’re finding that most private developers are providing some parking, even where they don’t have to. But they believe the flexibility affects the cost of the building and will ultimately affect rent.

Are they studying parking in the areas near parking-free buildings to see if it’s maxed out? That’s usually done by the developer.

Attendee Diane Vincent pointed out that she has no choice but to “hide and ride” because Metro has dramatically cut service in the north end of the peninsula, where she lives. “We are forced to – if we want to take the bus” do that. “Add back our buses – that would solve a lot of the problems.”

Junction Neighborhood Organization director and SWDC co-chair Amanda Sawyer said her neighborhood will get a Restricted Parking Zone status update from SDOT, when the subject came up of considering an RPZ because of people who park in Junction neighborhoods all day. She also wondered what’s to keep landlords from seeking to reduce what’s available to tenants if they’re making more money from daily/commuter parking.

Clowers said they thought about that. The landlord has to offer the parking to the tenant first.

March 21st is the next City Council consideration. What’s the process? Clowers said eight or nine amendment ideas came out in the committee meeting earlier Wednesday and they will likely get votes on the 21st, on whether to be included in an amended bill. Clowers added that now is definitely the time to speak up – “if you have input, you’d better get it to the council folks as soon as possible.”

Sawyer said that she thinks the SDOT briefing will answer a lot of questions.

Are you two talking to each other? someone asked, referring to SDCI and SDOT. That generated laughter. “Government agencies – talking to each other!”

Could ride-share programs take some of the flexible spaces? Don’t know if they’d want to but they could, Clowers said.

Any safeguards if you think you have a secured lot but then it turns out your landlords are offering same-day parking to anyone? No security mandates in the bill, Podowski said. They did talk to renter organizations while drafting it, though.

Clowers said he imagined a lot of the flexible-parking areas would be managed by third parties such as Diamond Parking.

Last question (cut off for time, not for lack of questions): Are you talking with other cities? Podowski said it’s going to be a market-driven thing but they’ve been talking about developing some best practices, etc.

Also at SWDC:

NEEDLE CLEANUP: Tracy Cramer from SPU gave a shorter version of the presentation she gave earlier this year at Highland Park Action Committee – details are in our coverage here. Her accountabilities include sharps, graffiti on private property, and “a ton of illegal dumping.” Important thing to know: They do NOT collect needles on private property. Needle collection in parks – “we have needles in every park in Seattle” – is handled by Seattle Parks and Recreation. They realize that finding needles causes “mental trauma” for some folks.

If the needle’s on public property, she said, report it through Find It Fix It, her program’s website, or the SPU illegal dumping hotline (206-684-7587).

How do you know that your request has been seen/dealt with? You should get notifications, she said. If it’s still open after a while – call the hotline and ask why. When it’s been cleaned up, you should get an e-mail notifying your request has been closed.

A side discussion on graffiti vandalism erupted, including how do you know when it’s gang or not? (We covered that during a briefing at the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council last week – see it here.)

The Southwest District Council – with reps from community groups, nonprofits, and other major organizations around western West Seattle – meets first Wednesdays, 6:30 pm, at the Senior Center/Sisson Building. Everybody’s welcome.

Share This

WEDNESDAY: City rep to brief Southwest District Council on proposed parking changes Wed, 07 Mar 2018 00:21:55 +0000 Whether you’re a renter or a homeowner, a landlord or a developer, a car user or a bicycle rider, The city’s “neighborhood parking” changes will probably affect you. They continue making their way through the City Council, after more than two months. Tomorrow night, the Southwest District Council will get a briefing from a city rep, and everyone is invited to bring questions, whatever your housing status or interest in the issue. The full bill is here. Wednesday night’s SWDC agenda also includes School Board president Leslie Harris, who represents our area on the board, and a Seattle Public Utilities rep talking about graffiti, illegal dumping, and needle disposal. SWDC looks forward to seeing everyone upstairs at the Senior Center/Sisson Building in The Junction starting at 6:30 pm Wednesday.

Share This

]]> 5
SOUTHWEST DISTRICT COUNCIL: Hot topics from Councilmember Herbold; what you don’t know about the Senior Center; logistics, updates, more… Fri, 05 Jan 2018 03:12:03 +0000 (L-R, Councilmember Lisa Herbold, SWDC co-chairs Tamsen Spengler & Amanda Sawyer, secretary Roxane Rusch; Gunner Scott of HPAC, Mat McBride of Delridge NDC, Lora Swift of WSJA)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

New year, new information – many community updates filled last night’s first 2018 meeting of the Southwest District Council, representatives of groups and organizations around western West Seattle.

The meeting was the first under SWDC’s new leadership, co-chairs Tamsen Spengler (of the Morgan Community Association) and Amanda Sawyer (Junction Neighborhood Organization), with secretary Roxane Rusch (Admiral Neighborhood Association).

The spotlighted guest was City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, now midway through her four-year term representing District 1 (West Seattle and South Park).

COUNCILMEMBER LISA HERBOLD: Spengler introduced her as “the most responsive city councilmember to her constituents that I’ve ever seen.” Herbold began by saying she’s glad that SWDC did not disband after the previous mayor cut ties with the neighborhood district councils like SWDC, and instead is “taking a bigger and better approach.” She also said that as a community builder and organizer, she sees the existence of two NDCs in West Seattle as a position of strength. She says she’s glad to have a staff who sees the value of responsiveness and collaboration with constituents. Regarding something mentioned minutes earlier by attendee Gunner Scott, co-chair of the Highland Park Action Committee, that it was time for neighborhood reps to hold new Mayor Jenny Durkan to her campaign comments about revisiting neighborhood ties, Herbold said she met recently with Durkan, who “expressed an interest in having a West Seattle town hall.”

As for “hot off the presses” issues, she mentioned the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee starting its work earlier today (WSB coverage here) on proposed changes in offstreet-parking policies. She passed out info about what’s being considered as “frequent transit areas” under the proposed changes – meaning areas where parking would not be required – though she said there’s “not a lot of change for West Seattle.” SWDC member Cindi Barker (West Seattle Hubs) pointed out that this map doesn’t yet show the true impact of what it would be if/when HALA MHA upzoning is implemented, since some areas not on the map now, because they’re zoned single-family, will change.

Herbold mentioned the 2014 Avalon-project appeal by Neighbors Encouraging Reasonable Development and said that the new parking proposals address some of the issues that factored into it. A vote is not likely before March, she said.

Another topic Herbold brought up: Last year’s Alki/Admiral vehicle-noise-enforcement survey, which she said both community members and SPD had said would be useful “in helping elevate our concerns up the chain of command.” Everyone knows what the problem is, but having the participation of 1,100 constituents, expressing interest in enforcement, really helps, she said, noting that the city budget included a call for a report by this spring on what it would take to enforce the noise rules. “By asking SPD to report back to us on how they can enforce these laws, we’re kind of getting them to buy into it,” she added. “I feel like there’s a lot of potential there,” possibly also helping other areas with recurring noise trouble.

HPAC’s Scott told Herbold that Highland Park has its own problems with noise – particularly the “Seahawks cannon” and other fireworks issues. Herbold said she has an “ongoing project with the SPD around fireworks” and has been trying to get information about how much enforcement they do, or don’t do. “They’re basically not enforcing it” is what she’s found so far. Even if they don’t enforce, she said, maybe there could be an effort to confiscate illegal fireworks and get people out of the habit.

Finally, Herbold said that she’d been asked to talk about HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability – the upzoning that the council will consider this year – and why West Seattle’s next round of city meeting won’t be until after other areas of the city have theirs. She said that could be a benefit because our area could learn from how things go in those other areas. She also said some councilmembers might wind up with their own district-specific resolutions about MHA – maybe even a resolution for each urban village. Barker said that if there’s a chance for the area to “construct something that’s more tailored to (this area),” people need to know soon. “It’s like trying to play a game when you don’t know the rules!” she said (and keep in mind that Barker is a particularly savvy citizen who was even on the original HALA focus group).

Asked about potential goals for 2018, Herbold said the revived Seattle Police Community Service Officer program is likely to come to the council in the first quarter.

Other major topics at the SWDC meeting:

(Lyle Evans telling SWDC about the Senior Center; at left is Shalimar Gonzales, West Seattle/Fauntleroy YMCA executive director)

SENIOR CENTER OF WEST SEATTLE: Executive director Lyle Evans had lots of stats to share about the center: 46 years of service to West Seattle – 7,000 meals served to seniors in 2017 – 2100 salads, sandwiches, and soups in the upstairs café – 25,000 meals served to homebound seniors by Meals on Wheels – 500 adults connected to much-needed medical care. As the “grand seniors” – 80+ – “age out” of some Senior Center participation, Evans said, they are hoping to get more baby boomers involved. They’re also continuing to offer classes and special events, like an all-you-can-eat crab fest on January 27th, and dance lessons coming up.

The center runs on lots of volunteer power but did get city funding for an additional social worker two years ago. They’ll also be offering conversational-Spanish classes starting soon. “Isolation is worse than smoking for seniors,” said Evans. Asked about special programming for LGBTQ seniors, he talked about the monthly get-together Second Thursday Out!. Also: Of the center’s $703,000 annual budget, $110,000 is from the city, the rest generated through donations, fees, fundraisers (including the annual breakfast coming up in May) – 24 percent of the annual budget ($180,000 last year) is generated by the Stop ‘n’ Shop thrift store. Evans also showed this video about one of its volunteer programs:

Find out here about how to become a Senior Center member.

SWDC LOGISTICS: The group will continue meeting at the Sisson Building; MoCA helped cover the rental fees last year (since the city pulled its funding), and other groups are invited to help with that this year. Co-chairs Spengler and Sawyer (JuNO) are inviting other groups to become SWDC members, or at least to come and give the group periodic briefings about what’s happening – interest expressed so far by groups including the West Seattle Timebank, WS Transportation Coalition, Sustainable WS. Former board member Vicki Schmitz-Block of the Fauntleroy Community Association says the more participation, the more relevant the group will remain. This meeting also was attended by some from the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council, whose co-chair Mat McBride said there are cross-peninsula issues on which the councils can collaborate.

Announcements began the meeting:

YOUR VOICE, YOUR CHOICE: Yun Pitre from the Department of Neighborhoods talked about this year’s round. As mentioned on WSB earlier in the day, the nomination period for projects has begun – you have until February 2nd to suggest a park or street project for a share of the $3 million. Hundreds of proposals from last year were “rolled over” to this year; Pitre was asked if those who had suggested them were notified of that. She found out from colleagues today that no, they were not.

SPONSOR A FLOWER BASKET: Lora Swift from the West Seattle Junction Association announced that they’re accepting sponsors again this year – starting now! – for the almost-100 flower baskets that hang in The Junction during spring and summer.

WEST SEATTLE EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS HUBS: Cindi Barker said Highland Park, EC Hughes, High Point, and Pigeon Point all have new hub captains in training – and are still looking for a new one to take over in the Admiral area. Find out more about the hubs here.

MORGAN COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION: Co-chair Spengler says MoCA’s next quarterly meeting is at 7 pm Wednesday, January 17th, at The Kenney (see the agenda in our calendar listing).

JUNCTION NEIGHBORHOOD ORGANIZATION: JuNO will meet later this month but director Sawyer has now been told that the Fauntleroy Boulevard project team will not be at the meeting after all – they’re apparently not ready to talk publicly about where the controversial project, at one point expected to start construction about now, stands. Sawyer said her project contact told her simply to watch the project website.

BALLARD DISTRICT COUNCIL INVITATION: Spengler also announced that a January 10th meeting in Ballard (7 pm, Merrill Gardens) will have community advocates from around the city discussing talking with city reps (including the mayor’s office) about how, with the administration change, they plan to work with the Neighborhood District Councils.

The Southwest District Council meets first Wednesdays, 6:30 pm, at the Sisson Center/Senior Center (4217 SW Oregon), all welcome. WSB coverage is archived here.

Share This

]]> 11
WEDNESDAY: Your city councilmember @ Southwest District Council Thu, 28 Dec 2017 17:00:26 +0000 We’re now less than a week away from the first local community meeting of the new year, the Southwest District Council‘s meeting next Wednesday (January 3rd) at the Sisson Building/Senior Center in The Junction (4217 SW Oregon). Besides discussing 2017 accomplishments and 2018 goals, SWDC is scheduled to hear from and talk with District 1 City Councilmember Lisa Herbold. Got a question or comment for her? She’s expected at 7 pm, half an hour into the 6:30 pm meeting, at which everyone’s welcome.

Share This

SOUTHWEST DISTRICT COUNCIL: Change at the top; Dakota Homestead update; West Seattle crime’s ups and downs; more Sat, 09 Dec 2017 03:20:54 +0000 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

When then-Mayor Ed Murray announced plans last year to create a Community Involvement Commission, it accompanied word that the city would cut formal ties with neighborhood-district councils.

Most of those councils have continued their work anyway. And one of the two in West Seattle – the Southwest District Council – invited a commission member to its December meeting.

Her guest appearance was just part of a full agenda at the meeting this past Wednesday night – no holiday-season slowdown here. One of several big topics was the SWDC’s leadership change:

(From left, new SWDC secretary Roxane Rusch, new co-chair Tamsen Spengler, outgoing co-chair David Whiting, outgoing secretary Vicki Schmitz Block)

NEW LEADERSHIP: Outgoing co-chair David Whiting from the Admiral Neighborhood Association led his final SWDC meeting, with outgoing secretary Vicki Schmitz Block of the Fauntleroy Community Association also at the head of the table. Whiting isn’t just leaving the council, he’s leaving West Seattle, moving with his wife to her hometown, Spokane. The other outgoing co-chair, Eric Iwamoto of the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Coalition, was unable to attend. Two members of the new leadership team were there, co-chair Tamsen Spengler of the Morgan Community Association and secretary Roxane Rusch from the Admiral NA; the other new co-chair will be Amanda Sawyer of the Junction Neighborhood Organization.

NEIGHBORHOOD CHAT WITH DURKAN TRANSITION REP: Cindi Barker, who represents the West Seattle Emergency Communication Hubs on SWDC, briefly summarized this relatively hastily organized meeting two weeks ago. Asha Mohamed, a member of Mayor Jenny Durkan‘s transition team, visited West Seattle to talk with representatives of local groups/organizations. The one big question that Mohamed asked the WS reps: “What’s the one thing you want me to go talk to the mayor about?” Their reply, recounted Barker: Restore the Department of Neighborhoods‘ ability to work with neighborhood groups on a professional level so they can use the same tools DoN is using to try to reach more people.

DAKOTA HOMESTEAD UPDATE: Kristen Corning Bedford and Becca Bay from the Urban Homestead Foundation briefed the council on the status of the group’s effort to buy City Light‘s former Dakota Substation so it could be used as open/green space for environmental education. The good news for their effort – the city has extended the deadline, and wants to work with them for as long as the group wants to continue trying to raise the purchase price. The bad news – the site’s value has now been recalculated at more than $600,000. The foundation has a grant that will cover half the purchase price, but they still need to cover the other half and are up to about $35,000, many “small, individual gifts from the community,” leaving a gap of almost $300,000. The site otherwise will be sold for single-family housing. Corning said, “We’ve heard there are developers just waiting for us to fail.”

Their next fundraiser is a dine-out benefit at local restaurants next Tuesday night (check this page on the foundation website for the latest list):

Our most recent story about the effort is here.

CRIME DOWN: West Seattle property crime is down 9 percent year-to-year, total crime down 8 percent, Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Ron Smith told the SWDC, surpassing outgoing Chief Kathleen O’Toole‘s goal of a five percent reduction citywide. Not all categories are down, he said – homicides are higher than last year, with four in West Seattle. While street robberies are down 15 percent, commercial robberies are up – but more than three-fourths are shoplifting incidents turned violent. Speaking of shoplifting, it’s up 36 percent – 370 incidents to date last year, 502 to date this year, but the emphasis patrols at Westwood Village are starting to make a dent in that, Lt. Smith said. Car prowls are down dramatically – 1,570 through this time last year, 1,170 this year. Residential burglaries are down 19 percent – 438 through this time last year, 355 this year. Shots-fired incidents are down – 71 through this time last year, 63 this year (that counts incidents confirmed as gunfire, whether via discovery of casing and/or property damage and/or a victim).

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT COMMISSION: West Seattle resident Jenna Franklin was invited to come talk with the SWDC; she is an at-large appointee on the commission. She said that they’ve spent much of the early months on logistics. “Much of the conversation we’ve had with city departments has been understanding our scope and role,” as well as the departments’ roles and priorities. They also have worked on understanding “the lack of participation in civic process by marginalized communities.” Overall, it’s been “a long-term orientation … to some extent.” Overall, she said that after months of this work, commission members are now eager to get directly involved in policy initiatives. But with the administration change, they’re also waiting and watching to see whether that would affect their mission.

To appoint new members they looked at who they had and Seattle’s demography and what/who was missing, “looking for balance,” Franklin said.

MoCA’s Deb Barker asked for the “elevator pitch” of “what is your purpose?”

Franklin: “Advice and feedback and guidance to city programs and projects” to get more people involved. “We also see ourselves as conduits as being in the community ourselves,” providing feedback and even pushing back – they gave DoN some feedback on something they haven’t felt comfortable with.

Diane Vincent, identifying herself as a renter, wondered what percentage of the commission was comprised of renters. 54%, said Franklin.

Whiting wondered about commission members’ individual advocacy interests, which seemed to diverge from the original ordinance that created the group, back when the mayor said he wanted to cut ties with neighborhood councils. “I expected the group to be more involved with ‘how do we reach people we never hear from’ rather than advocacy on certain issues.”

Franklin said there’s a learning curve between “what you know and what you do” and moving on to “a deep dive on a lot of (other) priority areas.” She said that none of her fellow commissioners believe they have replaced neighborhood organizations and community councils nor that their work would replace any of those groups’ work.

They are working to teach each other. She said she also hopes that they will meet out in the community, to get closer to living the purpose of the group’s name.

Rusch asked for advice on the new year, new political leadership. Look for an opportunity to influence how money is spent before those decisions are made, Franklin – who works in community engagement for a public agency – suggested.

On to what is the hottest current topic for many neighborhood groups:

HALA MHA UPZONING: Rich Koehler from JuNO recapped feeling that the city had already made up its mind. And he recapped the general concern that all neighborhoods were treated as if they were identical – that’s the feedback they gave for the Draft Environmental Impact Report, and they noted the Final EIS – released a month ago – hadn’t changed much. So how did JuNO get involved in the citywide appeal of the FEIS, as well as its own? They were invited to a “cross-neighborhood meeting” for Seattle Fair Growth and discovered they had a lot in common with other groups. Maybe trying to cover 27 neighborhoods in one document was a little much, he said, adding that there’s still room for more groups to join the appeal.

Cindi Barker, switching hats to her MoCA involvement, talked about specifics of that group’s appeal (also filed in addition to participation in the coalition challenge), such as the city’s failure to respond to ferry-traffic impacts unique to their area. She also mentioned the Comprehensive Plan Amendment aspect of the fight for some neighborhoods including theirs. They want to see a good mix of housing options. Next steps for the appeals include the setting of a pre-hearing meeting with the Hearing Examiner, who will rule on the appeals after formal hearings, dates TBA.

Has anyone heard from Mayor Durkan on HALA? it was asked. Not so far, was the answer.

Other notes:

NEIGHBORHOOD EMERGENCY COMMUNICATION HUBS: Cindi Barker reported that hub participants have new radios, and that next year’s big drill is set for April 28th. She also mentioned that an Alki resident has volunteered to train apartment buildings on how to be prepared for disasters.

HARBOR/LUNA PARK: Rusch mentioned that the volunteers have completed the project, putting in 500 plants, tracking down property owners (including the city), and you’ll see the results if you go through Harbor/Manning/Avalon. Nucor helped put some art together, she mentioned, adding that the area has been so improved that the most-recent weekend cleanup turned up no needles and very little trash.

The Southwest District Council meets first Wednesdays most months, 6:30 pm at the Senior Center/Sisson Building in The Junction.

Share This

]]> 2
Southwest District Council: New leadership; Fauntleroy rezone proposal; Sound Transit light-rail meeting… Thu, 02 Nov 2017 02:28:25 +0000 From tonight’s Southwest District Council meeting, just wrapped up at the Sisson Building/Senior Center:

FAUNTLEROY REZONE A ‘MONSTER’? Mike Dey and Bruce Butterfield from the Fauntleroy Community Association board told the SWDC they’re working to find out more about the proposed rezone at 9250 45th SW (first reported on WSB earlier this week) to facilitate a 5-story, 32-residential-unit project. They noted how the Endolyne Triangle, where the building is located, had transportation/traffic improvements recently – including the change of Brace Point to one-way on the south side. They are trying to set up a meeting with the property owners “to see if we can find out more detail about what they are proposing,” said Dey.

He added that FCA has heard from many people who read the initial WSB report and are expressing concern, especially about the proposed height (5 stories) and the lack of offstreet parking. “It’s going to look like a monster – it’s not going to fit in,” said Butterfield. “And it’s going to set a precedent for other buildings,” such as the one across the street that houses Endolyne Joe’s (WSB sponsor) and The Original Bakery – one story with a basement currently. (And now zoned NC1-30, as is the current zoning of the building where this new project is proposed.) Discussion ensued about transportation aspects such as the RPZ parking restrictions in that area of Fauntleroy. The area, just uphill from the ferry dock, already has traffic trouble, SWDC attendees discussed. Next steps: FCA will seek neighborhood feedback as well as discussing this at the next board meeting (7 pm November 14th, Fauntleroy Schoolhouse, 9131 California SW). Otherwise – this remains a very-early-stage project, with City Council approval eventually needed for a rezone and other approvals needed for the proposed project itself. FCA promised to keep SWDC posted.

NEW LEADERSHIP: Co-chairs David Whiting and Eric Iwamoto and secretary Vicki Schmitz Block are making way for a new slate of leaders in 2018, approved unanimously tonight: Co-chairs Tamsen Spengler of the Morgan Community Association and Amanda Sawyer of the Junction Neighborhood Organization, and secretary Roxane Rusch of the Admiral Neighborhood Association. Now the group, which has no source of funding since the city cut off support earlier this year, has to decide how to pay for its meeting venue, and will see if membership organizations can contribute.

Two upcoming meetings were mentioned by SWDC members:

SOUND TRANSIT: JuNO’s Sawyer said that Sound Transit plans a 6:30 pm November 15th presentation at the Senior Center of West Seattle to let West Seattleites know where the light-rail-planning process stands. (This isn’t on the ST calendar, so we’ll check with the agency tomorrow to find out more.)

MORGAN COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION: 6:30 pm November 14th is MoCA’s meeting about the city’s push to rezone single-family-zoned areas in urban villages, as noted in our coverage of its quarterly meeting in October.

Also mentioned:

ORCA TO GO: 10:30 am-12:30 pm November 13th, Metro will have a team at the Senior Center for anyone who needs an ORCA card.

The Southwest District Council meets first Wednesdays most months, 6:30 pm at the Senior Center/Sisson Building in The Junction.

Share This

@ Southwest District Council: Citywide campaign to raise $ for ‘aging’ Seattle Parks facilities Fri, 06 Oct 2017 06:51:14 +0000 By Marika Lee
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

The main presentation at last night’s Southwest District Council meeting was by a visitor from the other side of the city, circulating a petition to support funding for aging Seattle Parks facilities citywide.

“It is a modest increase in property taxes but we feel with the money that is going to be generated over the next three years, if used properly, will provide some tangible benefits,” said Tim Motzer, who spoke to SWDC about the petition sponsored by the Lake City Neighborhood Alliance.

The petition is urging the Board of Commissioners of the Seattle Park District – in other words, the Seattle City Council – to maintain the current park district assessment rate of 27.5 cents per $1,000 of assessed value for the remaining three years of the Park District’s six-year spending plan. That would increase tax collections in 2018, 2019, and 2020.

“We can generate about $26 million and that revenue along with other sources from the city would allow us to fully fund the eight community centers,” said Motzer, a retired Parks worker.

Last year’s Community Center Strategic Plan, which was mandated by the City Council, found that Lake City Community Center, Green Lake Community Center, and Evans Pool need to be replaced, which would cost $41.5 million. The Hiawatha, South Park, Jefferson, Loyal Heights, Magnolia, and Queen Anne community centers all need renovations that will total $21 million. And Motzer said some facilities not included in the study need help too.

The petition asks for a dedicated line item in the park district budget for the replacement of aging park facilities, with an initial emphasis on community centers.

“We feel that our 27.5-cent solution is the way to go. Yes, it will increase the spending of the park district. Yes, there will be a slight increase in property tax,” Motzer said. For a $722,000 home, for example, he said, the property taxes would increase by about $50 by 2021.

“We feel like for that modest tax increase, the benefit, not only improving community centers now, but for aging facilities in the future, outweighs that small cost,” Motzer said. He encouraged community members to sign the online version of the petition here, and attend the city council meetings to voice their support.

Pete Spalding, who represents the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce on SWDC, said sending emails to city council is also effective for those who cannot attend the meeting.

For more information about the Funding Aging Park Facilities petition, contact Tim Motzer at

New SWDC Leadership

The Southwest District Council also discussed its leadership for the upcoming year.

David Whiting from the Admiral Neighborhood Association and Eric Iwamoto, from the Westwood/Roxhill/Arbor Heights Community Coalition are stepping down as co-chairs. Vicki Schmitz Block from the Fauntleroy Community Association, SWDC secretary, is also stepping down.

Amanda Sawyer from the Junction Neighborhood Organization and Tamsen Spengler from the Morgan Community Association both stepped up as co-chair nominees. Whiting said the vote would take place at the next meeting. Iwamoto said another member had expressed interest about serving as secretary.

The Southwest District Council meets first Wednesdays, 6:30 pm, at the Senior Center/Sisson Building in The Junction.

Share This

]]> 11
SOUTHWEST DISTRICT COUNCIL: City Councilmember @ centerstage; Westside Neighbors’ Network ‘village’ update; more Thu, 07 Sep 2017 03:31:11 +0000

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Got something you wish your City Council representative would help with? You should have been at tonight’s Southwest District Council meeting, SWDC’s first one in two months (like many community/neighborhood groups, SWDC leaves August off the meeting calendar). The centerpiece of the meeting was a multi-issue update from, and Q&A with, City Councilmember Lisa Herbold – taxes, transportation, and more.

COUNCILMEMBER SPOTLIGHT: SWDC invited City Councilmember Lisa Herbold to come speak to, and hear from, SWDC. She addressed some issues she’d been asked about before the meeting – for example, she said SDOT acknowledged it should have done some neighborhood outreach before its late-night work to convert 59th/Admiral to an all-way stop (as they told us for this followup). She added that SDOT said this was a community-requested project, with support from Alki Elementary‘s principal and PTSA, and they will be monitoring the “functionality of the intersection” for six months – pedestrian counts, collisions, compliance among other things. Tony Fragada, who represents the Alki Community Council on the SWDC, said his group had agreed that something needed to be done to slow traffic there.

Next update: She said the city’s planning to continue using the new Your Voice, Your Choice participatory-budgeting process for upcoming funding processes, as it did for the Neighborhood Park and Street Fund. But, she reminded, the city has an executive change coming up – a new mayor – and her priorities (whichever woman is elected mayor) will come into play.

Pete Spalding, who represents the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce on SWDC, said that it was ironic that when community members were invited to help vet the hundreds of proposed NPSF projects, most of those who showed up were district council members, and they were provided very little information on the projects – unlike the old process, which involved district councils, city departments, and a more thorough vetting of a smaller number of projects. Not having project proponents present to explain their ideas was a problem, too, compared to the previous process, resulting perhaps in “some very valuable projects going by the wayside,” Spalding suggested. Tamsen Spengler, who represents the (updated) Morgan Community Association on SWDC, said the meeting she went to was attended by only nine people – three of whom did happen to have proposed some of the projects under consideration.

A discussion ensued including the potential role of the Community Involvement Commission, which also had come up just before Herbold’s arrival, segueing into the start of her appearance, SWDC was discussing this new city group that was originally billed as replacing the district-council system. One appointee, Jeniffer Calleja, is from District 1 (West Seattle/South Park), and there was some debate about whether she is meant to “represent” this area on the commission. Herbold said, yes, it’s fair to say she does, in terms of having a voice from this area regarding the funding decisions that the group might be making. (Calleja was not in attendance when the CIC met for the first time last month; WSB was the only news organization to cover the meeting – here’s our report, with unedited video of the entire event.)

How the CIC would be involved in grant-funding decisions – whether it’ll be involved – hasn’t been decided yet. But the upcoming budgeting process will likely involve some decisions about process, as well as expectations, as Herbold put it.

Spalding also asked that SDOT and Parks “do a better job of screening” the ideas before they reach community consideration – bringing up one glaring example, a proposal to take out the 47th/Admiral traffic signal which not only is just two years old, but was also a community-requested project at an intersection where a pedestrian had been killed. Herbold said there’s a balancing act to be done when deciding how to screen community ideas, if it’s supposed to be a true community-driven process; Department of Neighborhoods rep Yun Pitre also noted that this year’s process was somewhat abbreviated.

Herbold also had been asked to talk about the City Council’s pursuit of a high-earners’ income tax, and she began by passing out copies of her response to the Washington State Republican Party‘s list of a dozen concerns about it – basically, a debunking document. (You can see it here.) What’s happened since the council passed it? “A number of lawsuits have been filed … happily, the City Attorney (along with other legal help) has met in pre-trial conference with the folks who are suing the city …they have agreed (appearing before a judge last week) that they weren’t going to conduct discovery and that would allow us to move forward with combining the opposition lawsuits,” which will as a result be heard together. The initial motions will be heard November 17th, “and at that hearing the judge will have oral argument in the courtroom, with the time split between the three plaintiffs and the city, and there’s a question about (possibly getting) a larger courtroom because there’s a lot of public interest in the case.”

How much will this cost the city to fight? Spalding asked. Herbold mentioned that the City Attorney’s Office has a budget of around $250,000 for outside counsel. And, she said, the costs are likely to be offset by revenue the income tax would bring in. What about people moving outside Seattle to get away from the tax? Herbold said that for one, people make decisions about their cities of residence for other reasons, not just cost, and for two, they believe that other jurisdictions will implement income taxes if and when Seattle wins the case.

Will other taxes go away if this one is added? Herbold vowed that they would – “we just won’t go out for the renewal of (a certain) levy,” for example. That was met with some skepticism. But Herbold argued passionately that this wasn’t just another tax they were seeking – “we don’t want to use (the current taxing mechanisms) any more. … Of all the states, we are the number one most regressive” in how people are taxed.

Spalding also brought up that it’s not just “high earners” who would have to deal with the tax, but that many small businesspeople would be taxed on their earnings – though he and Herbold, it was clear, disagree on how the language in the tax law would be interpreted. She insisted that it only affects profits after expenses.

Two visitors said there’s an illegal marijuana grow operation in their neighborhood and they’ve been working with law enforcers for six years, almost to the point of police getting a search warrant and going after the operation, but they’re concerned that prosecution might not be pursued because of feedback they’ve been getting most recently. And, they were told to pursue the issue with their councilmember. Herbold said that if it’s an operation that thwarts a for-profit industry, there IS an interest in prosecuting – “the city went through a couple years of enforcement efforts to shut down all the unlicensed (marijuana) businesses, and this is equally important.” SPD ultimately makes the enforcement decision, but Herbold invited the neighbors to contact her so she can be the “squeaky wheel” and see what she can find out. She also asked if they’ve reported it through other channels such as the city Department of Construction and Inspections; the neighbors said they had – but they didn’t know if an inspection had been done. They were advised to pursue the complaint online so there’s a trail.

Another visitor thanked Herbold for her work on an issue involving his children and a difficult custody battle involving a “reunification program” (the type that was the subject of this Washington Post report). “It’s just a horrific case,” and he said Herbold and her staff had been helpful simply by asking questions.

Next visitor brought up concerns about Longfellow Creek, where the trail is overgrown and badly maintained and “you need to bring your own clippers to go for a walk.” He said there are also lighting problems, but that City Light – for which he said he worked for 37 years – won’t do anything about them because they’re on Parks land. He’s also talked to arborists, requested trash cans along the trail, pointed out overgrown fire hydrants. “They’ll do Delridge (Way), but they won’t do side streets,” he said. He’s lived in the area for 10 years and just wants the city to maintain its property.

One attendee had a quick question: When is the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda‘s Mandatory Housing Affordability final Environmental Impact Statement coming out? Herbold said she had just put out that question herself – as the council had requested a chance to review it before it went public – and the first version of the answer is “any day now.”

Will she stay on the same committees when decisions are made in a few months? Too soon to say, she said, though she acknowledged that she’s very interested in the issues that have come before the committee she chairs (Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development, and Arts).

Got a question or issue for Councilmember Herbold? Her contact info is here. And her next “in-district office hours” are coming up 2-7 pm Friday, September 29th, at South Park Community Center (8319 8th Ave. S.).

WESTSIDE NEIGHBORS’ NETWORK: WNN’s Judie Messier provided an update on this “village” that’s been created to support West Seattle-area residents who want to “age in place” – to not be forced out of their homes as they get older, even though people now “live in dense isolation, and aging is a risky business.” It’s a “member-driven organization” with members providing support to, and asking for support from, each other. Seattle already has three villages, out of more than 200 nationwide. The group is now a 501(c)(3) and is launching a “founding member” campaign – while the official launch date is January 1st, they’re recruiting founding members right now, people who are willing to pay their 2018 dues in advance. Eleven people have signed up already – and one advantage, Messier said, is that founding members’ dues are “locked in for life.”

WNN has two tiers of membership – social membership and full membership (explained here). They’re also planning a sponsorship campaign to raise money to help those who can’t fully cover membership on their own.

Questions? Presentations are scheduled at many other upcoming community meetings; you also can contact WNN by going here.

LEADERSHIP: The SWDC board members – co-chairs David Whiting and Eric Iwamoto and secretary Vicki Schmitz Block – are ending three terms as of the end of this year, and successors are needed. It’s a relatively light time commitment – maybe 90 minutes a month outside of the meeting, said Whiting. They’ll continue to represent their respective organizations on the council (Admiral Neighborhood Association, Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Coalition, Fauntleroy Community Association, respectively), but it’s time for a leadership change, emphasized Schmitz Block. Nominations (of yourself or someone else) are welcome.

NEXT MEETING: Since SWDC meets first Wednesdays, it’ll be 6:30 pm October 4th, at the Sisson Building/Senior Center in The Junction.

Share This

]]> 2
Q&A WITH YOUR COUNCILMEMBER: Lisa Herbold @ Southwest District Council tomorrow Tue, 05 Sep 2017 16:04:57 +0000 Before we get to what’s up for the rest of today, an early alert for Wednesday night: The Southwest District Council agenda has just arrived, and it includes Q&A with our area’s City Councilmember Lisa Herbold. The City Council gets back to work today after its two-week summer recess, so maybe you have questions about action it’s taken, is about to take … or something you think needs attention. SWDC meets at 6:30 pm Wednesday at the Sisson Building/Senior Center in The Junction (4217 SW Oregon), all welcome; the full agenda has just been added to our calendar listing.

Share This

@ Southwest District Council: Rechannelization reconsideration? Plus, port trucks, motorcycle noise, more… Thu, 06 Jul 2017 23:55:44 +0000 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

A show-stopper-of-sorts statement from SDOT was part of last night’s Southwest District Council meeting:

SWDC co-chair David Whiting of the Admiral Neighborhood Association led the meeting, which featured multiple meaty topics despite the day-after-holiday scheduling.


AVALON PAVING PROJECT: Dan Anderson and project manager Luke Peters of SDOT came to speak to the group about the repaving and rechannelization project, one month after Avalon entrepreneur John Bennett brought merchants’ concerns to the SWDC, which agreed to support them (WSB coverage here).

“We were tasked with managing a paving project,” Anderson began, “(but) you’ll notice that a lot we’re talking about is not just paving – we’re trying to implement the city’s master plans for the different modes. … So when we come out and repave we want to put out the striping .. that meet the city’s long-term goals.”

(Displays from Avalon project “open house” in May, starting with the current proposed alternatives for lane reconfiguration)

That includes sustainability and congestion-reduction goals, “to move as many people as sustainably as possible,” including “increasing the number of people who walk and bike.” Protected bike lanes help toward that goal, Anderson said, and that’s why they’re in the Avalon proposal. Right now, the non-protected uphill bike lane that’s the only one currently on Avalon is considered a “door-zone lane,” posing various dangers to riders. That “doesn’t encourage the kind of all-ages-and-abilities network” that the city wants to encourage. “We want everyone to feel comfortable biking and walking in Seattle.”

The space to add the protected bike lanes comes from the center turn lanes, Anderson acknowledged. The existence of that lane currently facilitates “high speeds” on Avalon, he added.

Then he addressed the downhill transit lane, and concerns about how it’s used. They want to be sure it’s kept, Anderson said, with improvements. “The major tradeoff that’s brought the most concern from people we’ve talked to is the stretch with no center turn lane …. and that’s where we propose eliminating on-street parking … basically, Yancy to Bradford.” The city calculates 23 spaces will be removed, on the east side of the street.” (Bennett calculates it at up to 30.)

Whiting wondered if there was a way to have a two-way protected lane on one side of Avalon. Peters said that two one-way protected lanes are considered to be better. “We would have to signalize all the intersections,” among other things, “which increases the costs a lot,” he said, and he’s not sure that would “preserve the parking” anyway.

Anderson picked it up. “What we heard is concern about the loss of parking, specifically for customers of the Luna Park merchants … we also heard that people are really excited about having a better bike connection to the Alki Bike trail, the low bridge, the Luna Park businesses … and people are concerned about speeding … People also recognize that this street is in need of repair. We think our current proposal can address (most of that)” but they acknowledge that the loss of parking is a major concern. “And we want to know more about those concerns,” said Anderson.

Peters referred to the letter of concern sent by SWDC. The uphill protected bike lane is considered most important, for example. “There is space to do that and make no improvement to the downhill configuration,” he acknowledged. “We could do that for just the southern section,” from Yancy north, “and we could have a protected bike lane from 35th to Yancy and just remove the center turn lane in that section.” He said they’re talking with advocacy groups including West Seattle Bike Connections and the city Bicycle Advisory Board, and will “circle back with the Luna Park merchants.”

Anderson said that if the WS Greenway and fauntleroy Boulevard project get built too, this would all comprise “a pretty amazing connection,” all the way to the East Marginal Way project and the Seattle Waterfront project, with a protected bike lane all the way from the West Seattle Junction to Ballard.

But, he said, “we don’t do public outreach (in order) to do projects that people don’t want to have done … if people hate what we’re proposing and think it’s going to result in a losing project,” SDOT could focus its efforts elsewhere, and drop the plan for the downhill protected bike lane.

Whiting all but stopped down the meeting to urge that everyone “savor that comment” about the purpose of outreach.

Bennett, who was back at the SWDC meeting for this item, said he is a bicycle rider (as is Whiting), and “you have to take the lane” when you’re headed downhill, “which is why we think we don’t need that protected bike lane” north of Yancy; taking that out would mean businesses wouldn’t lose access to those street parking spaces. Bennett said online reviews of his restaurant tend to say “we love Luna Park Café but good luck finding a parking space.” Peters noted that no parking would be removed, even in the full two-protected-bike-lane plan, on the west side of the street, which is the side where the café and other businesses including Avalon Glassworks and The Shack are located.

Parking studies, Anderson said, showed the spaces in question only utilized around 70 percent. “Then you came at the wrong times,” Bennett countered. “We did come out multiple times,” said Anderson. “We don’t think the original proposal would kill the businesses – we want to keep businesses vibrant … I think it’s really exciting to think about how many people could be biking to and from destinations all over, including Luna Park merchants.” But, he reiterated, they do take the concerns seriously, and will consider “the data, the plans, and people who live and work in the areas.”

Bennett noted that his restaurant – which specializes in breakfast – and the coffee shop “survived” the 6-10 am loss of parking, yielded to the transit lane across the street, but “I guarantee you … if we lose 23 to 30 parking spots, it’s going to put a huge hurt.” He mentioned businesses such as the veterinary clinic – difficult to take your pet on a bike, he said – and salon – you don’t often wear a bike helmet to the hairdresser – and the fact that he continues to see most bicycle riders turn onto Yancy rather than continuing down on Avalon.

SWDC member Tamsen Spengler from the West Seattle Timebank also noted that the left-turn lane will affect people turning – others will be stopped behind you – and deliveries. “And there’s no crosswalk.”

Anderson noted that the redesign of the street will include looking at where to put in crosswalks.

Next steps: After more outreach, they’ll have a “final concept” this fall, and then work toward 10 percent design at year’s end. Construction is still expected to start in 2019.

Also last night:

ABOUT THAT PORT TRUCK TRAFFIC… Zachary Thomas talked about the factors resulting in the port-truck troubles, especially along East Marginal Way, centered on the Northwest Seaport Alliance‘s “pretty big shift of cargo from the south [Tacoma] to the north [Seattle]” – specifically, T-18, which in turn shifted some business elsewhere.

(June 22nd East Marginal Way trucks, photographed by Scott Amick)

Thomas said it was a 50 percent volume increase for T-18, which is operated by SSA. They brought in more equipment, hired more people, added more hours, but “those improvement measures take time” – the alliance changes were immediate, but catching up took a month or so.

T-18 did 20,000 vessel lifts in a week – double the usual volume – at the peak of all this, Thomas said. “A terminal’s going to struggle for that, it’s like a building designed for 50 people and 100 people show up.” Schedules have since “normalized,” with ships “showing up when they are supposed to,” back to 10,000 or 11,000 lifts a week, working almost nonstop with the machinery needed to “get trucks serviced.” There’s a free, available-to-all app called Dray Q to see what’s happening at the ports, via Bluetooth signatures from the trucks, to “tell you how they’re doing” regarding “turn times” – which were at one point up to 4 hours, but should be 1 hour. That’s a key performance indicator, he said – if they’re at an hour, there’s little or no congestion on the street. “What I hope people see down there around T-18, T-46, T-30, that there has been an improvement … we’ll continue to work with them.” They’ve also opened gates weekends and overnights when needed to reduce.

Asked about trucks idling while waiting to get into the port, Thomas said some terminals are opening gates early so trucks can get in and wait off the street until processing begins.

Whiting asked about what’s going on when ships are at anchor, such as the Cosco container vessel that’s been out in Elliott Bay, off West Seattle. Ships doing that are burning “ultra-low-sulfur diesel,” he was told.

Also from the port/NWSA:

TERMINAL 5 MODERNIZATION UPDATE: Asked about this, the port reps said they’re not at the stage of negotiating with potential tenants yet – just “some very preliminary discussions” with potential tenants. Would they start construction on the expansion without a tenant? Port of Seattle spokesperson Mick Shultz said he didn’t think so. Area resident Jim Wojciechowski brought up the issue of shore power. Port/NWSA reps said the city approved a goal of at least 30 percent shore power equivalence for the first 10 years and that’s still what they have on the books. The full plan would be in place before a certificate of occupancy was granted. With China taking a more-active interest in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, he said, they’re hopeful that will force the issue globally.

Are there plans for shore power at the other terminals? Shultz said “that’s the direction (in which the commission) want to move,” but no “specific plans right now.”

“It’s all part of one big picture,” SWDC board member Vicki Schmitz Block of the Fauntleroy Community Association said, adding that she’d love to see Washington State Ferries move in that direction too.

NOISE STUDY: Jesse Robbins discussed this in detail at the most recent Alki Community Council meeting – so please see our coverage there, which includes links to results of noise surveys. His project targets vehicle noise from vehicles’ (particularly motorcycles’) loud/unmuffled exhaust, which he says is illegal, though police departments are “ill-equipped to enforce that law.” People want them to issue tickets, they would like to issue tickets, but the law is “weird,” so a technological solution is needed, Robbins contends. They are working with the Alki CC on a pilot project later this summer before escalating it upward, potentially even to the City Council this fall. He said he’s still not willing to discuss the technology publicly – he and his co-founder are working on finalizing a patent, for example.

ANNOUNCEMENTS … made at the start of the meeting:

WEST SEATTLE GRAND PARADE: Co-coordinator Jim Edwards visited the meeting to make sure everyone knows this year’s West Seattle Grand Parade is coming up at 11 am Saturday, July 22nd, following the 6th annual Float Dodger 5K. The West Seattle Rotary Club Service Foundation presents the parade, and he said there are lots of applications in already for participation.

WEST SEATTLE BIG BAND CONCERT IN THE PARK: Jim also leads the West Seattle Big Band, and its free Concert in the Park is coming up at 7 pm Tuesday, July 18th, on the east lawn at Hiawatha Community Center. This year, it has new co-sponsors, including WSB.

WEST SEATTLE SUMMER FEST: Lora Swift from the WS Junction Association reminded everyone that (as reported here on WSB earlier) Summer Fest Eve is Thursday, July 13rd, and you’ll find entertainment in the street as well as WS Art Walk venues – then the three-day festival is Friday, July 14th through Sunday July 16th. New this year, a “fully activated kid zone” thanks to a $5,000 city grant. “Lots of fun stuff to do for kids and adults!” she promised. (WSB is a festival co-sponsor too and will again be reporting live from the Info Booth throughout the festival)

MORGAN COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION … has its next quarterly meeting at 7 pm July 19th (The Kenney).

FAUNTLEROY COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION … will meet on July 11th (7 pm, Fauntleroy Schoolhouse) as usual.

ADMIRAL NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION … is presenting the free Summer Concerts at Hiawatha series starting Thursday night, July 20th, 6:30 pm at Hiawatha; still awaiting the final lineup.

Southwest District Council won’t meet in August, so the next meeting will be 6:30 pm Wednesday, September 6th. Topics will include future leadership, as the SWDC’s current board members all are in their third terms.

Share This

]]> 4
TOMORROW: Southwest District Council IS meeting Tue, 04 Jul 2017 19:54:26 +0000 Many community groups skip midsummer meetings. Not the Southwest District Council, which invites you to its July meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) night, 6:30 pm at the Senior Center/Sisson Building:

6:30 P.M. Welcome and Introductions ​​
• Review and approval of previous meetings minutes and summary
• Brief Announcements
• Amendments and overview of the Meeting Agenda

6:40 P.M. Port of Seattle – current activities
• Mick Shultz

7:10 P.M. West Seattle Noise Survey Results
• Jesse Robbins

7:30 P.M. SW Avalon Paving Project
• Dan Andersen, SDOT

7:45 P.M. Southwest District Council Business
• CNC Update
• Announcements
• Other business ​

8:00 P.M. Adjourn Meeting

The Sisson Building is at 4217 SW Oregon.

Share This

@ Southwest District Council: Aligning for Avalon alternative Thu, 08 Jun 2017 17:08:28 +0000

(Displays from recent Avalon project “open house,” starting with the current proposed alternatives for lane reconfiguration)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

With two days left to answer the SDOT survey about rechannelizing SW Avalon Way when it’s repaved in ~2019, local merchants and bicycling advocates are backing an alternative route for new bike lanes
– one that’s not currently part of SDOT’s proposals.

That was the major agenda item at last night’s Southwest District Council meeting.

AVALON RECHANNELIZATION: John Bennett and Angela Cough from the Luna Park Merchants Association first recapped the back story – as reported here two weeks ago – of being surprised to find out that what was announced as repaving was also going to include rechannelization.

SDOT contacted merchants to ask for a meeting at which they learned “they’re redesigning the whole street .. their plan was to take away a big chunk of parking on (the east side of) Avalon Way, which merchants rely on for customers.” Five years earlier, they had lost parking in the morning (for the 6-10 am bus lane). Now, 25 to 28 parking spots further south would be lost permanently. Cough, who owns Shack Coffee, explained that they’re also concerned about losing the center turn lane, which area businesses need for everything from deliveries to tows (Alki Auto Repair). The center turn lane also assists pedestrians, Cough pointed out, since there is no crosswalk in the area (the city removed one by her shop, then Java Bean, 10 years ago), and the rechannelization/repaving project so far doesn’t include one. And it’s used by Seattle Fire vehicles and other emergency personnel when there are incidents.

Cough noted that more housing is under construction further south/west along Avalon, some without parking, and they’re “seriously concerned about the ability of people to” live and do business in the area.

Bennett talked about the crash that injured a Java Bean barista there years ago. He says he often sees families with kids running across the street to get to the businesses.

“One of the things we started to discuss while standing there with the city,” Cough said, “was, what alternative routes might you have discussed” for bicycle routes in the area. She asked them if the previous projects elsewhere in the city had increased ridership at all.

SWDC member Pete Spalding, who lives on Pigeon Point, said many bicycle riders detour down Yancy from Avalon, to get to Delridge. And the Avalon contingent is indeed suggesting the city should consider improving that route instead. Bennett said Yancy should be the protected bike-lane route while the parking remains on Avalon.

Jodi Connolly from West Seattle Bike Connections then spoke. “From what Don (Brubeck of WSBC) and I communicated with (Bennett), we agree that there are times you need the protected bike lane, and it feels weird to pull away from that … we would agree that it would be important to have a dedicated, protected bike lane to Yancy to route people to the Delridge crossing there. … I agree that the people continuing through (on Avalon toward Harbor) would be traveling to Alki, or take the lane, if someone is comfortable with that.”

Cough said utilizing the sidewalk along Avalon, which “really isn’t utilized (northbound) beyond the bus stop,” was another proposal of theirs.

So to get SDOT to consider this, they need support from people filling out the Avalon repaving/rechannelization survey, which is open through tomorrow (Friday, June 9th). In the “comments” area (on the survey’s second page), they would like people to say they support SW Yancy bike lanes as an alternative, support retaining parking on SW Avalon, and also ending the current bus lane an hour earlier – at 9 am instead of 10 am – which they say is standard elsewhere at the city.

“This is super-important,” Bennett emphasized.

SWDC agreed to write a letter regarding the Avalon project saying that the desired outcome should retain the center turn lane and the parking on the east side of Avalon, while designing a better bike lane.

Also at the meeting:

CRIME UPDATE: Southwest Precinct Lt. Ron Smith provided an update for the SWDC coverage area (mostly western West Seattle). Robbery’s up 44 percent – 39 so far this year and more than half are “shoplifts gone bad,” explained Lt. Smith – if a shoplifter turns to force, such as a weapon or strong-arm tactics, it’s classified as robbery. Aggravated assault is up, 1 more than last year. Domestic violence is 1 fewer than last year. Arson is down 33 percent, 2 so far this year (3 to this point last year). Residential burglary is down 23 percent. Commercial burglary is down 19 percent. Larceny theft is up 35 percent – 405 incidents up from 300 – car prowls are down three percent overall, down 19 percent in all of West Seattle. Right now the North Admiral area and The Junction area are where they’re most concerned. Vehicle theft is down by 2 – 127 so far this year, 129 last year – up overall in the precinct jurisdiction. Stolen vehicles tend to be found full of stolen items; “we are not finding a significant amount of chop shops.” He addressed the “shots fired” issues – with 21 incidents throughout the city last two weeks, two of them are in West Seattle (for comparison, nine in Rainier Valley) – that means incidents confirmed by property damage and/or casings, without injury. Shots-fired incidents tend to be based on a regional gang rivalry, Lt. Smith said, as has been noted in other community briefings.

YOUR VOICE, YOUR CHOICE: The vote to choose which street/park projects will get funded is on – as reported here last weekend. At last night’s meeting, paper ballots were circulated. Some in attendance weren’t familiar with YVYC. The ensuing backstory discussion included the observation that the former process of vetting these proposed projects via district councils enabled more information to be available – because the community members who proposed the projects were present. Some in the room also noted that ironically many who showed up to participate in the “new” decisionmaking process to choose projects for voting turned out to be district-council members anyway. One person did a public-disclosure request for nomination-meeting attendance, “and the demographics were strikingly similar to district council meetings.” SWDC member Tamsen Spengler said that there were only nine participants at the meeting she attended. Many had questions about the projects on the ballot (here’s the official “guide” for the proposed projects in District 1, West Seattle/South Park).

PORT VISIT: Spokesperson Mick Shultz sat in on the meeting and said he was there in case anyone had questions about port issues such as truck traffic or Terminal 5. Nobody did, but they did ask to schedule him for a later meeting. (We did talk with him about those two ongoing issues after the meeting. No tenant for T-5 yet. Meantime, a separate update on truck traffic is in the works.)

The Southwest District Council meets first Wednesdays most months, 6:30 pm at the Senior Center/Sisson Building (4217 SW Oregon).

Share This

]]> 3