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FOLLOWUP: Alki Beach Park back to regular hours

While the days are getting shorter, at Alki, they’ve also just gotten longer. Tonight is the first night that Alki Beach Park‘s closing time is back to 11:30 pm, after two months of closing at 10 pm. The early closing time was ordered in early July – first as a holiday-weekend experiment, then as a two-month trial run – days after the shooting that killed 22-year-old Tilorae Shepherd. We confirmed with Seattle Parks this afternoon that there had been no last-minute decision to extend the early closing time. One note: Though the beach is open later now, the fire pits are supposed to be closed for the season as of tonight.

Lowman Beach tennis court’s days are numbered: Six

If you want to play tennis at the Lowman Beach Park court one last time before it’s removed as part of the shore-restoration project, you have six days. Seattle Parks says its contractor McClung Construction will be starting work next Monday (September 13th) and that means, according to project manager Janice Liang, “The park will be partially closed during construction including the beach, tennis court, and the gravel walkways. The play area and the part of the lawn area close to the street will remain open.” The $1.2 million shore-restoration project will remove the failing seawall on the north side of the park, creating more beach space, and daylighting the stretch of Pelly Creek that currently leads to an outfall pipe in the seawall. The work is expected to last at least eight months. Earlier this summer, Parks ruled out building a replacement tennis court elsewhere in the park, but said it would consider allowing something smaller, like a pickleball court – provided community fundraising covered the cost; nothing is planned so far.

WEST SEATTLE WILDLIFE: Reminder for beachgoers as seal-pup season approaches peak

Nice day to go to the beach – but if you do, heed this reminder from David Hutchinson of Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network:

West Seattle is entering its busiest 2-3 months for vulnerable harbor-seal pups using our local beaches. We ask that everyone please be alert and report any marine mammals you come across to the Seal Sitters’ Hotline at 206-905-7325. The young harbor seal pup in the photo was chased into the water yesterday by an off-leash dog. Remember, dogs are not permitted on Seattle Parks’ beaches, either off or on a leash. This pup appears to have some respiratory issues, which is common for many pups during the fall months. It is critical that these animals are able to rest undisturbed.

ADDED TUESDAY NIGHT: We don’t know whether it’s the same seal, but Cindy Roberts photographed this one basking at Constellation Park today:

Yellow umbrellas at Alki Beach, but no rain: Here’s what this one-day art installation is all about

10:44 AM: Those yellow umbrellas are part of a one-day art installation at Alki Beach that Charlotte Starck hopes will send a message to the other side of the world. Here’s her explanation:

A pop-up environmental art installation, I call, The Umbrella Postcard: Seattle to Troops made of yellow umbrellas set in the sand in the shape of a yellow ribbon. The intent is to make it viewable from the sky for the world to see. Underneath: the words “Come home safe.”

The exhibit is also lined with 13 American flags in memory of the 13 service members who died Thursday in the Kabul airport attacks. Each flag has the name, hometown, and age of the servicemember – most in their early 20s.

For pedestrians, we will tie yellow ribbons and put signs on the lamp posts lining the exhibit on Alki at the volleyball courts. The exhibit will be taken down at twilight Monday.

Starck created this with daughter Sarah Hall and Brandon Rodriguez.

She says the airport bombing troubled her so much that, “I wanted to do something broad that would send a clear and direct message from Seattle to Kabul, and I believe ‘A picture paints a thousand words’.” The yellow ribbon is the original awareness ribbon, dating back to the Iran hostage crisis in the late ’70s.

12:18 PM: Added that photo from our return to Alki to check on the finished installation.

3:42 PM: Here’s the aerial view, by Howard Shack:

WEST SEATTLE WILDLIFE: Seal pup rescued at Alki

Thanks to Steyn Benade of Always Local Photos for that pic and word that a harbor-seal pup was rescued at Alki Beach today. We asked David Hutchinson of Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network what happened; he sent this photo and response:

A very young harbor seal pup was responded to by Seal Sitters today at Alki Beach. Volunteers established a perimeter and watched over the pup during the early afternoon. Given its poor body condition – it was very thin – it was felt that an intervention was required. SR3 in Des Moines was contacted and they arrived, captured the pup, and provided transport to their facility. On initial examination, it was determined that this was a nursing-age pup with no attending mother. Hopefully rehab will be successful.

We don’t know why the pup was abandoned, but if humans/pets get too close, that can scare the mom away from returning to her pup. (Both of the photos were taken with long lenses.) If you see a marine mammal on a West Seattle beach – or in distress offshore – call Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network at 206-905-SEAL.

WEST SEATTLE WILDLIFE: Seal Sitters’ first pup of the season

(WSB photo)

Walking on the Lincoln Park waterfront path Thursday evening, we spotted the tape and signage that Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network puts up when they’re guarding a visitor on the shore. They explained a harbor-seal pup – first one they’ve seen on a West Seattle beach this pupping season – was resting among the driftwood. We couldn’t see the pup from the path, but SSMMSN’s David Hutchinson got a long-lens photo and sent it to us early today:

(Photo by David Hutchinson)

He says it’s a “very young harbor seal pup, nicknamed ‘Xico’ by one of our new volunteers – pronounced Chico.” Reminder that if you see a marine mammal on shore – or one offshore that seems in distress – please notify SSMMSN at 206-905-SEAL.

VIDEO: Here’s how Alki Beach Pride 2021 began

Smiles, waves, billowing flags, and honking horns kicked off this year’s Alki Beach Pride weekend – celebrating the LGBTQ+ community – with a car/motorcycle parade that left Jack Block Park shortly after noon. Even a classic fire truck!

Here’s our video of the entire parade as it headed onto Harbor Avenue SW, beach-bound:

After the parade, we headed uphill to The Admiral District, where the Rainbow City Band was serenading outdoor diners on restaurant row:

Day 1 festivities continue with parties at West Seattle Brewing and Alki Beach Pub; tomorrow includes a rolling/biking parade from Alki Statue of Liberty Plaza at 1 pm and an outdoor movie at 8:15 pm at Alki Playground – see the full schedule here. This is the 7th year for ABP, but as explained here, its roots go back much further.

FOLLOWUP: Contractor chosen for Lowman Beach Park seawall, tennis-court removal

(WSB June photo of soon-to-be-removed seawall)

We reported in coverage of last month’s Morgan Community Association meeting that Seattle Parks was close to choosing a contractor for the Lowman Beach Park project that will remove the seawall and tennis court and restore a more-natural shoreline. Announced today, the contractor is McClung Construction of Buckley, awarded a $1.2 million contract, according to Parks’ project manager Janice Liang. They’ll start mobilizing in early September, which means partial closure of the park; Parks says that “includes beach access, tennis court and trail access. Public access to a portion of the lawn and playground area will be maintained.” The failing seawall used to continue across the south half of the park’s shore, but that part was removed in the 1990s; the new work will not only expand the sandy beach area, but will also daylight part of Pelly Creek. (added) Construction is expected to last at least eight months.

WEST SEATTLE SCENE: Ruckus the elephant seal visits Seola Beach

Thanks to the Seola Beach neighbor who sent that photo of Ruckus the Northern Elephant Seal, resting on a private beach during today’s low tide. The neighbor says he was under watch so curious onlookers could be kept at a distance. As Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network has explained, he might be getting ready to molt; if you see him, keep them updated with a report to 206-905-7325 (905-SEAL).

FOLLOWUP: Beaches reopened after 2 weeks of sewer-leak closure

Thanks to commenter Bryan for reporting that the signs came down today on the South Alki beaches affected by a sewer leak from the Harbor West condos on Beach Drive. Seattle Public Utilities confirmed to WSB tonight that “Samples show acceptable levels and in consultation with Public Health-Seattle & King County, Seattle Public Utilities staff have removed the warning signs and reopened the beach. It’s been almost two weeks since first word of the leak.

King County Public Health shuts down 5 food sellers at Alki

In our report on this month’s Alki Community Council meeting, we noted a Seattle Parks manager mentioning a problem with “illegal food vendors” at the beach. Some readers wondered why King County Public Health hadn’t done anything about that. Now the agency has, according to an announcement we just received:

A Public Health food inspector found 5 food establishments operating at Alki Beach in Seattle without a valid food establishment permit on Saturday, July 24th and were directed to immediately cease food and beverage services. These establishments include:

Botanas Locas closed July 24, 2021 at 12:20 pm
Chopped N Skewed closed July 24, 2021 at 1:55 pm
Marco Morales Stand closed July 24, 2021 at 1:55 pm
Nieves De Garrafa closed July 24, 2021 at 2:10 pm
Ivonne Pineda’s Stand closed July 24, 2021 at 2:40 pm

These establishments will be allowed to reopen once the person in charge of each business completes the 3-Step Plan Review process to secure a mobile food services permit (which also applies to food carts and stands) per the instructions online at kingcounty.gov/foodsafety/mobile

This came in too late for followup questions tonight but we’ll be pursuing a few tomorrow.

FOLLOWUP: What you might notice if you see the visiting elephant seal again

An update from David Hutchinson of Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network:

Seal Sitters continues to monitor our visiting Northern Elephant Seal since he was first spotted in West Seattle waters on July 16. He had previously been sighted in the Des Moines/Redondo area in early June. The volunteers at SR3 (the newly opened Marine Mammal Hospital in Des Moines) named him “Ruckus” considering all the attention and excitement he was creating. To our knowledge, he has not hauled out on any public beach in West Seattle, but with the cooperation of property owners along the Sound, Seal Sitters’ first responders have been able to check on his location and condition.

While elephant seals vary somewhat in color through shades of brown and gray, they all go through an annual “catastrophic molt.” During this process they shed their top layer of skin and fur in chunks which results in a dramatic change in appearance and they remain on the beach for an extended period of time. This is normal, but can give the impression that the animal is sick or dying.

If Ruckus is still in our area when he molts, we hope he can find a quiet safe beach. If you should come across him while out walking our beaches, please keep a respectful distance and report his location to the Seal Sitters’ Hotline at 206-905-7325.

The top photo is of Ruckus on a private West Seattle beach on 7/18, while the bottom photo is of a molting female Northern Elephant Seal on a downtown Seattle beach back in April of this year. Female elephant seals molt in the spring while males molt later in the summer.

WEST SEATTLE BEACHES: Here’s when to see summer’s last low-low tides

July 21, 2021 12:20 pm
|    Comments Off on WEST SEATTLE BEACHES: Here’s when to see summer’s last low-low tides
 |   West Seattle beaches | West Seattle news

Thanks to Lynn Hall for the photo. The low tide was out to -2.4 feet at 9:15 this morning, on the way to another round of low-low tides this week. So you can plan your shore exploration, here are the dates and times:

Thursday – 10:05 am, -3.0 feet
Friday – 10:53 am, -3.3 feet
Saturday – 11:40 am, -3.2 feet
Sunday – 12:26 pm, -2.8 feet

This is low enough that the Seattle Aquarium is sending out its volunteer beach naturalists so you can get expert advice/information – they’ll be at Constellation Park (63rd/Beach Drive) and Lincoln Park (8011 Fauntleroy Way SW) beaches Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; times vary, as listed here. Wherever you go, tread lightly!

ADDED THURSDAY: The naturalists have dropped Constellation Park this time because of the sewage leak – so, just Lincoln Park on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

FOLLOWUP: Don’t be fooled if you see the Northern Elephant Seal that’s been visiting West Seattle

Thanks to reader reports/photos, we’ve been telling you these past few days about an unusual visitor to West Seattle waters/shores, an adult male Northern Elephant Seal. Most recent sighting we’ve heard of was this morning, near Lowman Beach. Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network‘s David Hutchinson sent this followup today from the seal’s extended Saturday visit north of there:

Seal Sitters would like to thank our West Seattle neighbors who contacted us concerning the elephant seal on their beach yesterday. Seal Sitters’ first responders were permitted to access the location and continue to monitor his movements and condition. This male northern Elephant Seal may turn up at other spots around the West Seattle peninsula.

Elephant Seals are deep divers and capable of holding their breath for many minutes. While on the beach, they may appear to be deceased. Just a reminder, this is a very large wild animal and may respond aggressively if disturbed. Observe from a distance and let the Seal Sitters’ Hotline (206-905-7325) know his location. If viewing him on the beach from a kayak or paddle board, please keep a respectful distance and allow him to rest – NOAA recommends 100 yards.

Here are a couple links to some information about this unusual visitor to our area:

NOAA Fact Sheet

The National Wildlife Foundation

Here are our previous reports: Saturday and Friday.

FOLLOWUP: Beach Drive leak’s over, but don’t go back into the water yet

(WSB photo, Tuesday)

Two days after those signs went up along the Beach Drive shore from Cormorant Cove Park to Constellation Park, the warning is still in effect. The Tuesday announcement from Seattle Public Utilities attributed the problem to a side sewer. We checked in with SPU today; spokesperson Sabrina Register replied, “The discharge, which was confined to one unit of a multi-unit complex, has stopped. Repairs are scheduled for early next week. Posted signs prohibiting water activities will remain in place for now. Seattle Public Utilities continues to sample the water and work with Public Health-Seattle & King County to determine when the area can safely reopen.”

UPDATE: Sewer break fouls Puget Sound off Beach Drive

(Photo from @quapet via Twitter)

3:10 PM: Thanks for the tip and photo. That signage went up at Cormorant Cove Park in the 3700 block of Beach Drive SW – and we just got this Seattle Public Utilities notification explaining why:

Today Seattle Public Utilities responded to a sewer overflow due to a broken side sewer located along Beach Dr near Cormorant Cove. As a result, beaches in the area will be closed to water activities, including Cormorant Cove as well as the beach access at Beach Dr. SW/63rd Ave SW in West Seattle.

Staff will sample the water and work with Public Health-Seattle & King County and Seattle Parks Department to determine when the area can be safely reopened. SPU will provide an update when we have more information. Seattle Public Utilities is working with the property owner to ensure a timely repair of the side sewer.

If you find flooding or sewer backups, please report them to the SPU 24/7 Operations Response Center at 206-386-1800.

5:56 PM: We went down to the shore to check the extent of the signage. It continues northward at Constellation Park, beyond 63rd/Beach:

FOLLOWUP: Alki Beach Park will close at 10 pm every night for the rest of the summer

(Thursday’s sunset on Alki – photo by Jen Popp)

This announcement is just in from Seattle Parks:

Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) will extend the temporary early closure time of 10 p.m. at Alki Beach Park (2665 Alki Ave. SW) through September 12, 2021.

SPR originally piloted a temporary early closure time of 10 p.m. over the 4th of July holiday weekend. Based on positive community feedback, as well as continued concerns around illegal activity and public safety issues at Alki Beach Park over the busy summer months, SPR has decided to extend the temporary early closing. The park will close daily at 10:00 p.m. (instead of 11:30 p.m.) and reopen as normal at 4:30 a.m.

This extension of the temporary closing time change, authorized by SMC 18.12.040, is intended to mitigate illegal activity at the park during the busy summer months. Alki Beach Park has experienced an increase in public safety issues, including acts of violence, excessive noise violations, illegal fires, and unpermitted events.

SPR has already implemented several strategies to try to discourage illegal behaviors at Alki Beach Park:

· Public education: To clarify and publicize beach fire rules and other park rules, we are using our website and social media resources, sandwich-board signs at the park, and most recently, two large electronic reader-boards stating that fires are allowed in authorized firepits only, and the time by which fires must be extinguished. (Reader-board messaging may change to reflect updates.)

· Enhanced staffing: Five staff are on the beach nightly. They remind park users that fires can be in firepits only and must be extinguished by 9:30 p.m.; remind park users that amplified music is prohibited; pick up litter; clean and restock restrooms.

· Reduced hours for fires: Staff extinguish beach fires by 9:30 nightly.

· SPD coordination: We stay in close communication and strategize with SPD regarding efforts to enforce laws and prevent illegal behaviors.

Alki Beach Park will continue to allow beach fires through September 12 in designated fire rings. All beach fires must be extinguished by 9:30 p.m. and all visitors will be asked to leave the park by 10 p.m. Please see beach fire rules here.

Alki Beach Park daily operating hours will return to 4:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. effective September 13, 2021.

Last month, Parks announced a “pilot” to close Golden Gardens – the big beach park in Ballard – early for the next nine months, citing similar reasons.

FOLLOWUP: Police at Alki on second night of early closure

We don’t know how the first night of early Alki Beach Park closure went last night – except that no major incidents were reported – but tonight police are out in force. We drove the beach from 63rd/Alki to Seacrest and back between 9:55 and 10:20 pm, and saw groups of officers on foot, on bikes (photo above), and in vehicles. Some were staged at Don Armeni Boat Ramp. While the beach was still moderately busy at 10:15 pm, officers have since told dispatchers they’re “clearing the beach” now.

Seattle Parks announced Friday that Alki would be closed at 10 pm nightly through Monday, in hopes of deterring problems from violence to fireworks. Its northern counterpart Golden Gardens, meantime, is being closed at 10 pm nightly for nine months, also to tamp down on trouble..

HOLIDAY WEEKEND: Seattle Parks says Alki Beach will close early for next 4 nights

(WSB file photo)

Last week, the city announced a 9-month pilot program closing Golden Gardens, the Ballard beach park, at 10 pm, but nothing for Alki. Today – four days after a deadly shooting – an announcement that Alki will close early too, but only for the next four nights:

Seattle Parks and Recreation is implementing new temporary closing hours at Alki Beach Park (2665 Alki Ave. SW) beginning on Friday, July 2 through Monday, July 5. The park will close daily at 10:00 p.m. (instead of 11:30 p.m.) and reopen as normal at 4:30 a.m.

This temporary closing time change, authorized by SMC 18.12.040, is intended to deter illegal use of fireworks and to help mitigate illegal activity at the park during the anticipated busy holiday weekend. Alki Beach Park has experienced an increase in public safety issues, including acts of violence, excessive noise violations, illegal fires, and unpermitted events.

SPR has already implemented several strategies to try to discourage illegal behaviors at Alki Beach Park:

· Public education: To clarify and publicize beach fire rules and other park rules, we are using our website and social media resources, sandwich-board signs at the park, and most recently, two large electronic reader-boards stating that fires are allowed in authorized firepits only, and the time by which fires must be extinguished. (Reader-board messaging may change to reflect updates.)

· Enhanced staffing: Five staff are on the beach nightly. They remind park users that fires can be in firepits only and must be extinguished by 9:30 p.m.; remind park users that amplified music is prohibited; pick up litter; clean and restock restrooms.

· Reduced hours for fires: Staff extinguish beach fires by 9:30 nightly.

· SPD coordination: We stay in close communication and strategize with SPD regarding efforts to enforce laws and prevent illegal behaviors.

Alki Beach Park will continue to allow beach fires over the holiday weekend in designated fire rings. All beach fires must be extinguished by 9:30 p.m. and all visitors will be asked to leave the park by 10 p.m. Please see beach fire rules here.

Alki Beach Park daily operating hours will return to 4:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. effective July 6, 2021.

FOLLOWUP: Only one Lowman Beach decision so far – no new tennis court

(WSB photo, last week – Lowman Beach tennis court and swing set)

About 50 people showed up online Tuesday evening for the third meeting about a possible racket-sport court for Lowman Beach Park once the current one is removed along with the failing seawall nearby. Here’s what it boiled down to: Seattle Parks says it’s open to the idea of a pickleball court in currently open space on the south side of the park, but not another tennis court. And Parks doesn’t have money for any added features, so if a pickleball court is proposed and approved, the estimated $450,000 cost would have to be covered by a community fundraising campaign. A community group, the Seattle Sports Complex Foundation, got a grant to cover the cost of the process up to this point, working with HBB Landscape Architecture on concepts, but as was made clear last night, this meeting marked the end of that process. Furthermore, Kliment said Parks’ approval wasn’t guaranteed if this community group or someone else decided to pursue the pickleball option – just that Parks isn’t opposed to it, as long as it wouldn’t require removal of the park’s popular swing set, but Parks is opposed to a new tennis court. So now the ball is in community advocates’ court, so to speak. As for how much longer the current court will be available, the removal project (also grant-funded) is out to bid right now and expected to start later this summer. As explained in a separate series of public meetings, it will result in beach restoration and Pelly Creek daylighting.

P.S. Parks says it’ll post video of last night’s meeting on this page soon – we’ll add that link here when it’s available.

WEST SEATTLE SCENE: Summer’s lowest tide

Thanks for the photos! Today just before noon, the minus-four-feet low tide was the lowest we’ll see this summer. Kathy Olson sent the photo above from Constellation Park south of Alki Point; the photo below is from Lisa Li:

(added) Michelle Green Arnson photographed this Gull-Crow faceoff during the low tide:

And Theresa Arbow-O’Connor was on Duwamish Head during Thursday’s almost-as-low low tide:

Tomorrow’s low tide is -3,7 feet at 12:41 pm, and Seattle Aquarium volunteer beach naturalists will be available 10:45 am-2:45 pm at Constellation and Lincoln Parks. Kathy photographed one of them in action today:

Wherever you explore, tread lightly and mindfully – these extra-low tides reveal near-shore creatures that usually aren’t out of the water. P.S. Next June’s low-low tides will be even lower than this year; -4.3 feet, the chart says.

You asked, so we asked: When will renovated Lincoln Park beach restrooms reopen?

Thanks to those who sent questions and photos (the one above is from Mike Munson) wondering why the renovated Lincoln Park beach restrooms aren’t open yet, though the construction fence is down. The question came up after we reported earlier this week on the pause in work on the new Alki restroom building (same contractor, JEM). Our contact for this project also is Seattle Parks’ Kelly Goold; he says, “Parks crews wanted time to clean up the landscape that was behind the construction fence and get the building ready to open. I believe the goal is to open it up before the holiday weekend.” The work started last fall and was primarily aimed at improving the restroom building’s accessibility.

FOLLOWUP: No new tennis court at Lowman Beach, but SWAC courts will open for public use

(2012 Lowman Beach aerial photo – pre-Murray CSO Project – by Long Bach Nguyen

Last weekend we published the announcement of a third public meeting about what might happen at Lowman Beach Park once the crumbling seawall and neighboring tennis court are removed. The announcement said only that “two concepts” would be discussed. Today Seattle Parks revealed those two concepts are: Pickleball court, or no replacement. But Parks also says more tennis courts in the area will be opened to the public. From the announcement:

Two public meetings have been held and three concepts were reviewed. After reviewing the work from the community and the design team, SPR recommends either adding a pickleball court (and saving the swings) or allowing for no additional change than the beach restoration project. SPR does not support the tennis-court concept.

SPR’s recommendation takes into account the park location, its unique characteristics, proximity to other tennis courts, and future maintenance impacts. In addition, SPR reviewed the images from the public meetings, phone calls, emails, and the extensive community outreach to inform this decision. The decision also supports SPR’s Strategic Plan, as the Healthy Environment section calls out preserving a healthy ocean and marine environment that contribute to the health of the Seattle and Pacific ecosystem and a balance between active and passive recreation.

SPR did hear from the community about the importance of racket courts and has worked out an agreement with Seattle Public Schools to open the six courts at the Southwest Athletic Complex [WSB photo above]. The courts are free for drop-in unless reserved … Information about court reservations can be found here.

(We don’t see the SWAC courts listed there yet; we’ll check with Parks tomorrow.) Back to Lowman Beach – the meeting is online at 6:30 pm next Tuesday (June 29th); register here to participate. If the pickleball concept is pursued, funds have to be raised to build it, as Parks has no funding allocated beyond the beach restoration following the seawall/tennis-court removal.