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FOLLOWUP: 3 months later, abandoned, deteriorating stolen SUV still on West Seattle beach

This afternoon, with orcas passing through our area again, a longrunning hunk of giant beach junk stands out more glaringly than ever.

(First and last photos are from last weekend, sent by Janel)

That stolen-and-abandoned Jeep Compass has been on the rocky beach in the Seola/Arroyos area since mid-April (here’s our first report). By the time of our first followup days later, local, state, and federal authorities had been to the site, and the SUV’s owner had belatedly reported it stolen. The state removed fuel from the tank. But no one, we were told, could figure out how to get it off the beach – it was apparently exactly in the wrong position for various removal options by land or sea.

(This photo and next are from Robin)

We checked back again in mid-May. By that time, area resident Robin was tracking the situation, and trying to figure out who could do something about it. She’s still on the case; she says she’s even talked with the property owner, who was away when this happened and, she says, is frustrated too. But nothing has changed, and as her photos show, the car continues to fall apart, as the water rushes in and rushes back out. Pieces of it are strewn about on the beach.

We thought a marine-focused environmental advocacy group might have a lead on accountability. That inquiry dead-ended. We then turned back to the state, whose Department of Natural Resources has a Marine Debris Removal Program. (We mentioned it five years ago, when state commissioner of public lands Hilary Franz came to visit a crew.) So we tracked down DNR spokesperson Michael Kelly, who asked around and then told us this could be a matter of “jurisdictional issues”:

Some of the problems we run into with vessels may be at play here with this vehicle. DNR only has jurisdiction on State Owned Aquatic Lands (SOAL) and not all tidelands are within SOAL. Cities and counties have jurisdiction where we do not but may lack the ordinances allowing them to remove private property from private property. Another is funding, we can only remove vessel when we have the funding to do so.

The private property owner can get a junk vehicle affidavit filled out by their code enforcement office of their local law enforcement department to get the legal right to remove the vehicle, but it would be at their expense.

However, he had one tip for Robin as a concerned citizen – to file a “large debris” report via the agency’s MyCoast app.

She’s already tried the city’s Find It, Fix It system – which went nowhere because it wasn’t on a public beach – so now she’s trying this too. Robin told us in one exchange, “The car is falling apart and I am sure several things have just washed away into the Sound. They will surface further north of here or some poor creature will be killed or maimed by it. Tragedy on so many levels.”

VIDEO, PHOTOS: 2024 Seafair Pirates Landing at Alki, where festival royalty battles them for King County key

(This photo and next by David Hutchinson)

It was just before 1 pm when cannon fire boomed offshore, announcing the Seafair Pirates‘ annual approach to Alki, where a welcoming party awaited them in honor of their 75th anniversary.

After a pause to assess the situation, the Pirates jumped in to wade their way ashore:

(Video and photos, from here, by WSB’s Patrick Sand, unless otherwise credited)

Once on the sand, the Pirates did more posing than pillaging:

The Pirates and Seafair royalty – Queen Alcyone Ming-Ming Tung-Edelman, King Neptune Chris Cashman, Miss Seafair Karina Hlastala – made their way to the Pirates’ ship-on-wheels Moby Duck, where King County Executive Dow Constantine challenged the royals to stop the pirates from claiming a symbolic key:

Once the pageantry predictably yet spiritedly reached its conclusions, the pirates readied to make their rolling getaway:

(Photo by David Hutchinson)

They have a busy summer schedule ahead, including the West Seattle Grand Parade two weeks from today, on July 20th.

PREVIEW: Seafair Pirates Landing takes over Alki on Saturday afternoon

(WSB photo, July 2023)

If you are planning on going to the beach to stay cool on Saturday afternoon, here’s your reminder that you might find yourself in the middle of a high-seas showdown – tomorrow brings the annual Seafair Pirates Landing, with the “Pirate Kings of the Northwest” approaching from offshore, barging onto the beach, and declaring this summer’s regional party officially under way. Announcements have listed their expected arrival time as both 1 pm and 1:30 pm, so our advice if you don’t want to miss the spectacle is to be there on the earlier side. Once ashore, the Pirates bluster, mingle, showboat, and become the Pirate Kings of Photo Ops – and then climb aboard their shore-going “ship” Moby Duck, rolling away to other stops on their itinerary (which, two weeks later, will include the West Seattle Grand Parade on July 20th. Tomorrow, look for all this toward the west end of the sandy beach, by Alki Bathhouse. (If you haven’t been before, here’s our coverage from last year.)

COUNTDOWN: Five days until Seafair Pirates Landing 2024 at Alki Beach

(WSB photo, July 2023)

After the 4th of July, you have two days to gird yourself for West Seattle’s next big summer event, the Seafair Pirates’ Landing at Alki. They’ll be storming the shore Saturday (July 6), usually near Alki Bathhouse (60th/Alki). Though their arrival is usually preceded by offshore cannon fire, and a whole lot of ferocious-sounding “arrrrr”‘s, once ashore, the Pirates are usually seen gruffly yet cheerily handing out stickers and posing for photos. It’s their 75th anniversary, and they’re expecting to land in the 1 pm-1:30 pm vicinity, according to the official announcement (which you can read in our calendar listing); they’ll be led by their newest Captain Kidd (Jay Albrecht). Once they’ve landed and mingled, they usually sail off on land instead of sea, via their trusty ship-on-wheels Moby Duck, which you’ll also see in the West Seattle Grand Parade two weeks later (Saturday, July 20).

BEACH ALERT: What you need to know about seal-pup season

Warm weather and a summer holiday are on the way. David Hutchinson from Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network offers this reminder:

Harbor seal “pupping season” in our part of Puget Sound runs from June – September. After the pups are born, they spend only 4-6 weeks with their mothers before heading out on their own. Over the next months, beach walkers in West Seattle will very likely come across these vulnerable young seal pups on both our public and private beaches. These marine mammals are protected by federal law. If you come across a seal pup (or any marine mammal) using the beach, please keep back, keep people and pets away, and call the Seal Sitters’ Hotline at 206-905-7325.

The telephoto image in the poster is of “Loki,” a harbor seal pup that was rescued from Constellation Park by Seal Sitters and successfully rehabbed by our partner SR3 at their facility in Des Moines. Loki was eventually released back into Puget Sound.

Seal Sitters is part of NOAA’s West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network. We are authorized to respond to all marine mammals, alive or dead, that end up on West Seattle Beaches. The official NOAA stranding map, which shows the coverage areas and the contact information for the various groups, is viewable at this link – then look under “Network Maps”).

Public Health cracks down on unlicensed Alki Beach vendors

Public Health – Seattle & King County announced this morning that it shut down seven unlicensed food vendors at Alki Beach last night for “operating without a valid permit.” They list the vendors in question as:

Botanas Lokas
Tacos El Amigo
Unpermitted chicharron vendor
Tacos Seattle & Hot Dogs
El Corre Caminos

Besides health, other permits are required for food vendors, as listed here. Meantime, you can check Public Health’s list of current food-establishment closures any time by going here.

‘Avoid the charcoal’: Fire damage at Lowman Beach Park

(WSB photos)

“Somebody set fire to the forts,” a little girl informed us as we photographed the blackened driftwood on the shore at Lowman Beach Park. We went there after multiple tips about fires there this morning; those aren’t allowed anywhere at this park.

The SFD log shows two calls, one at about 4:50 am, one at about 7:50 am, both categorized as “brush fire” although we didn’t see any sign of burned vegetation (SFD’s automated log has a limited number of classifications). We did see extensive driftwood damage; impossible to tell if any was from prior dates. The little girl’s mom warned her to “avoid the charcoal – the burned part.” Lowman Beach’s north side was restored to a more natural state in a project completed two years ago.

SCHOOL’S OUT: Gatewood Elementary takes the plunge

This was the last day of the school year for pretty much everyone who wasn’t already out of school. That included Seattle Public Schools students – and some had special afterschool celebrations, including Gatewood Elementary‘s traditional plunge at Alki Beach. Thanks to the parent volunteer who sent the pic!

WEST SEATTLE SCENE: Low-low tide at Lincoln Park

Thanks for the photos! Lincoln Park is one of the places to which beachgoers flocked during the low-low tide today, second of four days with the tide out to at least -3 eet. The photo above is from Tom Trulin; the photos below are from a texter who was out on a field trip with Gatewood Elementary students. While Seattle Aquarium volunteer beach naturalists were there, the school group encountered someone else:

Our class ran into the WLRD Science team from King County DNRP [Department of Natural Resources and Parks], who showed us lots of the animals they found while doing toxicology monitoring! Great bonus learning for our field trip.

The lowest point of tomorrow’s low-low tide (Friday, June 7) will be at 12:02 pm, -3.3 feet (here’s the tide table).

UPDATE: Before truly summery weather, extra cleanup/maintenance for Alki Beach Park

ORIGINAL WEDNESDAY REPORT: Thanks to Alki Community Council president Charlotte Starck for the tip. Extra city workers were at Alki Beach Park this morning for a “multi-district cleanup.” When we went over to find out what that entailed, a Parks worker told us it was over, explaining that they had focused on work such as tidying up the flower beds near the bathhouse and painting the restroom building further east:

The worker told us a new mural is planned for that building. We’ve had an inquiry out to Parks HQ asking for more details on what was done today (we’ll update whenever we hear back); the beach no doubt will be busy this weekend, with temperatures forecast to approach 80.

P.S. The Alki Community Council hopes to see you for its Summer Celebration at Alki Playfield, 5-8 pm Thursday, June 20 – our calendar listing has entertainment and other details for this free event.

ADDED THURSDAY: Here’s the response we received from Parks spokesperson Christina Hirsch:

These events are called “jamborees”, and they are cooperative projects amongst our district staff who work on larger scale projects rotating throughout the districts as the need arises. At the peak of this project, there were approximately 25 parks maintenance staff from 3 districts. This event included mowing, planting, chip spreading, and other grounds and maintenance activities. The teams were there for approximately 3 hours completing these tasks.

BEACH TIME! Low-low tides on West Seattle shores for next four days

(Photo by Lynn Hall – low tide last month near Anchor/Luna Park)

Beach alert! The next series of low-low tides starts tomorrow, and they’re even lower than last time – four consecutive days of low tides at least -3.0 feet:

Wednesday -3.0 at 10:40 am
Thursday -3.4 at 11:21 am
Friday -3.3 at 12:02 pm
Saturday -3.0 at 12:45 pm

Seattle Aquarium beach naturalists will be at Constellation and Lincoln Parks all four days (and Sunday) – see their schedule/locations here. And whether you’re out there with an expert or by yourself, please tread lightly!

UTILITIES: SW 98th street-end parklet to close for up to 10 months during pump-station project

That’s the area where Seattle Public Utilities plans to start work this summer on a pump-station upgrade at the waterfront end of SW 98th [map] that’ll expand the street-end parklet at the site. SPU sent an update about this because they now say the “parklet” will be closed to public use for up to 10 months during the work, which is recapped as follows:

During an evaluation of SPU’s pump stations, we identified that Pump Station 71 needs substantial upgrades to improve worker safety and to keep the system working at its full capacity. SPU is proactively making improvements to this critical sewer infrastructure to ensure we continue providing reliable sewer service to you and your neighbors. As part of this effort, we’ll be making some improvements to the shoreline street end, including removing the guardrail and extending the useable street end 20+ feet to the east, replacing the current bench as well as creating a pad for wheelchair access, and installing beach logs, native plants, and new trees to enhance the natural area in the street end:

This work will be done in the public right-of-way at the western end of SW 98th St. … Most of the work will take place in the pump station, with surface work and construction staging in the street surrounding the pump station.

Some preliminary electrical work will be taking place in early July. Full construction mobilization is expected to begin as early as late August 2024. Once it begins, work is estimated to take about 7-10 months to complete.

This project has been years in the making and is running behind the previously announced schedule; we published this update two years ago, at which time the work was expected to be done in 2023, lasting up to six months. A 2022 project communication included this rendering:

PHOTOS: 4 low-low tide views of wildlife on West Seattle’s shore

Thanks to Rosalie Miller for the wildlife photos from Constellation Park, during the last in this round of low-low tides. Above, a Painted Anemone; below, a Lewis’s Moon Snail:

Here’s an Ochre Sea Star:

And a Chiton:

Next round of low-low tides will get even lower, with four days of -3.0 (or further) low tides, June 5-8. (Seattle Aquarium volunteer beach naturalists will be at Constellation and Lincoln Parks for all of those days.)

Earlier Alki Beach closing time – and fire-ring season – to return starting Friday

(WSB file photo)

Once again calling it “a pilot,” Seattle Parks has just confirmed it’ll close Alki Beach (and Golden Gardens) nightly at 10:30 pm starting Friday (as the Alki Community Council had been told) and this year continuing for a few weeks beyond Labor Day. Beach-fire season will start Friday, too, with a later nightly end time. Here’s the announcement just sent by Parks (with a link you can use for feedback):

Seattle Parks and Recreation will enact a pilot shortening the hours at Golden Gardens and Alki Beach during the 2024 summer months from 4 A.M.-10:30 P.M. from May 24-September 22. And a return to 4 A.M. – 11:30 P.M after September 22.

The shortened hours will assist in addressing dangerous and/or illegal behavior typical of summer evening uses at these two parks in response to public input and nearby community complaints.

This program is a pilot and will be reviewed at a Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners meeting after the summer to help determine the best operating hours for the public. This review will be informed by public comments from the questionnaire below, public comment given at the Board meeting, and data collected throughout the pilot period.

During the Summer 2024 Season, Seattle Parks and Recreation staff, assisted by Seattle Police Department staff, will begin closing down these two beach locations starting at 10:00 P.M.

Public input can be provided here.

Additionally, designated fire pits will be available for beach fires this summer beginning Friday, May 24, 2024.

Beach Fire and Park Rules

Starting Friday, May 24, 2024, designated fire pits will be available for beach fires at Alki Beach and Golden Gardens seven days a week on a first come, first served basis. Bringing your own fire pit is not allowed, and no propane fire pits/rings are allowed.

-Fires must be extinguished by 10 p.m.
-Fires allowed 7 days a week starting Friday, May 24 through Sunday, September 22.
-Staff will be on-site to manage and assist with putting out fires at 10 p.m.
-Parking lot gates will be locked and the park will close at 10:30 p.m. for summer hours.
-Please only burn clean (natural, bare, dry cord-wood) wood and douse your fire completely before leaving.
-Light a fire ONLY in one of the installed fire containers
-Use only clean, dry firewood
-Please douse your fire with water, not sand
-Fires are not allowed during air pollution alerts; we will post sign
-Please don’t remove any materials from the park, beach or dunes
-Please dispose of trash and ashes in the containers provided for each. (SMC 18.12.260)
=Be considerate of others–please, no loud or amplified music! (SMC 18.12.170)

Remember, no alcohol or smoking are allowed, and parks are drug-free zones. Beach fire rules are outlined in detail in the Seattle Municipal Code section 18.12.270 and in our Beach Fires Policy.

If you see an illegal fire, call 911. For current burn ban and air quality questions, contact Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.

Fire pits at Golden Gardens and Alki are unlocked between 4-5 p.m. starting May 24. Please extinguish all beach fires (using water, not sand) by 10 p.m. in order to ensure that all fires are completely extinguished in ample time before the park’s closure.

The fires-out time is half an hour later than last year, and the end dates are later too; last year, the early closing time and beach fires all ended right after Labor Day.

New summer celebration, beach concerns, CARE’s chief @ Alki Community Council

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Even with one marquee guest (City Attorney Ann Davison) canceling, last night’s Alki Community Council meeting was information-laden.

One headline: The ACC is organizing its first community celebration, with the help of a city grant. Set your calendar for 5-8 pm Thursday, June 20, when music, food, and fun will fill Alki Playfield. ACC vice president Lindsay Pearsall is organizing the event: “The idea is to bring the whole community together … to find opportunities to connect and celebrate.” It’ll also synergize with the quest for public feedback on plans for the playground between the past-and-future Alki Elementary site and the playfield. This will replace the ACC’s usual third-Thursday meeting.

Another headline: Parks still hasn’t formally announced the closing times for Alki beach-fire rings and the rest of the beach park, though ACC president Charlotte Starck received an email from Parks official Markeith Blackshire a week ago saying the superintendent had decided to keep the closure at 10:30 pm, same as the past few years, and same as what Parks said during last November’s meeting covering a variety of West Seattle topics. But this was all before the early-Wednesday gunfire on both ends of the greater Alki area – Beach Drive and Harbor Avenue – so things could change.

With summer-like weather bringing crowds last weekend, the beach park was a major topic. Pearsall said she had seen two newly graduated Park Rangers at the beach over the weekend; Starck said she had noticed more police presence.

Read More

FOLLOWUP: Almost a month later, SUV still on West Seattle beach

It’s been almost a month since somebody drove that Jeep Compass onto the rocky beach between Seola and The Arroyos. (Here’s our original report; police later told us the vehicle’s owner belatedly reported it stolen.) While other vehicle-in-water cases have resulted in relatively rapid removal, this one is still there. Area resident Robin, awho sent the photos above and below, has been tracking the situation, and campaigning to get something done about it.

Most recently, Robin filed an illegal-dumping report via Find It Fix It. Seattle Public Utilities, which runs the illegal-dumping program, referred it to Seattle Parks. But Parks closed the ticket, telling Robin in a follow-up call that it’s not on Parks property. Meantime, it’s not just beached, it’s in and out of the water as the tide fluctuates:

That photo is from Tim, who was startled to see the semi-submerged SUV while out paddling last Saturday. The question remains, who’s ultimately accountable for getting it off the beach? In our most-recent round of inquiries more than a week ago, the state Ecology Department – which had responded to the scene early on, to remove fuel from the vehicle – said it was a “police matter” and that local law enforcement needed to work with the beach owners. After that, we asked SPD where it stood, and they repeated what had been mentioned before – tow trucks couldn’t get close enough to remove it: “There have been discussions with the Department of Ecology, U.S. Coast Guard and others, but it remains in the water for now.”

That it does.

WEST SEATTLE SCENE: Daytime low-low tides arrive

May 8, 2024 12:30 pm
|    Comments Off on WEST SEATTLE SCENE: Daytime low-low tides arrive
 |   West Seattle beaches | West Seattle news

One of the best places for a low-low tide view, if you’re not going down to walk on the beach, is Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook (4500 block of Beach Drive SW). Above, the view a short time ago, looking north, and below, what we saw looking south:

As noted in our daily preview list, the tide bottomed out at -2.8 feet at 11:43 am today; the next two days (here’s the chart), it’s even lower, -3.2 feet at 12:24 pm tomorrow (Thursday, May 9), -3.0 feet. These are the lowest low tides of the month, but there’ll be some decent ones Memorial Day weekend too – that’s also when the Seattle Aquarium volunteer beach naturalists will make their seasonal debut, with two West Seattle locations (see the schedule and sites here).

No, the orange-red water along Lincoln Park’s shore isn’t a spill. Looks like noctiluca’s back

Thanks to Ellen P. for the photo from Lincoln Park’s north shore. If you’ve never seen, nor heard about, that before, it’s a startling sight – orange-red water along the beach. But it’s not a spill. Just about every year in mid-to-late spring, an algae bloom called noctiluca shows up. Pending official verification (we have a inquiry out), that’s almost certainly what this is. The state Ecology Department says it’s not toxic but it can be irritating, so don’t go wading in it! (This is a bit earlier than our first mentions in many previous years – last year, it was late May.)

FOLLOWUP: Somebody drove it in. But nobody knows how to get it out.

(Friday photo, sent by Craig)

Back on Friday night, we reported on that Jeep Compass that turned up on a rocky stretch of shore in southwesternmost West Seattle, between the dead-ends of Seola Lane and Arroyo Beach Place [map]. Last night, via an update from tipster Craig, we learned it’s still there. We asked Seattle Police why. Thanks to Officer Brian Pritchard for giving us an update via reports that tell a tangled tale. In short, Seattle Police, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Department of Ecology have all been to the site, and private salvagers have been consulted, but no one has been able to figure out how to get the vehicle out, via land or sea, either towing it out, pulling it out, or even floating it out. So far, the only major action taken is that Ecology removed the fuel that was in the SUV’s gas tank.

(Monday photo, sent by Craig)

So what about the person who owns it? Apparently that’s not the person who showed up on a nearby resident’s doorstep asking for a ride early Friday. Police say they’ve spoken to the resident and they weren’t aware the vehicle was on the beach at the time. The vehicle wasn’t reported stolen, Officer Pritchard just told us, until a short time ago, when its owner contacted police to tell them her vehicle had been taken while she was visiting friends last Thursday in North Seattle. So it might be her responsibility – or her insurer – to figure out how to get it off the beach. We’ll continue following up.

What’s the beach plan for this summer? Alki Community Council convenes city reps to discuss what they’ll do

(WSB photo: SPD mobile precinct at Alki Beach Friday afternoon)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

At Thursday night’s Alki Community Council meeting, focused on city agencies’ plans for safety and cleanliness at the beach this summer, one attendee observed that past “pilots” for early closing times followed shootings.

“Maybe we can do this in advance of a shooting this year,” she said, with hope.

Maybe – but the closing-time decision has not yet been finalized, according to Katie Howard, one of the parks officials in attendance. Howard said the department is “still working out the details” and hopes they’ll have something to announce “within the next couple weeks … nothing is off the table right now.”

The meeting explored what’s planned for Alki Beach Park this spring/summer from several agencies’ perspective. One repeatedly mentioned theme: The city’s projected budget gap, and how that might affect staffing and services this summer; Howard said that will factor into the closing-time decision.

One new element: Seattle Park Rangers, with two representatives at the meeting.

Last year, the city had two rangers, and they were restricted to working at downtown parks. This year, they’ll have about 30 – though half of them are still at the academy until next month, at which time they’ll “go right into field training.”

Read More

UPDATE: Police investigate another SUV abandoned on West Seattle beach

5:54 PM FRIDAY: Thanks to Craig for the photo. Police responded to West Seattle’s southwesternmost shore this afternoon – between Seola Beach and The Arroyos – to try to sort out how that Jeep Compass ended up in the water. First they had to be sure nobody was in the water. Dispatch checked the logs, and consulted the King County Sheriff’s Office, since this is close to the city-limit line, and found out a few things.

KCSO had a report of a hit-run around midnight involving a vehicle matching this description, near 30th/106th. And someone in the area reported giving the vehicle’s driver a ride to a bus stop around 1 am. What explanation they gave, we don’t know. Police who were back at the scene around 4 pm said they couldn’t access the vehicle because of the tide, which is going back out now.

P.S. Last reported case of SUV-on-the-beach was four weeks ago at Lincoln Park.

ADDED NOON SATURDAY: Thanks to the texter who sent this photo, saying it’s still there as of this morning:

It’s not visible from the public ends of either Arroyo Beach Drive or Seola Beach Drive – we tried looking Friday evening – so don’t bother trying to gawk.

Park Rangers are coming to Alki Beach. Meet them and hear about other summer plans @ Alki Community Council on Thursday

Summer is approaching and it’s time to find out what the plans are for keeping people safe at Alki Beach as the weather warms and crowds grow. The new leadership of the Alki Community Council is laser-focused on getting answers, and this Thursday is the night to join them – in person or online – to see what they’re finding out, and ask your own questions. For one – now that city Park Rangers are able to work outside downtown, they’ll be coming to Alki, and some will be at the ACC meeting to talk with community members. Another key guest, according to ACC president Charlotte Starck, will be Seattle Parks’ director of security Markeith Blackshire, with updates including beach hours this summer – will the earlier closings resume? Other beach-related issues the ACC is tackling include how city budget woes will (or won’t) affect park maintenance. Beyond the beach, plans for Whale Tail Park and the Alki Elementary play area are on the agenda too. And Southwest Precinct police will be there. All this in less than an hour and a half, if you can invest just a bit of time in your community. 7 pm is the start time at Alki UCC (6115 SW Hinds) or online (here’s the link).

WEST SEATTLE SCENES: In the sky, on the beach

Thanks for the photos!

Ann Adachi‘s image of the pre-sunset rainbow is the most vivid one we received. … Earlier in the day, before those glimpses of blue sky, clouds presided over a low-low tide:

Thanks to Lynn Hall for that view over Duwamish Head. Tomorrow’s low-low tide will be out to -2.0 feet, almost as low as today, at 2:19 pm. If you can’t get out to beachwalk until Saturday, it’ll be -1.4 feet at 3:07 pm. And all this is just a warmup for next month’s low-low tides – including -3.2 feet at 12:24 pm on May 9.