West Seattle Blog… https://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Fri, 22 Feb 2019 02:08:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.9 HAPPENING NOW: Last major hearing on HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning https://westseattleblog.com/2019/02/happening-now-last-major-hearing-on-hala-mandatory-housing-affordability-upzoning/ https://westseattleblog.com/2019/02/happening-now-last-major-hearing-on-hala-mandatory-housing-affordability-upzoning/#respond Fri, 22 Feb 2019 01:40:05 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=942108

5:38 PM: Click into that stream and you’ll be watching the event we’re at City Hall to cover – the City Council’s last big public hearing before its vote next month on HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning. (You can follow along with the agenda, and its relevant materials, here.) It’s been eight months since the council’s hearing in West Seattle; this one is for the entire city, and the chambers are full – with five of the 9 councilmembers here (Lorena González is chairing in the absence of vacationing committee chair Rob Johnson; also here are Lisa Herbold, Debora Juarez, Teresa Mosqueda, Kshama Sawant). We’ll be chronicling highlights as they happen.

First to speak is a representative from the SEIU. “Middle- and low-income workers will continue to be priced out of the city” if there’s not more housing stock, she says, expressing support for HALA MHA.

Second is also a HALA MHA supporter who says the process has taken too long. “Working families are struggling,” she says. “… More people need housing, and this is the chance to mitigate that need.”

Third and fourth are two members of 350 Seattle’s “housing team.” They say “housing is a climate issue” and express relief that “MHA is so close to the finish line.” They express opposition to some proposed amendments including the ones that would reduce the level of upzoning in some areas (including part of West Seattle).

Fifth is another MHA supporter who says, “We’ve been working on getting to the Grand Bargain [with developers] since the Nickels administration.” (That former mayor left office in 2009.)

Sixth, a representative of the city Planning Commission, in favor of MHA, who says they’re excited about its potential to “distribute more development capacity” to neighborhoods that could use it.

Seventh, the first opponent to speak, who says “tech bros” who are “strip-mining the city” and “venture capitalists” among others will continue to “pour in” and redevelop the city. She says that she and her husband feel they are being “pushed out of Seattle” so it’s “time to leave.” She draws a smattering of boos.

Eighth, an opponent who calls MHA “fundamentally flawed.” She also says she supports Councilmember Herbold’s anti-displacement proposal (announced yesterday). She wants to see neighborhood planning restored.

6 PM: Ninth, a speaker who says that MHA will lead to more displacement. So she wants the 23rd/Jackson urban village to not be upzoned. She specifically appeals to CM Sawant, saying her district, 3, has had “sacrificial lambs” already displaced. She draws strong applause (we should note that the pro-MHA speakers had drawn some applause too).

Tenth, a man who says that the City Council shouldn’t be voting on March 18th because the city had published a notice saying the comment period is open until March 29th. He also mentions something that former Mayor Ed Murray had said regarding MHA having to be inclusionary, but, the speaker says, it’s exclusionary.

Eleventh, representatives of a preservation group on Beacon Hill. (We should also note, a sixth councilmember is now here, Sally Bagshaw.) They are advocating specifically for that focus.

Twelfth, a woman who says “there is no livability or affordability in HALA.” She says MHA would provide “pseudo-crumbs” of affordable housing, and calls the “last-minute amendments” just bones thrown to constituents by councilmembers who want to be re-elected. She says it’s “false” to claim that “we can build our way out of” the housing crisis.

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Southwest Seattle Historical Society to meet with new owners of ‘stone house’ in hopes of moving it https://westseattleblog.com/2019/02/southwest-seattle-historical-society-to-meet-with-new-owners-of-stone-house-in-hopes-of-moving-it/ https://westseattleblog.com/2019/02/southwest-seattle-historical-society-to-meet-with-new-owners-of-stone-house-in-hopes-of-moving-it/#comments Thu, 21 Feb 2019 23:55:24 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=942085 (WSB photos)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Will the stone house join the Log House (Museum) under the Southwest Seattle Historical Society‘s wing?

SWSHS leaders tell WSB they are grateful that the new owners of the well-known little stone-covered house at 1123 Harbor Avenue SW have agreed to meet with them. They aren’t seeking to get in the way of whatever the new owners – who just bought the site and two adjacent lots last week – have planned. They just want to obtain the house itself and move it someplace new, potentially to use as an interpretive center.

We talked this afternoon outside the 90-year-old house with SWSHS president Kathy Blackwell and longtime local preservationist John Bennett.

They shared the letter they sent to the new owners, who, they say, subsequently agreed to a meeting next Monday.

You might not be aware of all the backstory behind the little stone-studded house across from Don Armeni Boat Ramp. To catch up, see this Seattle Post-Intelligencer story from 2002. Even then, the owner of the house – a member of the family who built it with scavenged materials – was in her 70s and told the newspaper that developers had been making them offers for at least 15 years.

SWSHS had talked to the family in the past, too, as the 2002 story alludes to. Bennett says the family had expressed interest in donating the little stone house if they ever sold the property, but nothing was in writing. So now they’re looking forward to talking with the new owners, Chainqui Development, whose expressed values indicate this should be in perfect alignment. No development proposal is on file yet for the site – which also includes the two parcels immediately west – but the new owners have obtained a permit for exterior work on the stone house, including its windows, some of which are already boarded up:

Where the house would be moved, SWSHS hasn’t determined yet, but the sale of the site has them determined to obtain it first, settle on a site later. Wherever it winds up, the goal would be for it to be accessible to the public. (This wouldn’t be the first little house moved by SWSHS and restored – its headquarters at 61st/Stevens, the Log House Museum, was originally the carriage house for the Alki Homestead a short distance north.)

“We have a real opportunity here to preserve part of the special story of West Seattle,” says Blackwell – the story of its mostly-gone beach cottages, via what’s unquestionably the most distinctive of those that remain.

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THINK SUMMER: Application time for prospective vendors, activities at Alki, Lincoln Park https://westseattleblog.com/2019/02/think-summer-application-time-for-prospective-vendors-activities-at-alki-lincoln-park/ https://westseattleblog.com/2019/02/think-summer-application-time-for-prospective-vendors-activities-at-alki-lincoln-park/#respond Thu, 21 Feb 2019 22:45:43 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=942082

That photo provided by Seattle Parks shows one of the vendors that’s had a concession contract at Alki Beach Park in past summers. If you’re interested in vending – or providing an activity (fitness, for example), there or at Lincoln Park (among other possible spots at parks around the city), it’s time to apply. Here’s the announcement we received:

Seattle Parks and Recreation is seeking proposals for seasonal partners to operate food service, recreational activities and group concessions in various park locations throughout Seattle. Locations vary with sites appropriate for carts, food trucks or self-contained service business. Seasonal concessions enhance and activate parks by aligning with SPR’s values “healthy people, healthy environment, strong communities”. Proposals are due by March 8th.

Past seasonal concessions in West Seattle include food sales at Alki Beach Park and Lincoln Park and SUP/Kayak vending at Alki Beach.

SPR is also accepting ongoing applications for Activity groups who operate in the parks (fitness boot camps, outdoor nature classes, yoga).

Commercial activity in the park requires a permit and all businesses submit insurance, City of Seattle business license and undergo staff background checks. More information and permitting requirements are found at: seattle.gov/parks/seasonalconcessions . We look forward to hearing from potential vendors!

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PHOTOS: State crew out on West Seattle beaches, cleaning up dangerous ‘driftwood,’ wishing they could do more https://westseattleblog.com/2019/02/photos-state-crew-out-on-west-seattle-beaches-cleaning-up-dangerous-driftwood-wishing-they-could-do-more/ https://westseattleblog.com/2019/02/photos-state-crew-out-on-west-seattle-beaches-cleaning-up-dangerous-driftwood-wishing-they-could-do-more/#comments Thu, 21 Feb 2019 20:24:04 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=942058 (WSB photos by Patrick Sand)

A crew working for the state Department of Natural Resources is back out on West Seattle beaches this week, cleaning up creosote – a toxic threat you might not even recognize as you walk along beaches strewn with old pilings containing literally tons of the substance long used as a wood preservative.

We were invited to photograph a cleanup site just north of the Fauntleroy ferry dock on Wednesday when state Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz was visiting the crew. While the beachfront property there is privately owned, part of the tidelands belong to the state, which obtained access agreements with dozens of property owners to facilitate this part of the cleanup.

Crew members are cutting up creosote-contaminated wood and loading it on board this vessel:

From there it’s taken across Puget Sound to Manchester in Kitsap County, and transported from there to a landfill. Before our visit, they had already removed 20 tons of contaminated wood – DNR’s aquatics restoration manager Christopher Robertson explained that every linear foot of a log like this could contain a gallon of liquid creosote, which he described as “very nasty stuff.”

You’ve heard that toxins in the water is one of the biggest threats to Puget Sound orcas. That makes this removal a boon to them, as well as to the salmon they need to survive. Part of Commissioner Franz’s reason for visiting is to highlight her budget request for the coming year, to better fund this and other projects vital to protecting the state’s environment.

Franz would like to double the amount of creosote that the state can remove. Right now, this project only has access to one six-person crew, two weeks a month; ideally, Robertson and fellow aquatics restoration manager Monica Shoemaker told us, they could keep half a dozen crews and a fleet of boats busy.

By the way, while on the beach, we learned about a new app that you can use to help if you spot debris on the beach – like this damaged float that had appeared sometime within the previous day:

It’s a threat to marine wildlife and birds because it contains styrofoam that looks to them like yummy fish eggs:

You can report something like this via the MyCoast app, in which our state is a participant – find out about it here. Besides “large marine debris,” derelict vessels are another category of reporting for which you can use MyCoast. Back to the creosote removal:

This isn’t new – the state’s been doing it for more than a decade. But unfortunately it’s the kind of work that has to be repeated – there’s so much creosote out there, any beach is vulnerable to something more washing up. Fauntleroy is just one of many beaches where the state is doing this work.

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VIDEO: King County Parks Levy announcement at Steve Cox Memorial Park https://westseattleblog.com/2019/02/happening-now-king-county-parks-levy-announcement-at-steve-cox-memorial-park/ https://westseattleblog.com/2019/02/happening-now-king-county-parks-levy-announcement-at-steve-cox-memorial-park/#comments Thu, 21 Feb 2019 18:07:36 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=942048

10:07 AM: This August, you’ll be asked to approve a six-year replacement for the expiring King County Parks Levy. County Executive Dow Constantine is officially announcing it at an event under way right now at Steve Cox Memorial Park in White Center; we’re there and will add video and event details later. Here, for starters, is the news release:

Executive Dow Constantine today announced his proposal to renew the current King County Parks Levy, scheduled to expire at the end of the year. His proposal for the August ballot would generate an estimated $738 million over the next six years to expand and connect regional trails, improve access to green space and recreation, and keep the county’s parks and trails clean, safe, and open.

The current King County Parks levy – which voters approved in 2013 – will expire Dec. 31. On Feb. 21, Executive Constantine sent to the King County Council a proposal that will expand and improve access to the county’s 200 parks, 175 miles of regional trails, and 28,000 acres of open space.

“This proposal isn’t just about access to parks and recreation – although that is plenty. It is about a generational investment in our environment,” said Executive Constantine. “The levy is entirely consistent with my priorities to restore and protect our rivers, forests, and farms, while also doing our part to tackle climate pollution. Voters have approved the Parks Levy three times since 2003. No matter how much things grow and change around here, our values stay the same, guiding us to support investments that make stronger, healthier, and happier communities.”

Highlights of Executive Constantine’s plan include:

Building and designing regional trails, including missing links and crossings over rivers and highways
Improving trailheads by adding parking and signage
Repairing trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding
Replacing 11 ballfields
Rehabilitating play area equipment in six parks
Maintaining park infrastructure, such as pathways, roofs, fencing, and electrical systems
The levy would cost 16.82 cents per $1000 of assessed property value, which would cost the owner of a home valued at $500,000 about $7 per month.

About 80 percent of King County Parks’ operational budget is funded by levy.

Under Executive Constantine’s proposal, about $60 million would be allocated to King County cities to support local parks and recreation; an additional $35 million would go for grants to cities to protect and acquire open space. It would provide Woodland Park Zoo with $36 million for conservation and environmental education programs for under-served youth. It would also provide $8 million to the Seattle Aquarium for construction of their new Ocean Pavilion.

Executive Constantine’s proposal would also provide continued funding for the Community Partnerships and Grants Program, which, over its 15-year existence, has created dozens of public amenities across King County with partners that contribute the necessary additional capital, in-kind resources, and volunteer time to develop new or enhanced facilities.

About $1 million per year would go toward equity-focused grants to increase access to and use of recreation facilities in communities that are currently underserved or face other barriers. …

The news release continues here. The levy would generate almost twice the $396 million the expiring levy was expected to bring in.

11:11 AM: The half-hour event (clips added above) also included this area’s County Councilmember Joe McDermott as well as other speakers including King County’s Department of Natural Resources and Parks director Christie True. While no White Center/West Seattle-specific projects were mentioned, it was noted that the current levy funded improvements at Steve Cox Park including the field that served as the event’s backdrop.

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8 for your West Seattle (and beyond) Thursday https://westseattleblog.com/2019/02/8-for-your-west-seattle-and-beyond-thursday/ https://westseattleblog.com/2019/02/8-for-your-west-seattle-and-beyond-thursday/#comments Thu, 21 Feb 2019 17:09:14 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=942031 (Another “snowbird” – this time a robin photographed by Susan Romanenghi)

Highlights for the rest of today/tonight:

KING COUNTY PARKS LEVY: County Executive Dow Constantine and County Councilmembers will be at Steve Cox Memorial Park in White Center at 10 am to announce the countywide replacement levy plan they’ll be sending to voters. (1321 SW 102nd)

PREPAREDNESS WORKSHOP: 2 pm at Quail Park Memory Care Residences of West Seattle (WSB sponsor), preparedness expert Dave Nichols leads a free workshop. (4515 41st SW)

HALA HEARING: 5:30 pm at City Hall downtown, it’s the last major public hearing before the City Council‘s scheduled vote next month on HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning for much of the city. (600 4th Avenue)

9201 DELRIDGE DESIGN REVIEW: 6:30 pm at the Senior Center/Sisson Building, the Southwest Design Review Board considers the “mini-warehouse” proposed for 9201 Delridge Way SW. See the design packet here. Meeting includes a public-comment period. (4217 SW Oregon)

WEST SEATTLE TIMEBANK: Also at the Senior Center/Sisson Building at 6:30 pm, you’re invited to learn about timebanking. Bring a potluck dish if you want – not required. (4217 SW Oregon)

ALKI COMMUNITY COUNCIL: 7 pm at Alki UCC, all welcome at the monthly meeting. (6115 SW Hinds)

LORD SHAMBLETON AND SWINGSET: Live music, 7 pm at The Skylark. $8 cover. 21+. (3803 Delridge Way SW)

KO ELECTRIC: Live music with Kate Olsen and friends at Parliament Tavern, 9 pm, no cover, 21+. (4210 SW Admiral Way)

MORE … on our complete calendar!

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TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Thursday watch; new 99 exit ramp’s third morning https://westseattleblog.com/2019/02/traffic-transit-today-thursday-watch-new-99-exit-ramps-third-morning/ https://westseattleblog.com/2019/02/traffic-transit-today-thursday-watch-new-99-exit-ramps-third-morning/#comments Thu, 21 Feb 2019 14:27:25 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=942028

(SDOT MAP with travel times/ Is the ‘low bridge’ closed? LOOK HERE/ West Seattle-relevant traffic cams HERE)

6:27 AM: Good morning! No alerts or incidents reported in our area so far.

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DEVELOPMENT: 4 project notes from around West Seattle https://westseattleblog.com/2019/02/development-4-project-notes-from-around-west-seattle/ https://westseattleblog.com/2019/02/development-4-project-notes-from-around-west-seattle/#respond Thu, 21 Feb 2019 06:52:56 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=942015 Four project notes:

EARLY DESIGN OUTREACH FOR PROJECT @ EX-CHARMANN APARTMENTS: As we first reported last year, townhouses are proposed for the site of the former Charmann Apartmentsdemolished last October – at 5917 California SW. The 9-townhouse project is now in the city’s Early Design Outreach process, and a drop-in discussion is set for 2 pm Saturday, March 9th, at High Point Library (3411 SW Raymond). You can also comment by going here.

COMMENT TIME FOR 9037 35TH SW: We’ve also reported previously on a microapartments-and-retail mixed-use project to replace a house and small commercial building at 9037 35th SW – four stories, 26 small-efficiency dwelling units, 6 offstreet-parking spaces, plus retail. The permit application is now open for comments through March 4th; the notice is linked in the city’s newest Land Use Information Bulletin.

COMMENT TIME FOR 4 ALKI HOUSES: A land-use-permit application is in for a plan at 2530 55th SW, four 4-story houses with 4 offstreet-parking spaces on the sloped site above, which you might recall as the site of a slide back in 2013. Comments on the application are being accepted through February 27th.

ROWHOUSES INSTEAD OF APARTMENTS IN NORTH ADMIRAL: Three years after a 16-unit apartment building won Design Review approval for 1606 California SW, a different project is proposed. City files show 8 rowhouse units are now proposed to replace a fourplex and house at the site.

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On eve of HALA MHA hearing, Councilmember Herbold proposes ‘anti-displacement ordinance’ https://westseattleblog.com/2019/02/on-eve-of-hala-mha-hearing-councilmember-herbold-proposes-anti-displacement-ordinance/ https://westseattleblog.com/2019/02/on-eve-of-hala-mha-hearing-councilmember-herbold-proposes-anti-displacement-ordinance/#comments Thu, 21 Feb 2019 04:25:59 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=942009 “If you take away affordable housing, you have to replace it.” That’s how one community member at tonight’s Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting summarized their take on the goal of proposed city legislation announced earlier in the day by West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who wants to bundle it with consideration of HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability, the subject of a council public hearing tomorrow night. Here’s the announcement sent by Herbold’s office:

Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle, South Park) will introduce an anti-displacement ordinance that would authorize additional displacement mitigations for housing projects located in South Park, Rainier Beach, Othello, Bitter Lake, and Westwood-Highland Park. These neighborhoods have been identified as having a high risk of displacement and low access to opportunity, according to Growth and Equity: Analyzing Impacts on Displacement and Opportunity Related to Seattle’s Growth Strategy, in the Comprehensive Plan Seattle 2035, an analysis conducted by the Office of Planning and Community Development.

“I appreciate Mayor Durkan’s efforts to address the displacement impacts of development by proposing to introduce legislation that the Council requested in 2017 by Resolution 31754. As described in the March 2018 status report to the Council, a community preferences policy will be useful for our non-profit developers. Nevertheless, we also desperately need a tool to address the displacement that occurs when for-profit developers build. Displacement is a challenging issue and we need many tools to address it,” said Herbold.

Councilmember Herbold will this week send the proposed bill to the Council’s Introduction and Referral Calendar. Councilmember Herbold has requested that the Council hear this bill concurrently with the MHA Citywide legislation.

“This ordinance would use authority granted under the State Environmental Protection Act (SEPA) to create a requirement for developers to mitigate the impacts resulting from the loss of affordable housing in those areas of the city that, if we didn’t do so, the result would be a failure to fulfill our obligation to ‘affirmatively promote fair housing’ — in other words, in areas where disproportionate displacement of communities of color and other protected classes is likely to occur,” Herbold said. (See upper left-hand corner of this image.)

MHA Framework legislation, passed in 2016, Section 2.A.2.a, stated: The Council intends to consider whether to include higher performance and payment amounts, subject to statutory limits, for those areas where the increase in development capacity would be likely to increase displacement risk. Resolution 31733, passed in 2017, stated: The Council intends to consider a range of strategies to increase affordable units sufficient to offset the affordable units at risk of demolition due to new development.”

“I’m proud that the Council has a long legislative record of its commitment to address displacement. Now it’s time to act again,” Herbold continued.

“I have, over the years, expressed my great concern that the City describes MHA as ‘housing displacement mitigation tool,’ but has badly analyzed how development removes more affordable housing than the resources from MHA are sufficient to replace.

“For example, in the case of the University District MHA upzone in 2017, the City estimated that only 40-275 units of existing affordable units of housing would be demolished over 20 years. The EIS estimated likely demolition by identifying specific redevelopable parcels and quantifying their existing housing (zero, for parking lots and commercial buildings). The “full build out” scenario wherein construction occurs on all redevelopable parcels to the full capacity of the proposed rezone was estimated to result in the demolition of 275 homes over 20 years. In less than 2 years, based upon a Council Central Staff analysis of new development projects that are currently in some stage of having their Master Use Permit issued or Early Design Guidance reviewed and that are subject to the new zoning put in place in 2017, 96 units of affordable units are already planned for demolition.

“Using the same approach used in the University District in 2017, the City estimates that over 20 years 574 units of housing will be demolished in MHA rezone areas. My concerns about displacement today are heightened, especially considering how far afield the University District estimate has proven to be.”

This announcement comes on the eve of the council’s HALA MHA public hearing, 5:30 pm Thursday at City Hall downtown (600 4th Ave.), as previewed here Monday.

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More West Seattle park input requested: Hiawatha Playfield, Schmitz Boulevard https://westseattleblog.com/2019/02/more-west-seattle-park-input-requested-hiawatha-playfield-schmitz-boulevard/ https://westseattleblog.com/2019/02/more-west-seattle-park-input-requested-hiawatha-playfield-schmitz-boulevard/#comments Thu, 21 Feb 2019 03:02:57 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=942004 (Hiawatha, photographed earlier this month by Andy)

Another request for your input – this time, for the future of the city’s Olmsted parks, including Hiawatha Playfield and the section of Schmitz Park known as its Boulevard. Here’s the survey, which includes this explanatory introduction:

Seattle Parks and Recreation is wrapping up a study of 10 of the Olmsted Parks and Boulevards. The purpose of the Olmsted Parks Study and the following survey is to hear from the Seattle community how Seattle Parks and Recreation can prioritize restoration of these historically significant assets. …

Seattle’s Olmsted Parks and Boulevards began as a dream the City of Seattle had in the late 1800’s for a beautiful system of landscapes among urban growth. This vision was implemented in the form of parks throughout the city designed by the Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm. The basis of design for these parks was to allow access to attractive open spaces to provide peace and respite for people from all walks of life.

The study is here (PDF), with Hiawatha assessment and recommendations starting on page 84, and Schmitz right after that, at page 96. Historic photos, too!

BACKSTORY: Here’s more on the Olmsted parks’ restoration project that this is all part of

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West Seattle sunset: 1 month until spring! https://westseattleblog.com/2019/02/west-seattle-sunset-1-month-until-spring/ https://westseattleblog.com/2019/02/west-seattle-sunset-1-month-until-spring/#comments Thu, 21 Feb 2019 02:02:05 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=942001

Thanks to Marc Milrod for the photo of tonight’s sunset. This enables us to note with joy that spring is only one month – and a short month at that (four weeks) – away!

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FOLLOWUP: Here’s when temporary bridge bus lane will be removed https://westseattleblog.com/2019/02/followup-heres-when-temporary-bridge-bus-lane-will-be-removed/ https://westseattleblog.com/2019/02/followup-heres-when-temporary-bridge-bus-lane-will-be-removed/#comments Wed, 20 Feb 2019 23:15:03 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=941997 Many have asked – so here’s the answer: After seven weeks, the temporary 4th Avenue bridge-ramp bus lane is scheduled to be removed this Saturday. The lane was striped/signed the weekend before the Alaskan Way Viaduct‘s permanent closure so that buses rerouted onto 4th wouldn’t get too bogged down in the interim period before they could use northbound Highway 99’s new pre-tunnel exit. Now that ramp is open, so we asked SDOT when the bus-lane removal was planned. Spokesperson Dawn Schellenberg replied today, “Our crews are scheduled to do the work Saturday, weather permitting. It will take about 8 hours and work will start around 7 AM. We appreciate folks’ patience. Our crews are spread pretty thin right now.”

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BUS CHANGES: Metro previews what March 23 ‘service change’ will bring, including added trips on Routes 120, 50 https://westseattleblog.com/2019/02/bus-changes-metro-previews-what-march-23-service-change-will-bring-including-added-trips-on-routes-120-50/ https://westseattleblog.com/2019/02/bus-changes-metro-previews-what-march-23-service-change-will-bring-including-added-trips-on-routes-120-50/#comments Wed, 20 Feb 2019 22:35:41 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=941991 You have a month to get ready for some big bus changes downtown, and added service here. Metro went public this afternoon with a mega-preview of what the March 23rd “service change” will bring. It’s all detailed here – including these details of specific West Seattle note:

Route 50: Additional midday trips providing key east-west connections between Southeast Seattle and West Seattle (new timetable here)

Route 120: 10- to 12-minute service all day and improved Sunday service to 15 minutes (pre-RapidRide and funded by the City of Seattle), including 28 new weekday trips and 43 more trips on Sundays. (new timetable here)

While those are the only two West Seattle-serving routes listed with major changes, today’s announcement also includes details on other downtown changes, including all-door boarding on Third Avenue and the end of Metro’s shared use of the Downtown Transit Tunnel.

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SATURDAY: The Big Plunge at Alki – new date, less ‘polar’ https://westseattleblog.com/2019/02/saturday-the-big-plunge-at-alki-new-date-less-polar/ https://westseattleblog.com/2019/02/saturday-the-big-plunge-at-alki-new-date-less-polar/#respond Wed, 20 Feb 2019 20:51:08 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=941987 (February 9th photo)

As Christopher Gilliam wrote when emailing us that photo on February 9th – it was “ironic” that the polar-bear-swim Big Plunge at Alki had to be postponed that day because the weather was just TOO “polar.” Now the new date is just three days away – this Saturday (February 23rd) – so we’re reminding you about the Special Olympics of Washington fundraiser. Even if you aren’t plunging (they’re hoping for enough participants to set a world record), you might want to check out the festivities anyway: Food trucks, beer, music – details are here (just keep scrolling down that page) as well as the schedule (before and after the 1 pm “plunge”). If you do want to plunge, here’s where to sign up.

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VIDEO: Navigation Team @ West Seattle Crime Prevention Council https://westseattleblog.com/2019/02/video-navigation-team-west-seattle-crime-prevention-council/ https://westseattleblog.com/2019/02/video-navigation-team-west-seattle-crime-prevention-council/#comments Wed, 20 Feb 2019 18:35:49 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=941948

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Hours after a shoutout in the mayor’s State of the City address, the city’s Navigation Team was in the spotlight at last night’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting.

Sgt. Eric Zerr, who’s been the SPD team leader since the team started its homelessness-focused work two years ago, was the featured guest, as you can see in our video above and toplines below. But first, Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis gave a crime/safety update:

CAPTAIN’S UPDATE: Capt. Davis said crime trends “look pretty good” though it’s early in the year (assisted by the weather) – key points, a “significant decrease in property crime” but a “spike” in robberies. Some are “shoplifts gone bad,” others “rogue street robberies” including teens taking other teens’ cell phones), he said. Often, in those cases, the victims even know the robbers, and “there are a couple different groups out there doing it.” As always, there was an opportunity for attendees to ask questions and surface concerns, but nothing of note emerged.

NAVIGATION TEAM: Sgt. Eric Zerr explained its origins during former Mayor Ed Murray‘s administration.

The team currently includes 10 officers plus a sergeant, all of whom volunteered to be on the team, as well as case managers and other “partners” helping with everything from outreach to cleanup.

Right now, Zerr said, about a third of the people they contact take offers of shelter, another third take case management, the final third decline all help and “wander away.” They’ve been involved with 600 cleanups in the past two years and had contacts with 4,000 unique individuals. In the past 10 days of wintry weather, they handled about 250 calls of people out in the cold. “Give us a chance to get out there” and make a contact, if you’re not sure about calling 911 about someone who might be in need of help.

He said the Navigation Team deals with “very strict rules” but “not overly restrictive” in cleaning up some of the city’s 450+ unauthorized encampments. If it’s an immediate hazard, they don’t even have to follow posting rules. “We are in constant litigation over not only what we do but how we store property, how the city behaves,” though, he noted.

Here in the Southwest Precinct, they’re being asked to re-examine “emphasis areas,” places where you “cannot camp,” so the Navigation Team is talking with local police about areas of most concern, such as greenbelts. Deputy mayors will decide over the next couple months which are the areas of most concern. Giving Myers Way a chance to “heal” and be “repurposed” is something he mentioned – his team led the cleanup there last fall. If you have other areas to suggest, you can contact Sgt. Zerr. “I answer my phone all the time, at all hours, and if I don’t, I’ll get right back to you.”

The homelessness-info page on the city website is a place where you can research not only what the team’s done but the rules they have to follow. He described the team members as “problem-solvers.”

“People aren’t one or two choices away from being homeless -” it turns out to be a case of things spiraling out of control, and they drop off a cliff, “a cascade of things in their lives that they have to put back together (so) if you provide them some hope,” they can start to rebuild.

Asked about the gender split, Sgt. Zerr says the homeless people with whom they deal are 85 percent male, 15 percent female. His team has three female officers.

In response to a suggestion for clarification, he said they’re not allowed to clean up an encampment unless there are shelter beds available for everyone who lives at that camp – if not, they have to “shut down the (cleanup) operation.” So they’ve been doing “smaller encampments” and also providing notices further in advance, in hopes of more lead time to get more people into shelter.

What happens once someone is in shelter, to keep them from ending up back on the street? asked one attendee. Consistent contact with case management, was the sergeant’s reply.. He also explained the concept of substance abusers being allowed into no-barrier shelters, because they can be supported with a roof over their head until they can make the choice to get help for their addiction. “It’s really individualized,” he said, adding that they keep a database about each person and what they need. The shelters are getting that information as a result of the relatively new “performance-based contracts” and that should result in some stats soon.

He said Seattle thinks about the problem more “deeply” than many other cities.

“Where do you get your funding?” asked another attendee. As a Seattle Police sergeant, for example, Zerr said, he’s still on the SPD payroll. The attendee wondered where private donations such as the recent Pearl Jam fundraising go. Zerr said that was in partnership with nonprofits rather than with the city, so far as he knows.

What about people living in vehicles, including RVs? Zerr was asked. That responsibility’s primarily handed over to Community Police Team officers at precincts, he said. His team does all the referrals to the Navigation Team and certain other shelters, which is in support of the CPTs’ work.

What about parks? asked WSCPC president Richard Miller. Usually the assessment is done by the Parks Department which then brings in the Navigation Team if needed, Zerr said.

Regarding why there are so many campers in evidence downtown, Zerr noted that people want to stay close to services.

About people who repeatedly refuse help – sometimes they change after repeated contact, he said, citing one recent case of a man who had been so hostile to them for so long, they were surprised when he finally changed his mind and accepted shelter.

Asked about city-authorized Camp Second Chance, he said LIHI management and transition from tents to tiny houses has left the encampment with very few issues. Those who denigrate its tiny houses as sheds are unrealistic, he suggested, saying he had grown up in a farm family and tiny houses are much closer to the kind of conditions in which some rural residents were housed, survivably, than we all acknowledge.

Dealing with people who are regulars outside, they have case managers who are so low-key, the person living on the street might not even realize they’re being approached by a case manager.”Give us a chance” if you know of a case like that. “We have a lot of options, shelters and things, that may be attractive to them.”

In response to a question from Miller about the perception that Seattle somehow “draws” more homeless people, Sgt. Zerr said it’s not free services that “draw” people so much as the prospect of working for a higher minimum wage, without realizing how competitive the job market can be, so if it doesn’t work out, they find themselves on the street.

Zerr noted that he also does “a ton of living-room conversations” so if you want to set up that kind of dialogue you can contact him. If you want to report an encampment, he said the city’s Find It Fix It app is useful – “go to #8” and put “encampment” in the subject line.

NEXT WSCPC MEETING: 7 pm March 19th at the precinct (2300 SW Webster), with Miller hoping to book a guest to talk about 911.

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