North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: RapidRide H Line update; crime briefing; youth drug-abuse education…

From the December meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

METRO TRANSIT: Route 120 between Delridge, White Center, and Burien will become RapidRide H Line, and planning is intensifying. So NHUAC was briefed by community-relations and public-engagement manager Jenna Franklin and RapidRide planning-and-implementation manager Alex Kiheri.

He explained how RR works – the goal is “speed and reliability,” the buses are different (you might have seen the red/yellow buses on existing RR lines such as C between West Seattle and South Lake Union), and other things. Metro is expected to add 13 new RR lines by 2025, and H Line will be the second.

The 120 currently has 9,200 daily trips, 25 percent morning, 30 percent evening, the rest spread out among the other hours. Saturday has 5,600 trips, Sunday has 4,300. RR tries to “run a longer span of service, more frequently” throughout the day. It offers “passenger amenities” such as “inviting” bus stops. Communication technology allows them to run a connected service – including offering online information so you know how far away your bus is and when it’s likely to arrive.

And Kiheri mentioned that Metro and SDOT are working together on the route, especially regarding the section that serves Westwood Village, and White Center. “Area 4” is what you’ll want to look for when you come to upcoming open houses – one of the areas where it’s “critical to plan well so the service can perform well.” White Center itself will be a particularly “interesting place” for investments, since it’s governed by the county, and Metro is a service provided by the county. That included a grant-inspired opportunity to improve a connection (“missing link” type area) along SW 100th in the Greenbridge community; Metro requested a $940,000 grant to “build that missing link” including sidewalks and bike facilities, and was “ranked very highly” so there’s a “strong possibility” they’ll get that grant to put in those improvements while the H Line is being set up. The grant had a strong level of community support, the Metro reps pointed out; NHUAC president Liz Giba noted that the group had written a letter contributing to that.

If you’re interested in the route conversion, you’ll want to go to one of two open houses that Metro has scheduled for next month:

Wednesday, January 10th from 5-8 p.m.
Burien Community Center, Shorewood Room
14700 6th Ave SW, Burien

Thursday, January 11th from 5-8 p.m.
Mount View Elementary School, Cafeteria/Multi-purpose Room
10811 12th Ave SW, White Center

They also will be mailing an announcement of those dates to about 28,000 people “along the line,” as well as putting up flyers and posters. There’s also a survey online, if you haven’t already participated.

In West Seattle discussion of RapidRide H Line so far, there’s been concern about stops being too far apart, per typical RR. Kiheri said they’re looking for a “middle ground” – every third of a mile or so, with quarter-mile space in some spots. He noted that some “underperforming stops” already had been taken out back in 2012.

CRIME BRIEFING: Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer provided the newest information. He mentioned the 98th/15th SW homicide, with the victim having been shot and killed after trying to attack the shooter a third time. It does not appear the shooter, 16, will be charged, except for a gun violation. (Here’s the most-recent report we published on the case.)

Regarding crime in general – no significant increases year to year, but auto theft is running high – not so many stolen cars being found in this area though. Residential burglaries have spiked a bit, and the concentration area is around 17th/Roxbury.

General concerns involved trash dumped “all over,” as community member Gill Loring put it. He suggested a community meeting/discussion is in order.

A discussion about problems at the White Center Library, from broken windows to loitering, ensued. Kennamer said he had suggested that the library play music to discourage loitering – as is done across the city line outside Meat The Live Butcher. Giba mentioned she has invited the King County Library System to the February NHUAC meeting, to talk about a variety of things, not just problems.

COALITION FOR DRUG-FREE YOUTH: Rudy Garza from the coalition and Shoshana Mahmood from the Puget Sound Educational Service District started the meeting.

Garza said the coalition is in its sixth year of educating youth about drugs, alcohol, and tobacco – not to urge abstinence, but to offer “positive alternatives.” He cited a 2012 survey showing that youth in this community weren’t engaged – in school or the community. He said an anti-litter campaign created after that, in partnership with Cascade Middle School, “is ongoing to that day.” Getting “positive things to be involved with” affects their decisions about drugs and alcohol. Right now they’re awaiting word on funding, whether they’ll get grant money to keep Mahmood’s position funded – there’s money to continue it through the end of the school year, but after that, it’s a question mark. Navos has been funding the coalition and is the ultimate decisionmaker. They hope to kick off a billboard campaign in January, in English and Spanish, concurrent with a social-media and poster campaign.

Mahmood says she has worked with youth a long time, even before this position as drug/alcohol counselor at Cascade, which is part time. She also is involved with a prevention team that’s about to start work with Mary’s Place (which operates a White Center family shelter) after school winter break. Helping to educate students about self-determination, that they can make choices and decisions, is part of what she does. She is concerned that, aside from substance concerns, youth are over-stimulated by social media and entertainment, “a lot of surface-level stuff.” She is currently working one-on-one with 17 students. When she’s with them, they “talk about family and community the most.” Their concerns and fears include everything from what’s happening at home to bullying at school, and many say they don’t feel safe – “they talk about getting robbed all the time, at knifepoint and gunpoint,” but the school can only do so much – “once they’re off school grounds, they’re on their own.” Since marijuana legalization, awareness and curiosity have gone up, and vaping – which often comes with flavoring – seems rampant, she said. Kids tell her they are interested in the smell, the flavor, the clouds of smoke – nicotine vaping as well as cannabis vaping.

Garza said Mahmood also is supposed to be working at Evergreen High School but they’ve been working to find space for her. And he noted that an added stress for some youth these days is worrying that ICE may be coming for their parents – so drugs and alcohol might be used as an escape. And he said that a Latino youth with whom he had worked had spoken about being harassed and attacked by a group of white youths who yelled “go back to where you came from” – they find themselves spending time stressing that not everyone is against them, and that they can and should call law enforcement for help. Speaking of law enforcement – as they continue working to solidify funding, they also are working with the King County Sheriff’s Office to see if there’s some synergy with KCSO funding related to marijuana.

The next coalition meeting is next Wednesday, December 13th, noon-1:30 pm (lunch is served), at Seola Gardens (11215 5th SW).

Also announced at the meeting:

SEOLA POND: An update from Scott Dolfay, who’s been working on restoration – he’s expecting student volunteers one week from today, on December 14th. (More details on his project are in our September NHUAC report.) “It’s all coming together really well,” he said, after detailing the materials he’s been rustling up and plans he’s been making. The work is on the west side of the pond, along 30th SW.

CAMP SECOND CHANCE: NHUAC’s Pat Price mentioned the work party set for December 15th to build “supertents” (details are in our partner site West Seattle Blog‘s report on CSC’s Community Advisory Committee meeting from last weekend).

FESTIVUS PARTY THIS WEEKEND: As previewed here, the Jubilee Days fundraiser is this Saturday.

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets the first Thursday of most months – not in January, though, so February 1st is the next meeting – 7 pm, at North Highline Fire District HQ (1243 SW 112th). Watch between meetings for updates.

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