Looking ahead @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s last 2021 meeting

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council‘s December meeting coincided with a sad anniversary – 15 years since the murder of King County Sheriff’s Deputy Steve Cox, who was also NHUAC president at the time. NHUAC’s Liz Giba dedicated the meeting to Deputy Cox: “Please keep him and his family in your thoughts.”

Here’s what else happened:

DISCUSSION WITH ELECTED OFFICIALS: Three people who have long represented North Highline in local and state government (though all three live in West Seattle) were the first guests. County Councilmember Joe McDermott was first of the guests to describe what he’s working on, including economic help for White Center in the wake of the recent fires. The anti-displacement report` and Subarea Plan are coming to the council soon, too.

State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon – who noted that he lives in Highland Park, close to WC – has been working on issues including fireworks. He’s been trying to repeal the state law that requires a waiting period before a fireworks ban takes effect (though it’s too late to make a difference for the unincorporated King County ban). The capital budget passed last session includes money for the relocation of the White Center Food Bank as well as for the operation of the Evergreen Aquatic Center.

State Rep. Eileen Cody continues her focus on health care and said a big issue right now is keeping people working in the health-care industry. “Health care always has a million things but that’s the big one right now.” Giba asked her about the training situation. Cody said there are now “simulation labs … like computerized dummies” but RN programs haven’t used them as much as LPN, so she’s working to expand training/education capacity.

Asked about the Growth Management Act and how it factors into White Center’s future, Rep. Fitzgibbon explained that it stipulates various elements that need to go into future planning. But “the state doesn’t approve or disapprove a local land-use plan” like the ones King County is working on, It was created as “more of a bottom-up system.” He explained that the accountability comes from the ability for citizens to be able to file appeals.

A discussion ensued on how and when to comment on the plans. Do it now, urged McDermott.

Jacqueline Reid, who is now handling the Subarea Plan for the county, provided some information about how to access a “reader’s guide” and other components.

Also discussed: Regional growth and densification – more of it has happened north of Roxbury than south, Fitzgibbon and Cody noted. Giba stressed concerns about an unequal number of low-income units planned in White Center rather than mixed-income “vibrant and diverse communities.” NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin added that low-income units are “needed everywhere” but disproportionately built in White Center because it’s “easy to build.” Fitzgibbon said a law passed in the Legislature this past year might help with that, requiring communities to plan for housing “at all income levels.” He added, “I think that’s relevant to a concern we’ve heard from this community for a long time.” Plans incorporating this will have to be adopted by 2024, he said.

In closing, McDermott reminded everyone that the comment period on the North Highline Subarea Plan continues until December 19th – he said that Chapter 4 in particular addresses housing and human services. Cody said North Highline “needs to figure out where it’s going to annex to … I don’t think it can last much longer” without that. Giba noted that Seattle has never put an annexation vote forward. Fitzgibbon simply said thanks to the community advocates in the (virtual) room.

Another big topic:

WHITE CENTER POND/BOG: It’s being redesigned, according to a team from King County stormwater services.

It’s historically a wetland but is used as a stormwater facility.

There’s access for public use but it’s not used a lot. It has a variety of issues they hope to address:

They hope to enlarge the ponds for more holding capacity, and to have them hold water year-round. The southernmost pond by Steve Cox Memorial Park was redesigned recently and is seen as successful. She said they’ll try to preserve the large trees in and around the pond while they’re digging. They hope to expand the “Cell 2” pond area to put water in a somewhat hidden area that is currently known for unsavory activities.

They’re looking for feedback on redeveloping the ponds so they can increase recreation opportunities and greenspace access in the area. They hope to have a preliminary design by summer, maybe to show off at Jubilee Days, with construction not until the summer of 2024. So currently they want to hear ideas for the site.

They are also looking for more people/organizations to talk to abut this. A Greenbridge resident spoke up and expressed interest in connecting his neighbors with the county team. Another local resident spoke about environmental concerns and the pond’s importance to migratory birds.

KING COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE: Deputy Bill Kennamer had some “very good news – our burglary numbers are down significantly, because we finally caught our prolific burglar” – someone arrested during a burglary in Burien. We have since reported separately on the suspect, Nicholas Pierce, charged in four burglaries. Meantime, Deputy Kennamer said, Vehicle thefts/recoveries are “way up” – most of the recoveries are close to the Beverly Park house mentioned earlier. The owner has been working hard to evict the troublemakers but this may be about to break. The category of crime including car prowls is up. Aggravated assaults are down. “Simple assaults” are up. The 16th/107th parcel is under development as a combination apartment complex and storage facility, he added. Asked by Dobkin about emphasis patrols, Kennamer said those are happening “primarily in the downtown business corridor” but also stretching as far west as Roxbury Lanes.

Various topics were then discussed, including the status of vandalized business. Dobkin wondered about all the graffiti on the former Northmart on 16th. There’s no county law requiring the cleanup of graffiti on private property, Kennamer noted. He also noted that the former Taradise Café is being remodeled to be what he was told will be “another restaurant.” The LCB officer in attendance said he hasn’t been notified of any new application for the building. The day after the meeting, one was filed, and we talked with the proprietor for this report.

A few quick mentions:

PARKS SAFETY: They’re having listening sessions with community members regarding safety in parks, especially people who live near the newly acquired Glendale Forest.

WHITE CENTER KIWANIS: Mark your calendar for the January 20th baked potato and taco fundraiser for New Start High School.

NEXT MEETING: NHUAC is skipping January, so the next meeting will be Thursday, February 3rd.

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5 Responses to “Looking ahead @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s last 2021 meeting”

  1. Thanks to WCN for another year of excellent reporting! You are an important part of our community and much appreciated. See you at NHUAC in February. Happy holidays!

  2. It has come to our attention that Joe Fitzgibbon (maybe also Eileen Cody and Joe Nguyen) have been asked by Rep Larry Springer (of Kirkland) to bring a bill forward to Sunset Community or Neighborhood Councils.

    Larry last asked Steve Kirby of the 29th district (Tacoma area) to bring HB 1812 and HB 2610 forward in 2011-12 even thought Steve Kirby had no skin in the game.

    Larry has been upset at the Council that exists in Kirkland since he was Mayor. He has been trying repeatedly to shut it down. Each time he fails.

    Here’s two VIMEOs to show how he’s basically been laughed out of the room and told to honor the agreement that Kirkland made with its Community Council.



    What does this mean for our NH Unincorporated Area Council? Are our Legislators trying to do away with us?

    Aren’t their more important things to do for the benefit of the residents of the 34th district. This is a short session, you don’t have time to be a pawn in Kirkland’s governance.


  3. Here’s another vimeo


    Sure appears to be horse trading to me

  4. 10, a joint team of seven Rural Area unincorporated area councils and unincorporated area associations and organizations submitted written testimony to the King County Council on proposed Ordinance 2021-0163.2, which calls for changing King County Code Title 21A Zoning with regard to the location of Search and Rescue facilities in the Rural Area on parcels over 4.5 acres. 17, Soos Creek Area Response President Jeff Guddat provided oral testimony on behalf of the joint team during the King County Council’s public hearing on the proposed ordinance. — Submitted by Peter Rimbos, Corresponding Secretary, Greater Maple Valley Unincorporated Area Council Public Health NOTE: Although many public meetings have been canceled, here’s a list of community councils and associations that serve King County’s unincorporated Community Service Areas, including their usual or most recent meeting sites and contact information where applicable.

  5. Joe Fitzgibbon Says:

    I do support eliminating the Houghton and East Bellevue Community Councils, which are the only two such community councils that exist in Washington state and which play a very different role and have a different legal status (https://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=35.14) than the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council. In fact, at the Dec 2 NHUAC meeting, we extensively discussed the inherent inequity of cities like Kirkland and Bellevue not adopting zoning and development regulations to allow more affordable housing, which means the burden falls more heavily on communities like North Highline to provide housing to meet the region’s needs. The Houghton Community Council in Kirkland and the East Bellevue Community Council in Bellevue are significant reasons why Kirkland and Bellevue do not have more affordable housing, because these councils veto land use decisions made by those cities’ community councils.

    It is important for equity for North Highline that the residents of the Houghton and East Bellevue Community Councils not have extra rights to veto land use decisions that residents of this community do not have. The Houghton Community Council exempted its neighborhood from the city of Kirkland’s 10% housing affordability requirement and refuses to allow roof height limits to be adjusted to accommodate solar panels. The East Bellevue Community Council tried to block Bellevue from updating their zoning code to comply with a new state law (that I authored) reforming parking requirements to provide for more affordability. Their time has passed.

    More info is available on this topic here: