New name for Lakewood Park: County Councilmember Joe McDermott sponsoring ordinance to rename it in honor of longtime advocate Dick Thurnau

August 17th, 2015 Tracy Posted in King County, Lakewood Park, People, White Center news 4 Comments »

(WCN photo of Dick Thurnau from 2008)
More than a year after the death of longtime community advocate Dick Thurnau, the King County Council will soon consider an ordinance renaming Lakewood Park in his honor. Councilmember Joe McDermott just sent a copy of the ordinance that he put together “with a number of White Center community groups … They see this as an opportunity to create a legacy for someone who worked so hard to improve a struggling aspect of the community into something that could be widely enjoyed by many.” Mr. Thurnau lived steps from the park and worked tirelessly to both tend it personally and advocate for it and its little lake, plagued by water-quality problems that have been lessened via remedies for which he fought. Councilmember McDermott says the park-name proposal “will likely go before the King County Council not long after our summer recess, which concluded this week.” We’ll keep an eye on the council calendar to watch for a meeting date and comment opportunities. Meantime, read the proposed ordinance here, or below:

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VIDEO: County’s cannabis crackdown – sheriff, prosecuting attorney tell medical-marijuana dispensaries they’re ‘illegal’

July 8th, 2015 Tracy Posted in Businesses, King County, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news 8 Comments »


If you hit “play” on the :15 Instagram clip above, you’ll get an idea of how contentious this morning’s cannabis-crackdown announcement in downtown White Center was. While there was a full turnout of regional media, there also was a notable turnout of people from medical-marijuana establishments, furious about what’s happening.

Speaking outside the King County Sheriff’s Office downtown WC storefront were Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg, Sheriff John Urquhart, and Russ Hauge from (what’s about to be renamed) the state Liquor and Cannabis Board. Satterberg wrapped it up with a message to the marijuana establishments: “You might not consider yourself illegal – we do.” A copy was provided of the letter circulated to them (starting at least two days ago, according to what sources told us). While the officials gave conflicting answers as to what kind of “timeline” they expected for stores to shut down, the letter stated flatly in the sixth paragraph, “You will need to cease operations now, even if you plan on applying in the future for a state license …” and when asked, there was one suggestion that if stores aren’t closed within a month, they would “get a visit.” (added) Here’s part of Satterberg’s opening statement:

A printed list also provided to the news media included six White Center/Top Hat establishments:

Herbal Market, 10422 16th SW
White Center Alternative Care, 9839 17th SW
Pacific Coast Natural Medicine, 9817 16th SW
WCC, 9809 16th SW
Northwest Cannabis Market, 9640 16th SW
Herban Legends, 9619 16th SW
WPMC, 11009 1st Ave. S.

After the letter was circulated earlier this week, Herban Legends had this sign on its door:

The county officials referred to the newly opened Bud Nation, a state-licensed recreational-marijuana store in downtown White Center, as an example of what they support, and what they feel is threatened by the unlicensed establishments. They also made it clear that the state was there “in support” of what was their initiative. They pointed out they are doing this under civil measures, not criminal, but also reiterated that they are serious.

The medical-marijuana advocates, meantime, continued to protest that they are offering medicine and that they believe this is just a ploy by the state because of competition – what they make MMJ available for is lower than the state-set prices.

More to come…

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Talk with your County Councilmember, Sheriff, more at tonight’s CSA Open House

April 23rd, 2015 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on Talk with your County Councilmember, Sheriff, more at tonight’s CSA Open House

Tonight’s the night – bring your concerns and questions to this year’s Community Service Area open house for White Center/North Highline, 7 pm tonight at Seola Gardens:

As the flyer says, those expected to be there to talk with you include County Councilmember Joe McDermott and County Sheriff John Urquhart. Read more about the CSA program here.

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New noise rules for unincorporated King County

March 16th, 2015 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news 1 Comment »

Sent by County Councilmember Kathy Lambert today:

Council adopts updated noise guidelines for Unincorporated King County
Simplifying and clarifying

The Metropolitan King County Council today unanimously adopted a modernized and simplified set of noise guidelines for residents living in the unincorporated communities of King County. The revised regulations cover a wide number of issues, ranging from options in addition to decibel levels to who will be the contact people for faster response.

“There were 1603 noise complaints in 2013. I hope the clarity of the new law and enforcement as well as the mediation process will help to make the noise concerns greatly reduced,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, the sponsor of the legislation.

Lambert further remarked, “In crafting this legislation, we were very cognizant of the fact that noise is a deeply personal issue to people, and that we needed to balance noise protection with the need for legitimate noise from business and industry.”

King County has a policy of minimizing exposure of residents “to the physiological and psychological dangers of excessive noise and to protect, promote and preserve the public health, safety and welfare.” For many years, the county has found the current noise code difficult to enforce due to resource constraints and unclear code provisions from 1977.

The legislation adopted today is an effort to expand, simplify and clarify these codes to make them more effective and enforceable. The legislation is a collaborative product that has been over a year in the making, with key input from agencies directly affected such as the Sheriff and Public Health who currently share responsibility for enforcing the noise ordinance, the Department of Permitting and Environmental Review which handles construction permits, the County Prosecutor’s Office and the Dispute Resolution Center as well as input from individual residents, many business groups such as the construction industry, and many community groups.

The legislation shifts the enforcement focus for neighborhood noise from only technical decibel measurements to revised public disturbance provisions which are clarified and defined to include “any sound that unreasonably disturbs or interferes with the peace, comfort or repose of a person or persons.” Examples in existing code are retained that illustrate types of noise that constitute public disturbances. This is an approach that has been successfully used by other law enforcement jurisdictions, including some that are served by the King County Sheriff’s Office. Construction noise enforcement is also greatly simplified, relying on strict hour limits.

Under the new noise code, it is clarified and coordinated so if you are experiencing loud and raucous neighborhood noise, you would call the Sheriff. The Department of Permitting and Environmental Review (DPER) will be primarily responsible for enforcing construction noise limits. The county hopes that the first step people will take is to talk to each other; the new legislation encourages mediation.

This ordinance has already gone through SEPA review. With the Council’s adoption of the ordinance, the next step will be be to obtain required approval from the state Department of Ecology before the provisions would go into effect. Standards are also deemed approved if the Department of Ecology fails to act within 90 days. If all of the processes receive the necessary approvals, the new regulations would likely go into effect this summer.

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Followup: Crews making cleanup progress at ‘The Bog’

January 11th, 2015 Tracy Posted in King County, safety 3 Comments »

(White Center Now photographs by Patrick Sand)
King County crews are continuing to clear overgrowth, and more, by “the bog,” a site that has been something of a dangerous hiding place in recent years. This information is from Ken Gresset, who briefed the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council in November:

Much progress has been made at “The Bog.” The patrol road is in and leads 200 feet to a spot where the rest of the site can be inspected by spotlight. We will be back on the site on Monday and Tuesday to clear out remaining brush.

The site is well protected against erosion with 130 bales of straw spread on the disturbed earth and logs staked at the base of the slope to intercept any silt that would wash down from the hillside.

We stopped by at midday Friday for our photos – county crews were only allowing visitors on the site during their lunch break, so they wouldn’t run the risk of winding up in the path of heavy equipment. One crew member told us they had continued to find syringes and needles from drug users known to frequent the area. (See what they’ve encountered before, in these photos we published days after the November briefing.)

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Followup: ‘Bunker’ entry and other scenes from bog-area encampments

November 17th, 2014 Tracy Posted in King County, Parks Comments Off on Followup: ‘Bunker’ entry and other scenes from bog-area encampments

As reported here last week, this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting included some graphic descriptions of what county workers have found, and cleaned up, at illegal encampment sites in White Center’s “bog” area. We followed up with senior engineer Ken Gresset, who spoke at the NHUAC meeting, to ask if he had photos illustrating what he had described, and he did. Above, the entrance to the one-person underground “bunker” they found. Next, two more general photos from campsites:

Gresset explained at the NHUAC meeting that safety concerns require King County Sheriff’s Office assistance for most work in these areas – not because of the campers, but because of criminals who tend to hide in the same areas:

He also mentioned addicts’ use of these areas and the discovery of piles of used hypodermic needles and syringes. No photos available of those, though.

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Video: King County Executive Dow Constantine gives ‘State of the County’ speech at White Center Heights Elementary

February 10th, 2014 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news 5 Comments »

1:05 PM: Just added the top photo (that’s Councilmember Larry Phillips at left), courtesy of the KCE staff – and here’s the full-speech text.

ORIGINAL REPORT, 11:34 AM: Here’s the State of the County speech as it unfolded via Twitter over the past hour and a half. If you don’t see the tweets and photos initially, you might have to refresh your screen once or twice:


This afternoon, the King County Council is back in its HQ at the County Courthouse downtown, for the regular 1:30 pm meeting, which includes votes on whether to send the Transportation Benefit District measure – license-tab fee/sales-tax increase for buses and roads – to the ballot, as well as the Metro cuts that might kick in starting in June if funding isn’t found via a ballot measure or the Legislature.

ADDED 3:06 PM: Video of the SOTC speech, provided by King County TV:

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King County Executive to present ‘State of The County’ speech in White Center

February 6th, 2014 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on King County Executive to present ‘State of The County’ speech in White Center

Just announced by King County Executive Dow Constantine‘s office:

For the first time ever, a King County Executive will deliver the State of the County address in one of the county’s unincorporated areas.

At White Center Heights Elementary School, Executive Dow Constantine will frame the policy agenda for his second term, including plans for confronting two of the generational challenges of our time.

Bookmark the State of the County website for infographics on the day of the address. Soon after the event, video, audio, the speech text, and policy papers will be posted.

The Twitter hashtag for the event is #KCSOTC.

This special meeting of the Metropolitan King County Council will take place on:

Monday, February 10
10:00 a.m.
White Center Heights Elementary School
10015 6th Ave. SW
(Street Parking is limited)

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Federal shutdown effects: County announcement at Greenbridge tomorrow

October 8th, 2013 Tracy Posted in Health, King County, White Center news 1 Comment »

You don’t have to work for the federal government to be affected by its shutdown. King County Executive Dow Constantine and King County Councilmember Joe McDermott are coming to Greenbridge at noon tomorrow (Wednesday) to make that point; they’re planning a media event at the county Public Health clinic there, also including someone the announcement describes as “a client of Public Health services,” and plan “to detail specific pending impacts of the continuing federal government shutdown.”

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County Executive’s office points out what’s in the budget proposals for the unincorporated areas

October 4th, 2013 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on County Executive’s office points out what’s in the budget proposals for the unincorporated areas

In case you hadn’t gotten around to reading County Executive Dow Constantine‘s proposed 2014 budget – here’s what his office says are the highlights for unincorporated areas, including ours:

King County Executive Dow Constantine has proposed a 2014 Budget that enhances funding for a range of local services for residents of unincorporated King County – including public safety, parks, and the environment.

“Through the reforms we’ve put in place that have created new operational efficiencies, we are able to propose a budget that sustains essential functions and restores some critical services lost in the recession,” said Executive Constantine.

The 250,000 people who live in the unincorporated portions of King County are spread over 2,200 square miles. If taken together, they would by far comprise the county’s second-largest city.

The Executive’s 2014 Proposed Budget maintains funding for the popular Sheriff’s storefront deputies in White Center and Skyway/West Hill, calls for reopening of the Hicks-Raburn Precinct in Maple Valley, and restores four uniformed officers – three patrol deputies and a sergeant. The proposed budget also calls for:

· Improvements sought by residents of White Center for Steve Cox Park, including artificial turf for the athletic fields, lighting of outdoor basketball courts, and rehabilitation of the stadium roof.

· Rehabilitation of Dockton Dock on Maury Island, including work with the State to remove or wrap existing creosote pilings, and the acquisition of more open space on Vashon-Maury Island.

· Investments in trail projects to extend the Green to Cedar River Trail, as well as construction of trailhead parking lots at Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park and Pinnacle Peak Park in the Enumclaw area.

· Development of stormwater projects that include improving release of flows from Allen Lake to reduce flooding at NE 8th Street on the Sammamish Plateau; removing sediment and improving stream habitat at May Creek and Long Marsh Creek in the Four Creeks and Renton area; and repairing a conveyance line of Molasses Creek at Fairwood, east of Renton, to mitigate major flood risks.

This budget completes the County’s transition from hourly charges for new building permits to the new fixed-fee model that improves predictability and consistency for customers, while lowering the cost of issuing permits and opening the door to future e-commerce permitting options.

The proposed budget also maintains the Community Service Area grant program, which in 2013 funded 25 grants for grassroots community projects throughout unincorporated King County.

ABOUT THE UNINCORPORATED AREAS

Unincorporated King County has a population of 250,000 scattered over a broad geographic area with a very limited tax base, creating significant challenges in providing services.

King County is the only one of the state’s nine largest counties to have so completely implemented the state Growth Management Act, which calls for urban areas to be annexed into cities. The legacy system for funding county general services and county roads does not contemplate growth management, as evidenced by the fact that in the eight other counties, an average of 44 percent of their people live in the unincorporated areas and they pay into their Roads funds – whereas in King County only 13 percent pay for the roads that one-million cars drive on every day.

Even more significantly, there is almost no commercial tax base in unincorporated King County. Only 3.6 percent of the total taxable sales within the county take place in the unincorporated area, versus 21 percent in the other eight counties. The resulting tax base is almost entirely residential and agricultural.

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King County Executive’s budget proposal: The toplines

September 23rd, 2013 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on King County Executive’s budget proposal: The toplines

We haven’t broken it out for White Center and the rest of North Highline yet, but for starters, here’s the official news release from King County Executive Dow Constantine’s office regarding his budget proposal unveiled this morning:

Building upon reforms put in place over the past four years, King County Executive Dow Constantine today proposed a balanced 2014 Budget with no new taxes that sustains essential functions and restores some critical services lost in the recession.

“We are reforming from the inside, forging ahead even as other levels of government are paralyzed, to construct local solutions to complex problems,” said Executive Constantine in his annual budget address to the Metropolitan King County Council.

With cities and metropolitan areas fast becoming the engines of innovation, prosperity and social transformation in the United States, the Executive outlined several initiatives for the County to chart its way forward:

· A $500,000 Catalyst Fund to lead the transformation of the regional health and human service system from reactive crisis response to proactive preventive strategies and services. These one-time funds are intended to kick start the best new ideas and advances, attract other investments and revenue sources, and lead to better outcomes, particularly in the treatment of those with mental health and addiction issues.

· A two-year Regional Veterans Initiative to embark upon the first-ever comprehensive mapping of the labyrinth of federal, state and local services for veterans. Programs and community agencies would be connected to a King County Veteran Services Network so that vets seeking services can immediately be directed to the right program, and all agencies can use the same assessment and screening tools. The project is funded with $388,000 from the voter-approved Veterans and Human Services Levy.

· Support for the community-wide campaign to enroll 180,000 uninsured adults who will become newly eligible for free or low-cost health coverage on October 1 under the Affordable Care Act – connecting them to effective preventive care early, rather than expensive treatment later.

Savings and efficiencies

By creating operational efficiencies, the Executive’s reform agenda has saved, over the past four budgets, a cumulative $111 million in the General Fund, including $2.9 million in new savings in the 2014 General Fund.

Other efficiencies created in this budget in both General Fund and non-General Fund agencies include:

· Reducing energy use by replacing outmoded equipment and changing old operating practices has saved $2.7 million a year over the past four years, and earned another $2.8 million in utility rebates.

· Consolidating office space saves $8.6 million over ten years in the General Fund, and nearly $17 million in non-General Fund agencies.

· Consolidating the County’s computer servers, physically and in the Cloud, saves $1.4 million over the next two years.

Restoring some critical services

· Reopening the Sheriff’s Hicks-Raburn Precinct in Maple Valley, bringing Sheriff’s deputies closer to the people they serve, and to have a place in Southeast King County to restore the vital practice of roll calls with the sergeants and deputies.

· Restoring four uniformed officers in the Sheriff’s Office: three patrol deputies and a sergeant.

· Funding at current levels for prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault, and aid for victims.

· Restoring counter service over the noon hour at the Superior Court Clerk’s Office in Kent and in Seattle, so that customers can once again file a document or view court cases when they were free during lunch time.

Budget overview

With the continued transition to a biennial, two-year budget for nearly all agencies except those in the General Fund and a few others, the published total budget for 2013/2014 that includes all funds dedicated to specific purposes is a hybrid annual/biennial number of $9.0 Billion. On an annual basis, spending in 2014 is expected to be about the same $4.5 Billion as in 2013.

The proposed General Fund budget for 2014 is $714.4 million, an increase of 4.2 percent from $685.3 million in 2013. Inflation plus the cost of population growth account for 3.1 percent of that increase. Nearly all the remainder is attributable to the transition to a new Department of Public Defense, which was driven by a class-action lawsuit and state Supreme Court ruling, and the addition of contract work paid for by the City of Seattle and the State of Washington.

As a consequence of the severely constrained revenues authorized for counties, and despite having aggressively controlled costs in partnership with employees and unions, the Executive said that General Fund revenues are expected to fall short of the cost of services by about $36 million dollars in the 2015/2016 biennium, with a further gap of about $16 million dollars in the subsequent biennium. Most of the $36 million dollar gap arises because revenue sources for counties are based on only a property tax and a sales tax, both of which are strictly limited for counties under state law.

All County agencies will complete the move to biennial budgeting for 2015/2016, so this 2014 Budget represents the last annual budget to be developed by King County.

The Metropolitan King County Council plans a number of public hearings on the budget and is set to adopt a final King County Budget in November./blockquote>

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Reminder: Marijuana-zoning meeting in White Center tonight

August 8th, 2013 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news 4 Comments »

Want to have a say on how marijuana-related businesses should be handled in unincorporated King County? Tonight’s your chance. As reported here last week, one of four county-convened meetings is happening tonight at the Technology Access Foundation’s facility at Lakewood Park, 605 SW 108th, starting with a 6 pm open house, then moving to public comment at 7.

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Video: County Executive Constantine’s State of the County address

February 4th, 2013 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on Video: County Executive Constantine’s State of the County address

Starting about five minutes into that county-provided YouTube clip, you can see County Executive Dow Constantine‘s State of the County address in its entirety. Or – read the text here. Many key points, from protecting parks to fighting gun violence, but unless it was ad-libbed, no specific mention of this area’s future, post-annexation-vote defeat.

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Dog from Shorewood attack now at county shelter

January 31st, 2013 Tracy Posted in King County, west seattle, White Center news Comments Off on Dog from Shorewood attack now at county shelter

While following up on an incident reported in the latest WSBeat police-report roundup on partner site West Seattle Blog, we confirmed that a dog found in the Myers Way “woods” with its owner, just southeast of White Center, is the same one sought in connection with a much-reported attack in Shorewood. That attack injured a dog and its owner, as first reported on the Shorewood on the Sound Facebook group page. The man found with the dog off Myers Way is in jail because of warrants, as noted in the WSBeat report; King County spokesperson Cameron Satterfield told us that the dog is in the county facility in Kent and will remain there while its owner works through his legal problems – Seattle Animal Shelter took the dog from the Myers Way scene on Saturday, and then turned it over to the county. The owner has been cited, Satterfield says, including a “removal order” served to him in jail – if he reclaims the dog, it cannot be kept anywhere in King County.

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Tobacco-free zones in county parks? King County Council to consider it

April 13th, 2012 Tracy Posted in King County, Parks, White Center news Comments Off on Tobacco-free zones in county parks? King County Council to consider it

If White Center becomes part of Burien, its parks will become tobacco-free. In the meantime, they’re not, but a King County proposal might change that. Announced by the county:

King County would join a growing list of local parks, hospitals and schools with policies for tobacco-free areas under a proposed ordinance sent today to the King County Council to prohibit tobacco use in the busiest areas of the County’s expansive parks system.

“When people come to a public park, they expect to breathe fresh air – not someone else’s cigarettes,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine, citing a survey of county residents in which more than 70 percent said they support smoke-free public places, including parks.

The proposed ordinance would mean visitors to County parks could no longer use tobacco in heavily-used park areas such as children’s playgrounds, athletic fields, picnic shelters and trailheads.

Compliance would be voluntary, much like for littering, failure to keep a dog on a leash, or alcohol use in a park; enforcement would occur only when problems are reported. A federal grant will pay for signs denoting tobacco-free areas.

“Our residents want healthy, tobacco-free parks,” said King County Councilmember and King County Board of Health Chair Joe McDermott. “Tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable death and illness in King County, and this ordinance would further expand our smoke-free spaces so children and families can be safe from second-hand smoke.”

Council adoption of the ordinance would align King County with 11 local governments representing more than 1 million residents that have already adopted rules prohibiting or limiting tobacco use in parks. They include Auburn, Black Diamond, Bothell, Burien, Covington, Kirkland, Mercer Island, Seattle, Shoreline, Snoqualmie, and the Vashon Park District. In Washington state, more than 45 cities in 15 counties have smoke-free parks policies, including Tacoma Metro Parks in Pierce County, and Marysville and Lake Stevens in Snohomish County.

A universal “tobacco-free parks” sign has been created for jurisdictions to post in their parks. Each jurisdiction that has adopted or plans to adopt a tobacco- or smoke-free policy will have the opportunity to post this sign as part of the regional partnership for tobacco-free parks. Tobacco-free efforts by local cities and King County are supported by Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW), a federal grant to address obesity and tobacco use.

Tobacco-free parks are part of a broad movement to create healthy and smoke-free areas, especially for kids and the most vulnerable. In recent months many hospitals, housing providers, and mental health and chemical dependency centers have also gone smoke-free.

In King County alone, tobacco causes almost 2,000 premature deaths and costs over $340 million in medical expenses and lost wages each year. In addition to the health effects, cigarette butts can account for up to 70 percent of litter in public places. Cigarette butts can take up to 15 years to decompose, leaching chemicals into the soil and posing harm to small children and pets if ingested.

“The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke,” said Carrie Nyssen, Regional Director of Advocacy for the American Lung Association of the Mountain Pacific. “Even brief exposure to second-hand smoke can cause an asthma attack in a child, or increase risk of blot clots in healthy adults.”

Nationally, almost 600 jurisdictions have enacted laws that prohibit tobacco use in parks and on beaches, including New York City and Los Angeles County. Among the support from local cities:

· City of Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis: “The City of Auburn is committed to creating a healthy community. The Tobacco-free Park Policy is intended to assist recreational organizations and parents in their efforts to recreate in a tobacco-free environment. It is important that we recognize the effects of first and second-hand smoke and discourage tobacco usage at places where youth are gathered and healthy lifestyle activities are available.”

· City of Black Diamond Mayor Rebecca Olness: “Black Diamond has parks and open spaces that provide healthy recreational opportunities to its citizens. To ensure that these places continue to provide these benefits, limiting smoking makes sense and adds to the healthy experience. Our residents deserve parks where they can exercise and enjoy the natural environment smoke free.”

· City of Burien Mayor Brian Bennett: “We’re proud to have joined other cities in King County in declaring our parks smoke-free. This policy benefits the entire community and is in line with the City’s vision of promoting a healthy environment for people of all ages.”

· City of Covington Mayor Margaret Harto: “Covington established its tobacco-free park ordinance in 2002 because we knew that choosing to be tobacco-free in our parks meant choosing to provide a better quality of life for our citizens. We are proud to join King County’s initiative to bring light to the harmful effects of second-hand smoke in our public places.”

· City of Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson: “We believe parks should remain spaces that are focused on health. Having places where kids can go and exercise and enjoy the fresh air is what parks are all about.”

· City of Shoreline Mayor Keith McGlashan: “The City of Shoreline has made a commitment to being a Healthy City and has developed a Healthy City Strategy to make it a reality. Part of that effort is to make our parks tobacco-free. The Council is currently studying the issue and so far the community has been very supportive of the idea.”

The King County Parks system is comprised of roughly 200 parks, 175 miles of regional trails, 180 miles of backcountry trails, and more than 26,000 acres of open space.

For more information on CPPW, please visit www.kingcounty.gov/health/cppw and the campaign Let’s Do This that encourages residents to get involved in improving the health of their communities.

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New point person announced for county’s ‘Community Service Areas’

April 4th, 2012 Tracy Posted in King County, North Highline UAC, White Center news 1 Comment »

There’s new information today about the outreach program that the county announced when it cut money for Unincorporated Area Councils (North Highline UAC, for example, is operating wholly under its own power now, without county support). Here’s the news release we received:

King County Executive Dow Constantine has named one of his top advisors to lead the opening of new channels of communication with residents of the county’s unincorporated areas through creation of Community Service Areas.

“This reform will harness the work of County employees who already have good connections with residents in the unincorporated areas, so that residents can have a single staff link to specific projects in parks, roads, land use, public health and public safety,” said Executive Constantine.

The Executive has named Alan Painter as Manager of the Community Service Areas (CSA) program for unincorporated King County, consolidating three staff from other agencies to improve public engagement in the unincorporated areas.

“Already we’ve brought together staff who have been working with residents in the same area of the county but had never met,” said Painter.

Painter said the interdepartmental teams will hold public meetings at least once a year in each CSA, in close collaboration with the King County Councilmember for that district and with other countywide elected officials.

The CSA program was approved last fall by the County Council to reach out to residents in the areas where they live, and better reflect the diversity of the county.
The Executive will send a proposed ordinance to the County Council later this month to formally define boundaries for the CSAs that encompass all of unincorporated King County, including areas without previous representation by an Unincorporated Area Council.

The new program provides a conduit for greater participation by all residents in an annual work program for each CSA, and enables County staff to work closely with an expanded group of community councils and civic organizations.

Under the new program, community organizations in each CSA can apply for grants of up to $5,000 to promote the engagement of local residents in community or civic activities.

As Manager of the Community Service Area program, Painter and his group will:

· Develop a schedule for annual public meetings in each CSA,

· Develop CSA work programs that are linked to the annual budget cycle, and

· Establish the new community grant program.

“I look forward to listening to residents, solving problems, and help them to play an active role in shaping the future of their communities,” said Painter, who reports to the Executive’s office.

Painter previously advised the Executive on human services, health, and housing policy, and is a former director of the Department of Human Services for the city of Seattle.

The first open house for the new program is set for the Vashon-Maury Island CSA on Tuesday, April 10, from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. at the McMurray Middle School Multi-Purpose Room, 9323 Cemetery Road, Vashon Island. At the open house, residents can offer feedback on the draft Vashon-Maury CSA Work Plan and the new CSA program, discuss community priorities, speak with program staff, and obtain information about County programs and services in general.

Open houses for other CSAs will be announced throughout the year.

For more information please contact Alan Painter, manager for the Community Service Areas program, at 206-296-8734 or alan.painter@kingcounty.gov.

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No White Center Library? Consolidation issue revived

November 23rd, 2011 Tracy Posted in King County, Libraries, White Center news 4 Comments »

The issue of potentially consolidating the White Center and Boulevard Park Libraries has resurfaced – five months after it was tabled – and you’re asked to speak up before it’s too late. Just got the word from North Highline Unincorporated Area Council president Barbara Dobkin that it’s on next Tuesday’s library-board agenda:

The board has not revealed any specific sites for the new facility other than saying they are looking at property on 128th Street, SW, nor have they stated when construction might start, or how long they will keep the existing 2 libraries open in the meantime. There is opportunity for public comment at this meeting, which is being held in the KCLS Service Center, 960 Newport Way, Issaquah on November 29 at 5 pm. We would ask that all concerned residents of this community, who voted to pass the library bond levy in 2004 for a new expanded White Center Library which was to be built at the same site, and update and improvements to the existing Blvd Park Library, contact the Library Board by mail: Board of Trustees, King County Library System, 960 Newport Way NW, Issaquah, WA 98027, or e-mail boardoftrustees@kcls,org, or show up a the meeting on Nov 29 and let the board know what you think about their plans.

The library system’s rationale for possible consolidation is outlined in this document.

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Update: County Council reaffirms dance-club moratorium

October 25th, 2011 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on Update: County Council reaffirms dance-club moratorium

When the dance-club emergency moratorium came up at the County Council meeting on Monday afternoon, nobody spoke against it. There was a show of support, though, including a representative of Burien city government, noting that they have a special interest in the area since they’re pursuing annexation, and North Highline Unincorporated Area Council president Barbara Dobkin, who declared, “We should never again allow our community to be held hostage by clubs (like the former Evo, that) create the kind of havoc, weekend after weekend, going back 8 years … We fought a long, hard battle to have the establishment that was the impetus for this moratorium closed.” Liz Giba told the council that at least until the area is officially under Burien’s wing, “We need your help.” She also scoffed at the claims that the late Deputy Steve Cox would have been happy about the arrests and seizures detailed Friday at the park that bears his name; “People said Steve Cox would have been pleased. I tell you, he would not have been. Five years (have passed since) his death … and he (would have said), ‘Where’s my government?'” Councilmember Joe McDermott, who proposed the moratorium, read several letters into the record, from community activists including White Center Community Safety Coalition chair Sean Healy and North Highline residents Gill Loring and Rachael Levine, supporting the moratorium, which was affirmed by the council’s subsequent vote. Arguments were made to make it permanent – though that would require different action.

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County issues warning for apartments over the former Club Evo

September 28th, 2011 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on County issues warning for apartments over the former Club Evo

(UPDATE: The water is reported to have been turned back on.)

By Deanie Schwarz
Reporting for White Center Now

Al Tijerina, King County DDES Code Enforcement Inspector, posted an Emergency Notice Order at the Evolution Apartments (9625 16th SW) on Monday.

Like the former Club Evo space in the same building, the six apartments are owned by Alfred Lopez. The building had been managed by Jackie Blacketer for at least six months. Inspector Tijerina said the County is very concerned about the lack of water in the apartments (it was shut off September 7th for nonpayment) but said there are additional violations.

The emergency order says the violations posed “significant threat of immediate and/or irreparable harm; enforcement of this notice and order shall not be stayed during the process of any administrative appeal under Title 23 of the King County Code.”

“Occupancy of substandard dwellings (apartments) in violation fo Section 16.14.100 of the King County Code. These apartments are substandard in the following instances:

A. Lack of running water in violation of Section 16.14.520 of the King County Code.
B. Insufficient heating capacity and/or defective heat supply in violation of the 2006 International Property Maintenance Code.
C. Improperly installed and/or defective electrical components including, but not limited to service panel, wiring, junction boxes, outlets and switches in violation of Section 604.3 of the 2006 International Property Maintenance Code.
D. Inoperative and/or missing smoke detectors in violation of Section 704.2 of the 2006 International Property Maintenance Code.
E. Accumulation of garbage, rubbish and debris throughout the common areas (hallways) in violation of Sections 202 and 307 of the 2006 International Property Maintenance Code and Section 21A.32.230 of the King County Code.
F. Interior surfaces are unmaintained in violation Section 305.3 of the 2006 International Property Maintenance Code.”

After complaints from tenants, including former manager Blacketer, DDES last week inspected the six studio units, five of which are usually rented month-to-month for either $400/$500 per unit, (including all utilities), and the common spaces.

We talked to both Lopez and Blacketer over the course of several days preceding the county’s notice. Lopez told WCN that nobody had been paying rent and that’s why the bills weren’t paid. Blacketer told WCN that no renters were in arrears while she was managing the building.

Ultimately, Blacketer quit last week and left White Center. Lopez, who lives in California, flew here. If he does not have water service restored by this Friday, remaining tenants will have to vacate because it would be considered a public-health hazard.

Two tenants who Lopez says were moving out reportedly declined to pay rent after finding out the water was going to be shut off. Another tenants, who asked us just to identify him as Lee, says he has paid rent for the month and has nowhere else to go, as a retired person on Social Security.

Blacketer claims other utility services had been or were going to be cut off for lack of payment.

Late last week, Lopez told WCN he was going to try to get the water turned on, but his manager and tenants say he had been telling him that for almost three weeks. He also said that ultimately he would make a business decision about whether it is worth it for him to keep renting out the apartments, but said he wanted to comply with the County to ensure that there were no outstanding issues before he returned to California.

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Budget day! King County Executive presents his proposal; on to the Council

September 26th, 2011 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news 1 Comment »

8:02 AM: This morning at 11 am, we’ll find out what King County Executive Dow Constantine is proposing for next year’s budget, and how that might affect this part of unincorporated King County. Right afterward, the County Council will comment. If you’re not going downtown for the occasion, you can watch on King County TV, via cable or online.

ADDED: All the links for the budget docs are here (we’ll be reading them for highlights as the evening goes on).

1:50 PM: Here’s how the County Council breaks it down – note the time and place for upcoming public hearings:

The budget leaders of the Metropolitan King County Council said today that even with the reality of having had to trim $233 million from King County’s General Fund budget over the last four years, the Council’s proactive approach to reforming county government has prepared the Council for the 2012 King County Budget deliberations.

“We’ve already shrunk the size of our government, including cutting $233 million from our General Fund in the last four years. As a result, we no longer face the stark choices that many cities and the state legislature are dealing with,” said Councilmember Julia Patterson, who will direct the Council’s 2012 Budget deliberations. “But because our revenues are still affected by the economic reality, we are going to have to work smarter and continue the reforms we have been implementing in the 2012 budget process.”

After budget cuts of $25 million in 2008, $93 million in 2009, $56 million in 2010 and $59 million in 2011, King County has been facing a $20 million deficit in its General Fund budget in 2012. King County Executive Dow Constantine today proposed a $5.3 billion budget that includes no cuts to the $648 million General Fund budget, more than three-quarters of which is targeted for law, justice and public safety services.

Councilmember Patterson said the Council will review the Executive Budget Proposal in three separate panels:

Councilmember Kathy Lambert will serve as Vice Chair of the Budget Leadership Team and direct the Public Health and Safety Panel, which will assess the Executive’s proposed budgets for law, justice and public safety agencies along with the departments of Community & Health Services and Public Health.

“I will be looking closely at programs that help keep people from returning to the judicial system and that save money for the taxpayer,” said Councilmember Lambert. “In the past decade, King County has been a national leader in implementation of therapeutic and prevention alternatives to incarceration with Drug Court and Mental Health Court programs. Our new Veterans Court pilot will continue the work of the Mental Health Court by dedicating specialized services for our veterans. They will get the help they need instead of jail time. We see the positive results of these therapeutic programs in creating improvements for people’s lives.”
Councilmember Joe McDermott will lead the Physical Environment Panel, which will review services provided by the Departments of Natural Resources & Parks and Transportation.

“Critical transit service was preserved in our region thanks in part to strong reforms pursued by the County. This year, the Council turns its attention to maintaining county roads which face an eroded tax base and drastic cuts,” McDermott said. “One of the issues the Physical Environment Panel will examine is the proposed Roads Strategic Plan. We will be looking for further reforms in this and other areas.”

Council Vice Chair Jane Hague will serve as Chair of the General Government Panel, which will be responsible for General Fund budgets such as Assessments and Elections, and the County’s internal service funds like Facilities Management, Human Resources and Finance

“Many people in King County are facing a tough economic reality right now,” said Hague. “As they tighten their belts, they expect county government to do the same. As Chair of the General Government Panel, I look forward to examining how we can continue to reform King County internally. I hope to expand on the success we’ve had recently in reducing costs and eliminating waste.”

The panels will begin their review of the Executive Proposed Budget on Tuesday, October 4. All members of the County Council serve on the Budget Committee during the annual review and adoption of the County budget. Traditionally, the Council adopts the County budget the Monday before Thanksgiving.

Starting Thursday, October 13, Councilmember Patterson and the Budget Leadership Team will host three evening public hearings on the 2012 Executive Proposed Budget:

Thursday, October 13 – Pacific Cascade Middle School, 24635 SE Issaquah Fall City Rd, Issaquah
Wednesday, October 19 – Maleng Regional Justice Center, Courtroom 3F, 401 Fourth Avenue North, Kent
Tuesday, October 25 – King County Courthouse, County Council Chambers, 10th Floor, 516 Third Avenue, Seattle
All meetings begin at 6:30 p.m. Day-after coverage of the public hearings will be available both online and on King County TV, seen on Comcast and Broadstripe Cable Channel 22. You can also sign up to follow the deliberations through the Council’s 2012 Budget web page, Facebook and Twitter.

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