This annual event is happening tonight:
It’s a chance to hear about, and ask questions about, a wide variety of county services, programs, and issues.
This annual event is happening tonight:
It’s a chance to hear about, and ask questions about, a wide variety of county services, programs, and issues.
Following up on the surprise vote three weeks ago for a four-month moratorium on new marijuana businesses in unincorporated King County, the County Council starts its closer consideration tomorrow. The announcement:
Two special meetings of King County Council’s Transportation, Economy, and Environment Committee to consider legislation impacting zoning for the production, processing and sale of legal marijuana in unincorporated King County.
WHO: The Metropolitan King County Council’s Transportation, Economy, and Environment committee (TrEE).
WHERE: King County Courthouse, 10th floor, 516 Third Ave, Seattle 98104.
WHEN: Wednesday, May 18th, 2016, 9:00 am and Thursday, June 16th, 2016, 9:00 am
BACKGROUND: In 2013, the King County Council adopted initial zoning regulations governing the production, processing and sale of legalized marijuana in unincorporated King County. Since adoption of these initial zoning regulations, King County has received and processed numerous applications for marijuana-related land uses.
Some residents have expressed concerns regarding the existing regulations for marijuana production, processing and retailing. In order to review these concerns in rural areas, as well as consider an Executive proposal to regulate clustering of retail locations, the King County Council voted to pass a four-month moratorium on the acceptance of applications for or the establishment or location of new marijuana producers, processors and retailers on April 25th, 2016.
Two ordinances have been introduced. They are Ordinance No. 2016-0236 and Ordinance No. 2016-0254. Council Vice Chair Rod Dembowski, chair of the TrEE committee, says it’s his intention “to review the legislation at this first special meeting and move expeditiously to consider any amendments to the existing marijuana zoning codes, so that the Council can make any changes to the code that are appropriate, and lift the temporary moratorium on this legal industry as soon as possible.”
As mentioned at last week’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, the annual Community Service Area event for unincorporated NH is coming up later this month. Here’s the official announcement we just received:
King County Town Hall/Open House
King County Community Service Areas Program
North Highline/White Center
Residents of unincorporated King County are invited to meet with County officials to discuss issues affecting White Center and North Highline.
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
7 to 9 PM
Seola Garden – Providence Bldg, 11215 5th Avenue SW
County Councilmember Joe McDermott
Rhonda Berry – Executive Office Chief of Operations
Sheriff John Urquhart
For more information contact Alan Painter, Program Manager, Community Services Area Program 206 477-4521 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Interpreter services available upon request
By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor
Discussions are under way about a possible development at the county-owned site at 8th SW/SW 108th that includes the White Center Food Bank and a former health clinic, according to the head of one of the agencies involved in those discussions.
Steve Daschle, executive director of West Seattle-based Southwest Youth and Family Services, mentioned this while speaking Wednesday night to the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council, a monthly meeting we routinely cover for our partner site WSB. He said, “It’s still very conceptual right now, and we’ll be coming back for community support. … We’re hopeful we can pull together the resources to build some housing at that site.” He acknowledged there might be community concerns too, “but I think we’re going to have to try to overcome their concerns by suggesting that housing is never a bad thing.”
If you’ve only seen the 1961-built offices on the site, you might wonder if it’s big enough for a mixed-use project, but county records show it includes open space that Daschle describe as “trees behind (the building).” Before mentioning the project, he had been telling DNDC members – from community councils and other organizations in eastern West Seattle – that SWYFS has found itself providing services further and further south in King County, as the people it serves move that way.
We’ll be following up this week to see if we can find out more.
Nonprofits including White Center-headquartered Technology Access Foundation are getting surplus Metro vanpool vehicles like that one; the photo accompanied this news release:
Metropolitan King County Council Chair Joe McDermott will be delivering retired Metro Transit Vanpool vans in Council District 8 to provide transportation assistance to for low-income, elderly or young people or people with disabilities.
The programs that will be receiving vans are:
South Park Senior Citizens
Technology Access Foundation
The vanpool program provides mobility for a diverse array of King County residents, supports the positive work of various local organizations, and relieves traffic congestion by reducing the need for single-occupancy vehicles. Interested organizations can contact the Councilmember representing their district for more information on applying for a vehicle.
As mentioned here over the summer, King County Councilmember Joe McDermott has been championing the request to rename Lakewood Park in honor of the man who fought so hard for it and its little lake, Dick Thurnau. Today, he and his colleagues made it official:
Dick Thurnau was an activist, amateur historian and a recognizable face in the White Center community. He used his love of history to help in the restoration of the name of the lake near his home. Today, the Metropolitan King County Council gave its unanimous support to rename King County’s Lakewood Park to Dick Thurnau Memorial Park in recognition of his life of service to the White Center Community and this park in particular.
“The legacy that Dick left for White Center is in the vibrancy of this park, a welcoming and invaluable neighborhood resource,” said Council Vice Chair Joe McDermott, the sponsor of the legislation. “I am glad to work with the community to honor Dick’s dedication to the community.”
In 1948, newlywed Dick Thurnau and wife Helen purchased their home in the White Center community, next to Lakewood Park. Even though Thurnau moved from the neighborhood to work for Mack Trucks, he kept his home near the Park.
When he retired from Mack Trucks, Thurnau returned to his home and became a strong advocate for the neighborhoods that make up White Center. He led efforts to reduce storm water runoff into Lake Hicks, the lake within Lakewood Park, and the restoration of the park, which had become the home of a disc golf course.
In his efforts to help keep Lake Hicks clean, Thurnau discovered that the lake was originally named after Leonard Hicklin, one of the early settlers of the area that is today White Center. Thurnau worked to have the Hicklin name restored and was rewarded for his effort in 2011 when he received a letter from the United States Board on Geographic Names stating that they had approved his proposal in renaming Lake Hicks to Lake Hicklin.
In recognition to his devotion to the White Center Community, a number of neighborhood groups recommended the renaming of the Lakewood Park in memory of Thurnau.
Mr. Thurnau died in May 2014 at age 89.
(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:
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…
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.
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.
(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.)
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.
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:
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
White Center Heights Elementary School
10015 6th Ave. SW
(Street Parking is limited)
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.”
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.
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.
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>
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.
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.
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.