King County Council to take up marijuana regulations Monday

July 22nd, 2016 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news No Comments »

Just out of the WCN inbox:

WHAT: The Metropolitan King County Council will hear public testimony and possibly act on legislation impacting zoning for the production, processing, and sale of legal marijuana in unincorporated King County.

WHERE: King County Courthouse, 10th floor, 516 Third Ave, Seattle 98104.

WHEN: Monday, July 25th, 1:30 p.m.

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 25, 2016.

After two special meetings of the Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee, Councilmembers are scheduled to discuss and possibly act on two ordinances, 2016-0236 and 2016-0254, that would amend current marijuana regulations in unincorporated King County.

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SCAM ALERT: Door-to-door solicitors aren’t who they claim to be, per Boys & Girls Clubs

July 22nd, 2016 Tracy Posted in White Center news No Comments »

The Boys and Girls Clubs wanted us to let you know that they’ve heard door-to-door solicitors are out in White Center claiming to represent their organization – but that’s a fraudulent claim:


The B&GC do have a facility in Greenbridge, by the way, and if you’d like to help them, you can certainly contact them directly any time. And they ask that if someone does try to sell you something while claiming to be from their organization, contact law enforcement.

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ANNEXATION? Boundary Review Board’s final vote on potential Seattle annexation of North Highline

July 14th, 2016 Tracy Posted in Annexation, White Center news 5 Comments »

7:15 PM: We’re in Newcastle, at Bellevue Fire Station #9, where King County’s Boundary Review Board is in its regular meeting – exactly one month after the conclusion of its two-day hearing on Seattle’s proposal to annex White Center and most of the rest of what’s left of unincorporated North Highline. (Our coverage of that hearing: Night one here, night two here.)

Tonight, the board is scheduled to take its final vote on whether to approve the proposal. This meeting doesn’t include any further public testimony; no one is here but us and two City of Seattle representatives. Their approval is still just another step in a long process; we’ll get into that once they take their action.

7:19 PM: Board members had no further comments, questions, or discussion of the proposed approval before voting to approve it, with one “no” vote (Laura Kiselius) and one abstention. The board’s executive Lenora Blauman says this now means the motion will be filed tomorrow and that will open a 30-day appeal period. There is one point of discussion after the vote – a member says there were some important concerns raised at the hearing, and she hopes that they can be pointed out in the cover letter to the motion, to ensure the city of Seattle is officially aware of those concerns. It was subsequently noted that two Seattle reps are here, and the board member said that’s why she pointed it out. Without further discussion, that concluded the item and they’ve moved on to unrelated business.

7:26 PM: Here’s where the process goes from here – after the appeal period, if the decision stands, it’s then up to the city to pursue the annexation. (We talked with Blauman after the meeting; she says appeals would be filed through King County Superior Court.)

City of Seattle staffer Kenny Pittman had told us that “community engagement” with North Highline residents would ensue. The city had said it hadn’t decided whether to seek a 2017 vote or 2018 vote by residents of the potential annexation area. But before a vote, the City Council would have to approve sending the proposal to voters. It’s notable that the Seattle City Council has many new members since the last time annexation came up for discussion.

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VIDEO: Fireworks, carnival on first night of White Center Jubilee Days

July 13th, 2016 Tracy Posted in White Center Jubilee Days, White Center news 1 Comment »

That’s a minute of the 20-minute fireworks show that delighted Jubilee Days-goers in Steve Cox Memorial Park tonight. It was also opening night for the carnival at the park:

Carnival’s on through Sunday.

The street fair happens Saturday and Sunday, and that’s only part of what’s happening all weekend, including entertainment (see the schedule here).

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ANNEXATION: Boundary Review Board’s final vote Thursday, and what would follow

July 11th, 2016 Tracy Posted in Annexation, White Center news No Comments »

When the King County Boundary Review Board‘s two-day hearing wrapped up last month, the BRB had one more step to take for its final decision on potential Seattle annexation of most of what’s left of unincorporated North Highline – a final vote at its next official meeting. That’s now just three days away, 7 pm Thursday (July 14th) at Bellevue Fire Station #9 in Newcastle; here’s the agenda.

If the BRB does give its final approval to the proposed annexation, that’s not the final step, but it’s a big one. The Seattle City Council still would have to approve sending the plan to NH voters, and they would have to give their approval. And between BRB and SCC action, the city promised, months of engagement would ensue. So, looking ahead to Thursday’s meeting, we asked City of Seattle annexation liaison Kenny Pittman what would happen next: “If the Board finalizes their tentative approval, there is a 30-day appeal period to allow impacted parties to appeal the Board’s decision. That will end August 15, 2016. After the 30-day appeal period, the City will start on its community engagement work and continue to brief City Council committee (Education, Equity & Governance) on next steps.”

Thursday’s meeting is open to the public. WCN was the only news organization to cover last month’s two-day hearing in White Center; our reports are here and here (including unedited video of the proceedings).

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Almost time for White Center Jubilee Days! Carnival, fireworks Wednesday

July 10th, 2016 Tracy Posted in White Center Jubilee Days, White Center news Comments Off on Almost time for White Center Jubilee Days! Carnival, fireworks Wednesday

The White Center Jubilee Days festival kicks off Wednesday (July 13th). That’s the first night of the carnival at Steve Cox Memorial Park (scheduled to open at 3 pm Wednesday), which is also where fireworks are scheduled that night at dusk. Full details on the festival – including next weekend’s street fair – are at jubileedays.org.

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Why the Guardian 1 helicopter was over White Center again

July 9th, 2016 Tracy Posted in Helicopter, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news Comments Off on Why the Guardian 1 helicopter was over White Center again

Thanks for the tips – the King County Sheriff’s Office helicopter Guardian One was over White Center for a little while tonight, almost exactly 24 hours after last night’s visit. And again, they’ve explained it with information on Twitter:


One tipster reported seeing KCSO cars in the “dollar store” parking lot on the east side of downtown WC. For tips, by the way, you can text or call us any time at the same hotline we’ve long had for our partner site West Seattle Blog – 206-293-6302.

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What the Guardian 1 helicopter was doing over White Center

July 8th, 2016 Tracy Posted in Helicopter, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news Comments Off on What the Guardian 1 helicopter was doing over White Center

Thanks for the text about a helicopter over White Center. Since media helicopters are almost always off on weekends, we figured it had to be Guardian One, and headed over. But they’ve already explained themselves, via Twitter:


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4th annual White Center Promise back-to-school celebration set for August 5th

July 6th, 2016 Tracy Posted in Greenbridge, White Center Community Development Association, White Center news Comments Off on 4th annual White Center Promise back-to-school celebration set for August 5th

Just in from Tony Vo at White Center Community Development Association:

Our 6th annual White Center Promise Celebration will be held on Friday, August 5th from 4:00 PM until 7:00 PM at Greenbridge Plaza, located in White Center at 9800 8th Ave SW.

The White Center Promise aims to eliminate barriers to equity and provide a foundation for family and student success from the time a child is born until they transition from post-secondary to gainful employment.

The celebration kicks off the school year early and connects over 800 students and their families to 30+ community resources, free backpacks and school supplies, local performances and entertainment, and educational activities for parents to take-away. In addition, there will be free food and raffle items.

You can sign up for the event via this link, http://tinyurl.com/WCPromise2016. If you would like to volunteer for this event, please email Tony@wccda.org.

Sponsors of this event includes King County Housing Authority, Equity Matters, Highline Schools Foundation for Excellence, Washington State Charter Schools Association, Habitat for Humanity, and Amerigroup.

First day of classes for Highline Public Schools is September 1st.

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Two women, 1 pregnant, shot on the 4th in Top Hat

July 5th, 2016 Tracy Posted in Crime, top hat, White Center news 2 Comments »

From King County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Sgt. Cindi West:

Last night around 1130 pm King County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of two women shot near S. 112th St. and 1st Ave S. [map].

The women were with a group of people lighting off fireworks at that location. Witnesses said a white car was driving erratically back and forth in between the area where the group was lighting fireworks. When the vehicle stopped nearby a man from the group approached the vehicle to yell at the driver to stop driving recklessly.

An altercation occurred between the man and two people in the car. During the altercation shots rang out and two women in the group were shot. It is unknown at this time if the shots came from the occupants of the car.

The woman who was shot in the back is a pregnant, 24-year-old Burien woman. She was taken to Harborview and is in serious but stable condition. The other woman, 46 and from Seattle, was taken to Highline Hospital with a gunshot wound to her foot.

The vehicle in the altercation is described as a white older model sedan occupied by two females. Detectives are asking for anyone with information to call the King County Sheriff’s Office at 206-296-3311.

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Cine en el Parque/Movie in the Park returns to White Center on August 6th

July 2nd, 2016 Tracy Posted in Fun, Steve Cox Memorial Park, White Center news Comments Off on Cine en el Parque/Movie in the Park returns to White Center on August 6th

King County Parks and the White Center Community Development Association invite you to mark your calendar for this:

That’s the trailer for “El Gallo Con Muchos Huevos,” which will be onscreen at Steve Cox Memorial Park (1321 SW 102nd) at dusk on August 6th (you can arrive as early as 6:30 pm), as this year’s “Cine en el Parque/Movie in the Park.” Free! Enjoy games, music, food, and fun. Here’s a look at last year’s first-ever event:

See you at the movie!

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MYERS WAY MEETING TONIGHT: 5:30 pm pre-meeting tour added

June 30th, 2016 Tracy Posted in White Center news Comments Off on MYERS WAY MEETING TONIGHT: 5:30 pm pre-meeting tour added

Crossposting this from partner site West Seattle Blog, as we hadn’t heard previously about the 5:30 pm tour and you might be interested too:


(Click to see full-size PDF)

If you’re interested in the future of the Myers Way Parcels, owned by the city of Seattle and adjacent to North Highline on multiple sides – the city’s final reminder about tonight’s community meeting at the Joint Training Facility includes word of a 5:30 pm guided tour BEFORE the 6:30 pm meeting. From district coordinator Kerry Wade:

This is a friendly reminder that there will be a meeting this evening regarding the future of the Myers Way Property. Come learn more about the history of this land, what has been proposed by the city and the community, what are some of the barriers, and learn from a panel of experts what is at stake. There will be exhibits on display and opportunities for you to make comments as well.

For those of you who are interested in a brief tour of the property, please feel free to come early (around 5:30 p.m.).

Here are the meeting vitals. We hope to see you all there!

Myers Way Property Community Meeting
Hosted By City of Seattle Department of Finance and Administrative Services

Joint Training Facility Meeting Room
9401 Myers Way South

Thurs. June 30, 2016 @ 6:30 p.m. (Doors open at 6:00; Come early for a 5:30 guided tour)

Light refreshments will be provided
Interpreters will be on hand for Somali, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Spanish.

WSB coverage of the site and related issues is archived here.

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UPDATE: About the helicopter over south White Center/Shorewood

June 29th, 2016 Tracy Posted in Helicopter, Shorewood, White Center news 5 Comments »

(WCN photo – deputies conferring behind the McDonald’s in the search zone)

8:27 PM: Thanks to everybody asking about this – scanner traffic confirms a search is under way near Ambaum/114th for a suspect, and that’s brought out the Guardian One helicopter, with a King County Sheriff’s Office K-9 on the way too. We haven’t heard what the suspect is being sought for, but deputies do seem to know who they are looking for, and it’s someone reported to have a record. Right now the search scene includes the storage business across from the Ambaum McDonald’s; one reader tells us they’ve also seen deputies a bit further south. We’re heading out to see what more we can find out, and we’ll update if/when we hear anything more.

ADDED: The Guardian One crew tweeted some information shortly after we had checked their feed and saw nothing. They tweeted, “In White Center, looking for white male, 6-2, black running shorts and shaved head. Wanted for assault and warrant. Ran from McDonald’s.”

8:52 PM UPDATE: We are in the area now and just talked briefly to deputies. They say the assault allegation involves domestic violence. Guardian One is still circling.

9:32 PM UPDATE: We left the area a little while ago, same time that the helicopter departed – which wasn’t because of an arrest, but because they had to refuel. Meantime, a KCSO K-9 team had arrived for a search in the area. So far, we haven’t heard of anyone being taken into custody, but are continuing to monitor, and if we don’t hear anything definitive sooner, we’ll check with KCSO’s media-relations officer in the morning to see if they have anything new to report. Our understanding is that the victim did not require hospitalization.

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Fireworks sales begin – here are the rules

June 28th, 2016 Tracy Posted in safety, White Center news Comments Off on Fireworks sales begin – here are the rules

Fireworks are still legal in unincorporated King County, and sales have now begun at licensed stands. This year’s rules and restrictions, dates and hours, are all listed here (statewide). But please note that while it’s legal to buy them now, you cannot legally set them off until the 4th of July – next Monday – 9 am to midnight. And they’re not legal in the cities adjacent to unincorporated North Highline.

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Myers Way Parcels: Meeting Thursday; White Center Community Development Association voices ‘serious concerns’

June 26th, 2016 Tracy Posted in White Center Community Development Association, White Center news 1 Comment »

A 33-acre stretch of undeveloped City of Seattle-owned land known as the Myers Way Parcels is the subject of a community meeting next Thursday, June 30th. The land is adjacent to unincorporated North Highline, and a growing list of community advocates want the city to hold off on a potential sale – outlined in the “preliminary recommendations” released earlier this month – until it can reach out to more of the general area. Joining the list, the White Center Community Development Association, a signatory to this letter sent to Seattle officials:

Finance & Administrative Services Department
Re: Response to June 15, 2016, FAS Preliminary Recommendation Report on Myers Parcels

Dear Mr. Bretzke;

Your report raises serious concerns for our organizations. We ask that you stop the Myers Parcels sale process, and engage the South Park and White Center communities in envisioning the best use of this public land for their public benefit. This civic outreach aligns with Mayor Murray’s Equity and Environmental Action Agenda. The communities of color, immigrants, the elderly, low income and others in these areas live uphill from the Duwamish River, one of America’s worst Superfund sites. They also suffer elevated levels of illness, as they breathe the worst quality air in Seattle.

More than half the residents here do not speak or read English; for some, it’s a second language. Yet the City’s Finance & Administrative Services (FAS) Department issued its formal Notice of Excess Property (Jan. 15, 2016), and its Preliminary Recommendations for Myers Parcels (June 15, 2016) only in English, and to a limited area in the extensive communities that will be affected by the proposed Myers sale. To do effective community outreach, FAS must inform the non-English speaking majority of residents, by offering notices in Spanish, Vietnamese, and Somali. So far, FAS has effectively disenfranchised huge swaths of the local population.

The 33 acres of Myers Parcels is the largest tract of undeveloped land that the City of Seattle owns. It holds origins of Hamm Creek, and a second creek – parts of the most fragile link in Chinook Salmon Recovery, and within the Duwamish River Superfund area. Its forested and wetland areas provide habitat, green buffer, and ecosystem service benefits for the White Center, Highland Park, South Park, Roxbury, Delridge and Georgetown communities, and for the City of Seattle. The Myers Parcels forest helps clean the area’s air and reduce atmospheric carbon. It is also historically significant to the Duwamish Tribe.

FAS recommends using the area south of the Joint Training Facility for an expanded parking lot and a commercial warehouse operation, and retaining the wetlands and critical slope above SR 509 that can’t be developed. This FAS top-down recommendation runs contrary to Mayor Murray’s Equity and Environmental Action Agenda, which calls for grassroots, community-driven planning. Rather than rush into a sale, the city should fully engage the local communities in a visioning process that considers their best interests.

Page 3 of the FAS Preliminary Recommendation Report portrays the West Duwamish Greenbelt as usable park space. This is misleading. The Greenbelt is filled with large trees and thick undergrowth, lacks trails, and is unusable for public recreation. The entrance for Westcrest Park is not within walking distance for community residents near Myers.

Residents of South Park, eastern White Center, and Arrowhead Gardens need accessible green space, improved air and water quality, access to product and service providers and/or existing retail cores, and green jobs. Instead, the city plans to reduce green space and walkability, and degrade air and water quality with parking lots, warehouses, and truck operations. It will not improve accessibility to what residents need, and offers no assurances that proposed commercial operations will produce green jobs for underemployed local residents.

In a recent survey by the White Center Community Development Association (WCCDA), White Center residents expressed concern about access to employment, despite living nearby the South Park, Georgetown, SoDo industrial areas. There are ways to combine economic opportunity and environmental sustainability, and support a green economy for Seattle’s future. Adding warehousing and trucking operations neither provides this, nor addresses residents’ concerns.

There is a wide range of “greener” options for Myers Parcels – an organic farming cooperative with a mission to support small local produce stands and ethnic grocery stores; a manufacturing facility for clean tech products or compostable goods; an environmental education center an ADA-accessible park for Arrowhead Gardens; and more possibilities.

This FAS plan also does not keep the Myers watershed healthy, or help to restore the Duwamish River and promote salmon habitat. It makes no sense to degrade a watershed that feeds the Duwamish River, when we’re spending millions of taxpayer dollars to clean that river up. The FAS Dept. has also ignored our “Save Myers Parcels” petition, which has garnered more than 1100 signatures and nearly 500 comments, and support from a growing number of individuals and community associations.

We call on the City to stop this sale, withdraw the FAS recommendation, and fully engage local communities in determining the future of this site. A new assessment of current and future Myers ecosystem value and benefits must also be done, as the current study has expired. We urge the city to retain and develop Myers Parcels as usable public space to benefit all of our communities.

Sincerely,

Tony Vo,
Director, White Center Promise, White Center Community Development Association

Elaine Ike
Co-Chair, Seattle Green Spaces Coalition

Here’s the notice about Thursday’s meeting, which is at 6:30 pm at the Joint Training Facility immediately north of the site, 9401 Myers Way S.

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PHOTOS: US Women’s Olympic Rugby athletes visit Greenbridge

June 20th, 2016 Tracy Posted in Greenbridge, Sports, White Center news Comments Off on PHOTOS: US Women’s Olympic Rugby athletes visit Greenbridge

rugbycheer (1)

Early Olympic fever swept through the Southwest Boys and Girls Club in Greenbridge this afternoon, as the club welcomed some special visitors:

rugbyteam (1)

Members of the USA Women’s Olympic Rugby team are training in the Seattle area before heading to Rio, and they took a side trip today to White Center to meet local kids and run through some basic rugby skills with them – passing, kicking, and formations.

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With them, head coach Richie Walker.

rugbycoach (1)

The team will make history because rugby will be an Olympic sport this year for the first time in almost a century.

rugbykids1 (1)

According to the USA Rugby website, the women will compete August 6th through 8th.

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VIDEO & AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE: Boundary Review Board ends 2-night annexation hearing with preliminary approval

June 14th, 2016 Tracy Posted in Annexation, White Center news 2 Comments »

(WCN photo)

7:06 PM: We’re back at the Bethaday Community Learning Space in Dick Thurnau Memorial Park, at the start of the second night of the King County Boundary Review Board‘s hearing on Seattle’s proposal to annex most of what remains of unincorporated North Highline. Our coverage of Night 1, including video and as-it-happened reporting, is here. We’re doing it again tonight. This will start with public comment, and if that concludes before 9 pm or so, the board will publicly deliberate the annexation (following up to 10 minutes of rebuttal by the city of Seattle); if this runs long, one more night is set aside, this Thursday. Maybe about 30 people here tonight, about half of last night’s attendance.

(Added Wednesday morning: Unedited video of the hearing’s first half; second half is inline below, with our summarizing of that part of the meeting)

7:14 PM: The special assistant attorney general assigned to the board, Robert Kaufman, is continuing to explain the rules, including possible appeals after a decision. And now he’s again conducting an en-masse swearing-in for those who plan to speak tonight. Board executive Lenora Blauman says about 15 people are signed up to speak so far – individuals get up to 3 minutes, group representatives up to 10. Mike Mullen, who says he represents an area condo association, is first. He starts with a question, wondering about Seattle’s timetable for providing services to the community if annexation happens. “Will we have a representative with the city who will take charge of this program and offer it to us and let us know how to access the services available?” such as the Office of Economic Development and Seattle Police – he acknowledges that the Sheriff’s Office is short-handed, but wonders if SPD is staffed well enough to be an improvement. “I would like to know more details, more specifics; there seem to be a lot of smoke and mirrors going on.”

7:20 PM: Barbara Dobkin is the second to speak. While as she says, she’s long been involved with the community, including on the board of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, she makes it clear she is speaking as a resident. She takes note of last night’s mention that notices had gone out to residents before Burien’s version of this annexation hearing years ago; those notices were sent by the city of Burien, she points out, but Seattle sent out no such notices before this. She talks about the challenges the community faces; “how can Seattle and King County even begin to justify the annexation … when they have people living under I-5, camped out on sidewalks in Lake City and Ballard, and along Myers Way … the city is clearly facing a crisis and yet they want us to believe they can come and improve our lives.” She also says she wants to put on the record that NHUAC endorses a letter from Liz Giba (its president) opposing the annexation.

7:23 PM: Elizabeth Gordon is next. She is reading a letter she says is from Gary Wasdin of the King County Library System. It says residents would continue to pay off bonds for local libraries through 2024 but would not continue paying the library levy. The two KCLS branches have operating costs of about $1.5 million, she reads from the document. It outlines the possibilities for the two libraries that Wasdin had mentioned at the most recent meeting of NHUAC (of whose board Gordon is a member). An agreement would have to be negotiated. Next, she is reading comments from the White Center Chamber of Commerce, for which she serves as secretary. She says it would like to see the library be operated by King County, and that the Chamber supports the “concerns raised by Liz Giba. … Our big concern is whether we would be paying the same or more for less services,” and the Chamber also is concerned about changing to Seattle laws including the minimum wage. They’re also concerned about trust and follow-through. They would like to see Seattle put forth some efforts toward this area as a good-faith measure, but haven’t yet. She mentions some traffic changes the city made in the Delridge Triangle area just to the north of White Center but did not inform and engage others in the area. “It would be one thing if as part of this proposal someone from the county and the city would sit down and listen (but) with all due respect to (city and county reps Kenny Pittman and Karen Freeman) we don’t see them often enough” to establish a relationship or discuss needs. She raises one more issue: Licensing of marijuana businesses in the area. She discloses that she is administrator of White Center’s first recreational-marijuana store, but notes that West Seattle’s first-such store, right across Roxbury from White Center, is engaging in “marketing strategies” that seem detrimental to the community.

She moves on to mentioning the Myers Way encampment, which “is on the Seattle site, but the petty crimes that take place are on the North Highline side, and as far as we know right now, there is no coordination between the law enforcement (agencies) there, and it’s difficult because of the policy directives that Seattle Police have received.” She wraps up by mentioning the local poverty rate and says assurances are needed that policies and programs will keep that rate from going higher. And she says the community wants to be engaged, wants to know, “wants to be asked to be at the table.”

Board member Mary Lynne Evans asks a question about a sewer district that Gordon had mentioned along the way had concerns; that was the Southwest Suburban Sewer District, it’s clarified. “Did the White Center Chamber ever take a vote on annexation?” was the next question. Gordon’s reply: “Our members have mixed views …” but would either oppose it or request a delay until questions can be answered.

7:36 PM: Angelina Benedetti is the next person called; she says she was to read Wasdin’s statement on behalf of KCLS, but since Gordon done that, she’ll step aside. Board member Ronald Little asks for more on the statement that residents would continue to pay off the bonds and Benedetti says that goes back to the 2004 vote for that program, which is what generated the money to build the newly opened White Center Library. Next question is about the reciprocal agreement between Seattle and King County’s library systems, and that is affirmed.

Amanda Kay Helmick is called next. She is a West Seattle resident. She clarifies that she is speaking as a private resident, though she is involved with a community group in WS. “White Center is not a separate place for people in West Seattle, or Seattle. It’s connected. Roxbury has no boundary – it’s just a street.” She brings up the Westwood-Highland Park Urban Village plan in Seattle. The area is “just on the other side of (the city-county line),” she says, adding that while the city has not invested in the area, the process has been “reignited,” and the annexation of White Center is “a catalyst,” and that they want to join together in planning the future. “I really hope this board encourages that for Seattle and for King County to move forward. We are not separate, we are together … I want that to be the theme moving forward … it’s not us and them.”

Board member Ronald Little asks how the district-elected City Council is working for the area. (Helmick, though she doesn’t mention it, was a candidate for City Council.) She offers the caveat that she has more contact with government reps than most because of her advocacy, but so far, she has seen responsiveness from Councilmember Lisa Herbold and her staff.

Board member Stephen Toy asks Helmick for more information about the boundaries of the “urban village” that she mentioned. (We’ll add a link later to the documentation that shows that.) Helmick points out that the boundary goes right up to the city-county line.

Board member Paul MacCready asks if there is inclusiveness in the area from both sides of the line; Helmick says that in her efforts, she has worked to be inclusive. “Again, I think we’re all in this together, so from a community standpoint, I can say yes, but from an (organizational) standpoint,” she can’t say.

7:45 PM: Loretta Brittinham is at the microphone. If the area is annexed, she asks, what happens once the Legislature-approved diverted sales tax revenue runs out? She also wonders about the number of police that would be assigned to the area. “We don’t have a lot of property tax in the area,” she mentions, pointing out low-income housing that doesn’t generate that revenue. “A lot of people don’t go downtown (to Seattle) to shop any more because they don’t feel safe,” she adds, and then brings up some Seattle City Council decisions such as the bike-share buyout, and voices a lack of confidence in decisions the City Council has made. She also brings up schools, RVs, Hamm Creek pollution from encampments, and says she would like to see the utility districts remain independent.

7:49 PM: Bob Price says, “My main concern is safety.” He says he worked for years as a crossing guard, but never got support from the police department for a “race track” situation in the area because they were “shorthanded.” He brings up a “large crime problem in the Delridge area and South Park area” and says people have been “turned in” but nothing was done about it. He then brings up the South Park resident who was shot at the Boulevard Park 7-11 after attacking people with a hatchet. Next, he voices concern about zoning densifying and leading to overcrowded schools. His request is for annexation to be delayed “until something is done” about the issues he raised.

7:52 PM: Liz Giba speaks next. “I’ve lived in White Center since 1974.” While she is a North Highline Fire District commissioner, she is not speaking for that board, she says: “I am speaking as a concerned citizen. … As you review Seattle’s notice of intention, I think you have found, there is no plan … Seattle told you they would have a new comp plan by the end of last year. No comp plan yet, no housing plan yet, still hasn’t been heard by the City Council, so they don’t really know what they want to do with us. What they have told you is outdated information. They’re telling us that the soonest they will annex is 2019, but all the numbers in the notice are for 2014 or prior – that makes it at least 5 years out of date. It’s not accurate.” She brings up the new library, and says the city did not reach out to KCLS, or else “could have had this all wrapped up.” She mentions Kenny Pittman’s White Center visit in March, and says he said “don’t worry about zoning,” but that Seattle annexation would densify this area greatly. She wonders what being part of an “urban village” would mean for poverty. “I feel like our best interests are not being considered here. … I feel it’s a violation of ethics and morals and the Fair Housing Act.” Giba also mentions that she followed up with Jenn Ramirez Robson about comments made last night on behalf of the King County Housing Authority, and feels that low-income housing and poverty in this area were underestimated. “King County should be ashamed for its failure to this community, and I don’t feel Seattle is ready.”

7:58 PM: Tiffany Mowatt is next, saying she is a 20-year resident, and is here “in support of Seattle’s annexation of White Center, because there are many programs (the city could bring) that could help the community here.” That would include more services for families with young children, and she lists several, including health and education programs. “For school-age kids, we could potentially have more after-school services and parks program … currently county services are extremely limited, and as a result, supports for academic, social, and emotional needs … go unmet.” Local businesses cannot be competitive without more support, she adds, including “small refugee/immigrant businesses.” She mentions White Center Community Development Association executive director Sili Savusa, who was present last night but couldn’t be here tonight. She says, “We deserve annexation to Seattle.” On a followup question, she clarifies that she is associated with WCCDA.

8:01 PM: Meryl speaks next, saying she was initially in favor of annexation but “what I’ve seen on Myers Way makes me change that view because I haven’t seen any good-faith effort by the city of Seattle to” fix the problems there, including, she lists, open drug use, prostitution, garbage, and “protection by the Seattle Police Department of these folks, a lot of whom are not good folks,” while citizens who “try to clean it up … are getting harassed.” She says a neighbor of hers had to put in an electric fence because animals and garden vegetables were being stolen and people were relieving themselves in yards. If the community is to consider annexation, the city should first clean up that area and “build some trust,” she says. She then mentions the city’s rules for landlords, which she says require a fee and make eviction difficult.

Board member Evans asks for clarification of Meryl’s statement that the city “placed” the RVs there. She mentions a Community Police Team officer responsible for that.

8:05 PM: Next person is Paul McLaughlin, who says he feels he should have been notified by mail but was not. He found out about the meeting from a neighbor. “I’m a disabled vet, I don’t use a computer. I don’t feel I’ve been represented properly or been notified. I like our community. I feel we should stay the way we are. We’re a very poor area. If Seattle takes over this area, it’s going to chase away the seniors.” He says he owns five rental properties that are affordable housing but feels annexation would change that. “If you’re going to get rid of our affordable housing, then we have problems.” He thinks notices sent by mail “would (have) fill(ed) this room.” He concludes, “Please pay attention to the local people.”

8:07 PM: Mark Ufkes is next. He says he speaks for the White Center Homeowners’ Association, which feels that if the area has to be annexed, Seattle is better than Burien. He speaks of his son Hank, who went to the Evergreen campus for high school and enjoyed being part of an ethnically diverse student body. He talks about his wife Lois Schipper (who testified last night) being involved for years in schools. Another of his sons, Patrick, volunteered at the White Center Food Bank. And he says his family owns “a couple of rentals.” He then brings up Dick Thurnau, namesake of the park where the hearing is happening. He and Thurnau advocated for the park for years, he said, and also mentioned having spent years on the Unincorporated Area Council, but said he had issues with the group’s claim to be elected representatives of the community “because only 20 or 30 people voted.” He goes on to mention his time leading the White Center Chamber and working to diversify its board, and then collaborating with the WCCDA, also creating a website that he says he doesn’t know if the Chamber manages any more. The Chamber also placed welcome signs around the area. “We took this all on ourselves because King County doesn’t have the resources to (tackle) these problems.” He goes on to mention other initiatives including ones dealing with alcoholism and homelessness, and says that people complaining about various problems on the Seattle side of the line shouldn’t infer those problems don’t exist in the unincorporated area because they do.

Next, he mentions the library, and an effort by the Boy Scouts to remove trash from encampments on the site where the library eventually was built, then pointing out the site to KCLS. “But some people in this room fought aggressively” against that. He alleges that the people who “complained tonight the most about Seattle” are those who most supported annexation by Burien (rejected by voters in 2012) and elaborates on that point. Then, to another issue brought up last night, he brings up the fire department, and its rating of local districts as well as Seattle. “Here’s what they told me on the phone – that NHFD’s classification is a 4 – Seattle’s classification is a 2, the highest you can get” – he says he’ll submit documents supporting/explaining that. “Seattle has one of the best fire departments in the state,” he declares. He says it increased its commitment to excellence in the wake of the Pang warehouse arson 20+ years ago. “What I want to say is that Seattle will always have more resources” in terms of public safety, he adds. And he says that before the move of Medic 4 to Burien, the unit responded here from SeaTac, almost 15 minutes. “The fire districts have done a good job for us, but some of their issues are about Burien, not about Seattle, and they’re always going to complain about Seattle, and it’s not fair.”

8:18 PM: Carol, a Myers Way resident, says she’s representing the Top Hat Action Team, which is “dealing with the homeless crisis and the RV encampments,” and has turned in exhibits to show what she’s talking about. She asks for a postponement until “we know what we’re signing up for … it’s not what we want.” She says other speakers have covered many points about which she too is concerned, including the library, but wants to see changes and “new data” before any vote would happen.

8:23 PM: Pat Murakami, president of the South Seattle Crime Prevention Council, says she is speaking as a private citizen and wants to say that Seattle has “a long history of broken promises” in relation to annexation. In Columbia City, for example, there are no sidewalks; in North Seattle, too. “I’m very concerned about Seattle’s promise to you, to the White Center community, of (a certain number of) police officers” – the South Precinct, she says, is dramatically understaffed. Even the added police that Seattle’s mayor is pursuing will not be enough, and “we can’t afford to dilute our resources.” She says promises were made about economic development along the light rail line on Martin Luther King Junior Way but nothing has happened and businesses have been lost. “If Seattle can’t develop an area like that … what are they going to do for this community?”

Public testimony is now closed, and Seattle has the opportunity for rebuttal. A break will be taken first.

(Added Wednesday morning: Second half of our unedited video of the entire meeting)

8:34 PM: After the break, Karen Freeman of the King County Executive’s Office is asked to come up and answer some questions that were asked last night. Among other things, the questions were about services that Seattle provides but King County does not; she says there are many. She also says there is a joint planning effort on the drawing board related to this. The intention is for that to be done in 2017, she says, while noting that “we have one full-time employee who does this type of work for all of King County, while the city has 40 staff members (approximately) who (do that work).” She again mentions the county’s projected “$50 million shortfall.” Board members are asking about the negotiations over a possible fire-station site in Puget Sound Park years ago; it was located, she said, in the northern part of the previous Burien annexation of part of North Highline. “The leadership at the time in the city of Burien was not excited about the proposal and objected, so the fire district dropped out of the negotiations.”

Now, Seattle’s special counsel James Haney, who was the first to speak last night, gets the chance for up to 10 minutes of rebuttal. He says he is accompanied by Pittman and by Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins as well as assistant chief Jay Hagen (Pittman and Hagen also were here last night).

Haney answers a few questions including confirming that sales-tax money diverted to Seattle specifically to compensate for the costs of annexation are required to be spent only in the annexation area.

He asks Chief Scoggins to address a few points, including saying that it is up to a community to set the levels of fire service. “I came here tonight for a couple reasons – I want you to know that if this annexation does take place, we want the annexed area to receive all the same service other areas (of the city) receive.” He mentions last night’s questions about Advanced Life Support services, and notes that Seattle is a national center of innovation “in that level of care.” So, “what does it look like tomorrow if the annexation does take place – our goal is to try to get ALS services on scene within 8 minutes.” He said the city didn’t get to 90 percentile of that in 2015, but almost – 89 times out of 100, up from 87 the year before. “We would look at the system as a whole and place our resources the places they need to be” to achieve that goal. He also says that Basic Life Support units already carry defibrillators and other high levels of service. He then mentions the concerns about North Burien and possible “automatic aid” – that is supposed to include reciprocal aid. He notes that the North Highline station “runs a lot of calls” in North Burien, so that might require a “contractual discussion” if services were not being received in exchange. He said it would be important to be “open and transparent” about what Seattle could provide, compared to what the area is getting now.

Board member Little asks if Seattle has any other arrangements with “an equal sharing of assets.” Chief Scoggins says yes, but none are formal, though they want to achieve that. One is to the north of the city, one to the east. “One of the benefits if this annexation takes place -the number of resources for a structure fire or vehicle accident, we have 33 stations” – as an example, he mentions a fire in North Seattle yesterday that led to two alarms, and discusses how resources were moved around the city while so many were at that fire.

Board member Kisielius asks about the ALS issue. “That’s one of the things we would need to spend a little more time digging into the resources.” He says an ALS unit costs $1.5 million, an engine and four people more than $2 million. “What you heard about that response time is based on our medic unit being at Station 32, where it is today … but if we are adding almost 18,000 new residents to the community, with … 1,800 responses annually … we have to look at all those things and pencil out what we are looking at, and I can come back to you with that once I have a clearer understanding of that.”

Another board member says, “It sounds to me like that includes capital improvements (required), not just operational changes, which is what we were led to believe in the presentation.” Chief Scoggins says not necessarily, but if the conversation is that Seattle will provide coverage for North Burien, they need to dig into some documents “and engage in that agreement” and possibly make some modifications to it.

8:58 PM: Now Haney resumes the rebuttal. He says he provided a couple of exhibits with more information responding to the questions about level of fire service and standards, as well as 2015 statistics. “As the chief said, the city is currently meeting those standards, making the 8-minute response time in ALS 89 percent of the time (and aiming for) 90 percent.” Regarding the 2009 land-for-a-fire-station issue, “King County does not just have land lying around … in 2009 it made a good-faith effort … (and that) was rejected.”

Summarizing, he says Seattle is the only jurisdiction that could annex this area, but if the currently available tax revenue goes away, “Seattle would have to go away.” Again, he says, they’re asking the board to give residents the chance to vote. He acknowledges people’s concerns, and says “those are certainly things people can vote their minds on,” while asking the board “to give them that chance.” He adds that there were “similar issues (with fire services) in the Burien annexation” but “did not allow those issues to prevent the annexation” instead acknowledging that Burien and the county would have to work together and establish interlocal agreements. “We certainly want to sit down with the fire districts and … resolve these issues … we would ask that you please allow this annexation to go forward for a public vote.”

Board member Jay Hamlin asks whether water/sewer district could remain unassumed “indefinitely.” Theoretically, yes, Haney replies. But “it’s generally the city’s policy to provide water and sewer services within its boundaries” eventually, though he doesn’t foresee that happening within at least six years, as had been said last night.

Board member Little asks about the city’s plan to engage this community if the board votes to proceed with the annexation process, given the lack of trust voiced, and lack of notice pointed out. He suggests Pittman answer that, “since that’s his job.” Pittman takes the microphone: “One of the things we’re planning to do if the board moves forward … we’ve already had conversations with our Department of Neighborhoods … we will have an extensive engagement process, using multiple languages … an 8-to-10-month process, to sit down to meet with every resident, every resident group, an extensive outreach using the languages of the community and also engaging with leaders of the community to have those meetings.”

Haney elaborated on that mentioning Department of Neighborhoods director Kathy Nyland’s statement committing a “liaison” to the area. Also, regarding the Comprehensive Plan – Seattle 2035 – “is currently making its way through the process,” lengthened because its environmental-impact statement “has been appealed.” It “does provide for an engagement process that gets people involved and talks about the types of things that happen in urban villages,” as well as discussing zoning. “There’s going to be lots of public engagement.”

Board member James Polhaus wonders how this area would be represented in the City Council District system. “It would be in District 1, the West Seattle area,” says Pittman, adding that there’s a plan to review the district boundaries and population again in 2020-2022, so District 1 would be a little larger for a while. In response to another question, he also promises that the city would be talking with KCLS about the options it suggests be considered for operating the White Center and Greenbridge libraries. Haney says the city already has had “amicable” discussions with the county and “believes the issues can be resolved.”

Board member MacCready brings up the Myers Way homeless encampments and asks about Seattle’s policy. Uneasy laughter ripples around the room. Haney says he can’t fully address that, though he is well aware of Myers Way as he drives past it daily, as a West Seattle resident. Board member Toy wonders when the “lion’s share” of discussions related to the various issues, would it be before going to a vote, or afterward? Haney says he would think before rather than after, “because it would make the vote, obviously, more informed.” He mentions again a June 29th meeting coming up to talk with North Highline Fire District.

Pittman picks up the issue, saying it’s Seattle’s policy to “have it all worked out” regarding such issues before moving forward with a vote, likely even before the City Council would provide with putting this to voters. He says again that if there’s a November 2017 vote, annexation would take effect in 2019; if November 2018, it would be 2020. “The reason for the 13-month gap is that because this area is so large, we would want to go through a formal budgeting process” first.

Board member Kisielius comes back again to fire-service issues: “Does the city or will the city have the resources to assure that the 8-minute level of ALS will be met if this area is annexed?” Chief Scoggins returns to the microphone. “If we don’t have the resources, I will let you know we don’t have the resources. If we do, I will also let you know that. …” He reiterates that he needs to find out what this area’s level of service is today, but 8-minute is the citywide standard. So, follows up Kisielius, how does that relate to the decision we need to make? Haney: “Seattle has a world-class ALS system currently, and Seattle is not going to annex this area if it cannot provide that service and provide those resources. So I think you have to look at it as … once the board makes this decision, there’s the decision the City Council has to make to place it on the ballot … then, once the election takes place,the City Council would have to (affirm the annexation and go forward). The city wouldn’t be presenting the annexation to you if it didn’t feel there was a way to provide those resources … the city is … Chief Scoggins would tell you, the city is not going to want to jeopardize the service to its existing residents by diluting its current service.”

Kisielius says that’s a good reminder that there are additional steps even before the annexation would go to a vote of the people. So, she asks Chief Scoggins, you would not recommend that the annexation go to a vote if you didn’t feel you could provide that service? He says the city has 7 medic units, and a medical services officer. “Today if your medic unit left this area, I’m not sure where another medic unit is and where it would come from … but (if this was in the city today) we would be moving our resources around” and there would be backup available. “We also have five aid cars behind it – they’re not medics, but our aid cars run EMS calls all day long – that’s another high level of care we have in the system.”

9:20 PM: The rebuttal and followup questions are over. The board will discuss what to do next. There are three options: Continue the hearing for more oral/written testimony; close the hearing to oral testimony but leave it open to written testimony with a deadline for submittal; close the hearing and begin to deliberate “review of the factors and objectives to reach a decision, and we can make a decision on the time frame.” A motion is made and seconded for option three. Blauman says “once the hearing is closed, you don’t have to deliberate tonight, but you have to come to a decision … within 40 days of closing the hearing.” She also points out this room is set aside for Thursday, and deliberations could take place then, but don’t have to. Board member Kisielius says she’s in favor of deliberating at least 20 minutes until the booking of the room for tonight is over (9:45). Unanimous vote to close the hearing to oral and written testimony – and before deliberating, board member Evans says she has concerns. She says that if the annexation does not take place, the sales-tax money passed by the legislature this year is lost. But she “has about four issues” of concern – the fire-services issue for one, and the lack of a “definitive statement on what it would take” to reach desired service levels. She says she also feels there are “holes” in the library, sewer, and water concerns that have been brought up. “I just don’t feel comfortable saying go ahead with this annexation” without more information. She also is concerned about the member of the public who was upset that he was not notified about the hearing. That’s not usually up to the board to do, she says, but she says it’s up to the community, to get their fellow community members involved in the discussions before it goes to a vote, and she feels the city is sincere in its promise to have an engagement process.

Next, board member MacCready says he feels the water and sewer issues are a moot point – before anything could change, they’d have to come back to the board, and they could discuss fees at that time. Board member Hamlin says he feels that the library issue is not a sticking point because it seems discussions are taking place and “that’s at least close to being wrapped up – felt like to me that was being addressed appropriately.”

Board member Claudia Hirschey says she feels there’s enough time to talk more about fire services, and she also says that there’s a sense of urgency about this annexation, and the city will have to have those answers before it talks to the community. “The benefits of greatly enhanced police service, the sales tax subsidy for this area with the sunset, greatly outweighs the risk that we feel about the undefined operating agreements” especially fire.

Board member Sylvia Bushnell says she also thinks there’s time for some of the issues to be worked out, specifically mentioning the library matters.

Board member Polhamus says he believes this comes down to two issues – “getting details of the fire service worked out” and “concerns about the zoning” – noting that Seattle says it’s looking at what’s “closest to the county zoning,” while acknowledging concerns about increased density vis-a-vis Seattle zoning. He agrees that the library agreement “is an easily solved issue.”

Board member Hamlin says it looks like the city has matching zoning for many types, except perhaps 18 units per acre vs. 26 units per acre. “It looked actually pretty equivalent, and the city did a nice job showing that equivalency.”

MacCready said he agreed with that assessment. “They always don’t match exactly … I do think the main issue with zoning is the increase in density in the single-family zones.”

Kisielius says she feels the city will “have its work cut out for them” in communicating service availability to this area, in outreach and beyond. She says it was clear to her that at least in the services-provision regard, annexation “would be very beneficial for this area.”

Hirschey moves to direct staff to prepare a resolution in favor of annexation. Multiple members speak up to second it. She says it is a “natural” annexation, follows existing boundaries “and leaves no unincorporated islands,” and that the area “itself is a logical service area .. that after annexation would be served by the city of Seattle. … We gloss over the street system because it’s not a natural utility but Seattle is in a much better position” to manage it. She continues listing the criteria that she feels support this.

9:44 PM: Discussion time for the motion. Hamlin suggests perhaps a letter could be drafted to express the board’s concerns to the city. Not conditions, he clarifies, but concerns. The hearing and resolution report would do that, Blauman points out. Polhamus clarifies that this would not be a final decision, just a direction for staff to prepare a motion. Blauman says yes, and that the official vote would be at its July meeting.

The motion passes 8-1, with Kisielius as the lone no vote. So this is not a final approval, but it’s a big step toward one. (We recorded this entire night on video as we did last night, and will add it, again in two pieces separated by the 8:25 pm break, as we get it processed in the hours ahead.)

The BRB’s July meeting is at 7 pm July 14th, Bellevue Fire Station #9, 12412 SE Newcastle Way.

9:04 AM WEDNESDAY: We’ve now added our video of the full meeting, again in two parts – first half at the top, second half at the point in the story where we note the five-minute break.

-Tracy Record, WCN editor

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FRIDAY: Health Fair @ Greenbridge

June 14th, 2016 Tracy Posted in Greenbridge, Health, White Center news Comments Off on FRIDAY: Health Fair @ Greenbridge

Just out of the inbox today:

Come to the annual Greenbridge Health Fair this Friday, June 17th from 4-7 pm. It will be held at Greenbridge Plaza, 8th Ave SW & 99th Ave SW. There will be free health services and resources to help your family stay safe and drug free! There will also be free healthy food, prizes, entertainment, and giveaways. Don’t miss this fun, healthy, and family-friendly event! For more information, contact Mike Graham-Squire at mikegs@nhwa.org or 206-353-7945.

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VIDEO & AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE: 1st night of Boundary Review Board hearing on Seattle’s proposal to annex White Center and most of what else is left of unincorporated North Highline

June 13th, 2016 Tracy Posted in Annexation, White Center news 3 Comments »

(WCN photo)

7:02 PM: We’re at the Technology Access Foundation’s Bethaday Community Learning Space with dozens of people here to talk and hear about the city of Seattle’s proposal to annex most of what’s left of unincorporated North Highline. We’ll be updating live as it goes. It’s standing room only so far (they’re trying to get more chairs), and is starting with an explanation of what the King County Boundary Review Board is and does.

(Added 12:39 am: First half of our unedited video of the first night of the hearing)

“This hearing is very much a public process,” begins Lenora Blauman, executive secretary for the board (which is missing two of its members – one excused, one recused). She also adds, in case anyone is wondering about notification, that notices were in news publications “including local blogs and newspapers” and that while they are only required to put up 10 posters, “we in fact put up 39.” She says the proposed annexation area has a population of about 17,500, and describes its boundaries (we’ll add the map later). She recaps that the annexation election would be no sooner than 2017 and could be held in 2018, as Seattle already has said.

7:15 PM: The board’s lawyer is going over some of the procedures, and saying “we want to conduct ourselves as much as possible as if we are in a courtroom” (though it’s “a quasi-judicial proceeding”). The testimony will start with the parties who have the most at stake – reps for city and county government. He explains that once everyone has testified – up to three nights, tonight, tomorrow, and Thursday, are set aside for that – and the city of Seattle “gets the last word” with a rebuttal, the board will then deliberate, and that is open to the public to sit in on. An en-masse swearing-in of potential witnesses followed, and the secretary announced interpreters are available for Spanish and Vietnamese speakers.

7:20 PM: James Haney from Ogden Murphy Wallace, ‘special counsel’ for Seattle, is the first witness, making the city’s presentation. With him, he says, are Kenny Pittman – annexation point person on the mayor’s staff – and assistant Seattle Fire Department chief Jay Hagen. He says “this is the second phase of the city’s two-phase approach to annexation of all the remaining unincorporated area between Seattle and Burien” – first phase was the Duwamish Triangle, “which is awaiting an election scheduled to take place this fall.” He says the city wants “a unified government” for the area. He calls the area at issue here – “Area Y” – “intensely urban.”

He declares that this area “will benefit” from annexation to Seattle and says the city’s brief lays that out in detail, including: “This will unite several neighborhoods divided from each other by separate boundaries,” such as Delridge and White Center, Glendale and South Park, Roxbury Heights and the South Delridge Triangle. Also: “This area … deserves urban services that Seattle is uniquely positioned to provide.” And, those services “will improve,” services such as police, which Haney says will be provided at levels higher than currently provided by the King County Sheriff’s Office, not just patrol but also specialty services such as Bomb Squad and SWAT, Anti-Crime Team, and more.

Also, he says, grants will be available through the Department of Neighborhoods; planning services through the city; preschool and other social services through the Department of Early Learning; no-cost business consulting and loan programs through the Office of Economic Development; library services through the Seattle Public Library, “which includes continuing access to the King County Library System.” And he says he wants to stress, “Utility services will remain the same” – not including assumption of the utility districts, which would require separate votes. “Not only is assumption not proposed this evening, but, at least in the case of the sewer districts, highly unlikely in the next six years,” because of revenue issues. “Fire service will be the same, and will improve,” with the city operating North Highline Fire Station 18, “staffed 24/7 with an engine company consisting of 4 fire professionals, one more than (now),” and “three stations (in Seattle)” providing service – 37 in Sunrise Heights, 11 in Highland Park, 26 in South Park, with response times “a minute to a minute and a half longer” than from NH Station 18. SFD also has hazmat, technical rescue, and a dive response time “that will all be available for service in this area.”

He says he wants to address the objections filed by the North Highline FD. He acknowledges concerns about the distance from current ALS – advanced life support – 14 minutes from Medic 32, “unacceptable.” He says Seattle will be looking at ways to address that – possibly making Station 18 a “paramedic engine company,” or moving Medic 32 further south. “The Seattle Fire Department can and will solve this issue so that residents of North Highline will receive ALS services in a timely manner … Seattle is not going to annex an area and provide services that are much less than (other areas of the city).” He says they’re also looking at an “automatic aid agreement” but says the city hasn’t needed one in the past.

Other objections from the NHFD, which we will hear about when they speak later, include the timing of the annexation related to the Duwamish Triangle annexation, and service to North Burien; he says a meeting is set for June 29th.

“Seattle is the only city that can bring unified government (and urban services) to (Area Y),” Haney reiterates. “Other cities are not able to bring services to this area. If this area is to be part of a city … Seattle is where it will have to go, since Seattle is the only one with North Highline in its potential annexation area at this time.” Burien, he notes, tried to annex the area, but “voters overwhelmingly rejected that annexation and Burien has now taken this area out of its potential annexation area. … North Highline needs urban services,” and the only way to get them, he says, is to be part of a city. He concludes, “Tonight, the request of you is to allow the people to vote. We are not asking you to decide if North Highline should become part of the city of Seattle – the people will decide that.”

Board member Claudia Hirschey asks about Seattle’s ALS response standards. Assistant Chief Hagen comes up to answer. The city has almost 20,000 ALS calls a year, transporting 11 percent of those patients via city medic unit. The 2015 response time – from time assigned to arriving at scene – was 6:08, he said, including call processing. From “en route” to on scene, 4:58. He said even their “slowest” medic unit is busier than King County’s busiest medic unit, and that enables SFD to “saturate” the skills – paramedics have “high repetition and low skill degradation.”

So how would the response time problem be solved before annexation? Hirschey asked on followup. Haney said there’s not necessarily a specific time frame, with the vote no closer than a year-plus: “We’ve got some time to solve this.” Responding to another board member, he agrees that the BRB does have to take fire-service levels into account. Pressed again on possible solutions, he lists one not mentioned earlier, possibly contracting with a south King County service provider. “The city is very confident that (it) will be able to provide service at the level that Seattle is currently able to provide (elsewhere).”

Board member Paul McCready asks about the other possible jurisdictions. Assistant Chief Hagen talks about the county’s “zones,” some of which have automatic-aid agreements with other jurisdictions. He says Seattle is “a little bit behind the curve” in pursuing such agreements, but intends to catch up.

Board member Laura Kisielius asks about current response times for ALS to NH. Haney doesn’t know but will try to get the information.

Next question is about police dispatch times from the Southwest Precinct in West Seattle. Haney says right now there will be at least 6 officers on any shift for the area, while right now KCSO has three at the most on a shift. “There’s going to be a lot more police officers out there.” He also mentions the Community Police Team resource “going around all the time checking on things.”

7:57 PM: Asked about utility rates, Haney says they should stay the same, except for a “franchise fee.” Among other things, he says that it “would be suicidal for the city” to try to take over the sewer services because that would affect the tax share the city is going to get for the first several years of the annexation, if it happens. What about cable TV? He mentions a “franchise fee” for that too but says the feds limit what that can be.

Board member Ronald Little says, isn’t it the ultimate goal of the city to annex the water and sewer districts, and just postponing that now? Haney says, well, ultimately, yes, but that’s a separate process – which again, he said, would be at least six years down the road. Technical discussion of the process, including a potential public referendum on any such assumption, ensues.

8:06 PM: Seattle’s lawyer is done, and King County’s Karen Freeman – who has represented the County Executive’s office at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meetings – is now speaking. “This entire project was envisioned to close in 2012 and we are way beyond that date and I think everyone in the room feels that,” she says, noting that she’s been working on North Highline annexation since 2007, and that NH was the only “urban island” claimed by multiple jurisdictions as part of their potential annexation areas – something that is now prohibited. She recaps the complicated history of how that all has unfolded. “The status quo current levels of service provided by the county are … not sustainable, and this is a key issue,” Freeman declares. “The mix of county funding sources is limited (so) county funding can’t support urban-level services that communities like North Highline desperately need. Cities (can).” She also notes that the Legislature-approved tax funding that will be available to Seattle if this annexation goes through is not available to anyone else – basically, it’s this, or nothing. She also talks about how King County’s roads are deteriorating and they can’t keep up with it, and how the county can’t compare with law-enforcement staffing or human-services provision, either.

She rebuts one point about documents including a previous Memorandum of Understanding, saying it expired in 2012, and are not “without a sunset date” as apparently someone is contending. She says the county doesn’t have money to offer – facing a $50 million budget deficit – but “Seattle’s proposal realizes (an) important vision for North Highline” and the county supports allowing it to be put to a vote of the people.

Board member McCready asks if they can get a list of the services “the county cannot provide.” Freeman says yes.

Another board member: What will happen to King County housing projects in this area after annexation? Freeman says KC Housing Authority is a separate entity, and “their projects will continue to move forward.”

Next question is about a fire-station land issue from a few years ago. Freeman reiterates that they expected all “large urban islands” to be resolved by 2012 (five remain now) so, thinking they’d be done by then, they’d have some budgetary leverage to move an annexation forward. “But we did not complete all of our annexations and the agreement expired and here we are.”

8:19 PM: The board is taking a break, to reconvene at 8:25.

(Added 7:15 am Tuesday: Second half of our unedited video of the hearing’s first night)

8:28 PM: Brian Snure, lawyer for the NH Fire District, says it’s against the annexation until SFD has an operating plan, and that it’s submitted a written statement laying out the objections.

As he notes, if the annexation is approved, NHFD will cease to exist. “There’s no guarantee that Seattle has the political will or ability to provide its Fire Department with the services (needed to serve this area),” for one, particularly the Advanced Life Support issue mentioned earlier. Also of concern, the loss of services for North Burien.

He says that while the city filed this notice more than a year ago, the city did not reach out to NHFD with a plan until just last month. The city did come out to meet with the board (as covered here) and answered some questions from the NHFD board – but “trust us, we’ll take care of the operational issues when the time is right” seems to be the response. “They’ve had plenty of time to plan this annexation, they should be coming forward with specific (plans) – absent such (plans and agreements), we think the annexation needs to be denied. … Maybe they need another year. Maybe they need to come back with an actual plan.”

Snure then says that Seattle is “not a reliable automatic-aid partner in providing services.” And he says the annexation “will not provide a logical service area.” Instead, he says, “it will destroy one.”

Questions include a stat that Snure mentioned – a 6-minute ALS response time. South King County Medic Unit 4 is the unit that responds now, from downtown Burien, was the clarification – courtesy of SFD assistant chief Hagen.

8:41 PM: Joseph Quinn, lawyer for King County Fire District 2, now takes the podium. He is the last scheduled to testify before public comments. “The Boundary Review Board has to attain the preservation of logical service areas,” he began, “and I don’t think we can say some services are merely operational. ALS … is a life-or-death service. … You want in the case of a heart attack the fastest service you can get.” Seattle needs to “have a plan” for that. How can the board make a decision without that information? he asks. “I think we need answers.” Also, “right now, (North Highline) Station 18 is our primary response station for North Burien,” he notes, as was worked out in “five-party talks” before previous proposed annexation talks. This is where the aforementioned “land for a station” comes up. He says that even if the agreement technically expired, “we still need a station” in that area. He says things would be different if Seattle said it would have an automatic-aid agreement, serving from Station 18. He says his district would “suffer” the way things sound now, without a “logical service area. .. We (would be) left with no northern-area station.” He has also noted that right now, Burien and North Highline share not just a fire chief but also other officers, “across the line.” He summarizes that they need more than promises … they need a plan.

Could the memorandum of understanding that expired in 2012 have been extended? Did anyone try to do that? No, says Quinn – “annexation just kind of languished.” Next, they discuss the status of Station 19, which was transferred as part of the 2010 annexation of the southern half of North Highline by Burien. And then in response to another question, Quinn says that since it was obvious in 2008 “what the impact would be on North Burien,” it should have been recognized that would still be an issue now. “That’s been known for years.”

8:57 PM: Public testimony will start now, and tonight’s hearing will go to about 9:30, it’s been announced. So they’ll try to get to people who won’t be able to come back tomorrow.

First is Lois Schipper, who points out that while White Center is an ethnically diverse community, the room here is predominantly white. In response, the poster-placing is pointed out again. Schipper says reaching out to various communities personally would be ideal; the board secretary says they tried but got no response. She speaks about the fire services first – and says there was a fire at her house and Seattle was who responded. “From where I sit in that area, I would rather be part of Seattle and have all their resources available rather than (having to rely on) an aid agreement.” Regarding schools, she says she’s glad the school district boundaries wouldn’t change, but is glad about the Seattle Families and Education Levy and how it would provide afterschool services. She adds that she feels there hasn’t been enough education about what happens if the area is not annexed; she then voices her support for becoming part of Seattle.

Next, Martha Toffei, who says she’s a retired library worker and brings up the new $8 million King County library in White Center. She asks “what’s going to happen to the White Center library? Right now it’s in limbo.” (See our coverage of this month’s North Highline UAC meeting for more discussion on that point.) She says she is also concerned about policing, since Seattle has fewer officers than it would prefer.

Third called to the podium is Lana Anthony, who speaks briefly: “I believe Seattle has a lot to offer and I believe we should be allowed to vote.”

Fourth, Dennis Eaton, who says he has questions and concerns: “White Center will be one of the poorest areas of Seattle … what is the city planning to do with the tax money it will get (if it annexes) this area – will it be used for improvements and services in this area, or go into the general fund to be used for something else?” He also is worried about the new WC Library’s future. And he wonders about zoning – he’s currently in a six-per-acre single-family zone, and is concerned about backyard cottages being allowed if Seattle zoning is used instead.

9:11 PM: Fifth to speak is former Burien deputy mayor Rose Clark, who says she’s speaking about schools. She says the cities who currently are part of Highline Public Schools work well together, and she thinks that adding Seattle to the mix could raise some problems that should be discussed sooner rather than later. “There is concern that the higher density of Seattle … would impact the whole Highline School District,” with overcrowded schools that would lead to boundary changes throughout the district, and could require land to be bought to buy new schools. She wants to see the annexation process slowed to allow Seattle Public Schools and Highline Public Schools to talk about possible school transfers, or for Seattle zoning to consider being more like the zoning in the Highline district areas right now.

Two final witnesses – first, Pat LeMoine, who says he lives on Myers Way in the unincorporated area and is concerned about what’s happening with people experiencing homeless who live on the city side of the line along Myers. He says: “Myers Way has become Seattle’s human dumping ground. Seattle should be focused on discouraging this kind of behavior” and should encourage people there to accept help. He thinks that it’s an example of how North Highline will be treated by Seattle “if we get annexed.” He thinks the city would have the “same leniency for Myers Way” in front of homes “like Ballard.” He also says he didn’t even know about this meeting until last Thursday – last such meeting, there was a mailing to homes. “If you know a woman is being abused by her boyfriend, would you allow her to marry her abuser? … Burien did not respect our community, it appears Seattle will not either. This is really a big issue.”

Next, a woman who says she is against Seattle annexation “as of now.”

After her, Brian Hastings, who brings up the Evergreen Pool (a facility King County closed and a nonprofit reopened). “We provide an important service – my nonprofit’s been running (the pool) for the past six years, and (in that time) we’ve taught 10,000 of our kids how to swim.” He talks about he’s been fundraising and “need(s) more financial support …” This area doesn’t have it, he says. “There’s nothing left. And I’m one small entity.” A board member says, “So are you for or against annexation?” Hastings said, “I thought I made that clear … I’m for.”

Chestine Edgar is next. “I was present at the last annexation hearing (regarding) this area … Any area that is taken by an entity is to be provided services at the level it currently has, or greater.” She said the board could make a ruling and allow the operational details to be worked out later and contends that’s what happened last time. She says Seattle is the only area that could provide the services needed, so she urges the board to approve the annexation.

Next is a King County Housing Authority rep, Jen Ramirez Robson. She notes that KCHA operates Seola Gardens and Greenbridge in the White Center area. “Between our mixed-income communities and voucher program, we house 10 percent of the population in White Center. … Having the city provide an urban level of services is very important to us.” KCHA also houses 10 percent of the Highline Schools student population, she says, and looks forward to the Seattle “Preschool for All” program. They would continue operating their sites, she says, if annexed. In response to a question, she says KCHA has no plans for new public housing in this area, though there is space in Greenbridge for more “market-rate housing.”

9:36 PM UPDATE: The hearing’s over for tonight; public testimony resumes tomorrow, 7 pm, same place. We recorded all of tonight’s meeting on video and will upload it soon as we’re back at HQ, adding it, in two pieces (on both sides of the 8:25 pm break), when it’s ready.

7:15 AM TUESDAY: Both video clips are now added inline above.

-Tracy Record, WCN editor

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MONDAY: King County Boundary Review Board annexation hearing begins

June 12th, 2016 Tracy Posted in Annexation, White Center news Comments Off on MONDAY: King County Boundary Review Board annexation hearing begins

Monday night brings the next major step in the process that will determine whether White Center and vicinity become part of Seattle: The King County Boundary Review Board opens its public hearing on Seattle’s proposed annexation. It’s scheduled for two nights – Monday and Tuesday – and, if extra time is needed, Thursday. It’s at the Technology Access Foundation‘s Bethaday Community Learning Space in Dick Thurnau Memorial Park, 605 SW 108th Street. Here’s the agenda for Monday night:

I. WITNESS SIGN IN – 6:30 PM

It is from this list that witnesses will be called to testify.

II. CALL TO ORDER – 7:00 PM
Stephen Toy, Public Hearing Chair

III. ROLL CALL
Evangeline Anderson, Laura Kisielius, Sylvia Bushnell, Ronald Little, Mary Lynne Evans, Paul MacCready, Jay Hamlin, James Polhamus, Claudia Hirshey

RECUSED – Miguel Beltran

City of Seattle North Highline Area “Y” Annexation

IV. FILE NO. 2367 – CITY OF SEATTLE NORTH HIGHLINE AREA “Y” ANNEXATION

6:30 PM Introduction of Exhibits

7:00 PM Introductory Comments on Hearing Procedures and Swearing in of Witnesses

7:15 PM Presentation by City of Seattle (20 minutes)

7:35 PM Presentation by King County (15 minutes)

7:50 PM Presentation by North Highline Fire District (10 Minutes)

8:00 PM Presentation by King County Fire District #2 (10 minutes)

8:10 PM Other Government Jurisdictions (10 Minutes)

8:20 PM General Testimony: Groups are limited to 10 minutes and individuals to 3 minutes

8:50 PM Rebuttal: City of Seattle (10 minutes)

V. FILE NO. 2367 – City of Seattle North Highline Area “Y” Annexation – Board deliberation and direction to the staff on Resolution and Hearing Decision

VI. ADJOURNMENT

The hearing is open to the public, and you’re welcome to speak as long as you sign up in advance, as noted above.

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