UPDATE: Helicopter search in North Shorewood

October 12th, 2017 Tracy Posted in Helicopter, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news 2 Comments »

(Photo by Gill Loring, added 4:41 pm)

FIRST REPORT, 3:39 PM: Thanks for the tips. Guardian One has been out over North Shorewood in what a deputy tells us is a search for at least one suspect – another may already be in custody – related to a stolen car.

4:41 PM UPDATE: Guardian One’s crew reported via Twitter that one person was in custody, two others being sought. And we’ve added a photo courtesy of Gill Loring – the stolen car, which had gone into a yard at 20th SW/SW 102nd.

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@ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: The Myers Way dilemma

October 11th, 2017 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 2 Comments »

(NHUAC meeting video by David Krause)

By Marika Lee
Reporting for White Center Now

Despite miscommunication and accusations early on, Myers Way residents, King County officials, and Seattle’s director of homelessness agreed that there is no quick solution to the problems on Myers Way.

“We just can’t keep up with (the amount of homelessness). We have got to be more aggressive. We have got to figure out ways to do that,” Senior Deputy County Executive Fred Jarrett said at last week’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, focused on the homelessness problem along Myers Way.

Concerns focus on two different situations: Camp Second Chance is the City of Seattle-sanctioned camp on the city-owned Myers Way Parcels, and unsanctioned camping in the woods on the other side of the street, along with long-running vehicle camping that has recently been swept.

Myers Way includes the border between the city of Seattle and King County. King County Sheriff John Urquhart, part of the panel at the NHUAC meeting, called it a “jurisdiction issue.”

“If they are living in the woods, there is not a lot that we can do about that. They are not trespassing if we do not have a victim to prosecute,” Urquhart said. The wooded area includes both city and state land.

Numerous residents of Myers Way and the surrounding neighborhood voiced their concerns about the two areas. One resident described the danger of driving down the street because of people wandering into traffic.

“I have heard that Camp Second Chance is in a state of implosion, that they are falling apart. That their structure is disintegrating. That they no longer have 24/7 guards in front of the gate. They are calling the police department regularly for response. We are hearing reports of violence. We are hearing reports of drug use,” a Myers Way resident said. (Recent trouble as the camp’s management changed was detailed in our report on the recent meeting of its Community Advisory Committee.)

Others described seeing people driving RVs into the woods, moving into a vacant house, and participating in drug use and prostitution.

Seattle’s Director of Homelessness George Scarola said he would look into the traffic issue, blocking off unofficial roads into the unsanctioned camp and doing a recount of people living in both camps. “We will work on the things that we can. I’ll get back involved with management,” Scarola said. The Low Income Housing Institute has taken over management. Arthur Warmoth, from LIHI, said the goal is to find housing for everyone in the camp and to reduce the amount of time people stay at the camp to three months. Residents and officials agreed that there is a lack of affordable housing for people to move into.

“We need to stem the tide of homelessness and people coming into homelessness as well. We don’t have enough resources to solve it,” said King County Council Chair Joe McDermott, who represents District 8 on the council, which includes White Center, West Seattle, and vicinity.

Multiple large-scale solutions were suggested throughout the meeting, such as creating an income tax or doing away with the 1 percent cap on property tax in addition to building more affordable housing.

“We have to figure out the subsidies for people to afford housing. It is a difficult problem. We are learning and trying new things,” Jarrett said.

In the short term, Urquhart encouraged people to call 9-1-1 if they see something and to know when they call what jurisdiction they are in so they are not transferred between his office, Seattle Police Department and State Patrol, which is a problem with mobile phone users.

“Call 9-1-1 if there is a problem. We are the government. We operate on statistics,” Urquhart said.

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BEFORE & AFTER: Steve Cox Memorial Park work-party photos

October 8th, 2017 Tracy Posted in Steve Cox Memorial Park, White Center news 2 Comments »

From Lina Rose with King County Parks:

I wanted to share the before and after of my event at Steve Cox.

We had such an awesome group of teen center staff and teens, and a community member. The site is now a beautiful and functional (mini natural area) part of the park.

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October 6th, 2017 Tracy Posted in Evergreen High School, Sports, White Center news Comments Off on EVERGREEN HIGH SCHOOL HOMECOMING: Here’s what’s happening

Thanks to the White Center Community Development Association for sending the info:

Friday, October 6th Evergreen High School is celebrating its 58th homecoming. Please join us for an evening of reminiscing as we support Evergreen HS Athletics! Alumni and community members are invited to participate in the following events:

Friday, October 6 – 11:00am
Evergreen High School
(830 SW 116th St, Seattle, WA 98146)

Tickets sold at the Gate- $6.00 Cash for adults
Friday, October 6 – 7:00 PM
Highline Memorial Stadium
400 S 156th St, Burien, WA 98148

Friday, October 6 – After the Homecoming Football Game*9:30PM
Azteca Mexican Restaurant
Address: 153 SW 157th St, Burien, WA 98166
There will be an opportunity to win amazing prizes like Evergreen SWAG and “White Center Night Out” date night package.

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THURSDAY: Myers Way homelessness in the spotlight @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

October 1st, 2017 Tracy Posted in Myers Way, North Highline UAC, White Center news 2 Comments »

As announced by the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When: Thursday, October 5, 2017 at 7 pm

Where: North Highline Fire Station at 1243 SW 112th Street in White Center 
 (Parking and Entrance are in the Back of the Station)

The Opportunity to Be Informed, Be Involved and Be Heard!

Please join NHUAC, King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, Sheriff John Urquhart, Senior Deputy County Executive Fred Jarrett, and Seattle’s Director of Homelessness, George Scarola, in what is sure to be an important conversation about homelessness on Myers Way.

The Committee to End Homelessness was supposed to complete its mission by 2015. It didn’t. Homelessness continues to increase. Some of the reasons are economic inequality, skyrocketing rents, and the elimination of affordable housing, especially in Seattle. Research shows that every $100 rent increase leads to a 15 percent increase in the number of people pushed into homelessness.

Many found Myers Way. Camp Second Chance was eventually sanctioned by Seattle. However, there are an unknown number of campers living in the woods surrounding Camp Second Chance. Residents of North Highline and Seattle have been frustrated with the changes along Myers Way. It is time to have a conversation!

Good of the Order: Do you have something of community import on your mind? Join us and share!

See you Thursday, October 5, 2017 at 7 pm – Because Knowledge Is Power!

P.S. The community advisory committee for Camp Second Chance met today, and we’ll have that report sometime in the next 24 hours.

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NEXT SATURDAY: Can you help out at Steve Cox Memorial Park?

September 30th, 2017 Tracy Posted in How to Help, Steve Cox Memorial Park, White Center news Comments Off on NEXT SATURDAY: Can you help out at Steve Cox Memorial Park?

Volunteers needed on Saturday, October 7th! Here’s the announcement:

Join King County Parks in beautifying the front of Steve Cox Memorial Park home of the historic Log Cabin. Volunteers are needed to help plant shrubs and groundcover to the front of the park and the area in front of the White Center Sheriff’s storefront. Event is from 10 am-2 pm. All tools are provided and no experience is needed! Please contact Lina Rose for more information on the project and to sign up – 206.491.5014, lina.rose@kingcounty.gov. Everyone is welcome!

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MYERS WAY: Camp Second Chance Community Advisory Committee meets Sunday

September 29th, 2017 Tracy Posted in Myers Way, White Center news Comments Off on MYERS WAY: Camp Second Chance Community Advisory Committee meets Sunday

For the first time since the Low-Income Housing Institute (LIHI) has taken over as the operator of Seattle-sanctioned Camp Second Chance on Myers Way, the camp’s Community Advisory Committee will meet this Sunday. The public is welcome at the meeting, 2 pm at Arrowhead Gardens; we confirmed the time/date today with LIHI rep Josh Castle. Conditions on Myers Way outside the camp also tend to come up at the committee meetings, and Seattle Police have swept both sides of the street recently – on the west side, to create a walkway to and from transit facilities at AG, on the east side, to enforce parking regulations, according to what SPD Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Ron Smith told the Highland Park Action Committee this past Wednesday night.

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Steve Cox Memorial Park solar installation to get $ from Seattle City Light

September 29th, 2017 Tracy Posted in Steve Cox Memorial Park, utilities, White Center news 2 Comments »

Just announced by Seattle City Light:

Thanks to the generous contributions of Seattle City Light customers, seven local organizations will receive Green Up grants totaling nearly $1 million to support renewable energy projects and education. The seven organizations will use the grants to help install solar panels at 14 public school, affordable housing, and community-based locations.

“Over 13,000 generous community members are investing in a clean, sustainable energy future by sending a few dollars each month to purchase renewable energy credits through our Green Up program,” said City Light Customer Energy Solutions Director Craig Smith. “City Light is proud to be the steward of this grant and part of the community partnership that will benefit our schools, affordable housing, parks, and hospitals.”

Grant recipients are:

· Seattle Public Schools – $150,000 for solar installations at Bailey Gatzert Elementary, Ballard High School, Denny International Middle School, South Shore K-8 School, Hazel Wolf K-8 ESTEM School and Arbor Heights Elementary
· King County Parks — $119,014 for a solar installation at the Steve Cox Community Center
· Seattle Parks — $50,000 for a solar installation at the Brig at Magnuson Park
· Seattle Colleges — $200,000 for a solar installation at Seattle Central College
· Harborview Medical Center — $50,000 for a solar installation at the hospital
· Capitol Hill Housing – three grants totaling $225,000 for solar installations at three affordable housing complexes – the Elizabeth James House, Ponderosa Apartments and El Nor Apartments
· Pacific Science Center — $164,851 for a solar installation at the center

“We will soon be able to power the White Center community center and the adjacent basketball court using only clean, renewable energy,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said. “Our partnership with Seattle City Light will accelerate the work we are doing to transform Steve Cox Memorial Park into a model for sustainable operations.”

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King County may have $ for you: Unincorporated Areas Grant Program application time

September 28th, 2017 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on King County may have $ for you: Unincorporated Areas Grant Program application time

Have an idea that needs $? The county might be able to help. This week’s announcement:

CSA Unincorporated Areas Grant Program

Purpose: The purpose of the Community Engagement Grants is to fund community projects that offer unincorporated area residents in the Community Service Areas an opportunity to participate and be more connected in their communities. Funded projects must demonstrate how activities are accessible to all residents regardless of race, income, or language spoken.

DUE: Applications are due by 5 p.m. on Friday, November 17, 2017.

Funds Available: A total of $90,000 will be reimbursed for projects in 2018. The King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks Community Service Areas Program will provide funds to selected projects through a letter of award and Memorandum of Agreement. Amounts will be limited to less than $5,000 per project.

Please use the King County Community Service Areas Grant Program Application Template for your application.

Applications must be received by 5 p.m. on November 17, 2017 via the following:

Electronically: Marissa.alegria@kingcounty.gov

Physically at the following location:

Dept. of Natural Resources and Parks, Director’s Office ATTN: Marissa Alegria
201 South Jackson Street, Suite 700
Seattle, WA 98104

The application packet is available (here).

Marissa Alegria, CSA Grant staff lead will be available to respond to questions by phone at 206-477-4523 or e-mail at Marissa.alegria@kingcounty.gov or by setting up an appointment to meet at a more convenient location.

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TUESDAY: White Center Heights Elementary playground celebration

September 25th, 2017 Tracy Posted in Schools, White Center news Comments Off on TUESDAY: White Center Heights Elementary playground celebration

(Highline Public Schools photo from June)

Organizers tell us “the whole community” is invited – so that means you, if you can be there! At 11 am tomorrow – Tuesday (September 26th) – a new playground will be dedicated for the Head Start program at White Center Heights Elementary (10015 6th SW). Seattle Seahawks player Tyler Lockett is scheduled to be there, along with leaders from UnitedHealthcare, Highline Public Schools, and the Puget Sound Educational Service District. UnitedHealthcare provided a $15,000 grant to Lockett’s Dreambuilders program to pay for the new playground and equipment.

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SUNDAY: Awareness march in White Center, South Delridge

September 24th, 2017 Tracy Posted in west seattle, white center, White Center news Comments Off on SUNDAY: Awareness march in White Center, South Delridge

The Salvation Army invites you to join an awareness-raising march this afternoon (September 24th). From Capt. Lisa Barnes:

The Salvation Army is hosting a march down 16th Ave this Sunday. We will be walking just 4 blocks each way as we raise awareness for those currently enslaved around the world. We will start at The Salvation Army at 1:15 and be finished by 3:00 at the latest. This is a free event and we will be providing materials for signs.

Organizers add, “This will be the kickoff event for a group of people who are justice minded, and ready to make a difference for trafficked people in our neighborhoods. … This is not a political march. This is a march for freedom, for unity, for awareness, and for community.” The Salvation Army is at 9050 16th SW; the march will be on sidewalks, not the street.

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SATURDAY: Seattle Pacific University students sprucing up park

September 23rd, 2017 Tracy Posted in Parks, White Center news 1 Comment »

(Reader photo, added 12:35 pm)

From Seattle Pacific University:

Before classes begin at Seattle Pacific University, more than 700 students, faculty, and staff, will spend Saturday, September 23, cleaning up parks, removing invasive plants in local creeks, and working in homeless shelters as part of SPU’s commitment to community engagement.

SPU students will be in White Center (24th Ave SW and SW 102nd Street) on Saturday, September 23, from 10:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Their tasks will include removing weeds such as English ivy and Himalayan blackberry from an area in the park.

The annual event known as “CityQuest” is a way to introduce new students to the many community service organizations throughout the area. Students will work at more than 25 locations throughout Seattle.

ADDED SATURDAY NIGHT: We stopped by toward the end of the event and caught the volunteers in action:

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BASEBALL: Highline Bears sign manager Josh Evans for second year

September 15th, 2017 Tracy Posted in Sports, White Center news Comments Off on BASEBALL: Highline Bears sign manager Josh Evans for second year

The photo and announcement are from the White Center-based Highline Bears:

On Wednesday, September 13, Highline Bears Manager Josh Evans signed a new contract through the 2018 summer season. Evans will be the Bears’ first two-year manager since the team’s inception in 2014.

“We’re excited to bring back Josh Evans for another season and I’m excited to see what he can do with a full off season to build his team. Last year we were late on getting a manager signed but now we’re hitting the ground running,” explained General Manager Justin Moser. The Bears have already started the recruiting process, attending fall practices for local colleges and reaching out to programs in hopes of finding top talent for their 2018 summer season.

The Bears got off to a rocky start, struggling to put up runs against opponents in early June. But in the second half of the season under the leadership of Evans the Bears came out fighting in big games, taking 3 wins from the West Coast League, the premier summer college league on the west coast, and taking down the league champion Seattle Studs, as well as the Everett Merchants. “We start off slow every year, it was expected. We are a home for a lot of freshmen and red shirts who have very few at bats and innings pitched coming into the season. Our job as a summer collegiate team is to give these guys an opportunity to get better, and go back to their school in the fall ready to win a starting job. Most of the teams we play are older and much more experienced, which is great for our guys to compete against. The teams we are playing now are much more competitive than ever before. We played four or five guys who were drafted or signed to pro contracts this year,” said Moser.

“I’m excited to be resigning with the Bears for another season, and even more excited to have a full off season to recruit players. I’m just pumped!” exclaimed Evans, who is currently looking to sign two additional coaches for next year. “We’re looking for a first base coach and bullpen coach. Guys who can help with throwing B.P. (batting practice) and hit fungos. I’m just really excited to be a part of building this organization, and can’t wait to see what we can do.”

“It’s going to be a great season for us next year, we’re starting at the right time and getting things rolling on and off the field. Steven Finch is going to move full time into a front office role, helping me with marketing and running the business, and we’re going to let Evans run the baseball side of things.” Moser explained that the team will be adding more home games to their schedule in hopes of having 25 games, along with promotional nights and lots of fun and exciting events for kids.

The Bears are currently looking for businesses to partner with for the 2018 season and anyone interested in partnering can contact General Manager Justin Moser at Info@HighlineBears.com. Anyone interested in playing for the Bears can contact Manager Josh Evans at Josh@HighlineBears.com.

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UPDATE: Truck fire near 15th/98th

September 13th, 2017 Tracy Posted in fire, White Center news Comments Off on UPDATE: Truck fire near 15th/98th

6:01 AM: The helicopter that woke many up in White Center/South Delridge about an hour ago was NOT related to last night’s Guardian One search in Top Hat – it was a TV helicopter (the one shared by KING/KOMO, according to our flight tracker) checking out an early morning truck fire that briefly brought a sizable response to 15th/98th. North Highline firefighters tell us a refrigerated truck trailer was destroyed by the fire, and are still trying to find out how it started. No injuries. Also some damage to an adjacent building, including power lines – we’ll be going back once it’s light for a closer look.

6:19 AM: Photos added.

9:58 AM: The investigation continues:

In the photo above, you can see the blackened area where the fire spread to the building by which the trailer was parked.

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UPDATE: Helicopter search after Top Hat marijuana-shop holdup, shooting

September 12th, 2017 Tracy Posted in Crime, Helicopter, White Center news 12 Comments »

11:59 PM: Thanks for all the tips about the Guardian 1 helicopter search over Top Hat. It was helping search for suspects in a shooting and robbery at the Star 21 marijuana store in the 11000 block of 1st Avenue South, we confirmed with a deputy in the area. No arrest(s) reported so far. We will be following up with the King County Sheriff’s Office in the morning.


A K-9 search was done on the ground in addition to the helicopter search, but no one was found.

12:23 PM: Even more details in the newest update from KCSO:

The incident happened just before 10:00pm at the Star 21 marijuana shop in the 11000 block of 1 Ave S. A store employee saw lights and heard loud banging near the front door so he opened the door to see what it was. He saw a vehicle rapidly backing into the barriers placed in front of the store. A group of men, wearing masks, got out of the car and ran towards him at the front door. The employee tried to close the door but the men forced their way inside the store. One of the suspects shot the 25 year old employee in the shoulder as they entered the store. The suspects were described as black males wearing masks and hoodies.

Once inside the store the suspects rummaged through the store taking items before fleeing northbound in the vehicle. A short time later a deputy found the vehicle unoccupied near S110th St and Occidental Ave S. The vehicle had been reported stolen in a carjacking in SeaTac on Monday. The employee was taken to Harborview with serious injuries.

The carjacking occurred on Monday night around 11:00. The victim was sitting in his car in a parking lot in the 3500 block of S180th St. when he was approached by three males. One of the males produced a handgun, pointed it at the victim and demanded his car keys. The suspects then fled in the vehicle. The suspects in this case were described as two Hispanic males and one black male, all believed to be in their teens. (C17045198)

If you have information about these crimes please call the King County Sheriff’s Office at 206-296-3311. You can remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000 by calling Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).

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WHITE CENTER McDONALD’S: Teardown to be followed by ‘cutting-edge’ rebuild

September 12th, 2017 Tracy Posted in restaurants, White Center news 12 Comments »

Thanks to the readers who tipped us that the White Center/North Burien McDonald’s is being torn down. Their tips came with the question: What will replace the 38-year-old building? Answer: A new McDonald’s. This was just confirmed by Derek Morrison, a regional media contact for the fast-food giant, who replied to our inquiry:

To clarify, this restaurant is NOT closing, it is undergoing a complete rebuild. This rebuild is going to reflect the McDonald’s of the future, with a cutting edge and elevated experience in both the drive-through and inside the restaurant.

Also, after going by the site earlier today and seeing the banner identifying the contractor as Ziva Enterprises, we found “before” photos on that company’s Facebook page along with a comment that they’re hoping to be done by Christmas.

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September 11th, 2017 Tracy Posted in Weather, White Center news Comments Off on WHITE CENTER SCENE: Rain needed!

Thanks to Gill for the photo – he says he’s never seen the White Center Bog that low on water! After all this rainlessness, it’s not surprising. But that might change this weekend – some forecasters say Sunday could be very wet.

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ROAD WORK: SW 106th/107th reconfiguration project next week

September 8th, 2017 Tracy Posted in Traffic, Transportation, White Center news 2 Comments »

(Also published on partner site West Seattle Blog)

If you use SW 106th/107th between White Center, North Shorewood, and West Seattle, you might have seen the signboard for road work coming up next week. We did, so we asked King County Roads for details; here’s what we just received from spokesperson Brent Champaco:

We are taking the road from two lanes to a three-lane configuration that will feature:

· Left –turn lanes at 26th Avenue SW
· Two-way, left-turn lanes around 25th Avenue SW
· Striped median in the S-curves between 22nd and 25th Avenues SW
· Two-way, left-turn lane between 17th and 22nd Avenues SW

The restriping work is scheduled to last 3-5 days, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. All lanes of traffic will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. At other times, at least one lane will remain open with flaggers directing traffic. No parking will be allowed along this part of the road during the project.

If you live/work near that stretch, you’ve probably already seen this flyer (or a similar door-hanger card) as part of the county’s outreach work.

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NORTH HIGHLINE UNINCORPORATED AREA COUNCIL: Property-tax talk; school funding demystified; more

September 8th, 2017 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on NORTH HIGHLINE UNINCORPORATED AREA COUNCIL: Property-tax talk; school funding demystified; more

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council roared into fall with two mega-informative hours.

Thursday night’s meeting was led by NHUAC vice president Barbara Dobkin, in president Liz Giba‘s absence, with secretary Pat Price and board members Christine Waldman and Richard Miller.

HIGHLINE PUBLIC SCHOOLS BUDGET: Duggan Harman from the school district was at NHUAC to talk about the public-education funding situation – “what’s going on with the state,” etc. No, the problem has not quite been solved, he said, for starters. “We are still trying to unpack” the situation, he added, offering background on the case that has become known simply as “McCleary,” after the family that brought the lawsuit, and the fact that our state’s constitution says it’s the state’s “paramount duty” to fully fund public education. But by 2010, the state was only funding “70 cents on the dollar,” with the rest being picked up locally, he explained, and that led to the court fight. So the Supreme Court held the state in contempt, and finally, this year, “after three special sessions and in the dead of night,” the Legislature passed a bill. He noted that Highline and Seattle Public Schools – where he worked for more than 20 years – have different perspectives on the bill; he considers the changes “a good start.” Now, instead of a maintenance-and-operations levy, they can have an “enrichment levy,” which he says is “more like a bond,” and considers “transparent.” The state assumes that districts will pursue that levy, and that it will be passed. It’s capped at $1.50/$1,000 of assessed property value, or a certain amount per district student, “whichever is less.” Almost all the state’s districts will be going after the former, but the largest districts will be going after the latter, and it will not “be a level playing field.” And Harman is not sure this will wind up kicking in at the start of next year. He believes the tax rate in Highline will “drop by about 75 cents per $1,000 … not super-significant, but it will be dropping” … and the district will wind up receiving $35 million instead of almost $65 million that it’s getting under the different, current formula. Beginning teachers will get about the same salary they were slated to get previously; classified staffers. He debunked several myths, as he saw them, about the new funding formula. Another one involves special-education funding, and he says Highline will be “OK” under the change, while the Seattle district is looking at reductions. Highline’s not facing reductions immediately but might in three years or so, he said.

In Q&A: Voter-approved bond funding will be enabling another middle school to be built, and that will allow Highline to move 6th graders into middle school, which currently is only 7th/8th in the district, unlike most other districts. That will free up some capacity in elementaries, which currently are bursting at the seams, and that means that K-3 class sizes can be reduced to 17-1 in most if not all Highline elementaries; currently it ranges from 21-1 to 28-1. “The plan is to not depend long term on portables,” which will be phased out over time, Harman added. With that, they’ll have enough elementary capacity “for the next 10 years” or so; middle schools will get crowded sooner, and high schools will be OK for a while. Within 10 years, the district is projected to have 22,000 students.

What about the old Beverly Park campus? It can’t be used currently because it’s not hooked up to sewers and its septic system has failed; the work to connect it to the sewer system is scheduled to happen this school year. The elementary that’s going to be built will be at Zenith Park in Des Moines; the new middle school will be where the old Glacier High School used to be.

Asked about federal funding, Harman said there’s a concern about a noise-mitigation grant negotiated some years back by the FAA and Port of Seattle, which the district used around the rebuild of Highline HS – about $14 million. “The port’s still 100 percent behind it; the FAA’s decided ‘airplanes don’t make as much noise as they used to, so we don’t think you qualify’,” he said, so that money’s future is in question – it’s in a bill that has been caught up in political tug-of-wars.

Dobkin asked what happens to schools in North Highline if the area were annexed by the city of Seattle. Harman reiterated what’s long been the answer to this question – the city and school district are separate entities with separate boundaries, so nothing would change there. But if annexed, the area would likely become more dense, and Highline “doesn’t have the capacity” to handle that – they’re already facing that situation as the Midway area densifies, for example, so the district expects to be negotiating with several municipalities for impact fees, which they’re already getting from Kent. Would the city of Seattle contribute to Highline schools at all? Dobkin followed up. Harman said that the city’s Families and Education Levy might go in part to newly annexed areas, but that doesn’t directly fund schools.

Asked how citizens can advocate for equity, Harman said talking to your elected officials does help, and gave an example of how local representatives were contacted about a problem that needed to be fixed – and passed amendments that made millions of dollars of difference. But while the elected officials hear from people like Harman all the time, “they need to hear from voters,” he emphasized.

His e-mail is duggan.harman@highlineschools.org – contact him with concerns, questions, etc. “I’m more than willing to talk with anyone at any time about this … if we don’t get (education funding) right this time, it’ll be another 20 years before it comes up.”

COUNTY ASSESSOR: John Wilson also discussed the effects of the education-funding decision. “For us it’s a moving target,” he said, a source of frustration. His department’s computer system is old. King County property owners will see their tax bills go up – they “will pay significantly more so that money can be spent elsewhere around the state to equalize education.” They’re now waiting for districts to tell them which of the funding formulas (mentioned by Harman) they will be using. There might be a bit of a drop in 2019 from 2018. “But what we’re seeing is a failing of our property tax funding,” something he said has long been in the works. He mentioned Seattle’s “Will Rogers” approach to property taxes – the city “never met (one) it didn’t like.” They are finite, he said, and now leading to residents asking if they can afford to live in their houses any more, or do they need to sell and move – “we are basically ripping you out of that home of yours” when that happens. So he said they’re talking with King County Executive Dow Constantine about a “statewide homestead tax exemption,” which would require a state constitutional amendment. The money would have to be made up somewhere, though, he acknowledged.

At this time of year, they start hearing from local governments – and they have to make calculations that include 596 local levy districts around the county. He has a staffer who for 10 years has manually calculated those levy codes because of their computer system’s limitations. The state calls for property tax bills to be sent in mid-February, and that’s what they’re ramping up for now. “The challenge we have … we somehow need to modernize our tax system, and the way we provide services,” so that there’s a balanced revenue system “that doesn’t overburden you.” He said he’d been talking with Dobkin before the meeting about one of its long-voiced concerns, the tax-exempt public housing – on one hand, its tax exemption seems proper, but on the other, that burdens the community that as a result is not getting tax dollars, so a balance needs to be found for that. “We’ve got to have a better system” to be sure that people don’t pay too much, but also do pay their fair share.

In Q&A, the issue of tax fairness came up again; Wilson noted that our system goes back to the late 1800s, and has not significantly changed, though the economic base has changed dramatically. Because of its structure, even a record amount of new construction did not keep the county budget from suffering a shortfall in the same year the record was set. Same thing goes for gas-tax funding that’s helped with roads – it’s going down because even with more miles being driven, fuel efficiency has gone up, and less gas is being sold, so that’s another case of the tax system not keeping up with changes.

He also ruefully joked about how tax increases are not being explained clearly – the “how many lattes a month” is deployed too often and too inaccurately, to the point where you get a bill and say “wow, that’s 167 lattes!” – so they are working on a “transparency tool” that will help people make voting decisions with clearer information on the results of the decisions we’re making. They also want to create it in a way that will show renters how they’re affected, to get away from the inaccurate perception that renters blithely vote for property taxes because “they don’t pay (them),” which, Wilson said, is not true, as the increases are passed along in rent hikes.

In response to another question, he talked about how the Assessor’s Office tries to keep up with accurate assessments – visiting properties at least one every six years, for example. And he talked about how to accurately assess properties that have been remodeled, telling the tale of a West Seattle house that took out a relatively low-cost “remodel” permit but really tore down almost the entire house – except for one corner – and did work more like 10 times the value of the permit they had taken out.

Wilson was then if seeking equity in the tax system might lead to a new way of taxing higher-end properties. He said state law wouldn’t allow a tiered tax system but there are some other ways to look at it. He also mentioned having met with Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold and discussing concerns about higher-end homes being built and allowed to stay vacant; that’s not a big problem here, he says. But, he said, his office has information on all 700,000 pieces of property in the county, including some government-owned properties that might be available for use for housing because the original intent for those parcels somehow fell away over the years. And, he said, modular housing could help. So they’ve been working with housing providers and companies building modular-type units that are “ready to drop on a site” for about $70,000 a unit – a fifth the cost of building something new. So there’s a site where they’re looking at installing more than 100 such units and taking more than 100 people out of homelessness and off the streets. He said they’re also being mindful of not overloading any particular community with this type of housing – “we have to get our suburban partners on the other side of Lake Washington more involved.”

Next question, about mixed-use development, led to Wilson acknowledging that “affordable retail” is important too, not just “affordable housing.” The city has a glut of street-level retail space but much of it sits vacant because of the price point. So they’ve been talking about innovative ways to use it. “We’re finding that small locally owned businesses – often owned by (members of) historically disadvantage communities – are often the ones being forced out first,” by chains, in most cases. “When you so homogenize the retail base, the only people who can afford to have shops in those are those running national franchises or banks … we have to be smarter about that.” He specifically mentioned the proliferation of Starbucks; an attendee said White Center’s new Starbucks specifically brought him and his wife into WC to shop. He stressed that while he’s not bashing chains, “there has to be a balance.” Also, Seattle has 44 Subway franchises, and 40 of them are for sale, he said a friend told him – while they are generally owned by local franchisees, they are taxed and treated like “multinational corporation” outlets, he noted.

You can reach him at john.wilson@kingcounty.gov – he says he personally receives and answers all e-mail.

CRIME STATS: Deputy Bill Kennamer brought the latest numbers – comparing July-August of this year to a year earlier. Auto theft is down a bit in White Center, 21 compared to 25; auto recoveries, which is where vehicles stolen elsewhere are dumped in the area, have dropped significantly, 12 compared to 21; commercial burglaries are down significantly, 3 compared to 9; assaults are about the same.

He said someone had asked him about the Westcrest Park stabbing earlier this week (a Seattle case) and while he had no specific information, he did have one note – when Seattle thinks a case is gang-related, there’s usually a regional bulletin issued, and there has NOT been any such bulletin about this case.

He also talked about keeping the White Center Bog area safe – it’s been cleaned up, and when people are caught trespassing there, they are told to leave.

A discussion ensued about the fate of various properties in flux – such as the former Dairy Queen, which is going to be a food-truck kitchen, the deputy said.

And there was a discussion about vehicle problems along local roads – if there’s one parked in front of your house, call the Abandoned Vehicle Hotline, he advised. He also said that he’s “pretty ruthless about RVs” that are parked where they shouldn’t be; in unincorporated King County, you are not allowed to park one anywhere except for a designated camper spot – wherever you park one, you are supposed to have power, water, and sewage.

The next point of complaint: Illegal fireworks being shot off year-round. Deputy Kennamer said enforcement can be problematic, as they generally have two deputies in the area per shift, and they have to be prioritized. In the bigger picture, it was noted that for fireworks to become permanently illegal in the unincorporated area, the County Council would have to change the law.

Myers Way came up too – “people don’t even call us any more” due to resignation over some of the unresolved issues, the deputy noted, but community advocate Gill Loring urged from the audience, “If you see something, call 911.” People shouldn’t hesitate.

SEOLA POND RESTORATION: Scott Delfay, a community organizer, took the podium to update the group. He said he had lived in Fauntleroy recently and noted that its creek is a “magnificent place” because of years of stewardship and the resulting work to get grant. Then in 2010, he bought property just east of the city-county line in Seola, on greenspace “that acts as a de facto neighborhood park.” North of 106th and along 30th SW, which is the boundary. It’s historically a peat bog, he noted, that would dry up in the summer, and held runoff because of all the construction around it. He explained that he had obtained $1,600 from Uncle Ike’s (whose proprietor was in attendance) in funding more help for work at the site, done by EarthCorps earlier this week, and they’ll be back in October. Asked if there is anything about his project online, he said he’s a “Luddite” but is hoping that he’s initiated something that’s gaining momentum as did the work in Fauntleroy. He said his church is the fiscal sponsor for what he’s doing. “This is meant to bring awareness of the pond, and hopefully get more volunteers.” To help and/or find out more, you can reach him at satomiscott (at) q (dot) com. He also noted that there’s a landowner on the Seattle side who can’t build on their parcels because it’s peat and he’s been trying to help coordinate a potential donation of that land as a park site.

NEW FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: Sarah Margeson from King County Parks/Natural Resources told NHUAC that a new program in Youth and Amateur Sports Grants has $1.5 million dedicated to serving unincorporated areas, “for capital project improvements and programming,” and community groups are eligible to apply too. She said that transportation, nutrition, and other needs can be addressed, and that it’s available for adult programs as well as youth. It’ll be launched at the end of this month, with an online grant-management system that she hopes will make it “pretty simple” for applications – you’ll find the links on this website once it’s available, and informational sessions are planned too (in Kent and South Seattle).

ANNOUNCEMENTS: NHUAC secretary Pat Price thanked the community for support of the Labor Day weekend White Center Library Guild Sidewalk Sale, which she says “did well” … Community advocate Gill Loring brought up a trash problem on 15th SW/SW 107th that’s been brought to the attention of various county departments, with none wanting to take accountability for it; Storefront Deputy Kennamer said he’s pursuing it too.

OCTOBER NHUAC MEETING: Deputy County Executive Fred Jarrett, King County Sheriff John Urquhart, and City of Seattle Homelessness Director George Scarola are tentatively slated as guests for next month’s meeting (7 pm Thursday, October 5th). Watch northhighlineuac.org for the agenda as that date gets closer.

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OPEN HOUSE: Mary’s Place White Center shelter invites you to visit next Wednesday

September 7th, 2017 Tracy Posted in White Center news 1 Comment »

You’re invited to an open house next Wednesday at the new shelter:

That’ll be almost six months after its opening day back in March (WCN coverage here).

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