Looks like Uncle Ike’s is joining the White Center cannabis business scene

June 10th, 2016 Tracy Posted in Businesses, White Center news 4 Comments »

The state Liquor and Cannabis Board has approved a license for Uncle Ike’s to open a retail marijuana store at 9822 15th SW in White Center, in the Asiana Square shopping center. We had received a tip about this and sent an inquiry to the company a few days ago, which was acknowledged, without a “yes” or “no” answer – now, the LCB website provides the confirmation. Uncle Ike’s first location is in Seattle’s Central District, where it’s sparked some controversy since opening in 2014.

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FOLLOWUP: Closed White Center Dairy Queen will NOT reopen as a DQ, company says

June 8th, 2016 Tracy Posted in Businesses, White Center news 4 Comments »

Another followup in the saga of what had long been a Dairy Queen at 10256 16th SW in White Center: Gill sent the photo of equipment being carted off yesterday, about a month after it closed, with notes on the door blaming “register failure.” We reached a corporate spokesperson today, and he says this will NOT be reopening as a DQ. What WILL happen to it? Up to the building’s longtime owner, who records suggest is different from the “sublicensee” that ran the DQ. We also don’t know the fate of the employees who said they hadn’t been paid for their last two weeks of work. But, if you are looking for a Blizzard or Peanut Buster Parfait, your nearest stop will be in Burien, a few miles south (14310 Ambaum Boulevard).

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Starbucks, Popeye’s on the way to White Center Chevron site

June 3rd, 2016 Tracy Posted in Beverages, Food, White Center news 21 Comments »

Thanks to the texter (we’re at 206-293-6302 any time) who tipped us to this tonight:

A brand-new land-use sign is up on the periphery of the White Center Chevron at 15th/16th/100th, for a project titled Starbucks of South Seattle. The notice also mentions a separate permit application forthcoming for Popeye’s Fried Chicken.

We won’t be able to reach the respective chains for comment until next week, but county records show the site – long listed for sale – was sold two months ago to Madison, a well-known Seattle developer, for $2,250,000.

Right now, the standalone Starbucks nearest White Center – which of course has excellent independent coffeehouses including Caffé Delia and Dubsea Coffee – is in West Seattle’s Westwood Village shopping center. The nearest Popeye’s is in Renton.

The infosheet that we found posted on the south side of the lot says a public comment period is open until June 27th, and describes the first part of the project as involving “development of a 2,475-square-foot shell building for a future coffee shop, demolition of existing convenience store, gasoline filling station, removal of two underground storage tanks, and car wash.” While the notice says the application was filed with the county May 9th, it lists the “date of mailing” as today (June 3rd).

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Myers frustrations, libraries’ future, more @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

June 2nd, 2016 Tracy Posted in Annexation, North Highline UAC, White Center Library, White Center news 8 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

The most intense discussion at tonight’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting was a side trip off the agenda and outside the county – the Myers Way campers, with and without vehicles, on City of Seattle-owned land right over the boundary.

But first, from the agenda – WC’s new library – and its role in the annexation debate:

NEW LIBRARY, AND ITS FUTURE IF SEATTLE ANNEXATION HAPPENS: New NHUAC president Liz Giba pronounced the new White Center Library “awesome.” KCLS executive director Gary Wasdin took centerstage right after that, declaring it a “wonderful space.” It’s now been almost two weeks since the dedication/ribboncutting (WCN coverage here). He quoted Rachael Levine of the White Center Library Guild – present at the NHUAC meeting too – who had said at the ceremony, “if you want to support the library, use it.” He said, “Every single step of the White Center Library has been driven by community.”

He acknowledged that “top of everybody’s minds” is the issue of annexation and what happens if White Center is annexed by Seattle. “Nothing has really happened” since last time he talked about it, he began. For one, he reminded everyone that KCLS also has a library in Greenbridge. “Should annexation (happen), a decision has to be made about the future of those (two) libraries … and whether they are King County libraries or Seattle Public libraries … To be perfectly fair, that’s not my decision to make.” It’s the community’s decision, he said. “We will support whatever decision is made and will make it work and will fight to make sure you have libraries. … As a reminder, there are basically two options … assuming annexation is approved and happens: Option 1, that SPL takes over operation of the libraries,” which he said would require “some kind of written agreement with the city of Seattle” including a commitment that they would remain libraries. Or “Option 2, Seattle contracts with King County Libraries” to operate them. “Why would you do that? Actually, there are pros and cons to both sides.” That includes the fact that library patrons would continue to be both city and unincorporated-area residents. “We have an agreement with SPL that (people can) interchangeably use both systems.”

As for finances – with the caveat that it’s his opinion – “I think it makes more sense for Seattle to contract with us. … Let’s say annexation takes place, you all stop paying the King County Library operating tax. … Seattle could opt to pay us for the lost tax revenue, to continue to operate the two libraries. The reason that’s a benefit to the city of Seattle is that the cost of operating them is far more than the tax revenue that is generated.” He says that likely wouldn’t and couldn’t be an indefinite agreement, “but it’s the option that we’ve floated … we’ve shared it with Kenny (Pittman, Seattle’s point person on annexation).” He again said the community ultimately needs to make the decision. And he suggested that those interest in this should share it “with anybody who will listen to you” – and that includes the Boundary Review Board, which has a two-day hearing on Seattle’s annexation proposal coming up in two weeks in White Center (he said KCLS will have two staff members at the hearing), June 13, 14 and possibly 16. “You have a little leverage here because they [Seattle] need a positive vote. … Libraries are different … You all paid for this library” – via levy – “so you should have a say in … what you think the future of that library should be.”

Wasdin said he hasn’t seen anything regarding the cost of “the physical act of annexation” – he alluded to a past agreement, now expired, that at one point had KCLS planning to pay Seattle to take the libraries, but that was before the current WC libraries were built. Now, “it would just be a transfer … obviously with a lot of logistics …” and that could be complicated, including the fact that the state owns the land on which the new library was built, Wasdin said. He said it’s around $2 million a year to operate the two libraries in WC. Getting things in writing are important, he said, given that whatever commitment elected officials make, there’s no guarantee they’ll be in office forever.

Wasdin also pointed out that for example, KCLS operates a library in downtown Seattle, in the Convention Center – operating its 49 libraries is NOT a matter of district boundaries.

“This is the cheaper option for them,” Wasdin reiterated, in terms of the decision to be made if annexation happens – but he said he doesn’t believe most layers of Seattle government, such as the mayor and council, have even thought about it yet.

Asked about the debt on the buildings, Wasdin said that the bond payment, through 2024, would continue, as far as he knows. He said that’s another argument for KCLS continuing to operate it even if the area is annexed – they’d still be paying it off.

What about the old White Center Library building? It’s been sold to West Seattle Montessori School – the deal hasn’t quite closed yet, said Wasdin. “That’s a very special building, sentimentally,” he added.

As Wasdin’s section of the agenda wrapped up, NHUAC board member Elizabeth Devine said she was looking forward to the new library’s air conditioning with the sizzling weather expected this weekend.

CRIME BRIEFING: Storefront deputy Bill Kennamer was at the meeting with the newest information on local crime trends. Here are the three sheets he circulated:

Auto theft is way down – though they’ve recovered more cars than were stolen locally (“stolen somewhere else and brought here”), said Deputy Kennamer. Burglaries “have spiked significantly,” and he thinks both the heroin-use epidemic and increase in people experiencing homelessness are to blame. A resident in the Myers Way area says the latter “is getting ugly … if we don’t do something about this, it’s going to drag the community down.” Another attendee said, “The police can’t handle all this … and it’s not just here, it’s everywhere.”

Deputy Kennamer says he’s frustrated too – “the only thing I can do is hassle people as they come and go, I can’t tow cars, I can’t call code enforcement” because the Myers Way site is in Seattle city limits. He also talked about the pollution that seemed to be happening on the land on the east side of Myers because of unauthorized encampments. Asked how many people are there, he suggested hundreds, and thought at least 11 RVs are currently camped by the entrance to the Myers Parcels on the west side of the street.

(If you don’t read our partner site – here’s the latest proposal for what the city might be doing with the land.)

Much discussion ensued with concern about whether Seattle Police are doing anything about the problem, and some alleging that the Seattle City Council has taken action or made statements somehow hindering SPD from doing anything.

Elizabeth Gordon of the NHUAC board suggested that perhaps the community could use this situation as leverage related to the ongoing annexation discussions, “basically something that says, ‘this is what we want if you want us to vote for annexation – that doesn’t guarantee we’ll vote for annexation but it sure might help,” perhaps requesting a city-county task force “to address the situation on Myers Way jointly,” among other things.

One attendee noted that it’s “not just a law-enforcement situation” and mentioned a model in San Francisco for how people experiencing homelessness are being helped, “not the model we have (here) now.”

NHUAC vice president Barbara Dobkin said in her view it’s a “Seattle problem” that the city is not addressing. Board member Devine said she’s worked with people experiencing substance abuse and it’s important not to “lump all the homeless” together, but it is important to take a look at those who are “a menace to our community” and ensure they are not “immune from the consequences of their behavior … (don’t just) say ‘the homeless’ and think we are covering it all.” Her voice broke as she spoke of someone who wound up along Myers Way because he was down on his luck, and got mugged and robbed by “predators.”

Deputy Kennamer said at that point that earlier in his law-enforcement career, people experiencing homelessness broke into three categories – substance-addled people who had burned all their bridges, people with mental illness, people running from the law. Now, he said, he is seeing a younger group of people who decide to live this way “and steal everything they can steal … and the vast majority … are drug addicts – that’s the group we have to aggressively police. … I spend the bulk of my day dealing with them, chasing them from one park to another park … but I’m not handcuffed. The Sheriff’s Office is not handcuffed.”

While he says “there’s drug dealing going on,” he says the days of meth labs in RVs appears to be over – it all comes from elsewhere.

Discussion meandered back to why people are on the streets, and one attendee pointed out that many have wound up there because of domestic violence. Board member Devine pointed out that services are available for DV survivors – that they could call 211 to seek resources.

Keep calling police, Deputy Kennamer advised, as well as political pressure – “show up at the King County Council meeting – you have a voice.”

The talk then circled back to an attendee wondering if there could be a regional way to examine the problem. “We are talking about human beings living in a region, and we should be looking at a way to deal with it rather than just looking from one place to the next.”

Toward the end of the discussion, Kennamer pointed out that the shortage of law-enforcement resources leads to a shortage of ability to be proactive. And improvement isn’t on the horizon – he said a recent meeting included information that the department is almost $4 million short, which could mean no air and sea resources.

Meantime, Deputy Kennamer said September 1st is the target date for the White Center storefront to move from 16th SW to its new home at Steve Cox Memorial Park.

After he left the front of the room, NHUAC president Giba worried aloud that the Myers situation did not portend well for how Seattle would treat this area if annexed. But she expressed hope for working in collaboration with Highland Park and South Park – “they are our neighbors.” Meantime, though, she noted that King County government is the current government of this area and needs to be pressured to protect the area from being abused.

ANNEXATION CODA: Before meeting’s end, annexation came up again, with the aforementioned Boundary Review Board hearings looming. NHUAC president Giba said that what’s needed right now is information from Seattle – “be straight with us.”

COMMUNITY SERVICE AREA MEETING: President Giba gave a recap of the recent annual North Highline Community Service Area meeting at Seola Gardens; among other observations, she said it was disappointing that this area’s King County Councilmember, Joe McDermott, wasn’t there. “It was shocking that our councilmember wasn’t there,” said NHUAC board member Dominic Barrera. One top county official who was there, Sheriff John Urquhart, drew kudos for his presence and presentation.

COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENTS: Gill Loring announced the work party this Saturday, 9 am-1 pm, at North Shorewood Park (see our earlier announcement for details) … Another attendee announced June 9-10, 1-4 pm, car wash at New Start High School … The King County Council committee’s next hearing on proposed marijuana rules is coming up at 9 am June 16th, said Mark Johnston, who’s been a community watchdog on the issue, saying anyone with concerns about marijuana zoning in unincorporated King County should “speak up” – public comment will be part of that meeting … Another attendee noticed a sign up for a new affordable-housing project at 1st and 112th in Top Hat, almost 300 residential units and 38,000 square feet of commercial space. (We’re researching this right now and will have a separate followup.) … White Center Kiwanis‘s annual Jubilee Days pancake breakfast is coming up … Petitions for Initiative 1491, allowing a family member to petition the court to “suspend access to a firearm of a loved one who has become a danger to himself and/or others,” were brought to the meeting … A part-owner of the Highline Bears was on hand to make sure NHUAC knew about the team, with home games at Steve Cox Memorial Park the next three Friday nights, 7:05 pm.

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets first Thursdays, 7 pm, but will be on hiatus now until September, when the county Comprehensive Plan will be on the agenda – watch northhighlineuac.org for updates. You’ll also see board members at the aforementioned Boundary Review Board hearing – again, here’s the notice for that hearing, set for two days and possibly a third.

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4 ways to help White Center parks this summer

June 2nd, 2016 Tracy Posted in How to Help, Parks, White Center news Comments Off on 4 ways to help White Center parks this summer

From Lina Rose with King County Parks:

I believe that a great way for community members to make a positive impact is to join together in service to improve the health and safety of their parks. Studies show many shared benefits to working towards healthy urban forests in our communities – from increased ecological value, animal habitat to positive public health impacts like lower asthma and obesity rates when there are trees or a healthy park nearby. Studies also show, and I have seen this many times anecdotally, that crime within parks declines when restoration efforts are going on there. A challenge is that when that activity leaves the park… where does it go. Not everything can be solved through restoration efforts but this service is one key ingredient to a healthy and safe community.

I am leading 9 events in White Center this summer, 4 of them are open to the public:

June 4, 9 am-1 pm North Shorewood Park (National Trails Day!)

June 11, 9 am-1 pm Thurnau Memorial Park

June 18, 12 pm-3:30 White Center Heights Park (Seattle Works Day)

August 13, 9 am-1 pm North Shorewood Park

Interested community members should contact me by phone or email prior to the event so I can make sure that they have all the information they need for the project and that I have an accurate count of volunteers to plan for tools, etc.

E-mail Lina at lina.rose@kingcounty.gov to let her know you’ll be there.

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White Center restaurants: Bok a Bok’s quarter-ton day

June 1st, 2016 Tracy Posted in Food, restaurants, White Center news Comments Off on White Center restaurants: Bok a Bok’s quarter-ton day

Thanks to Gill for the photo from Bok a Bok Fried Chicken‘s first day in White Center; he reports that the line was already to the front door, and tables full, by early afternoon. Bok a Bok says it was out of chicken by early evening, running through a quarter-ton (500 pounds if you’re division-challenged), but ready to start frying again at 11 am tomorrow.

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Preview Thursday’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

May 31st, 2016 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on Preview Thursday’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

You’re invited to the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council‘s last meeting before summer hiatus:

When: Thursday, June 2 @ 7 pm
Where: North Highline Fire Station (1243 SW 112th Street – parking and entrance in the back of the station)

Please join NHUAC, North Highline’s volunteer community council, at our June 2nd meeting. Through its “All Are Welcome!” community meetings, the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council (NHUAC) aims to add opportunity to our community’s equation:

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

This month, we will be joined by Executive Director of the King County Library System, Gary Wasdin. This will be his second visit with us and the timing couldn’t be better. White Center’s beautiful, new library is finally a reality! If you haven’t visited yet, do yourself a favor and visit this great community resource on the 1400 block of SW 107th Street (behind Mt. View Elementary). If you go before our meeting, you can share your thoughts about the WC Library and its place in the North Highline community with Mr. Wasdin.

You may have seen a television broadcast or some online discussions about challenges associated with homelessness facing the Top Hat neighborhood of North Highline. We recently met some involved Top Hat residents at a meeting about the Myers Way Parcels. It was the perfect opportunity to invite them to Thursday night’s meeting to help educate us about the Top Hat neighborhood and share experiences and ideas.

Back this month, from the King County Sheriff’s Office, will be our own Storefront Deputy, Bill Kennamer. In addition to bringing us update on crime stats, Deputy Bill is sure to be listening to the Top Hat discussion and offering his unique perspective.

Please note that NHUAC will not be holding meetings in July and August – regular monthly meetings will resume in September.

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WestSide Baby’s special delivery: 278 donated strollers

May 30th, 2016 Tracy Posted in WestSide Baby, White Center news 1 Comment »

(Photo courtesy WestSide Baby)

Another reminder that regional family-assistance organization WestSide Baby, headquartered in White Center, doesn’t only deal with diapers: WS Baby is celebrating a donation of 278 strollers. Here’s the announcement:

278 local children will be more mobile thanks to a recent charitable donation. Summer Infant, a manufacturer of juvenile products, has donated 278 brand new strollers to local nonprofit WestSide Baby for them to distribute to low-income families through a network of over 120 social service agencies.

The donation, which is worth more than $60,000, was made after WestSide Baby issued a request to help them fill a high number of requests for strollers to provide to low-income parents. In 2015 the nonprofit was unable to fulfil more than 850 of the requests for strollers from families who needed them.

Nancy Woodland, WestSide Baby Executive Director, says: “We are very excited about receiving such a generous donation from Summer Infant. This donation means that we are very likely to be able to provide strollers for all of the parents who request them this year. Many of the parents that we serve are forced to choose between buying equipment for their children and paying for necessities such as bills or rent. A stroller can make the difference between a parent and child staying in or leaving the house.”

The more help WestSide Baby gets, the more families it can help – here’s what you can do, any time.

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SPORTS: Highline Bears win big in second-season opener at Steve Cox Park

May 29th, 2016 Tracy Posted in Sports, Steve Cox Memorial Park, White Center news 1 Comment »


By Randall Hauk
Reporting for White Center Now & West Seattle Blog

The semi-pro Highline Bears baseball team launched its second season at Steve Cox Memorial Park in grand fashion Saturday night, downing the Langley Blaze 10-0 to give manager Rich Lindros a big win in his debut.

Starting pitcher Al Miller needed just seven innings to collect his complete-game shutout, thanks to the efficient Bears offense which used just three hits to generate enough runs to trigger an early end to the game via the “mercy rule.” Miller also surrendered only three hits on the evening, striking out two.

After Blaze starter Brandon Marklund loaded the bases in the fourth inning by hitting three Bears batters, second baseman Connor Jones delivered a two-out single to score Cameron Slader and Colton Kelly.

Marklund’s control struggles continued in the fifth inning, when he again loaded the bases without giving up a hit, this time walking first baseman Angel Valencia before hitting the next two batters. The Bears would pounce on the opportunity, plating six runs in the frame despite a Parker Coffey single being the only hit the home team would produce.

The Bears finished things in the seventh, again taking advantage of Langley pitching issues. After Ben Fitzhugh and Connor Jones each drew walks, third baseman Drew Larea doubled down the right-field line to make it 9-0. Myles Wesner grounded to second, but Ben Foerster’s throw to the plate could not prevent Jones from scoring a game-ending run.

Following the game, children in attendance were invited to run around the bases while Bears players lined the infield offering high-fives to their young fans, who then proceeded to collect autographs from their heroes in blue.

The two teams will meet again today (Sunday, May 29) at Steve Cox (1321 SW 102nd) for a doubleheader beginning at noon. Tickets are $5; kids under 12 get in free.

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White Center restaurants: Bok a Bok Fried Chicken ready for Wednesday opening

May 28th, 2016 Tracy Posted in Food, restaurants, White Center news 7 Comments »

(WCN photos)
That’s Chef Brian O’Connor (second from left) and his crew at Bok a Bok Fried Chicken, ready for opening day Wednesday (June 1st) on SW 98th just east of 16th SW. We reported almost two months ago that Bok a Bok was on the way to that space; tonight we stopped in for a few photos during Bok a Bok’s “media preview” night. We were a little early so the food wasn’t ready yet; we don’t eat on the job anyway, so we’re happy to show you the crew and the space, seating 22:

Chef O’Connor describes it as “fast casual” but not mega-fast – it’ll take about 12 minutes to fry up your order. Speaking of which, here’s the menu, given to us on paper at tonight’s event:

Bok a Bok will open daily at 11 am, running as late as 11 pm if they haven’t run out of chicken yet. The website should be ready before opening day.

P.S. Chef O’Connor is also still working on a second White Center restaurant, as we mentioned in April, Same Same Noodle Bar, location still TBA.

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White Center Dairy Queen workers say shutdown shorted them 2 weeks’ pay

May 28th, 2016 Tracy Posted in restaurants, White Center news 5 Comments »

We’ve received several questions about what happened to the White Center Dairy Queen at 10256 16th SW, which has been shuttered since earlier this month, with only a note on the door alluding to “register failure.”

(Its page on the corporate website features a “temporarily closed” icon.) Now a letter from some of the employees has been published by Working Washington, saying they weren’t paid for the two weeks before the shutdown, and didn’t even know about the closure until they showed up for work and found the restaurant shuttered:

… The delay of the checks have affected a lot of the employees. One of the employee(s) is homeless with her one year old daughter and is struggling to find a job and is struggling to provide for her family, another employee is behind on their student loans for college, and another person is unable to pay for their car insurance.

The majority of the employees are unable to pay monthly bills such as phone bills, utility bills, water bill, and rent. …

We will be trying again after the holiday to reach DQ corporate, which is in Minneapolis. As its site points out, restaurants are owned by individual franchisees, but the workers’ letter alleges that the shutdown was ordered by the parent corporation. So far we haven’t found the franchisee in public databases (King County does not have a restaurant business-license database) but we’re still looking.

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FIGHTING CRIME: King County Sheriff’s Office advice on avoiding auto theft

May 26th, 2016 Tracy Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, safety, White Center news Comments Off on FIGHTING CRIME: King County Sheriff’s Office advice on avoiding auto theft

The King County Sheriff’s Office deputy who presented the crime briefing at this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, Deputy Corbett Ford, has information to share to help you avoid becoming a victim of auto theft. He shares it in Etwo languages, first, English:

Every day someone becomes a victim of auto theft. We all think it isn’t that big of deal until it happens to you. A vehicle is stolen in the United States almost every 46 seconds. In 2014, there were 689,527 reported stolen vehicles. That amounts to more than $4.5 billion US Dollars. The Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Metro area ranked 8th in the nation with 20,268 reported stolen vehicle. This is a problem that affects all of us.

Following are a few Crime Prevention Tips that can help to keep your car from disappearing and ruining your day:

-NEVER leave your vehicle unattended with the keys in the ignition.
-Park in busy and well-lit areas.
-Equip your vehicle with an alarm and other anti-thefts devices.
-Lock your doors and keep the windows closed, even when your vehicle is parked in front of your home.
-Keep your vehicle information where you can get to it quickly.
-Report auto theft immediately. Police need your license plate and vehicle information.

And now, en Español:

Todos los días alguien se convierte en una víctima de robo de autos. Nadie le da importancia hasta que le sucede. Un vehículo es robado en los Estados Unidos casi cada 46 segundos. En el 2014, se reportaron 689.527 vehículos robados. Esta cantidad de autos robados asciende a más $ 4,5 billones de dólares. El área metropolitana de Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue estuvo en el octavo lugar a nivel nacional con 20.268 informes de vehículos robados. Este es un problema que nos afecta a todos.

Siguiendo algunos consejos de prevención del delito usted podria aprender como protejer su vehiculo.

-Nunca deje su vehículo si usted tiene que salir del auto.
-Estacionese en áreas concurridas y bien iluminadas.
-Equipe su vehículo con la alarma y otros dispositivos contra robos.
-Asegure las puertas las puertas y mantenga las ventanas cerradas, incluso cuando el vehículo está -estacionado frente a su casa.
-Mantenga la información de su vehículo donde se puede acceder a ella rápidamente.
-Reporte inmediatamente el robo de su auto. La Policía necesita el numero de la placa y la informacion del vehiculo.

Deputy Ford also shares the Top 10 List of Stolen Vehicles, as reported by the National Insurance Crime Bureau for 2014:

1 Honda Accord (1994)
2 Honda Civic (1998)
3 Subaru Legacy (1997)
4 Toyota Camry (1991)
5 Ford Pickup (Full Size, 2000)
6 Acura Integra (1994)
7 Chevrolet Pickup (Small Size, 1998)
8 Honda CR-V (1999)
9 Toyota Corolla (1993)
10 Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size, 1999)

Thanks to Deputy Ford for the info – share it with your friends and neighbors!

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TONIGHT: King County ‘Town Hall/Open House’ for unincorporated North Highline

May 24th, 2016 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on TONIGHT: King County ‘Town Hall/Open House’ for unincorporated North Highline

This annual event is happening tonight:

It’s a chance to hear about, and ask questions about, a wide variety of county services, programs, and issues.

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VIDEO: White Center Library grand-opening celebration

May 21st, 2016 Tracy Posted in Libraries, White Center news 1 Comment »

The new White Center Library is open! If you want to be part of Opening Day, get there by 5 pm, if you haven’t been there already. A half-hour-long ceremony got things going this morning, starting with music by the Cascade Middle School Symphonic Band:

King County Library System director Gary Wasdin observed that the WC Library groundbreaking was one of the first big things he was involved with after starting the job last year:


He said this is the fourth library that KCLS has opened this year. Next, KCLS Board of Trustees president Rob Spitzer, who said they’d “learned a lot about the community” in the process of getting this library built:


All the while, a steady rain continued, but the crowd wasn’t daunted – many brought umbrellas:


It’s not a ribboncutting without an elected official, and this one featured 34th District State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, who noted that the library in Burien, where he lives, is a jewel, and this one too will be a “community gathering place” close to WC’s downtown.


Overall, Rep. Fitzgibbon proclaimed, those who planned and advocated for and built this library “nailed it.”

The new WC Library will have an even-closer relationship with Highline Public Schools, with Mount View Elementary next door, and the district’s superintendent Susan Enfield offered a few words at today’s ceremony too:


She also declared it a “wonderful community hub … not just a place to read and check out books.” It’s also a place to see art – including the red panels around the building, which architect Nick McDaniel from NBBJ explained are representations of White Center’s murals:


June McKivor, president of the White Center Library Guild, spoke next:


While she has lived in WC since 1976, she said, the community’s library history goes back much further, and she mentioned a few milestones, which also were detailed in the event program, including the first library opening “below the Fieldhouse steps” in 1946, six years before the guild itself formed. (The Year McKivor moved to WC is the year the old library on 16th SW opened.) But the most important history she shared was that of the fight to make sure this branch actually got built: “A few years ago, this beautiful building was in danger of not being built.” A petition drive ensued, proving “strength in numbers,” she said.

McKivor and Wasdin joined next in honoring someone whose passionate advocacy made a big difference – she was often the face and voice of the Library Guild in so many venues – Rachael Levine:


A plaque with rock sculptures in the garden on the north side of the library now pays tribute to her:


“Community is not one person,” Levine said, “it’s all of us.”

And then, everyone was reminded that the best way to advocate for the library is to use it. Once the ribbon was cut and the doors opened, they did:




Again, the library is open until 5 pm today – go celebrate!

(If you see this before 2 pm, that’s when you can enjoy Rimawaynina Cumbe, Traditional Cumbia Colombiana.)

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TODAY: White Center Library grand opening

May 21st, 2016 Tracy Posted in Libraries, White Center news Comments Off on TODAY: White Center Library grand opening

(Photo by Christopher Boffoli)
Today’s the day! The brand-new White Center Library will be dedicated and celebrated today, starting at 9:30 am. Above, the photo is by West Seattle photographer Christopher Boffoli, whose work “Octopus Survey” will be on the wall in a library conference room. Below, the photo is by Gill Loring from the White Center Library Guild, during a preview inside:

(Photo by Gill Loring)
Gill says visitors need to know that the library’s main parking lot will be closed for the celebration, but offsite parking has been arranged at a nearby church. It’s been 14 months since the formal groundbreaking for the 10,000-square-foot library at 1409 SW 107th, funded by a bond measure passed by voters a dozen years ago.

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‘Bike Everywhere Day’ station today at Dubsea Coffee

May 20th, 2016 Tracy Posted in Transportation, White Center news Comments Off on ‘Bike Everywhere Day’ station today at Dubsea Coffee

It’s “Bike Everywhere Day” – formerly “Bike to Work Day” – and if you’re biking, you have a “celebration station” to visit in White Center: Dubsea Coffee in Greenbridge, SW 99th/8th SW. It’s co-sponsored by the YES! Foundation and the Major Taylor Bike Club, and bicycle riders are invited to stop for free coffee, bananas, treats, bike checkups, and info about bicycling in WC. 6 am-9 am.

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Teenager shot in North Burien

May 19th, 2016 Tracy Posted in burien, White Center news Comments Off on Teenager shot in North Burien

Though this happened in North Burien, just outside our coverage area, we’ve had some questions about it this morning, so we’re publishing the King County Sheriff’s Office news release:

At around 12:13 am (today), King County Sheriff 911 communications received reports of the sounds of gunfire in the area of SW 116 St and Ambaum Blvd SW, in Burien. Very shortly thereafter, they received updates that a man had been shot in the chest and was lying in a parking lot of an apartment complex in that same area.

Deputies from Burien arrived in the area within minutes and found the victim, later learned to be 17-year-old male, lying near an apartment complex in the 11400 block of 16th Ave SW. The victim had a single gunshot wound to his chest. Deputies as well as medics from North Highline Fire and King County Medic-1 provided aid to the victim at the scene before he was rushed to Harborview Medical center for emergency surgery.

Because of the nature of his injuries, Deputies were only able to get a very limited description of the suspects from the victim. At the time, they were described as two Hispanic males wearing dark clothing. It is believed that they fled on foot and then possibly in a silver or gray 2000s-era sedan. A K-9 track was attempted but no suspects were located.

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How would Seattle annexation affect the North Highline Fire District?

May 18th, 2016 Tracy Posted in Annexation, North Highline Fire District, White Center news 5 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

While it’s still a year and a half until the earliest date that residents of unincorporated North Highline would vote on Seattle annexation, a deadline is near:

The North Highline Fire District Board of Commissioners has two weeks to write up its position on the proposed annexation for the King County Boundary Review Board, whose public hearing starts two weeks after that.

But first, the board wants to make sure it has all the information it needs to take a stand. Some of it came during an extensive Q&A during the board’s Monday night meeting, with Seattle city and King County reps in attendance, but the board also is awaiting written answers to some key questions. By meeting’s end, the Seattle reps promised to speed it up, though NHFD lawyer Brian Snure observed that it would have been better if this information had all been in months earlier.

No way to go back in time. So here’s what did happen Monday night.

Guests for the discussion, which took up most of the public portion of the meeting (which ended with a closed-door session), were Seattle’s longtime annexation point person Kenny Pittman, Seattle Fire Department Assistant Chief of Operations Jay Hagen, and Karen Freeman from the King County Executive’s Office.

Existing Seattle Fire stations are well positioned to cover the NH area, Chief Hagen said, meeting the 4-minute response standard. “We try to get a fire engine to the emergency alarm location within 4 minutes, 90 percent of the time.” So if NH Engine 18 is busy, what does that do to response times? It would go up to 5 minutes, 10 seconds, but that’s still better than the service SE Seattle gets, he said. “In all four corners of the city, the coverage would be better here than other areas of Seattle.”

Commissioner Liz Giba asked what response time meant. “First we have to process the call – CPT is time from when the phone rings at public-safety answering point, they process the call, look for a geocoded address on the map, match to computer on fire apparatus, and send alarm to the station. When bell rings at station, we end answering time and start turnout time – until the wheels roll over threshold of station door. Then we have response time, the actual driving time to the incident. … We would ask them to gear up quicker for an aid (medical) response than for a structure fire response – an extra 20 seconds or so, about 80 seconds.”

That’s engine response, he explained. For ladder-truck response – West Seattle has only one, Ladder 11 at Station 32 in The Junction. But that’s about equidistant for what NH would get right now. “In a perfect world we’d like to rearrange things and have a ladder truck closer. … Those are the longer apparatus and the (ones) we use in Seattle are tillered, with asteering wheel on the back set of wheels … they do search and rescue, forcible entry, ventilation … they’re dedicated to certain functions on the fire ground. In Seattle we have about a 3 to 1 ratio, engines to ladders. If annexation occurs, the engine here would be the 34th engine in Seattle, and we have 11 ladder trucks spread around the city.”

SFD has a 4-platoon system, 4 groups of firefighters who relieve each other sequentially, while NH has a three-platoon system. sends two battalion chiefs to structure fires for command and control – “they’re the ones you might see with radios giving orders, or they might join firefighters inside the structure.” Then there’s Deputy 1 who has command over the entire city. All companies are staffed with four personnel at all times.

Medic unit coverage: Seattle has BLS (basic life support) – the EMT level of care, closest to the alarm location and they can get there and decide whether ALS (advanced life support) is needed or can they handle it on their own? “They pave the way to success by doing things (to prepare for) the ALS unit.” All Seattle firefighters are EMTs. The paramedics in King County, meantime, “all come from the same school … all highly regarded.” Last year, he said, they had a 62.5% cardiac-arrest survival rate. They get international visitors – one from the UK, for example, said that where he was from, they had a 12 percent survival rate. SFD is the “rolling classroom for Medic One.” He says they already provide a good level of service for ALS. But – Medic 4, he noted, is moving to downtown Burien this summer, close to NH. Seattle’s Medic 32 is at Station 37 (West Seattle’s southernmost station) during the rebuild of Station 32. “The honest truth is, when we go back to our normal condition, the medic unit is not as close as the (one) that serves this area – we’d have to do some work to make that an improvement.” They don’t have plans “developed” yet.

In response to Giba’s question, Hagen noted that the new Station 32 in the West Seattle Junction will be finished in about a year. He also noted that this area is “rich in need” – 1,000 ALS alarm in the past year. If you carved the same acreage from, say, West Seattle’s Admiral District, he said, that only generated 209 alarms in the past year.

Hagen said he thinks “there’s a great company here … at face value, not a lot would change. What’s notable to me is the depth and breadth of services that the city of Seattle could bring to bear … larger organization, more follow-on services, I think that would be noteworthy.” Comissioner Julie Hiatt asked about follow-on examples. “Technical rescue services, like trench rescue,” Hagen began. (A unit is positioned in SODO, 4th and Horton.)

North Highline (and Burien) Chief Mike Marrs said those services are provided through Zone 3 responses, any station out of King County. It would come out of on-duty firefighters as opposed to specialty crew members who are always on.

What if the specialists are busy? Giba asked. If it’s going to be more than 2 hours before they are, they have callbacks to bring personnel in. “Every Seattle firefighter is trained to the awareness of (assessing) operational level,” he said, how to call for additional resources, for example. They also could call for mutual aid if need be, Hagen said – Seattle is zone 5, South/West suburbs are zone 3.

Hiatt asked for an example. So Hagen spelled out a trench-rescue scenario, a “low priority, high impact, high risk type of emergency” that might happen every six weeks or so. If one is already in progress and a second one is called, the first-arriving firefighters know what to do – to stabilize the situation, waiting for more advanced resources to arrive. “Chances are we might do more than one of those things at once, reinstate our backup team AND call for mutual aid.”

Pittman then spoke. He said the average tax bill would go down in NH if annexed. Seattle “really does have a low tax rate because we have a huge assessed value and state law limits how much (they can charge). … Residents in this area are affected by special-purpose districts, and NHFD is a special-purpose district. If annexed … the only thing that would exist for Highline is if they passed a bond that would stay with property owners until paid off.”

“How about financing for the fire services?” Pittman’s reply: The city budgets overall for everything.

He mentioned the state sales tax that would be partly funneled to Seattle – $7.75 million a year for a 6-year period, while the previous version was $5 million for 10 years – without costing anyone anything more.

His spreadsheet showed that annual taxes on an average NH property would go down about $200 a year – dropping from $3,239 to $3,011.

Asked about the recently passed Move Seattle transportation levy, Pittman replied incorrectly that it wasn’t a property tax – but it is (“The $930 million levy will be paid for through a property tax that will cost the median Seattle household (valued at $450,000) about $275 per year, for nine years.”)

He was asked about school districts. This area would remain in the Highline Public Schools system unless something happened to change that in the future. The school districts would have to go to the Educational Service District to ake a change – “there are no plans to do that, and no discussions to my knowledge (about that).”

Back to fire-related matters. He mentioned that firefighters would retain their seniority and benefits – “the two unions would have some discussion among themselves” about who goes where,” and the Fire Departments also would have some details to work out, if there were any layoffs. But again, they’d need more firefighters than they have now. What about administrative staff? “We’re looking into that,” said Pittman.

What about rank? asked Giba. Pittman said that people would be evaluated on an individual basis to see if they met the qualifications for the Seattle version of the title they hold in NH. Hagen elaborated, “I called the president of Local 27 this morning, Kenny Stewart, to say we’d be having some of these discussions – he’s in pretty close communication with NH leadership, some of this stuff hasn’t been worked out yet.” They’d look at resumes, training, etc. Hiatt wondered if there are set criteria for evaluation. Local 27 VP Jeff Miller was in the room and said “That all gets worked out in union negotiations … as a union we wouldn’t be doing any evaluating but we’d be advocating for people to keep their seniority,” etc.

“It’s a pretty well-documented body of knowledge,” Hagen added.

Hiatt asked him for elaboration on administrative staff.

“They’re not necessarily at the fire stations – we have them at the training facility, Harborview, headquarters – I’m going to guess we have in the 50s, admin employees who are in Local 17.” Hagen said he couldn’t commit to what the situation would be under annexation – there’s one administrative staffer at the NHFD HQ – “I think we’d find a place for that person to go.”

What changes would people see in this building?

Pittman didn’t think many, but acknowledged that the building is used a lot for community meetings, so that would be worked out. The vehicles would be the biggest change.

No plans for station relocation? asked commissioner Dominic Barrera.

“Not at this time,” said Pittman. If there was a need to relocate the building, he added, it would probably be a little further north and east, “but there are no plans for that, let me be real clear.”

The real question, he said, is whether the plans would continue for a station in the potentially to-be-annexed area, “and there are no plans to have no station here” – he pointed out that this station would help service parts of West Seattle too.

“Is there any way you can give us an assurance there will always be a station in area Y?” asked Hiatt.

“An iron-clad guarantee? … It wouldn’t make sense to not have one in this area,” said Hagen.

“But it doesn’t make sense to not have one in Arbor Heights,” Hiatt pressed (an area annexed to Seattle in xxx). “… We wouldn’t want to be Arbor Heights.”

What about mutual-aid agreements if north Burien suddenly was without the NH fire station? Seattle already has several, said Hagen.

Do you feel a responsibility to north Burien? pressed Hiatt, saying it would leave “a hole.”

The Boundary Review Board would look at “doing no harm,” replied Pittman. He also said he had been “having conversations with Chief (Mike) Marrs … we take it very seriously.”

Hagen mentioned Seattle’s remodeling of fire stations – 30 of 33 done – “we would be making (upgrades) to this station,” including a decontamination area. “We’ve made a commitment to storing our protetive ensemble in a cimte-clintrolled system … with airflow through … the gear degrades a lot more quickly if we don’t take care of it. So we’ve made a commitment to appropriate gear storage facilities.” He said they also are committed to seat belts, strapping things down in cabs, cancer and heart attack. They also have put a functional gym system in every fire station, for health and wellness. They have facilities to capture the “diesel soot” as engines come in and out. “And on sleeping arrangements, we have gone to 1 person per room.”

Mutual aid is not automatic right now for Seattle, Hagen acknowledged, but it could be.

That surfaced concerns about North Burien losing coverage if the remaining portion of North Highline became part of Seattle. So – How would Burien get pre-approved for (automatic) Seattle mutual aid? Hagen said the county’s 50 fire chiefs meet regularly, and Seattle’s new Chief Harold Scoggins “is very comfortable operating in that environment … I see it as a trend we’re moving toward in this county.”

“Wouldn’t being the closest to Arbor Heights put an additional strain on this station?” asked Barbara Dobkin of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council.

Hagen pointed out that “if we remove the political boundary,” then Engine 26 (South Park) and Engine 11 (Highland Park) would take part of what’s currently the North Highline area, so this station wouldn’t necessarily be serving everything it does AND more.

Pittman then picked up the timeline. The Boundary Review Board takes this up in June. Either a November 2017 or November 2018 election could follow. The former would result in annexation taking effect in January 2019, after a “full-blown budget process with the City Council.” Or, if a 2018 vote, then it would take effect in January 2020. “So there’s time to work out these issues.”

“So shouldn’t people have answers to these questions before they vote?” asked Giba.

Yes, and that’s what they’re working on now, said Hagen and Pittman. Two to three weeks away.

“We have to take a position and develop a brief on annexation and whether we support it by May 27th,” before the Boundary Review Board meeting, said the NHFD board’s lawyer. Without all the answers, it would be difficult for them to support it. So, the lawyer said, why do you have to have a Boundary Review Board hearing this soon for a November 2017 annexation vote?

Because they already asked for a one-year extension,and the main issue – the tax credit – has been addressed, Pittman said.

Anything you’d like to add? Giba asked Freeman.

No, she replied, but she’d answer questions.

First question – is King County financially assisting any government over these annexed areas? No, she said. Part of why we’re supporting annexations is because we (are low on money).

What about finding North Burien a place to build a fire station? Freeman recapped some past discussions including “an agreement that sunsetted in 2012” – the year by which the county had envisioned all the annexations would be complete. “We’re well past that date and we’re not done.” Three “islands” are claimed by Renton, there’s one outside Federal Way, there’s this one, and “63 smaller islands” elsewhere in the county.

“So you’re not going to find a parcel for North Burien (fire station) if the annexation goes through?” Hiatt asked.

“That’s correct,” said Freeman.

What would happen to the community if annexation was voted in, before it took effect? Dobkin asked.

We’d continue to serve it as best we can, said Freeman, adding that the county is looking at a “significant budget shortfall” in the next biennium. And “service continues to degrade.”

Pittman pointed out that it would only be a year between the vote and annexation taking effect.

Hiatt wondered if medic mutual aid could be available out of Burien, expressing concern that there’s just one unit in WS and it’s a ways away. “There’s a couple options” said Hagen – “one would be to make an arrangement with Medic 4 to provide that service in this area, the existing medic unit in West Seattle could be relocated further south …” Currently, they don’t call for mutual aid until everyone’s tied up, but that could change, Hagen said. “…I can tell you your concern is heard.” But, “There’s really no good reason we don’t have automatic aid right now … we can give easier than we can get … most of the time.”

Pat Price from NHUAC asked about timetable for the Duwamish annexation and how that’s affecting NHFD. “We’re still working through the interlocal agreement with King County … still looking at (possibly) putting it on November ballot this year, and it would take effect in 2018.”

Chief Hagen committed to getting answers to the e-mailed questions as soon as possible – even if partial, Hiatt stressed and he agreed to that.

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County Council committee to consider marijuana-zoning legislation starting tomorrow

May 17th, 2016 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news 12 Comments »

Following up on the surprise vote three weeks ago for a four-month moratorium on new marijuana businesses in unincorporated King County, the County Council starts its closer consideration tomorrow. The announcement:

Two special meetings of King County Council’s Transportation, Economy, and Environment Committee to consider legislation impacting zoning for the production, processing and sale of legal marijuana in unincorporated King County.

WHO: The Metropolitan King County Council’s Transportation, Economy, and Environment committee (TrEE).

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

WHEN: Wednesday, May 18th, 2016, 9:00 am and Thursday, June 16th, 2016, 9:00 am

BACKGROUND: In 2013, the King County Council adopted initial zoning regulations governing the production, processing and sale of legalized marijuana in unincorporated King County. Since adoption of these initial zoning regulations, King County has received and processed numerous applications for marijuana-related land uses.

Some residents have expressed concerns regarding the existing regulations for marijuana production, processing and retailing. In order to review these concerns in rural areas, as well as consider an Executive proposal to regulate clustering of retail locations, the King County Council voted to pass a four-month moratorium on the acceptance of applications for or the establishment or location of new marijuana producers, processors and retailers on April 25th, 2016.

Two ordinances have been introduced. They are Ordinance No. 2016-0236 and Ordinance No. 2016-0254. Council Vice Chair Rod Dembowski, chair of the TrEE committee, says it’s his intention “to review the legislation at this first special meeting and move expeditiously to consider any amendments to the existing marijuana zoning codes, so that the Council can make any changes to the code that are appropriate, and lift the temporary moratorium on this legal industry as soon as possible.”

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Community Service Area event on May 24: The official announcement

May 13th, 2016 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on Community Service Area event on May 24: The official announcement

As mentioned at last week’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, the annual Community Service Area event for unincorporated NH is coming up later this month. Here’s the official announcement we just received:

King County Town Hall/Open House

King County Community Service Areas Program

North Highline/White Center

Residents of unincorporated King County are invited to meet with County officials to discuss issues affecting White Center and North Highline.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016
7 to 9 PM

Seola Garden – Providence Bldg, 11215 5th Avenue SW

County Councilmember Joe McDermott
Rhonda Berry – Executive Office Chief of Operations
Sheriff John Urquhart

For more information contact Alan Painter, Program Manager, Community Services Area Program 206 477-4521 or alan.painter@kingcounty.gov

Interpreter services available upon request

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