THURSDAY: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council invites you to December meeting, online

November 30th, 2020 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 1 Comment »

Third online meeting for the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council – here’s the announcement:

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

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When? Thursday, December 3, 2020 at 7 pm
How? Join Zoom Meeting:
Meeting ID: 936 8821 9357
Passcode (Case Sensitive): NHUAC2020! (please note that there is an exclamation point (!) after 2020 that you must enter in the passcode)

Unable to join via Zoom? Please Call: (+1) 253 215 8782
Meeting ID: 936 8821 9357 Passcode: 4810516954

Good News! It has been a long time coming, but King County is going to do something about stormwater in North Highline. Water Planner Jessica Engel will discuss the Green Stormwater Infrastructure strategy and ways it can be used to help improve our community.

Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon and Sen. Joe Nguyen will also be joining NHUAC’s last meeting of 2020. NHUAC has asked them to think about ways to improve the health, lives, and opportunity for our North Highline community. In 2018, at the county’s annual Town Hall, NHUAC delivered a Petition to King County Executive Dow Constantine and the King County Council. It started:

(1) Opportunity gives people access to what they need to succeed.

(2) According to a 2011 Opportunity Mapping Analysis, White Center is a “low opportunity neighborhood” with “some of the worst health outcomes in King County… ranking number one for diabetes-related deaths, infant mortality, and heart disease….” The report also cites “academic achievement and poverty challenges.” “School poverty has serious implications not just for students, but for districts, communities and the region.”

We, the undersigned:

“Ask King County to conduct a Fair Housing Assessment and Opportunity Analysis of the North Highline community as part of White Center’s “community of opportunity” designation.“

Unfortunately, King County has not given any indication that it intends to conduct either analysis. We hope that Sen. Nguyen and Rep. Fitzgibbon can help us around this quandary.

NHUAC is always happy to see White Center Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer, who will be joined by Major Jeffrey Flohr and Community Engagement Specialist Manny Apostle.

Knowledge is power. Learn, share, and help make North Highline a better place.

December 3, 2020 at 7 pm – Tell a Neighbor!

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Newest plan for Subarea Plan @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s November meeting

November 10th, 2020 Tracy Posted in King County, North Highline UAC, White Center news 2 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

The reinvention/relaunch of King County planning for this area headlined the November meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council.

NORTH HIGHLINE SUBAREA PLAN UPDATE: David Goodman from the King County Department of Local Services made a repeat appearance. For context, he shared a demographic snapshot of North Highline compared to King County as a whole, and a few trends:

“The relative affordability of White Center has decreased quite a bit,” Goodman observed. He also showed a snapshot of recent developments – “not a tidal wave of development, but some pretty significant” additions.

And he explained Opportunity Zones, which cover two census tracts in the area:

There’s no requirement to disclose when a project is being funded as part of this program, Goodman noted.

Updating the Subarea Plan process, he said its scope has been expanded beyond its original land-use focus:

The work already done on the land-use plan will be incorporated into “this new structure,” Goodman promised. The Community Needs List that’ll be built will help shape what goes into the next county budget, he added. Here’s the type of topics they hope to hear about:

In the nine months of outreach done before the planning process was “paused” in March, here’s some of what Goodman said they heard a lot about;

“The book is still open on all these things,” he stressed. Here’s the timeline over the next year and a half:

They already have some ideas for the Community Needs List:

NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin asked for more information about the Opportunity Zone – whether construction that happens in it results in tax-exempt properties. Short answer, no, said Goodman. NHUAC’s Liz Giba suggested that the countywide permit process needs to be “tightened up.” Impact fees should be reconsidered to help consistently fund sidewalks and schools, for example. She also wanted to see an “opportunity analysis” and more green space – additional pocket parks “in places where there are decrepit buildings right now,” for starters.

Traffic calming is badly needed, too, said Dobkin, with speeding problems on east-west arterials.

King County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Kennamer said mandatory trash pickup should be considered – it’s optional in the unincorporated area but not in cities, he noted.

Goodman also said they’ve heard a lot of interest in smaller commercial spaces – “It’s a little tricky to find a way to make that happen, but it’s one thing we’re thinking about a lot.” They’re trying to “think of some creative ways to incentivize” this, realizing that landlords might be more inherently comfortable with large established tenants. Giba noted that small businesses are more popular than large corporate ones, and recalled large buildings’ commercial pasts, such as the DSHS building on 15th having been a grocery store. She also wondered if anything’s being done about the West Seattle Bridge detour traffic’s effects on White Center; Goodman said he has a regular call with Seattle city planners and is talking with them about some engagement in White Center. Deputy Kennamer says this is affecting streets all the way down to 116th. He also noted he’s getting a radar gun soon and plans to “run traffic” on 26th, 28th, 106th, 107th, and 112th.

His regular update was next up at the meeting:

DEPUTY KENNAMER: He said he can’t book people into jail right now for trespassing or theft, He also noted that staffing remains low and not likely to change. He said everyone arrested in the shooting behind the Smoke Shop pleaded guilty recently. He mentioned that people keep breaking into the house next to the burned-down Yarington’s Funeral Home site, where there was a fire recently.

A discussion of graffiti vandalism broke out from there; Kennamer said the murals have been the most-effective tool used against it, but also observed that there is not a big problem with gang graffiti locally, just tagging.

Regarding property crimes, Kennamer said auto theft’s up, residential burglaries are down.

CREDIT UNION STRATEGIC PLANNING: The meeting began with a presentation about grant opportunities through the Community Development Financial Institution Fund.

Speaker Rick Thomas said they’re working with Express Credit Union to help people in the area with financial opportunities, through a grant program.

He said the program could even lead to an ATM or part-time presence in the community for Express, which has had a program going in Othello and hopes to replicate that success in White Center.

COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENTS: White Center Kiwanis is selling nuts as they do every year – text Scott at 206-465-8432 if you’re interested.

NEXT MEETING: The next first Thursday is December 2nd – watch here and for updates.

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THURSDAY: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s November meeting, online

November 3rd, 2020 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, Online, White Center news Comments Off on THURSDAY: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s November meeting, online

However the elections turn out, local advocacy carries on, and your next chance to be part of it is at 7 pm this Thursday, online. The announcement from the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

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

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting
When: Thursday, November 5, 2020 at 7 pm
How: Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 943 1011 0478
Passcode: NHUAC2020!

Unable to join via Zoom?
Please Call: (+1) 253-215-8782
Meeting ID: 943 1011 0478
Passcode: 7581259731

We did it! NHUAC’s October meeting was different in its format, but still full of important information. Now that we have our first Zoom meeting under our belt, we want to assure you that you can still be an informed and involved community member despite COVID-19. Although Zoom allows more accessibility, it is not your only option. You can call in, too. Our North Highline community is worth the effort!

Have you applied for a loan lately or know someone who relies on payday lenders in times of need? Have you heard of Community Development Financial Institutions or CDFIs? They go back to the 1970s and the Community Reinvestment Act. The CRA was needed because of the lack of access to responsible and affordable credit and capital in low-income communities. Does North Highline need access to a CDFI? Rick Thomas of Credit Union Strategic Planning will join us to discuss this important topic.

David Goodman of King County will update us and gather our feedback on the evolving North Highline Subarea Plan. The plan will guide development in North Highline over the next 20 years. According to the county’s vision statement: “North Highline is a diverse, inclusive, and family-friendly community that supports a thriving small business community, enjoys proximity to urban amenities and green space, and provides opportunities for people of all socioeconomic backgrounds to live, work, and thrive.” The big question is: How do we get there from here?

NHUAC is always happy to see White Center Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer, who will update us once again about police activity in our community.

Knowledge is power. Learn, share, and help make North Highline a better place.

November 5, 2020 at 7 pm – Tell a Neighbor!

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Election in the spotlight as public-safety leaders visit North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s first online meeting

October 11th, 2020 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, North Highline Fire District, North Highline UAC, White Center news 1 Comment »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council has finally arrived in the world of online meetings, and the first one, this past Thursday night, was as info-packed as their in-person meetings have historically been.

Though this one spotlighted public safety, with leaders from the North Highline Fire District and King County Sheriff’s Office, the real theme was the November 3rd election, with both departments having a lot at stake in ballot measures on which you will be voting.

NORTH HIGHLINE FIRE DISTRICT BENEFIT CHARGE: Assistant chief Ray Pettigrew opened by noting he has been with affiliated Fire District 2 for 35 years, and explained how the two districts consolidated at the start of last year after many years of cooperation.

He talked about the “benefit charge” changing the way NHFD is funded, starting six years ago after its 2014 passage, to take care of the problem with tax-exempt properties not contributing to the district funding. And he listed everything it’s enabled, as voters get ready to decide whether to renew it for 10 years. The charge “spread the cost out, made it more equitable,” Pettigrew explained, and led to a small decrease in what homeowners pay. The charge enabled the consolidation, and also led to a rating agency upgrading the department’s rating, which is good news for property owners’ insurance rates – the rating is now a 3 (1 is the best). The department also was able to buy two new fire engines that are based at Station 18. “We’re a very busy fire department,” with 11,000+ calls last year, he said, and the engines that were replaced had a lot of miles on them.

The stable funding also has enabled them to station an aid car at Station 18 most days – “it increases our ability to answer emergency calls by almost 50 percent.” They’ve upgraded air packs, and added a public educator, too. Also: A local firefighter is helping with the COVID-19 testing area that has been opened in Tukwila; Pettigrew said they were looking for other sites, maybe even White Center, but couldn’t find an available property. King County is reimbursing them for the firefighter’s work. Last but not least, they’re working on an “FD CARES” response unit – “usually an SUV” with a firefighter and nurse or social worker – to answer certain kinds of “low-acuity calls and works with the person to address their needs in a more appropriate manner.” King County Public Health has provided some funding for this. They’re hoping to have the unit up and running early next year. “We think we’ve been very good stewards of your tax dollars,” summarized Pettigrew, pitching for the renewal.

What if it’s not approved? asked NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin. Reply: The property tax rate would go back up, and the FD would have to re-evaluate what it’s doing. What’s the rate and is it different from the last one? It’s been fairly consistent and is expected to continue that way – “approximately $1.50 per thousand” (dollars of property valuation).

KING COUNTY SHERIFF: KCSO sent several reps to the meeting, starting with the sheriff herself, Mitzi Johanknecht.

She talked about the every-decade county-charter-amending process. Two amendments on the November 3rd ballot would affect KCSO: Amendment #5, which would change the sheriff back to an appointed, rather than elected, position, more than 20 years after the previous change. She’s the fifth elected sheriff, in her first term, which started in early 2018. If Amendment #5 passes, the County Executive would appoint the sheriff, with County Council approval. Then the council put Amendment #6 on the ballot – “having an elected sheriff, but with conditions … that the King County Council would create an ordinance … that determines the roles and responsibilities of the sheriff.” Currently, state laws regulates sheriffs’ roles.

Dobkin mentioned hearing County Executive Dow Constantine talk about the measure on a podcast and say that since people who aren’t in the sheriff’s jurisdiction get to vote for them, changing the law made more sense. Johanknecht noted that other countywide officials are voted on by all county voters too. But, she noted, KCSO does have countywide responsibilities – Metro and Sound Transit policing, among other things. “I also think it’s important that if you’re voting for a sheriff, the sheriff should have a standalone opportunity to represent you.”

If it went to an appointed position, might that lead to cuts/changes? Johanknecht said the COVID-19 crunch has already required some cuts, so she cut some vacant positions, “the least amount of FTEs possible” so it wouldn’t harm 911 response and crime-solving. NHUAC’s Liz Giba said she’d heard the marijuana-tax money had been pulled from KCSO – was that true? The sheriff said that’s a complicated issue but it’s not resulting in any cuts/changes. She also noted that 58 percent of the KCSO budget is revenue-backed – maybe the only county agency that brings in this much money helping cover its budget.

What sort of anti-racism reforms has KCSO been working on? The sheriff said reform is one of the major things she ran to accomplish. She says her deputies now have “less-lethal tools” and that they’ve developed new policies for the critical-incident review board, plus they’ve been training in de-escalation and crisis intervention – 48 hours of the latter, “years ahead of what the state is going to demand.” They’ve also gone through implicit-bias training, and are wrapping up investigations of social-media posts that drew attention and concern. She said the issue has made her job “the most important thing I’ll ever do in my life.”

The budget includes full funding for the KCSO storefront locations, including White Center, she said, in response to a question.

She was followed by Manny Apostol, the new community-engagement specialist for KCSO, a longtime department employee. Listening to communities is his task – here are the slides outlining what he’ll do:

He was asked how he’s working on rebuilding trust with Southeast Asian communities in the wake of the Tommy Le killing. He said he’s been reaching out to groups.

STOREFRONT DEPUTY BILL KENNAMER: He talked about a problem house in the 1800 block of SW 98th that’s finally been cleared out – the eviction moratorium pushed the handling of the situation back several months. They were evicted “due to the criminal activity associated with the house,” he said. “That was the worst house in White Center right now,” he said. Among other things, one of the people associated with the house “was a murder suspect with a $2 million warrant.” Kennamer said one neighbor told him he’s had the first night in a long time that he wasn’t awakened by some trouble at that house. But there are others, it was noted.

Other wide-ranging discussion included the murals on many businesses being a graffiti-vandalism deterrent.

Dobkin also mentioned traffic issues diverting off Roxbury, which in turn is a lot busier because of the West Seattle Bridge closure. Kennamer agreed, “The traffic is absolutely ridiculous” and “going to be frustrating for a very long time.” Dobkin said it’s a safety issue with people “flying through our streets” on streets without sidewalks. Kennamer said he’d reach out to Roads – maybe a stop sign on 106th could help, “so they can’t pick up so much speed.” He also advised “don’t walk with your back to traffic.”

What about mail theft? Kennamer was asked. “If you see it, call us quick, because they’re gone quick.” Locking mailboxes can help but some people even use saws to cut them down.

MAJOR JEFF FLOHR: He’s now the KCSO Southwest Precinct commander. The area always has at least two deputies on duty, he said. He started out talking about the “use of force” dashboard, which he said would show “how rarely we use force.”

His main topic: White Center is one of the areas where KCSO is about to run a pilot camera program – in-car and body-worn. 10 deputies will be using the cameras for 90 days, working in different areas.

He went over the functions and policies they’ll be testing.

At the end, they’ll evaluate and document what they learned, “identify the features we want if funding is provided for full implementation” – right now, it’s NOT budgeted.

Flohr also said they’re “ready to go” with the LEAD program in White Center/North Highline, just waiting for some documentation with a service provider to be finalized. Asked to refresh memories, he gave an example – say deputies respond to a mentally ill shoplifter, they deal with a team of people trying to get that person help, “trying to keep people out of jail and get them the services they need … it’s exactly what the communities have been asking for, they just don’t know that we’ve been doing it.”

CHIEF JESSE ANDERSON: He talked about “8 can’t wait” policy changes: No chokeholds unless it’s a force-type situation “last resort,” de-escalation, requiring warning before shooting, duty to intervene, no shooting at moving vehicles (unless deputies are trapped), among other things.

Regarding policing reform, he acknowledged that many of their calls are more “quality of life issues” than crimes, but he also said staffing is at the lowest level it could be while still allowing them to respond to calls.

NEXT MEETING: NHUAC plans to continue via Zoom for the foreseeable future – the meetings are usually first Thursdays at 7 pm – watch for updates. Next time, the North Highline Sub-Area Plan will be a spotlighted topic.

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THURSDAY: Public safety spotlighted @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

October 6th, 2020 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, North Highline Fire District, North Highline UAC, White Center news 4 Comments »

As previously mentioned, the first pandemic-era North Highline Unincorporated Area Council is set for this Thursday, October 8th, online. Here’s the announcement with full details:

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

Where? North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When? Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 7 pm

How? (Here’s the link)
Meeting ID: 946 9398 2872
Passcode: 179306

Dial-in: 253 215 8782
Meeting ID: 946 9398 2872
Passcode: 179306

NHUAC Is Baaaack!!! NHUAC’s first meeting since February will be held Thursday, October 8th at 7 pm. It is going to be a virtual meeting via Zoom so it will be different, but the goal will be the same: To provide an opportunity to be informed, involved, and heard about issues affecting North Highline.

COVID-19 has changed our lives. We have been staying home to stay safe. Meanwhile, what has been happening in White Center, Top Hat, Boulevard Park, other North Highline neighborhoods? What is about to happen? To help us catch up and prepare, NHUAC’s October 8th meeting will focus on our first responders.

Have you ever called 911 because of a fire or medical emergency? If so, you know how important the North Highline Fire District is to our community. Assistant Chief Ray Pettigrew will discuss NHFD and ballot measure NHFD Proposition No. 1 to continue the Benefit Charge.

The climate around policing has gotten intense. King County’s response requires our serious consideration. If Charter Amendment No. 5 passes, voters will give up their right to vote for Sheriff. According to the King County Elections website, “The next sheriff would be appointed by the county executive and confirmed by the county council.” Charter Amendment No. 6 would transfer much of the Sheriff’s control over KCSO to the King County Executive (currently Dow Constantine) and the King County Council.

Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht will discuss these issues and others specific to North Highline. We will also be joined by Chief Jesse Anderson, who recently left Precinct 4 to become head of the Patrol Operations Division. Major Jeffrey Flohr, Precinct 4’s new Commander; Manny Apostol, KCSO’s new Community Engagement Specialist; and last, but certainly not least, Deputy Bill Kennamer will also join us.

Knowledge is power.

Do not miss this chance to learn and help make North Highline a safer place!

October 8, 2020 at 7 pm – Tell a Neighbor

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REMINDER: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets next week, not this week

September 29th, 2020 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, Online, White Center news Comments Off on REMINDER: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets next week, not this week

A reminder from the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

2020 has been a year of many challenges and the creation of many new norms. With that said, NHUAC will not be holding a meeting on the first Thursday of October, and instead will be holding the meeting on the second Thursday, October 8th.

With continued Social Distancing recommendations, the meeting will be held via Zoom. You will also have the option of calling in on your phone. We will send out info on how to join the meeting, as well as info on our guest speakers as we get closer to the meeting date.

Please plan on joining us as we will be discussing issues that are very important to the future of our North Highline Community.

So fire up your computers and get ready to Zoom.

Community Matters
Stay Informed, Stay Involved, Be Heard

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FYI: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council changes October meeting date

September 22nd, 2020 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, Online, White Center news Comments Off on FYI: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council changes October meeting date

Set your calendar for October 8th instead of 1st – the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council has moved its meeting date back a week. Connection/teleconferencing details to come – watch

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: No September meeting, but set your calendar for October!

August 30th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: No September meeting, but set your calendar for October!

Announced by the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting
Thursday, September 3rd cancelled –

But mark your calendars for NHUAC’s virtual meeting on Thursday, Oct. 1st 7 pm –

Our NHAC board was hopeful that we would be able to resume in person meetings on Thursday, September 3rd, but COVID had other plans for us. Although statewide hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 have not risen for the past three weeks, they have not gone down. With that in mind and the continued directives that we limit the size and the frequency of our social gatherings, we are canceling the September 3rd meeting.

The good news is that we plan on resuming meetings on Thursday, October 1st when we will hold NHUAC’s first-ever virtual meeting. We are excited and look forward to connecting with the community.

As we get closer to the meeting date, we will provide information on how you can join us on your computer or by phone.

So stay tuned as we plan on having some important guest speakers.

Stay Safe – Stay Healthy

Questions- Please contact:

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council update – including free masks and hand sanitizer!

July 1st, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, Holidays, North Highline Fire District, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on North Highline Unincorporated Area Council update – including free masks and hand sanitizer!

From the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

As in our prior years, the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council (NHUAC) will not be holding July and August meetings. We will resume meetings on Thursday, September 3rd. Wishing everyone a safe, happy, warm, summer –

In the meantime, please see the info below regarding mask and hand sanitizer distribution that the North Highline Fire District in partnership with NHUAC and King County, will be handing out on July 4th.

The North Highline Fire District is Pleased to Announce

We will be distributing face masks (2 per person) and hand sanitizer (1 bottle per household) on July 4th in partnership with the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council and King County.

Your firefighters work hard to ensure the safety of North Highline.

We look forward to seeing you in our community on July 4th and making sure you have the protective gear you need to stay healthy!

If you need a mask or hand sanitizer before the 4th of July, please e-mail your contact information to:

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: No June meeting

June 2nd, 2020 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: No June meeting


Due to ongoing Covid-19 issues and Social Distancing requirements, The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council will not be holding the Thursday, June 4th meeting.

We hope to see you all soon.

Stay Safe – Stay Healthy

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No North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting again this month

May 4th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on No North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting again this month

From the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

In keeping with the continued “Social Distancing” order, the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council is cancelling the Thursday, May 7th meeting.

We are hopeful that we may be able to return for our next scheduled monthly meeting on June 4th. We will make sure to keep everyone updated.

Please stay safe – and we hope to see you all soon.

If you have any questions please contact: Barbara Dobkin @

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: ‘Stay home – stay safe’

March 30th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: ‘Stay home – stay safe’

From the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

In keeping with Social Distancing, the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council will not be holding the Thursday, April 2nd meeting.

If you have questions or community concerns please contact:

Liz Giba:


Barbara Dobkin:

Stay Home – Stay Safe

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No North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting for March

February 29th, 2020 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on No North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting for March

From North Highline Unincorporated Area Council leadership:

Due to unforeseen circumstances, NHUAC’s Thursday, March 5th meeting is cancelled. Please plan on joining us for the next scheduled meeting on Thursday, April 2nd.

Thanks – we look forward to seeing you all in April.

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Open space, future zoning, crime & safety @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

February 8th, 2020 Tracy Posted in King County, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on Open space, future zoning, crime & safety @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor>

Three hot topics comprised this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, first one of 2020.

OPEN SPACE: Sarah Brandt from King County Parks leads this program and tackled several topics, starting with the Land Conservation Initiative.

The county’s been accelerating protection of habitat and acquisitions in the past couple years. While several different types of open space are covered, she primarily spoke about urban greenspace. To make greenspace more equitable in urban areas, they used several criteria to identify areas where it’s most needed – including parts of White Center. The Parks Levy provides up to $10 million a year for acquisition, and there’s a tax that can be used too.

What’s in the potential pipeline includes:

-White Center Heights Park – a house nested in the park was purchased and will be demolished (on 8th just north of 106th)

-Forested 5-acre parcel toward the east (8th S., 101 to 103) – they’re in negotiations for this

-Looking at opportunities to grow Dick Thurnau Park

-Looking at an area south of Roxbury

“We’re doing more and want to hear more from the community …it can be a pocket park, a trail connection ..” She opened the floor. NHUAC president Liz Giba suggested that the current WC Food Bank site would be better used as open space (currently it’s slated for mixed-use development).

What about an area near Grace Church? someone asked. Discussions are under way, in fact.

Another suggestion: Consider the health impacts when you remove trees. Concerns were voiced about the removal of street trees. And another: Take into consideration residential development and how kids living there will get to parks.

Question: Once the county buys the land, what happens? Answer: Thy’re trying to cultivate partnerships. Washington Trails Association is one such organization. Grant programs can help with that. “We’re trying to help people understand how to fit together these funding sources.”

Question: What about the big open area near The Bog? Answer: Parks will endeavor to work more closely with Natural Resources.

There was also some discussion of what would happen to open-space-designated areas if North Highline were annexed. It was pointed out that the city zoning code is more complicated than the county’s, and in an annexation the annexing city might try to match its closest comparable zoning with what’s there now.

Another suggestion, when the subject of currently vacant land came up, 1st and 112nd.

Next topic – trees. A new climate-action plan is due out before year’s end. The county is close to its promise of planting 1 million new trees, she declared. By the end of this year, they hope to have a 30-year plan/vision. They want to remove barriers for people working to enhance that. “Our business district has one tree,” pointed out NHUAC vice president Barbara Dobkin. “Vocal advocacy” was advised by Brandt.

Some other concerns were voiced, including unstable trees and how to deal with them – before and after something disastrous happens. That spun off into a discussion of replacement policies – in King County and some of its cities. Hugo Garcia from the county said he’d look into what the policy is when government crews have to remove a tree.

Big question: Is access to greenspaces – like sidewalks – part of the plan? “Tell us that’s important,” urged Brandt. A discussion ensued of sidewalk challenges like this swamped section on the south side of Roxbury between 12th and 14th (photo courtesy Gill Loring):

NORTH HIGHLINE SUBAREA PLAN: David Goodman brought an update on the taking-shape plan, first one since October. He’s talked to “all sorts of people” in recent months, including schools, businesses, and “came up with this general proposal.” (Get a closer, clearer look via the PDF on the Subarea Plan website.)

The residential-zonng overview: “Housing affordability was a big theme,” he began. So they’re “slightly increasing the allowed density” near the 16th Ave. corridor. Where there’s one house now, there could be two units. They tried to focus on areas close to a commercial core and/or near a bus line. A zoming change, he stressed, wouldn’t mean you HAVE TO make a change if you didn’t want to. Greenbridge isn’t included “because it’s already at a higher density than we’re proposing.”

There’s a “P” designation – where you see that, the dimensions wiil be restricted to what they are now.

One person asked about Accessory Dwelling Units – they can be up to 1000 square feet. They would drop the current rule for one to be awner-occupied. (UPDATE: Goodman later clarified with the following:

The requirement that when a property has both a primary dwelling unit (a regular house) and an accessory dwelling unit (allowed to be up to 1000 square feet in size) one of them must be owner-occupied will stay the same. The difference under our proposed zoning for particular neighborhoods is that you could have two primary units (such as in a duplex or a townhouse-style development) in many cases where you are currently only allowed one; in this case, with two primary units, neither has to be owner-occupied because neither is an accessory dwelling unit.

In both of these cases you have two units on the property; the difference is that in the first case one is a primary and one is an accessory, and in the second case both are primary. In practice there is minimal difference between these two situations, but the regulations for owner-occupation kick in only when one of the units is considered accessory.

Regarding sidewalks – they would be required with increased density, Goodman noted. He also addressed the proposals for commercial areas – first, expanding the pedestrian area, so future new construction would be “less car-oriented.”

Two parcels that are east of 15th and south of 100th and that are currently industrial would be changed to commercial and mixed-use – retail ground floor, apartments over it, mindful of the fact that RapidRide H Line will be running on 15th SW. They would be required to be 20 percent housing that’s “affordable.” Meantime, in the heart of downtown White Center (along 16th), they do NOT plan to go higher-rise – “mostly at the scale it currently is,” limited to three stories.

Who would be trying to attract new investment/development? Prospective buyers/developers could work with Garcia’s Economic Development department, he said.

What about parking? King County still has requirements for that, Goodman said.

Seguing to Top Hat, Goodman pointed out that the last plan for this area was written in 1994. Unlike WC, Top Hat would allow some industrial uses – “small manufacturing,” for example. What’s zoned commercial now will remain that way, but certain small industrial uses will be allowed – a special “additional allowance,” if you will.

Garcia said they’re hoping that over time more such things – a small firm making dog accessories was mentioned multiple times – will move in.

He also said the King County Conservation Corps is moving further into WC and they hope to expand it to Top Hat. And Garcia urged people to get more deeply involved in the plan because there’s still time to have a say before this goes to the County Council.

As mentioned in our coverage of last week’s open house, what’s ahead in the Subarea Plan process includes:

-Public draft plan mid-March to mid-April
-Official draft to County Council in June (there’ll be commenting opportunities while they consider it too)

The county reps were invited to return in April to talk about other things such as the Opportunity Zone and the Hub project (on the WCFB site).

KING COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE: Deputy Bill Kennamer first offered praise for Local Services, saying “it’s kicked butt” in improving downtown White Center.

Crime stats are “pretty even year to year” – auto theft’s still high, burglary is down.

Problem properties: Two of the worst are moving well along, the deputy said – code enforcer Nick Stevens has been working on a house whose owners are a “large property management company” that just got a $12,000 fine and is suddenly up for sale, not far from Holy Family. Then there’s a “drug house” near 98th/13th; its owner died without a will, a family member moved in and allowed people to stay there in exchange for drugs – with no water service. It was in horrible condition, Kennamer said. But the probate’s since been settled; it’s expected to be sold, and the problem relative has been arrested three times. A cleanup crew’s been there and it’s been sealed with plywood. Regarding another one, near 1st/106th – they’ve spoken with the landlord and the problem tenant’s out, with the house being remodeled.

A variety of other quick questions were addressed. Deputy Kennamer noted the past month included about half a dozen firearms-involved crimes with people who shouldn’t have had guns. Earlier Thursday, he added, they were chasing a suspect wanted on warrants.

Kennamer also mentioned that LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) is on the way to White Center.

NEXT MEETING: If you care what’s going on in your community – be there in person next time! 7 pm March 5th, North Highline Fire District HQ (1243 SW 112th). Options for White Center youth will be discussed.

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Parks, Subarea Plan, more this Thursday @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

February 2nd, 2020 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on Parks, Subarea Plan, more this Thursday @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

This Thursday night, you’re invited to the first meeting of 2020 for the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, which sent this preview:

When: Thursday, February 6, 2020 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!

The first NHUAC meeting of 2020 will provide you and your neighbors a new opportunity to be informed, involved and heard about important decisions, which will determine the future of our North Highline community.

The quality of our natural environment affects the quality of our lives. Sarah Brandt, King County Parks, Open Space Program Manager, will join us to discuss the Land Conservation Initiative; why access to green space is important; and the gaps discovered when King County looked at the intersection of health outcomes, proximity to existing parks, and income. Sarah looks forward to hearing our preferences for green space and amenities in North Highline.

King County is also working on the North Highline Subarea Plan, which will guide development in North Highline over the next 20 years. The plan will focus on zoning, long-term land use, and issues like housing, commercial and industrial areas, and community character. A vision statement describes what community members want their neighborhood to be like in the future. County planners drafted this vision statement for the North Highline Land Use Subarea Plan: “North Highline is a diverse, inclusive, and family-friendly community that supports a thriving small business community, enjoys proximity to urban amenities and greenspace, and provides opportunities for people of all socioeconomic backgrounds to live, work, and thrive.” The big question is: How do we get there from here?

To discuss these important, long-term decisions, NHUAC will be joined by North Highline Subarea Plan subject matter experts, David Goodman and Kevin LeClair; Opportunity Zone subject matter expert, Hugo Garcia; and HUB Project subject matter expert, Isaac Horwith.

NHUAC is always happy to see White Center Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer, who will update us once again about police activity in our community.

Knowledge is power.

Learn, share and help make North Highline a better place.

February 6, 2020 at 7 pm – Bring a Neighbor

For a preview of the Subarea Plan discussion, check back here tonight/tomorrow; we will be publishing a report on Thursday night’s open house.

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REMINDER: No NHUAC meeting this month

January 1st, 2020 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 1 Comment »

The first Thursday of the month usually brings the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council‘s meeting, but not this month – too close to the holiday. So, as noted in our December meeting coverage, next meeting is the first Thursday in February – 7 pm February 6th.

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From LEAD to loos at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

December 8th, 2019 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 1 Comment »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council‘s meetings usually yield a wealth of information.

Often it’s not even related to topics on the agenda. For example:

(WCN photo)

Those are the two “Portland Loo public toilets recently installed at Steve Cox Memorial Park. They were mentioned by King County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Bill Kennamer. Two more are on the way.

Now, the main topic:

LEAD: The meeting began with a discussion of Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), which will start soon in White Center. LEAD addresses “low-level crimes” committed by people who have challenges such as behavioral health, substance abuse, extreme poverty, as explained by the two Public Defender Association reps who spoke, Melodie Reece and Tiarra Dearbone, as well as KCSO Major Jesse Anderson.

It’s been available in Burien and Seattle, “and it only makes sense to close that gap” and have it be available in North Highline, too, said Maj. Anderson. “The bottom line is, we want people to turn their lives around. … It’s a great tool, like many other resources we bring in.” The collaboration with defense lawyers is with “a common goal in mind,” he added. The defense reps offered a history – it started in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood almost a decade ago, in response to the disparity of policing with offenders of color. This has become a national/worldwide model, said Reece. “LEAD is a good way for jurisdictions to try on a new approach.” This can cut recidivism by “up to 60 percent for each individual,” she said, and it “free(s) up police and prosecutors to deal with bigger cases.”

Dearbone explained that it’s a very “individualized” program, jurisdiction by jurisdiction. To make a diversion, first law enforcement will check eligibility, then hand off the client to a case manager. PDA meets twice monthly with law enforcers and talk about specific cases.”It’s a lot more eyes on the individual,” she said. Ultimately, if the person is making progress, prosecutors can opt not to charge them. There’s also a “social contact referral” that law enforcers can point them to – “it doesn’t have to be on arrest for these people.” Case managers would go out looking for the particular person; law enforcers know these people so well, they can often suggest where to find them. “The objective is …. a crime reduction program,” decreasing “their involvement in these law violations.”

What if a client is homeless? asked NHUAC president Barbara Dobkin. If they’d like to be housed, Reece said, they work with them – but often that’s not their first priority. Housing is pretty scarce right now, she added. What’s the capacity of the program? an attendee asked. Optimally, 20-25 clients per case manager, but it’s “well above that” in Seattle right now, said Reece. They’re also deciding who will be WC’s service provider. Right now in Burien, added Dearbone, they have 16 active cases.

Public money plus private donations fund the program, Reece said in response to another question.

When is it starting in White Center? “Pretty soon,” replied Reece, but they have to find a service provider for the case-management work via an RFP process. Dearbone said they’ve used REACH in Seattle and Burien but want local decisions on that.

How long do they follow people? “As long as they need,” said Reece.

When do they decide if it isn’t working? It’s up to prosecutors to decide whether to charge someone or not.

Currently they have almost 800 clients in Seattle. LEAD costs “significantly” less than the criminal-justice system’s regular process, said Dearbone. Maj. Anderson said not only are they helping the person, but likely preventing further crimes. Reece said businesses and individuals can make “social contact referrals” too. The people involved in LEAD are suspected of very low-level crimes and also have to NOT have a “significant criminal history,” they said.

What about emphasizing a specific problematic area, like downtown near the County Courthouse? asked Dobkin. Seattle Police have a lot of emphasis in the Pioneer Square area, said Reece, but many of the problem people there are not LEAD clients. “It’s a really tough location. … being close to that area, we really feel it too.” But, “we’re only one piece of the service-provision puzzle.” Dearbone added, “There’s still a need for” other programs, beyond their scope, which is crime reduction. Maj. Anderson said everyone in KCSO in this area should be trained in January, February, and then they’ll make decisions in the field.

How is it working so far in Burien? Well, they said. Dearbone gave an example of an emphasis involving the Burien Safeway, and they diverted a couple people who were breaking the law just to avoid going hungry.

“We gotta do something, because what we’re doing now isn’t working,” said Deputy Bill Kennamer. He can arrest somebody, take them to jail, but that person may be put back out on the street without even spending the night in jail.

Case managers have the right to professionally care about people who need someone to care about them, Reece observed.

Got questions? Contact the PDA..There was talk of bringing the reps back in six months or so for an update.

CRIME UPDATE: Deputy Kennamer’s title is now Community Crime Prevention Deputy. Of November, “a particularly rough month for violent crime. We have a crew running around people like crazy – violent takeover robberies.” But “that crew is being worked on.”

There’s a new hookah lounge at 1st/108th, site of a drive-by shooting last month, he noted. Bartell Drugs in WC was robbed on November 5th, a pharmacy holdup. He also listed a variety of cases involving guns, one with a suspect as young as 14. Part 1 – major – crimes are up “quite a bit”; vehicle thefts are “through the roof.” Not clustered anywhere – it’s all over the “unincorporated lowlands.”

Robberies at marijuana stores were a topic for a while; Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design could help, said Kennamer.

“Positives” – a nuisance house in Myers Way has been addressed; then he mentioned the new Portland Loos, noted above. He also had warm words for the Department of Local Services cleanup program (showcased earlier in the week). A Top Hat problem property has some changes on the way.

NOXIOUS WEED PROGRAM: Marta Olson from the county talked about the Healthy Lands Project, which is “focused on going into new conservation lands …that usually have a high weed burden” and need some initial attention to clean up before they can be used as parks/open space. The program’s had a big focus on urban areas andd has a “lot of funding available to acquire lands or easements on lands.” That means grant opportunities, or even identifying future parks. The main focus of her appearance: Seola Pond, “a really beloved informal park.” DIRT Corps has been paid to clean out blackberries, grants have gone to community leader and pond steward Scott Dolfay, and as previously announced, a big volunteer effort was planned this past Saturday.

P.S. Looking for info on noxious weeds?

FIREWORKS FOLLOWUP: Councilmember Joe McDermott was reported to have told a constituent the council will take up a proposed ban in January. Right now, passing a ban would stll mean it doesn’t take effect for a year. Local legislator Joe Fitzgibbon said the Legislature could take up something to waive that waiting period. But it needs community support. A discussion ensued – “every year it seems to get worse an worse and louder,” observed Dobkin, suggesting a vote on whether NHUAC should formally support the proposed ban. The motion passed.

COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENTS: White Center Kiwanis is selling cans of mixed nuts for $20 …The baked potato/taco bar dinner with New Start High School is January 16th, 5:30-7 pm in the gym, at the school (on SW 120th).

RIP, DEPUTY COX … The 13th anniversary of Deputy Steve Cox‘s murder was Monday. He was NHUAC president as well as deputy. “He will always, always be missed,” Dobkin said. Deputy Kennamer said Deputy Cox’s son is 16 years now and active in sports.

NO JANUARY NHUAC MEETING … since the first Thursday is the day after New Year’s Day.

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THURSDAY: Learn about LEAD at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s December meeting

December 1st, 2019 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on THURSDAY: Learn about LEAD at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s December meeting

It’s a hot topic in criminal justice – LEAD. If you have questions, be at this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council to get answers. Here’s the announcement:

When: Thursday, December 5, 2019 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, Involved and Heard – Because Our Community Matters!

NHUAC’s last community meeting of 2019 is sure to be an important one. We will be joined by KCSO Major Jesse Anderson and Tiarra Dearbone and Melodie Reece of the Public Defender Association (PDA), the moving force behind LEAD® (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion). The PDA recognized that a policy problem resulted in people of color being disproportionately arrested for drug crimes.

In a 2011 NPR interview about LEAD®, former King County Sheriff Sue Rahr said, “…the focus here is to spend our limited resources wisely. It makes more sense to devote the greatest amount of resource into fixing the problem. We have seen that punishing people out of drug addiction is not effective. Now, with that said I want to be clear – this is a system where you use the carrot and the stick. We still have to have the stick. There still has to be a legal consequence for not going along with the program, but we want to offer the carrot first because the carrot is less expensive and more effective.”

The LEAD® National Support Bureau describes LEAD® as ”a community-based diversion approach with the goals of improving public safety and public order….” It empowers law enforcement to offer drug treatment, housing and other opportunities to people facing arrest and prosecution for low-level drug offenses and prostitution. LEAD® was first launched in 2011 in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood and recently started in Burien. Now, LEAD® is coming to North Highline. Wonder why we have been chosen to have LEAD® in our community?

Deputy Bill Kennamer will be back to update us about what has been keeping KCSO busy in North Highline.

Community involvement and input are essential to the success of LEAD® and North Highline.

Everyone Is Welcome! Please Join Us To Learn, Share and Help Make North Highline a Healthier, Stronger Community!

December 5, 2019 at 7 pm

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Housing opportunities, crime & safety @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

November 13th, 2019 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 1 Comment »

Story and photos by Jason Grotelueschen
Reporting for White Center Now

Improving housing opportunities and increasing awareness of local crime issues were key topics last Thursday night at the November meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council (NHUAC) at the North Highline Fire Station.

As mentioned in our preview of the meeting, special guests were Helen Howell and Dan Watson from King County Housing Authority and Major Jesse Anderson who leads Precinct 4 (southwest King County) from the King County Sheriff’s Office.

Howell and Watson provided an overview of the Creating Moves to Opportunity (CMTO) program, which is a joint “housing mobility” project between Seattle Housing Authority and King County Housing Authority. The program is offered to eligible families from the Housing Choice Voucher waitlist, and aims to support families struggling with poverty to help them move to “opportunity neighborhoods.” According the CMTO website:

Innovative research shows that where people live matters, especially for young children. Kids who grow up in opportunity neighborhoods are likely to earn more money as adults and are more likely to attend college as compared to their peers who live outside of opportunity neighborhoods.

Howell and Watson said $20 billion is spent annually in the United States on low-income housing vouchers, but 80% of voucher holders are housed in high poverty neighborhoods, which in King County are mostly concentrated toward the south.

CMTO aims to change that dynamic. It’s a multi-year randomized study (currently in its 2nd and final phase) designed to “develop and test which strategies most effectively support opportunity moves by families with young children using a Housing Choice Voucher”:

  • Baseline Phase: Jan 2017 – Mar 2018 (Planning, design, and pilot testing)
  • Phase I: Apr 2018 – Jun 2019 (Randomized test of bundled intervention strategies)
  • Phase II: Jul 2019 – Dec 2020 (Randomized test of isolated intervention strategies)

Howell said participants are supported by 3 key elements: customized search assistance, direct landlord engagement, and short-term financial assistance. The study has involved 499 families and 430 vouchers, 209 in them in the control group (which received vouchers) and 221 of them in the treatment group (which received vouchers in addition to resources to support moving into high-opportunity neighborhoods). Howell added that the results of the earlier phases have been very positive thus far, with 54% of participants in the treatment group opting to move into the opportunity neighborhood (compared to 14% from the control group), and said the current project phase will further examine the impact of individual components of the CMTO services (financial assistance, informational toolkit, and coaching/resources).

“We can’t afford to provide all but services we’d like to give,” Howell said, “but the results will tell us the best way to spend our resources.”

Helen Howell, King County Housing Authority

Howell said the project is an important next-step for public housing efforts in areas like White Center, with developments like Greenbridge and Seola Gardens, and the focus on families with young kids is particularly important. “We are doing our best to equip children with tools and opportunities they need to succeed in life,” Howell said.

Watson then talked about the “deconcentration of poverty” effort, noting that some of the highest poverty rates in King County had traditionally existed in White Center, largely because of WW2-era housing. “What we’ve now been doing for 20 years,” Watson said, “is to make every attempt to deconcentrate poverty and to encourage low-income households to not reside in high-poverty areas,” citing the extensive research showing that low-income families do better if they live in high-opportunity areas. He said a major goal of the Greenbridge vitalization was to rebuild WW2-era derelict housing and to reduce the concentration of lower-opportunity areas.

Dan Watson, King County Housing Authority

Watson said there is a much smaller percentage of low-income families living in Greenbridge now than the number that lived in older WC developments such as Park Lake, and that the number of low-income units in White Center is actually decreasing. He contrasted that with Bellevue, where “we’ve actually been growing our inventory of low-income housing.” He added that housing vouchers that are “tenant-based” are portable and can be used anywhere in the area, and after one year the recipient could even use them to move out of state. Some recipients opt to continue living where they are, but an increasing number do take the opportunity to move.

Q&A with attendees:

  • Q: Are these properties single-family homes? A: Generally no, these are rental units.
  • Q: How do you define high-opportunity neighborhoods?  A: Leading researchers like Raj Chetty generally use sources like IRS and census data, tracking how participants are doing from childhood through 30s, and sometimes proxy data is used, but generally it’s based on outcomes.  It can be hard to define, no doubt safety and quality of schools contribute to it. Chetty’s research was nationwide and we were lucky that King County was already working on offering choice to low-income families, as a result the impact has been considerable here (see a recent Vox article).
  • Q: What’s the difference between the control group and the treatment group? A: The control group had access to vouchers but didn’t have the same support and education regarding opportunity neighborhoods.
  • Q: What’s the status of Greenbridge and Seola Gardens?  A: Seola Gardens has been completely built and sold. Greenbridge in still in progress, the market will only absorb so many sales, 170 houses can go on vacant property but we still have houses there that aren’t sold yet.  The houses on the northwest corner have already sold.
  • Q: Comparing concentration of low-income housing between White Center and Bellevue doesn’t make sense because Bellevue is so much bigger. A: That’s true, but regardless the trend is that White Center has less low-income housing while Bellevue is gaining more and more. We’ve reduced the concentration in WC a great deal. Areas like Shoreline and Redmond are also growing as it relates to subsidized housing.  Follow-up Q:  The data I’ve seen shows that most of the low-income housing in Bellevue is actually for people who are in the workforce. A: Yes, in Bellevue most of it is “workforce housing” for those with lower income but they do have jobs.
  • Q: Are there options for how the vouchers are assigned? A: Yes, we can “project-base” the vouchers.  Some of them are “hard unit” vouchers that are fixed to the unit, such as some of the Greenbridge units which are apartments that are permanently subsidized with very low rents.  The average household size of those using vouchers is 2.5 people.
  • Q: What is “shelter burden” as it relates to low-income housing? A: It’s the percentage of your income that you spend on housing, we look at the percentage of households paying more than 30% and 50%. Based on that metric, there is a higher percentage of low-income households with 30% and 50% shelter burden in areas like Bellevue than there are in White Center.
  • Q: What about the Wind Rose site at Greenbridge (northeast corner)? A: Fur us, what we’re talking about is the big building near 4th and Roxbury, next to the Connor Homes development. Watson said they have no immediate plans for it, just conceptual ideas, the areas once had an auto repair shop and a convenience store that were demolished. Generally speaking, senior housing or assisted living is most likely, a building of that density wouldn’t make sense otherwise, it could hold accommodate approximately 80 1-bedroom units but only 15-30 larger units for families.  Follow-up Q: Would the usage be limited to housing or could it be a live-work development with retail? There’s not much in that area for shops and food. A: Again, no formal plans exist, the area could be anything, we could potentially sell it for development but options are likely a bit limited, there isn’t a lot of parking. Follow-up question: When will the homes at Wind Rose be completed, and what about other projects?  A: Wind Rose will likely be built and sold within the next 12 months. There are also townhomes down toward the bog, and the developments between 4th-6th won’t go on market until later.
  • Q: What are the criteria for a family to take advantage of the housing vouchers, and what’s their value? A: To get a voucher, you have to be added to a very lengthy waiting list, the last time we opened it up for new applications we had 20,000 applications for 2,500 available vouchers.  It’s challenging because we have so many shelter-burdened families, rents have gone up but wages have gone up so little. Regarding voucher value, it changes and is relative, if the voucher is a fixed dollar amount then people will go where rent is cheaper, but our approach is to adjust the value so that it’s worth more if you want to live in high-opportunity area, we recognize that this means we have to pay more but the research certainly tells us it’s worth it.
  • Q: Does your program have funding to sustain and grow? A: Growth is challenging. A lot of our work has been federally funded but that amount isn’t increasing, but some state and local resources are increasing, we have to be creative, we can’t really “grow” but we can redirect funds and use them wisely.  Trying to focus on families with children. Follow-up Q: White Center also has projects like Unity Village (WCN coverage here), and other private projects like Southside by Vintage, there are more than just those worked on by the housing authority. A: We’re finding that there’s such an overwhelming need for housing that it gets built in places that we normally don’t expect it to go. This prompted a discussion about gentrification in areas like the Central District where demographics have really changed. Watson said approximately 65% of very low-income households now live entirely outside of the city, they’re priced out, and there’s a lot of concern about people leaving White Center and King County.
  • Q: How many low-income homes are on the tax rolls? A: Almost half of the land that was off tax rolls is coming back on, and eventually all of the homes will be back on tax rolls.  Those homes are selling for $500k-$700k, while homes in Seola Gardens started at $300k and the Conner Homes are $600K or more. According to project data, by 2026 there will be 481 new taxable homes built out at Seola Gardens and Greenbridge combined, worth $200 million and generating $2.78 million in annual tax revenue.
  • Q: What about the maintenance of Greenbridge and Seola Gardens such as streets and roads? Originally the federal government provided that money. A: We have contracts with the federal government, but now the streets are public and should be maintained by county, although we maintain landscapes and even some of the hardscapes because the county doesn’t have a lot of resources. There is also a homeowner’s association, so private owners put money in the pot that helps with maintenances.  The buildings themselves are largely maintained through rents (not just subsidies). Follow-up comment from an attendee: While walking around Greenbridge it seems like there’s a line between where the street maintenance ends and the homeowners’ maintenance ends, which means there are stretches that never get maintained and need replanting every year.
  • Q: Does the housing authority get to control building designs? For the most part, the designs have been very good. A: We have a say in the lot sizes, design guidelines, covenants and rules and regulations.   We agree that the designs have been good, with the help of the community.
  • Q: What about the problematic intersection at 4th Ave and Olson? It’s dangerous.  A: That’s the city of Seattle, we have designed it up to a point, Seattle DOT has plan to fix that intersection, hopefully they’ll take out some cement. It’s a problem and the city knows it, we actually talked to the city today and asked that it be moved up to be a higher-priority project.
  • Q: How long can a family receiving vouchers continue to receive them? Is there a time limit? A: There’s no timeline, we don’t see a point in enforcing a limit but we hope that people will successfully transition from receiving a voucher to buying a home.  The problem is that costs are going up and people with vouchers have a hard time making that leap. We’ve had discussions about enforcing a time limit but haven’t gone for that, we feel there’s something wrong with potentially cutting people off after we get them properly housed.
  • Q: Do subsidized properties get privatized?  A: We generally anticipate owning the properties forever, there have been some criticisms nationally in instances where subsidized properties are privatized, but Watson said “that won’t happen here as long as we’re around.”
  • Q: It seems like entities involved with housing support should also be fighting for a livable wage, since that’s a huge part of the problem. Maybe we need to get a lobbyist? I heard it costs an average of $202K to live in Seattle now. A: Yes, we certainly try to support those efforts where we can, but it’s important to note that in some cases the individual getting our support has a disability and isn’t eligible to work. Follow-up Q:  I know someone who has been on subsidies for 20 years. Do you maintain a job board or send job opportunities to those who are receiving housing benefits and could be eligible to work? A: Yes, we have a resident services department with programs for education and finding jobs. We often say that people have a better opportunity to find work if their housing situation is stable and can take classes, etc.

Next, Major Jesse Anderson talked about criminal activity and trends in the area:

  • There was an incident on Halloween night in which 4 juveniles stole a car, drove into Burien and were “shooting at cars and people with a pellet gun.” Officers followed up on it that night but couldn’t find anybody who wanted to press charges at the time. After the event hit the news, then one victim came forward. There is now one individual who may be charged, but Anderson said “it’s not a particularly solid case because there were 4 people in the car.” Anderson added that his office has seen an increase in incidents (one had happened that same day) in which victims don’t want to press charges, which could be for a variety of reasons — fear of retaliation, not wanting to ruin anyone’s life, etc. “It doesn’t help us out if we as a community aren’t willing to go to court,” Anderson said, “but we need to have a victim for property crimes; someone willing to testify.”

Jesse Anderson, King County Sheriff’s Office

  • There’s been progress at 98th and 13th SW which was a well-known drug house. The property has been “red tagged” and the water shut off, with orders to vacate, and if not honored then officers can go back and make arrests for trespassing. It’s possible that the person who has control of property could fight it, but if they go back they could be arrested. Anderson said he gave directions to the sergeant overseeing it that we could take people to jail and we won’t allow illegal activities to happen in that area — it wasn’t just drugs, it was also car theft and juvelines assaulting people. At another nearby address not far west of that location, similar illegal activity has decreased and someone has been arrested due to a probation violation.
  • There was a robbery at 110th and 1st at the grocery store involving juveniles, at least some of whom were also involved in other incidents, and three of them were booked into juvenile detention.
  • Anderson said his office is currently working on a collision reduction program, looking in unincorporated areas for distracted drivers (like texting and driving). Similarly to how we’ve identified “top crime areas,” we also have “top collision areas” including Roxbury between 96th-98th and between 4th-17th, Skyway and Boulevard Park.
  • We work with Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), which will be discussed further in the NHUAC group’s next meeting in December. We getting started with the program and have made progress, once we get policy and training figured out we’ll take the next step. It’s an ideal program to deal with people committing low level offenses with no criminal history, we can refer them to mental health services if they agree to follow through. It’s a tool and a resource, Seattle and Burien have been doing it for quite some time.

Q&A with attendees and Anderson:

  • Attendees mentioned or asked about a few other incidents, including a robbery at Bartell Drugs last week in which someone jumped over the counter, as well as an incident at Proletariat Pizza in which a worker was taking out the garbage and was accosted by someone on a bike with a gun, and an incident of vandalism in which a house was burned.
  • Q: It seems like there have been more issues lately with meth instead of heroin, and it’s hard to watch people melting down. I recently drove an 8-mile loop (near 104th and 120th by Ambaum) and saw all kinds of issues (like chop houses) and it seems like a lot of residents (particularly the elderly) don’t know what’s going on. There are challenging areas such as around Fred Meyer, it really has changed for the worse, there are some good things but I see problems especially by lakes and waterways.  A: We’re trying to make progress in areas where we can make a difference such as dealing with derelict motor homes and trailers and cars, trying to clean up as much as we can under the law, and working with code enforcement.  Follow-up comment/question: If we simply react and don’t offer meaningful help, then what are we really accomplishing? A: Efforts like LEAD will help, but if people are convicted felons then they’re not eligible for LEAD but we can always make social referrals. An attendee mentioned Ricky’s Law (which went into effect in April 2018 regarding involuntary treatment) and Anderson said if officers can show that someone is a danger to themselves or others then they can offer voluntary acceptance but we can also do involuntary intervention.
  • Q: The last time you came and talked at this meeting, you said that your office was doing a sweep, what can you tell us about that? A: It was very successful, we made 7-8 arrests and stopped one person who we know was heavily involved with drug sales, we could impound and search cars, got some guns off street. Was a great example of departments combining resources. Follow-up Q: Of those 7-8 arrests you made, how many are still behind bars? A: I’m not sure, but would guess most or all of them are out. The attendee said “that has to be frustrating for you,” and Anderson responded that juvenile detention centers have restrictive criteria, and adults booked into jail are frequently released due to capacity issues. I do feel good about my job, I know that we’re doing our part and we’re one end of criminal justice system and we work with the prosecutors and courts. Violent offenders are kept behind bars.
  • Q: What about the recent South Park homicide near Donovan and 8th  A: Not familiar with it, was in Seattle jurisdiction.
  • Q: Have there been any issues with marijuana stores?  A: No major problems recently. We did take care of an illegal one off 16th, but our undercover folks aren’t aware of any others at this time. A couple of attendees asked about traffic around one of the pot shops being an issue.
  • Q: Do you expect you can increase the numbers of deputies as part of the new budget coming out, with more population in our area?  A: To be honest, in unincorporated King County we have more officers than other areas do, I used to work in the northeast precinct which had a huge area to cover but different issues.  In White Center we have 2 district cars 24hrs a day, a storefront deputy, a housing deputy, and dedicated CSO and other resources available. We can also get resources from Burien and Boulevard Park.  The county doesn’t have much funding but we do what we can. We have a gang unit and want to build on it. And you have to remember that you’re only seeing uniformed officers, that doesn’t include plainclothes officers. Attendees agreed that deputies are almost always available to help, with a good response time.
  • Q: Are there conflicting goals between the prosecutor’s office (trying to put people in jail) and programs like LEAD (try to keep people out of jail)? A: No, the primary goal is to solve the problem, which sometimes means jail but sometimes means using the tools we have to make referrals.
  • Q: I attended a recent southwest precinct meeting about how to avoid getting scammed, with a presentation from the attorney general’s office, and they may be invited to a future NHUAC meeting. A: In 2007 we unfortunately had to do away with the fraud unit. On occasion we cover cases of fraud against the elderly, but we generally don’t have capacity to do that. The same commenter also talked about ways in which she’s interacted with neighbors about barriers to reporting crime, and how people are confused about who to call (she noted that she can relate, living 700ft from one border and 400ft from other).

Other announcements and comments:

  • Willow Fulton from the Camp Second Chance Community Advisory Committee reminded attendees about their upcoming community meeting (as we previewed here) on Thursday, November 21st to review options for the camp, which recently had its permit extended until March 2020. Fulton encouraged attendees to take a tour of the facility if interested, to visit and get involved.  She also mentioned their regular committee meetings the first Sunday of each month. A few attendees discussed the positive differences near the camp since the area had been cleaned up.
  • NHUAC secretary Pat Price mentioned the White Center Library Guild’s annual fundraiser from 10 am-3 pm on Saturday November 16th at the library, to raise funds for teens and children.
  • White Center Kiwanis is doing their annual fundraiser, selling nuts for $20 per can with all proceeds going to help kids in White Center.
  • Jerry Pionk from King County Local Services encouraged residents to send questions, comments, and concerns to, and to connect on social media with the group.

The next NHUAC meeting will be December 5th with a presentation from the Seattle-King County LEAD program (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion), and likely a representative from prosecutor Dan Satterberg’s office.

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THURSDAY: Here’s what you’ll hear about with the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

November 3rd, 2019 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on THURSDAY: Here’s what you’ll hear about with the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

From safety to housing policy, another wide-ranging discussion is ahead at this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When: Thursday, November 7, 2019 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!

Good news — the Seahawks are NOT playing this Thursday and you are cordially invited to NHUAC’s November 7th community meeting. If you were watching the Hawks on October 3rd, you missed an informative meeting. We learned about the Micro-Housing Demonstration Project planned for White Center and North Highline’s Subarea Planning. KCSO rounded out the evening with King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht and Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer. Topics included an arrest in the murder of a 16-year-old girl in 1991, fentanyl, gangs, staffing, and current crime stats. White Center Now has the story at:

Although Sheriff Mitzi won’t be back for a while, KCSO is not letting us down. Major Jesse Anderson will join us for the second time since taking command of Precinct 4.

According to a recent City Lab article, “Research has shown this tremendous disparity in the likelihood of living out the American dream across space,” says Christopher Palmer, assistant professor of finance at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “There’s tremendous differences in where you grow up that help determine the likelihood that you will have a higher standard of living than your parents did when you grow up.”

“In American cities that have become ever-more segregated by race and wealth, good schools, green spaces, lower crime, and public amenities tends to cluster in exclusive and mostly white bastions of privilege. That exclusivity has serious impacts, especially on the lives of children: Exposure to better neighborhoods (as opposed to exposure to poverty) makes a world of difference in a child’s future earnings and education level.” Palmer adds, “It just begs the question: What can be done? Isn’t there something we can do?”

NHUAC is pleased to welcome Helen Howell, King County Housing Authority’s (KCHA) Senior Director of Policy, Research & Social Impact Initiatives, and Executive Director and Chief Development Officer, Dan Watson, to our November 7th community meeting. Join us and learn what KCHA is doing to make that difference and improve lives!

Knowledge Is Power. Learn, Share and Help Make Our Community A Better Place.

Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 7 pm

Bring a Friend!

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