@ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: The Myers Way dilemma

October 11th, 2017 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 1 Comment »

(NHUAC meeting video by David Krause)

By Marika Lee
Reporting for White Center Now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As announced by the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When: Thursday, October 5, 2017 at 7 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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THURSDAY: Taxes, parks, crime, and Seola Pond, all on the agenda for North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

September 4th, 2017 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on THURSDAY: Taxes, parks, crime, and Seola Pond, all on the agenda for North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

Summer’s over; your fall season of community involvement is about to begin. Thursday night, get it going by being at the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council‘s info-packed September meeting – here’s the announcement!

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting
When: Thursday, September 7, 2017 at 7 pm
Where: North Highline Fire Station at 1243 SW 112th Street in White Center

(Parking and Entrance are in the Back of the Station)

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

The state legislature finally passed a new state budget. What does it mean for our schools, students and property taxes? Join us and find out! Duggan Harman, Highline School District’s Chief of Staff and Budget, will help educate us about the anticipated effects of the state budget on our schools and young people. John Wilson, King County Assessor, will explain the expected changes to our property taxes.

We will also be joined by Sarah Margeson of King County’s Department of Natural Resources/Parks. Sarah will tell us about Youth and Amateur Sports Grants, which support fit and healthy communities by investing in programs and capital projects that reduce barriers to physical activity. Come learn about the anticipated $1.5 million that will be available to government agencies and nonprofit organizations in North Highline and the other unincorporated areas of King County.

Scott Dolfay is a regular participant in NHUAC meetings. This month, Scott is going to share news about a project that is near and dear to him: the restoration of Seola Pond.

Deputy Bill Kennamer will join us once again to answer our questions, share crime statistics and help increase our awareness of what is happening in North Highline.

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

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

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council talks land, safety

June 7th, 2017 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 1 Comment »

Tonight, the annual King County Community Service Area town-hall meeting for North Highline is set for 7 pm at Seola Gardens (11215 5th SW).

Those in attendance at last Thursday’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting got several reminders that it will be a good place to take concerns about ongoing issues.

Those concerns included the ongoing unauthorized camping along Myers Way, the plan currently under review for a marijuana-processing facility on the basement level of the building where Beer Star just opened, and the big multifamily-housing complex under construction at the old grocery site in Top Hat.

Also at the NHUAC meeting: Charlie Governali, King County’s land conservation projects manager, was a guest. He was asked if there was any chance the county could buy the Myers Way Parcels. No, he said, that’s city of Seattle property. Meantime, he was asked about trade-offs for developers that can help preserve land. One example, he said, are fees that go directly to the conservation fund, but that doesn’t happen often in the county’s unincorporated area. He asked for suggestions of green spaces that should be preserved, and NHUAC president Liz Giba suggested that when the King County Public Health building that currently houses the Mary’s Place shelter is available, that would be a good addition to the nearby parkland. (Currently there’s an early-stage plan to develop the site, including the White Center Food Bank HQ to the south, into affordable housing and headquarters for nonprofits.)

The other guest was Carlos Marquez, who spoke about Block Watches and the Citizen’s Academy. For the former, he’s working on reviving Block Watch captains’ meetings, initially the Burien and North Highline captains, and he expects to have more information by fall. Before then, Night Out is coming up on August 1st, and people can get started now on forming Block Watches. He had suggestions for safety improvements at home – more lighting, video doorbell, better networking with neighbors. And: “If you see something, say something.”

NHUAC SCHEDULE: July’s meeting will be board-only, but the board hopes to see everyone at this year’s new-and-improved Jubilee Days festival. No meeting in August, but September, it’ll be back to the first Thursday, 7 pm, NH Fire District HQ (1243 SW 112th) – watch northhighlineuac.org for updates in the meantime.

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Health, safety on the agenda for North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s June 2017 meeting

May 28th, 2017 Tracy Posted in Health, North Highline UAC, safety, White Center news Comments Off on Health, safety on the agenda for North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s June 2017 meeting

Thursday night, join your area’s community council to talk and hear about health and safety. From the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, the agenda for the June meeting, coming up Thursday:

When: Thursday, June 1, 2017 at 7 pm
Where: North Highline Fire Station at 1243 SW 112th Street in White Center (Parking and Entrance in the Back of the Station)

Please join North Highline’s volunteer community council at our June 1, 2017 meeting.

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

Natural Resources Are Vital to a Healthy Community: Surroundings that don’t encourage daily exercise or provide clean air and nutritious food too often lead to depression, obesity, diabetes, asthma, and heart disease. King County’s Land Conservation Projects Manager, Charlie Governali, will tell us about the County’s Land Conservation Initiative. The Initiative is an effort to conserve 60,000+ acres, including natural areas, trails, urban greenspaces, farmlands, and forestlands. Which natural resources around North Highline should be protected? Should they be used for walking trails, garden areas, parks or ???

Our Neighborhoods Matter: Carlos Marquez, a Community Service Officer with the KCSO, will be joining us to share two important ways we can help deal with some of the issues facing North Highline. Carlos will explain the importance of Block Watch, how Block Watch works, and the fundamentals of organizing a Block Watch. He will also educate us about the upcoming Citizen’s Police Academy and the different topics it covers. Don’t miss this chance to learn how you can be empowered to help our community!

Our community certainly matters to Deputy Bill Kennamer. Deputy Bill will join us once again to help increase our awareness of what is happening in North Highline.

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

See you Thursday, June 1st at 7 PM – Because Knowledge Is Power!

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@ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: Crime, shelter, county concerns, more…

May 9th, 2017 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 4 Comments »

A few days before Sunday morning’s White Center murder, crime concerns were in the forefront at the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council‘s May meeting.

A King County Sheriff’s Office gang expert was rescheduled for the meeting but was sidetracked again, this time because of an incident shortly before the meeting, an incident in Burien that was reported to have turned up five guns.

KCSO was represented at the meeting by Major M.G. Johanknecht and Capt. Scott Somers, right and left in the photo above, as well as storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer.

In the crime stats, “Part 1” crimes – from homicide to burglary to arson and more – are down from this time last year, 62 in the area this April, 75 in the area last April. “Part 2” crimes, a longer list, are up, 114 this April compared to 96 a year earlier. Auto theft is up a bit, 18 in April 2017, 15 in April 2016. Burglaries are down – forced-entry residential burglary, for example, 4 this April, down from 10 a year earlier.

The major mentioned that she’ll be working to start a Citizens’ Academy for the White Center area soon.

PREVENTING YOUTH MARIJUANA USE: Vilia Wang and Maddison Story started off the night. They got a $10,000 grant to work with kids to deter early marijuana use, based on some stats they gathered talking to Cascade Middle School 8th graders. Their responses indicated more had tried marijuana and alcohol in comparison to statewide averages. The program plans a 3-5:30 pm open house at White Center Library to talk about resources for youth and to show the phone app they’re working on – here’s the flyer.

QUESTIONS FOR THE COUNTY MEETING: As mentioned last month, King County’s unincorporated service-area town halls are coming up, including 7-9 pm June 7th at Seola Gardens. NHUAC president Liz Giba reminded those in attendance that it’s an excellent opportunity to bring up concerns with county leaders – Council Chair Joe McDermott, Sheriff John Urquhart, and Deputy County Executive Rhonda Berry are scheduled to be at this one. Here are some of the issues NHUAC wants to hear about from county reps:

– Economic diversity and housing policy so that there’s no further concentration of poverty in the area. –

– Regarding marijuana policy – how much tax money has been taken in overall and from the NHUAC area specifically; how much was generated in North Highline and what’s coming back

– What’s happening with the county’s share of Myers Way?

– What’s happening with the proposal for safe-injection sites?

– Gangs

– The West Point sewage spill

– What’s happening with annexation from the county’s side?

– How can the Sheriff send more officers, especially with new big developments – especially with the big development in Top Hat?

FAMILY SHELTER: Mary’s Place announced that the shelter has reached the first-phase capacity, 30 people – eight adults and 22 kids. As the community wanted to see, those who have arrived so far have kids in Highline Public Schools. So they’re taking “the next step,” it was announced, to increase the number of people served to 70.

They’ve arranged with the Evergreen Aquatic Center to use showers there, since there’s still a shortage of those facilities at the shelter building itself, though they’re working on that. An open house for the public is also planned, and they’re looking for volunteers – you can stop by to ask about opportunities. The Mary’s Place website is the best source for lists of what donations are needed but it was mentioned at the meeting that plus-size clothing and hygiene products are needed.

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets first Thursdays most months, 7 pm, at the NH Fire District HQ.

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Drugs and gangs on the agenda for North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s May 2017 meeting

April 29th, 2017 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on Drugs and gangs on the agenda for North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s May 2017 meeting

Just in, North Highline Unincorporated Area Council president Liz Giba‘s announcement for the May meeting, coming up next Thursday:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When: Thursday, May 4, 2017 at 7 pm

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

Please join North Highline’s volunteer community council at our May 4, 2017 meeting.

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

Neighborhoods Matter: Eighth graders in the Highline School District have at higher risk of drug use than students in King County overall. The Coalition for Drug-Free Youth addresses youth drug use by educating, inspiring and empowering us to create a healthy environment in North Highline. Maddi Story and VeeVee Wang will introduce us to the Coalition’s “I Know What’s Right for Me” marijuana and vaping prevention campaign.

The Bad News: Detective Joe Gagliardi of the King County Sheriff’s Office was not able to make last month’s meeting.

The Good News: Detective Gagliardi will be joining us this month. Detective Gagliardi is an expert on gangs. Have you wondered whether the graffiti you’ve been seeing is gang related? Have you heard stories about local gang activity? Join us on Thursday and you’ll surely learn somethings about gangs.

More Good News: Deputy Bill Kennamer of the White Center Storefront will be joined by Captain Somers and our new Precinct 4 Commander Major Mitzi Johanknecht. Join us in welcoming her!

Good of the Order: Do you have a suggestion for King County’s upcoming Community Service Area meeting? Something of community import on your mind? Join us and share!

See you Thursday, May 4th at 7 PM – Because Knowledge Is Power!

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: From gunfire to stormwater

April 6th, 2017 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 5 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

The King County Sheriff’s Office gang expert who was supposed to speak to the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council tonight had to cancel due to a last-minute emergency – look for him next month instead – but it was an info-packed meeting anyway:

CRIME UPDATE: King County Sheriff’s Office storefront deputy Bill Kennamer presented this month’s update. “Everything is down pretty significantly except for assaults,” he began. “We’ve had a lot of shootings in the past two months … 6 in the White Center area in the past month … There are two gangs who are going at it, one lives in Burien, one lives in South Park, and they have been shooting each other up from Lynnwood to Kent.” Part of the problem, he says, is that “gangsters” who have long been in prison are now getting out. By shootings, he meant shots-fired, no-injury cases as well as ones where someone was hit.

One attendee said her husband was near one of the recent gunfire exchanges and wondered what more could be done to help deputies not just find shell casings, but find suspects. The more information witnesses can provide, the better, including getting the license plate numbers, Deputy Kennamer said. “It’s hard to do that when you’re ducking,” she retorted. Another attendee suggested taking a picture if you possible can. The deputy said, “we have some really, really smart detectives who are working these cases,” and they are very overworked, but doing the best they can.

Overall, though, things are better in many places, Deputy Kennamer said. No more dopers hanging around at Steve Cox Memorial Park, for example – “there are families using the park.”

The topic of marijuana retailers also came up; the deputy says there’s a new one where Lawless used to be on the west side of 16th. Someone wondered about what was happening with the taxes generated. “I think the county is really letting us down,” said NHUAC president Liz Giba. One place to convey that message: The Community Service Area meeting in June (see info at the end of this story).

And myriad community concerns were surfaced, including how to deal with abandoned vehicles, on private as well as public property (and if it’s private property, what constitutes an abandoned/derelict vehicle?).

COUNTY SURFACE WATER MANAGEMENT UTILITY: From the King County Water and Land Resources Division, deputy director John Taylor spoke about the fee for the service they provide – dealing with water quality and water quantity. His presentation was full of facts about flooding, runoff, and more. Among other things we learned: About half a billion dollars worth of “drainage facilities” in King County right-of-way needs to be replaced in the next 10 years.

Single-family homeowners pay $171/year for surface water management. It generates $27 million that covers “maintenance of existing assets, programs that support agriculture and rural residents, habitat restoration, best-run government (programs).” They have developed a capital-facilities program “that’s going to deal with the stuff most likely to fail first,” Taylor said. The fee money is leveraged to generate more, including, for example, federal grants – he acknowledged those might be in question in the not-too-distant future.

The fee is going up this year – $70 more for each homeowner, a 40% increase (and he acknowledged that was less than they had asked). It will bring in another $8 million. It is a flat rate regardless of how big your property is. The commercial rates go as high as $3,669 per acre (if covered in impervious surface). The new rates will eliminate the backlog of urgent maintenance needs over 10 years, he reiterated. “By dealing with problems now, we will keep rates down in the future,” he added.

Also this year, there’s a special rate for low-income property owners, for the first time. And they’re going to increase grants “for community projects that protect water quality.”

Questions included, what happens if heavy rain brings a stream running past your driveway? The county can take a look at it “to figure out what’s going on.” Discussions of springs, soil, and even The Bog ensued. (“It was the community that turned The Bog around,” Taylor said, “and I think it’s better than it’s been in years – not perfect, but better than it used to be.” And he noted that just moving “the homeless problem” from The Bog “didn’t solve (it), just moved it.”)

Got a question for him? john.taylor@kingcounty.gov and 206-477-4602.

Announcements at the meeting:

KING COUNTY COMMUNITY SERVICE AREA MEETING: The annual town hall is set for June 7th, 7-9 pm at Seola Gardens, with County Council Chair Joe McDermott, Deputy County Executive Rhonda Berry, and Sheriff John Urquhart expected to be there.

WHITE CENTER LIBRARY GUILD: NHUAC secretary Pat Price said the guild’s plant sale is set for noon-4 pm April 28th. (1409 SW 107th)

COALITION FOR DRUG-FREE YOUTH: Rudy Garza will conduct cultural-competency training noon-1:30 pm April 12th at Seola Gardens.

JUBILEE DAYS: Price said that July 19th will be the fireworks and carnival kickoff this year, and the festival will run through the 23rd. Giba noted that the street fair will expand into part of 16th SW this year. Jubilee Days will run through July 23rd.

MARY’S PLACE VOLUNTEERING: NHUAC board member Roslyn Hyde said they especially need people in mornings and evenings. She also said that dropping off donations unannounced is discouraged so let the shelter know in advance if you would like to donate something. She said the shelter is apparently up to about 30 people now.

CAMP SECOND CHANCE ADVISORY COUNCIL: The new advisory council for the Seattle-sanctioned encampment is still taking applicants and expecting to meet in early May.

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets first Thursdays most months, 7 pm, at the NH Fire District headquarters (1243 SW 112th). Between meetings, check for updates at northhighlineuac.org.

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GRAFFITI & GANGS: King County Sheriff’s Office guest @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council on Thursday

April 3rd, 2017 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on GRAFFITI & GANGS: King County Sheriff’s Office guest @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council on Thursday

Crime and safety are always hot topics and this month, they’re at the center of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council‘s monthly meeting. From NHUAC president Liz Giba:

When: Thursday, April 6, 2017 at 7 pm

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

Please join North Highline’s volunteer community council at our April 6, 2017 meeting.

The Opportunity to Be Informed, Be Involved and Be Heard

Detective Joe Gagliardi of the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) will be joining us this month.

Detective Gagliardi is highly regarded as an expert on gangs in the Sheriff’s Office. Do you know there are different types of graffiti? Have you wondered whether the graffiti you’ve been seeing is gang-related? Have you heard stories about local gang activity? Join us on Thursday and you’ll surely learn some things about gangs and how they operate from Detective Gagliardi and Deputy Bill Kennamer, our storefront deputy.

Knowledge is power. Come learn, share and help make our community a better place.

Thursday, April 6th at 7 pm – Bring a Neighbor

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: Shelter, equity, crime updates @ March meeting

March 5th, 2017 Tracy Posted in King County, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: Shelter, equity, crime updates @ March meeting

By Linda Ball
Reporting for White Center Now

“Incredibly close” is how Liz McDaniel from Mary’s Place says the new White Center shelter is to opening.

McDaniel didn’t offer a specific date at Thursday’s meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, but she said that by the middle of this month they could have families in the former King County Public Health building at 10821 8th Ave. SW.

(WCN photo from March 11th work party @ future shelter site)

She reported robust attendance at the recent work party (see WCN coverage here), where volunteers came and cleaned inside the facility and did yard work outside, leaving the place “shining.” The fire systems have been updated, but currently there is no kitchen. McDaniel said that would come in phase two of the build-out. In the meantime, meals will be brought in and served by volunteer groups, or delivered from the downtown Mary’s Place day center. There are restrooms in the building but only one shower – two more will be added in phase two. To start with, the Evergreen Aquatic Center has offered use of its showers.

Initially the plan is to host families with children totaling 30 people, eventually expanding to families totaling 70 people.

Volunteer opportunities include bringing in meals or supplies, tutoring children, welcoming guests at the front desk, assisting in the kids’ club, working with parents filling out housing or job applications, or hosting birthday parties. If you are interested in volunteering, email volunteer@marysplaceseattle.org. Most of the families will be referred from King County’s Coordinated Entry for All program, but families from the Highline school district will be prioritized, as will law-enforcement referrals.

Right now, the biggest need is for twin bed blankets and sheets, preferably new or very gently used. McDaniel said they shy away from furniture donations because of concerns such as bedbugs.

Also at NHUAC’s March meeting:

(WCN photo: NHUAC president Liz Giba and King County’s Matias Valenzuela)

Matias Valenzuela, director of King County’s Office of Equity and Social Justice, spoke to some of the concerns citizens are feeling about their civil rights. The department aims to use an equity and social justice lens when looking at community issues. That race, income, and neighborhood can dictate whether a person graduates from high school, becomes incarcerated, or is healthy – or not – is troubling, Valenzuela said.

Local action is being taken to protect immigrants, he said. County Ordinance 17886, enacted in 2014, says the county will only honor ICE detainer requests that are accompanied by a criminal warrant. Otherwise, the county will not turn someone over to ICE. Valenzuela said 70 elected officials in King County have signed an inclusive-community pledge.

He said the department is working on assisting people with the naturalization process. When asked if they have an ESL program, he said they didn’t but recommended churches or community colleges as a resource for those courses. Valenzuela said they are also working on setting up a hate-crime hotline.

The final speaker was King County’s White Center Storefront Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Kennamer.

Citing incident reports, not arrests, in the area, he said that assaults are up, but burglary is down. He noted an uptick in gang activity as a concern, mostly juveniles. Gang tagging was brought up by residents. Deputy Kennamer asked those in attendance to please report any gang tagging, because it could help them locate gang members. He said some are coming from California because the Puget Sound area doesn’t have as many law-enforcement gang units as California does. There was also concern expressed regarding prostitution in at least one local park.

Kennamer’s advice was to observe the broken window theory, which states that maintaining and monitoring an urban environment and keeping things looking well-kept, deters vandalism and crime. He advised the citizens to “take care of little quality-of-life issues, and it will keep other issues from coming up.”

The all-volunteer North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets on the first Thursdays of most months, 7 pm at NH Fire District HQ. Between meetings, watch for updates at northhighlineuac.org.

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THURSDAY: The plan for this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

February 26th, 2017 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on THURSDAY: The plan for this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

From the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, here’s the plan for the March meeting:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When: Thursday, March 2, 2017 at 7 pm
Where: North Highline Fire Station at 1243 SW 112th Street in White Center
(Parking and Entrance are in the back of the Station)

Please join North Highline’s volunteer community council at our March 2, 2017 meeting.

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

Our first guest, Liz McDaniel of Mary’s Place, will bring us up-to-date on the progress toward opening White Center’s new family homeless shelter and resource center. Equity and social justice (ESJ) were important aspects of the discussions that led to King County’s support of Mary’s Place instead of the low-barrier adult shelter, which the County originally proposed.

Our community’s journey toward welcoming Mary’s Place is a good example of how equity and social justice can help define our community and our lives. Matias Valenzuela will discuss the King County’s Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan. He will also explain King County’s response to recent federal actions toward immigrants and refugees. This is a very important issue and affects many in our community.

Deputy Bill Kennamer will be back with an update on what’s been happening in North Highline, from KCSO’s perspective. Ever wonder how you can help make our community a better place? Deputy Bill will also discuss the “broken windows” theory of crime deterrence.

If you have something to share with the North Highline community, Good of the Order will give you the opportunity.

Join Us – Thursday, March 2nd at 7 PM – Bring a Neighbor!

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: North Highline Fire District’s funding fight in Olympia; homelessness updates

February 3rd, 2017 Tracy Posted in North Highline Fire District, North Highline UAC, White Center news 2 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

While the announcement of last night’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting highlighted a briefing from North Highline’s fire chief, an unannounced speaker – a former NHUAC board member who is now an encampment resident – was also a highlight. Here’s how the meeting unfolded:

NORTH HIGHLINE FIRE DISTRICT: Mike Marrs, chief for 4 years in addition to being chief of Burien Fire District 2, was there primarily to explain how legislation in Olympia could be a threat to some of the money the district needs to operate – funding it secured just two years ago, with a voter-approved measure, via the “benefit charge.”

First, Marrs detailed the district’s many-faceted 75-year history, changed along the way by various annexations, districts, and alliances.

The history included how the Fire District gets funding – primarily through property taxes – and that meant a big drop during the recession almost a decade ago: “20, 30 percent.” NHFD “made some hard choices” and that included the leadership consolidation. District 2 pays NHFD to serve North Burien; NHFD pays District 2 for Marrs to be its chief as well as theirs.

“It was supposed to be a Band-Aid,” he recalled, “probably a short-term fix, get us through the economic difficulties,” and annexation by either Burien or Seattle seemed likely to happen relatively quickly. But then came the 2012 vote in North Highline “Area Y” rejecting Burien, and the “Band-Aid” has had to stay on.

In property taxes, “we levy up to $1.50 for $1,000 assessed value” for fire/EMS services, Marrs said, but “that number wasn’t enough to continue to field (the staffing they had).” That led to the Fire Benefit Charge, “instead of levying $1.50 per $1,000, you reduce your tax to $1.00, and then there’s a formula for (that charge).” It’s not a fee for service, but a charge for everyone to pay to benefit from having the service available.

The formula involves how much water would have to be put on what’s on your property if there was a fully involved fire. (More than 5,500 parcels are in the area.) The vote authorizing it was in 2014; it was applied in 2015; it has to be re-authorized by voters in 2020.

“The one thing that really resonated with the commissioners was that by using the Fire Benefit Charge, low-income, tax-exempt housing would have to pay it too. …The amount of (that) in the NHFD is dramatically higher than other places in the county. You have a lot of parcels that never paid any property taxes – the sole funding for the fire district – (including) multifamily properties that … get a high benefit from (the service). … The board felt over the years that there was a real inequity (in the 3 1/2-square-mile district)” before the charge was implemented.

100 percent of the district’s revenue used to be from property taxes; now it’s 80 percent taxes, 20 percent benefit charge. Some of the tax-exempt-property owners, though, he said, feel they shouldn’t have to pay, “because all of their money should go into … housing.”

For the past two years in Olympia, Marrs continued, there’s been legislation related to this, after fire departments elsewhere formed big regional “fire authorities” and implemented benefit charges.

The benefit charge required a 60 percent supermajority of voters to pass, but will only require a 50 percent approval for reauthorization. The regional authorities, however, need a 60 percent to reauthorize, and have been seeking to have that reduced to a simple majority.

And that’s where the trouble erupted. The entities that don’t want to pay the benefit charges, Marrs explained, have jumped onto the legislation, seeking exemptions from those charges in all sizes of fire districts/authorities. Marrs said he had been to Olympia to testify this past Tuesday. He tried to explain that larger districts have more property owners and so if they have to pick up the slack, it’s not as much of a hardship. $208,000 is the median price here; $260,000 is the median in Kent; $670,000 in Woodinville, he noted. Other areas also have bigger commercial bases to draw on, for funding.

Without the charge, Marrs stressed, there’s a real inequity in terms of properties being supported by so many others. They are currently opposing the bill, and seeking to have the proposed benefit-charge exemption removed. “We’re only asking them to contribute to the 20 percent of the budget,” not the rest of it, he reiterated. But, he said, “I think we have an uphill battle.”

Asked if the new mixed-use development on the former supermarket site in Top Hat will be tax-exempt, Marrs said he believes it will be. (We’ll follow up on that.) NHUAC vice president Barbara Dobkin pointed out that North Highline has double the poverty rate of King County in general – 25 percent, compared to 11 percent.

“How underfunded would we be without that money?” asked NHUAC board member Roslyn Hyde.

The charge could be raised and spread among the remaining taxpayers, Marrs said. “We know what King County Housing pays us … it’s all the others, we don’t know whether they would qualify,” such as the Coronado Springs apartment building, which “is a huge contributor now.” KCHA pays about $50,000 a year via the benefit charge, so for just that example, NHFD could just “go without” that money,” or raise what it charges among the remaining payers.

The benefit charge, he clarified, is a “more equitable way to generate money for the fire department” because, for example, a 2,000-square-foot house takes the same amount of firefighting whether it’s a highly valued view property or something of much less value. (In case you’re wondering, Marrs didn’t have the exact amount that a 2,000-sf house is charged, but said it was in the $150 vicinity.)

North Highline and Burien District 2 are somewhat isolated, he explained in answering another question – they don’t have a lot of mutual-aid resources (they’re still trying to improve how that works with Seattle, for example, he said).

So what can be done? asked NHUAC board member Rich Leibfried.

“We might ask people to write their representatives,” Marrs said. NHUAC president Liz Giba expressed frustration that the housing operators have been working on this for a long time but didn’t even see fit to bring it up with district/community leaders.

The House bill is HB 1467; the Senate bill is SB 5364. (Looking at the HB 1467 page on the Legislature’s website, we note that local State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon is a sponsor.)

If communicating with legislators, you would ask them “to remove the low-income-housing exemptions from the bills.” (The main part of the bill – getting the fire authorities’ reauthorization level to 50 percent – is not something NHFD is opposing.)

Asked about NHFD’s budget this year, Chief Marrs said it includes about $1.2 million from the benefit charge, $2.2 million from the Burien contract, and ~$2 million from property taxes. They’re “behind on engine replacement”; their budget also goes to thermal-imaging cameras, backup “bunker gear” to better =protect firefighters from the high risk of cancer; body armor when they’re dealing with scenes where they’re treating victims of violence; washer-dryer equipment that has to be dedicated to separate uses (fires and violence scenes). Their calls are split roughly 80 percent medical calls, 20 percent fires and other emergencies.

SIDE NOTE: Marrs also mentioned the cardiac-survival rate of Medic One, once “best in the world” at 27 percent, with a leader who took the rate above 60 percent within about a decade. Factors include the highest citizen-CPR training, cardiac defibrillation by responders, and excellent care at local medical centers. “Your chances of walking out of the hospital alive after suffering a cardiac event in Seattle-King County is off the charts.”

(P.S. At the start of the Fire District discussion, NHUAC president Giba reminded all first that she also is a member of the NHFD Board.)

HOMELESSNESS-RELATED TOPICS: These were all discussed in the final segment of the meeting.

First, NHUAC board member Hyde recapped last week’s meeting at which the new plan for the White Center shelter was officially announced (WCN coverage here), with Mary’s Place planning to open a family shelter, starting with about 30 people, at 8th/108th, likely on or by March 1st. She said a “wish list” of needed items would be forthcoming once there’s somewhere to store such items. Pack ‘n’ Plays and twin bedsheets are among the most-needed items, she noted. You can also apply to volunteer, via a link on the Mary’s Place website. And she reminded all of the February 11th work party.

Second, Camp Second Chance – Dobkin said she was at last night’s City of Seattle-operated meeting about what has been an unauthorized encampment since last summer on Myers Way (WCN coverage here) and is about to be made by the City of Seattle into an authorized encampment. Among other things, she said it was disappointing that no one from King County had been invited to the meeting. Leibfried noted that most of the concerns voiced were about campers outside CSC.

Then a camp resident – former NHUAC board member Patrick Mosley, who served on the board 2010-2012 – came up to the podium.

Mosley said he became homeless after losing his spouse and his home. He had been living in his truck – until an exhaust leak. He first went to a shelter in Fremont and discovered some things about it that didn’t work …including issues with a longtime encampment operator (SHARE). Then he went back to California for a while, and, when returning here to visit his children, he learned about the splinter group that had formed Camp Second Chance.

Mosley talked about the camp’s self-sufficiency and quest for 501(c)(3) status, and an eventual plan to have it become a business. “SHARE isn’t necessarily happy that this encampment is there” because of it being sanctioned, he said. He said he’s been at the camp for about three months, and that it’s a “model camp – the first time that people in this situation have a chance to make a difference … in this situation.”

He talked about a friend who committed a crime “during a few minutes of a bad mistake” who will likely never be able to get a job again. He said the camp works to help people get and stay sober, is working to help people learn skills such as gardening, is working to set up a system to get people

“It may not affect you now but it might in the future … so it’s best to set up a relationship before you (possibly) need it.”

Giba asked him what he feels about the people living outside the camp. “What do they mean to you, living there?” He said he has spoken to many of them whom he sees daily. “It’s a similar situation but different.” One man for example has mental issues. He explained that everyone at the camp has to chip in $20/month to help pay for things such as propane. Substance abusers, for example, aren’t interested in doing that. “There are a lot of drug, and drug issues, over there … but there are everywhere.” He also noted that not all the trash you see in the area was left “by the homeless people” – some is dumped by people from elsewhere. He said there are a variety of difficult circumstances, such as people going through the “revolving door” of prison/jail, and

An attendee asked about people being required to take housing if it’s offered/available. “Part of the contract with the city is that if they offer it, we can’t refuse it.”

He said would-be campers soon will have to pass a background check to see if they are a sex offender, to sign that they understand the camp’s rules, that they attend the Monday meetings.

Polly Trout from Patacara Community Services, announced last night as the camp’s operator, said that the camp will continue to be self-governing, but that her organization “We’re enrolling everyone in the new King County Coordinated Entry …but the reality is that there’s not enough housing for everyone.” She said people are prioritized, such as severely disabled people, youth, and families. About half the CSC residents are working, he said, but don’t fit into those prioritized categories. “There are some people on disability who are on waitlists,” for example, or awaiting disability-payment eligibility.

Trout said they’d been asked how people can help the camp and its residents. “If you need a handyperson or someone to mow your lawn, you might think about coming to the camp.” She said she would not recommend someone unless she could recommend them wholeheartedly. She mentioned a couple who had lived in the camp for a while and have just moved into a rental room at a house of a friend of Trout’s.

She was asked for a little more background on herself; she’s been working with Seattle-area homeless people for 15 years, 12 of those with youth in the U-District via Seattle Education Access. She formed Patacara with an interest in something more intergenerational.

From the audience, attendee Ben Calot contended that “there are jobs out there for everyone”; he was an employer and had an employee “who smoked crack in the bathroom every day on shift.”

10 percent of CSC’s residents have been moving into housing every month, Trout said. Mosley said it has 15 residents right now, and that they’re likely to grow to 70. And the camp will be voting on potential use of “tiny houses,” as a result of what city reps said at last night’s meeting. They will consider building tiny houses themselves; other encampments generally have tiny houses built by donors. “The city has authorized us to have 50 tents and/or tiny houses,” Trout added.

What happens after two years? she was asked. They will have to find somewhere to move to, she said.

Next speaker, area resident Pat Lemoine – who said at the previous night’s meeting, and reiterated at this one, that he has a “plan to get Camp Second Chance housed.” He said he’d dealt with unemployment in the 2008 recession and came up with a plan to live on $24,000/year. “I started looking at the $50m that the city of Seattle is paying to deal with the homeless. I could live 2,083 years on that!” He noted that 4,500 people had been counted as homeless. Many have “some form of income” – a job, Social Security, etc. – and he noted that he would be eligible for $1,000/month if he retires at 62, “a $12,000 income a year, which is half the ($24,000) sum.” 4,166 people could live on the money the city is spending, he said, pointing to the written plan he had distributed last night and again tonight. He noted that one complaint is that there’s not enough affordable housing out there, but, he said, researching online, he found about 800 apartments for $1200 or less. “My plan here is more for the people who have their stuff together” – not necessarily those dealing with drugs or mental issues – “if we could get even 10 percent of (homeless people) housed …that makes it a smaller problem.” So, he believes, just a fraction of the $50 million could help. $600,000 could house everybody in Camp Second Chance right now, for example, he said, acknowledging that leases might be a challenge, “but with the power of the city … lawyers could get involved if necessary … I don’t see it as that big of a deal to get the easiest (people) housed right now.”

NHUAC president Giba said the plan of housing people instead of having them live in tents “makes sense to me.”

Attendee Calot said that it’s clear to him that Seattle is wasting its money on encampments, “making things worse,” even though it has an expert report it paid for that says Housing First is the way to go, not encampments.

“So,” asked Patrick Mosley from the audience, “what do you do in the meantime?”

The city is wasting its money on short-term goals but should be working on long-term goals rather than dedicating all its resources and energy on the former. “If we don’t focus on long-term results, we’re not going to get long-term results.” He said they want to see the “drug encampments” on Myers Way cleaned up rather than the city “allowing criminality to run rampant.”

Another area resident said that those other campers, including those in RVs, are giving a bad name to everyone around them, including CSC.

Lemoine summarized that while the county and city have declared “a state of emergency” regarding homelessness, he doesn’t see anything getting done, compared to past emergencies in wartime and other times. He wondered aloud how much of the money has gone to things aside from housing and direct solutions – how much to “writing reports,” for example.

Trout said that she appreciates some of Lemoine’s ideas, and noted that she has never before had a government contract, and “is learning a lot….I have to say that if you want a quick and frugal solution, DON’T go to the government.” That evoked laughter around the room. “We’re going to need smaller, private solutions (too),” she added.

Final related topic – Leibfried had participated in the One Night Count of people living unsheltered around King County, and Giba asked him for some thoughts. He said he had hoped to volunteer in this area but was sent to a different part of the city, with “someone who was not very well-trained,” but it was “kind of a fun experience.” He mentioned the change in methodology for this year, “gridd(ing) out the entire city,” not just looking where organizers thought people would be living outdoors. He was sent to the Burke-Gilman Trail in Wedgwood and did find a group in an RV. “It was a bit of a media circus.” Mosley asked him how accurate he thought the count would turn out. “More accurate than not doing it at all,” Leibfried said.

From the audience, a man who said he moved here a year ago from Chicago said it was disorganized there too.

TRIBUTE TO CASS TURNBULL: Vice president Dobkin offered a tribute to Cass Turnbull of Plant Amnesty and TreePAC, who died suddenly earlier this week. “It’s a huge loss … she had a vision for Myers Way … (to) save that property … otherwise it would all be paved over.”

JUBILEE DAYS: Saturday, April 1st, announced secretary Pat Price, there’ll be a prime-rib dinner/auction event, including “nominating a mayor of White Center,” to raise money for this year’s Jubilee Days – “save the date.”

WESTSIDE BABY’S COMMUNITEA: Price also announced the March 12th benefit tea at the Sea-Tac Hilton for White Center-headquartered WestSide Baby.

WHITE CENTER SUMMIT: Board members were asked about last weekend’s event. Several of them were there. Leibfried said that it seemed to him that more networking was in order. Three ideas emerged, according to an attendee from WCCDA: A youth council, a safety group, and a health initiative, particularly support for the coalition working ond drug abuse. “Is that posted somewhere?” he was asked. Reply: “Not yet … it will be.” Another item on the wish list, Hyde said – “a big community calendar.”

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets first Thursdays most months, 7 pm, at North Highline Fire District headquarters. Watch northhighlineuac.org for updates between meetings. And if you have ideas for upcoming meetings, board members say, let them know – you can find contact info on the aforementioned website.

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THURSDAY: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council spotlights NH Fire District

January 29th, 2017 Tracy Posted in North Highline Fire District, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on THURSDAY: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council spotlights NH Fire District

7 pm Thursday, you’re invited to this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting. From president Liz Giba:

Please join North Highline’s volunteer community council at our February 2, 2017 meeting.

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

Our past influences our present as well as our future. In 2014, our fire district, the North Highline Fire District, asked and we answered. We approved a fire benefit charge aimed at equitably spreading the cost of fire protection and emergency medical services. Join NHUAC in welcoming Fire Chief Mike Marrs to NHUAC. Chief Marrs will discuss where our fire district has been, where NHFD is today, and the road to staying on track to reestablish a healthy, stable fire district.

Good of the Order will provide community members time to discuss what’s on their minds. Do you have something of community importance to share ? Join us and share!

See you Thursday, February 2nd at 7 PM – Bring a Neighbor!

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: January meeting toplines

January 11th, 2017 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: January meeting toplines

Our toplines from the January meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

NEW BOARD MEMBERS: Recent resignations created vacancies on the board, and two people have stepped up to join: Roslyn Hyde and Rich Leibfried.

NHUAC president Liz Giba said she was impressed by how they stepped up during the past few months of discussions about the 8th/108th shelter. Leibfried is a budget analyst for a health-care organization and Hyde is a graphic designer. Both have roots on the East Coast and lived in other parts of the metro Seattle area before moving to North Highline. Hyde said she first got involved in the shelter discussions because the site is near her home, but realized that she is most interested in finding ways to give a voice to people who don’t feel like they have one in public-affairs issues. She plans to be part of the One Night Count later this month (here’s how to get involved). Asked about annexation, both said they are still researching that issue and keeping an open mind.

CRIME BRIEFING: Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer was at the meeting, with a review of 2016 crime stats compared to a year earlier. Burglaries are way down, violent assaults up. One big issue of concern right now – rampant graffiti. That will be the subject of a meeting tomorrow morning (Thursday, January 12th), 9 am at Northmart in downtown WC. Deputy Kennamer also was asked about current drug problems in White Center and replied that heroin is the biggest one right now, with much of the dealing involving one person who sells small quantities to others and keeps some for himself.

SEPTIC TANK FEE FIGHT: NHUAC also heard from a county resident about the fight over a proposal to charge annual fees to people with septic systems. It wasn’t clear, though, how many such systems there are in North Highline.

HHUAC meets first Thursdays most months, 7 pm, at North Highline Fire District HQ (1243 SW 112th) – watch northhighlineuac.org for updates between meetings.

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THURSDAY: 1st North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting of 2017

January 2nd, 2017 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on THURSDAY: 1st North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting of 2017

First Thursday of the month – in this case, first Thursday of the year – means January 5th will bring the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council‘s first meeting of 2017, as just announced:

When:
Thursday, January 5, 2017 at 7 pm

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

Please join North Highline’s volunteer community council at our first meeting of 2017!

A new year brings new opportunities. Those opportunities are often hidden in the challenges that stand in the way of a safer, healthier, and more positive future. In North Highline, those challenges include the concentration of poverty, the concentration of marijuana businesses and homelessness.

An example is King County’s response to our community’s opposition to a low-barrier, 70-adult homeless shelter in White Center. North Highline’s opposition was heard. King County revised its plan. Instead of a low-barrier shelter, White Center’s old Public Health building will instead become the new home of Mary’s Place Family Shelter and Resource Center. Mary’s Place has an excellent reputation. Many of us believe that what started as a challenge is being transformed into an opportunity for success. Any available updates will be shared at the meeting.

Speaking about success, Betsy Howe, of Citizens Opposed to Onsite Septic System Management Washington, graciously rescheduled her presentation from last month to allow us to learn about Mary’s Place. She will join us this month to tell us about the group’s success in tabling King County’s “Turd Tax” on septic systems and its ongoing efforts. If your property includes a septic system, take this opportunity to learn about the group’s success and plans.

At December’s meeting, the need for more community participation on NHUAC’s board was discussed. We are happy to announce that NHUAC was heard! Thursday’s meeting will include an opportunity for those who have responded to our call to speak prior to a vote by current board members.

And last, but definitely not least … White Center Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer will update us with news and statistics from KCSO.

See you Thursday, January 5th at 7 PM – Bring a Friend!

The Opportunity to Be Informed, Be Involved and Be Heard

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: Shelter, encampment, memories…

December 2nd, 2016 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 2 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

This month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting included discussions of two separate and very different plans to house people experiencing homelessness. Here are last night’s highlights:

SHELTER UPDATE: As reported here Wednesday, the King County shelter plan for the ex-Public Health building at 8th SW/SW 108th has changed, after weeks of work with a community task force. Mark Ellerbrook from King County and Marty Hartman from Mary’s Place came to talk about the new “family shelter” plan.

“We’ve got some steps to go through first,” Ellerbrook said, especially regarding revising the permit application “as quickly as we can … so we can make any chances in the building that we need to make.” He addressed a topic that we asked him about yesterday; “our need for shelter for single adults has not gone down,” but, “if you look at the Highline School District specifically, at least 74 homeless students – living in cars or in a tent under a bridge, and trying to go to school, make a go of it … from about 36 families.” That number is dynamic and changes, he noted. He reiterated that they plan a “large community meeting” in January.

Hartman showed a video about her organization and said its dream has been that no child would have to sleep unsheltered, but they’re not there yet, and hoping to partner in this community “to bring those children inside.”

She said they serve families in a variety of configurations, even at some of their shelters, families with pets. They have 400 beds across King County in nighttime shelters, as well as day centers, in downtown and Aurora/130th (their “family center,” open to all of their shelter guests every day). The families are “in community,” sitting around tables together, in Kids Club together, “supporting each other,” she said. She said they partner with dozens of nonprofits to offer help, assistance, resources. “Our goal is that you will not spend all day looking for 10 diapers,” for example. “Most importantly, we are able to help intervene in the trauma that is going on now – it can take six months for families to get beds in shelter, and that is unacceptable to us.” They have counselors, they ensure kids are enrolled in school, and they try to alleviate crises. “There’s nothing too horrible, too yucky, too bad that’s happened to you that we can’t talk about. … The goal is, we’re going to move you in and out of Mary’s Place as soon as possible.” But they will first be checking on financial stability, for example. A third of the people they serve are refugees and immigrants, who don’t get assistance for as long as possible. They have employers who come in and even hire on site. They do background checks, sex-offender checks, screen out for Class A felonies, etc. She says they’re all about healing and help. “This is solvable. 650 families. The beds that would be available at this shelter would be life-saving.” She said all but 10 percent of their current funding is privately provided. She said they are always looking for “that next building” to use until somebody redevelops it. And she spoke about the importance of intervening with children and families.

One attendee who had been an outspoken critic of the original shelter plan, Joseph Benavides, voiced some continuing concerns including the intersection by 8th/108th not being sufficiently configured. “I love the plan, I love everything about it” otherwise, he said. Ellerbrook said they are talking with King County Roads about safety issues there.

Hartman reiterated that they have just come into the process and expect to be assisting about 25 people for starters.

And they are continuing to work on practicalities such as laundry and hygiene, just getting some folks inside this winter, and then continuing to work on the building. Mary’s Place staff will be there 24/7 and will have a round-the-clock on-call number. “We’re not perfect neighbors all the time … sometimes an aid car will pull up … six children were admitted to the hospital this week with respiratory problems … this week a lady’s water broke right in the lobby.”

But: “In every neighborhood we’ve been in, we’ve made the neighborhood better,” she declared. “Our parents are so big on keeping things safe for their kids … there’s nothing like a momma bear.” If there is something bothering neighbors, Mary’s Place wants to know, she said, adding that their curfew is 8:30 pm, lights out by 9, every day.

Ellenbrook said there will be a three-way agreement “between the county, Mary’s Place, and the community.” A community-work-group meeting “the week of the 15th” will work on it further. There also, Ellerbrook added, will be quarterly community meetings to talk about how things are going, what’s needed, and more.

“It’s really been a remarkable process,”said NHUAC vice president Barbara Dobkin, considering, as she pointed out, “nobody’s yelling here tonight” – in comparison to the emotions that ran high during the community meeting September 15th. “This is just a wonderful compromise that will work.” Benavides added. “The wholesomeness of this whole approach is what this community is all about.”

“I think they really listened,” NHUAC president Liz Giba said about the county reps who were at last month’s meeting (WCN coverage here), including department director Adrienne Quinn.

The discussion concluded with applause.

SEATTLE’S MYERS WAY ENCAMPMENT PLAN: This was discussed at two points in the meeting. Early on, during the community-announcements section, Gunner Scott of the Highland Park Action Committee community council spoke about the Seattle city announcement earlier in the day of a sanctioned encampment at the city-owned Myers Way Parcels (here’s the story on our partner site West Seattle Blog).

Scott said, “It’s probably a done deal but what we can do – working together- is probably, negotiate terms.” He said that City Councilmember Lisa Herbold has been invited to HPAC’s next meeting in January to talk about this as well as other things. He said that the city told him that Camp Second Chance – which has been at the site, without authorization, since summer – would likely be asked to stay as a self-managed encampment, possibly with some “religious organizations” that they’ve been working with. President Giba said that Seattle’s director of homelessness George Scarola told her that they believe about 20 people are living at CSC right now; the city’s plan for the site could more than double that. Later in the meeting, she said that she had spoken to him to ensure that NH would be included in discussions with community leaders. And she said he told her the city would be reaching out to some of the people living unsheltered along Myers Way, but not in the camp, to see if they would join it.

CRIME UPDATES: King County Sheriff’s Office storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer said “Car thefts are really high,” but almost everything else is down. “It’s unusual that you’d have this cluster of this many auto thefts – they’re usually taken as transportation. … Burglaries are really down a lot,” he added.

The local KCSO storefront is now in its new HQ at Steve Cox Memorial Park, announced months ago.

REMEMBERING DEPUTY COX: Giba noted that today (the day after the meeting) is the 10th anniversary of Deputy Cox’s murder on December 2, 2006. “He was a deputy, he was a leader, he was a good friend … he drew people in and tried to get you involved … he decided early on that I needed some mentoring, and he spent some hours trying to accomplish that.” He was also president of NHUAC at the time. She said she tried to get him to take that day off so he could go speak to the Seattle City Council, to tell them to “leave us alone” …but he said he had to work, and told them “you guys can handle it.” She observed, “I feel like that was the message he left to the whole community – ‘you guys can handle it’ – I feel like that’s what we have done.” One example, she said, was the way the shelter had worked out. “He loved kids, he was a new dad, I feel somewhere he is smiling.”

Others’ memories:

“He was an excellent human being.”
“He was a kind of person who just does things. He loved the community.”
“There are some really strong people lost in this community over the years … it’s really up to all of us to continue his legacy. .. We’re a community, we have to stick together, it’s only together that we can work on these issues … if we’re together, we’re powerful.”

The King County Sheriff’s Office will pay tribute to Deputy Cox and 15 others who died in the line of duty in the department’s history at a plaque dedication downtown this morning. WCN will be there.

ANNOUNCEMENTS: Pat Price announced a survey that the King County Library System is conducting (we will add the link when we get it) … Bob Price announced a fundraising dinner Friday (December 9th) 5:30 pm at the White Center Eagles for Jubilee Days….Giba announced Rudy Garza‘s art exhibit tonight (Friday), 5-7 pm, at Dubsea Coffee in Greenbridge … Mark Johnston said King County is due out with its first “marijuana report” on potential retail-store sites soon….White Center Kiwanis and New Start Key Club will have the annual baked-potato dinner January 12th at the school, $15 for one ticket, $25 for two, $30 for a family. …

NHUAC BOARD RESIGNATIONS: Elizabeth Devine says work demands will require her to leave the NHUAC board. Also, since the last meeting, Dominic Barrera has resigned. So the board is looking for prospective new members – contact info is on the NHUAC website.

SUBSTANCE-ABUSE SURVEY: Former NHUAC board member Elizabeth Gordon brought a survey that’s ready for more community members’ participation. She’s representing a coalition that got a grant they’ll be working on next year, focusing on preventing substance abuse among middle-schoolers. She also had warm words for the community youth who had spoken in favor of a family homeless shelter replacing the county’s original idea for the Public Health building. The grant with which she and the coalition is working is from revenue generated by marijuana businesses in the area. We’ve featured the survey before – go here for the links if you haven’t answered it yet.

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets on the first Thursday of most months, 7 pm, at North Highline Fire District HQ – watch northhighlineuac.org for updates between meetings.

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets Thursday: Agenda includes shelter update, tribute to Deputy Steve Cox, more

November 28th, 2016 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 4 Comments »

From North Highline Unincorporated Area Council president Liz Giba, agenda highlights for this Thursday’s meeting (7 pm at North Highline Fire District HQ, 1243 SW 112th):

Please join North Highline’s volunteer community council at our December 1st meeting.

NHUAC aims to add opportunity to our community’s equation:

The Opportunity to Be Informed, Be Involved and Be Heard

Our past influences our present. Together they will impact our future. The death of King County Deputy Steve Cox on December 2, 2006 was a tremendous loss. At the time of his death, Steve was NHUAC’s president. Although he’s been gone for nearly 10 years, NHUAC strives to apply the lessons of Steve’s leadership, life, and legacy for a safer, healthier, and positive future for North Highline.

The King County Sheriff’s Office continues to partner with us toward our goals. Bill Kennamer, our White Center Storefront Deputy, will provide us, once again, with news and statistics from KCSO.

Betsy Howe, of Citizens Opposed to Onsite Septic System Management Washington, will tell us about COOM WA’s success in tabling King County’s “Turd Tax” on septic systems and its ongoing efforts.

King County’s plan to put a low-barrier homeless shelter for 70 adults in the old Public Health Building will be updated by a representative of King County’s Department of Community and Human Services.

Like homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse are regional problems that hit close to home. Last month, students from Cascade Middle School’s Prevention Team shared their concerns about the location of King County’s proposed low-barrier homeless shelter in a residential area, next door to a park, and near three schools. This month, Coalition for Drug Free Youth will provide us the opportunity to participate in a survey about our perceptions of drug and alcohol use and abuse among our youth.

We’ll close with a time to share memories and thoughts about community hero Steve Cox.

See you Thursday, December 1st at 7 PM – Bring a Friend!

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VIDEO: White Center shelter plan might change, Steve Cox Memorial Park’s field will change, & more @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

November 3rd, 2016 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 1 Comment »

(WCN photos and video)

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Another intense meeting for the White Center area’s community council, the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

ADRIENNE QUINN: The director of King County’s Community and Human Services department, ultimately accountable for the proposal to set up a shelter in the former Public Health building at 8th and 108th, faced a full house. She said she wanted to talk about the original proposal and “where we are now” with it.

She said there are “a lot of misunderstandings about who people who are who are homeless…. The #1 reason for people under 25 are that they are gay, lesbian, transgender, thrown out of their homes … the #2 reason (for people under 25 to be homeless) is that they have been in foster care and have been thrown out of their homes … For women and families, the primary reason people become homeless is domestic violence, fleeing dangerous situations, their credit has been ruined, it’s difficult for them to get an apartment. … For adult men, right now, 31% are veterans over the age of 55 … another reason is untreated mental (illness). … 1 in 4 people (in general) have an untreated mental disorder … if you are homeless, you don’t have a place to carry your medication, you may not have a doctor, but if we are able to bring people inside, we can stabilize them … There’s a lot of discussion about crime and homelessness. People who are homeless are much more likely to be victims of crime than to (commit crime).”

She mentioned the 100 unsheltered people found in the White Center area during the most-recent One Night Count.”We have heard for many years, do something about the people who are homeless … So King County has been looking all over the county, looking for any available resource … to bring people inside … to help them get back on track. We identified the WC Public Health Clinic, several other buildings around the county, one in Kenmore, one in Bellevue … we began to explore that this spring …” She went on to describe why the building in WC seemed suitable, “to bring a shelter to WC to help people who are here right now, to work on case management, to try to stabilize them, to help people move through shelter in 30 days.” She said studies from around the country have shown that can be successful. And she pointed out that “many people who are homeless actually work” and need someplace to leave their belongings.

“We are continuing in exploration mode,” Quinn said, saying (this section of her speech is in the video clip above) that they are exploring the possibility of the shelter starting with a small population, being offered to families – if there are enough homeless families in this area – instead of the previously planned singles/couples, and being open 24/7 so that there would not be a daily discharge of people onto the street. She also said the small group that met two weeks ago for a discussion of this would meet again one week from tonight.

Opening Q/A, NHUAC president Liz Giba said that the concentration of poverty in White Center remains a concern. Quinn said that they are trying to help homeless people in WC to alleviate that.

Next, an attendee who lives in the area accused Quinn of lying and putting a “spin” on things. He claimed the plan has been in place since last November; she said that wasn’t true. He said they have a public-records request in for information, and that an online petition has collected 1,000 signatures, and that there’s crowdfunding to bankroll the records request. “You picked the wrong location …we’re going to get to the bottom of this.” He talked about problems happening in the park and near the clinic right now; Quinn said that getting people indoors would be the remedy for that.

NHUAC vice president Barbara Dobkin said she is concerned that more homeless people are turning up in White Center because they are being “pushed out of Seattle.” She cited situations such as the West Seattle Junction bus-shelter closure plan.

In other questions, she tried to clarify the “no-barrier” concept – not necessarily that people are going to be allowed in to shoot up, but that “if they have a little alcohol on their breath, we’re not going to turn them away.” She also said this would not be like the “navigation center” that Seattle is considering.

Another attendee brought up some contradictions in what Quinn was saying here and what they heard at the September 15th meeting. She noted that the shouting at that meeting was unsettling to some of the people at that meeting. (One thing that emerged – they’re looking at “portable showers” for the building, which otherwise was described as not being set up for shelter stayers to be able to take showers.)

One attendee said she had heard about what was recommended for helping ease Seattle’s homelessness problem; Quinn said that the county and city had declared an emergency to try to get the federal and state governments to help.

Another attendee challenged the contention that White Center had 100 people unsheltered during the One-Night Count, saying law enforcers had told them they had seen far fewer. Quinn tried to draw a distinction between people who are visibly homeless and those living in vehicles. She was asked why the people on the street aren’t getting help now; she said that outreach is being done.

Asked about shelters in residential areas, near schools, Quinn pointed to Our Lady of Guadalupe in West Seattle, which hosts a shelter. Small population, though, she acknowledged on followup.

Many of the questions and concerns voiced had to do with discrepancies between numbers cited in previous communications/meetings and what was being said here. Seattle displacement was cited, and at one point, Quinn said, “That’s a city of Seattle issue.” But she acknowledged the county is having issues too – she said she had heard from people in mobile-home parks who were getting forced out, too. Quinn added that her department is working with the King County Housing Authority, giving them a line of credit to “preserve at least 2,000 units” of affordable housing. They’ve bought four apartment buildings, she said.

She was also pressed on a variety of points about the county’s shelter operations. How many buildings? More than 70. How many people? About 2,000.

NHUAC board member Christine Waldman said a list of possible alternative locations was provided to the county and “there’s got to be someplace else that this can go.” Quinn said they are “looking at facilities that are safe to be inside right now … some are so rundown as to not be safe.”

NHUAC board member Elizabeth Gordon said the shelter plan needs to be viewed through an equity/justice lens for this community; Quinn had mentioned that they were using a more-regional assessment for that kind of information. Giba reinforced the point a few minutes later, and also addressed it to King County Council chair Joe McDermott, who was in attendance but did not speak.

Quinn was asked who is involved in the “core group” that will meet again next week – “15 or so people,” including three from NHUAC, “to really talk about, get into more detail about a lot of these issues people are talking about” in relation to this, including safety. She said that the work group’s eventual goal is to “come back to a larger community meeting” (as promised in the September public meeting), before year’s end.

One of the last comments to her was, “Don’t force us to read between the lines. Be radically transparent with us.”

CASCADE MIDDLE SCHOOL PREVENTION TEAM: Before Quinn spoke, three students and their adviser (from a team of about 20 students) spoke to the meeting, saying they have been doing cleanup work in Dick Thurnau Memorial Park and are concerned about the possible shelter being near the park and their school.

The students read statements they had written, and their adviser showed petitions that they had circulated, saying they collected more than 120 signatures. We recorded them on video – see and hear for yourself above. (During Adrienne Quinn’s time at the front of the room, NHUAC board member Elizabeth Gordon got Quinn to commit to following up on the students’ request for someone from the county to come speak with them.)

STEVE COX MEMORIAL PARK FIELD RENOVATION PROJECT: King County Parks reps Frana Milan and Tri Ong talked about this, saying it’s “just getting rolling” – improvements to “the fields outside of the stadium” – Fields 2 and 3, “currently underutilized.” They’re intended for youth baseball, but “frequently not even usable for the amount of use scheduled there, because of drainage problems.” Milan said there’s a higher demand, not just for traditional sports but also Ultimate Frisbee and lacrosse. She said 75 people were surveyed over the summer, and 40 percent of them use the fields in question for pickup sports. What would make it a great park? they asked. As a result of the replies, they’re trying to design the fields to serve local use, diversify possible uses, expand playable hours, and enhance public safety. Milan showed a rough design:

And she showed Walt Hundley Playfield in West Seattle as an example of “what we’re thinking about.” Synthetic turf is being considered, as are lining for multiple sports, a natural-surface walking path, new backstops, lighting around the perimeter, and access to the restrooms that face the stadium, so they could be accessed from the side of the field. Of those, survey respondents supported restroom access, lighting, and a walking path most strongly. With design under way, it should reach 90 percent in a year, then be built in spring/summer of 2018, concluded by fall of that year. The King County Parks budget already has $1.7 million allotted for this and is hoping for $1.6 million more in the current budget. Attendee questions asked mostly about funding and possible other sources for it. Separate from this project, the stadium is getting a new roof soon, said Ong, and parking-lot repaving is expected to happen next spring, along with ADA-compliant curb ramps.

One point of interest that emerged while attendees were asking questions: Jubilee Days would not be able to use Steve Cox for fireworks shows once these changes are made.

RESIGNATION: Gordon said she is no longer working in the unincorporated area so she needs to resign from the NHUAC board, and urged anyone interested in “positive community engagement” to get involved. President Giba led a round of applause, saying that Gordon has “been awesome.”

COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENTS: NHUAC board member Pat Price announced plans for a Festivus celebration on Friday, Dec. 9, at White Center Eagles, dinner/auction, and the White Center Library Guild‘s book sale/holiday sale 11 am-4 pm Friday and Saturday (November 4-5) at the library … The White Center Kiwanis will have a meet-and-greet November 30th at Proletariat Pizza, 6:30 pm – “free pizza, and come see what we’re about” … The Kiwanis’s candy-bar sale, $2.50 for See’s bars, continues … Mark Johnston talked about the marijuana laws and said one licensee in the Top Hat area is looking to move to Federal Way.

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets first Thursdays at 7 pm at NH Fire District HQ.

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Parks in the spotlight @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting Thursday

October 30th, 2016 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, Parks, White Center news Comments Off on Parks in the spotlight @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting Thursday

From the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, here’s what’s ahead for the November meeting this Thursday:

November 3, 2016 at 7 pm
North Highline Fire Station at 1243 SW 112th Street in White Center

(Parking and Entrance are in the Back of the Station)

Please join North Highline’s volunteer community council at our November 3rd meeting.

NHUAC aims to add opportunity to our community’s equation: The Opportunity to Be Informed, Be Involved and Be Heard.

Neighborhood parks will be front and center in this month’s meeting. Our White Center Storefront Deputy, Bill Kennamer, will provide updates on the storefront’s move to Steve Cox Memorial Park, crime stats, and other news from the King County Sheriff’s Office.

More news about Steve Cox Memorial Park will be brought to us by Frana Milan and Tri Ong of King County Parks. Frana and Tri will share plans to improve the park and ask for input on how the project can best meet community needs and address concerns related to the athletic field improvements.

Adrienne Quinn, Director of King County’s Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS), will update us on King County’s plan to put a low-barrier homeless shelter for 70 adults in the old Public Health Building (next to the Food Bank and Dick Thurnau Memorial Park).

Our special guests will be members of Cascade Middle School’s Prevention Team. The Prevention Team is passionate about preventing drug and alcohol use among youth in our community, supports causes that promote positive community norms, and participates in a variety of community service events. The Prevention Team’s projects have included cleaning up Dick Thurnau Memorial Park. NHUAC is pleased to provide a forum where these inspiring students’ voices can be heard in North Highline. Help us welcome them this Thursday at 7 pm!

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