ELECTION 2018: 34th District State Senate candidates @ October meeting of North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

September 22nd, 2018 Tracy Posted in Election, North Highline UAC, Politics, White Center news No Comments »

As noted in WCN coverage of the September North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, next month, NHUAC plans a forum with 34th District State Senate candidates Joe Nguyen and Shannon Braddock. That’s now less than two weeks away – Thursday, October 4th – so they’re reminding you to be there! 7 pm Thursday, October 4th, at NH Fire District HQ (1243 SW 112th).

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King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht tells North Highline Unincorporated Area Council about her ‘intense’ start

September 10th, 2018 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, North Highline UAC, White Center news No Comments »

(WCN photos by Patrick Sand)

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

It wasn’t Mitzi Johanknecht‘s first guest appearance before the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, but last Thursday was her first appearance as King County Sheriff.

She said the start of her term has moved fast and been “intense.” It began with training that hadn’t happened in a few years. Eighty “less-lethal shotguns” – “beanbag rounds” – were distributed in the first quarter. And they’ve bought more, “with the goal of having almost everyone who’s in a patrol car … to have that tool on board with them.” She put through a supplemental budget request at mid-year and got funding for a full-time recruiter, which she said the department hasn’t had in years.

A few weeks ago, she sent King County Executive Dow Constantine her proposed budget. He asked for millions in cuts; “I said no,” the sheriff declared. “We respect that (he wants us to) cut our budget, but we see some real needs in our communities.” They’ve asked for a Regional Gang Task Force, starting with a sergeant and two detectives from KCSO, “so we can get our arms around the gang problem … (which) extends across all the borders.” In the next week or so, she said, we’ll see the executive’s budget, and she expects to see that included.

Another accomplishment: A fulltime community liaison, who will be working fulltime on drafting a community engagement plan. “This is a person who isn’t a badge or gun toter …somebody who actually has experience” in community engagement. The job will be posted soon, she said.

They’re also proposing combining some KCSO units to create a Youth and Family Section. And they’ll be working to fight fraud and scams – protecting seniors, for example. Also, they’re asking for a new Training Detective – looking ahead to the potential passage of Initiative 940 (De-escalate Washington) – and Mental Illness and Drug Dependency funds to coordinate someone that will work on services such as crisis intervention.

What about marijuana-related money – is it helping? asked NHUAC vice president Barbara Dobkin. The sheriff replied that in order to get some added resources, she suggested putting that money toward helping people with addiction issues, among other things.

Will the area get more officers, given the increased density? The sheriff said she asked for 18 more officers – 6 more at each of the unincorporated-area precincts. She also noted that a staffing study is under way.

As for those on staff already – NHUAC board members told the sheriff that they get great service from the people currently assigned – Kennamer, Peter Truong, etc.

NHUAC president Liz Giba asked about notification when new marijuana businesses are proposed, like recently opened Mr. Buds. Major Howard said they aren’t asked for their opinion at the start, only at renewals.

In an ensuing random discussion, the sheriff noted that she has trouble getting to all her e-mail.

P.S. 9:30-11 am October 3rd at Brass Knuckle Bistro, several KCSO reps will be available for Q&A at “Coffee with a Cop.”

Before the sheriff’s arrival, two members of her local team presented their update:

CRIME UPDATE: Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer (above left) said that KCSO has changed its data-storage methods, so he didn’t have as much data as usual. But they had a lot more “Part 1” crimes than usual. Precinct 4 commander Major Bryan Howard joined Kennamer at the front of the room and explained that every department in the U.S. is converting to a better way to parse data – but comparing new stats with old ones under the old system is apples to oranges. He said crime is going to look higher because “the way we are counting it” has changed. The shift, Howard said, happened back on July 16th. They are writing reports in a new system, too. Everything is compliant with NIBRS (explained here). He does believe auto theft is trending slightly higher. Kennamer said some repeat offenders are back on the street. Major Howard noted that juvenile offenders are now booked only for the most serious things.

The precinct currently has 31 officers but at full staffing should have 42, Howard said. They’re recruiting but it’s tough. Full staffing would mean 3 officers at a time in White Center rather than 2, and would mean more proactive policing, “the kind of policing we want to do, the kind of policing our new sheriff wants us to do.”

Howard also talked about the Myers Way encampment zone and said that about six weeks ago, they looked into concerns that campers had spilled into the unincorporated area. Those concerns turned out to be unfounded, he said; a grand total of one person was found camping outside city limits.

Giba asked for a status update on the Burien murders. Major Howard said there were no updates that he could discuss.

Also at Thursday night’s NHUAC meeting:

PLANT AMNESTY: Former NHUAC board member Dominic Barrera is now the executive director of this organization founded by the late Cass Turnbull.

Since taking over Plant Amnesty, Barrera said, he’s worked to broaden the organization’s audience beyond its North Seattle-heavy focus. Toward that end, PA will be offering classes in White Center starting this fall – first one, 7 pm Wednesday, September 19th, at North Highline Fire District HQ. October 24th and November 14th will be the two following classes – the topics include pruning. Barrera said he’s been learning too – “my rose bushes are better than ever, my Japanese maple is better than ever …”

He also discussed the Seattle tree-ordinance controversy. He said one big concern is the removal of “exceptional trees” from the protections in the new proposal. He also noted that the ordinance has now been placed on a slower track and won’t likely be voted on until early next year. He said one thing advocates will do in the meantime is case studies. NHUAC vice president Barbara Dobkin noted that in this area, “it’s a free for all” and “legacy trees” are being cut down with impunity. Barrera said an attempt to craft a countywide tree ordinance failed years ago.

REDEVELOPMENT: In downtown White Center, the former Club Evolucion and former Fantasy Shop are owned by the same investor and both will be split into multiple business spaces, Deputy Kennamer said he had learned. He also noted the work that’s under way on the new Greenbridge development on the east end of the area, off 4th SW.

ANNOUNCEMENTS: Upcoming events include the White Center Food Bank gala at the Brockey Center on October 20th and the Southwest Youth and Family Services gala on October 27th. .. The White Center Eagles are having a First Responders Appreciation Dinner, 3-6 pm September 16th, free for any first responder …the White Center Art Walk is coming up, too.

UPCOMING MEETINGS: The October meeting will be a candidate forum with 34th District State Senate candidates Shannon Braddock and Joe Nguyen. In November, the King County Land Conservation Initiative is a planned topic, and they’re hoping for a state Liquor and Cannabis Board followup. In December, NHUAC is looking toward a legislative focus with State Reps. Joe Fitzgibbon and Eileen Cody, plus the State Senate seat winner. … NHUAC meets on first Thursdays most months, 7 pm at NHFD HQ (1243 SW 112th).

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King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht to visit North Highline Unincorporated Area Council this Thursday

September 3rd, 2018 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, North Highline UAC, White Center news No Comments »

Labor Day’s here and it’s time to look ahead to a full fall for everything from schools to community groups. On the latter front, the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council would love to see you Thursday – here’s the preview:

(See the notice here in full-size PDF.)

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No North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting tonight, but …

July 5th, 2018 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on No North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting tonight, but …

From the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

Please note that the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council will not be holding meetings in July and August. Regular monthly meetings will resume on Thursday, Sept 6 @ 7 pm. Hope to see then.

In the meantime, stop by the NHUAC booth at Jubilee Days, Saturday, July 21st.

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council
Meetings: First Thursday of the month, 7 pm
Where: North Highline Fire Station
1243 SW 112th Street

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From babies to baseball and beyond @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

June 8th, 2018 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, WestSide Baby, White Center news 2 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council is now on summer semi-hiatus after another information-packed meeting at North Highline Fire District HQ in White Center:

NEW BOARD MEMBER: Wendell Davis, a local USPS worker and dad of 4, long active in the community including sports coaching, has joined the NHUAC board.

WESTSIDE BABY: This organization helping local families “to provide the essential items that every child needs to be safe, warm, and dry” has long been headquartered in White Center, but this was executive director Nancy Woodland‘s first appearance.

She stood beneath a photo long displayed in the fire station that happens to show her husband – a North Highline FD firefighter – and child. In 2017, WestSide Baby served more than 40,000 kids in western King County. She explained how WS Baby works, with two locations now – besides the WC HQ, there’s also a location opened earlier this year in South Lake Union, and drop-off sites for strollers, car seats, diapers, etc., all over the county. They partner with more than 110 social-service agencies. They don’t provide housing; they don’t provide money. “We are experts at just providing the material items” that families need as they get back on their feet again. She told the story of helping a single dad raising his baby who couldn’t afford items beyond a “bucket car seat” in which the child was spending all waking and sleeping hours. It’s not just about feeling good, Woodland said, there’s science and research behind why this matters – Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. “Something as small as a diaper can change the world.” Another analogy: It’s like helping somebody push a boulder uphill.

Ways you can help – Stuff the Bus month is July, the Bus Bash is July 22nd, during Jubilee Days (the WS Baby school bus will be in the parade again this year), and clients will be invited to WS Baby for the event for the first time – the community’s invited too. They run on volunteer power and tomorrow are moving their distribution area to get more room, because their distribution numbers have doubled in just the past year and a half. “Every single child deserves love, and deserves joy, and deserves to know that they matter,” she concluded.

MARY’S PLACE UPDATE: More than a year after Mary’s Place opened a shelter in the former King County Public Health building next to the White Center Food Bank, a rep came to talk about the property they’ve just bought in Burien. “This does not mean we’re leaving White Center,” said Liz McDaniel, to cheers. She explained they have changed their staffing structure so “one person will be in charge of one building.” Meantime, they hope to open the new Burien location – a former rehab center – the first week of August. They hope community volunteers will help them get the Burien site ready as they did before WC opened. It will have a capacity of 218 people – “about 60 families.” Among the work they are doing are painting bright colors and expanding the dining room – the building’s been vacant a year so it needs cleaning, refreshing, setting up the rooms. Their work days will likely be in late July. This will be their furthest-south location so they will be working with the Highline school district as well as likely some to the south. It will also be their fifth 24-hour facility. Asked how many families are exiting into housing, McDaniel said it averages one a week.

KING COUNTY LIBRARY SYSTEM: Angie Benedetti, who manages “the six libraries surrounding the airport,” came to talk about the imminent remodeling of the Boulevard Park branch –

KCLS has just announced that the branch will close for up to nine months starting June 24th. She said that just this past month, they have eked out a little money from the 1 Percent for Art program and the branch will get some original work by Barbara Earl Thomas. It’ll be incorporated into the meeting-room glass. (A few windows will be added to the branch in the remodel, by the way.) The contractor who is handling the job might get it done faster – KCLS has worked with them elsewhere and “had a really great experience,” she said. They aren’t yet planning to add any hours at other branches to make up for the closure. What will the library’s staff be doing during the closure? They’ll move to other branches temporarily – some to Burien, some to White Center, some to Tukwila. P.S. The branch’s beloved “donut table” will be staying, restored and refinished.

KING COUNTY COMMUNITY AND HOUSING DEVELOPMENT: Mark Ellerbrook spoke about affordable housing in the North Highline/WC area, distributing paper copies of a map with approximate locations of sites where he says it is available. NHUAC president Liz Giba said she had wanted a list of the properties and how many bedrooms their units had, to compare with an inventory she had taken a year or so ago. She is concerned about an overconcentration in this area. Ellerbrook said he believes the county Housing Authority owns about eight properties. Fair housing “is a really important question,” he acknowledged, saying they are talking with various neighborhoods about “what is the fair share” and what responsibilities communities have. Ellerbrook also said that more housing is ultimately the solution for getting people out of shelters, such as the families that Mary’s Place is helping in White Center and, soon, in Burien, as mentioned earlier in the meeting. “The way that they get people out of their shelter is that they have a place to move to.”

Giba also brought up the under-construction Southside complex in Top Hat, which she says she’s been told will potentially house up to 1,500 people.

Accused by one attendee of concentrating low-income residents with “slums” resulting, Ellerbrook said, “That’s certainly not our intention.” Another attendee asked if the county is campaigning for higher wages so that there are fewer low-income residents; Ellerbrook said that’s outside the housing bailiwick but the county does have multiple employment-related programs. A discussion of earnings and low-income housing qualification ensued, as well as a point often made in similar discussions – that publicly owned projects don’t result in property-tax revenue to support community infrastructure. “So what’s really happening is that our local taxpayers are supplementing and making up the difference,” Giba observed.

KING COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE: New Southwest Precinct commander Maj. Bryan Howard said he started his career in the precinct in 1991, and has moved around since then, but has always considered this “his home precinct. … I have returned to this precinct at every rank.”

He said they are focused on three things:

-Crimefighting, so everyone feels safe doing “whatever they want to do.”
-Community engagement. “If you don’t know at least one officer by name, then we’ve failed … we need to be out and about in the community.”
-Taking care of our officers – being sure they know they are appreciated and supported, among other things.

Maj. Howard also brought up an issue that’s often arisen at NHUAC meetings – what’s done with tax revenue from marijuana? He said they’re requesting that one full-time DUI-handling officer be funded with that money.

He was followed by storefront deputy Bill Kennamer, who handed out the latest crime stats – K-1 is White Center, K-11 is Seola and vicinity, K-7 is Boulevard Park and unincorporated South Park and vicinity – and while auto theft is up year to year in all three areas, it’s down from Kennamer’s last NHUAC briefing two months ago.

MARIJUANA SURVEY: NHUAC vice president Barbara Dobkin urged everyone to answer the online survey that was announced during the recent Unincorporated Area Town Hall – ” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>here’s the link.

EVENT ANNOUNCEMENTS: The White Center Food Bank‘s “block party” is coming up Saturday; the WC Community Development Association‘s Refresh (formerly Spring Clean) is coming up too … The Highline Bears‘ season has begun at Steve Cox Memorial Park, and president Russ Pritchard said tomorrow is Jelly Donut Day, which means the first 200 in attendance get a coupon for a free jelly donut at the concession stand … among other promotions, Bring Back the Sonics night (with former Sonics players expected to be on hand) … July 20th is ice-cream night, July 21st will be Food Truck night with eight food trucks due, and they even have a bobblehead night coming up. Here’s the promo schedule. The team has signed a five-year lease with the county. Tickets by the way are $8 adults, under 12 free.

NEXT MEETING: NHUAC won’t meet in July or August, but you’ll see them at Jubilee Days. So at this point, first-Thursday meetings will resume in September – watch northhighlineuac.org for updates.

P.S. Before adjourning, NHUAC board members also agreed to send a joint letter with the Highland Park Action Committee, expressing disappointment in the city of Seattle decision – announced earlier in the day – to give a one-year extension to Camp Second Chance to stay on the Myers Way Parcels. See it here.

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THURSDAY: What you’ll hear/talk about at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s June meeting

June 3rd, 2018 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on THURSDAY: What you’ll hear/talk about at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s June meeting

Just announced by the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council – what’s ahead for Thursday’s monthly meeting:

WestSide Baby has called White Center home for nearly two decades. Although it’s home base is here, WestSide Baby collects, inspects and distributes free diapers, clothing, cribs, and safety gear for children throughout western King County. Executive Director Nancy Woodland will make her first visit to tell us about keeping thousands of children safe, warm and dry!

Place Matters. If you participated in King County’s recent North Highline / White Center Town Hall, you heard many concerns about our neighborhood. If you missed it, here’s a link to WCN’s report.

Where we live determines much about how we live and die. In fact, our zip code can impact life expectancy more than our genetic code. The Fair Housing Act was passed a week after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Still, 50 years later, segregation and inequity continue. In 2015, King County acknowledged that “It is becoming more widely known that King County residents do not enjoy the same health, resources, and opportunities because of their race and where they live.” Valerie Kendall of King County Housing and Community Development will discuss local housing, a significant factor in determining how our community fits into King County’s vision of “a healthy and vibrant community where everyone has a stable home.”

Speaking of stable homes, Mary’s Place has found one! Liz McDaniel will update us on the White Center shelter as well as plans for its new home.

Angie Benedetti of King County Library will have the latest information on the Boulevard Park Library remodel.

Once again, Deputy Bill Kennamer and Captain Rick Bridges will update us about KCSO’s activity.

Then… the floor will be yours!

Knowledge is power. Learn, share, and help make our community a better place.
June 7, 2018 at 7 pm – Bring a Neighbor!

NHUAC meets at North Highline Fire District HQ (1243 SW 112th).

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From HONK Fest to Steve Cox Park updates, what happened at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s May meeting

May 10th, 2018 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on From HONK Fest to Steve Cox Park updates, what happened at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s May meeting

The dinosaur was a special guest at this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, in honor of HONK! Fest West, one of the night’s big topics.

The festival will close some downtown White Center streets on June 2nd, 1 pm to 6 pm. They’re expecting
maybe 30 bands for the three-day fest around the region, but not sure how many will be in White Center.

There are no physical stages. In general – one band area will be near the intersection of 16th and Roxbury, the second about mid-block on 16th, the third will be by the roasted corn stand on 98th, with a fourth still being worked on. Bands will work off a schedule so as not to compete with each other.

There will be some local bands as well as bands from around the US and one from Moscow. (See the list on the HONK! Fest website.)

Donation buckets will be out at the fest.

STEVE COX MEMORIAL PARK: King County Parks says renovation starts after Southwest Little League concludes. The bulk of the work is on the grass fields where the carnival rides were located during Jubilee Days. That area with get synthetic playing fields that are scaled for youth use (i.e. soccer is junior soccer size, baseball diamonds are little league regulation). Parks rep explained that the renovations are to encourage youth sports and activities. A 10-foot paved walking path will be put around the new synthetic fields. Youth sports will get first priority for use, but there will be times open to the public.

General benefit of all this is drainage, as the old grass field had cancellations after heavy rain. Tennis and basketball courts will remain open; programs in the log house will go on through construction, which should be complete in October.

The cottonwood trees are being removed; new dogwoods and white firs will be planted.

Because the synthetic fields are going in, the amusement rides will have to be relocated for the carnival, and that’s still being worked on. The Parks rep would not commit to a new location despite everything that’s been said about moving it to one of the schoolyards.

KING COUNTY BUDGET: Dwight Dively also spoke to NHUAC. He is director of the Office of Performance, Strategy, and Budget.

He said that the two areas that area most under pressure are the general fund and roads. He said King County gets less revenue from certain areas than many of the surrounding counties. That’s due to incorporation within King County that took many of the major tax contributors (e.g. car dealerships) out of the equation.

He ended by saying that counties get the short end of state funding and County Executive Dow Constantine is putting together a variety of people to see how that can get changed. The working group’s full report to Dow will be ready this fall.

Also from county government:

A DEPARTMENT FOR LOCAL SERVICES? Following up on this January announcement, Alan Painter said he’s on an outreach/listening tour. The county council will discuss this in the fall and may or may not approve the plan. Painter said he was there to hear what things people might want included in such a department. Overall the idea is to create a group that is in touch with the unincorporated areas to hear their concerns and be the department those people can go to taht will wade through the bureaucracy to get answers or possible fixes. Meantime, the annual unincorporated areas’ town halls are coming up; the one for White Center/North Highline will be on May 29th, 7 pm at Seola Gardens, 10900 4th SW.

KING COUNTY SHERIFF: Auto thefts are up, and so are stolen-vehicle recoveries.

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

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AT NHUAC THIS MONTH: Find out about HONK! Fest, county budget, Steve Cox Memorial Park changes, more!

April 30th, 2018 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 1 Comment »

Just announced:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When: Thursday, May 3, 2018 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!

Social justice and democracy can be fun and HONK! Fest will prove it! Help bring out the spirit of our community and make HONK! Fest a great way to spend the first Saturday in June. This month, NHUAC will be joined by HONK!’s Erik Peters. Eric will tell us what we need to know to help spread the word about the free, community music festival that is coming to White Center!

Speaking of democracy and social justice, a budget is often called a moral document because it reflects vales and priorities. The process used by our elected representatives to make decisions and how they spend our tax dollars are important aspects of how our government does or doesn’t work. The decision-making process used by King County and the upcoming two-year budget are both on this month’s agenda.

The time to learn about King County’s 2019 and 2020 budget process is now. To that end, Dwight Dively, King County’s Budget Director, will join us. He’ll be joined by Alan Painter, the Manager of the King County Community Service Areas program. Alan will explain a proposed Department of Local Services to “develop new and better ways to serve” unincorporated King County.

We will also hear from Frana Milan of King County Parks. Frana will update us on changes that will be made to Steve Cox Memorial Park.

True to form, Deputy Bill Kennamer will update us once again about police activity in our community.

Then… the floor will be yours!

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

May 3, 2018 at 7 pm – Bring a Neighbor!

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Library, levy, and more @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s April 2018 meeting

April 9th, 2018 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on Library, levy, and more @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s April 2018 meeting

Another information-laden meeting for the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council this past Thursday night. Two of the guests were recorded on video, starting with the new head of the King County Library System:

(Video from NHUAC April 5, 2018, meeting, recorded as livestreamed by David Krause)

KCLS director Lisa Rosenblum has been on the job now for about three months. The upcoming renovation of the Boulevard Park branch was a major concern for NHUAC. It’s going out to bid in May, with construction starting in June and lasting about nine months, so by this time next year, the work should be done and the library should be back open. In the meantime, other branches including White Center and Burien will be ready to handle the increased usage, and they will evaluate how that goes before deciding whether there’s any other way to provide services to the people who won’t be able to access the BP branch.

She was followed by Leo Flor, talking about the King County veterans/seniors/human-services levy renewal approved by votes last year. For the next six years, it’s taxing you 10 cents for every $1,000 valuation of your property. Next year, it will generate $54 million, and the money will go to housing, social engagement, health services for veterans, seniors – defined as people 55 years old and over – and their caregivers, and other “vulnerable populations.” (There’s a four-page definition of what that means, Flor noted.) Some of the money will aim at preventing homelessness by addressing housing instability and disrepair, as well as providing legal advice to help people stave off eviction if possible. Asked how much of the money would go to administrative costs, Flor said that’s capped at five percent.

The area commander of the Disabled American Veterans organization, Ron Bryant, a U.S. Navy veteran, said DAV is actually for all veterans, and their Delridge HQ is ready to serve any veteran from anywhere in the state. They’re particularly concerned with homeless veterans and meet with them frequently to offer information and referrals, as well as food; toward that end, the local chapter welcomes donations of food and money.

Also at the NHUAC meeting, a briefing from the King County Sheriff’s Office. Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer was there with an update on trends and stats. He discussed the recent Smoke Shop raid, saying the business has moved to a different location and authorities are keeping watch on that. He also said investigators were looking into whether a suspect killed in a shootout with officers in Federal Way a few days earlier was linked to property crimes in this area.

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

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Meet the new King County Library System director, talk about community safety, and more on Thursday @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

April 2nd, 2018 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on Meet the new King County Library System director, talk about community safety, and more on Thursday @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

The agenda is out for this Thursday’s monthly meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

When: Thursday, April 5, 2018 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!

At last month’s NHUAC meeting, KCSO’s gang expert shared some insights into local gangs and what they look like. Poverty and neighborhoods matter. The recent murders of a local middle-school girl and a 19-year-old in Burien brought the truth of Detective Gagliardi’s words home.

How did we become a community where 10-year-olds are gang members and witnesses to murder? Although we can only begin the conversation this month, please be sure that NHUAC will not avoid it.

Deputy Bill Kennamer and Captain Rick Bridges, head of Operations for Precinct 4, will join us this month to update us about police activity in our community. It has been a busy month.

On the upside….

Lisa Rosenblum is the new director of the King County Library System. She has been described as “…undaunted by challenges, our geographic reach, and our mission to serve our diverse population of patrons.” Ms. Rosenblum will join us to share her perspective after almost 3 months on the job. Please join us in welcoming her!

The Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy will provide $24 million in housing investments. Executive Constantine recently sent his Implementation Plan to the King County Council. Leo Flor, VSHSL Levy Renewal Manager, will educate us about the plan and timeline.

Community member Wendell Davis will be back with some of his fellow veterans to tell us more about Disabled American Veterans and its local chapter.

Then… the floor will be yours!

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

April 5, 2018 at 7 pm – Bring a Neighbor!

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VIDEO: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council gets gang briefing, encampment update

March 4th, 2018 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 3 Comments »

(NHUAC March 1, 2018, meeting recorded as livestreamed by David Krause)

By Linda Ball
Reporting for White Center Now

Some good news about gang activity in White Center/Burien, according to Detective Joe Gagliardi with the King County Sheriff’s Office: Most of the trouble has settled down since what he said was an eight-month gang war in the area last year.

Det. Gagliardi addressed about 30 people Thursday night (March 1st) at the monthly meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council at NH Fire District headquarters. Gagliardi is the gang expert for KCSO and the head of its gang unit.

Most of us have the idea of what gangs are supposed to look like from what is depicted in movies, television, and mass media, he said. However, the reality is different because most of those images are dated. “Race doesn’t mean a thing – it’s about where you’re from and your neighborhood,” he said. In fact, the leader of the “Mexican Mafia” was white, he added. Gagliardi said gang members tend to have other things in common such as poverty, or abuse and neglect when they were children. Gang affiliation is often passed down through generations. Age is not a barrier either, because the younger they start, they’ll just go to juvenile detention for a short time, and be back on the street.

Although things have calmed down in White Center and Burien, that doesn’t mean gangs aren’t here. The two distinct sub-cultures in King County are L.A. and Chicago based gangs. (For their names and other details, watch Gagliardi’s presentation in the NHUAC video embedded above – he spoke right at the start of the meeting, until about 51 minutes into the video.) They all have their own distinctive colors, numbers, and sometimes symbols.

To recognize gang graffiti as opposed to taggers who consider their graffiti as art, he said it’s important to recognize that gang graffiti has a purpose. It’s not very artistic – for example, gangs do not use bubble letters, rather their tags are very linear, monochromatic, and meant to claim territory or issue a challenge.

Gang graffiti tells police which gangs are active in the area, which gangs are allies, which gangs are enemies and what areas they claim as their territory. “It’s an incredible intelligence source for us because it names active gang members,” he said. That’s because they usually include their street names in what is called a roll call. The other types of gang graffiti are for publicity, issuing a threat, expressing sympathy for a fallen member, political statements or simply to claim territory.

What he told those at the meeting was to NOT strike out a gang message and write your own graffiti next to it, because it is considered an act of disrespect and you could set yourself up for violent retaliation. Call the police when you see new graffiti, paint over it as soon as you can to deter recurrence, but not before the police come out – or at least before you take a photo of it yourself. If you believe it’s gang graffiti, be sure to call it in rather than reporting it online, he said.

Although the “artistic” taggers aren’t gang members, it’s still vandalism. They tend to go for high-visibility locations, like freeway overpasses so they can “share” their art. They’re the taggers responsible for vandalism via sticker, too. The good news, Gagliardi said, is that there has been no gang tagging recently in the area.

In Q&A, the detective was asked about gunfire along Myers Way last year. Was it gang-related? He said he had no specific information about it, but said that if and when gunfire/suspected gunfire happens – anywhere – call 911.

CAMP SECOND CHANCE: Josh Castle and Amy Friedman with the Low Income Housing Institute visited NHUAC with an update on Camp Second Chance, the City of Seattle-sanctioned encampment along Myers Way, just north of the city-county border. Presently, there are eight tiny houses on site, approximately 120 square feet, and LIHI has upgraded 10 tents that were in disrepair to sturdy shelter lodging tents. Castle said his vision was to eventually replace all the tents with tiny houses, which are built on skids so as to be easily moved. The tiny houses are not paid for by the city – Castle said it’s a community effort.

There are now about 50 residents in the drug-and-alcohol-free community. Electricity is available in the camp, and some of the tiny houses do have electricity so they have heat. Of course, the long-term solution to the homeless crisis is for people to transition into permanent housing, and Castle said about 300 people from the various city-sanctioned camps have made the move into permanent housing.

Also not tolerated in the camp is violence. Friedman, who serves as case manager at the camp, said she has never felt unsafe, as everyone in the community is very independent and enthusiastic about the community. Her job is to help residents find employment and other resources to help them get back on their feet. “I genuinely enjoy working with everyone at the camp,” Friedman said.

Not everyone is as enthusiastic about the camp, however. Neighbor Pat LeMoine, who has lived on Myers Way for more than 20 years, said the encampment is a “magnet” for trouble. LeMoine said in the past three years his neighborhood has become a “war zone.”

“What you guys are doing is traumatizing my lifestyle,” LeMoine said. “My neighborhood is in a state of terror.” He referenced the “landslide” of trash, visible from highway 509, from unauthorized campers nearby. He and his partner Carol Sivertz, have called 911 numerous times reporting gunfire, open drug use, and even a two-by-four left in his driveway used to smash into a neighbor’s vehicle. He said he was probably next, but he scared the perpetrator off.

Castle said the trash was not associated with the camp, with Friedman adding that the residents of Camp Second Chance are equally frustrated with the bad element nearby. It didn’t matter to LeMoine, who said he’d be happy to see the encampment go when its time is up.

CRIME AND SAFETY: KCSO Captain Rick Bridges and Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer reported that resources were being spent in downtown White Center on the block of 16th Ave. SW that is home to several bars and restaurants where there has been some trouble, including the January double murder (for which a suspect was arrested a day after the meeting, as reported here).

DISABLED AMERICAN VETERANS: Another guest at the meeting talked about the DAV’s chapter located in West Seattle at 4857 Delridge Way SW, where they have monthly meetings, third Saturdays, 11 am. If you’re a veteran in need, check them out – here’s their website.

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets first Thursdays most months, 7 pm at North Highline Fire District HQ. Check northhighlineuac.org for updates.

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Gang detective, encampment operator on March 1st agenda for North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

February 25th, 2018 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on Gang detective, encampment operator on March 1st agenda for North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

Next monthly meeting of this area’s community council, the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, is on Thursday (March 1st) – here’s the announcement of what’s planned:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When: Thursday, March 1, 2018 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!

This month’s NHUAC meeting will include Detective Joe Gagliardi of the King County Sheriff’s Office. Detective Gagliardi is a highly regarded expert on gangs. Have you wondered whether the graffiti you’ve been seeing is gang related? Have you heard stories about local gang activity and crime? Don’t miss this rare opportunity to learn from the expert.

Captain Rick Bridges, KCSO’s new head of Operations for Precinct 4, and Deputy Bill Kennamer, White Center’s Storefront Deputy, will fill us in on other community concerns.

“DAV exists for veterans and their families. By fulfilling promises, we ensure America’s bravest sons and daughters are never forgotten.” North Highline community member Wendell Davis will introduce us to Disabled American Veterans and its local chapter on Delridge.

Also joining us will be Josh Castle of the Low Income Housing Institute. In 2013, LIHI partnered with Nickelsville to host and operate a homeless camp in Seattle. Today, LIHI manages several Seattle sites, including Camp 2nd Chance on Myers Way. Josh will share the latest news about our homeless neighbors living just over our border with Seattle.

Then… floor will be yours!

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

March 1, 2018 at 7 pm – Bring a Neighbor!

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Lots learned @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s first 2018 meeting

February 2nd, 2018 Tracy Posted in Libraries, North Highline UAC, White Center news 3 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Schools, trash, libraries, public safety – many services that touch most local lives were on the agenda Thursday night as the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council led its first community meeting of the year.

HIGHLINE PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Aaron Garcia from the White Center Community Development Association and Duggan Harman from the school district‘s Finance Department spoke about the February 13 levy vote.

It’s a levy renewal, at a lower rate than the previous levy. They showed this video featuring a student explaining the levy:

That led to a general discussion of the state continuing to underfund public education. That’s not all directly in voters’ control – but this levy is. You’ll find more information about the levy and the voting process here. Get your ballot in by 8 pm on Election Day (February 13th) if you’re dropping it off at the White Center Library dropbox – or if you’re putting it in the mail, be certain it’ll be postmarked by that day.

KING COUNTY’S DRAFT COMPREHENSIVE SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT PLAN: A guest from the county gave a presentation on this draft plan that’s in the middle of a two-month public-comment period. He had these stats:
-King County serves 37 cities (not Seattle and Milton)
-6 urban transfer stations (Bow Lake is the closest one)
-4 rural transfer facilities
-9 closed landfills
-1 open landfill (Cedar Hills)

He said the county is aiming for 70 percent recycling – but the current rate is only 52 percent. And that’s part of the problem leading to the impending maxing out of the Cedar Hills Landfill, which will be full by 2028 unless new capacity is developed. Three options are being addressed for that last challenge – “further develop” the landfill to extend its life to 2040, take waste by rail to another landfill outside the county, or “build a waste-to-energy facility in King County.” (Seattle already sends its trash out of the area – to an Oregon landfill.) The timeline for sorting this all out is due around year’s end, with final state approval next year. They’ve already had two public open houses about all this and there’s one more, February 7th at the King County Library Service Center in Issaquah.

An attendee asked what “waste to energy” might mean. Depends on where the plant would be built, was the reply – and the plant itself would cost more than a billion dollars to build. And even if trash were burned to generate electricity, that would leave ash that would have to be taken to a landfill somewhere. Asked how Governor Inslee’s carbon-tax proposal would affect that, the county rep said they weren’t sure yet.

You can read the draft plan (and find out more about it and the comment process) by going here.

Also – a “fix it” event is coming up in White Center, 9:30 am-12:30 pm March 24th – find out more about that here.

METRO TRANSIT POLICE: Resource Officer Deputy Michael Martinez says he’s “in White Center all the time” as part of the job. He came with several concerns – including the 15th/Roxbury bus stop’s ongoing troubles, and planning for the Route 120 conversion to the RapidRide H Line. The route’s “pretty much going to stay the same in White Center,” with four fewer stops, he said. 15th/107th, 100th/15th, Roxbury/15th, 20th/Roxbury are the stops that’ll be in White Center, and the others will be removed, he said. Construction will start toward year’s end and continue through next year, for the route to be launched in 2020. He said that Metro plans to do what it can to minimize impacts on parking – just a handful of spots will be affected. They’re hoping to put in a crosswalk at 15th/107th (to/from the library). The stairs near Greenbridge will be better-illuminated. He stressed that the county wants to hear any concerns at this stage of planning.

Asked about the 15th/Roxbury bus stop and its challenged, Deputy Martinez said there are plans for cameras and lightning at the shelters in the area.

He also reminded everyone that Transit Police has only about 76 officers for the entire county – no more than six on any given shift. Two of them cover “from Roxbury to Federal Way.” They check the trouble spots, like 15th/Roxbury, several times a shift – but “as is the nature of police work,” they’re not always in the right place at the right time. Things have been “a little better lately” (not counting the 16th SW double murder, which was not at/near a transit stop), he said. He promised monthly updates.

ALSO FROM THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE: Captain Rick Bridges, operations captain for Precinct 4 (which includes unincorporated North Highline), introduced himself. He’s been with KCSO for 19 years and says he’s on his “fourth tour” of this precinct. Lots of change as Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht gets her staff in place – former TV reporter Liz Rocca is her new chief of staff – he said. (william.bridges@kingcounty.gov)

LIBRARY UPDATES: NHUAC heard from King County Library System‘s regional manager Angie Benedetti (whose jurisdiction includes WC, Greenbridge, and Boulevard Park), community conduct coordinator Melissa Munn (whose responsibilities includes security and patron behavior issues), and facilities-design coordinator Adrianne Ralph.

First, they brought an update on the “jewel,” the almost-two-years-old White Center Library. It’s increased circulation and usage, she said. About the recent vandalism, she said the branch has had seven different incidents of window damage since the library opened – from a dog scratching on the window to the November 10th incident that led to six windows being damaged. Total repair costs for all incidents is $42,000. Insurance covered some of that, Benedetti said, but there’s about a $10,000 threshold. She said the number includes “about $12,000 in preventive maintenance that we’ve done,” including adding film on exteriors and interiors of the windows.

A bicycle-repair center that had been installed at the library had to be removed within the first few months because the tools kept getting stolen, she said. They also, after window problems started happening, “removed every single rock on the property.” But – “that didn’t help, whoever it was that was doing it was bringing their own rocks at that point.” And she said, according to the King County Sheriff’s Office, it wasn’t just the library getting targeted – other businesses were getting hit by vandals too. Meantime, they also have a trespass agreement with KCSO so if they “see anyone around the library during closed hours” they are empowered to “move them along.” This includes signage to warn people to stay off the site.

Asked if the glass usage could be reduced – the library team said basically, no. In fact, even the old library had significant window-breakage problems, they added. And overall, the library move did not lead to a major increase in trouble. In response to a question, Benedetti also said someone was reported to have been arrested for rock-throwing, and they haven’t had a problem since that arrest. And she and her collagues noted that other areas of the county were having problems too – this isn’t just a White Center thing and isn’t just a library thing. Nonetheless, at least one attendee said she thinks the community should get more information about these problems, more often.

The Boulevard Park Library‘s interior remodel was explained – including the restrooms being moved to an area with better visibility, to try to reduce the incidence of behavioral incidents. The meeting room is being expanded; “a few more computers” are being added; new finishes; spaces for kids, a dedicated teen area, and more. Ralph said they’re going out to bid soon and hope to have bids back by April, and that “about this time next year” if all goes well, the remodel will be done.

What’ll happen during the eight-or-so-month construction closure? asked NHUAC president Liz Giba. Benedetti said that for one, they’ll be “expanding our mobile services … with materials for all ages.” They might have some kids’ programs at North SeaTac Community Center. They haven’t worked out yet what they might be able to do regarding getting computers into the community for public use.

SEOLA POND FOLLOWUP: Scott Dolfay, who spent a year planning a restoration event at this “unofficial park,” presented a video showing some of what happened on the day that dozens of local students were there to help out from Westside School and Explorer West Middle School. (Added)

He also got private and public donations and grants to help pay for the plants to add to the area, and is working on more. (Here’s some coverage from our partner site West Seattle Blog.) “This is really a special place” that can become “even more special,” Dolfay told NHUAC. He’s also looking into the possibility of introducing native turtles. He expects to be working on the pond area for years.

WHITE CENTER CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: A new effort to get it going again is under way, with the first meeting set for February 5th.

REDEVELOPMENT OF WHITE CENTER FOOD BANK/PUBLIC HEALTH SITE: Garcia said discussions are continuing on this, with the potential of affordable housing.

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets first Thursdays most months, 7 pm at North Highline Fire District HQ – watch northhighlineuac.org for updates between meetings. Guests invited for upcoming meetings include KCSO Gang Detective Joe Gagliardi and the library system’s new director.

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THURSDAY: Community-involvement opportunities @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

January 28th, 2018 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on THURSDAY: Community-involvement opportunities @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

Just announced:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When: Thursday, February 1, 2018 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!

NHUAC invites you to our first community meeting of 2018! If you want to know what is going on in the hood, the White Center Fire Station on the first Thursday of the month is the place to be. This month’s meeting will be sure to interest and inform.

King County Libraries — We will be joined by Angie Benedetti, Regional Manager for West Region of KCLS; Melissa Munn, Community Conduct Coordinator; and Dri Ralph, Facilities Design Coordinator. They will address the vandalism at the White Center Library, the remodel of the Boulevard Park Library and efforts to continue providing services to the community during the remodel.

Highline Schools — Are you ready to vote? Highline voters will be asked to renew a levy on February 13. Duggan Harman, Chief of Staff & Finance for Highline School District, and Aaron Garcia will explain how a levy is different from a bond, why the levy is needed, what it will cost, and answer your questions.

Health and Environment — Do you know that King County is developing a 20-year plan to protect our environment and health with better management of garbage and recycling? Dorian Waller of King County Solid Waste Division will tell us about. Our feedback is needed. Now is the time to get informed!

Seola Pond Restoration — Speaking of the environment, community member Scott Dolfay will share a video of the recent restoration work done at Seola Pond. Prepare to be inspired!

Safety – Meet Deputy Mike Ramirez, the new Transit Resource Officer for Metro Transit Police.

Then… floor will be yours! Do you have something of community import on your mind? Join us and share at NHUAC’s first community meeting of 2018!

See you Thursday, February 1, 2018 at 7 pm

Because Knowledge + Community = Power!

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NORTH HIGHLINE UNINCORPORATED AREA COUNCIL: You’re invited to board meeting Thursday

January 9th, 2018 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on NORTH HIGHLINE UNINCORPORATED AREA COUNCIL: You’re invited to board meeting Thursday

Just in:

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council will be holding a board meeting on Thursday, January 11, 6:30 pm at White Center Pizza (10231 16th Ave SW). Please feel free to join us for food and to share your community concerns as we move into this new year.

COMMUNITY MATTERS
Be Informed
Be Involved
Be Heard

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REMINDER: First regular North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting of 2018 will be in February

January 1st, 2018 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on REMINDER: First regular North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting of 2018 will be in February

From the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

Just a reminder. North Highline Unincorporated Area Council will not be holding a meeting on Thursday, January 4. We plan on having a board meeting in January that the public is invited to attend, date and time to be announced. Our regular first Thursday of the month meetings will resume on February 1, 2018.

Our NHUAC coverage is archived here – and you can watch videos of NHUAC meetings here.

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: RapidRide H Line update; crime briefing; youth drug-abuse education…

December 7th, 2017 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: RapidRide H Line update; crime briefing; youth drug-abuse education…

From the December meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

METRO TRANSIT: Route 120 between Delridge, White Center, and Burien will become RapidRide H Line, and planning is intensifying. So NHUAC was briefed by community-relations and public-engagement manager Jenna Franklin and RapidRide planning-and-implementation manager Alex Kiheri.

He explained how RR works – the goal is “speed and reliability,” the buses are different (you might have seen the red/yellow buses on existing RR lines such as C between West Seattle and South Lake Union), and other things. Metro is expected to add 13 new RR lines by 2025, and H Line will be the second.

The 120 currently has 9,200 daily trips, 25 percent morning, 30 percent evening, the rest spread out among the other hours. Saturday has 5,600 trips, Sunday has 4,300. RR tries to “run a longer span of service, more frequently” throughout the day. It offers “passenger amenities” such as “inviting” bus stops. Communication technology allows them to run a connected service – including offering online information so you know how far away your bus is and when it’s likely to arrive.

And Kiheri mentioned that Metro and SDOT are working together on the route, especially regarding the section that serves Westwood Village, and White Center. “Area 4” is what you’ll want to look for when you come to upcoming open houses – one of the areas where it’s “critical to plan well so the service can perform well.” White Center itself will be a particularly “interesting place” for investments, since it’s governed by the county, and Metro is a service provided by the county. That included a grant-inspired opportunity to improve a connection (“missing link” type area) along SW 100th in the Greenbridge community; Metro requested a $940,000 grant to “build that missing link” including sidewalks and bike facilities, and was “ranked very highly” so there’s a “strong possibility” they’ll get that grant to put in those improvements while the H Line is being set up. The grant had a strong level of community support, the Metro reps pointed out; NHUAC president Liz Giba noted that the group had written a letter contributing to that.

If you’re interested in the route conversion, you’ll want to go to one of two open houses that Metro has scheduled for next month:

Wednesday, January 10th from 5-8 p.m.
Burien Community Center, Shorewood Room
14700 6th Ave SW, Burien

Thursday, January 11th from 5-8 p.m.
Mount View Elementary School, Cafeteria/Multi-purpose Room
10811 12th Ave SW, White Center

They also will be mailing an announcement of those dates to about 28,000 people “along the line,” as well as putting up flyers and posters. There’s also a survey online, if you haven’t already participated.

In West Seattle discussion of RapidRide H Line so far, there’s been concern about stops being too far apart, per typical RR. Kiheri said they’re looking for a “middle ground” – every third of a mile or so, with quarter-mile space in some spots. He noted that some “underperforming stops” already had been taken out back in 2012.

CRIME BRIEFING: Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer provided the newest information. He mentioned the 98th/15th SW homicide, with the victim having been shot and killed after trying to attack the shooter a third time. It does not appear the shooter, 16, will be charged, except for a gun violation. (Here’s the most-recent report we published on the case.)

Regarding crime in general – no significant increases year to year, but auto theft is running high – not so many stolen cars being found in this area though. Residential burglaries have spiked a bit, and the concentration area is around 17th/Roxbury.

General concerns involved trash dumped “all over,” as community member Gill Loring put it. He suggested a community meeting/discussion is in order.

A discussion about problems at the White Center Library, from broken windows to loitering, ensued. Kennamer said he had suggested that the library play music to discourage loitering – as is done across the city line outside Meat The Live Butcher. Giba mentioned she has invited the King County Library System to the February NHUAC meeting, to talk about a variety of things, not just problems.

COALITION FOR DRUG-FREE YOUTH: Rudy Garza from the coalition and Shoshana Mahmood from the Puget Sound Educational Service District started the meeting.

Garza said the coalition is in its sixth year of educating youth about drugs, alcohol, and tobacco – not to urge abstinence, but to offer “positive alternatives.” He cited a 2012 survey showing that youth in this community weren’t engaged – in school or the community. He said an anti-litter campaign created after that, in partnership with Cascade Middle School, “is ongoing to that day.” Getting “positive things to be involved with” affects their decisions about drugs and alcohol. Right now they’re awaiting word on funding, whether they’ll get grant money to keep Mahmood’s position funded – there’s money to continue it through the end of the school year, but after that, it’s a question mark. Navos has been funding the coalition and is the ultimate decisionmaker. They hope to kick off a billboard campaign in January, in English and Spanish, concurrent with a social-media and poster campaign.

Mahmood says she has worked with youth a long time, even before this position as drug/alcohol counselor at Cascade, which is part time. She also is involved with a prevention team that’s about to start work with Mary’s Place (which operates a White Center family shelter) after school winter break. Helping to educate students about self-determination, that they can make choices and decisions, is part of what she does. She is concerned that, aside from substance concerns, youth are over-stimulated by social media and entertainment, “a lot of surface-level stuff.” She is currently working one-on-one with 17 students. When she’s with them, they “talk about family and community the most.” Their concerns and fears include everything from what’s happening at home to bullying at school, and many say they don’t feel safe – “they talk about getting robbed all the time, at knifepoint and gunpoint,” but the school can only do so much – “once they’re off school grounds, they’re on their own.” Since marijuana legalization, awareness and curiosity have gone up, and vaping – which often comes with flavoring – seems rampant, she said. Kids tell her they are interested in the smell, the flavor, the clouds of smoke – nicotine vaping as well as cannabis vaping.

Garza said Mahmood also is supposed to be working at Evergreen High School but they’ve been working to find space for her. And he noted that an added stress for some youth these days is worrying that ICE may be coming for their parents – so drugs and alcohol might be used as an escape. And he said that a Latino youth with whom he had worked had spoken about being harassed and attacked by a group of white youths who yelled “go back to where you came from” – they find themselves spending time stressing that not everyone is against them, and that they can and should call law enforcement for help. Speaking of law enforcement – as they continue working to solidify funding, they also are working with the King County Sheriff’s Office to see if there’s some synergy with KCSO funding related to marijuana.

The next coalition meeting is next Wednesday, December 13th, noon-1:30 pm (lunch is served), at Seola Gardens (11215 5th SW).

Also announced at the meeting:

SEOLA POND: An update from Scott Dolfay, who’s been working on restoration – he’s expecting student volunteers one week from today, on December 14th. (More details on his project are in our September NHUAC report.) “It’s all coming together really well,” he said, after detailing the materials he’s been rustling up and plans he’s been making. The work is on the west side of the pond, along 30th SW.

CAMP SECOND CHANCE: NHUAC’s Pat Price mentioned the work party set for December 15th to build “supertents” (details are in our partner site West Seattle Blog‘s report on CSC’s Community Advisory Committee meeting from last weekend).

FESTIVUS PARTY THIS WEEKEND: As previewed here, the Jubilee Days fundraiser is this Saturday.

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets the first Thursday of most months – not in January, though, so February 1st is the next meeting – 7 pm, at North Highline Fire District HQ (1243 SW 112th). Watch northhighlineuac.org between meetings for updates.

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s last meeting of 2017 next Thursday

December 2nd, 2017 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s last meeting of 2017 next Thursday

From the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council – news of its next meeting:

When: Thursday, December 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!

November’s NHUAC meeting confirmed that North Highline has more than its fair share of retail cannabis businesses. This month, we will learn more about the Coalition for Drug-Free Youth and what it is doing to help create a safe and healthy environment for our young people and community. Our guests will be the coalition’s Coordinator, Rudy Garza, and Sheshana Mahmood, Prevention and Intervention Specialist at Cascade Middle School and Evergreen High School. We will also learn about new challenges facing the coalition. This is our chance to support an organization that supports our community!

Have you taken a bus lately? As more people are moving to our area, public transit is becoming more important and crowded. Alex Kiheri, RapidRide Program Manager, and Jenna Franklin of King County’s Department of Transportation’s Community Relations and Public Engagement, will share information about the future of transit in White Center, including: the proposed Route 120 upgrade, potential benefits of the project, and opportunities to improve access to transit. Could more sidewalks be in our future?

We’ll also be welcoming back KCSO Deputy Bill Kennamer who will share crime updates, answer our questions, and increase our awareness of what is happening on the streets of North Highline.

Then, the floor will be yours! Do you have an announcement or something of community import on your mind? Join us and share at NHUAC’s last meeting of 2017!

See you Thursday, December 7, 2017 at 7 pm

Because Knowledge and Community Are Power!

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Marijuana-business Q&A and more at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s November meeting

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

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

What’s been a concern for a long time – the concentration of marijuana stores in North Highline – was aired Thursday night at the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, with a panel of state and county reps answering questions.

MARIJUANA DISCUSSION: Panelists were State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, regulations analyst Frank O’Dell, enforcement Capt. Tim Thompson, and licensing supervisor Mistie Jones from the state Liquor and Cannabis Board; Karen Freeman from the King County Executive’s office; associate planner Jake Tracy and planner Kevin LeClair from the county planning department.

“You’re saturated with the retail stores,” O’Dell acknowledged in response to the opening question by NHUAC president Liz Giba about how this area compares to others in terms of the presence of marijuana businesses. Nine of the 17 unincorporated-area licensees are in North Highline, O’Dell said. “What sticks out like a sore thumb is that you have more than 50 percent of the retail stores in unincorporated King County in this community.”

Why is that?

“Because the license applicants chose this community,” O’Dell said.

Tracy explained that retail businesses are allowed in two zones. Over the years, King County has lost some of those zones as unincorporated areas have become parts of cities. So this area is the largest remaining in that zoning class. Also, landlords’ willingness to rent to these types of businesses can be a factor, he said.

Next question – how does the density of those businesses compare to nearby areas such as Burien and West Seattle? (We know the latter has two. Burien has two, someone from the audience said.) O’Dell said the state originally planned to allocate 334 licenses for stores. Then a bill passed asking LCB to look into more licenses, so “the board decided to add 222 additional, for 556 total.” Some cities were “allocated specific numbers,” he said, “so they won’t all congregate in one specific area.”

Cities and counties can impose their own limits on how many stores, O’Dell said after a back-and-forth about allotment of licenses per specific areas.

“So shouldn’t someone who wants to open a store get a license from the state before applying to the county?” asked Giba.

O’Dell said you would think – but there’s no state law that says they have to get the state license first. Tracy said that multiple jurisdictions are often involved in situations where someone is pursuing a new enterprise – like a development project, for example. He also said that the county does include “community business zones” that could be eligible for marijuana stores, in Fall City, for example.

The possibility of expanding the areas is under study by the County Council, an attendee pointed out.

Freeman explained, “When the county took a look at where they wanted to make this use available, the zones they chose were community business and regional. Then we heard from the community a concern about the number of stores, so we put in a new buffer. The council said, let’s take a look at other zones and have a study. That study is under way.” Yes, but that study was due last December, per an attendee. Freeman said the delay was because it was under the purview of a fee-funded department.

Another attendee said he’s visited local marijuana stores and is “pretty impressed by how they work,” but the concentration bothers him because it’s potentially affecting property values and the crime rate. “You can’t have it all in one concentration area, which isn’t good for the community.”

Freeman said that’s what the “buffer” was about. LeClair elaborated on it, saying that after the businesses clustered in North Highline and Skyway/West Hill, the council said that no two businesses can open within 1,000 feet of each other (though the existing ones are grandfathered – “we can’t put legitimate legal businesses out of business (because of this) unintended consequence”).

Can marijuana excise tax be used for more research or something else to alleviate the situation? an attendee asked. Freeman said that the money received from that tax goes to the King County Sheriff’s Office, as it has to be used for enforcement-related activities. How much money does it generate? asked Giba. “$1.1 million to unincorporated King County in the most recent fiscal year,” said O’Dell.

NHUAC vice president Barbara Dobkin said she had heard the Sheriff’s Office say the money went to cover part of its budget gap, not to fund anything new. Freeman used that opportunity to mention the archaic system of how the county is funded.

If money is supposed to be generated by permit fees from projects, another attendee said, why are some projects being built without permits, according to online records (or lack of them)?

LeClair said, “The state of things with code enforcement, which is what you are talking about … The great majority … do the right thing and get permits when it’s required. There’s going to be people who don’t. We don’t have enforcement officers rolling around the streets looking at projects saying, did they get a permit or not?” If you know of something without a permit, tell the county, he urged. Freeman echoed that the county expects residents to be their partners in flagging things like this.

Dobkin then brought up a past meeting at which they were told that White Center wasn’t going to have any marijuana stores, and then something changed and the community wasn’t told, before all the stores started popping up.

Couldn’t the stores be taxed to help pay for enforcement and other needs? someone asked. That wasn’t directly answered.

Next question was for Rep. Fitzgibbon. Could he introduce legislation that could affect “this particular situation where King County says our hands are tied… and yet we have these very disproportionate uses … going on?”

Fitzgibbon said theoretically a state law could be passed to close some of those businesses but he thinks it would be very difficult if they are up and running and following the law. He said he thinks it likely that some of them will eventually go out of business, and because of the buffer law, they won’t be replaced. (It was pointed out later that a store can change hands, and if it’s not closed for more than six months in the meantime, it can reopen.) Fitzgibbon also wondered if the state could set aside the money generated by White Center to be used for the needs of White Center – instead of having KCSO use it to cover a budget gap, he said he thinks it would have been great for it to have been used to hire extra deputies for the area. But “my preferred option would be just to get them more money,” and there could be multiple ways to do that.

Tracy added that if a store closes for at least 6 months, it will no longer be “vested” and can’t reopen in that location. He too agreed “the number probably will go down over the years.”

The robberies at the local shops and the “cost to the community” was brought up; nobody on the panel had stats on that, though Giba recounted the robberies that had been reported in recent months. “But to be fair, 7-11 in Top Hat has been robbed,” pointed out an attendee.

LeClair asked O’Dell if there’s a differentiation between stores with and without medical endorsements. Short answer, no.

Another attendee wondered about the local stores’ security.

Capt. Thompson said every retail licensee has requirements for alarms and surveillance cameras, as well as “quarantine areas” with 24/7 surveillance. “When you hear about robberies, first thing the Sheriff’s Office does is pull that video – that’s helped catch a lot of (suspects) … but a lot of these are smash and grab type things,” he said. O’Dell said that the stores are required to keep their security video for at least 45 days. And if you have suggestions for more security rules, you can send those comments to the state.

Were liquor stores ever this concentrated? someone asked. Rep. Fitzgibbon said, not the state-run stores, but cannabis stores are privately operated and so go into competition with each other. He said in retrospect, the buffer would have been good to have from the start.

The discussion also veered back into history – including the unregulated medical-marijuana “dispensary” days. Now, as Fitzgibbon explained, there’s just one category of store, but it can get a “medical endorsement”; there are tougher rules for people’s eligibility for medical-grade products. The bill was passed just two years ago so Fitzgibbon says it would be good to get feedback on how the prescribing process is going.

So if marijuana is legal in general, why do you need a medical-marijuana card? For one, patients don’t pay the taxes for their medicine, “but we weren’t just going to grant that tax break for everybody,” Rep. Fitzgibbon explained. Also, patients are allowed to grow some at home.

What happens to the marijuana stores open now, if North Highline is annexed? Freeman explained that Seattle is the only entity that is currently eligible to annex the area, since Burien removed it from their potential annexation area. She said Seattle continues to “work on an annexation proposal.” But now Seattle is on the brink of another mayoral change, and, she said that city staffer Kenny Pittman continues working on a proposal that would be up to voters to decide the fate of.

Giba brought up the case of the marijuana-production/processing facility that for a while was proposed for the lower level of the building where Beer Star, Li’l Woody’s, and CTO are now open. LeClair said that they had to seek a “conditional use permit” because of the size of the area of the building they were proposing using for marijuana drying. Giba said they only found out because of a mailing to “property owners within 500 feet.” She notes that most property owners in the area are not community members, so “much of the community was not notified.” Wouldn’t 1,000-foot notification be better? LeClair said he thought that’s a good suggestion, but “it just wasn’t something we thought to do at the time. … (but) as evidenced by the amount of feedback we got, people heard about it.” Dobkin said, “People heard about it because we spread the word.” The county published official notice in two “newspapers,” said LeClair, and they have notices online. (Still not high visibility, it was noted.)

The project eventually couldn’t go forward because it was too close to a school, Giba noted – the nearby businesses that cater to families, such as Full Tilt Ice Cream and Southgate Roller Rink, didn’t factor into it, but, she thinks, should have. Rep. Fitzgibbon says there certainly could be legislative discussion of changes to the buffer zone. The LCB’s O’Dell said that Full Tilt didn’t qualify as an “arcade,” though it has games, so didn’t fall under rules relating to distance between marijuana businesses and those types of facilities.

But Fitzgibbon pointed out that the buffers already existing mean that marijuana businesses are only allowed in certain areas, which has led to concentrations such as SODO.

An attendee asked about the huge mixed-use project being built in Top Hat on the former supermarket site. LeClair talked about how long that site had remained empty and how much the county wanted to see it be redeveloped. And, he told someone else who asked, its retail can’t have marijuana stores because that would be within the 1,000-foot buffer of the existing stores.

Toward the end of the discussion, there was more talk about the distribution of stores around King County. Freeman pointed out that some cities banned them altogether – and can’t be forced to accept them. And again, she noted that urban, unincorporated King County is now a relatively small area, “and that’s part of the issue.” Giba wondered if King County could have appealed the state’s designated allocation of stores. “No,” said O’Dell. She also said it was a lot of time and trouble to pursue an appeal in the case of the marijuana-processing facility without knowing that it didn’t have a state license anyway – a license without which it couldn’t operate, but there was no requirement that it get the license. It was a lot of wasted time and trouble for the applicant, too, said LeClair: “We had (staffers) processing plans that were never going to come to fruition,” since the applicant said they were willing to take the risk. “I’m sorry the community had to go through the trouble … but from our standards we felt they met the criteria.”

“But they didn’t tell us until the late afternoon before the pre-hearing conference with the hearing examiner,” protested Giba.

“Same here,” said LeClair. (Apparently the applicant thought they would have been getting a license transferred from Enumclaw.)

Freeman promised to take the concerns back regarding possible changes to the process.

Dobkin asked her about the county continuing to allow densification despite saying it doesn’t have the services to support density in unincorporated urban areas like this.

“We don’t build,” said Freeman.

“But you permit,” said Dobkin.

“But you are an urban area,” retorted Freeman. “… the county’s zoning and our processes and administrative rules are designed at rural levels, that’s what we do. I hear you. (But) until urban unincorporated areas get to 50 + 1” (in favor of annexing to a city) “we are stuck in this very uncomfortable situation.”

The question came back around again, what exactly does marijuana tax money pay for, and do tax dollars generated in North Highline, for example, get spent specifically in North Highline? Enforcement is the stipulation for what the money goes toward, but exactly what “enforcement” means, is up to the local recipient – the King County Sheriff’s Office, in this case, and they decide “where to put those dollars,” Freeman said, as well as what the money goes toward.

Also at Thursday night’s meeting:

COALITION FOR DRUG-FREE YOUTH: The coalition’s Maddison Story explained the group‘s work to NHUAC – it works under Navos, with prevention teams at Cascade Middle School and Evergreen High Schol, life-skills training at Cascade, a parenting-skills program for Latino and Somali families, countywide “multilingual media campaigns,” and community surveys “to assess awareness levels and attitudes of community on drug/alcohol use” – among other work. In some of the survey results from last year, their results showed:

Community perceptions include that more than two-thirds of people surveyed believe that alcohol and marijuana use are problems in the community, and that both are easy for youth to access. Right now, this year’s survey is under way (we’ll add the link when we have it); the coalition also invites you to its monthly meetings – next one is 12-1:30 pm at Seola Gardens Community Room, 11215 5th SW.

OTHER BUSINESS: An open house is planned for the Boulevard Park Library project, 6:30-8 pm Thursday, November 16th (12015 Roseberg Avenue S.): “Learn about the upcoming interior remodel. Meet the team from Building Work Architecture,” invites the flyer.

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets first Thursdays most months, 7 pm, at North Highline Fire District HQ. Between meetings, watch for updates at northhighlineuac.org.

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting Thursday: ‘Important conversation about our community and marijuana’

October 30th, 2017 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting Thursday: ‘Important conversation about our community and marijuana’

First Thursday of the month happens this week, and that means the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets. This month’s centerpiece topic: Marijuana. The announcement:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting
When: Thursday, November 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)

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

I-502, the initiative that legalized marijuana in Washington, passed in November of 2012.

How is I-502 working in North Highline?

Is the marijuana industry becoming the latest “poverty industry” in North Highline and King County?
Or, are Top Hat and White Center becoming the “New Amsterdam” of King County?

Let’s have a conversation! Please join NHUAC, State Representative Joe Fitzgibbon, representatives of Washington State’s Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB), Jake Tracy of King County’s Department of Permitting and Environmental Review (DPER) in an important conversation about our community and marijuana. Maddison Story of the Coalition for Drug-Free Youth will also join us for our input on the Coalition’s annual survey.

This is an opportunity to gather information, ask questions, and share your thoughts with our governments and neighbors.

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

See you Thursday, November 2, 2017 at 7 pm – Because Knowledge Is Power

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