Shelter concerns, Highline school bond, 50% stormwater-fee increase @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

October 6th, 2016 Tracy Posted in King County, North Highline UAC, White Center news 5 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Topline from tonight’s meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, which drew about 40 people, more than double the usual turnout, and ran for three hours:

WHITE CENTER SHELTER? Three weeks after the tumultuous meeting (WCN coverage here) about the shelter proposed for the former King County Public Health Center at 8th SW and SW 108th, the topic was in the spotlight again at tonight’s NHUAC meeting.

Burien/Normandy Park FD fire marshal Ray Pettigrew was asked to speak about concerns raised by the county’s proposal to change “what is basically an office building and turn it into a residential structure.” Concerns, he said, would be the plan for “occupancy classification” – it would need fire alarms with automatic detection, for example. “You would have to put a different kind of sprinkler head in there that takes care of the fire quicker, so occupants have a chance to get out,” for example, Pettigrew said. Whatever you think of the proposal, the department must look at the safety of the 70 people the building would house, some of whom might have “some degree of impairment,” and firefighters’ safety would have to be taken into account too.

Exit paths should be no more than 75 feet, but he said plans for the building didn’t seem to have addressed that yet. There would likely be a need for fire suppression in the building’s kitchen, too. Carbon-monoxide detectors are needed as well as smoke detectors. He also mentioned “panic hardware” and the potential draw on resources, “a facility that might add one or two calls a day … you’re looking at impacts to the area, and how are they going to be mitigated?” In response to a question, he said there has been communication with the county Fire Marshal’s Office. “But,” pressed an attendee, “can they occupy it without all (of this mitigation)?” Yes, King County could do that, because they “own the permitting process.” Pettigrew made it clear that he doesn’t have the jurisdiction; Chris Ricketts, King County fire marshal, does.

Then a nearly surprise guest – King County Sheriff John Urquhart. He said he only found out about it a couple weeks ago, and while he probably has no say over the decision, “it’s probably going to add to our call load,” and if they have to add resources, they will. “Sounds to me like this train is coming down the track, but if anybody is going to stop it, it’s going to be this group here.”

What can citizens do if things go really bad? asked an attendee, bringing up the now-notorious Interbay sports-field camping. “You know why that’s happening? Because it’s the city of Seattle,” he said, bringing up pending legislation in the city that would reportedly allow camping on a lot of public property.

“But we don’t operate out here like that. If someone is camping on private property, we will get them out of there. If it’s public property – and they are trespassing – we will get them out.” He said, “I have compassion for the homeless, but they can’t be parking in front of somebody else’s house, for more than 24 hours.” If they want to park longer than that, “send them north of Roxbury,” he said, to laughter.

Attendees brought up safety concerns for kids walking to schools. But Urquhart pointed out that King County has had “tent cities for a long time, and crime didn’t go up” – because, he said, the encampments were self-governing and had rules. “We have devolved so far from there … it is a terrible situation,” Urquhart said.

He had called it a “political decision,” and NHUAC board member Elizabeth Gordon said, “You mean the executive’s office?” “And his people,” Urquhart replied. “…but that’s not a value judgment, that’s just the way it is. Dow and (Seattle Mayor) Ed Murray have said there’s a homeless emergency in this region, and they’re right, there is an emergency. … They have an empty building, and they want to put 70 people into it.”

If it goes through, and you see problems, one attendee said, “call 911 – call police – every time.” Urquhart said he agreed with that solution. “Super-important to call 911,” not just so they have a record of it, but so they can do something about it.

That segued into a reminder that while White Center might have the minimum-level two deputies on duty at any time, if need be, they can get backup from other areas of the King County Sheriff’s Office-served areas nearby.

Also – White Center resident Joseph Benavides (sp?) talked toward the start of the meeting about continuing community opposition to the shelter proposal, mentioning an online petition and crowdfunding for a lawyer.

NHUAC president Liz Giba said she had asked King County leadership to come to White Center for a meeting on the proposal, but had not received a reply.

Later in the meeting, she said they’re hoping to get guests to talk about it at next month’s NHUAC meeting, including elected officials such as King County Councilmember Joe McDermott.

CRIME UPDATE: Storefront deputy Bill Kennamer talked about this afternoon’s robbery – “four dudes with four guns,” but the store operator, Lawless Clothing, won’t cooperate. “We’re doing our best to shut them down,” he said, alleging that the business has an unlawful sideline. He mentioned that while the helicopter was in the area, it picked up a LoJack (stolen vehicle) signal, and while KCSO does not have LoJack in its cars, Seattle Police came over and helped them find the vehicle near the Evergreen campus.

Kennamer said the sheriff has made it clear, no fixed encampments in the unincorporated urban areas – White Center and Skyway – and, he said, they don’t have any. Overall, Kennamer said he would be surprised if this area has more than two dozen “regulars” experiencing homelessness, contrary to the county’s contention that there are at least 100.

He also confirmed that the KCSO storefront has moved to the new location announced earlier this year, the former White Center Chamber of Commerce building at Steve Cox Memorial Park.

For crime stats/trends, he showed the newest month-by-month charts on “case reports taken,” with some modest increases.

Have campers on Myers Way had an effect on crime rates? Kennamer was asked. He said he’s not seeing that.

The deputy also had positive words for the WC Chevron site’s redevelopment for Starbucks and Popeye’s; he said the car wash at 16th and 104th now is part of the trespass program so that should take care of loitering; Drunky’s Two Shoe BBQ should be open by mid-November; across the street, the former Hang Around (among other things) is going to be a beer place. The new Uncle Ike’s marijuana store between 14th and 15th “has had an immediate positive effect on the area … (the proprietor) wants to get soccer moms comfortable enough to come and buy weed (there).”

HIGHLINE PUBLIC SCHOOLS BOND: With one month to go until the $233 million bond‘s fate is decided in the November election, former Burien Councilmember Rose Clark – co-chair of a 40-member citizen committee that worked on the proposal – spoke tonight to NHUAC. She said the committee “spent a huge amount of time” working on assessing district challenges, problems, and requirements. “Remember, a bond is only for buildings,” she pointed out – not textbooks, staff, etc.

She talked about the committee’s tour of HPS schools and finding one building “so old, so fragile, I swear if you take the ivy off the back of it, that building is going to fall down.” She admitted she voted against the last bond for reasons including her belief that Highline HS couldn’t be in worse shape than, for example, Evergreen … but seeing it, she said, swayed her. (The bond measure does include money to start designing new campuses for Tyee and Evergreen, she said; spending $10 million on design in this bond cycle will save $23 million in the next one.) Des Moines Elementary also seems in danger of crumbling “on the heads of the kids” at any moment, Clark said. The statewide class-size mandate for K-3 means more room is needed, in addition to existing needs, she said. Newer schools will get security retrofits – from door-locking to security cameras – and the district would get an emergency-operations center, Clark noted.

For a levy overview – see this page, which has a breakout of which schools would get what if the bond passes. And the district has three open house/tour events planned next week, including one at the Evergreen campus – see the dates/times/locations here. Based on current assessed valuation, this bond measure would cost you 79 cents for every thousand dollars of assessed value of your property.

At meeting’s end, NHUAC board members voted 6-1 to endorse a “yes” vote on the bond measure.

STORMWATER SERVICES PROGRAM: King County’s Trisha Davis spoke about the program and a proposed 50 percent fee increase. “Most of the development in the county was built without any stormwater controls,” she explained, unlike new development – such as the new White Center Library, which she said was built “with extensive stormwater controls.” Stormwater takes pollution off roads and sends it into waterways, where it can kill healthy salmon “within hours.” The stormwater-management fee pays for the program, $171.50 per single-family parcel; “commercial properties pay based on the amount of impervious surface they have.” The current fee brings in $24 million/year. But the county wants to address “more challenges” than it can do with that revenue, Davis said, including roadway drainage and retrofitting “areas without stormwater controls.” Roadway infrastructure that’s in danger of failing in the next decade alone would cost up to half a billion dollars to fix. Looking over the next century, the price tag could go up to $830 million. To start bringing in more money, she said, King County Executive Dow Constantine is proposing a 50 percent increase in the fee, to $258 per residential parcel. The fee increase would affect about 80,000 property owners in the unincorporated area, according to Davis.

Would there be projects in the White Center area? Davis was asked. While she didn’t have a specific list, she said yes. In response to a question, she said that most property owners don’t know that they are aware for managing their own stormwater.

In Q&A, a variety of drainage/stormwater-related concerns arose, involving sites including the White Center Neighborhood Pond. While there are trash concerns, and some loitering problems, a King County Sheriff’s Office rep acknowledged, “it’s nothing like what it was” before camps in the area were removed.

MISCELLANEOUS ANNOUNCEMENTS: A library celebration is coming up on October 29th …White Center Kiwanis is selling candy bars, Godiva for $3, See’s for $2.50, to support local youth. An increase of community support has made them able to offer more support for local scholarships as well as uniforms for Mount View Elementary School. No specific locations/times for sales – “wherever we are.”

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets most months on the first Thursday, 7 pm. Watch for updates and agendas. As the board points out, they need people to get involved and stay involved.

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Shelter, school bond, more on North Highline Unincorporated Area Council agenda for Thursday

October 1st, 2016 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on Shelter, school bond, more on North Highline Unincorporated Area Council agenda for Thursday

It was last month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting where news first emerged of the shelter proposed for 70 people at the ex-King County Public Health building in White Center, and it’ll be on the agenda for this month’s meeting, per the announcement just received from NHUAC:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When: Thursday, October 6th, 2016 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 NHUAC, North Highline’s volunteer community council, at our October 6th meeting. The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council (NHUAC) aims to add opportunity to our community’s equation: 
The Opportunity to Be Informed, Be Involved and Be Heard.

This month’s agenda will be a full one. John Taylor of DNRP’s Water & Land Division will inform us about the County’s Surface Water Management fee increase. Former Burien City Council Member Rose Clark will be sharing information about Highline School District’s upcoming school bond.

Last month, NHUAC shared the news that King County would be holding a mid-September meeting about King County’s plan to put a homeless shelter for 70 adults in the White Center residential area. The County is proposing to put a low-barrier shelter in the building used by King County Public Health before it moved to Greenbridge. The County owns the building, which is next door to the White Center Food Bank and Dick Thurnau Memorial Park. Since neither the North Highline Fire District nor the King County Sheriff’s Office participated in King County’s meeting, both NHFD and KCSO will be part of our October NHUAC meeting.

So mark your calendar for Thursday, October 6th at 7 pm and join NHUAC in taking this opportunity to learn and share about issues affecting our community and lives!

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VIDEO: September’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

September 6th, 2016 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 8 Comments »

In our video, you’ll find this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting from Thursday, September 1st, led by president Liz Giba. Pull the cursor ahead to just past two minutes in, to get past the roll call and to the start of discussion.

Before the first scheduled guest, there were community announcements, followed by Giba’s announcement of a meeting scheduled at 6:30 pm Thursday, September 15th, about a “temporary homeless shelter” proposed for the old Public Health building next to the White Center Food Bank.

The proposal, according to the announcement that was read, is to provide emergency overnight shelter for 70 people experiencing homelessness in the White Center area. The Salvation Army would operate the shelter from 5 pm to 8 am; evening and morning meals would be provided, and the people in the shelter would be offered assistance in finding permanent housing and other services.

As we have reported previously, the building is proposed for future redevelopment as a mixed-use building with space for nonprofits and low-income housing.

Concerns expressed at the meeting included questions about where the shelter users would be going during the day, and whether White Center truly had 70 people experiencing homelessness and unable to find shelter.

The September 15th meeting is set for the Bethaday Community Learning Space at Dick Thurnau Memorial Park. We are working to find out more about the proposal and the meeting, since it doesn’t appear an announcement was sent to media.

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN: At 19 minutes into our video, the first scheduled guest was brought up, Christine Jensen, invited to talk about the process of updating the King County Comprehensive Plan for the first time since 2012. Proposed changes have been under review since March, she said; just last week, Councilmember Rob Dembowski proposed a “striking amendment” with changes and additions suggested for what King County Executive Dow Constantine has proposed. She said some of the key proposed changes involve toughening policies related to equity and climate change. And she highlighted a change related to the Community Service Areas – such as North Highline – that could enable a return to “sub-area planning.” North Highline would be scheduled to start a “sub-area planning process” next year, which would include “significant outreach with the community.”

How would potential Seattle annexation – which might even come to a vote next year – affect that? asked NHUAC board member Elizabeth Gordon. Jensen replied that it would go forward either way – “it would probably just have a different focus if annexation gets approved.”

If projects on the drawing board now turned out to be dissonant with equity changes in the Comp Plan once it’s passed – likely by year’s end – would they be stopped? Jensen said she couldn’t speak to that.

Next step in the process of reviewing the plan was a King County Council committee meeting set for earlier today (Tuesday, September 6th) and one of the last steps will be a public hearing tentatively set for November 28th, Jensen said. Find out more – including how to comment, in the meantime – on this page of the county website.

ANNEXATION: A spirited discussion with board members and attendees followed the Comp Plan agenda item. The board discussed coming up with “minimum requirements” for Seattle to meet, even before it would consider whether to support potential annexation.

(By the way, we checked with Seattle’s point person on the issue, Kenny Pittman, recently. One point: No one filed an appeal of the King County Boundary Review Board‘s approval of potential Seattle annexation by the deadline in mid-August; another, Pittman told us there is no date set yet for potential next steps by Seattle’s mayor and council to consider sending annexation to North Highline voters.)

TOP HAT PROJECT: A fair amount of discussion was also devoted to the plan for a multi-family-housing development on the old Bernie and Boys market site in Top Hat (11225 1st Avenue South). Giba noted that the project had recently gone before the Washington State Housing Finance Commission for funding. On its website, we found notice of a July 28th public hearing, describing the project, Vintage at Southside, as “a 298-unit multifamily housing facility … (with a) percentage of the total units … set aside for persons or households with low incomes.” Its estimated cost: $71 million. Minutes of the public hearing say no one from the public testified but the commission heard from Vintage Housing president Ryan Patterson, who said the project will include “an onsite business center, bicycle storage, and a playground.” Further elaborating on the low-income aspect of the project, he is quoted as saying that 100 percent of the development will be “at 60 percent of the area median income and will set aside 20 percent of the units for households with disabilities and will include 18 live/work units and set aside 20 percent of the units for large households.” A document on the King County website (which has a different address, 11241 1st Ave. S.) says four buildings are planned.

The company’s closest complex appears to be Vintage at Burien, described online as a seniors-only community, 55+.

NO CRIME REPORT: The King County Sheriff’s Office was unable to send a representative. It was mentioned that the newest date for their storefront move to Steve Cox Memorial Park is October 1st.

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets first Thursdays, 7 pm, at the North Highline FD HQ; watch for updates between meetings.

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THURSDAY: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meetings resume so you can ‘reconnect’

August 29th, 2016 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 3 Comments »

Summer’s ending and community-meeting season is restarting. First up: The community council for White Center and vicinity invites you to its first post-summer meeting, 7 pm Thursday (September 1st). From the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

Mark your calendars and plan on joining NHUAC, North Highline’s volunteer community council, at the September 1st meeting. Through its “All Are Welcome!” community meetings, the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council (NHUAC) aims to add opportunity to our community’s equation:

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

The “Comp Plan” is King County’s vision for where and how growth should be located in unincorporated areas, including North Highline. The plan includes policies relating to land use, economic development, housing, parks, other services, facilities, and transportation.

This month’s meeting is an important one if you want to know what King County is planning for North Highline. We will be joined by Christine Jensen. Christine is a land use and regional planning policy analyst for the King County Council. She is the lead staff for the Council’s review of the 2016 Comprehensive Plan.

Christine will provide information and updates on the Council’s review of the Executive’s proposed 2016 Comprehensive Plan. Her presentation will include a summary of key policy issues that the Council is evaluating, an update on the review and adoption schedule, and provide opportunities for comments.

If you have felt a little out of touch over the last 2 months, this is your opportunity to reconnect with the community. Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer will be back as usual. We are Deputy Bill’s first and main responsibility with the Sheriff’s Office. In addition to updating us on what has been happening in North Highline, he is sure to be listening to comments and concerns made by our community members, and offering his perspective about how we can work together to make North Highline a safer and healthier place.

This will be our first community meeting after our summer break so please take this opportunity to reconnect, learn and share what is happening in North Highline. Hope to see you on September 1st at 7 pm!

NHUAC meets at the North Highline Fire Station,1243 SW 112th Street in White Center; parking and entrance are in the back of the building.

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

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

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Preview Thursday’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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SEATTLE ANNEXATION? Next discussion: North Highline Fire District Board on May 16th

May 6th, 2016 Tracy Posted in Annexation, North Highline Fire District, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on SEATTLE ANNEXATION? Next discussion: North Highline Fire District Board on May 16th

Quick followup to the announcement at last night’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting (WCN coverage here) that the King County Boundary Review Board has scheduled its public hearing on possible Seattle annexation:

As mentioned in our story, the BRB public hearings are set for 7 pm June 13-14 at the Technology Access Foundation’s Bethaday Community Space.

We followed up this morning with Seattle city government’s point person on the proposed annexation, Kenny Pittman. He said the city is still waiting for its formal notification of what’s on the BRB website, so it hasn’t made an official announcement of the hearings yet. He also said the city has yet to set up the webpage it promised at the March Dubsea Coffee community meeting, with information about the proposal and process. We asked if any further community conversations are scheduled; not yet, he said, but he did mention that he will be at the North Highline Fire District board’s meeting on May 16th (7 pm, NHFD HQ, 1243 SW 112th) at the board’s invitation, and will be bringing along a Seattle Fire assistant chief.

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@ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: Sheriff’s Office storefront move, annexation hearing, possible project, ‘The Crew’ demystified …

May 5th, 2016 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 1 Comment »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Topics large and small – including one topic that literally weighed tons! – were on the agenda tonight at the May meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council.

The highlights:

SHERIFF’S STOREFRONT MOVING: Major Jerrell Wills confirmed that the King County Sheriff’s Office White Center storefront will indeed move from 16th SW to Steve Cox Memorial Park. (This was first discussed at the November 2015 NHUAC meeting.) “Part of the objective (is) to get a facility that is accessible to everyone … and, more than adequate. With the cottage (at the park), we have that.” He said they also believe the relationship with the park “will be a benefit to the community.” It also will save some money for the county, no longer leasing private property, Major Wills said. He promised it won’t mean a decrease in foot patrols in the business area – not that those happen often anyway, he acknowledged, as the local deputies are very busy. “The presence in the downtown corridor shouldn’t change.” They hope to move in late July/early August. Some concerns about the storefront move were voiced – “this isn’t our best solution,” lamented one attendee – but it appears to be a done deal.

Wills was asked if there was any budgetary possibility of removing the storefront deputy, and he said right now “there’s no discussion” of that happening. Community member Gill Loring offered complimentary words about Deputy Bill Kennamer, the latest to hold that position. Wills noted that Kennamer worked hard to get that position and “we’re really fortunate” to have him as well as former storefront deputy Jeff Hancock, who is now focused on Greenbridge, in their roles.

CRIME REPORTS: Deputy Ford from the King County Sheriff’s Office filled in with the briefing. 75 “Part 1” crimes in the past month, down from the same time last year, but “Part 2” crimes are up – 86 assaults, stolen property, fraud, vandalism, drugs, fights, trespassing, vandalism. “They kind of fluctuate up and down.” In specific categories, car thefts are way down – 19 in April last year, 7 in April this year. Residential burglaries, meantime, have gone up in both forced and nonforced categories. He said much of this is tied to drug abuse – “any time you have (that), you’re going to have continued property crimes – they have to get the money from somewhere.”

He said crime prevention is paramount – to fight auto theft, for example, lock your vehicles, increase lighting, don’t leave your keys in your car. He told the tale of the night that someone stole a car with a child sleeping inside, “and thank goodness we were able to get the child back safely” – but he noted how many law enforcement resources it took to find the child and the car, when “all (the car’s owner) would have had to do was take her key.” Also – don’t leave things out at night – “the ability to recover stolen property is not good.”

Various issues brought up while he had the floor included “transient RVs.” The deputy suggested, “That will be a never-ending battle. … As you see those, continue to call, because the more calls for service we get … the easier it is” (to do something). “If we have legitimate calls for service, ‘we have a suspicious vehicle .. the vehicle doesn’t move’ … I would really encourage additional phone calls.” SW 112th was mentioned as a trouble spot, as well as Myers Way S. just over the city-county line.

(Deputy Ford had mentioned being a relatively recent arrival from Utah; later in the meeting, Major Wills explained that he was part of a “lateral” program that was bringing “amazing” law-enforcement officers to the KCSO – Ford, for example, had been a sergeant in Utah.)

BOUNDARY REVIEW BOARD TO CONSIDER SEATTLE ANNEXATION: Toward the start of the meeting, it was mentioned that the dates are set for the King County Boundary Review Board to consider the proposed Seattle annexation of White Center and the rest of remaining unincorporated North Highline. The public hearing is set for two nights, 7 pm June 13 and 14, at the Technology Access Foundation‘s Bethaday Community Space at Dick Thurnau Memorial Park (605 SW 108th) – here’s the official notice. The online file for the proposed annexation is here.

NEW MIXED-USE BUILDING WITH AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND COMMUNITY AGENCIES: We first reported this here on April 24th. Tonight, Steve Daschle from Southwest Youth and Family Services was invited to tell NHUAC more about it. He first presented a primer about his agency – you can get the same toplines in our West Seattle Blog report about the recent Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting at which he mentioned the project. He had told the DNDC that his agency’s clients are moving further and further south into the county, and they have no choice but to move their services with them. Their support for students and families, he says, have had exceptional success.

He then talked about the Communities of Opportunity initiative, a partnership between Seattle Foundation and King County, and how agencies have been trying to identify a “high-level challenge” faced by White Center and what can be done about it. The resultant discussion focused on bringing a wide set of services together in one place in WC, Daschle said, creating a “synergy of support.” That led them to focus on the former County Public Health building at 8th/108th, and they are now in a “very early (stage)” of discussing co-locating the White Center Food Bank, Southwest Youth and Family Service, the White Center Community Development Association, and some meeting space, plus “some housing on top,” at that site. They’re talking with Capitol Hill Housing, which was responsible for the Unity Place project, Daschle said, promising a “significant public engagement” stage ahead – “if it appears feasible for us to go forward – we haven’t even done a feasibility study” to find out if they could launch a capital campaign to raise money to build something.

The project is currently owned by King County Parks, he noted.

Rick Jump of the White Center Food Bank, housed on the site, pointed out that the building the county Public Health Department used to use was built in 1961, and that the county has long been seeking tenants, but has been unsuccessful because of the building’s condition.

Asked about equity and social-justice issues, and whether this would increase the number of economically challenged people in White Center, Daschle talked about what his agency has seen in the years it’s been located in Delridge, and that this project would be more for serving people who are already in the area. NHUAC board members challenged that and voiced concerns, such as employment prospects for economically challenged youth, and whether this would affect the “economic diversity” of the area, which already has “a high concentration of poverty.” An attendee suggested that, after hearing Daschle mention the displacement of people in West Seattle by gentrification, that indicates the project would be better built “where they’re being displaced,” not in WC.

Daschle agreed that a community conversation is needed – very many elements of the potential project are not defined, such as how many units it might have. (Asked how his agency was funded, he said 65 percent public, 10 percent United Way, and then various other grants and other types of funding.)

OFFICER ELECTIONS: Liz Giba is the new NHUAC president – as of the next meeting, following a unanimous vote tonight. Barbara Dobkin served as president for five years and was elected to serve as vice president. Elizabeth Gordon was elected as secretary.

ABOUT ‘THE CREW’: Julie Maas, assistant division director of the Community Corrections Division of King County, explained that the division offers “a variety of alternatives to jail,” and the work crew that is often seen on community-cleanup detail “is one of them.” The crew “has a very strong presence in White Center,” she said. They take out crews every day of misdemeanor defendants from District Court – all misdemeanor “sentenced cases (who) come to our program and go out on crews every day all over the county.” Other cities pay the division “to come into their cities and do work for them,” and the revenue “helps pay for the program,” she said, while some is subsidized by the county, including the work in unincorporated communities such as White Center and Skyway. They do landscaping, trails, clean up parks, and more. They’ve directed more resources in the past year to WC and Skyway and less to downtown Seattle, she noted. They do more-frequent “quick sweeps.”

She was joined by Seth Oakes, a recent arrival in the area who does the crew assignments. Daily, their participation ranges from 27 to 60 – “depending on how many people we get on any day of the week, (affects) how big a crew is (and) how much we’re able to accomplish in one day.” Accomplishments in White Center:

10,280 pounds of illegally dumped garbage in January
13,480 pounds removed in February
9,000 pounds in March
4,500 pounds in April

That’s 57 trailer loads of items such as discarded furniture. Smaller tasks are handled too, including emptying trash cans and picking up trash along the street. The lower numbers did not necessarily represent less trash but instead fewer crew members and less time spent in WC.

Maas said they’re trying to “get a better handle” on the problem in the area so they can take it to the County Council and figure it what can and will be done – including code enforcement, not just having crews pick up trash.

She also said that education and outreach seems to be in order, as the continuous pickups might “enable” more dumping. “Really getting business owners and homeowners educated about the laws” might reduce the problem, Maas suggested.

A discussion ensued about what’s required of businesses in unincorporated North Highline – do they have to have trash service?

MARIJUANA MORATORIUM: Giba reported on the county council’s recent move, while saying it’s not clear yet which potential establishments are far enough in the process to not be affected. “It’s a start,” observed Dobkin.

WHITE CENTER LIBRARY: 9:30 am May 21st is the ribboncutting that starts the library’s grand opening – “a gem of a building,” proclaimed regional manager Angie Benedetti from the King County Library System, with elements “stunning and unique to this community.” She said that KCLS’s director and Highline Public Schools‘ superintendent will be among the speakers.

KING COUNTY COMMUNITY SERVICE AREA INFORMATIONAL MEETING: This annual meeting is 7-9 pm Tuesday, May 24th, at Seola Gardens‘ Providence Building – more information here.

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council usually meets on first Thursdays, 7 pm, at NH Fire District HQ (1243 SW 112th) – watch between meetings.

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North Highline UAC’s May meeting: About ‘The Crew’; more on potential housing development

May 2nd, 2016 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on North Highline UAC’s May meeting: About ‘The Crew’; more on potential housing development

This Thursday night, you’re invited to the monthly meeting of this area’s community council, the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, 7 pm Thursday (May 5) at the North Highline Fire District’s HQ at 1243 SW 112th (parking/entrance at back of the station). From NHUAC president Barbara Dobkin:

Plan on joining NHUAC for the monthly community meeting when we will be hosting:

Julie Mass and Seth Oakes from the King County Community Corrections Division: Julie and Seth oversee the “Crew,” the folks with the yellow vests who you may have spotted in and around the White Center Business District, picking up trash, both big and small, painting out graffiti, etc. These folks make a huge difference in our community – find out ways that you too can help keep White Center looking its best.

Steve Daschle, Executive Director of West Seattle-based Southwest Youth and Family Services, was invited to provide information on the preliminary plans to build tax-exempt housing at the site of the former Public Health Department on 8th Ave SW at 108th Street. This is an opportunity for residents to weigh in on what type of housing is best suited for our community.

As always, our White Center Storefront Deputy, Bill Kennamer, will be on hand to provide updates on crime stats and general community safety concerns.

For more information and the agenda please see the NHUAC website: or contact:

We first reported on the aforementioned housing proposal last week.

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Septic systems, education equity on the agenda @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

April 4th, 2016 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 1 Comment »

This Thursday night (April 7th) at 7 pm, the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council invites you to be part of its monthly meeting at NH Fire District HQ in White Center. Here’s the announcement:

Plan on joining us for this important and informative community meeting when we will be hosting:

Robin Hill, On-Site Septic System Program Manager with Seattle and King County Public Health.

Ms. Hill will provide information regarding issues related to septic systems in our community and beyond – as well as changes and charges that will impact all homeowners who are septic systems throughout King County in both the cities and unincorporated areas.

We are also pleased to be hosting Sarah Dahl – concerned mother, Highline School District taxpayer, advocate for students and a member of One Evergreen – who will be presenting information regarding the grassroots efforts to insure that the young people of North Highline are treated equitably and receive the educational opportunities they deserve (more information can be found at

Our White Center Storefront Deputy, Bill Kennamer, will be on hand to provide updates on crime stats and general community safety concerns.

Please see our website for the agenda:

The fire station is at 1243 SW 112th.

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: What’s planned for March meeting

February 29th, 2016 Tracy Posted in housing, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: What’s planned for March meeting

This Thursday, the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council invites you to its March meeting. From NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting
When: Thursday, March 3rd @ 7 pm
Where: North Highline Fire Station (1243 SW 112th Street – parking and entrance is in the back)

Please join NHUAC for an informative community meeting as we learn about an important way to help brighten North Highline’s future. The meeting will begin with videos about the Fair Housing Act and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2015 rule, Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing. We hope you will join us Thursday night as we begin this educational journey toward community empowerment.

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: Board meeting this month

February 1st, 2016 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: Board meeting this month

The first Thursday of the month brings a board meeting for the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council this month, rather than a full-scale community meeting. Announced by president Barbara Dobkin:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council will not be holding a regular monthly meeting on Thursday, 2/4. We will instead be holding a board meeting at White Center Pizza at 6:30 – the public is invited. We will resume our regular monthly meetings on Thursday, March 3. Please check the NHUAC website for details:
WC Pizza and Spaghetti House is at 10231 16th SW.

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How many stores is too many – or too few? North Highline Unincorporated Area Council convenes forum on marijuana

January 11th, 2016 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 16 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

“This is a conversation about marijuana and what it means about the health and future of our community,” is the statement with which North Highline Unincorporated Area Council president Barbara Dobkin began NHUAC’s January meeting.

The heart of that conversation last Thursday night was, how many marijuana stores in an area are too many – and is there any way to limit how many wind up in North Highline? Three licensed recreational stores already are open – two in Top Hat and one in White Center – with more seeking licenses; late in the meeting, it was pointed out, though, that last year’s crackdown on dispensaries already had dramatically reduced the overall number of places where marijuana could be obtained.

The meeting happened in a forum format, with the four panelists at the front of the room, rather than as a NHUAC meeting. They included North Highline’s two State House representatives, days before their return to Olympia for the new legislative session – Rep. Eileen Cody and Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon. Also, King County Sheriff’s Office’s area precinct commander, Major Jerrell Wills, was a late addition to the panel. First to speak was Laura Hitchcock from the King County Executive’s Office and Department of Public Health. An “interdisciplinary look at marijuana policy” is part of what she works on, she explained, working with a variety of agencies and departments.

She said they work on “balanced goals, given that our electorate did support legalization,” including “eliminating the black market” and “public safety” as well as “keep(ing) marijuana away from kids (because) it’s bad for the developing brain.” Also: “Closing the medical-marijuana loophole.” She discussed research while acknowledging there isn’t a lot of research on the effects of siting marijuana businesses since legalization is relatively recent. The county received a grant to look at local ordinances – “what kind of things were local governments and local communities wanting to regulate … mostly regarding the siting of marijuana businesses.” Regarding siting, the research found that “mixed-use zones” and “commercial zones” were the most likely to allow stores; the size of the store was the most common aspect to be regulated. Only one jurisdiction required a marijuana-business license.

The research is online and will be updated, Hitchcock said. “Partly because of this research, we were included in a new study that just started January 1st, a National Institutes of Health study to look at the impact of those ordinances – implementation of the policies, how they relate to retailer density, and … product, price, potency (in the retail market).” Plus: “We’re going to look at whether ay types of policies mitigate potential negative effects” such as youth use and impaired driving, among other outcomes. It’s a three-year study.

She added that King County and Seattle Children’s Hospital just found out they got a grant for $500,000 for 18 months for a countywide youth marijuana-prevention-education program. They’ll work with organizations that work with the groups that are at highest risks. Its specific goals: “We’ll do an assessment and planning in the first few months and as we implement the project we’ll look at prevention of marijuana use by ages 12-20 … supporting the development of reducing initiation strategies … environmental and system change strategies,” such as zoning. The program also will be trying to increase participation by stakeholders such as schools and service providers. There’ll be a youth advisory board for the entire county. “As King County has been working on this issue, we’ve heard from the community, especially in this area, about concerns of (siting) and youth impacts.” So they’re looking at changes the state made in 2015, and also at experiences Seattle is having, and the goal is to have some recommendations for the King County Council by the end of the first quarter of this year.

King County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Jerrell Wills opened by saying Sheriff John Urquhart opposes the granting of any further marijuana business licenses in this area.

The input the county has with the state is similar to that of liquor licenses, he said. The sheriff believes “you have your fair share,” Maj. Wills said.

Next to speak, State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon.

He worked on legislation this past year regarding financial effects, including the tax levied at three steps of the marijuana production/selling process. They were looking at levying the tax “at one step of the process,” especially because Oregon was just coming online and they didn’t want Washington taxes to be “vastly higher” than Oregon. There was a sales drop in Washington when Oregon started selling, he said, though they don’t know how much of that was because Oregon pot smokers had been coming into Washington until it was legal in their state.

“One of the things that was interesting about this issue – we weren’t just the first state to legalize marijuana, but the first state to have a legal, regulated market in marijuana,” beyond decriminalization, Fitzgibbon said. “We had to do a lot of guesswork about what was going to be the right way to set up a system.” Colorado was going through it at the same time and one advantage they had, he said, was a regulated medical-marijuana system, unlike our state’s “gray area.”

So taxes were consolidated and lowered somewhat, and now shared with local governments, as a result of last year’s changes, he said, figuring out “what’s the right split … do you give some of the money to a jurisdiction like Federal Way that has banned marijuana from being sold in their borders … how much do you give local governments and what can they use it for. … Even now we’re still flying blind on how much money is going to come in from 502.” The money is “lower than a lot of the estimates were.” And he says the state is somewhat hampered by the fact the feds won’t allow research on its impacts. “So we’re going a lot off of anecdotes, people’s gut instincts on how much pot people are smoking, how much is in the black market, how much is in the legal market …” So “we ended up providing not as much money as local governments wanted,” which leads to communities like this one wondering if the county will “rope off the money coming from stores in WC and keep that money for use in WC? That’s a legitimate question … to figure out.” And that, he said, is also a reasonable question for Seattle to figure out regarding an area with a concentration of marijuana businesses.

Rep. Eileen Cody said that “from the medical side it’s been interesting.”

She said that so many things have changed over the years of medical marijuana ‘because we believed it had benefit for people.’ Then, “things kind of got out of hand … and we did try to pass a bill that would have been similar to what we’re doing now, medical marijuana would have been grown, and tested …” She recapped the travails of trying to regulate medical marijuana, and then-Gov. Chris Gregoire‘s veto of parts of the bill. “Probably would have been better if she’d vetoed the whole bill,” Rep. Cody said, because the parts she didn’t led to growth in the number of dispensaries “which got totally out of hand.”

“It’s an interesting issue when you get into a marijuana fight – it’s not partisan,” Cody said, with some supporters and opponents in both parties, “you can’t tell where someone’s going to be at by whether there’s a D or R by their name. And already … there’s a lot of money involved,” with many more marijuana lobbyists. “Thats only going to grow, kind of like big tobacco. … In this past year we did get legislation passed to be sure that the dispensaries … the recreational marijuana is tested much more than the medical marijuana was,” and they’ve been trying to work on that.

Overall, she said, “there were some hard feelings on the marijuana legislation,” even people telling her she was a discredit to her profession (nursing). She says the medical-marijuana community is still concerned that there won’t be enough and that recreational stores won’t carry what they need – lower THC, higher cannabinoid, opposite of what recreational users want. They can’t force stores to carry it, she said, but they will need a special license if they want to. “We’re trying to get it so there’ll be more training, some kind of certification for people who are more knowledgeable about the medical side of things … but as Joe mentioned, there’s no research (that’s been allowed).”

Overall, “things have calmed down a bit … and the medical side has accepted that this is how things are going to move forward.” On the medical side, it’s been a “very interesting trip,” Rep. Cody said, even as they tried to have it treated as a drug – with the request for the feds to treat it as “Schedule 2,” allowing doctors to prescribe it. “It’s a very hard thing for medical professionals, but if it helps, they want people to be able to get it.” She lauded King County for closing down some of the dispensaries – 15 out of 18, according to the latest stats – and she hopes that Seattle will get some closed down too.

Hitchcock added, regarding recently passed legislation, that local governments got the ability to reduce buffer zones to as little as 250 feet. “I think there will be a lot of activity around that.”

Fitzgibbon said it’ll take years to know what the effects are in criminal justice and other areas. “We know local government has faced expense in just implementing the law … coming up with policies … (especially) starting from scratch with rules on how to site a farm, a processing plant, a retail store.” He said that Mexican cartels have “seen their revenue crash” as legalization and decriminalization spread across the country, but so far there’s no evidence of changes in crime as a result.

Audience Q & A included a question from a resident in unincorporated Skyway concerned about “the implementation of actual retail stores … the small areas of Skyway and White Center, a population of only about 35,000, have all the retail stores licensed so far – 7, and two more in the process -” for unincorporated King County, which he said would be akin to 200 for the city of Seattle. He said he’s concerned that trend will continue.

Karen Freeman from the county executive’s office, sitting in the audience, said, “Part of the issue is that the county used to have 12 very large unincorporated areas, and seven of them have been annexed in recent years. So the urban unincorporated area of KC has shrunk significantly – five now, all south of Seattle – and so those are the (only) areas where people in KC can apply to site. … So you end up with this concentration.” The Skyway resident said the state policy “doesn’t look at that at all.” King County’s Hitchcock said the state has no authority and responsibility to determine if there’s an overconcentration. “Is it equitable, just, fair?” asked the Skyway resident. “If not, should it be changed immediately?” Hitchcock said the changing of buffer rules might lead to more areas where they are allowable.

Another attendee said that she wonders if the county and state are left open to a lawsuit for disproportionate effects on communities of color among others.

Fitzgibbon noted that the concentration of dispensaries has dropped, but with 502, yes, you probably will see more stores in White Center on a per-capita basis than in Snoqualmie, for example, “because people are more spread out there.” He said it’s too soon to say if the concentration of 502 stores will lead to undesirable effects – including public safety – because they’re regulated, unlike the dispensaries. “I know it’s going to be better than it was during the bad days of the dispensaries.”

Hitchcock said they’re interested in hearing from residents on “what should be the dispersion model” if communities are disproportionately affected, starting with what those effects area. “That’s a conversation that the county interbranch team is starting to have,” including a look at zoning effects.

“What about the licenses in the process at this point?” – would they be grandfathered? “Yes,” Hitchcock said. Another county rep in the room said that they’re working to come up with land-use reps this quarter.

NHUAC board member Elizabeth Gordon, who is affiliated with what’s currently White Center’s only 502 store, talked about the realities of licensing, including having a location where the landlord will allow it. She noted that WC has “a lot of vacant stores,” and business owners who hold out “until the property taxes are due,” for example. She mentioned the SODO openings because owners who get licenses “have to be open somewhere.” And she suggested the commercial property owners in the unincorporated areas are “not at the table,” and are being affected by vacancies because there’s no sustainble-economic planning.

The attendee concerned about the social/economic-justice effects noted that where negative effects are concentrated, the positive effects are diffused.

Another attendee asked about what KCSO Maj. Wills is seeing regarding crime – he pointed out the crimes that have happened at the NiMBiN store in Top Hat, for example (without naming it). “Obviously the cash is a concern for WC and Skyway,” Wills began. He also said some of these businesses don’t necessarily embrace the KCSO presence. He also recalled seeing the “lines” of customers at dispensaries that are now closed – “what they were doing on their way in and on their way out wasn’t positive, I (was) hearing from our deputies.” Overall, he said, they still have big concerns, and see this as “a big challenge for our community and the Sheriff’s Office.”

NHUAC president Dobkin pointed out that a processing facility opening in the Top Hat area is in the same building as a “collective,” and it’s close to residential, “mostly low-income apartments.”

A rep from the county permitting department said that the owner of the processing facility has come to the county but hasn’t been in active contact since spring. “They have submitted the application but have not followed through, but I’m not sure that it’s going to open any time soon.” Dobkin said she was concerned because she’s seen “active work” on the building. Use up to 2,000 square feet doesn’t require a permit, she said, or for retail, up to 5,000 square feet; with a permit, it could go up to 30,000 square feet, and that would require community input.

Dobkin noted that people are notified within a certain radius and that nearby residents in some areas might not necessarily respond. She didn’t hear about it until it was too late. The permitting rep said applicants are required to put up a 4 x 8 sign, including a phone number – “you can always call us to ask what the sign is about.”

NHUAC board member Liz Giba observed that “there are a lot more questions than there are answers. We don’t know what this is all going to mean, eventually. I really resent the (sentiment) from King County that we can be used as a guinea pig to gather data from. I think this neighborhood needs to be supported, not used. So I’m wondering where in the conversation is the county regarding at least putting a moratorium in place for Skyway and King County, given that we’ve got more than our fair share of stores. … Are you looking at or recommending a moratorium until we can see how all this is going to play out?”

The permitting rep said, “We want to talk with the community, we want to hear from the community about what your concerns are … we want to hear that from you guys.” She mentioned businesses using multiple addresses for license applications because they then will figure out where they will locate if and when they get a license – so the number of applicants is actually fewer than it appears.

“But we’ve seen the results,” said the Skyway resident. “All the stores are in White Center and Skyway.” (So far there actually is one White Center store, two in Top Hat.) He said he’s not seeing King County’s comments; the county permitting rep says, “We say yes from a permitting point of view” – picked up another rep, “if the application is in an area zoned for this use.” But, the Skyway rep said, you’re asked if you approve of the applicant.

“So do we need a new law?” Giba asked.

“You need new zoning in King County,” Rep. Cody said.

A county rep said, “They’re not required to take our feedback into consideration when making a decision.” She used as an example liquor-license applications that were approved even when the county said that it wasn’t appropriate zoning.

There are now 22 stores to be allotted in unincorporated King County and “the smallest cities,” said the Skyway rep.

Rep. Cody said consumers/patients are voicing concerns about their access, and it’s important to take into account the fact dispensaries have been closed.

“As a nurse, how many points of access would you think are necessary for 18,000 people?” asked the Skyway resident.

“We have no idea,” said Rep. Cody, noting again that there used to be a multitude of dispensaries. Seattle, for example, had more than 200 of them, and the LCB was looking at how many could be sited. “Now 42,” added the Skyway resident.

After some contentious back and forth, a county rep pointed out that “a lot of people voted for (I-502)” so the county’s job is to figure out how to get feedback and how to balance differing opinions and interests. “We want to hear more from you about what you want, what you don’t want, what you like.”

“But this conversation isn’t happening elsewhere in unincorporated King County,” pointed out the Skyway resident.

One White Center resident who said he supports 502 says he just wants it to be a “safe place” where “young families can come down … I want them to feel safe in bringing the kids downtown … I just don’t know how it’s going to be regulated. … Where does this leave us in the meantime? In the next year, are we going to have more stores in downtown White Center, and how is it going to be regulated?”

Hitchcock said the county could change zoning and limits but the question would be regarding the licenses that are in process. Cody said that she and Fitzgibbon can feed back to the Liquor and Cannabis Board that there are concerns about disproportionality.

The executive is expected to send the county council a proposal soon, said Alan Painter, yet another King County rep who was sitting in the audience. So, he exhorted, work with the county now. “The concerns of the White Center community have been heard, the concerns of the Skyway cmmunity have been heard there are some differences of opnion over that, it’s going to be sorted out over the next three months.”

Dobkin pointed out that they’ve been voicing their concerns over the past year and they don’t feel they’ve been heard.

Painter said he disagreed – “there were 18 dispensaries and now there are three” (following the summertime crackdown announcement).

“But now we’re talking about the stores,” she said, and noted that regarding dispensaries “it took until there were eight in our little community before there was a moratorium,” though they were illegal to start with. “We have been speaking up for a long time about this.”

NHUAC board member Giba asked Painter if the sheriff gets copies of the requests for information before the state grants licenses. “Is he listened to any more than you are?”

A county rep replied yes, it’s similar to liquor-license input.

Hitchcock said that state law says they only have to take into consideration criminal behavior, so it’s important that they hear about criminal behavior if it’s going on.

Maj. Wills says he does get liquor license renewal forms looking for info.

He was challenged by an attendee saying that state liquor control board reps at community-safety meetings in past years said they never got input from KCSO.

Subsequent discussion brought up whether anyone was trying to limit the number of stores. Hitchcock asked about the primary concern – diversity of businesses, youth use, crime, or … Dobkin said White Center is challenged on a variety of fronts and that’s the main concern, “is this helping the community in any way …. and yes, we do need better diversity of businesses .. we had a yoga studio in downtown White Center that couldn’t stay open longer than a year, we have two halal stores that shut down” even though the area has a large Muslim population, and she said its owners reported their customers didn’t feel safe coming downtown.

It was noted that the county is apparently getting almost a million dollars from marijuana tax this year. What if that money all stayed in WC? How would the community feel? asked an attendee.

Freeman from the county executive’s office said she thinks that number is inaccurate – too high. Challenged on that point, she promised to do research on the expected amount of money and what will be done with it.

Hitchcock at that point said that much of the studies she’s mentioned will focus in south King County. It was then suggested that the focus should be on changing the county’s zoning policies, which are what’s being enforced here. Dobkin said it was never clarified previously “who was in charge.” Hitchcock clarified that the county is accountable for zoning, not licensing.

Dobkin said they’ve been in close contact with local County Councilmember Joe McDermott, including a walking tour and many phone conversations, regarding concerns.

A lawsuit was brought up regarding Bellevue’s dispersion rule – “it’s being challenged to the state court of appeals,” said Hitchcock. It could be relevant here because of the precedent, she added in response to a question.

One attendee clarified that she is not saying that a vibrant business district couldn’t include marijuana businesses.

Another asked what the KCSO is seeing regarding marijuana uses among youth. Maj. Wills said, anecdotally, “we are seeing a steady rise with youth utilizing marijuana -how they’re getting it, I’m not going to suggest. … Without making a societal statement here, perhaps the acceptance of marijuana and other drugs is making it more appealing …”

Rep. Cody said the reports have been that more kids are “vaping” marijuana, though it’s not necessarily that they’ve gotten it from one of the 502 stores. “But the real problem we have is heroin – we have a heroin epidemic going on. I had a kid in my office last year, he is clean now, he was raised in Bellevue, and how he had gotten addicted was from opioids from a knee injury in high school, that a (doctor) let him have,” and then when his prescriptions expired, he started smoking heroin, then shooting up, then flunked out of school and finally got treatment.

In the end, no conclusions, but a spirited discussion.

NHUAC meets most months on the first Thursday, 7 pm, at the North Highline Fire District HQ, 1243 SW 112th.

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What’s on the agenda at the first North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting of 2016

January 3rd, 2016 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 3 Comments »

Thursday, you’re invited to the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council‘s first meeting of the year. Announced by NHUAC president Barbara Dobkin:

Join NHUAC for an Informative and Important Community Conversation:

When: Thursday, January 7, @ 7 pm
Where: North Highline Fire Station (1243 SW 112th Street)


We will have a panel discussion with our guest speakers:

· 34th Legislative Representatives: Joe Fitzgibbon and Eileen Cody
· Laura Hitchcock, Project Manager: Office of King County Executive/Performance, Strategy, & Budget

What impact will the licensing of multiple marijuana stores have in North Highline? Is this consistent with King County’s Equity & Social Justice Initiative?

Plan on attending and share your opinions.

For more information see: or email:

North Highline currently has three licensed recreational-marijuana stores open, one in downtown White Center, two in Top Hat.

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Library update and more @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

December 6th, 2015 Tracy Posted in Libraries, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on Library update and more @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

As the new White Center Library gets closer to completion, concerns continue for those who wonder what would happen to it if Seattle – which has its own library system – annexes the area.

That’s why the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council invited the King County Library System to send a guest to its December meeting, held at the NH Fire District headquarters last Thursday night.

They got answers straight from the top, library director Gary Wasdin.

First, he provided an update on construction – still on schedule, with the exterior almost complete (as you can see in our photo, taken the morning after the meeting), so the interior work will ramp up after the first of the year. While he cautioned that weather is still a factor, if there are no major storms, KCLS will have an announcement of an opening date sometime in February. Right now, it’s still looking like an April opening, but that will be dependent on factors including how long it will take to stock the library and put in furniture.

Next, the annexation-related concerns. While Seattle and King County had had an agreement that the libraries in North Highline would be turned over to the city if annexation happened, Wasdin said that agreement expires at the end of this month. So without a new agreement, annexation at any point after January 1st of next year would leave the libraries in King County’s hands. He said he’s talked to some of Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s staff but no talks about a new agreement are under way, so at this point, the libraries will remain King County libraries.

Asked about the fate of the current White Center Library site, Wasdin said it’s on the market.

STORMWATER 101: King County budget analyst Tricia Davis presented what she described as “Stormwater 101,” an overview of how the county deals with stormwater/runoff. She included some discussion of the recent oil contamination in the White Center stormwater-retention pond north of Steve Cox Park; county stormwater employees work with businesses to find best practices for wastewater, too, and she said they have spoken with La Mexicana, which took responsibility for the edible-oil spill that fouled the pond and harmed birds, so they know how better to handle any future situations.

A new stormwater-management fee system is proposed for 2016-2017, said Davis, and they’re gathering information in early 2016 to send to the County Executive before fall 2016 budget hearings.

Asked about plans for further protection of Hicklin Lake, Davis didn’t have a timetable.

CRIME REPORT: Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer said everything is down except for 4th-degree assaults, which have doubled in the past year. These are the type of incidents, he explained, that involve pushing or shoving or fistfights, the lowest level of assault.

In other issues, he said the bog encampments are gone; the people who had been camping there were served trespassing notices.

REMEMBERING DEPUTY STEVE COX: NHUAC president Barbara Dobkin led a moment of silence in memory of Deputy Steve Cox; December 2nd – the day before the meeting – was exactly nine years since he was killed in the line of duty on December 2, 2006.

NHUAC meets first Thursdays, 7 pm, at the NHFD HQ, 1243 SW 112th. Check for updates.

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THURSDAY: Library updates at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

November 28th, 2015 Tracy Posted in Libraries, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on THURSDAY: Library updates at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

Here’s what’s coming up at the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting next Thursday (December 3rd), from president Barbara Dobkin:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting (NHUAC)
Thursday, Dec. 3 at 7 pm
North Highline Fire Station (1243 SW 112th Street)

Plan on joining NHUAC for the end-of-the-year meeting with our special guest, Gary Wasdin, Executive Director of the King County Library System. This is an opportunity to hear not only about the progress of the new WCL that is under construction on 107th and 14th Ave SW, but also what the future holds for the library (this new library will replace the current White Center Library that is on 16th Ave, and is being built with funds from the voter approved 2004 Library Bond Levy).

Tricia Davis, King County Budget Analyst, will also be on hand with a presentation on problems with polluted storm water run-off, what the King County Storm Water program does, and issues being considered as they develop the storm water fee for 2016-2017.

Our WC storefront deputy, Bill Kennamer, will provide the latest crime stats and discuss general community safety concerns.

Have you noticed more illegal dumping throughout our community? Find out how you can help and what assistance is available for this problem.

See you there.

Please see NHUAC website for the agenda:
Questions – email:

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New sheriff’s storefront location and more at November’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

November 6th, 2015 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 1 Comment »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Another high-profile guest for the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council – last month, the sheriff; last night, the prosecuting attorney. But first, there was big news from KCSO:

MOVING THE STOREFRONT: King County Sheriff’s Office is proposing moving the White Center storefront to the three-story “cottage” at Steve Cox Memorial Park, according to KCSO’s Precinct 4 commander, Major Jerrell Wills. He says the new location would have many advantages over the current one, including a kitchenette and a room where deputies could question suspects. The Community Service Officer would move there too. This used to be the White Center Chamber of Commerce‘s office. It also has a garage that could be used for storage (NHUAC board member Liz Giba pointed out that Jubilee Days uses that garage now, which was news to Maj. Wills). The timeline? “Being realistic … we don’t move swiftly, but this is a first step – being very very optimistic, I would hope we would start moving forward maybe in the first quarter.” Maj. Wills said the current storefront deputy, Bill Kennamer, “is supportive of this move.” It would spare deputies having to drive to the precinct for some things that just can’t be done at the current storefront in downtown White Center. There is going to be a cost savings, Maj. Wills added, though he didn’t have a specific number to share.

Later in the meeting, Deputy Kennamer was asked about the plan, confirming he supports it. The proposal is brand-new, he said, in response to one surprised remark about not having heard anything about it until the meeting. The current storefront space “is a dump … and the landlord won’t fix anything,” he said, and “King County can’t clean it because it’s not a King County building.” The storefront has been in its current space since 1994.

CRIME TRENDS: Before that discussion, Deputy Kennamer started his appearance with crime-trend updates. Violent crimes last month around North Highline included three that “made the blotter,” topped by the October 25th stabbing of Ramon Aspeitia at 15th and Roxbury. Three guys tried to sell the victim meth; he said no; words were exchanged and the three attackers “are considered Hispanic gang members,” he said. They do have “good video from the bus” but “finding out who they are.” The victim did not know them, said Dep. Kennamer. Also, there was a domestic-violence threat at the Shorewood Apartments, husband vs. wife, and the NiMBiN marijuana store armed robbery – “much more dangerous than [the previous case of] driving a car through the window, and it was an organized robbery.” The challenges of finding banks to accept marijuana businesses’ cash was discussed. In other crime stats: Aggravated assaults are up, year-to-year; domestic-violence assaults are the same; commercial burglaries are “way down” as are residential burglaries and auto theft. Residential burglaries 19 last year, 6 this year; auto theft last year 20, this year 12; vehicle recoveries – 18 stolen cars found in this area last year, 6 this year. Very little crime in the new Greenbridge and Seola Gardens developments, he noticed.

One attendee said the person who was responsible for last year’s break-ins, with targets/victims including Dubsea Coffee, is out of jail after a year. “We all know who he is,” Deputy Kennamer said.

He was also asked about what happens if drugs are seen in a car to which a deputy’s attention is called. They should be able to do something about it, he said, adding that they’re not having trouble in The Bog any more “because we’ve trespassed everyone” (ordered them to stay out). The attendee who asked talked about people in cars doing drugs and being told just to leave the area – which results in them driving their cars “while high as a kite, and that’s scary.”

Later, NHUAC president Barbara Dobkin brought up the Seattle proposal to sell off some of the Myers Way parcels to raise money to help homeless people. Deputy Kennamer said there’s a big homeless encampment at Myers and Olson, and it’s city land, and the city doesn’t seem to want to do anything about it. A recent walkabout with County Councilmember Joe McDermott apparently included businesspeople complaining that loitering was harming their business. “It’s not a problem we can arrest ourselves out of,” said Kennamer. He also said there’s one tent left in The Bog and he’s working to find the person who’s responsible for it, so that people can continue to use the park again for its intended purpose.

KING COUNTY PROSECUTING ATTORNEY’S OFFICE: Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg, who talked about his roots in this area, acknowledged the county hasn’t always been the best governing authority for this area, but he wants to make sure it does better, so he brought along some top deputies. He said there are some things the county can do, and first recapped the enforcement action against the 17 unlicensed marijuana sellers, as he described them, who were operating in the unincorporated area as of xx months ago. “We’re in this grand experiment in Washington state” regarding marijuana, Satterberg noted. “We’ve had medical marijuana as a law since 1998, so we’ve had to deal with the fact that that law when passed by the people did not provide for access … it had to fall from the sky for you to actually

“Our goal is to make sure that these stores are out of business by the end of this year, and I think we’re going to make that goal,” Satterberg said regarding unlicensed stores.

Then, it was time to talk about their main subject, the Community Justice Project, a new program to address primarily problem properties. Chief of Staff Carla Lee talked about its genesis in “open-to-entry projects that are attracting the criminal element.”

Deputy prosecutor Cristy Craig talked about moving over to the civil (code enforcement) side of the office. “Sometimes they work together really well, sometimes they get in each other’s way.” So far, she said, they’ve been “going out into the community and reaching out to our Sheriff’s Office so we can hear firsthand where the priority problem code violations are.” Relatively quickly, she said, they were able to correolate these types of structures as “crime magnets,” in other unincorporated areas such as Skyway too, so it’s “become a one-on-one kind of program.” She talked about being in contact with community members including NHUAC president Dobkin regarding the status of particular properties, and getting word of locations where, for example, squatters have turned up. “It’s making efficient and effective use of our resources, including our number one resource, which is (the community).”

NHUAC board member Elizabeth Gordon asked, “What specific action can your office take?” First, a situation has to go through code enforcement, Craig explained, via the Department of Permitting and Environmental Review and its complaint system, “and that gets the process started .. they go through an agency process where they document a violation, and generate (a notification for a property owner) that they have to clean it up.” The Community Justice Project brings the prosecutor’s office in earlier, she explained, and that helps with bank-owned properties, for example – the prosecuting attorney’s involvement gets more attention than the DPER notice, she said. And if necessary, they can go to King County Superior Court to get an order. “People tend to respond more quickly when they’re going to be sued.”

“If they fail to comply, what happens?” Giba asked. The case is referred to the CJP; there might be financial penalties, and emergency abatement. “Often we go through a civil court procedure” first, but “if it’s an emergency situation, the county can work more quickly to get an abatement” – while it’s not a penalty to the violator, it at least takes care of the situation.

Asked community member Gill Loring: What qualifies for the CJP? “High-impact violations,” replied Craig, “if those violations are creating a magnet for crime … that’s the #1 issue, though not the only issue.” Chronically piling-up trash could be one; squatters could be another, if it’s having “unusually high impact on the community.”

Satterberg said the KCPAO is working to be sure DEPR gets the priority nature of this project.

“So when they’re boarded up and stay like this for years,” asked Dobkin, “that’s just allowed, so they can stay like that?”

Craig: “There are some limitations to the code itself – once it’s been closed up, even though that property may not be an attractive property in your neighborhood, it’s technically not a code violation any more.” She said there’s one where she lives, with wildlife living inside, so she gets what that’s like – “but if it looks like a roof is starting to collapse, or (something else) where the structure is not quite complete …”

Board member Elizabeth Devine asked if eminent domain could be used to take over a nuisance property. Not really, said Craig, unless “the county needed that property for a specific project,” but demolition is different.

Deputy prosecutor Darren Carnell: “Government has limited ability to force people to sell (properties) … eminent domain laws are pretty limited in Washington.” They couldn’t “buy it and flip it” even if that made sense, for example.

Craig noted that “This is a pilot project and we have had a fair amount of success … if we continue to have success, which we’ve had without additional (funding), and if it continues to be effective and cost-effective, it’s possible that it could be expanded to include more violations.”

Gordon wondered if there could be a workshop for community members to learn about other mechanisms to deal with this. Craig said that for one, this is about empowering the community to solve problems and find creative solutions, so a workshop might be in order. Or, a home falls into disrepair not because a person doesn’t care but “because they don’t have the means to keep it up,” so finding them help – reaching out “maybe to faith-based communities or neighborhood organizations … to assist people who can’t do it themselves.”

For the people who are squatting, this could synergize with the county’s priority on finding solutions to homelessness and connecting people with services, Craig said. But they’re not usually talking about people who are squatting because they need shelter, but “taking (the house) over for other purposes.” She said that when they started the CJP, they asked various agencies and groups for their “top 10” worst locations, where law enforcement is being called time and time again, for various reasons, and with that, so far they’ve had “some pretty fast turnarounds.”

Satterberg clarified that the team has taken this on in addition to their other duties “and this neighborhood is a real priority for us, so we want to know what your Top 10 neighborhood blights are … it’s not going to happen overnight but if it’s on their radar … we’ll keep at it until we turn it around.”

Community member Bob Price observed that it seems different counties are operating under different rules. Carnell said, “That’s right – rules are largely local and different counties, different parts of the state, have different views of how much government should be in the business of private property owners – King County’s rules are stricter.” Part of that has to do with density, he said, “In urban King County … if people don’t tend to their property, that really affects people around them.”

Satterberg promised to return with “some success stories.”

ANNOUNCEMENTS: NHUAC board secretary Pat Price announced that 1-4 pm this Saturday will bring the celebration of renaming Lakewood Park as Dick Thurnau Memorial Park, as recently approved by the King County Council. The celebration is planned indoors, at TAF’s Bethaday Community Learning Space, with participants including musicians from nearby Cascade Middle School and County Councilmember Joe McDermott; a barbecue is planned, too. … Also mentioned: The White Center Library Guild bazaar is coming up Friday and Saturday, November 13-14 … the county’s draft Comprehensive Plan is about to be aired at meetings, with North Highline residents invited to attend the one at Skyway, date and other details here … Gordon said the King County PAL boxers have a tournament coming up at the Evergreen campus.

CSA GRANT: NHUAC is applying for the county’s Community Service Area grant again in hopes of sponsoring forums.

DECEMBER MEETING: A King County Library System rep will be in attendance with updates on the new library, and what will happen to it if the unincorporated area is annexed. The meeting will be at 7 pm December 3rd at the North Highline Fire District HQ, 1243 SW 112th; watch for updates until then.

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Prosecutors @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s November meeting on Thursday

October 31st, 2015 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on Prosecutors @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s November meeting on Thursday

Just announced by North Highline Unincorporated Area Council president Barbara Dobkin:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council (NHUAC) Meeting
Thursday, November 5 at 7 pm, North Highline Fire Station (1243 SW 112th Street)

Mark your calendars and plan on joining the discussion at the next North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting when we welcome King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, Senior Prosecutors Cristy Craig and Darren Carnell, and Deputy Prosecutor Carla Lee. Information and updates will be provided regarding the “Community Justice Project” – a joint effort between the prosecutor’s office and the sheriff’s office – relating to action to clean up abandoned/vacant properties – many of which have been taken over by squatters. Updates on the status of the medical marijuana dispensaries will also be provided.

Also on hand will be White Center Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer, who will provide updates on crime stats and general safety concerns.

Hope to see you there.

For more information, please see or email:

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council talks marijuana, and more

October 2nd, 2015 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 1 Comment »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

As is usually the case, the monthly North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting sprawled across a long list of topics and concerns.

Before the main announced topic – marijuana and the prevalence of shops both legal and illegal in North Highline – the NHUAC board and attendees heard the newest information on crime:

CRIME STATS UPDATE: White Center’s new storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer says the major categories show an overall year-to-year decline: 14 auto thefts in the past month, compared to 24 in the same month a year ago, “a real dramatic month,” he noted. The Coronado Springs Apartments area is a hotspot. Auto recoveries: Six this past month, compared to 11 the same month last year. Nine assaults, compared to 13 a year earlier; aggravated assaults, 3, up from 0 the same period last year. Commercial burglaries, forced: 2 compared to 1; just one non-forced, same as the period in 2014. Residential burglaries, 2 down from 5 (forced), 3 down from 5 (non-forced). Asked about the recent arson spree that led to an arrest, he said the officer who arrested the suspect, Joyce Ziegenfuss, took her into custody within hours of a “be on the lookout” bulletin happening. (We just checked the King County Jail Register – she remains in custody and was charged with arson.)

Despite all that, some at the meeting said they don’t feel safe in the area. King County Sheriff John Urquhart countered that forcefully, saying he was in Kent the previous night, where there was a “gang homicide” outside the Target store. “When was the last time there was a homicide in White Center?” he asked. (Answer: Going on two years.)

Then came the wide-ranging, multi-guest discussion of marijuana stores, dispensaries, rules, laws, concerns …

WASHINGTON STATE LIQUOR AND CANNABIS BOARD: The area’s new rep spent a few minutes speaking to NHUAC. He mentioned the new rules regarding marijuana businesses that were announced about a week ago; he says several public hearings will be held around the state to “welcome feedback” on the rules. (You can find them listed on this page of the WSLCB website, including one in Seattle on November 16th.) He also discussed changes made by the State Legislature this year, particularly how the medical cannabis business is to be integrated into the recreational business. The state Health Department will be overseeing the issuing of cards, for starters, and he says it’s believed that will reduce the number of fraudulent issuances.

One of the questions asked of the rep was: If the new rules are removing limits on how many marijuana stores will be allowed in a certain area, how will the proliferation be regulated? He said it depends on how many applications are received, among other factors. “So when can we say, we’ve got enough?” the attendee pressed. The rep suggested sharing that feedback with the WSLCB. “Our board is always receptive to that kind of feedback.” He added, “We began with a very conservative number of shops, based on trying to capture 5 to 10 percent of the black market, and then it would be revisited down the road.” Now, they’re hoping to target up to “20 percent of the black market,” he said. “I think we’ve got a long way to go before we capture the illicit market, which is our goal down the road … there’s still a very viable and very large illicit market out there.”

If this area is going to have a disproportionate number of marijuana stores – up to eight allowable, it was said repeatedly, according to the current formula – how can residents be sure they benefit from an appropriate amount of the revenue? asked one attendee. No clear answer ensued, but the rep said there’ll be a “formula.” Right now, spreading the entire $15 million tax revenue around the state would “be very thin,” he added. Overall, the advice was to speak to state legislators (at least one of whom might be attending a NHUAC meeting later this fall). That wasn’t much consolation to attendees who said that it felt as if the area has become a “dump site” for “vices.”

SHERIFF’S TAKE ON IT: Next up, Sheriff Urquhart declared he knows why there are more stores in areas like this – because too many other jurisdictions have banned them. He wondered if there is anything the state can do “to ban that practice.” Said the WSLCB rep, “No – that was the attorney general’s interpretation.” Sheriff Urquhart says then the law should be changed, since the intent of Initiative 502 was that every area would “take its share,” but without that happening, areas like this one that have no way to ban them are winding up with a disproportionate share.

Meantime, he says five of the 15 “illegal” dispensaries in the unincorporated urban areas are out of business, of the ones targeted at the news conference held back in July (WCN coverage here). He says King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg is “dedicated to” putting other shops out of business by going to court – via civil laws (as regional media reported last month) – by year’s end, if necessary. There was some back and forth with the state rep as to whether some of those stores would continue to have a grace period until next July or not.

NHUAC board member Elizabeth Gordon – who runs an I-502-licensed marijuana store in downtown White Center – noted that some areas that don’t have anti-pot-store rules, such as West Seattle, don’t have legal stores because they have few or no spaces that qualify given the buffer-zone rules, and “that’s another reason for the clustering … in this area.”

“Until this all settles out in the next three, four, five years, we’re just not going to know how this is going to work … I call this a giant social experiment in the state of Washington, because that’s what the voters wanted,” said the sheriff. “We just don’t know how this is going to work out.” He looked at the state rep in the audience: “You might have to change your name back to the Liquor Control Board.”

The state rep noted that the buffer-zone rules were changing.

“Could the county limit the number of stores in an area?” Urquhart asked King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, who replied that Bellevue had tried to do that but is “currently being sued … for doing so.” (Here’s a Seattle Times [WCN news partner] story from last year.)

MCDERMOTT ON MARIJUANA, AND MORE: Taking his turn as speaker, the county councilmember said the moratorium on dispensaries in the county is in its second six-month extension, and he hopes to extend it one more time. The moratorium was news to some in the room; McDermott said if someplace new has opened, the county needs to be notified so it can enforce the moratorium. NHUAC president Barbara Dobkin said it’s hard for the community to know what’s going in and where. McDermott noted that if it’s a legal store, there’s supposed to be a notice in the window. Board member Elizabeth Devine said, “No one’s claiming that pot shops are the end of western civilization … but because it’s new, you’re having (some who are responsible) applying next to some (who are not).” She said the fact that cannabis businesses are “all-cash” is a particular challenge/concern. “We just need you and the other legislators to look out for us because all sorts of interesting things can happen … otherwise, all hell can break loose.” McDermott said that’s exactly why he had pursued the aforementioned moratorium, and pressed Olympia to take steps to address the unregulated medical-marijuana business. One man said he felt there isn’t enough concern being shown for White Center; he wants to see “more law enforcement .. more response from the community when we ask for things to stop … cleaning up our streets and sidewalks.” He says White Center isn’t what it used to be, earlier in his 67 years of living here. McDermott noted that King County is not necessarily the best local government for WC. Board member Liz Giba said that she wishes information about unincorporated White Center and Skyway – both urban areas – could get information, broken out from the rest of the unincorporated area. Giba said she would get in touch with McDermott regarding what kind of information she’s looking for.

Resident Gill Loring suggested that anyone concerned about cleanups and other action can get in touch with Bong Sto. Domingo at the county. He also asked McDermott what’s up with annexation; McDermott said all he’s heard are “the same rumors,” regarding Seattle trying to “keep its foot in the door.” Whether the potential sales-tax credit is available at the level that the city wants for annexation was still in question. In the meantime, what can be done for the basics in the area? Loring asked – especially the roads? “The long-term outlook for county revenue is bleak,” answered McDermott. The county has lobbied for increasing the limit on sales-tax revenues, to get more money, and to get support from other jurisdictions, but nothing’s been finalized. Another question from Loring: Has the county researched why larger businesses aren’t opening in/moving to areas like this, given their proximity to the city? McDermott said he’d look into what’s being done in the economic-development area.

Later in the discussion, talk turned to the empty spaces in the heart of the business area, and what could be done about that. “This is a great community,” said one man. “Why can’t we attract people?” Discussion also wandered to trash pickup, and the perceived lack of a requirement for it, in some parts of the business district. Sto. Domingo explained that there IS a requirement, under health laws, but enforcing it is the challenge, with a shortage of resources. McDermott explained that the county’s in the middle of a two-year budget cycle, so nothing regarding funding for those resources can change for at least a year. Sto. Domingo said the crew that comes out periodically is working on it, but the problem seems to be breaking out “every other day.” Dobkin wondered why business leaders such as the White Center Chamber of Commerce aren’t involved in advocating for it; she says that on Sunday mornings in particular, downtown is in terrible shape.

BOG CLEANUP: This weekend county crews will be back at “The Bog,” per NHUAC members and Deputy Kennamer. Anti-trespassing signs will be going up in the area. Shrubbery cleanup will be happening in the 11th/12th/Roxbury vicinity – though that’ll cost a fair amount of money, the deputy noted, up to $60,000.

RENAMING LAKEWOOD PARK FOR DICK THURNAU: The County Council is expected to finalize this (prior WCN coverage here) on October 12th, and assuming that happens, a celebration is planned at November 7th at the Technology Access Foundation‘s Bethaday Community Learning Space.

NORTH SHOREWOOD PARK WORK PARTY: Watch for the official announcement of this, coming up soon.

UNINCORPORATED-AREA GRANTS: The deadline for applying for King County’s “community-engagement grants” is coming up next month – November 16th – it was pointed out. Find out about them here.

MARTIN’S WAY: One of the new owners of the former McMurphy’s at 16th SW & SW 112th, Vik, said the mural is complete and he is thankful for community support. He said he hasn’t had to call KCSO in nine months. He expressed thanks for the accessibility of County Councilmember Joe McDermott (who was present at the meeting). He said he is hoping to create a school at the site, teaching technology among other things. You can find out more at the website for what he says is called Martin’s Way (which started when he had a facility by the same name in the North Delridge area a few years back).

NHUAC COMMITTEES: Open to the public to get involved on a variety of fronts, Dobkin reminded everyone – if you’re interested, e-mail her (find her address on the NHUAC website).

WHITE CENTER CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: Gordon says they’re trying to recover their former e-mail list – many people who used to get notifications of meetings, for example (including us here at WCN), haven’t had word for some time. You can e-mail, she says.

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets on first Thursdays, 7 pm, at the North Highline Fire District‘s HQ. In November, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg is scheduled, and is expected to bring members of his staff, with topics including the “community justice” program relating to abandoned/vacant houses, often bank-owned and taken over by squatters.

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Marijuana stores in the spotlight again at October 1st North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

September 26th, 2015 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 1 Comment »

Just announced:


When: Thursday, October 1 @ 7 pm
Where: North Highline Fire Station (1243 SW 112th Street)

Plan on joining the discussion at the next NHUAC meeting with our special guests:

• King County Council Representative – Joe McDermott
• King County Sheriff – John Urquhart

The discussion will focus on the licensing of marijuana stores in the unincorporated areas of North Highline and Skyway/West Hill. Presently the state has 11 licenses available for the whole of unincorporated King County- 8 of those licenses have already been issued for stores in the urban unincorporated communities of North Highline (3 stores) and Skyway/West Hill (5 stores). There are also changes coming that may allow for an unlimited number of these licenses to be granted. How will this impact our community? Should regulations be enacted to prevent the concentration of these stores in our community?

Also on hand will be our new White Center Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer to provide updates on crime trends and general community safety concerns.

Your voice matters on these important community issues. Hope to see you at this very informative meeting

For more information see: or email:

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