Here’s what happened at the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s last meeting before summer break

June 15th, 2021 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 1 Comment »

Apologies for the delay in this month’s report!

June 3’s online meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council was the last before NHUAC’s summer break.

Here’s what happened:

DRUG-FREE YOUTH: Marissa Jauregui from the Coalition of Drug-Free Youth in White Center/North Highline reviewed what the program’s been working on. She’s been the coordinator for almost a year. The coalition has more than a dozen organizations as partners. “About this pandemic year,” Jauregui said, challenges were many but accomplishments were made all the same. A community survey revealed drug and alcohol use are seen as a big problem:

Here’s how they’ve tackled the problem this year:

They ran YouTube ads, distributed health kits, and offered community training. Other activities have included park cleanups and club meetings at Evergreen High School. For younger students, they’ve done life-skills training for about 100 seventh- and eighth-graders at Cascade Middle School, to decrease the risks associated with peers’ drug and alcohol use. And they’ve offered parent training, including classes in Spanish and Somali.

ROADS FUNDING: Department of Local Services deputy director Danielle de Clercq talked about the Roads levy-lid lift. Funding isn’t keeping up with need, she said.

Here’s what they’re looking at sending to voters in November:

Here’s some of the ways they propose to spend the money:

The proposal was going to the County Council.

GREENBRIDGE UPDATE: The work on Division 8 has had permits for years, but work is just starting now. That’s the reason for the tree removal some are noticing. They will be replaced, and the project area will have “parklets,” Mark Rowe from the county said. This area is the “market-rate housing” part of the project, which previously focused on affordable housing.

17TH SW/SW 100TH: NHUAC also had asked for an update on this project. Land-use planner Christy Vogler and builder Joe Haberzedle joined the meeting to answer questions. This is a plan for 9 townhouse units in two buildings, replacing a parking lot, and they’ll be rented out. The project did not require an environmental review, said Vogler; it’s relatively small. No community notice was required because this includes fewer than 20 units. The builder said they focus on “mainly small in-fill development projects” but this one is unique as they’ll retain ownership. They’re going to be 4-bedroom units, some with 2-car garages, some with 1-car garages. They’ll share a driveway off 17th.

Nearby residents asked why there’s no sign on the property about the upcoming project; Vogler said there should be and promised to get a land-use inspector on the case. A side discussion then broke out regarding safety at a nearby intersection; Local Services said that would have to be taken up with Roads.

Next step at the site is foundation-pouring, as well as excavation for the second building, Haberzetle said.

KING COUNTY PARKS VOLUNTEER PROGRAM: Lina Rose brought a quick overview as well as information about the new Youth Conservation Corps and more. Service learning is big for Parks, and in past years, they’ve worked with about 10,000 volunteers – fewer since the pandemic, of course. Here are toplines about the new YCC, a paid internship program that’ll be part virtual, part in-person:

She said they have “completely amazing candidates” whose applications are being reviewed right now. She then showed the White Center=area parks where work is under way now, including:

And here’s how to get involved:

TEEN PROGRAM: Darlene Sellars talked about this 30-year-old program that helps teens with a variety of skills.

It’s based at Steve Cox Memorial Park and has fitness, academic, volunteer, and other types of programs. They had 50 distribution events for food, pet food,and PPE. They also had a delivery program. There’s even a YouTube studio from which teens have produced more than 100 videos. They also started a postcard-writing program and are happy to send postcards to anyone. 40 staff work with them – 35 are past program participants – and they’ve served tens of thousands. There are volunteer opportunities for teens coming up, too. The bicycle club is new and engages in service programs as well as fun. They’ll have a program on Night Out again this year, too.

SHERIFF’S OFFICE: Deputy Bill Kennamer said a carpet-cleaning business has moved into the former Northmart, and didn’t have anything else to report – it was quiet at the time.

NEXT MEETING IN SEPTEMBER: Watch here and nhuac.org for the announcement when it gets closer.

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Youth, parks, roads, permitting, taxes @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting Thursday

June 1st, 2021 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on Youth, parks, roads, permitting, taxes @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting Thursday

Almost time for June’s NHUAC meeting! Here’s the announcement:

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

Where? North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When? Thursday, June 3, 2021 at 7 pm

How? Join Zoom Meeting at:

us02web.zoom.us/j/87572299021?pwd=L3Y4d21RUUMrbjI4L25VY3pLSHYwZz09

Meeting ID: 875 7229 9021 Passcode (case sensitive): NHUAC2021
Unable to join via Zoom? Please Call: 253 215 8782
Meeting ID: 875 7229 9021 Passcode: 545542019

NHUAC’s June 3rd meeting is going to be the last before our summer break. Our guests will discuss a variety of topics including local youth, parks, roads, permitting and taxes.

Please join us as we welcome Lina Rose of King County Parks; Darlene Sellers of the Teen Program at Steve Cox Memorial Park; Marissa Jauregui of the Coalition for Drug-Free Youth; Danielle de Clerc, Deputy Director of Local Services; and Mark Rowe, Deputy Director of the Permitting Division.

Be there or be unaware!

Knowledge is power.

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

June 3, 2021 at 7 pm – Tell a Neighbor!

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Break in the vandalism case, plan to discourage natural-gas use, judge’s backstory, more @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

May 7th, 2021 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 1 Comment »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

“Celebratory and inspirational” is how North Highline Unincorporated Area Council president Liz Giba described Thursday night’s meeting in its opening moments.

And as always, it was informational. The last guest of the night, in particular, so we’ll start with him.

SHERIFF’S OFFICE UPDATE: Deputy Bill Kennamer said the White Center business-vandalism suspect has been identified and “we just have to catch her now.” The detective has the case ready to file for prosecution and it will be filed, he said, including burglary charges. (For backstory, see the crowdfunding page.) As for overall stats:

41 vandalism and 44 commercial burglaries in the heart of WC in the past two years – that’s most of those two crime categories in unincorporated North Highline. Kennamer also offered his opinion that the policy of not jailing people for property crimes is “going the wrong way” – he agrees that they need treatment but right now there’s no place to take them for that. Other discussion included a note that KCSO has lost 85 people from the deputy ranks. “There is a TON of people working a TON of overtime” as a result.

Back to the celebration.

That was right at the start, as County Councilmember Joe McDermott joined the meeting to talk briefly about his just-passed ban of fireworks in unincorporated areas. He thanked community members for their encouragement, advocacy, and support of the measure, which passed on a 5-4 vote. He also reminded everyone that state law means this can’t take effect for a year – while enforcement won’t start the first year, so the county can do a study to be sure the penalties don’t lead to enforcement inequities.

Then the inspiration:

District Court Judge Fa’amomoi Masaniai, our state’s first judge of Samoan heritage, told his story. He talked about visiting White Center recently – having roots there – and noticing changes (“hey, where’s my Dairy Queen?”). He attended Evergreen High School (Class of 1987) with cousins who lived in South Delridge, and recalled walking through WC with them, from Evergreen to their home. He also remembered street violence back in the day “but we were able to make it through.” He said the new influx of money is exciting on one hand, but doesn’t want to see it lose its identity as a place where someone – say, an immigrant – could get their start. “It’s a different place, a different feel” now. He’s glad to see EHS back as a comprehensive high school, and has already been back to speak to the seniors. He shared reminiscences about sports glories.

Judge Masaniai had many other stories to tell, including working aboard a fishing boat in the Bering Sea. “It taught me what I didn’t want to do with my life” – 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, “constant physical work, you never got a break.” He subsequently worked as a bouncer, airport security, even a golf-course maintenance worker, while he sought other work – finally he got advice that getting a city job could follow if he volunteered. His first role was organizing files, one day a week, and he impressed his supervisor. Then he got to fill in as a bailiff. That led to work as a court clerk, “and I loved it, sitting in that courtroom.” He did that in Tukwila for a few years, working with a judge who encouraged him to go to law school. The UW rejected him. Seattle U put him on a waitlist. They accepted him – but his funding fell through. Then he got to study through a “Rule 6” training program which after 4 years enabled him to take the bar exam and become a lawyer. He started off as a Public Defender for small cities. “I got all this great exposure … and in 2006 I got this opportunity” to apply as an assistant attorney general in Samoa, where he went to learn more about everything from his cultural history to prosecuting. He went there on a two-year contract; after 18 months, he became an assistant prosecutor on a high-profile human-trafficking case.

He returned to the mainland and did civil legal work for 2 1/2 years before becoming a pro-tem judge; he started that work in Issaquah, then went to Seattle from 2014 until recently, handling all kinds of cases. But he “really wanted to be in the county” so he pursued pro-tem work in small cities, and continued kicking his quest for judicial work into high gear last year. Becoming a judge involves getting evaluated by multiple bar associations; he was evaluated by five, including King County. He won “exceptionally well-qualified” rankings from all five, he said. Then the district-court judgeship opened up, and he was one of three applicants. (Usually a judicial opening would have ‘eight or nine” applicants, Judge Masaniai said.) One withdrew before the interviews.

Questions: What do you like most about being a judge? “Helping people.” And “seeing success stories” – he told one about someone who successfully completed years of treatment, improvement, and other accountability after offending.

Also: What has he done to help youth? He has worked in the Juvenile Division, worked with Asian American/Pacific Islander advocates, and he has an ongoing relationship with EHS to help encourage youth to get and stay on the right path. “They don’t (always) know how to do this,” he said, so he asks, what do you want to do? What’s a path to success and a good life? Good grades, college, apply for a good job, get help if you need tutoring …

PERMITTING DIVISION: Nicole Sanders, who introduced herself as a principal planner for green building in King County, outlined proposed energy-code changes that will go to the County Council as legislation. They’re taking on natural gas, in particular.

The objectives: Reduce emissions; natural gas is a major source of the still-prevalent emissions. Here’s some of what they say is bad about gas:

They’re proposing banning natural gas heat in new multifamily and commercial buildings.

The proposal doesn’t affect existing houses

Here is what they’re proposing:

There was a comment period open until April 30th but they will accept comments through May 14th as they shape the legislation for sending to the County Council this summer.

Question: Are there still solar incentives? Some, said Sanders, including no state sales tax.

LOCAL LUNCH: Noon-1 pm Fridays, join the Department of Local Services online.

NEXT MEETING: King County Parks’ volunteer coordinator Lina Rose will be a guest, talking about a summer youth-internship program. Application deadline is May 30th, so apply now! Darlene Sellers says there are more paid summer gigs too. We will publish a separate story on that info when we receive it. The NHUAC meeting will be on the first Thursday as usual – June 3rd, 7 pm.

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THURSDAY: Meet a history-making judge at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s May meeting

May 4th, 2021 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC Comments Off on THURSDAY: Meet a history-making judge at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s May meeting

As announced by the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

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

Where? North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting
When? Thursday, May 6, 2021 at 7 pm
How? Join Zoom Meeting:
Meeting ID: 987 5068 2577
Passcode (case sensitive): NHUAC2021
Unable to join via Zoom? Please Call: 253 215 8782
Meeting ID: 987 5068 2577 Passcode: 956569157

Happy May! We made it! After all the stress and uncertainty, are you ready to be inspired? If so, this month’s NHUAC meeting is the place to be!

We will be joined by the first judge of Samoan heritage in Washington state! Judge Fa’amomoi Masaniai made history when he was unanimously appointed by the King County Council to fill a vacancy on the bench of the Southwest District Court. Not inspired yet? You will be. Judge Masaniai’s story is one of a poor kid from an immigrant family who beat the odds through perseverance, hard work, and the love and support of family and community. He grew up in San Francisco’s inner city before moving to the South Delridge area and graduating from White Center’s Evergreen High School in 1987. YAH Wolverines! YAH Judge Masaniai! Do not miss this chance to congratulate and learn from a homegrown role model.

Role models offer us a vision of what the future can be. Nicole Sanders, a planner with the Green Building section of King County Permitting, will help us visualize a healthier future. She will help us understand how climate change harms communities like North Highline, what can be done to reduce it, and ask for our help reducing it. If you want more information prior to the meeting, it can be found at: Legislation for public review and comment – King County
Technically, comments were due on April 30th. However, comments made by May 14th will be included when the proposed code is transmitted to the King County Council for consideration. Please bring your questions and join the discussion!

And, of course, Deputy Bill Kennamer will share what KCSO has been doing in North Highline.

Knowledge is power.

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

May 6, 2021 at 7 pm – Tell a Neighbor

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Pandemic, participatory budgeting, policing @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s April meeting

April 2nd, 2021 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 3 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Three King County guests with very different focuses were in the spotlight at this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, held online Thursday night.

PANDEMIC: Becky Reitzes from Seattle-King County Public Health was the first guest of the night. She began by mentioning the “concerning” recent rise in cases. It could be the start of a fourth wave, county health officer Dr. Jeff Duchin has warned.

18-24 is the group with the highest increase in cases. They can pass it on – like to the 40-to-69 group that represents the biggest increase in hospitalizations. But the good news is that the vaccines are all working very well. Whichever shot is accessible to you is the one to get (unless for example getting two shots is going to be really difficult – say, someone experiencing housing instability – in which case the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine might be preferable).

Is there talk of rolling back reopening, to hold off that fourth wave? Reitzes said she’s sure there’s talk about it but nothing’s planned. “I’m hopeful people are going to get it together” and keep up precautions, she said.

She showed vaccination percentages from around the county and noted some stats showed above 100 percent because the baseline is old census data.

She also talked about the increase in eligibility, warning that availability still hasn’t caught up. “We do not anticipate an increase in dose in the next couple weeks, but after that,” things are likely to get better.

If you need telephone help with scheduling an appointment, there’s a hotline for that:

The county has lots of online help too:

Reitzes fielded a variety of questions, such as, if you have had COVID, can – and when should – you get vaccinated. One person said a relative had been told, wait three months. Reitzes said that is not necessarily good advice because they just do not know how long natural immunity lasts. How long will the vaccine-conferred immunity last? No one knows yet. How do you get an appointment? She advises trying your search early in the morning. Is the county hearing much about vaccine hesitancy? Not a lot, but, they do hear about misinformation being spread, which can contribute to that. They’re hearing much more about demand than hesitancy, she said. And even for those who are doubtful or skeptical, they see friends/family who got vaccinated, and that increases their comfort level.

KING COUNTY LOCAL SERVICES: Director John Taylor was back again this month. Main topic: Participatory budgeting. As reported here last week, the county is now recruiting for a Community Investment Committee to figure out how to spend the money set aside for this – $10 million. (Committee members will get some compensation, too.)

Gloria Briggs is a new coordinator hired for the effort, and she introduced herself. (She recently came to King County from Seattle City Light and said she has a long history of community advocacy.) Taylor continued, saying they’re in the midst of a push to get information out and already have received some applications but they want a really “robust” group. Once the committee is formed, here’s what happens:

He also mentioned the first-ever Community Needs List, which will be incorporated into the next two-year budget cycle. The $10 million will be a “down payment” on that, “a pilot for how we approach these Community Needs Lists.”

Q&A included – $10 million, five urban unincorporated areas, does that mean $2 million per area? No, said Taylor; most of the money will go to the biggest, most diverse areas – North Highline and Skyway. (There’s also an additional million-plus from marijuana taxes going entirely to those areas.) How many members on the committee? Probably 21.

As an aside to a question about roads funding, Taylor said the county is still in desperate need for more money on that: “There are very few things that keep me up at night, roads funding keeps me up at night.” So that is being brainstormed on a separate level.

KING COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE: Storefront deputy Bill Kennamer said a shooting outside a hookah lounge in Top Hat had two victims and is still under active investigation. He plans to contact the building owner to try to deal with recurring problems at that business. Crime stats are “still consistently down from last year.” He mentioned a robbery at a gas station on Roxbury in which the victim was uncooperative. He noted the Southgate Roller Rink takeover of the old Bank of America building on 17th SW is good news – one less vacant building. NHUAC board member Barbara Dobkin asked about recent drag racing, Kennamer said it’s a regional problem, with a group that keeps moving around “to where the police don’t expect them to be … They’re very difficult to track.” Could there be a regular KCSO presence on Roxbury to deter it? Kennamer noted that the racing happened around 1 am, and that’s when there are two deputies for all of unincorporated North Highline. But, he said, he can suggest an emphasis patrol. What about the nuisance house near 18th/100th? Right now it’s a code-enforcement issue, not a criminal issue. There’s apparently an open case; Local Services director Taylor promised to check on its status. Kennamer also said LEAD is finally on its way to White Center “and that hopefully will get some of our locals off the street.” He said he’s been talking to some vehicle dwellers near 15th and 104th and “they’re ready” to accept help.

KING COUNTY CONSERVATION CORPS: As reported here Tuesday, Taylor and King County Executive Dow Constantine joined them in cleanup work in White Center to showcase a proposal to expand the KCCC as part of pandemic–relief spending. Kennamer offered praise for the group, saying they’r doing great work.

KING COUNTY FRIDAY MEETINGS: NHUAC president Liz Giba recommended getting involved with these, noon every Friday. Info for participating/watching is on the Local Services home page.

NEXT MEETING: NHUAC meets first Thursdays, 7 pm, most months, so watch for info on the May 6th meeting when it gets closer.

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THURSDAY: Here’s why you want to be part of North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s April meeting

March 30th, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on THURSDAY: Here’s why you want to be part of North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s April meeting

The month begins with North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s always-informative April meeting. Here’s the announcement:

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

Where? North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When? Thursday, April 1, 2021 at 7 pm

How? Join Zoom Meeting: kingcounty.zoom.us/j/98750682577

Meeting ID: 987 5068 2577
Passcode (case sensitive): NHUAC2021
Unable to join via Zoom? Please Call 253 215 8782
Meeting ID: 987 5068 2577 Passcode: 956569157

As North Highline continues to have one of the highest COVID-19 positivity rates in the county, the virus continues to evolve. Last month’s NHUAC meeting was packed with information, but it was a month ago. What has changed? What should we know about the “Three V’s” – virus, variants, and vaccines? To answer these questions and more, we will be joined by Becky Reitzes, Educator Consultant with Public Health of Seattle & King County. Becky has been working on the COVID Community Mitigation Response since the beginning of the pandemic. Please bring your questions and join the discussion!

The shortage of adequate funding for capital projects, services and programs is an ongoing challenge in North Highline. As our local government, one of King County’s primary responsibilities is budgeting – deciding where and how our tax dollars are spent.

King County is taking a different approach to budgeting than it has used in the past. It is called Participatory Budgeting (PB). PB was first used in 1989 as an anti-poverty measure in Brazil where it successfully helped reduce child mortality by almost 30%. According to Participatory Budgeting Project’s website, “Participatory budgeting (PB) is a democratic process in which community members decide how to spend part of a public budget. It gives people real power over real money.” Imagine what North Highline can be if people with personal knowledge of our community make decisions about how tax dollars are spent in our community. Sounds like a perfect fit for a NHUAC meeting, doesn’t it? Now imagine that you or a neighbor was one of those decision-makers. Join us as John Taylor, Director of the Department of Local Services, explains how King County will approach this chance to expand democracy and opportunity in North Highline and how you could become part of the Community Investment Committee.

Our Storefront Deputy, Bill Kennamer, will join us once again to share what he and his fellow deputies have been working on in North Highline.

Knowledge is power.
Learn, share, and help make North Highline a better and healthier place.
April 1, 2021 at 7 pm – Tell a Neighbor!

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From pandemic to policing, here’s what happened at March’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

March 9th, 2021 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on From pandemic to policing, here’s what happened at March’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Health and safety were at the heart of presentations during this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, held online last Thursday night.

PANDEMIC UPDATE: Matias Valenzuela from King County started the update, showing the chart with the ups and downs of case counts, and now a plateau:

That’s a concern, as are the new variants, he said. Meantime, he recapped that the region remains in Phase 2 of reopening – limited-capacity indoor dining and shopping, for example. And he went through the eligibility phases for vaccination, so far, including the governor’s recent announcement of eligibility for educators and child-care workers. As the governor announced today, high-risk workers and others are coming up. So the approval of a third vaccine – the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot – is important. Valenzuela sought to quash any concerns it’s less effective, noting that no one who got it in the trials died or even had to be hospitalized. “We have three very good approved vaccines, very good news for what we have to do right now.” The newest eligibility categories mean 52,000 more people eligible in King County, added to 117,000 already-eligible older adults who have yet to get their first shot. They have many more vaccinators ready to go – they are just waiting for vaccine.

If you’re interested in more data, you can check out the county’s many data dashboards (start here). Valenzuela showed an example – 56 percent of white people in King County have been vaccinated, but only 37 percent of Black people.

69 percent of people 75 and older have gotten their vaccinations. Valenzuela showed the geographic percentages too:

They are working on various outreach strategies to get the word out, and to get people to vaccination sites.

Mentioned at that point: The VA medical system says its vaccine process is open to all veterans now, to whom it provides care. Here’s the message shared onscreen at the meeting:

How are efforts to make more shots available to, for example, BIPOC communities managed to ensure that’s what’s happening? Valenzuela said they’re using a variety of screening and outreach tools to do their best. He also said they are working to decentralize the administration of vaccinations, so there are more community health clinics, pharmacies, etc., offering it.

Next, Fire Chief Mike Marrs talked about the risks they run of dealing with possibly COVID-positive people on emergency calls. If exposed, they have to go into quarantine, and that hurts staffing. “It’s been a challenging year in that regard.” But he said they’ve been successful at both keeping firefighters safe and keeping them from “bringing it into your homes.” He also talked about North Highline launching a mobile vaccination team three weeks ago. They “don’t have a mass vaccination capacity” but “we still make house calls,” so they’ve gone to adult family homes and King County Housing Authority sites, and are about to move on to senior facilities. At their peak, they can give about 120 shots a day. Eventually they expect to transition their mobile vaccination personnel to helping at mass-vaccination sites (he expects the closest one to be in Tukwila). The fire department also has handled two mask/sanitizer giveaways and is expecting to present at least one more event – those items are still key to stopping the spread.

OFFICE OF EQUITY & SOCIAL JUSTICE: Director Arthur Hendricks spoke to NHUAC about the office‘s mission. Six goals cover how the office supports county departments. They both provide support in access to resources and support for equitable decision-making. Community engagement is a specialty; regarding equity, they look at distributional equity, process equity, and cross-generational equity – “the decisions we’re making today …how are they going to impact folks into the future?” They use tools such as an “equity impact review,” helping managers think about the impact of the decisions they make. The pandemic led to a lot of “hand-wringing” and disruption a year ago, putting everyone into “emergency-management mode” with action needing to be taken quickly, such as providing shelter for houseless people. He also talked about the “equity impact awareness tool,” which is centered on race because of how heavily that factors into the distribution of resources. Also examined – economic status and factors such as homeownership, food insecurity, and age. Geography, too:

Valenzuela rejoined the discussion and talked about addressing disability in equity discussions, too.

KING COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE: Major Jeff Flohr started by talking about the Grocery Plus drive-in burglary. They have identified the suspect as Tylor Saeteurn. The grocery store suffered about $30,000 in damage. He also mentioned the recent shootings. He said they don’t appear to be linked, but drugs seem to be a common theme, among other points.

To respond, Maj. Flohr found money for an extra car to do “targeted patrol” starting Friday, through April. That means a third car to float between White Center and Skyway, for higher visibility as well as quicker response. The Special Emphasis Team will work on drug/gun cases, targeting “folks who might live in the area who have outstanding gun warrants.’ The Major Crimes Unit is working on shooting cases.

He addressed the state Supreme Court ruling about drug possession. It means deputies cannot arrest a person for ‘simple drug possession’ nor confiscate the drugs. “There is nothing we can do about it.” They can still go after dealers and traffickers, but until and unless it’s “fixed by the Legislature,” there’s not much deputies can do. This also means programs like LEAD are de-toothed because there’s nothing to say ‘work with us or else…”

Stats: 911 calls were down last year, and response times to critical incidents were “in the top 25 percent of the country”:

What about criminal-justice reform and its effects? Maj. Flohr said he personally is concerned that there are no systems in place to replace law enforcement.

Deputy Bill Kennamer presented his regular update. The Myers Way shooting was a homicide, and “it was not a random act of violence.” A suspect was arrested in the recent Bartell Drugs robbery. Two local spa/massage locations were raided for human trafficking. Evidence has been sent to the prosecuting attorney’s office.

Asked about RV camping by the bog, Kennamer said the sheriff ordered deputies not to enforce parking rules if a vehicle appears to be a residence. What about tents? County Parks is not kicking people out, either. If you have feedback on those policies, Flohr and Kennamer stressed, contact the sheriff and County Councilmember Joe McDermott.

KING COUNTY PARKS: Darlene Sellers was there to talk about the many programs they’re doing virtually – including taking submissions now for an online edition of the Log Cabin Talent Show. They’ll have a distribution of free art supplies – plus masks – grab ‘n’ go style coming up. Here’s all the info she presented:

Everyone’s welcome to watch the show on March 26th.

OTHER NOTES: Chief Marrs thanked the community for re-authorizing the Benefit Charge to fund the fire department, which has bought two new fire engines and is buying a new aid car. Six future staffers are in the Fire Academy and they’ll need a few more to get 24-hour staffing and have it in service by year’s end.

NEXT MEETING: NHUAC meets first Thursdays at 7 pm online; watch here for connection/participation information.

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THURSDAY: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council focuses on COVID-19 pandemic

March 2nd, 2021 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on THURSDAY: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council focuses on COVID-19 pandemic

Last weekend marked exactly one year since the first King County cases of COVID-19 were reported. This Thursday, the pandemic is the focus of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council‘s monthly meeting. Here’s the preview just in from NHUAC:

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

Where? North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting
When? Thursday, March 4, 2021 at 7 pm
How? Join Zoom Meeting: kingcounty.zoom.us/j/98750682577

​​​​​​Meeting ID: 987 5068 2577
​​​​​​Passcode (case sensitive): NHUAC2021

Unable to join via Zoom?
Please Call 253.215.8782
​​​​​​Meeting ID: 987 5068 2577 ​
Passcod​e 956569157

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been an exhausting and ongoing, yearlong natural disaster unprecedented in its duration, damage and pervasive impact on our lives.” (Dr. Jeff Duchin, King County Public Health Officer, 2.26.21)

North Highline has certainly suffered. According to the county’s COVID-19 Data DashboardDaily Summary, North Highline continues to have one of the highest positivity rates in the county. In recognition of the reality that the battle is not yet won, much of NHUAC’s March 4th meeting will focus on COVID-19, what we can do, what lies ahead, and the role social equity might play in crafting a winning response.

We will be joined by Matias Valenzuela, currently a Director with Seattle-King County Public Health and formerly Director of King County’s Office of Equity and Social Justice; North Highline Fire District Chief Mike Marrs; and Art Hendricks, manager of King County’s Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice Group. The Sheriff’s Office was busy in North Highline in February. Major Jeff Flohr and Deputy Bill Kennamer will join us for what is sure to be an informative meeting.

Have you heard? COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics will be held at Evergreen High School (830 SW 116th) in White Center on Wednesday and Thursday, March 3rd and 4th, from 10 am to 4 pm. These Vaccine Clinics are for White Center residents (and nearby neighbors) who fall into Phases 1A and 1B1 of the state’s vaccine prioritization schedule because they are: 65 or older; 50 or older and living in multigenerational households; residents of long-term care facilities; high-risk first responders; healthcare workers; or high-risk workers in health care settings. If a neighbor fits these criteria, please share this link and information with them.

kroger.com/rx/guest/get-vaccinated?vaccineGroup=ehs

In Step 1 (the location field), type 98146 to get to QFC-FM-CHAMBER-EVERGREEN HS(Clinic Event at 830 SW 116th St.) and make an appointment. If there are appointments available, walk-up registration will be done on-site.

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

March 4, 2021 at 7 pm – Tell a Neighbor!

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White Center Food Bank search, King County plans, more @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s first 2021 meeting

February 7th, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County, King County Sheriff's Office, North Highline UAC, White Center Food Bank, White Center news 1 Comment »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

The White Center Food Bank‘s search for a new home and King County reps’ update on local services headlined Thursday night’s online meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council.

WHITE CENTER FOOD BANK: Associate executive director Carmen Smith was the guest. While she discussed WCFB’s search for a new home – since its current site is going to be redeveloped for affordable housing and other nonprofits’ headquarters – she offered some background and other updates first. WCFB is dedicated to ensuring that food is a right, not a privilege. WCFB has been around almost half a century.

COVID 19 has forced WCFB to switch to an outdoor grocery sort of model, Farmers’ Market-style.

Clients can visit the WCFB up to three times a month – here’s how their usage increased last year

“The community really showed up for us (last year),” Smith said.

Relocation has been at least four years in the making – even if they had chosen to be part of the redevelopment, they surveyed clients and found that the current location is “really hard to get to.” They were missing “a large pocket of northeast WC.”

They’ve been looking for a new home for “almost two years now and not having a lot of luck.” A property on 13th SW near Steve Cox Memorial Park looked good but someone else is buying it. They’ve looked at a wide range of possibilities and “nothing is the right fit.” They’ve got a few more to review, such as the former Bank of America building, finally on the market. Here’s what they’re looking for:

They really want to stay in WC but could move outside if it comes to that. Their deadline for getting out of the current location “might be within the next year” depending on how the permits for the redevelopment goes. “It’s super-scary,” Smith acknowledged.

Is the county helping? NHUAC’s Liz Giba asked. County Councilmember Joe McDermott said yes.

What about the never-used Top Hat quarantine site? “It looks kind of small,” Smith observed. McDermott said that could be a possibility – that site’s future is supposed to be decided with community consultation.

KING COUNTY: Councilmember McDermott was asked to offer some highlights of what’s going on. He started with the county’s COVID-19 response. He hit some recent highlights such as King County (and six others comprising two “regions”) moving to reopening phase 2 as of this past Monday. Vaccinations were the main topic of his e-newsletter last week (see it here).

He said it’s important for people to know they’re not alone in having trouble making appointments.

Though the county has never had to activate the aforementioned Top Hat quarantine site, it continues to maintain the site to be ready if needed, ‘for the duration of the pandemic.” He also acknowledged the ongoing interest in a Housing/Opportunity analysis for North Highline. There’s a similar type of review, for housing only, that’s been done and will be presented in a County Council committee; McDermott promised to let NHUAC know about hearings and meetings.

Next, KC Local Services director John Taylor presented updates. “We’ve been out a lot,” distributing masks and hand sanitizer, especially in unincorporated areas with a large low-income population:

Local Services also has been “working on getting local businesses to survive this pandemic”:

Community Needs List development is also big.

Money for participatory budgeting will come from sources including marijuana taxes.

Taylor also noted that Local Services’s major divisions have kept running throughout the pandemic – Road Services has been busy:

Permitting also has been going “full speed ahead,” Taylor said:

Then, Q&A: How will community members participating in the participatory budgeting be identified? asked NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin. “We don’t know yet,” said Taylor, but noted that racial equity will factor into it. McDermott said they’re “making sure we have a broad input to decide how to spend these funds.”

What’s being evaluated for mass-vaccination sites? McDermott was asked. He noted that Kent and Renton were chosen because of the transmission rates in those areas. County sites are meant to be stopgaps but if you have a health-care provider, that’s your first stop.

When will the fireworks-ban bill be on a committee agenda? he was asked. It has been re-introduced, and on February 17th at 9:30 am, it’ll go before the Committee of the Whole, he said.

Other discussion included the concentration of low-income housing in White Center, and potential zoning changes compounding existing “substandard development.” Taylor countered that now is the time to speak up about what you want to see in zoning. “To be sure, there’s a tradeoff between more density and quality of life in a community … but there’s also a sweet spot.”

Giba thanked the county for allotting masks and hand sanitizer to the North Highline Fire District and said NHFD will have a distribution event in March.

McDermott wrapped up by reflecting on the effects of the pandemic beyond health and economy … even something as seemingly simple as the fact this meeting had to be held online. “I hope we will build back better.”

KING COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE: Maj. Jeffrey Flohr spoke about an emphasis patrol held around the turn of the year, adding an extra car to Skyway/White Center – making three cars at that time instead of the usual two – for a few hours a night. That happened in a time of rising violence, drug problems, and traffic trouble.

Firearms crimes and “narcotic distribution crimes” have been a focus. Most of the latter have been people coming in from other communities to sell drugs and guns “to our residents” …. “people in crisis” that were being “preyed on.” He showed the results of just one night:

One suspect known to deputies had a lot of drugs on him “and we were really excited to get him off the streets. Maj. Flohr qlso showed fake Oxy pills that are actually made from fentanyl and are endangering people.

A traffic stop netted this gun and drugs.

Fury the drug-detection dog helped:

Dogs like Fury are NOT trained to detect marijuana, Maj. Flohr said … just illegal drugs. The table Fury is sitting on included drugs seized in White Center and elsewhere – worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Fake credit cards and tools to make them, too, plus thousands of dollars in cash; six people were arrested, and one child was taken into protective custody. “None of these people were from our area,” Maj. Flohr stressed, saying none were addicts, either – just involved in “business” with “poison.” In response to a question, he said the suspects are still in jail.

Here’s what KCSO is focusing on:

They are working on “wraparound services,” he said.

Whatever happened to Block Watches? asked an attendee. “We’re trying to get this going again,” said Maj. Flohr, as the result of many community comments.

Another question: What’s being done to address the root cause of all this? Best Starts for Kids is one thing, Taylor mentioned. also: Deputies are getting trained in LEAD, which has long been in the works for White Center, Flohr said.

Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer‘s update was next. He said traffic complaints on 106th and 107th have been on his radar – literally – he spends time there clocking cars but is not detecting many speeders.

Commercial burglaries in the unincorporated South Park area and Beverly Park have been a problem – 9600 block of 4th Ave. S., “a very dark industrial neighborhood” – he’s met with businesses and discussed crime-prevention advice. Last month saw 8 commercial burglaries – “up a lot” – and 2 residential burglaries.

The 9800 block 18th SW problem house is believed to be linked to a trash problem that the county has cleaned up;

Kennamer is working on a case against the house.

Another recurring problem: RVs and abandoned cars. He tries to get RV dwellers into housing but “100 percent of the time it’s been unsuccessful,” he says. LEAD outreach services will be a game-changer, he believes. “There should be more counselors and advocates out in the area. Right now there are none.” Towing or impounding an RV is a last resort, said Maj. Flohr.

One last point – “a lady who is breaking windows in White Center” has behavioral issues and “we have nowhere to take her.” She broke windows on 16th SW with a hammer, he elaborated.

NEXT MEETING: 7 pm March 4th; watch for the link.

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THURSDAY: White Center Food Bank’s future, King County Local Services, more, @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

February 1st, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County, King County Sheriff's Office, North Highline UAC, White Center Food Bank, White Center news Comments Off on THURSDAY: White Center Food Bank’s future, King County Local Services, more, @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

Big lineup this Thursday at the online meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council – here’s the preview:

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

Where: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting
When: Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 7 pm
How: Join Zoom Meeting: https://kingcounty.zoom.us/j/98750682577

Meeting ID: 987 5068 2577
Passcode (all caps}: NHUAC2021

Unable to join via Zoom? Please Call: 1 253 215 8782
Meeting ID: 987 5068 2577
Passcode: 956569157

Happy Groundhog Day to North Highline, movie buffs and Bill Murray fans! 2020 is over and 2021 offers new opportunities to support a healthy community that does not back away from our struggles. At our last meeting with Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon and Sen. Joe Nguyen, we heard that the White Center Food Bank (WCFB) may soon be displaced from its home near Dick Thurnau Memorial Park. WCFB’s Associate Executive Director Carmen Smith will join our first meeting of 2021 to update us on this essential community organization.

Because North Highline is an unincorporated area (not part of a city), King County serves as both our regional (county) and local (municipal) governments. Many of the decisions that will form our future are being made by King County Executive Dow Constantine and the King County Council and implemented by King County’s Department of Local Services. King County government is a common denominator for the people of North Highline. Its impact includes: COVID-19 to public health to economic and ethnic justice to segregation and discrimination to displacement, fair housing and opportunity to schools, parks and open spaces to density and permitting to roads and infrastructure, police, and public safety to fireworks and cannabis shops to taxes and the budget….

That is why NHUAC is pleased that we will also be joined by King County Councilmember Joe McDermott and John Taylor, Director of the Department of Local Services.

The King County Sheriff’s Office is another essential part of our community. This month we will be joined by Major Jeffrey Flohr and Deputy Bill Kennamer.

Knowledge is power.
Learn, share, and help make North Highline a better place.
Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 7 pm – Tell a Neighbor!

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CANCELED: Tonight’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting is off

January 7th, 2021 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on CANCELED: Tonight’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting is off

Just received:

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting scheduled for tonight, Thursday, January 7, has been cancelled..

Please plan on joining us for our next scheduled meeting on Thursday, February 4th.

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THURSDAY: White Center Food Bank’s future, King County Local Services, and more @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

January 5th, 2021 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on THURSDAY: White Center Food Bank’s future, King County Local Services, and more @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

Thursday night, you’re invited to 2021’s first North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting:

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

Where? North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When? Thursday, January 7, 2021 at 7 pm

HOW: Join Zoom Meeting
https://kingcounty.zoom.us/j/97919005010

Meeting ID: 979 1900 5010
Passcode: NHUAC2021 (case sensitive)

Call in:
253 215 8782
Meeting ID: 979 1900 5010
Passcode: 030143620

Good News! 2020 is over and 2021 offers new opportunities to support a healthy community that does not back away from our struggles. At our last meeting with Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon and Sen. Joe Nguyen, we heard that the White Center Food Bank (WCFB) may soon be displaced from its home near Dick Thurnau Memorial Park. WCFB’s Associate Executive Director Carmen Smith will join our first meeting of 2021 to update us on this essential community organization.

Because North Highline is an unincorporated area (not part of a city), King County serves as both our regional (county) and local (municipal) governments. Many of the decisions that will form our future are being made by King County Executive Dow Constantine and the King County Council and implemented by King County Local Services. King County government is a common denominator for the people of North Highline. Its impact includes:

COVID-19 to public health to economic and ethnic justice to segregation and discrimination to displacement, fair housing, and opportunity to schools, parks, and open spaces to density and permitting to roads and infrastructure, police, and public safety to fireworks and cannabis shops to taxes and the budget…

That is why NHUAC is pleased that we will also be joined by King County Councilmember Joe McDermott and John Taylor, the Director of the Department of Local Services.

The King County Sheriff’s Office is another essential part of our community. This month we will be joined by Major Jeffrey Flohr and Deputy Bill Kennamer.

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

Thursday, January 7th, 7 pm

Our coverage of last month’s meeting is here.

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council talks Legislature, stormwater @ December meeting

December 8th, 2020 Tracy Posted in King County, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on North Highline Unincorporated Area Council talks Legislature, stormwater @ December meeting

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Previews were the order of the night when the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council met online last Thursday.

Two of our area’s 34th District state legislators previewed the next session, and a King County rep previewed

LEGISLATORS’ PREVIEWS: State Sen. Joe Nguyen and State House Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon were the first guests, to talk about the legislative session ahead. Sen. Nguyen – just elected to a leadership post – opened with a recap of the busy time between sessions. He said he works a lot on transportation and technology (his professional background is in the latter). “Helping youths be successful” is another focus, “on the human-services side.” Leading up to the session, “progressive revenue” has been a major focus for him, with so many needs. He talked about growing up in Park Lake Homes – now Seola Gardens – and how the kinds of programs that helped his family then need support and investment now. Climate and sentencing reform are also priorities.

Rep. Fitzgibbon hopes to continue as the chair of the Energy and Environment Committee (House leadership decisions will be made next week). There are many environmental issues, he noted, from addressing air/water pollution to improving recycling and composting. He now lives close to White Center, he added, in south Highland Park, not far north of the city-limit line. He hopes to pursue the fireworks-law changes again this year, to help facilitate a ban in unincorporated King County (provided the County Council passes one). He also talked about land use and ensuring that affordable housing is more equitably distributed.

NHUAC’s Liz Giba talked about what she had found regarding a sizable amount of affordable housing being built in White Center and Fitzgibbon agreed that more had to be done to avoid that sort of concentration. “We have to find a balance,” said Nguyen, while again noting that affordable housing served his family years ago. Giba talked about the need for an Opportunity Analysis, with White Center having been ranked as a “low-opportunity neighborhood” with rampant health challenges. NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin added that there’s a cycle – they’ve been told affordable housing is built there because the costs are lower, but that leads to increased community needs that can’t be addressed.

Dobkin also pointed out that unincorporated North Highline is plagued by rural-style rules, or lack of them, such as no required trash pickup, no revenue for road repairs, no tree protection. Fitzgibbon agreed that the Growth Management Act doesn’t account for how unincorporated urban areas like White Center and Skyway can be appropriately addressed. He also agreed that it’s most appropriate for development to go where there’s infrastructure to support it. Ultimately, North Highline needs to be incorporated into “one of your neighbors,” he said. Dobkin pointed out that it’s not likely to happen for a long time, but in the meantime the area is served by as little as two deputies at a time. “There’s a lot of connecting problems … I wish there were an easy answer,” Rep. Fitzgibbon said.

At that point, King County Local Services Director John Taylor chimed in. “I will say this, there are some good things going on for unincorporated King County,” largely because of his department’s creation, he said – among them, the Subarea Plan development, which is “now a community plan,” not just a land-use plan as originally envisioned. That’ll include a Community Needs List, which is the place for the kind of needs Dobkin detailed. That’s not necessarily a guarantee such services will be funded, but it starts to set up some accountability, he said. The recently passed budget includes a $10 million capital fund for unincorporated King County, as well as the $1.8 million (or so) marijuana taxes that’ll be reallotted. “We’re a lot better off today than we were two years ago,” Taylor declared, adding that pre-COVID, they were close to sending a road levy to voters … but that will be revisited. He said the tree protection issue might be easily solvable; the trash issue, not so easy to address. (He revealed he worked as a trash pickup person for 5 years.)

In Q&A, Sen. Nguyen said he’s been working on the “state bank” bill, which he sees as a “fantastic opportunity …I’d rather keep those dollars in the community instead of sending them out.” Next Q: Any chance of state help for White Center impacts from the West Seattle Bridge closure? Sen. Nguyen said a transportation package is a priority but the state doesn’t have jurisdiction for traffic mitigation. He added that the area’s US Rep. Pramila Jayapal is working on bridge funding too.

An attendee asked about absentee landlords; the state doesn’t have jurisdiction there, but local code compliance might help.
Next question: Whatever happened to the microhousing “demonstration project”? No further details – even Taylor hadn’t heard anything recently.

One attendee asked about the White Center Food Bank‘s need to find a new space because of the affordable-housing project taking ovrer its site. Sen. Nguyen said he’s been talking to them to figure out how to help.

What about the Top Hat site that’s never been used for COVID quarantine – a rumor suggested it might be a supervised injection site. Giba said County Councilmember Joe McDermott had assured them the site’s fate had not been settled and would not be without community input.

GREEN STORMWATER INFRASTRUCTURE: Jessica Engel from the county explained the concept. She showed an example – Hillside Church in Kent donating use of an underutilized parking lot that was converted into 44 garden beds, plus cisterns, composting systems, and bioswales.

It’s growing a lot of food and not even done yet, Engel said. She said they’d like to hear from the White Center community about what kind of project might work, what kind of incentives might be needed, etc. This is Phase 2 of preparatory outreach, she added, citing lots of enthusiasm so far:

They have funding for 2021 and 2022 to “implement what the community wants to see.” Now they’re looking for more suggestions about who they should talk to.

In Q&A, Engel was asked about runoff standards for new development. It’s pretty stringent – with a manual – she replied, so what they’re trying to get under control is what existing development. produces. What about cleaning up Hickman Lake? Engel said some community conversation would be needed – “do people want it to be restored? recreational opportunity? ecological function?” The program, by the way, is funded by a fee that property owners pay plus grant funding.

A new White Center resident asked about the overall goal of the program: Reduce flooding and reduce polluted runoff getting into local waterways.

CRIME: Deputy Bill Kennamer said that for October, major crimes are up (largely fueled by auto theft), less-serious crimes are down, though he suspects the latter might just be fewer victims filing reports.

He said the recent West Seattle Marijuana Store heist was a “takeover robbery,” armed, forcing the manager to open the safe, and also making off with several hundred dollars in merchandise. He plans to talk with cannabis-shop operators about “a better safety plan.”

He also said they’re looking for the suspect in the 14th SW SWAT domestic-violence situation.

Maj. Jeff Flohr followed to talk about firearms crimes. A special team has confiscated 118 guns from felons in the past couple years. “That’s a real impact,” he said. Also: “LEAD is still coming to White Center.” And he said there’s ongoing discussion about policing reform and supplementary service. Yes, “the cops DO want this” – homelessness and crisis responses, and more. “We’re very open to criticism, we’re very open to change,” he insisted. He would like to have a third car in the area, though. White Center only has about half the officers per capita that Seattle does, though, he added. The budget’s done, staffing’s not changing, special emphasis teams remain.

Giba noted that the previoud day was the 14th anniversary of Deputy Steve Cox‘s murder.

NEXT MEETING: January 7th, 7 pm, online.

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

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

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

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

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When? Thursday, December 3, 2020 at 7 pm
How? Join Zoom Meeting: kingcounty.zoom.us/j/93688219357
Meeting ID: 936 8821 9357
Passcode (Case Sensitive): NHUAC2020! (please note that there is an exclamation point (!) after 2020 that you must enter in the passcode)

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

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

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

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

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

We, the undersigned:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They already have some ideas for the Community Needs List:

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

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

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

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

His regular update was next up at the meeting:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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THURSDAY: Public safety spotlighted @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

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

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

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

Where? North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When? Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 7 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Knowledge is power.

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

October 8, 2020 at 7 pm – Tell a Neighbor

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

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

A reminder from the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

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

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

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

So fire up your computers and get ready to Zoom.

Community Matters
Stay Informed, Stay Involved, Be Heard

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FYI: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council changes October meeting date

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

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

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