From open space to Local Services, and more, @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

March 8th, 2019 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 2 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Thursday night’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting was the first of the year, since January’s regular night was too close to the New Year’s holiday and February’s was snowed out.

Here are the highlights:

MORE PARKS AND GREENSPACE? Dave Kimmett from the King County Land Conservation Initiative returned for a followup on his November appearance, which was more generalized regarding the KCLCI. He was invited back to talk about White Center specifics. “I’m out there trying to buy new park lands” is how he explained his role. It’s a “fairly new and major initiative coming out of King County Executive Dow Constantine‘s office.” KCLCI has six focus areas, including “neighborhood green and open space.” He noted that half a million people living in King County don’t have “ready access” to parks/open spaces. So they’re looking at the areas – particularly urban communities like White Center and Skyway – that need more green space. Part of this relates to work that’s being done by the King County Open Space Equity Cabinet “of 21 community leaders.” (See the membership here.) They’re coming out with a report soon. In the meantime, as Kimmett’s short slide deck concluded: “Tonight is the first of many steps to engage residents (in the) community to help us create more greenspace in White Center.” He said the County Council has adopted new code to increase the amount of bond money that can be tapped into to buy land. “This is the first year we’re implementing all this.”

Asked by NHUAC president Liz Giba whether he had an idea how much land was under consideration for purchase in North Highline, Kimmett said no. “We don’t know – we have to spend time to identify where are the right places to invest money,” the “right opportunit(ies).”

The map he brought showed vacant – per the tax rolls – sites, though attendees quickly pointed out that many of the sites shown on the map were under development or had plans on file.

Kimmett said he hoped one of the next steps might be to assemble a group and/or have a separate standalone meeting to look at these sites and hear community suggestions. They could come up with a list of priorities for purchases, over time.

And then he revealed one might already be in the works: The revelation followed a site suggestion from Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer, who pointed out a parcel on 8th Ave. S. that’s a “problem-solving” site of his. Kimmett said he’d actually been contacted by the site’s owners about possibly selling it as potential park land – five forested acres – instead of planning a potential apartment building; they had heard about his presentation last fall.

Subsequent conversation included a suggestion that the county look at the multijurisdictional land along Myers Way. Kimmett also mentioned some land adjacent to King County Parks parcels that is attractive because “we always like to add to what we already have.”

Giba also asked about a site that’s already county-owned – at 8th SW/SW 108th, where the White Center Food Bank and the temporary Mary’s Place shelter are located. While there’s been longrunning talk about building a new complex including affordable housing at the site, Giba thought the site could incorporate open space and maybe a longer-term home for the facilities there now. Kimmett mentioned a 14-acre Skyway site that has been eyed for more than a decade but has site challenges (including a sizable wetland) and hasn’t found a developer, so it’s under consideration now as parkland (the site is known as Brooks Village), so he said he’d look into this site’s status. But, Kimmett cautioned, the initiative’s success isn’t just about buying up a lot of land – it has to be strategic and programmable.

No timeline for all this, yet.

LOCAL SERVICES DIRECTOR: John Taylor made his first appearance since taking over the new department that’s tasked with delivering services to the unincorporated areas.

He noted that it’s not really a “new department” so much as a reorganization – Transportation was broken up, for example, and Road Services is part of this new department since its responsibilities are entirely focused on unincorporated areas. Creating the department involved only one new hire – they’re adding an economic-development program manager for the unincorporated area.

The Permitting Division is also part of it – with improvements planned including “more staff time to respond to customers” and “streamlining requirements for already-built-construction permits” – as are Community Service Areas (of which North Highline is one) and Service Partnership Agreements.

“We’re also responsible for knitting together the stove pipes,” Taylor noted. He is hoping to help inform the unincorporated areas on what the other departments are achieving, to. Communication and outreach are a big part of it as well.

Along with the economic-development hire, the department is also interviewing for “two new subarea planners,” and that will facilitate North Highline planning next year as well as the Skyway-area planning that’s under way now.

Road Services funding is still low, Taylor said, as he showed a slide regarding the department’s snow and ice priorities, with 28 trucks with plows withs anders, 8 graders, 6 anti-ice trucks, 9 backhoes, 7 front loaders, 5 dump trucks, “to cover an area the size of Rhode Island.” They also can deploy County Parks and Solid Waste equipment and personnel – 10 dump trucks with trailers, a grader, backhoe, and over a dozen smaller construction trucks, with 10-15 personnel of those departments driving the trucks. “Leveraging assets from other departments” was something made possible by the reorganization that created Local Services. Taylor noted that the department moved “500 tons of salt in one night” to keep ahead of the February snows – almost half what it keeps on hand each year. He also showed slides detailing the massive response that the snowfall required.

He noted that on some non-priority routes that they couldn’t get to immediately, they had to use heavy construction equipment to dig out of snow. But overall, doing all they could do meant it was not the “huge disaster” it could have been. Ideally, though, he said, they could have used 60 trucks rather than 28 – so they’re going to look into outfitting trash trucks with plows for potential future use. They’re also going to look at plow mounts for other departments’ trucks “in case this happens again.” And “we’re going to look at a funding solution for the county’s road problem” – he says the roads are used by people and jurisdictions that don’t contribute any money toward them.

Asked what’s being done about poor road quality in White Center, Taylor said some sort of resurfacing is being planned – he says that County Executive Constantine basically said they’re not going to wait for annexation any more, they’re “going to get done what we need to get done.”

If you’re concerned about development and zoning, that’s a topic for the upcoming sub-area planning, Taylor said in response to a concern voiced by NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin. But, he warned, the tradeoff could be more delays for building permits, which is a problem even now – “we’re getting beat up” for six-week delays, he noted.

P.S. Taylor’s department is running an online survey right now – go to Sli.do and enter #localservices as your event code.

DEPUTY KENNAMER’S UPDATE: He began by saying, “We have been experiencing a push of homeless (people) into the area … since Seattle’s squeezing the balloon.” He said the Myers Way east-side area that was swept has stayed swept. The 509 cloverleaf areas – “huge” camps – were swept, with WSDOT help, and people who were there were offered shelter, but he got no takers, he said. “I don’t know how to fix that,” he lamented.

Otherwise – low-level crimes are “significantly down” in the area, but “our more-violent crimes are up.” Most of the recent high-profile crimes have been solved, he said.

Deputy Kennamer was asked about a transient drug user “behind the Pizza Time” and says he can’t arrest the person “because prosecutors won’t file .. the political climate has to change” for cases like that to be pursued.

He also said that while the area is densifying, particularly with redevelopment in the Greenbridge area, the number of deputies assigned to it has not. “Two cops are working … right now” in the area, he noted. “The guys tonight are running ragged.”

“That’s unacceptable,” said an attendee.

Kennamer said that citizen advocacy is the only way to change that. “Without pressure, it’s not going to change.” A discussion of the county-budget-cycle timing ensued.

(WCN photo from February 22nd)

Asked about the gunfire near 16th/98th two weeks ago, he said it was “between two groups.” Not a random situation? pressed the attendee. “The location might have been random,” said Kennamer.

One attendee asked about the recent 509 shootings and thought there should be more publicity about those.

ANNOUNCEMENTS: Dobkin brought up the Camp Second Chance situation – as we’ve reported on West Seattle Blog, the Highland Park Action Committee is opposing extending its stay on the Myers Way Parcels … The White Center Kiwanis‘s recent fundraising dinner was a success … A donation drive for hygiene kits for people living unsheltered is happening at Cascade Middle School … And then, an announcement that drew gasps of delight:

(WCN photo from June 2018)

HONK! Fest West is coming back to White Center on June 1st, closing 16th on a smaller footprint, Roxbury to 98th. The rep who announced that was invited to return to NHUAC in May with a briefing … A King County Parks rep said youth programs are on track to smash records, plus the White Center Repair Event is coming up this Saturday:

She also said that Steve Cox Memorial Park Fields 2 and 3 are expected to open within the next few weeks; Field 1 is lagging a bit, in need of post-snow turf repairs.

UPCOMING MEETINGS: A LEAD program rep and CHI Franciscan rep are expected to be next month’s guests; Taylor and Permitting reps are being invited for May. … NHUAC meets first Thursdays most months, 7 pm, at the North Highline Fire District‘s headquarters.

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THURSDAY: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s first meeting of 2019

March 2nd, 2019 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on THURSDAY: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s first meeting of 2019

The snow got in the way last month. This month’s a go. Just announced by the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, the plan for Thursday night’s meeting:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When: Thursday, March 7, 2019 at 7 pm
Where: North Highline Fire Station at 1243 SW 112th Street in White Center
(Parking and Entrance are in the Back of the Station)

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

It’s time to have a community meeting. The weather forecast seems to be typical for this time of year so we’re going to get back on schedule. The first NHUAC meeting of 2019 will give us the opportunity to learn how King County intends to increase its outreach to and improve life in North Highline.

Our ability to access parks and green spaces and the quality of our natural environment have strong effects on physical and mental health and the quality of our lives. As he promised in November, David Kimmett of King County Parks will join us to share current information about the Open Space Program and gather community input about the green spaces in North Highline that need protection before they are lost to development.

We will also be joined by John Taylor, the director of King County’s newest department, Local Services. The goal of Local Services is to “develop new and better ways to serve” the people of unincorporated King County. What motivated the change? What’s been done so far? Good decision-making requires good information. What data is Local Services using to assess the needs in North Highline and compare them with the rest of the county? What does the data show? Where can our North Highline community access the information? From garbage to round-abouts and building codes, these are only some of the questions and issues that come to mind. Bring yours to this important discussion about life in North Highline.

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

Then … the floor will be yours!

Knowledge is power.

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

March 7, 2019 at 7 pm – Bring a Neighbor!

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THURSDAY: February’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting canceled

February 5th, 2019 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on THURSDAY: February’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting canceled

Before we even got a chance to publish the agenda for February’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, it was canceled due to weather concerns expressed by previously scheduled guests – so scratch it off you calendar for Thursday, and pencil in the first Thursday of next month, March 7th.

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VIDEO: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council talks with trio of elected officials, and more

December 7th, 2018 Tracy Posted in King County, North Highline UAC, Politics, White Center news 4 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Issues old and new were in the spotlight as December’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting put a trio of longtime local elected officials in the hot seat(s).

But first – NHUAC got a primer on a vote coming up in February.

WATER DISTRICT MERGER VOTE: Loretta Brittingham was here to talk about the merger that will go up for voter approval February 12th. Though she is a commissioner for Water District 45, which is proposed – in a February 12th vote – to merge with Water District 20, she made it clear she was there with an FYI, not an official presentation. We recorded what she had to say:

As you’ll hear in the discussion, this has been primarily publicized via water-bill inserts and public notices. There’s a bit more information on the District 45 website; here’s a map of the district’s coverage area.

ELECTED OFFICIALS: 34th District State Reps. Eileen Cody and Joe Fitzgibbon opened this segment of the meeting. President Liz Giba asked them first to share a bit of personal background. Fitzgibbon is a West Seattle resident and former Burien resident, and he spoke first. Cody, also a West Seattle resident, followed. We recorded it all:

Cody announced she’s retiring from her work as a nurse on January 9th. The reps answered questions starting with reports that the Legislature might revisit the Growth Management Act. Fitzgibbon said a “very conservative Eastern Washington” legislator is behind one idea to roll back certain parts of it, while another is from an Eastside Democrat who wants to “require minimum density.” Giba also brought up the recently opened development in Top Hat (1st/112th) and conflicting numbers regarding its potential maximum occupancy. Discussion ensued regarding notification requirements and potential ramifications of a higher resident count, such as an increased number of students at nearby schools.

A question from the gallery: What about health insurance? Cody chairs the House Health Care Committee, and noted that affordability “continues to be a big issue” so they’re trying to develop “a public option,” especially to help people with non-poverty “but not Bill Gates” income levels who don’t get tax credits. She also mentioned behavioral-health-care access and Western State’s difficulties. They’re working to find facilities around the state that can help handle some of the patient load. Cody mentioned substance abuse, too – “the opioid crisis is where we’re losing the most lives,” prescription recipients as well as heroin users, but, she said, meth is on the rise again, too.

That segued into a discussion of what your tax dollars are going for. Fitzgibbon noted that property tax bills will go down next year.

County Council Chair Joe McDermott arrived a little over an hour into the meeting. He’s finishing his third year as chair, eight years on the council, after 10 years in the Legislature. He too is a West Seattle resident.

NHUAC board member Barbara Dobkin asked about development regulation, or more like, the lack of it, especially multiple adjacent “small” redevelopments that together would have faced more scrutiny. McDermott, in his reply, noted that neighborhood planning will be happening in North Highline next year. Specifically – the county permitting department will be accountable for a Sub-Area Plan. And he reminded everyone that the new Department of Local Services is about to get going, as a “one-stop resource” to help people “better interact with the county.” That department will include “an economic development staffer that we have not had before” and McDermott says he will encourage that person to make White Center their first stop. McDermott also noted that the Local Services director nominee is up for confirmation shortly. “There are challenges in bringing urban-level services (here) but if we are your local government, we need to do a better job” in meeting those challenges, he said. Will the area’s unincorporated status change? McDermott said he’s not aware of any active conversations. That topic came up a second time, with an attendee asking if the county can get the conversation going (again). McDermott promised to at least ask; he also noted that he’ll be seeing Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan for a breakfast discussion about the county’s legislative agenda next week.

Other topics included marijuana and the North Highline concentration of stores. McDermott urged attendees to make this concern “very clear in the Sub-Area planning process” that’s coming up. Later, he was asked whether the North Highline planning process will dovetail with the city’s Highland Park-area process; McDermott said he’ll make sure they do, though he hadn’t previously heard of the latter. Tax reform came up too, with Fitzgibbon mentioning that passing a capital-gains tax is a priority for the coming session. “Do you really think (that) has a chance?” asked Giba. Fitzgibbon and Cody said yes.

Before their appearance wrapped up, they were asked what else will be going on. Fitzgibbon mentioned the Metro Route 120-to-RapidRide conversion planning; Cody mentioned several other health-care-related topics. McDermott mentioned that five gun-safety proposals he first brought up last summer have now all been passed: “That has been significant for me and included some significant accomplishments in the budget” to make them reality. He also brought up Evergreen Pool and some new county funding for it to help cover its ongoing operation-funding deficit, plus he had kudos for the nonprofit that’s managed to keep it open for almost a decade, after the county gave up operating it.

State Sen.-elect Joe Nguyen had also RSVP’d for the meeting, Giba said, but did not show up.

Also speaking at Thursday night’s meeting:

WHITE CENTER KIWANIS: Scott Davis began with a primer on Kiwanis – more than a century old – and what it does, including raising money for children’s health. In White Center, the club started as a spinoff from the Kiwanis Club of West Seattle in 2001. The club meets twice a month, first and third Wednesdays. “We’d love to have more members so we can do more things.” They sponsor Key Clubs to help local high school students (at Evergreen and New Start) develop their leadership skills – Key stands for “Kiwanis Educating Youth.” The Baked Potato and Taco Dinner is coming up on January 24th, 6:30 pm at New Start HS (ticket prices TBA); their fundraisers also include a midsummer Pancake Breakfast that coincides with Jubilee Days, and an annual nut sale that’s under way now. They support local charities including the White Center Food Bank and WestSide Baby. They also support local youth cleaning up local parks, and advocacy for drug- and alcohol-free youth campaigns.

REMEMBERING DEPUTY STEVE COX: President Giba took a moment at the start of the meeting to remember Deputy Steve Cox, who was a NHUAC president as well as law enforcer. As noted in our coverage of the tribute at last weekend’s Christmas tree lighting, he was killed in the line of duty 12 years ago.

NEXT NHUAC MEETING: They’re skipping January since it’s so close to New Year’s Day – next meeting February 7, 2019, 7 pm at NH Fire District HQ (1243 SW 112th)

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Senator-elect Joe Nguyen, Reps. Eileen Cody & Joe Fitzgibbon, Councilmember Joe McDermott @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council on Thursday

December 3rd, 2018 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on Senator-elect Joe Nguyen, Reps. Eileen Cody & Joe Fitzgibbon, Councilmember Joe McDermott @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council on Thursday

On Sunday, 34th District State Senator-elect Joe Nguyen was at White Center’s Diamond Hall for a post-election (full story here). Thursday night, he’ll be back in WC as one of four local elected officials invited to the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s December meeting. Here’s the announcement:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When: Thursday, December 6, 2018 at 7 pm
Where: North Highline Fire Station at 1243 SW 112th Street in White Center
(Parking and entrance are in the back of the station)

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

Please join NHUAC at our last meeting of 2018. We’ll be welcoming State Representatives Eileen Cody and Joe Fitzgibbon, King County Councilmember Joe McDermott and State Senator-elect Joe Nguyen. This is a rare opportunity to engage with those who make many of our laws and regulations. What is going on in our county and state governments? What is going right? What needs to change? What do our elected representatives plan to work on in 2019 and why? What do they need to know about us?

Another elected official, member of the White Center community, and a regular at NHUAC meetings, Commissioner Loretta Brittingham, will educate us about an upcoming February vote on the future of Water District #45.

Scott Davis, another NHUAC regular and strong community supporter, will share information about the White Center Kiwanis, its upcoming Baked Potato Dinner, and give us the opportunity to purchase their eagerly anticipated holiday nuts for $20 a tin.

Deputy Bill Kennamer will be on vacation, but KCSO hasn’t forgotten us! Major Bryan Howard will be there to answer our questions.

Do you have something on your mind? Join us and share at NHUAC’s last meeting until February 2019!

See you Thursday, December 6, 2018 at 7 pm

Because Knowledge and Community Are Power!

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Land, water, highway @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

November 8th, 2018 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on Land, water, highway @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

Toplines from November’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting:

LAND CONSERVATION INITIATIVE: Darren Greve and Dave Kimmett brought an update on King County’s Land Conservation Initiative.

The program has been in the works for about 2.5 years and this coming year their department will be working to define which areas can be considered for the longterm plan to find and acquire more land to use as parks, green spaces, and trails in King County. Priority will be given to low-income areas. Part of that plan will be to waive matching funds so that open spaces can be created in the lowest-income areas without having to clear a financial hurdle.

Part of what they’re trying to do will be included in extending the County parks levy. In the 2020s there might be an additional ballot measure strictly for acquiring property. Greve pointed out that the existing levy funding can only be used for upkeep and operation. An added ballot measure could be used to acquire land.

Q&A for them started with concerns about adequate community-wide input. Kimmett said he’s the boots-on-the-ground person and is willing to come back and talk to NHUAC about their immediate area. In the exchange, NHUAC president Liz Giba mentioned that she had suggested some land for such purposes and no one got back to her. The county reps apologized for that and Kimmett promised to return in February with a more detailed map and extended conversation about potential WC areas that could be considered.

HIGHWAY 99 TRANSITION: The Alaskan Way Viaduct‘s permanent closure is now just two months away – January 11th. WSDOT’s Laura Newborn gave a general presentation on the plan (see West Seattle Blog coverage of the original announcement, plus the recent update with details for a goodbye/hello celebration weekend February 2-3). If you want to join in the bike ride, fun run, and/or walk on The Viaduct, be sure to sign up for your choice(s) ASAP!

STORMWATER MANAGEMENT: The County Council’s still considering where this fee goes in the budget plan; Josh Baldi of the Water and Land Resources Division told NHUAC that the overall budget includes money to do visioning for the White Center area, which would mean identifying areas with runoff problems. Baldi said the money would go to unincorporated areas since the improvements that might have been needed earlier were put off until the various areas voted on annexation; the county realizes some investment is needed and will be back next year to identify areas.

CRIME: Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer said crimes overall are static or down. Car thefts made a huge drop in the past month. He speculated that a key arrest or two might account for that.

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets first Thursdays, 7 pm, at North Highline Fire District HQ, 1243 SW 112th.

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From the Viaduct to your taxes, topics to be tackled by the North Highland Unincorporated Area Council this Thursday

October 29th, 2018 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 1 Comment »

Got questions about the Viaduct-to-tunnel transition coming up early next year? That’s one of multiple hot topics that the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council will tackle Thursday night. The announcement:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When: Thursday, November 1, 2018 at 7 pm
Where: North Highline Fire Station at 1243 SW 112th Street in White Center
(Parking and Entrance are in the back of the Station)

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

Still trying to decide whether Joe Nguyen or Shannon Braddock should be our next 34th District State Senator? Last month’s NHUAC Candidate Forum gave us the opportunity to observe the candidates and hear their opinions on a variety of issues. You can watch the video here, thanks to White Center Now! The discussion ranged from cannabis to housing, concentrated neighborhood poverty and our reduced life expectancy.

*According to a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, turning vacant lots of trash and weeds into green spaces improves the mental health of residents struggling with urban poverty. Considering this new report, NHUAC is pleased to welcome Darren Greve and Dave Kimmett. They will update us on King County’s Land Conservation Initiative. The 30-year plan is designed to protect 65,000 acres of green spaces before they are lost to development.

*Go north much? $2.2 billion and 3 years later than expected, the Alaskan Way Viaduct will close forever on January 11th. Highway 99 will be closed between Spokane Street and Belltown, so it can be aligned with new SR 99 tunnel, before it opens in February. Laura Newborn and Ashley Selvey of the Washington State Department of Transportation will join us to answer questions, offer suggestions and share resources to make the transition as easy as possible.

*Stormwater management and your property taxes will also be on our agenda. John Taylor of King County Parks and Natural Resources will fill us in on what we can expect.

*Once again, Deputy Bill Kennamer will update us with news and statistics from KCSO.

Then … the floor will be yours!

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

Thursday, November 1, 2018 at 7 pm

Bring a Friend!

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VIDEO: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council hosts 34th District State Senate candidates’ forum

October 7th, 2018 Tracy Posted in Election, North Highline UAC, White Center news 4 Comments »

(White Center Now/West Seattle Blog video)

Voting for the general election starts in less than 2 weeks. The most hotly contested race on local ballots is for 34th District State Senator, with Joe Nguyen and Shannon Braddock emerging from an 11-candidate primary. The latest major appearance by both was at this past Thursday night’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting; we recorded it on video and you can watch the unedited hour-and-a-half-long forum above. We’ve also noted key points in text below – not full transcriptions, just excerpted points, but perhaps of interest if you don’t have time to watch the video or go see one of their upcoming appearances (listed below):

INTRODUCTIONS: Each got 5 introductory minutes. Braddock was born in Texas but her family moved to Bellingham when she was a toddler and she was there through college; after living in some other places, she moved to West Seattle 19 years ago. She’s a mom of three, 11-year-old daughter, 14-year-old son, 19-year-old son.

In the context of mentioning the day her younger son came home talking about an active-shooter drill, she mentioned that she’s for Initiative 1639 and even if it doesn’t pass, she said she would sponsor bills to be sure “each part of it” move forward. She also recapped her work history for County Executive Dow Constantine and County Councilmember Joe McDermott.

Nguyen talked about growing up in White Center – born in what’s now Seola Gardens but was then Park Lake – the son of refugees from Vietnam. He said they struggled in those early years but the community gave to his family, including building a ramp for his dad after a crash left him a quadriplegic. His family lived in Burien for a while and now Nguyen lives in West Seattle, a dad of two kids, 1 and 3. He talked about his career in technology strategy and job-training resources.

First question: NHUAC president Liz Giba showed data about the public-health discrepancies in the area, and North Highline residents having a life expectancy as low as 76 years old, six years below the lowest life expectancy for someone in West Seattle and asked the candidates if they believed it was an accident.

Nguyen said no, it is reality, and he experienced it growing up. “Certain parts” of the area need more attention.

Braddock also said no, it’s not an accident, and talked about the county using an “equity lens” that she believes the state needs to use as well.

Nguyen said more community representation in the decisionmaking process is important, especially with regards to cultural competence.

Second question, from NHUAC vice president Barbara Dobkin, was about low-income housing and whether it’s OK that more is being built in North Highline because land is cheap.

Braddock said no but also spoke about the challenge of displacement and how her campaigning brought her to many doorsteps where people said they would have to move. She also said that affordable-housing needs should be considered community by community, rather than one size fits all.

Nguyen said that land’s value needs to be considered as more than a price, but also what that land means to the community. He also espoused a holistic look at affordable housing – are services available? And he mentioned the importance of tax reform as seniors and others deal with rising property taxes.

Dobkin followed up by asking their opinions about the siting of affordable housing. Nguyen said it should be “all over the place.” Braddock said she supports “inclusionary zoning” as well as the Block Project, which seeks to site tiny houses in people’s yards as a “community-inclusive way to provide housing for homeless” people.

Next question dealt with gang violence, and recent Burien murders related to it. Is it related to poverty and a lack of opportunities? Yes, said Braddock, and the community needs to work closely with young people to fix that. Giving youth the option to learn about trades can help. “We can’t let up – we start to do this work … and then we take our foot off the pedal and we think the problem is solved,” Braddock said. Nguyen mentioned recently being at a Burien City Council meeting and noted that more money was being invested in policing than in youths’ futures. “We need to make sure we’re putting the emphasis on prevention,” he said.

Then a frequent NHUAC discussion topic, the state-allowed concentration of marijuana stores in North Highline and the robberies that have happened at most of those stores. “Concentrating in one area is not appropriate,” Nguyen said. He suggested the problem was again a lack of representation and an absence of leaders “pushing back.” Braddock said that while marijuana is legal because of an initiative, it was “clumsily” implemented. Both agreed that the allocation of tax revenues needs to be revisited to focus on communities’ needs.

Next, homelessness and how to help unsheltered people. Braddock noted that the crisis “has been building for many, many years” and told an anecdote about someone sleeping in her carport a decade ago while visiting his mother at a nearby care center. She said she supports 24/7 shelters – “navigation center” type shelters – and looking at “more surplus lands” for affordable housing/shelters. She says WSDOT is exempt from surplus-land review and would like to see that change. She also mentioned funding generated by a state document-recording fee and “protecting” that; Nguyen noted that it’s not generating what it used to and said it should be brought back to its former level. He also suggested tax incentives/credits for property owners who need it to fix up their property – provided they keep a certain level of affordability for tenants.

If they were elected, what would they do the rest of the time (given that legislator is a part-time job)? Braddock said she couldn’t keep her current job as it’s too demanding so she’d have to get something else. Nguyen said he’d be able to keep his job because his employer Microsoft had a paid-time-off program that would cover his legislative time.

An attendee question next: Candidates talk about supporting small business but don’t follow through, so does either candidate have small-business experience and what would they do to support such businesses? Nguyen said his family had run a billiard hall in White Center at one point and he saw firsthand the taxes that small business have to deal with; he said he’d like to abolish B&O taxes for small- and medium-sized businesses. He also observed that other costs, including health care, can be onerous for small-business owners too. And he spoke of supporting a friend who was setting up a business and needed help with other important things such as setting up a website. Braddock said that her family had some small businesses including a restaurant that lasted about a year, and she saw “the energy and the work” that went into running businesses. She suggested that the 34th District could have for example a “small business advisory committee” surfacing issues to her.

Another attendee question involved the difficulty of families being able to afford participating in sports and other programs. Braddock voiced support for helping with that and ensuring that families know about grants that are available. Nguyen mentioned his past involvement as a youth served by the local Boys and Girls Club and said he agreed that more funding was needed for youth programs.

Next attendee question: The Public Works Trust Fund, loans from the state to local agencies for local projects, and concerns about those loans’ availability. Nguyen said he’s not familiar with it but promised that he would fight for local needs. Braddock talked about coalition-building to evangelize support for that sort of need.

And another: A relatively new North Highline resident talked about property-tax breaks for seniors and wanting the eligibility level to expand. Braddock said that was another example of why tax reform is so important. She also said greater awareness is needed for already-available tax breaks. Nguyen also said a more-equitable tax structure – including a capital-gains tax – is important.

Asked about campaign contributions, Braddock defended accepting $750 from Coca-Cola and said she is not supporting the anti-tax Initiative 1634 that soda companies are funding. She said she can’t afford to self-finance her campaign. Nguyen said he can’t either but doesn’t take “corporate PAC money.”

Another question was from an attendee who said that anecdotally she’s noticing more teenage pregnancy and wondered about public-health services’ availabilities. Both candidates agreed the situation should be examined.

Next person asked about rent control. Braddock said “traditional” rent control didn’t seem to have worked but she would support lifting the ban so that local governments could explore “opportunities for innovation” in keeping rents down. Nguyen said he’s “for rent control” and supports strengthening tenants’ rights.

An attendee asked about the Washington Hospitality Association and its opposition to the $15 minimum wage. Nguyen said he “took a meeting” with the organization but was not looking for their money or endorsement. Both said they support the $15 minimum wage.

Next: Their positions on North Highline annexation – when, who, how to get there? Nguyen said residents should decide ‘where they go and how that looks.’ He said he personally favors Seattle but acknowledges it could lead to faster gentrification and displacement. “My family still lives here and they’re going to have a hard time staying here if prices go up any (further).” Braddock also said it’s up to the community and the county needs to do the best it can with the services it provides. She also noted that Seattle is the only city potentially pursuing annexation right now.

Asked about veterans’ issues, both mentioned veterans in their families and said it’s vital to ensure veterans can get the care they need.

An attendee who said she had worked in sexual-violence prevention asked what the candidates would do in that area. Braddock mentioned her proposal for consent education becoming part of health education in schools. Nguyen said he agreed and also wanted to strengthen laws and procedures related to assaults.

WHAT’S NEXT: Upcoming forums announced for both candidates include:
-Tuesday (October 9), Admiral Neighborhood Association (6:30 pm, Sanctuary at Admiral, 42nd/Lander)
-October 17th, Delridge Neighborhoods District Council (7 pm, location TBA)
-October 18th, West Seattle Chamber of Commerce (6:30 pm, DAV Hall, 4857 Delridge Way SW)

VOTING: November 6th is Election Day – get your ballot into a drop box by 8 pm or get it to the US Postal Service (remember, stamps no longer needed!) in plenty of time to ensure it’s postmarked by that date.

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

September 22nd, 2018 Tracy Posted in Election, North Highline UAC, Politics, White Center news Comments Off on ELECTION 2018: 34th District State Senate candidates @ October meeting of North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

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

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

September 10th, 2018 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht tells North Highline Unincorporated Area Council about her ‘intense’ start

(WCN photos by Patrick Sand)

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also at Thursday night’s NHUAC meeting:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 3rd, 2018 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht to visit North Highline Unincorporated Area Council this Thursday

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

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

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No North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting tonight, but …

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

From the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

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

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

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

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

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

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He said they are focused on three things:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then… the floor will be yours!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donation buckets will be out at the fest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also from county government:

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

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

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

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

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

Just announced:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When: Thursday, May 3, 2018 at 7 pm
Where: North Highline Fire Station at 1243 SW 112th Street in White Center
(Parking and Entrance are in the Back of the Station)
The Opportunity to Be Informed, Be Involved and Be Heard!

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

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

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

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

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

Then… the floor will be yours!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When: Thursday, April 5, 2018 at 7 pm
Where: North Highline Fire Station at 1243 SW 112th Street in White Center
(Parking and Entrance are in the Back of the Station)

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

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

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

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

On the upside….

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

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

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

Then… the floor will be yours!

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

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

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

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

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

By Linda Ball
Reporting for White Center Now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When: Thursday, March 1, 2018 at 7 pm
Where: North Highline Fire Station at 1243 SW 112th Street in White Center
(Parking and Entrance are in the Back of the Station)

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

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

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

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

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

Then… floor will be yours!

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

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

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