North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: Board meeting this month

February 1st, 2016 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news No Comments »

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

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

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

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

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next to speak, State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join NHUAC for an Informative and Important Community Conversation:

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

MARIJUANA: WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR THE HEALTH AND FUTURE OF OUR COMMUNITY?

We will have a panel discussion with our guest speakers:

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

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

Plan on attending and share your opinions.

For more information see: northhighlineuac.org or email: bdobkin@northhighlineuac.org

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

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Library update and more @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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THURSDAY: Library updates at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you there.

Please see NHUAC website for the agenda: northhighlineuac.org
Questions – email: bdobkin@northhighlineuac.org

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

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

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Satterberg promised to return with “some success stories.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope to see you there.

For more information, please see www.northhighlineuac.org or email: bdobkin@northhighlineuac.org

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council talks marijuana, and more

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

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just announced:

NORTH HIGHLINE UNINCORPORATED AREA COUNCIL MEETING (NHUAC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information see: northhighlineuac.org or email: bdobkin@northhighlineuac.org

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New storefront deputy, cleaning up White Center Bog, saving Myers Parcels, all discussed @ September’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

September 3rd, 2015 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 3 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Even with a Seahawks game as competition, the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council‘s first meeting of fall drew a respectable turnout, eight board members and about 20 members of the public.

NEW STOREFRONT DEPUTY: Deputy William Kennamer, who’s been with the King County Sheriff’s Office for 17 years, introduced himself, saying he is “pretty pleased to be here,” having “just got the job” and saying, “I worked hard to get the job.” He’s been most recently with King County Transit Police. He says he is hoping “to be here a while,” not having aspirations such as the ones that have taken a few of his predecessors out of the job before long. “I’m pretty easy to get along with, I have a pretty good sense of humor – if you ask me a question, I’ll tell you if I don’t know, and I’ll get back to you with the answer … If you ask me my personal opinion, I’ll tell you, and it might be different from department policy, but I work off department policy and state law.” He also said he’s fast to answer e-mail, and the phone “if I’m working” – 206-510-7342, william.kennamer@kingcounty.gov – his “core hours” are 10 am-6 pm Mondays-Fridays, but with a “four-hour flex” so that he can change his shift if needed for something such as attending this meeting. He added that he’s a SWAT Team member and that means he’ll be out on training three Wednesdays a month. He’s only been on the Storefront Deputy job since Tuesday so he had no observations to share yet, aside from “White Center’s way better than it was 17 1/2 years ago” – which is when he started, patroling here, as part of KCSO.

He was asked about crime stats. His sectors, he said, include White Center, Top Hat, and the unincorporated area of South Park, K1 and K7; he’s not accountable for Greenbridge, which is K11, handled by its own deputy, and promised to bring stats for those areas to future meetings. He had some – 15 residential burglaries in August of last year, 7 in August of this year, for example; the violent-crime index (robberies and assaults) were 14 in August of last year, 5 in August of this year. Major crimes, Part 1, numbered 96 last August, 80 this year; Part 2 numbered 116 last August, 95 this August. Ten auto thefts in August (no comparison number), he added; 16 fourth-degree assaults, 3 aggravated assaults, 4 commercial burglaries, 6 vehicle recoveries – “none of them were stolen from this area,” but they were abandoned here.

One more note – his position as a transit deputy “will not be replaced any time soon.” Board members wondered how that would affect area bus stops. He said he spent most of his time in White Center and Burien patroling for things such as people drinking at stops, so there likely will be more of that in the wake of his move. Recruiting is tough, he noted, when asked – fewer people apply to even take the test.

WHITE CENTER BOG: Two King County reps, John Taylor and Ken Gresset, came back with an update, following up on a promise to launch a community-outreach process about improving the situation there. Taylor was asked to give some background: “It’s a stormwater facility and future Housing Authority development site … there are two stormwater-detention ponds .. that are managing all the stormwater that’s coming from up on the slope.” When it was developed, it was planted as a wetland with buffers around the edges, but the plantings have grown, created screening, areas where people can “camp out and hide and conceal themselves,” overgrown areas that attract a lot of campers during the summer. Gresset noted that about $137,000 has been spent on three major cleanups in the past few years. It’s bounded by Roxbury, 100th, 12th/13th. “When I went out it was basically anarchy there, (lots of) camps, screams in the middle of the day … basically what we did was we went into remove the brush and increase the visibility on the site, built an access road for deputies to use to access the site.” He said lighting provided by the Parks Department has helped and might be expanded. Some cutting’s been done, but more needs to be done, Gresset said. The area had in the past generated hundreds of calls to King County Sheriff’s Office per year, and Gresset said that’s way down this year, but people still have been camping there this summer.

“We’ll keep cutting brush and cleaning it,” Taylor said, and promised they’ll be cleaning out the junk and garbage before winter. But he said the conversation needs to go further – what more could be done to keep people from coming back? Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, or activities, or … ? Ideas floated so far, he elaborated, included building a perimeter trail, maybe even a fitness trail; perhaps a small soccer field in a flat area on the site; a disc golf course that had been mentioned before, though, might not work out, because the area is wetland so much of the time and is bisected by a path that might be incompatible. “If we had an idea, how would we go about trying to make it happen?” asked an attendee. While the stormwater department is spending a lot of money, maybe a partnership with parks and community members would be helpful, the county duo suggested. At that point, a neighbor of the site got up and offered some more backstory, including an offer to trim some of the trees “so we can have vision through the whole area” – she said she’d like to see it kept natural, but “this summer was the worst, it’s just been horrible” in terms of overgrowth.

Brainstorming ensued. Bottom line, Taylor said, none of the departments with a stake in this have big budgets to do something, so it has to be a creative solution. NHUAC board member Elizabeth Devine pointed out that the questionable activity isn’t necessarily the fault of homeless people camping in areas like this but often of those who prey on them. “When there’s an underground bunker, though – that’s pretty chilling,” Taylor observed, referring to what was discovered during an earlier cleanup.

Nearby resident Gill Hodges urged people to “just use it … we’ve had fewer problems (in the area) because people are just using it. Walk through it.” The county reps said a volunteer cleanup is planned in the not-too-distant future.

MYERS WAY GREENSPACE: Cass Turnbull of Plant Amnesty noted that she’s “new to the political process” – she’s a gardener by trade, and has run the nonprofit for about 20 years. A few years ago she and some others started TreePAC, another nonprofit. “One of our first jobs was to try and save some City Light surplus substations.” She showed a slide deck with photos of the 38-acre Myers Way greenspace, a long-ago gravel pit, currently owned by the City of Seattle, “currently in the disposition process,” which she says means they believe it would be best sold off for commercial development. (We wrote about this in February on our partner site West Seattle Blog.) It includes wooded areas and wetlands, as well as Hamm Creek, she said, showing some photos, including even an unofficial concrete pond and stairs someone built. “It was originally 50 acres Nintendo bought to build an office park, then sold to the city for a training center” – which was built on part of that land. Then, she told the story of John Beal and his interest in the Duwamish River, starting with his cleanup of Hamm Creek. “What feeds Hamm Creek is the Myers Parcels (area),” she said. At one point, she said, the site was to be sold to Lowe’s – not for a store, but for offices, etc. – and the deal fell through, so the city has it back in the “disposition process.”

Seattle Parks doesn’t want it, she said, while declaring that she believes the city should keep it. Ideally, as a “natural park” – with a visitors center, rangers on site, fenced and gated, with guided nature walks and areas for free play – “Myers Park.” It would also be good for the seniors who live in housing nearby, she suggested. At the very least, it could be greenbanked – saved for the future, when the money would exist for it to be bought, improved, maintained. “Once the land is gone, you’ll never get it back – this is the largest unbuilt piece of property for miles and miles around, and if we don’t save it, it won’t be there in the future.”

What can supporters do to help? Sign a petition at TreePAC.org, she suggested. Also e-mail Seattle City Council members to ask that surplus land not be sold for development, council@seattle.gov, 206-684-8566. And, she said, tell your neighbors and friends.

She was asked what the status of its ownership is, within the city. She believes the city is paying off an “interdepartmental loan.”

MEDICAL MARIJUANA DISPENSARIES: Two are still open, an attendee noted, wondering why, since the time when it was suggested they should close – by King County Sheriff’s Office and King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office – has long passed. After several scheduled agenda items, the topic came up again, and NHUAC president Barbara Dobkin pointed out that there are two licensed recreational-marijuana stores already in the unincorporated areas, and a proposal for a processing/growing facility, and said there’s concern that those stores will proliferate. (One attendee said three licenses are already granted in the unincorporated area; looks like the third is at 10825 Myers Way S. in Top Hat [map], not far from the Nimbin shop, under the name “West Seattle Cannabis Company.”) Dobkin proposed asking county leaders to put some restrictions on how many stores could be in the area. “Why would we put all the pot stores in a community with a vulnerable population? … It doesn’t speak to equity and social justice.” An attendee said a short time later that it’s too bad White Center can’t make its own rules. “I wish White Center could be its own city, but it doesn’t have the tax base,” noted Dobkin. “More marijuana stores!” quipped someone in the audience.

NEW BOARD MEMBER: NHUAC’s board approved a new member at the start of the meeting, Dominic Barbera.

RENAMING LAKEWOOD PARK IN HONOR OF DICK THURNAU: Board member Liz Giba said the County Council is advancing this. (Here’s our most-recent report, from mid-August.)

ANNOUNCEMENTS: Giba announced that Rich Miller of Poor Boys’ Auto Repair, “a longtime lover of White Center,” had died of a stroke last month. “He was a friend to me and a friend to White Center.” … Giba also announced that October 17th is the date for the White Center Food Bank‘s fundraising dinner; tickets are on sale, at a reduced rate until October 1st. … The White Center Library Guild is collecting petition signatures to have a room at the new library – under construction on SW 107th – named after longtime library advocate Rachael Levine. … Application period will start the day after Labor Day for the county’s Community Service Area grants, according to county rep Alan Painter.

NHUAC usually meets 7 pm first Thursdays at the North Highline Fire District HQ – watch northhighlineuac.org for updates on the next meeting; Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg is scheduled to be at the November meeting …

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New storefront deputy for White Center: Meet Deputy Bill Kennamer at September 3rd North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

August 30th, 2015 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on New storefront deputy for White Center: Meet Deputy Bill Kennamer at September 3rd North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

Big agenda as the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council resumes its monthly-meeting schedule this week. NHUAC president Barbara Dobkin has just shared the agenda for the September meeting this coming Thursday – and it includes news of a new storefront deputy for White Center:

Mark your calendars and plan on joining the discussion at the next North Highline Unincorporated Council meeting on Thursday, Sept 3rd at 7 pm at the North Highline Fire Station: 1243 SW 112th Street.

Cass Turnbull, founder of Plant Amnesty, will be providing information on her efforts to preserve 32 acres of city of Seattle surplus land on Myers Way South (located between White Center and Highland Park – adjacent and south of the Joint Fire Training Facility, and Arrowhead Gardens senior housing). Seattle’s intention is to sell the land for commercial development. The area is steep, with wooded slopes, wetlands and a meadow that could very well be “Discovery Park South”.

We will also be addressing the issues that seem to continually arise at the White Center Bog/Pond. John Taylor and Ken Gresset from the King County Water and Land Resources Division would like to hear from the community on how this area can be best utilized for community enjoyment.

We have been fortunate to have wonderful, dedicated storefront deputies over the years. Our current storefront deputy, Julian Chivington, is no exception. The good news is Deputy Chivington has accepted a promotion, and the other good news is that Deputy Bill Kennamer will be taking Deputy Chivington’s place. Deputy Kennamer is very familiar with the White Center community, having served as a Metro Transit Deputy for a number of years. Both Deputy Chivington and Kennamer will be at the meeting to provide crime stats as well as information and answer questions regarding general community safety concerns.

See the agenda at: northhighlineuac.org

Questions – contact bdobkin@northhighlineuac.org

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council to talk about marijuana Thursday, last meeting until September

May 30th, 2015 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on North Highline Unincorporated Area Council to talk about marijuana Thursday, last meeting until September

Before taking a summer break from the monthly meeting schedule, the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council will take a closer look at one of the area’s hottest topics:

When: Thursday, June 4 at 7 pm
Where: North Highline Fire Station (1243 SW 112th)

We are pleased to be hosting James Paribello and Frank O’Dell from the Washington State Liquor Control Board, who will provide the latest updates regarding legislation, siting, and licensing of recreational marijuana stores (502 stores). We will be discussing the process for potential conversion of the now unregulated medical marijuana dispensaries to 502 stores.

Specifically, we are interested in how this new legislation will impact the greater White Center/North Highline community. With 8 unregulated medical dispensaries and two licensed 502 stores presently in the community, as well as a potential grow/processing operation, how many more businesses will we see?

Plan on attending and bring your questions and concerns for this important and informative community discussion.

Our White Center Storefront Deputy, Julian Chivington, will also be on hand with information on crime trends and general community safety concerns.

All are welcome – see you there!

Questions: contact – bdobkin@northhighlineuac.org

For the agenda please see: northhighlineuac.org

(Please note: NHUAC will not be holding meetings in July and August)

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s May meeting: Crime stats, community planning, property values…

May 7th, 2015 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 3 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Hot topics from crime to planning filled tonight’s meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

WHITE CENTER CRIME STATS: Storefront Deputy Julian Chivington was at the meeting to present a briefing. He primarily focused on sector K-1, though K-11 and K-7 are also part of the area. He showed hot spots for car thefts and car prowls; Part 1 crimes (homicide, aggravated assault, robbery, rape, burglary, larceny, vehicle theft, arson) are going down, 83 incidents in April, down from 88 in the same month last year and a peak at 106 last July. He said new hires are beefing up the staffing – more incidences of 3 deputies in White Center or even 4, compared to it often being 2 until now. Part II crimes – almost everything else – are down even more significantly 85 in the past month, from a peak of 135 during one month over the winter. Violent crime has dropped dramatically, according to a 3 1/2-year chart he showed. Burglaries and attempts are down from 14 in March to 11 in April.

Deputy Chivington said he talked to the burglary/larceny detective today who “had a whole bunch of success stories” – 5 in custody in the last three weeks for vehicle theft, for example, including “a prolific vehicle thief/car prowler that hit both Seattle and us … he’s looking at some pretty good jail time.” He took a residential-burglary report and collected fingerprints – they’re waiting on the results – and “the neighbors had cameras pointed at the house … detectives went to (the suspect’s) house” and the suspect confessed, Deputy Chivington said. Looking through the reports, he said mail thefts are down; a lot of previous victims “have put up locked boxes for mail” or pitched in for locking mailbox clusters, and that seems to have helped.

The bus stop fight at 102nd on April 26th involved a stabbing, Deputy Chivington said, but the victim was not being cooperative with investigators.

Miscellaneous cases – One that involved the SWAT team recently happened because a stolen vehicle had been stripped and turned up at the “Gypsy Joker clubhouse” at 5th/116th, Deputy Chivington said … the deputy says he’s working on various “problem houses” in connection with the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

ASSESSOR’S OFFICE UPDATE: Phillip Sit from the office of King County Assessor Lloyd Hara presented an update, starting with a reminder of the different tech tools you can use online to find out more about your property’s value, taxes, etc. One called LocalScape – recently launched – will show a variety of numbers you might be interested in – appraised values, number of properties, changes in appraised values by residential area, local sales – you can click on a pin to find out more about a specific property, when it was sold, for how much, etc. It also offers demographic data (including areas you can select, not just premapped areas).

“We visit your property every six years, so if something changes, we might not be aware of it,” he reminded everyone.

King County is the “second-fastest-growing urban county in the country right now,” said Sit. That includes 1,500 people moving here from California every month right now, he said. The county’s values has increased 13.9% since last year. 85 of 86 residential areas increased in value for their 2014 valuation, but only 20 of those areas, all on the eastside, “have increased beyond their 2008 valuation.”

The valuation card you get from their audience will show up starting later this May, and the number is set on January 1st. They survey a variety of things in the area – including teardowns and sales – to calculate the value. In an area with many teardowns, most of your assessed value might be on the land, not the house.

The big question: “Does higher assessed value necessarily mean higher property taxes?” Answer: “It depends – factors include assessed value of your property, total taxable property value in your community, budgets adopted by your local governments, voter-approved measures. In Seattle, for example, the amount of property tax per $1,000 of assessed value went down a dollar because of new construction.

P.S. Watch for an Assessor’s Office town hall in the North Highline area this summer.

OFFICE OF PERFORMANCE, STRATEGY AND BUDGET: Karen Wolf from this office, which is part of the County Executive’s department, came to talk about the Comprehensive Plan update – a process that’s starting now, to culminate with finalization next year. She says County Councilmember Joe McDermott has asked for a “sub-area plan” in this area to see if major changes to be made. That’s a “neighborhood plan, a deeper look at a community,” Wolf elaborated when asked by NHUAC president Barbara Dobkin what exactly that meant.

She was asked whether the county is looking at zoning that would require housing for multiple income levels – like Greenbridge and Seola Gardens, for example. Talk to your councilmember, she suggested.

Overall, they’re hoping to plan for a more walkable community, saying the past zoning was “a barrier to having retail businesses come in and create sidewalks so you could walk there.”

What about tax breaks to encourage more businesses, especially tech firms with many jobs, to locate perhaps on underutilized sites like Top Hat’s former Bernie and Boys market site? wondered NHUAC’s Elizabeth Gordon. She also asked what good it does to address economic/social inequity if you can’t really have any effect on what kind of development winds up going where? Wolf acknowledged that’s a conundrum, and went on to mention a New York Times story about commute times being a predictor of getting out of poverty. “So what can we do as planners to help improve that situation? That’s something we’re going to look at.” She said they’re looking not just at the “bad things present in a community” but also “the good things that are lacking. … We’re going to be learning a lot of this with you, as the process goes along.”

She learned a lot just hearing from NHUAC board members and meeting attendees, including the fact that White Center has only one grocery store. It was observed that Wolf shouldn’t have been surprised by what she’s hearing – as she clearly was – and it was pointed out by an attendee that NHUAC “has been de-funded,” which means the county isn’t getting as well-rounded of a view. “How many different groups do you listen to?” she was asked.

NHUAC’s Liz Giba suggested that “too many groups in North Highline don’t have open meetings” (which NHUAC does). Wolf said the next step is to “work with the community to come up with a vision,” and then to “work with professionals to (pursue it).”

Concerns were also voiced that North Highline needs more “economic diversity.”

Wolf tried to reassure concerns that, as NHUAC’s Elizabeth Gordon put it, “the plan (itself) is a silo,” by saying planners would be meeting with people involved in a wide range of components that go into the plan, including housing, safety, and transportation.

Timeline? Right now, Wolf’s department is “developing the scope of work,” which will be followed by developing a draft plan by next winter, and the County Council adopting the updated Comprehensive Plan about a year from now.

BOARD MEMBERS’ ANNOUNCEMENTS included a May 31st health fair “open to the community” announced by Elizabeth Gordon, at Breath of Life Church on 26th SW, 1 pm-5 pm; she also announced a June 26th fun-run fundraiser for the Evergreen campus. … Liz Giba mentioned TAF‘s summer camps – register ASAP! – info here … Barbara Dobkin mentioned a “potential marijuana grow operation” at 1109 1st Avenue S., right across from an I-502 recreational marijuana store, and that a comment period for a conditional-use permit is coming up; she has information about it, for anyone who wants to comment, for/against/otherwise – you can contact her to find out more.

COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENTS: White Center Kiwanis is announcing its pancake breakfast coming up in July during Jubilee Days – “if you buy tickets early, you save $2 at the door” … White Center Library Guild is having plant sales on Fridays and Saturdays, noon-2 pm at the library, throughout the month of May, both vegetable and flower plants.

NHUAC meets on first Thursdays, 7 pm, at the North Highline Fire District‘s HQ. A Liquor Control Board rep is expected at June’s meeting, to talk about cannabis.

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What you’ll find out about at next Thursday’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

May 3rd, 2015 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on What you’ll find out about at next Thursday’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

From North Highline Unincorporated Area Council president Barbara Dobkin:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting:

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

Plan on joining us to hear how you can have an impact on the King County Comprehensive Plan update – which will be adopted by the King County Council in late 2016. The Comp Plan sets the groundwork for the continued growth and development of our community (North Highline/White Center). Karen Wolf, Sr. Policy Analyst of the office of Performance, Strategy, and Budget, will provide details on the current plan – and how we can assist in formulating the updated plan.

We are also pleased to host Phillip Sit from the King County Dept of Assessments – housing prices are on the increase in King County – Phillip will be providing information on how housing prices in our community compare with the rest of the county. He will also be showing off the new internet tools that are available on the Dept of Assessments website.

Our White Center Storefront Deputy, Julian Chivington, will be also be on hand to provide updates on crime trends and general safety concerns.

Please see our website for more details and agenda: northhighlineuac.org

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council hears about marijuana rules in a ‘fluid’ atmosphere

April 10th, 2015 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 2 Comments »

Toplines from this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, featuring a discussion of the marijuana business and where it stands:

MARIJUANA REGULATIONS/PERMITTING/LAND USE: Ty Peterson from King County said “there’s a lot of misinformation out there” but “the atmosphere is very fluid,” with regulations diverging between cities, county, state, and several bills pending in the state Legislature. White Center has been “mostly retail oriented,” he said. They don’t know how many recreational-marijuana outlets could be allowed in the Highline area, except “no more than 11” since that’s how many were allotted to King County “at large,” covering the unincorporated area and about half a dozen small cities such as Black Diamond and Maple Valley, get to “split these 11” – and 4 are in operation now.

He said the interest has been in White Center and Skyway because of the zoning classifications. The county has been trying to do mapping based on the rules but is not having much success yet. “We know there’s right now 11 licenses – the state Liquor Control Board is likely in the future to increase the number of licenses” but 7 remain. Kenmore, Covington, Enumclaw, and Skyway have licenses granted right now. No retail license has been granted in this area yet.

Peterson talked about the 1,000-foot “as the crow flies” distance that the state was enforcing between marijuana businesses and youth-oriented facilities. The county has no such rule, because the state said it would enforce that. There are some limitations – such as 2,000 square feet for a basic permit – and that’s still undergoing interpretation.

“The intent was not to create a marijuana mall,” said Peterson, in terms of figuring out what “2,000 feet per parcel” means and whether that could lead to a 10,000-square foot building hosting five 2,000-foot shops.

Where are the pending applications here? A production facility on 1st Avenue is one of them, he said, adding that it’s being reviewed very carefully because the building already has a medical-marijuana dispensary.

NHUAC’s Elizabeth Gordon asked for clarification if this is just still in a wait-and-see period, as the county comes up with some rules and waits to see if the state will override. Peterson said the county is exercising ‘some basic zoning parameters” but is aware “it’s a moving target” regarding what the rules are and to whom they apply and all. Right now, any further county rule changes are on hold pending what the state decides to do during this session – Peterson said they expect the medical/recreational marijuana oversight to be merged in some way or another. It was noted that House Bill 1552 is the bill considered to be most likely to pass.

He agreed that the medical side of the marijuana business was responsible for most of the problems they’re hearing about because it’s not being “regulated by anybody.” There is no limit on how many dispensaries/access points there can be. Dobkin pointed out that there are 8 in a very small area. “A community like ours is … hit hard” by the concentration.

The whole thing is up in the air right now, seemed to be the bottom line, with questions swirling around permitting, enforcement, and the industry’s future. What about money for helping a community like White Center deal with the impact? asked NHUAC’s Liz Giba. Peterson said that wasn’t necessarily on the table right now.

Gordon brought up a related point – with marijuana concerns converging here because of an abundance of low-rent commercial space, what about economic incentives to help bring in a broader range of tenant choices for landlords?

It was suggested that the county’s comprehensive plan update could help with that, because it includes an economic-development section. Or, a sub-area (community) plan for the area could help, too. King County’s Alan Painter added that the idea had possibilities. Dobkin added that a county rep will be at next month’s meeting to talk about the comprehensive plan.

Peterson said there’s a marijuana-information page on the county’s permitting website, including an e-mail address you can use to send related questions.

LIQUOR CONTROL BOARD: A rep who handles marijuana businesses once they’re approved says there is an application listed in the 9600 block of 16th SW. Olympia reviews and licenses applicants – that’s when he takes over. He says there are security requirements – sensors on doors, video surveillance that has to be recorded for up to 45 days (and has to be high-resolution), multiple cameras in a room, sample jars, security at the doors, etc. One place had a $12,000 safe, he noted.

GRAFFITI VANDALISM: NHUAC president Barbara Dobkin noted a major amount of new graffiti/tagging along 15th SW on a building near Bartell Drugs that has a “for rent” sign up. She also noticed vandalism at Mount View Elementary.

SERVICE OPEN HOUSE: Alan Painter from King County announced that this year’s unincorporated service area open house will be held in North Highline, 7 pm April 23rd at Seola Gardens. (Before we published this report, the flyer came in:)

A new “work plan” will be available in time for the meeting, he said, in response to a question from NHUAC’s Giba.

JUBILEE DAYS FUNDRAISER: Giba announced that the White Center Eagles are hosting one on April 25th, with a dance-a-thon starting at 3 pm and a prime-rib dinner/auction starting at 7 pm. There are also prize-drawing tickets being sold as a fundraiser.

Watch the NHUAC website for meeting schedules and hot topics – northhighlineuac.org.

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: Here’s what’s on the April 2015 agenda

March 29th, 2015 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: Here’s what’s on the April 2015 agenda

From North Highline Unincorporated Area Council president Barbara Dobkin:

NHUAC meeting:
When: Thursday, April 2 @ 7pm
Where: North Highline Fire Station (1243 SW 112th Street)

Mark your calendars and plan on joining us on Thursday, April 2 at 7 pm for the monthly North Highline Unincorporated Area Council (NHUAC) meeting. The meeting will focus on King County regulations for Recreational Marijuana stores and processing plants – specifically – those that are slated to open in the greater White Center area.

Ty Peterson from the King County Dept of Permitting and Environmental Review (DEPR) and Kim Gabbard, Marijuana Unit Supervisor at the WA State Liquor Control Board, will be providing updates and information regarding zoning, permitting and licensing.

Our White Center Storefront Deputy, Julian Chivington, will be providing updates regarding crime trends and general safety issues and concerns.

Please see NHUAC website for more details and agenda: northhighlineuac.org

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@ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: Disc golf at the bog? – crimefighting in WC – marijuana concerns – more

March 6th, 2015 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: Disc golf at the bog? – crimefighting in WC – marijuana concerns – more

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Another information-packed monthly meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council. You really had to be there to get it all, but here are what hit us as the highlights;

KCSO UPDATE: Deputy Julian Chivington said the numbers in local districts are about the same as before: 361 reports written for January, 348 for February. Residential and commercial burglaries are both down, he said. And he shared a “success story” he heard from a Block Watch captain, with neighbors noticing “suspicious people ringing the bell, trying the door” at a Top Hat-area house, and it turned out they were indeed trying to break in; two people were arrested and booked into jail, and one was armed, he said.

Graffiti vandalism is a big issue, he said, and it’s difficult to track down business owners for permission to paint it over; a lot of it happens near roofs, and that is an extra complication. So they are drafting a “blanket letter” to get one-time approval from business owners to tackle graffiti when it happens – so there’s no delay when the weather is conducive. He drew laughter by talking about how plainclothes personnel caught a vandal whose work was in progress, suggesting he pose for a photo; he obliged, and was arrested, said the deputy. Asked about gang graffiti, he said he had been looking into it, and found that there are two gang groups that are “in a little bit of a skirmish right now … claiming their territory right now,” mostly north of the city limits, in West Seattle.

NHUAC president Barbara Dobkin asked about the former Papa’s Pub on 16th in downtown White Center, which had been in the process of remodeling for a new business, but now is boarded up, with the boards having been tagged. That hadn’t been on Chivington’s radar lately, but a few doors down, he said, the apartments above the former Club Evo on 16th are involved in an eviction process; the owner is going to remodel the apartments and “try to find decent tenants,” he said.

And he mentioned something we had heard at the Highland Park Action Committee meeting last week – that there’s a proposal to get the LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) program going in White Center. … Regarding ongoing 15th/Roxbury problems, he mentioned contacting the Metro Street Crimes division about Route 120 and its stop in front of the DSHS; he said they had been riding undercover for a while. He also said business owners have been sending him photos of drug sales in progress, and that investigators will start building some cases.

The deputy said he participated in the One Night Count, between Myers Way and 509; nobody was in the bog area, he said, with Southwest King County numbers totaling 209 people found sleeping outside that night, more than 3,000 in all in the county. He also mentioned the ongoing drug problems in local alleys, with meth constituting much of the problem, but heroin also involved.

SPEAKING OF WHITE CENTER BOG – DISC GOLF COURSE?: Ken Gresset from Department of Natural Resources and Parks said they have cleared about 80 percent of what they can do in the bog vicinity, and that calls for drug use, illegal camping, and other problems are reported to be down. “We won’t know until the end of the year but it’s possible that this has taken 800 calls away from the Sheriff’s Department … at 150 dollars each … (which means) it’s a very worthwhile project.”

So now – what about a permanent use for the site?

Gresset said he was looking for community input on activities “to keep the illegal activity down,” and specifically the possibility of a disc golf course there – 18 holes unless wetland restrictions keep it to 9. Issues might be parking, lighting. “Look at the activity we’re driving out – gunshots, screams – and then we (might get) complaints about parking. I would rather have complaints about parking.” He said he’ll be applying for a grant in the spring. Erosion is a challenge, it was acknowledged. But overall, they’re currently seeking community support for the disc-golf idea.

UPDATE FROM COUNCILMEMBER MCDERMOTT: White Center and vicinity’s King County Councilmember Joe McDermott was at the meeting to update NHUAC on a variety of things. He introduced a new member of his staff, Lan Nguyen. He offered an update on several things such as proposed regulation of medical marijuana, a bill that was heard earlier that day; the Board of Health, which he’s on, has voiced its concerns, particularly, he said, involving the “access and appeal to kids” of edible marijuana – a statewide policy to fold medical marijuana into the regulated I-502 markets would be the best solution, he said. Even if the bill is approved, he said, it wouldn’t take effect until July of next year, which is not fast enough for “the increase we’re seeing in poisonings” involving children and edible marijuana, so he is pursuing other ways of addressing that, possibly unilateral action by the Board of Health. Nguyen said the bill he mentioned is 5052.

He spoke about the concerns regarding Environmental Health fees going up and affecting community events such as farmers’ markets and pancake breakfasts. Those fees will not go up this year after all. “I can’t guarantee you those fees won’t ever go up,” he warned, because of “a budget hole,” but he said they want to make sure fees don’t harm such community events.

NHUAC’s Elizabeth Gordon asked about a recreational marijuana store that’s apparently coming to White Center; McDermott suggested a protest to the Liquor Control Board, but Gordon said she was under the impression that if the location met the basic criteria, it would be approved without regard for any community concerns. Dobkin said one is also in the works for the Top Hat area. NHUAC’s Elizabeth Devine said it was a shame that a vulnerable community seemed to be getting targeted with businesses like these.

The discussion continued into other aspects of marijuana marketing and how they’re affecting businesses – smoking outside “medical marijuana” enterprises in White Center, for example – as well as the “black market” and what’s happening to it.

Asked about the annexation situation, McDermott recapped that the city of Seattle “put its foot in the door” before the end of 2014, stating that if pursued, it would be put to a public vote, but saying there are no “inside discussions” that he’s aware of.

Dobkin brought up construction continuing but roads continuing to crumble and infrastructure not supporting it. McDermott pointed out that property taxes are being paid and that does “increase the tax base,” paying into the roads fund, while acknowledging that it isn’t necessarily enough to pay for what needs to be done, and reiterating that the county doesn’t have the money to provide urban-area services.

CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: Al Tijerina made one of his periodic visits, saying he hasn’t been able to visit WC as much because he has only a third of the staff he used to have – 5 now, 15 not so long ago. He asked if any specific nuisance properties were of concern; one near 12th and 109th was mentioned by NHUAC’s Christine Waldman. “No one’s filed a complaint,” noted Tijerina. “We’re always complaint-driven; we can’t file complaints on our own.” Several other properties were brought up. Deputy Chivington said he had recently heard from the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office asking about problem houses that might be in need of help.

Tijerina said, “There’s nothing worse than the problems I have with abandoned houses that are vacant” – abatement of those problems could take two, three, even four years because of funding, he said.

Here’s how to report a problem for code enforcement:

*Call the hotline – 206-296-6680 – tell county staff the address and problem and staff will open a case. Also – you can file online via the county website (here’s where to go). Photos can be sent in to be added to the case, too.

NEW LIBRARY: With the groundbreaking set for 3 pm March 19th, as reported here last week, president Dobkin voiced ongoing concerns about its future, given that the prospect of Seattle annexation is back in play, looking for a commitment that even if that does happen, this will remain a library. NHUAC’s Liz Giba noted that the library bond originally was a 10-year bond with libraries to be built within that timeline. Traffic concerns also were voiced, related to the calculations used for how many trips would be made to the new library compared to the current one.

SPEAKING OF ANNEXATION: Gordon talked about various issues of interest in Olympia including an extension of the sales-tax credit related to annexation; she said she told legislators for this area that it’s vital that local residents are at the table if there’s any sort of negotiations related to annexation, especially involving facilities such as libraries and schools.

EVENT REMINDERS: Gordon also mentioned the White Center Eagles pancake-breakfast fundraiser for Evergreen Athletics this Saturday, and an upcoming PALS boxing tournament.

OFFICER CHANGE: Christine Waldman asked to step down from the treasurer role, which Pat Price will take over.

NEXT MEETING: NHUAC usually meets on first Thursdays, 7 pm, at the North Highline Fire District HQ. Watch for updates at northhighlineuac.org. April’s meeting will include a closer look at the marijuana issue.

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White Center Bog updates and more at this Thursday’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

March 2nd, 2015 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on White Center Bog updates and more at this Thursday’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

Here’s what’s coming up this Thursday at the March meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

Thursday, March 5 at 7 pm
North Highline Fire Station (1243 SW 112th Street)

Plan on joining NHUAC at our next meeting, Thursday, March 5. We are pleased to be hosting our District 8 King County Council Representative, Joe McDermott, and his Legislative Aide, Lan Nguyen.

Additionally, Ken Gresset, Senior Engineer for the King County Water, Land Resource Dept, will provide updates on work that continues at the White Center Bog. Ken has been instrumental in helping to get this problem area cleaned up and wants to know what the community would like to see there.

We are also pleased to have Al Tijerina, King County Code Enforcement Officer, who is assigned to this community – this is a good opportunity to let Al hear about any specific code issues you may have.

Our White Center Storefront Deputy, Julian Chivington, will provide information on crime stats and general community safety issues and concerns.

For more information, please see our website: northhighlineuac.org

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New White Center library on North Highline Unincorporated Area Council agenda for February 12th

February 7th, 2015 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on New White Center library on North Highline Unincorporated Area Council agenda for February 12th

This month’s meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council is coming up Thursday, February 12th, 7 pm at the NH Fire District HQ (1243 SW 112th). Here’s the agenda shared by president Barbara Dobkin:

7:00 pm Call to Order – Flag Salute – Roll Call –
Approval of Agenda – Approval of Minutes

7:05 pm Public Announcements

7:10 pm Public Comment
3 minutes for Individuals
5 minutes for Groups

7:20 pm Sherry Williams, Deputy Director, Operations –
Technology Access Foundation (TAF)

7:35pm Greg Smith, Facilities Manager
King County Library System

8:00 pm Committee Reports

8:10 pm New Business
*March Meeting

_____________________________________________________________________________________
NHUAC MEMBERS: Jessica Stoneback – Richard Miller – Elizabeth Gordon – Elizabeth Devine

COUNCIL OFFICERS: President – Barbara Dobkin: Vice President – Liz Giba:
Treasurer – Christine Waldman: Secretary – Pat Price

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Next North Highline UAC meeting: The sheriff & the deputies

November 26th, 2014 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on Next North Highline UAC meeting: The sheriff & the deputies

One week from tomorrow, North Highline Unincorporated Area Council‘s December meeting will feature Sheriff John Urquhart (raincheck from last meeting) and Deputies Julian Chivington (new storefront deputy) and Joe Winters (who patrols parks). Here’s the official agenda, from president Barbara Dobkin:

7:00 pm Call to Order – Flag Salute – Roll Call – Approval of Agenda – Approval of Minutes

7:05 pm Public Announcements
7:10 pm Public Comment

King County Sheriff’s Office
7:20 pm Sheriff John Urquhart
7:50 pm Deputy Julian Chivington – White Center Storefront Deputy
8:00 pm Deputy Joe Winters – South End Park Patrol

8:10pm Pat Price and Liz Giba – Discussion regarding Lakewood Park

8:20 pm Bong StoDomingo – King County Community Service Area Liaison – Update on Graffiti in North Highline

8:30 pm Committee Reports

The meeting will be at 7 pm Thursday, December 4th, at the North Highline Fire District HQ, 1243 SW 112th.

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