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

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

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

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

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

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

Donation buckets will be out at the fest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also from county government:

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

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

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

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

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

Just announced:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then… the floor will be yours!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the upside….

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

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

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

Then… the floor will be yours!

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

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

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

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

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

By Linda Ball
Reporting for White Center Now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then… floor will be yours!

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

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

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

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

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just announced:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you Thursday, February 1, 2018 at 7 pm

Because Knowledge + Community = Power!

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

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

Just in:

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

Be Informed
Be Involved
Be Heard

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

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

From the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also announced at the meeting:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When: Thursday, December 7, 2017 at 7 pm
Where: North Highline Fire Station at 1243 SW 112th Street in White Center
(Parking and Entrance are in the Back of the Station)

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

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

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

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

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

See you Thursday, December 7, 2017 at 7 pm

Because Knowledge and Community Are Power!

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

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

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

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

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

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

Why is that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another attendee wondered about the local stores’ security.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We don’t build,” said Freeman.

“But you permit,” said Dobkin.

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

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

Also at Thursday night’s meeting:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting
When: Thursday, November 2, 2017 at 7 pm
Where: North Highline Fire Station at 1243 SW 112th Street in White Center
(Parking and Entrance are in the Back of the Station)

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

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

How is I-502 working in North Highline?

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

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

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

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

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

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@ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: The Myers Way dilemma

October 11th, 2017 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 2 Comments »

(NHUAC meeting video by David Krause)

By Marika Lee
Reporting for White Center Now

Despite miscommunication and accusations early on, Myers Way residents, King County officials, and Seattle’s director of homelessness agreed that there is no quick solution to the problems on Myers Way.

“We just can’t keep up with (the amount of homelessness). We have got to be more aggressive. We have got to figure out ways to do that,” Senior Deputy County Executive Fred Jarrett said at last week’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, focused on the homelessness problem along Myers Way.

Concerns focus on two different situations: Camp Second Chance is the City of Seattle-sanctioned camp on the city-owned Myers Way Parcels, and unsanctioned camping in the woods on the other side of the street, along with long-running vehicle camping that has recently been swept.

Myers Way includes the border between the city of Seattle and King County. King County Sheriff John Urquhart, part of the panel at the NHUAC meeting, called it a “jurisdiction issue.”

“If they are living in the woods, there is not a lot that we can do about that. They are not trespassing if we do not have a victim to prosecute,” Urquhart said. The wooded area includes both city and state land.

Numerous residents of Myers Way and the surrounding neighborhood voiced their concerns about the two areas. One resident described the danger of driving down the street because of people wandering into traffic.

“I have heard that Camp Second Chance is in a state of implosion, that they are falling apart. That their structure is disintegrating. That they no longer have 24/7 guards in front of the gate. They are calling the police department regularly for response. We are hearing reports of violence. We are hearing reports of drug use,” a Myers Way resident said. (Recent trouble as the camp’s management changed was detailed in our report on the recent meeting of its Community Advisory Committee.)

Others described seeing people driving RVs into the woods, moving into a vacant house, and participating in drug use and prostitution.

Seattle’s Director of Homelessness George Scarola said he would look into the traffic issue, blocking off unofficial roads into the unsanctioned camp and doing a recount of people living in both camps. “We will work on the things that we can. I’ll get back involved with management,” Scarola said. The Low Income Housing Institute has taken over management. Arthur Warmoth, from LIHI, said the goal is to find housing for everyone in the camp and to reduce the amount of time people stay at the camp to three months. Residents and officials agreed that there is a lack of affordable housing for people to move into.

“We need to stem the tide of homelessness and people coming into homelessness as well. We don’t have enough resources to solve it,” said King County Council Chair Joe McDermott, who represents District 8 on the council, which includes White Center, West Seattle, and vicinity.

Multiple large-scale solutions were suggested throughout the meeting, such as creating an income tax or doing away with the 1 percent cap on property tax in addition to building more affordable housing.

“We have to figure out the subsidies for people to afford housing. It is a difficult problem. We are learning and trying new things,” Jarrett said.

In the short term, Urquhart encouraged people to call 9-1-1 if they see something and to know when they call what jurisdiction they are in so they are not transferred between his office, Seattle Police Department and State Patrol, which is a problem with mobile phone users.

“Call 9-1-1 if there is a problem. We are the government. We operate on statistics,” Urquhart said.

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THURSDAY: Myers Way homelessness in the spotlight @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

October 1st, 2017 Tracy Posted in Myers Way, North Highline UAC, White Center news 2 Comments »

As announced by the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When: Thursday, October 5, 2017 at 7 pm

Where: North Highline Fire Station at 1243 SW 112th Street in White Center 
 (Parking and Entrance are in the Back of the Station)

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

Please join NHUAC, King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, Sheriff John Urquhart, Senior Deputy County Executive Fred Jarrett, and Seattle’s Director of Homelessness, George Scarola, in what is sure to be an important conversation about homelessness on Myers Way.

The Committee to End Homelessness was supposed to complete its mission by 2015. It didn’t. Homelessness continues to increase. Some of the reasons are economic inequality, skyrocketing rents, and the elimination of affordable housing, especially in Seattle. Research shows that every $100 rent increase leads to a 15 percent increase in the number of people pushed into homelessness.

Many found Myers Way. Camp Second Chance was eventually sanctioned by Seattle. However, there are an unknown number of campers living in the woods surrounding Camp Second Chance. Residents of North Highline and Seattle have been frustrated with the changes along Myers Way. It is time to have a conversation!

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

See you Thursday, October 5, 2017 at 7 pm – Because Knowledge Is Power!

P.S. The community advisory committee for Camp Second Chance met today, and we’ll have that report sometime in the next 24 hours.

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NORTH HIGHLINE UNINCORPORATED AREA COUNCIL: Property-tax talk; school funding demystified; more

September 8th, 2017 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on NORTH HIGHLINE UNINCORPORATED AREA COUNCIL: Property-tax talk; school funding demystified; more

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council roared into fall with two mega-informative hours.

Thursday night’s meeting was led by NHUAC vice president Barbara Dobkin, in president Liz Giba‘s absence, with secretary Pat Price and board members Christine Waldman and Richard Miller.

HIGHLINE PUBLIC SCHOOLS BUDGET: Duggan Harman from the school district was at NHUAC to talk about the public-education funding situation – “what’s going on with the state,” etc. No, the problem has not quite been solved, he said, for starters. “We are still trying to unpack” the situation, he added, offering background on the case that has become known simply as “McCleary,” after the family that brought the lawsuit, and the fact that our state’s constitution says it’s the state’s “paramount duty” to fully fund public education. But by 2010, the state was only funding “70 cents on the dollar,” with the rest being picked up locally, he explained, and that led to the court fight. So the Supreme Court held the state in contempt, and finally, this year, “after three special sessions and in the dead of night,” the Legislature passed a bill. He noted that Highline and Seattle Public Schools – where he worked for more than 20 years – have different perspectives on the bill; he considers the changes “a good start.” Now, instead of a maintenance-and-operations levy, they can have an “enrichment levy,” which he says is “more like a bond,” and considers “transparent.” The state assumes that districts will pursue that levy, and that it will be passed. It’s capped at $1.50/$1,000 of assessed property value, or a certain amount per district student, “whichever is less.” Almost all the state’s districts will be going after the former, but the largest districts will be going after the latter, and it will not “be a level playing field.” And Harman is not sure this will wind up kicking in at the start of next year. He believes the tax rate in Highline will “drop by about 75 cents per $1,000 … not super-significant, but it will be dropping” … and the district will wind up receiving $35 million instead of almost $65 million that it’s getting under the different, current formula. Beginning teachers will get about the same salary they were slated to get previously; classified staffers. He debunked several myths, as he saw them, about the new funding formula. Another one involves special-education funding, and he says Highline will be “OK” under the change, while the Seattle district is looking at reductions. Highline’s not facing reductions immediately but might in three years or so, he said.

In Q&A: Voter-approved bond funding will be enabling another middle school to be built, and that will allow Highline to move 6th graders into middle school, which currently is only 7th/8th in the district, unlike most other districts. That will free up some capacity in elementaries, which currently are bursting at the seams, and that means that K-3 class sizes can be reduced to 17-1 in most if not all Highline elementaries; currently it ranges from 21-1 to 28-1. “The plan is to not depend long term on portables,” which will be phased out over time, Harman added. With that, they’ll have enough elementary capacity “for the next 10 years” or so; middle schools will get crowded sooner, and high schools will be OK for a while. Within 10 years, the district is projected to have 22,000 students.

What about the old Beverly Park campus? It can’t be used currently because it’s not hooked up to sewers and its septic system has failed; the work to connect it to the sewer system is scheduled to happen this school year. The elementary that’s going to be built will be at Zenith Park in Des Moines; the new middle school will be where the old Glacier High School used to be.

Asked about federal funding, Harman said there’s a concern about a noise-mitigation grant negotiated some years back by the FAA and Port of Seattle, which the district used around the rebuild of Highline HS – about $14 million. “The port’s still 100 percent behind it; the FAA’s decided ‘airplanes don’t make as much noise as they used to, so we don’t think you qualify’,” he said, so that money’s future is in question – it’s in a bill that has been caught up in political tug-of-wars.

Dobkin asked what happens to schools in North Highline if the area were annexed by the city of Seattle. Harman reiterated what’s long been the answer to this question – the city and school district are separate entities with separate boundaries, so nothing would change there. But if annexed, the area would likely become more dense, and Highline “doesn’t have the capacity” to handle that – they’re already facing that situation as the Midway area densifies, for example, so the district expects to be negotiating with several municipalities for impact fees, which they’re already getting from Kent. Would the city of Seattle contribute to Highline schools at all? Dobkin followed up. Harman said that the city’s Families and Education Levy might go in part to newly annexed areas, but that doesn’t directly fund schools.

Asked how citizens can advocate for equity, Harman said talking to your elected officials does help, and gave an example of how local representatives were contacted about a problem that needed to be fixed – and passed amendments that made millions of dollars of difference. But while the elected officials hear from people like Harman all the time, “they need to hear from voters,” he emphasized.

His e-mail is – contact him with concerns, questions, etc. “I’m more than willing to talk with anyone at any time about this … if we don’t get (education funding) right this time, it’ll be another 20 years before it comes up.”

COUNTY ASSESSOR: John Wilson also discussed the effects of the education-funding decision. “For us it’s a moving target,” he said, a source of frustration. His department’s computer system is old. King County property owners will see their tax bills go up – they “will pay significantly more so that money can be spent elsewhere around the state to equalize education.” They’re now waiting for districts to tell them which of the funding formulas (mentioned by Harman) they will be using. There might be a bit of a drop in 2019 from 2018. “But what we’re seeing is a failing of our property tax funding,” something he said has long been in the works. He mentioned Seattle’s “Will Rogers” approach to property taxes – the city “never met (one) it didn’t like.” They are finite, he said, and now leading to residents asking if they can afford to live in their houses any more, or do they need to sell and move – “we are basically ripping you out of that home of yours” when that happens. So he said they’re talking with King County Executive Dow Constantine about a “statewide homestead tax exemption,” which would require a state constitutional amendment. The money would have to be made up somewhere, though, he acknowledged.

At this time of year, they start hearing from local governments – and they have to make calculations that include 596 local levy districts around the county. He has a staffer who for 10 years has manually calculated those levy codes because of their computer system’s limitations. The state calls for property tax bills to be sent in mid-February, and that’s what they’re ramping up for now. “The challenge we have … we somehow need to modernize our tax system, and the way we provide services,” so that there’s a balanced revenue system “that doesn’t overburden you.” He said he’d been talking with Dobkin before the meeting about one of its long-voiced concerns, the tax-exempt public housing – on one hand, its tax exemption seems proper, but on the other, that burdens the community that as a result is not getting tax dollars, so a balance needs to be found for that. “We’ve got to have a better system” to be sure that people don’t pay too much, but also do pay their fair share.

In Q&A, the issue of tax fairness came up again; Wilson noted that our system goes back to the late 1800s, and has not significantly changed, though the economic base has changed dramatically. Because of its structure, even a record amount of new construction did not keep the county budget from suffering a shortfall in the same year the record was set. Same thing goes for gas-tax funding that’s helped with roads – it’s going down because even with more miles being driven, fuel efficiency has gone up, and less gas is being sold, so that’s another case of the tax system not keeping up with changes.

He also ruefully joked about how tax increases are not being explained clearly – the “how many lattes a month” is deployed too often and too inaccurately, to the point where you get a bill and say “wow, that’s 167 lattes!” – so they are working on a “transparency tool” that will help people make voting decisions with clearer information on the results of the decisions we’re making. They also want to create it in a way that will show renters how they’re affected, to get away from the inaccurate perception that renters blithely vote for property taxes because “they don’t pay (them),” which, Wilson said, is not true, as the increases are passed along in rent hikes.

In response to another question, he talked about how the Assessor’s Office tries to keep up with accurate assessments – visiting properties at least one every six years, for example. And he talked about how to accurately assess properties that have been remodeled, telling the tale of a West Seattle house that took out a relatively low-cost “remodel” permit but really tore down almost the entire house – except for one corner – and did work more like 10 times the value of the permit they had taken out.

Wilson was then if seeking equity in the tax system might lead to a new way of taxing higher-end properties. He said state law wouldn’t allow a tiered tax system but there are some other ways to look at it. He also mentioned having met with Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold and discussing concerns about higher-end homes being built and allowed to stay vacant; that’s not a big problem here, he says. But, he said, his office has information on all 700,000 pieces of property in the county, including some government-owned properties that might be available for use for housing because the original intent for those parcels somehow fell away over the years. And, he said, modular housing could help. So they’ve been working with housing providers and companies building modular-type units that are “ready to drop on a site” for about $70,000 a unit – a fifth the cost of building something new. So there’s a site where they’re looking at installing more than 100 such units and taking more than 100 people out of homelessness and off the streets. He said they’re also being mindful of not overloading any particular community with this type of housing – “we have to get our suburban partners on the other side of Lake Washington more involved.”

Next question, about mixed-use development, led to Wilson acknowledging that “affordable retail” is important too, not just “affordable housing.” The city has a glut of street-level retail space but much of it sits vacant because of the price point. So they’ve been talking about innovative ways to use it. “We’re finding that small locally owned businesses – often owned by (members of) historically disadvantage communities – are often the ones being forced out first,” by chains, in most cases. “When you so homogenize the retail base, the only people who can afford to have shops in those are those running national franchises or banks … we have to be smarter about that.” He specifically mentioned the proliferation of Starbucks; an attendee said White Center’s new Starbucks specifically brought him and his wife into WC to shop. He stressed that while he’s not bashing chains, “there has to be a balance.” Also, Seattle has 44 Subway franchises, and 40 of them are for sale, he said a friend told him – while they are generally owned by local franchisees, they are taxed and treated like “multinational corporation” outlets, he noted.

You can reach him at – he says he personally receives and answers all e-mail.

CRIME STATS: Deputy Bill Kennamer brought the latest numbers – comparing July-August of this year to a year earlier. Auto theft is down a bit in White Center, 21 compared to 25; auto recoveries, which is where vehicles stolen elsewhere are dumped in the area, have dropped significantly, 12 compared to 21; commercial burglaries are down significantly, 3 compared to 9; assaults are about the same.

He said someone had asked him about the Westcrest Park stabbing earlier this week (a Seattle case) and while he had no specific information, he did have one note – when Seattle thinks a case is gang-related, there’s usually a regional bulletin issued, and there has NOT been any such bulletin about this case.

He also talked about keeping the White Center Bog area safe – it’s been cleaned up, and when people are caught trespassing there, they are told to leave.

A discussion ensued about the fate of various properties in flux – such as the former Dairy Queen, which is going to be a food-truck kitchen, the deputy said.

And there was a discussion about vehicle problems along local roads – if there’s one parked in front of your house, call the Abandoned Vehicle Hotline, he advised. He also said that he’s “pretty ruthless about RVs” that are parked where they shouldn’t be; in unincorporated King County, you are not allowed to park one anywhere except for a designated camper spot – wherever you park one, you are supposed to have power, water, and sewage.

The next point of complaint: Illegal fireworks being shot off year-round. Deputy Kennamer said enforcement can be problematic, as they generally have two deputies in the area per shift, and they have to be prioritized. In the bigger picture, it was noted that for fireworks to become permanently illegal in the unincorporated area, the County Council would have to change the law.

Myers Way came up too – “people don’t even call us any more” due to resignation over some of the unresolved issues, the deputy noted, but community advocate Gill Loring urged from the audience, “If you see something, call 911.” People shouldn’t hesitate.

SEOLA POND RESTORATION: Scott Delfay, a community organizer, took the podium to update the group. He said he had lived in Fauntleroy recently and noted that its creek is a “magnificent place” because of years of stewardship and the resulting work to get grant. Then in 2010, he bought property just east of the city-county line in Seola, on greenspace “that acts as a de facto neighborhood park.” North of 106th and along 30th SW, which is the boundary. It’s historically a peat bog, he noted, that would dry up in the summer, and held runoff because of all the construction around it. He explained that he had obtained $1,600 from Uncle Ike’s (whose proprietor was in attendance) in funding more help for work at the site, done by EarthCorps earlier this week, and they’ll be back in October. Asked if there is anything about his project online, he said he’s a “Luddite” but is hoping that he’s initiated something that’s gaining momentum as did the work in Fauntleroy. He said his church is the fiscal sponsor for what he’s doing. “This is meant to bring awareness of the pond, and hopefully get more volunteers.” To help and/or find out more, you can reach him at satomiscott (at) q (dot) com. He also noted that there’s a landowner on the Seattle side who can’t build on their parcels because it’s peat and he’s been trying to help coordinate a potential donation of that land as a park site.

NEW FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: Sarah Margeson from King County Parks/Natural Resources told NHUAC that a new program in Youth and Amateur Sports Grants has $1.5 million dedicated to serving unincorporated areas, “for capital project improvements and programming,” and community groups are eligible to apply too. She said that transportation, nutrition, and other needs can be addressed, and that it’s available for adult programs as well as youth. It’ll be launched at the end of this month, with an online grant-management system that she hopes will make it “pretty simple” for applications – you’ll find the links on this website once it’s available, and informational sessions are planned too (in Kent and South Seattle).

ANNOUNCEMENTS: NHUAC secretary Pat Price thanked the community for support of the Labor Day weekend White Center Library Guild Sidewalk Sale, which she says “did well” … Community advocate Gill Loring brought up a trash problem on 15th SW/SW 107th that’s been brought to the attention of various county departments, with none wanting to take accountability for it; Storefront Deputy Kennamer said he’s pursuing it too.

OCTOBER NHUAC MEETING: Deputy County Executive Fred Jarrett, King County Sheriff John Urquhart, and City of Seattle Homelessness Director George Scarola are tentatively slated as guests for next month’s meeting (7 pm Thursday, October 5th). Watch for the agenda as that date gets closer.

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THURSDAY: Taxes, parks, crime, and Seola Pond, all on the agenda for North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

September 4th, 2017 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on THURSDAY: Taxes, parks, crime, and Seola Pond, all on the agenda for North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

Summer’s over; your fall season of community involvement is about to begin. Thursday night, get it going by being at the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council‘s info-packed September meeting – here’s the announcement!

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting
When: Thursday, September 7, 2017 at 7 pm
Where: North Highline Fire Station at 1243 SW 112th Street in White Center

(Parking and Entrance are in the Back of the Station)

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

The state legislature finally passed a new state budget. What does it mean for our schools, students and property taxes? Join us and find out! Duggan Harman, Highline School District’s Chief of Staff and Budget, will help educate us about the anticipated effects of the state budget on our schools and young people. John Wilson, King County Assessor, will explain the expected changes to our property taxes.

We will also be joined by Sarah Margeson of King County’s Department of Natural Resources/Parks. Sarah will tell us about Youth and Amateur Sports Grants, which support fit and healthy communities by investing in programs and capital projects that reduce barriers to physical activity. Come learn about the anticipated $1.5 million that will be available to government agencies and nonprofit organizations in North Highline and the other unincorporated areas of King County.

Scott Dolfay is a regular participant in NHUAC meetings. This month, Scott is going to share news about a project that is near and dear to him: the restoration of Seola Pond.

Deputy Bill Kennamer will join us once again to answer our questions, share crime statistics and help increase our awareness of what is happening in North Highline.

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

See you Thursday, September 7, 2017 at 7 pm – Because Knowledge Is Power!

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council talks land, safety

June 7th, 2017 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 1 Comment »

Tonight, the annual King County Community Service Area town-hall meeting for North Highline is set for 7 pm at Seola Gardens (11215 5th SW).

Those in attendance at last Thursday’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting got several reminders that it will be a good place to take concerns about ongoing issues.

Those concerns included the ongoing unauthorized camping along Myers Way, the plan currently under review for a marijuana-processing facility on the basement level of the building where Beer Star just opened, and the big multifamily-housing complex under construction at the old grocery site in Top Hat.

Also at the NHUAC meeting: Charlie Governali, King County’s land conservation projects manager, was a guest. He was asked if there was any chance the county could buy the Myers Way Parcels. No, he said, that’s city of Seattle property. Meantime, he was asked about trade-offs for developers that can help preserve land. One example, he said, are fees that go directly to the conservation fund, but that doesn’t happen often in the county’s unincorporated area. He asked for suggestions of green spaces that should be preserved, and NHUAC president Liz Giba suggested that when the King County Public Health building that currently houses the Mary’s Place shelter is available, that would be a good addition to the nearby parkland. (Currently there’s an early-stage plan to develop the site, including the White Center Food Bank HQ to the south, into affordable housing and headquarters for nonprofits.)

The other guest was Carlos Marquez, who spoke about Block Watches and the Citizen’s Academy. For the former, he’s working on reviving Block Watch captains’ meetings, initially the Burien and North Highline captains, and he expects to have more information by fall. Before then, Night Out is coming up on August 1st, and people can get started now on forming Block Watches. He had suggestions for safety improvements at home – more lighting, video doorbell, better networking with neighbors. And: “If you see something, say something.”

NHUAC SCHEDULE: July’s meeting will be board-only, but the board hopes to see everyone at this year’s new-and-improved Jubilee Days festival. No meeting in August, but September, it’ll be back to the first Thursday, 7 pm, NH Fire District HQ (1243 SW 112th) – watch for updates in the meantime.

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Health, safety on the agenda for North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s June 2017 meeting

May 28th, 2017 Tracy Posted in Health, North Highline UAC, Safety, White Center news Comments Off on Health, safety on the agenda for North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s June 2017 meeting

Thursday night, join your area’s community council to talk and hear about health and safety. From the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, the agenda for the June meeting, coming up Thursday:

When: Thursday, June 1, 2017 at 7 pm
Where: North Highline Fire Station at 1243 SW 112th Street in White Center (Parking and Entrance in the Back of the Station)

Please join North Highline’s volunteer community council at our June 1, 2017 meeting.

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

Natural Resources Are Vital to a Healthy Community: Surroundings that don’t encourage daily exercise or provide clean air and nutritious food too often lead to depression, obesity, diabetes, asthma, and heart disease. King County’s Land Conservation Projects Manager, Charlie Governali, will tell us about the County’s Land Conservation Initiative. The Initiative is an effort to conserve 60,000+ acres, including natural areas, trails, urban greenspaces, farmlands, and forestlands. Which natural resources around North Highline should be protected? Should they be used for walking trails, garden areas, parks or ???

Our Neighborhoods Matter: Carlos Marquez, a Community Service Officer with the KCSO, will be joining us to share two important ways we can help deal with some of the issues facing North Highline. Carlos will explain the importance of Block Watch, how Block Watch works, and the fundamentals of organizing a Block Watch. He will also educate us about the upcoming Citizen’s Police Academy and the different topics it covers. Don’t miss this chance to learn how you can be empowered to help our community!

Our community certainly matters to Deputy Bill Kennamer. Deputy Bill will join us once again to help increase our awareness of what is happening in North Highline.

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

See you Thursday, June 1st at 7 PM – Because Knowledge Is Power!

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