Crime, safety, community: Downtown discussion in White Center

April 14th, 2019 Tracy Posted in Crime, Safety, White Center news 2 Comments »

Story and photos by Jason Grotelueschen
Reporting for White Center Now

“It’s so much better than it’s ever been.” “Know your neighbors, know your neighborhood, talk to each other.” “If you do see something suspicious, call 911, don’t wait.”

Those were some of the recurring messages on Thursday night from police and neighbors alike regarding criminal activity in White Center, as business owners and residents gathered to hear from representatives from the King County Sheriff’s Office.

The community-organized forum, held at the RJB Photo Studio in downtown White Center, featured guest speaker and storefront deputy Bill Kennamer, who has been in that role for 4 years and has worked in the precinct for 21 years. “I love White Center,” Kennamer said, adding that there certainly are challenges in the area, but a close working relationship with the community is essential to keeping neighbors safe.

Kennamer said there is a general perception that White Center is dangerous, and that things are getting worse. “We’re in ‘Rat City,’ right?” he joked, drawing simultaneous laughs, groans and “yep’s” from neighbors in attendance. “It used to be crazy here, it’s true, but the crime numbers across the broad are down,” Kennamer said, with the exception of some events in the month of March that drew regional attention (see our recent coverage in the Crime section on White Center Now)

Kennamer said that, in his opinion, social media is a factor: “People share a story about a single crime that happened, it gets shared over and over, and looks like more that it is. If there is a story about a murder and it gets shared 4 times, there are people who think it’s 4 different murders in a week.” That said, Kennamer acknowledged that there was a spike in recent weeks with several acts of violence, but noted that “100% of them have been solved.” He shared a handout showing KCSO dispatch statistics for the past two years:

(Both charts created by J. Hobbs, Centralized Crime Analyst, April 2019)

Year over year, most categories of crime statistics in the area are steady or down, with some exceptions — “We got crushed last month with auto thefts,” Kennamer said, noting that auto theft recoveries were also up but that can be largely attributed to “cars stolen elsewhere and dumped here.”

Kennamer and neighbors in attendance agreed that there is always a small increase in the summer months “when the weather is nice” and “school is out, people are outside and some are causing trouble.” But Kennamer stressed that from his perspective, as someone who has “worked the streets of White Center for 21 years,” it’s no longer the “wild wild west that it used to be,” in large part because of neighborhood and business revitalization and community involvement. White Center has grown significantly, Kennamer noted, and “with an increase in population you’d think that crime would be going up, but overall it’s not, it’s going down.”

With regard to population and police coverage, Kennamer said there are roughly 15,000-17,000 people who live in the area (compared to 52,000 in Burien, for example) and that KCSO divides the area into three parts:

  • K1: North Highline, from 116th to Roxbury and from 30th to 509
  • K11: King County Housing Authority, including Seola Gardens and Greenbridge
  • K7: Everything in unincorporated King County east of 509, including much of South Park and Boulevard Park to the river

Staffing numbers are an issue and always have been, Kennamer said, noting that there are typically 2 deputies on duty at a time, which becomes an issue in situations when officers need to respond to criminal activity and bring people to jail, which means that “there are no cops in White Center” during those times. This was echoed by KCSO Sergeant Kelly Park, also in attendance (pictured below), who noted that longtime deputy Jeff Hancock was promoted to detective just last week, and will have some additional resources to work with. Kennamer added that Hancock will have an office in Greenbridge, and has an unmatched depth of knowledge of the area (“he remembers everyone’s name, places, dates of birth, you name it”).

A question from the crowd: “Who determines staffing, and how do we help you get more?” Kennamer and Park explained that KCSO staffing is determined as part of the King County budget process, and that council member Joe McDermott is the person that residents could talk to that would have the most influence. “But the staffing levels haven’t changed in my 21 years,” Kennamer said, and getting extra funding is tough. He added that his own duties focus on “quality of life” crimes and issues, and he usually works 9-5, 40hrs per week, but at any time of day (including at night, when the potential for trouble is higher), “we still have only two cops.”  In response to a follow-up question about funding levels in White Center compared to other areas, Park responded that funding levels are higher in Seattle because it’s a municipality. In areas like Burien and SeaTac, there are contracts that determine funding levels. For White Center, the budget is determined by the King County Council.

Raw notes from the meeting Q&A are below:

  • Q from an attendee: This turnout tonight is amazing, how do we keep the momentum going and keep everyone engaged in our community? Kennamer: The only real positive changes I’ve seen over the years is when these community voices get together.  Great organizations like North Highline Unincorporated Area Council (NHUAC) do a great job of getting government leaders here to speak with neighbors. A plug from NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin: We’ve worked hard to keep the storefront deputy position (Kennamer’s job) over the years, have testified in front of King County Council many times. Our meetings are the first Thursday of each month (next is May 2 at 7pm at the North Highline Fire Station with guest speaker John Taylor from King County Local Services to talk about code enforcement and permitting). We get great support from White Center Now and West Seattle Blog and coverage of our meetings… We’re always part of Jubilee Days (in July).  A plug for King County Local Services from communications manager Jerry Pionk and community liaison Bong Sto. Domingo, both of whom encourage residents to send email to asklocalservices@kingcounty.gov with questions or concerns. Kennamer echoed that the partnership between his office and Local Services has always been extremely strong, and added “look at this crowd here tonight — if you get leaders to gatherings like this and put their feet their flame, things will change.” He also added that John Taylor is a great resource but has “a huge list” of priorities, so it’s up to citizens to help determine priorities.  Another attendee suggested contacting Sen. Joe Nguyen, the recently elected state senator from the 34th district (who will be at NHUAC’s June meeting). Tommy Martin from the White Center Chamber of Commerce also put in a plug for the work that the Chamber does. Another attendee asked: what’s the best way to get Dow Constantine (King County Executive) involved with these issues? Attendees noted that sending emails to his office tends to be effective, as he is typically very engaged with the community. Another attendee said that the work of the White Center Community Development Association (CDA) and community engagement manager Aaron Garcia has been “amazing.” Attendees also collected names and email addresses at the meeting, for future networking.

  • Q from an attendee: My husband has lived in White Center for 40 years, we used to have break-ins all the time, but over the years it’s become much better. However, we now have a neighbor (a lady in her late 60s who used to be very nice but has struggled with drugs) who is constantly coming onto property and breaking into cars. We’ve called the police so many times, they confront her but the punishment is always just a slap on the wrist. It is costing me money to fight this, I love my neighborhood, but what more can I do?  A from Kennamer: Clearly you are a victim, but this is a tough situation. The crimes you are describing are “low-level quality of life” crimes. Prosecuting drug issues is difficult — for example, for heroin possession, anything under 1 gram there’s not much we can, for 1-3 grams that’s misdemeanor court. Trespassing crimes tend to be dismissed immediately. We can’t force people into treatment. A lot of people have watched the Seattle Is Dying program and have opinions. These problems are difficult to fix, “way above my pay grade,” but I agree that something has to change.  Follow-up Q from the same person: I know that these issues are going on with her, I have documented everything and kept case numbers. If I go there myself and talk to the prosecuting attorney, is that enough, if I can prove that they’re dealing drugs?  A: You can phone in a narcotics activity report that goes to a narcotics officer. The attendee and Kennamer agreed to talk after the meeting and exchange information.
  • Comment from attendee Malika Lamont, project manager for Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion: We will be working more in White Center soon, looking for an office, we work with public defenders. Our staff can work with low-level offenders with behavioral health issues, but we can’t put our staff in harm’s way. We’ve worked on funding with Dow Constantine. Need to launch in Burien first, then in White Center in about 6 months, have to train officers and get case management staff, it’s a very involved process, the goal is “ongoing wrap-around support.”
  • Q from a business neighbor: How can we address the biggest problem I see, which is with kids loitering right in front of my business? Are there youth programs we can utilize?  A from Kennamer: Resources are being spent on that issue, you will hopefully see a difference.
  • Q from another attendee: What can we as a community do to help? Last week on my street we had cars broken into and mailboxes broken and things all over the street, and we haven’t even hit summer yet. A from Kennamer: It’s challenging with only 2 people on staff, but we do what we can. I live in Renton, and we see issues there too (the “low-level quality of life” crimes).
  • Comment from an attendee: To those newer people who just moved here, keep your chin up, this is a great neighborhood. My first experience here was working at Company in 2011, I had friends from other parts of Seattle tell me that White Center was a “ghetto” and I told them they were crazy and must have never traveled anywhere else.  This is a fantastic vibrant community, and the presence of the crowd in this room tonight represents that.  With regard to engaging with political leaders, you can certainly email or call them, but in my experience, face-to-face communication is the most powerful and nothing is better than sitting down with them, that’s the way policy and politics works.  We as a group can find out where and when the meetings are, bring 10 people to comment and say “you need more officers in White Center” and just do it and say it over and over again. We definitely should all stay connected, share email addresses, use Facebook.
  • Comment from an attendee: I was part of an activity group that did exactly what the previous person said, we went to all kinds of meetings and commented. King County meets on Monday afternoons, public comments are allowed at some meetings and are allotted 2 minutes per citizen to talk about relevant issues.  In my experience, you may do it once and nothing happens, but it’s the beginning of something. It’s a matter of taking a bus downtown, going outside of your comfort zone, being as forceful as possible but using the process. There are a lot of good things going on but the issue is a lack of coordination. The bottom line is that it’s no one else’s job to clean up our community than our own.
  • Q: It seems like there are lots of drugs on the street, what’s being done about that, it seems logical that if we take away the drugs then there won’t be drug users. A from Kennamer: There are still problems but it has decreased; before Sudafed was made illegal about 10 years ago, we were cleaning up 300 meth labs per year, that has gone down significantly because meth isn’t economically easy to make now. Experts say many of the drugs are coming from Mexico. Comment for another attendee: Often the drug use is linked to homelessness but that’s not accurate, it doesn’t matter who is using it, but has the sheriff’s office done anything about heroin coming in? A from Sergeant Park: Precinct 4 has a special emphasis team that works on this, and works with ATF. But as mentioned earlier, we don’t prosecute you for less than 3 grams of heroin, so to be effective we have to go to the bigger dealers, the problem is you take one down and another one moves in to take the business. Follow-up Q: If drugs are a problem, how much drug work can actually be done with just two officers on staff at a time?  A from Kennamer: Very little proactive police work goes on, to be frank.
  • Q: It seems like there is gang activity in White Center, right, especially on Ambaum corridor?  A from Kennamer: We watch for gangs, but it’s not a big problem. We will start a Thu/Fri/Sat emphasis to work on violent activities (not gangs) in that area of 16th Ave and Ambaum corridor.  As far as we know there aren’t any Latino gangs with “clubhouses” in White Center, but we know there is one in South Park and a couple in Burien, and guess who is in the middle of that? A lot of the violence we saw last month (in my opinion) wasn’t targeted, it was a crime of opportunity. Graffiti is blowing up as a problem, though, we find that if we cover it up quickly then they’ll go somewhere else because they want the graffiti to be seen, so we didn’t solve the problem we just displaced it, but we do what we can. Follow-up Q: But based on graffiti and signs that I’ve seen, it does seem like there are pretty big-time gangs here, like the ones affiliated with El Chapo. A from Kennamer: No, we don’t see that, we certainly have in the past like in the late 1990s with some serious Asian gangs, but we’re not aware of any gang clubhouses in WC.  Follow-up comment: I encourage us to share info with each other, come together with neighborhood watches, use our great resources like the CDA and chamber, and share contact info so we can communicate when we see graffiti and other issues. Kennamer: I saw this happening in a good way just last week, a neighbor was painting over graffiti, it’s a great thing to do to keep the neighborhood safer and it looks better.
  • Comment/Q: I also watched the “Seattle Is Dying” show, it said Seattle doesn’t have a homeless problem, it has a drug problem.  I was an addict in the late 1980s, back then you could get any drug you wanted, and now you still can, drugs always been here. But lots of things have changed to make the situation work: the economy is hostile to working people, hard to make ends meet, social safety net is not working, we pay half income for a tiny apartment. So I just want to say let’s look at big picture, if someone gets in bad spot, life happens, you can fall farther faster now than ever before. Response from Kennamer: I hear what you’re saying, but something I truly believe that I say to homeless people we encounter, is that in the history of world, there has never been a place easier to get help and services than in Seattle in 2019. I’m not saying it’s as easy as many people think it is, there are no barrels of money, you have to go get it. I’m not sure how to fix the problem, if anyone really knew how to fix it, it would be fixed.  But there are services available. I can get a homeless individual into a bed today, before it gets dark, but not everything is easy.
  • Q: You said the crime rate is consistent, but sometimes there are spikes, what causes spikes?  A from Kennamer: Sometimes we don’t know, but we always get busier at summer and Christmas. I can’t stress enough how much it helps to know your neighbors, if you think something weird is happening, call 911 right away, we can’t catch everyone but we try. But the community can help us; if I’m driving around I don’t know that the yellow jalopy parked on the side doesn’t belong there, but you and your neighbors do.  Know your neighbors and know your neighborhood.
  • Q: Recently all of the mailboxes in our area were broken into, I tried to call about it but was bounced around, after about 20 minutes I gave up and ultimately didn’t report that all of the mailboxes in a 3-block area were broken into, I think you’d get more reports if the system were better.  A from Sergeant Park: That’s great feedback and I’ll take it back to the team. However, please know that in cases like that, it’s still OK to call 911, we’d rather you did that than didn’t call at all. You can call the non-emergency hotline, but regular 911 is OK too.  Kennamer: it’s usually the same people picking up the phone, so yes, just call.
  • Q: Bartell Drugs has been in the news with several problems there, I was in there recently and saw two people looting and shoving, I talked to the staff and they said they had been told by corporate not to do anything. There is a security guard in there now, which is so much better, for a long time it seems like the employees felt scared, but they’ve told me that they want us to call corporate and make suggestions. A from Kennamer: Bartells has always been a good partner with us, being diligent, covering graffiti, and yes we should do whatever we can to help them.
  • Q: My sister has been an officer in Mercer Island for years, did DARE, now does disaster relief drills, do we do that in White Center?  A: Yes, King County emergency preparedness. Comment from an attendee:  I work with response groups that coordinate with the WA National Guard, working with Seattle emergency teams.  There are lots of ways to get involved.  For example, the West Seattle Amateur Radio Club meets once per month.
  • Comment: All of these different community groups with websites and Facebook pages and Instagram pages should all link to each other, so it’s easier to find information and it’s all connected.
  • Comment: We should all do our part to clean up trash in the neighborhood. If things are cleaner, it just makes everything better, let’s take some pride and do it.
  • Q: During the February snowstorms we had a car prowler, our neighbor held the person, was recognizable to us, but my neighbor didn’t want to press charges, even though it was a repeat offender. Is there a threshold and what can I do in that situation? A from Kennamer: We have to have a victim in order to do anything, if there is no victim then there is no crime. Follow-up: How do you convince someone to press charges, to educate them and say “you let that lady go, now she went down the street and broke into someone else’s window?” Kennamer: Yes, just keep trying to explain it to people, they need to press charges. That’s why I book people for shoplifting, because if I don’t they’ll just do it again.
  • Comment: It seems like the solutions to a lot of these problems are community involvement and coordination, and I agree with that. I live by Holy Family, it’s a dead-end street, nobody passes through, everyone on that street is visible. We can be involved with neighbors, often we can’t get a deputy out here but we can engage with the suspicious person (“we see you!”), call a friend and, as long as you feel safe doing it, go out and just look at the person and they’ll often move along.  Kennamer: Totally agree. If you make it uncomfortable for them, you will often solve your problem.
  • Q: Can we get an organizing template for a blockwatch? A from Barbara from NHUAC: Yes we’ve had meetings about that. There is another blockwatch meeting coming up for White Center, April 23rd at 7 pm at the White Center Library.
  • Q: Aside from lobbying for more officers, what can we do to make a difference? Another question: what about the work crews that used to pick up garbage? Comment: send email to asklocalservices@kingcounty.gov and it will get to the right people to help with work crews. Kennamer: It would definitely be great to have more resources, even just 3 officers on duty instead of 2, otherwise if there are in-progress act of violence then we have no resources left. Aside from helping us with that, pick up trash and keep businesses clean, know your neighbors.
  • Q: When is appropriate time to call cops? I feel like I hear conflicting information — if I  see sketchy people in my alley, but I can’t see anything illegal, should I confront them?  A from Kennamer: My recommendation is always to call 911 for suspicious activity, if you don’t call then there is no chance they’ll come. Follow-up: I can tell them to get out of my alley and they’ll tell me to “f off,” I want to take care of it myself but I don’t want to put myself in jeopardy. Sergeant Park: We don’t want you to put yourself in jeopardy either, call us and describe what you see and give as much info as you can, if your intuition says it’s weird, then call 911.  Kennamer: I consistently say that if you’re thinking “should I call the cops,” that means you should do it, let dispatch do their job. Follow-up comment: I went to multiple meetings recently and there seem to be mixed messages about when to call, and how to use things like the Find It Fix It app (per another attendee, Find It Fix It doesn’t work in White Center anyway, it’s only Seattle).  Sergeant Park: Text-to-911 is coming to our area this summer (working on both emergency and non-emergency). Kennamer: the King County Abandoned Vehicle Hotline is a good resource. One attendee asked about an old car covered in mold at 107th and 17th, and Kennamer noted that “I will tag it tomorrow, and Monday it goes to car jail!”
  • Q: Following up on the earlier question about gang activity tags, I’ve also seen some x’d out, and am wondering if it’s related to some of the recent violence here. The tags appear to be for some pretty serious gangs … A from Kennamer: The Latino gang violence has been responsible for several homicides, probably not targeted, and not sophisticated enough to track people, but crossing tags out is big deal in that culture. Audience comment: Be sure if you paint over graffiti that you cover it completely, because if a gang symbol is just crossed out, that can cause major problems because it’s seen as a sign of disrespect and there may be retaliation. Kennamer: There is now funding for a sergeant and a detective for a gang unit, these will be good positions, there are 700 of us and a lot of us will apply for that job.
  • As the meeting ended, one attendee talked to the officers about a “blue house on 20th” that Kennamer confirmed is a trouble spot well-known to police, which has involved removing a camper. Kennamer noted that the Citizens Justice Project has been a good resource, really shortens the process (3 mo instead of 7 mo). We can’t impound a camper because it’s not a vehicle, has to be picked up.

Upcoming events:

  • Tuesday April 23, at 7 pm: Neighborhood Blockwatch meeting at the White Center Library
  • Thursday May 2, at 7 pm: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council (NHUAC) monthly meeting at the North Highline Fire Station, 1243 SW 112th St, in White Center.
  • Thursday June 6, at 7 pm: NHUAC monthly meeting at the Fire Station (no NHUAC meetings in July and August)
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THURSDAY: Talk about crime and safety with your neighbors

April 10th, 2019 Tracy Posted in Crime, Safety, White Center news 2 Comments »

A White Center entrepreneur has organized this meeting for Thursday night, and you’re invited:

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ALERT: 911 outage; call 206-296-3311 if needed for emergency help

December 27th, 2018 Tracy Posted in Safety, White Center news Comments Off on ALERT: 911 outage; call 206-296-3311 if needed for emergency help

From King County to us and other media around the county:

King County asks that you let your readers, viewers, and listeners know that the 9-1-1 system in Washington State is down at this time. No calls are getting through to the 9-1-1 centers, either on landlines or cell phones.

People who are having an emergency in King County can call the ten-digit emergency number for the police or fire agency in their area on a landline or cell phone, or they can use Text-to-911 on their cell phone.

There is no estimate for restoration of 9-1-1 service. No additional details are available at this time.

You can reach emergency services at 206-296-3311 in the meantime.

Though not mentioned in the alert, there’s been a major CenturyLink outage that some agencies cited for 911 troubles earlier. CenturyLink says it hopes to resolve that by early morning.

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Almost fireworks season: County councilmembers announce 4th of July patrols

June 26th, 2018 Tracy Posted in Holidays, Safety, White Center news Comments Off on Almost fireworks season: County councilmembers announce 4th of July patrols

Thursday, fireworks stands open in unincorporated King County, though it’s only legal to use them on the 4th of July. There will be extra patrols to ensure safety, two county councilmembers have announced:

King County’s unincorporated communities will get assistance in keeping the Fourth of July holiday safe, with a $25,000 boost in sheriff funding for increased patrols. Metropolitan King County Council Chair Joe McDermott and Councilmember Reagan Dunn announced the funds for the King County Sheriff’s Office were prioritized in the King County Budget.

“I’ve worked to secure these extra funds for increased patrols to help ensure neighborhoods in unincorporated King County can safely celebrate the Fourth of July holiday this year,” said Dunn.

“We want everyone to have a fun, and most importantly safe, celebration for Independence Day,” said McDermott.

$25,000 was prioritized to cover 300 hours of extra emphasis which will be split between the three sheriff precincts; Northeast, Southeast, and Southwest King County. The intent of this action is to ensure deputies can better respond to 911 calls made in response to illegal fireworks.

“These funds will help our office better address and respond to 911 calls that happen around the Fourth of July,” said Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht. “I appreciate the support of Councilmembers McDermott and Dunn in helping us get the financial resources needed to better serve unincorporated communities.”

In unincorporated King County fireworks may only be discharged on July 4 from 9 a.m. to midnight. Residents are encouraged to act responsibly when using fireworks. Examples of legal fireworks include cone fountains, smoke devices, mines/shells/cakes, wheels, parachutes, roman candles, ground spinners, cylindrical fountains, sparklers, and poppers.

There are a number of free firework shows located around King County. The cities of Bellevue, Auburn, Carnation, Des Moines, Federal Way, Kent, Kenmore, Maple Valley, Mercer Island, Newcastle, Mountlake Terrace, Renton, Sammamish, Seattle, and Tukwila are all hosting public fireworks displays on July 4th. See each city’s website or social media for more information.

For more information about how to use fireworks safely and legally go to: kingcounty.gov/depts/permitting-environmental-review/fire-marshal/fireworks.aspx.

P.S. Reminder that, as previously announced, no Jubilee Days fireworks show this year (because of Steve Cox Memorial Park construction), so if you want to see a professional display, the 4th is your best opportunity.

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TALK ABOUT IT: Highline Public Schools sets dates to discuss safety

March 12th, 2018 Tracy Posted in Safety, Schools, White Center news Comments Off on TALK ABOUT IT: Highline Public Schools sets dates to discuss safety

Just out of the inbox, from Highline Public Schools:

Highline Public Schools Invites Community to Talk Safety
Meetings on School Safety Begin March 22

In response to recent incidents of school violence, Highline Public Schools is initiating a conversation with the community around school safety. Community meetings are being held at the four comprehensive high schools. Families, community members, and staff are invited to learn about safety plans and procedures and engage in a conversation about how to work together to improve school safety.

Thursday, March 22, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Evergreen High School library
830 SW 116th Street

Thursday, April 19, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Highline High School library
225 South 152nd Street, Burien

Tuesday, May 1, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Tyee High School library
4424 South 188th Street, SeaTac

Thursday, May 10, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Mount Rainier High School library
22450 19th Avenue South, Des Moines

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ROAD WORK ALERT: Resurfacing on SW 107th next Saturday

August 7th, 2017 Tracy Posted in Safety, Traffic, Transportation, White Center news 1 Comment »

King County Roads has issued an alert for four blocks of SW 107th next Saturday night, in the White Center/North Shorewood area – it’ll be closed between 22nd and 26th SW because “epoxy and anti-skid material (High Friction Surface Treatment) will be applied to increase traction for vehicles. Data shows that this treatment helps dramatically decrease the numbers of crashes.” It’s one of 23 areas around the county where this is being done this summer. It means the road will be fully closed for several hours at a time between 6 pm and 6 am Saturday, August 12th, and: “During this time, there will be no access to driveways and side streets within the project limits.” More here.

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Fireworks go on sale today, but don’t use them until July 4th

June 28th, 2017 Tracy Posted in Holidays, Safety, White Center news Comments Off on Fireworks go on sale today, but don’t use them until July 4th

Noon today brings the official start of fireworks sales in unincorporated King County. But you can’t legally use them until next Tuesday – July 4th – 9 am to midnight on that day only. Here are the rules.

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More traffic enforcement for unincorporated areas

June 26th, 2017 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, Safety, White Center news Comments Off on More traffic enforcement for unincorporated areas

Announced today by the King County Council:

Communities in unincorporated King County will see increased traffic safety patrols after today’s unanimous approval by the Metropolitan King County Council of funds for emphasis patrols. Sponsored by Council Vice Chair Reagan Dunn, the legislation allocates funds for an additional 1,100 hours of increased traffic enforcement by the King County Sheriff’s Office.

“I heard concerns about traffic enforcement from residents of unincorporated King County over and over again at my annual town hall meetings,” said Dunn. “Increased visibility by the Sheriff’s office in unincorporated King County will help keep our children and our community’s safe by reminding drivers to obey traffic laws.”

“The number one complaint I hear from residents is speeding in neighborhoods,” said King County Sheriff John Urquhart. “These funds will help to address that concern, as well as help to keep our streets safe from drunk drivers.”

Today’s legislation appropriated $100,000 to the Sheriff’s Office and restricts the funds for use in increasing patrols for traffic safety enforcement in Unincorporated King County. Enforcement will focus around schools, patrols for Driving Under the Influence (DUI), and speeding drivers.

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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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ROAD WORK: Repaving work on SW 107th

May 9th, 2017 Tracy Posted in Safety, White Center news Comments Off on ROAD WORK: Repaving work on SW 107th

Thanks to Gill for the photo – on Monday, he spotted that repaving project in progress on SW 107th between 22nd SW and 25th SW. He says a nearby resident told him the surface is meant to improve traction in a crash-prone stretch. The King County Road Services website says this was a one-day project and that it’s over.

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SLIDE, OUTAGE: Highland Park Way hill closed

February 15th, 2017 Tracy Posted in Safety, Traffic, White Center news Comments Off on SLIDE, OUTAGE: Highland Park Way hill closed

Even if you don’t use Highland Park Way hill in West Seattle, this morning’s slide might be affecting you – either through higher traffic volumes on roads including Roxbury, or possibly with a power outage, as we’ve heard the power is or was out at least as far south as the 9th/Roxbury intersection. We have ongoing coverage on our partner site West Seattle Blog; the closure is expected to last at least through the morning commute, as downed lines are involved and that has to be rendered safe before any cleanup can begin.

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TRAFFIC ALERT: Crash on Olson Place

October 26th, 2016 Tracy Posted in Safety, West Seattle, White Center news Comments Off on TRAFFIC ALERT: Crash on Olson Place

Thanks to everyone who has been updating us on this crash on Olson Place, east of Roxbury. No injuries, apparently, as Seattle Fire has not been dispatched, but most recently, we are told, it is blocking one lane each way.

The vehicle that spun out is reported to have hit a tree.

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PHOTOS: White Center Bike Playground is open!

October 1st, 2016 Tracy Posted in Fun, Safety, White Center news 3 Comments »

Photos by Leda Costa for White Center Now

A red light operator on the course.

Learning can be fun! Just ask the young riders who helped inaugurate the new White Center Bike Playground in Dick Thurnau Memorial Park today – a place to learn how to ride safely, and joyfully.

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Cascade Bicycle Club, the YES! Foundation of White Center, and White Center Community Development Association made it happen – you might recall the community planning meeting back in January. Today’s party offered music, snacks, and some giveaways during the party, including one announced by Senior Director of Education Shannon Koller, with a winner jubilantly raising her hand:

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Cascade Fleet Coordinator Stephen Rowley helped riders with some adjustments:

Cascade Fleet Coordinator Stephen Rowley helping raise the bike seat.

The celebration included a Duwamish Tribe member with a song of gratitude:

Cold Water singing a song.

And King County Council chair Joe McDermott pointed out that while this is the first bike playground in the state, it certainly won’t be the last:

King County Council Chair Joe McDermott speaking at the grand opening.

The stars of the show though were the riders:

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It will evolve – and those who showed up for the party shared ideas for what else it should include:

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Cascade’s Koller told WCN that they hope to have people at the park on the weekends to loan bikes and helmets, to “set up some of the rodeo signs we put out today, do some teaching, potentially do learn to ride if folks are interested in that. Eventually we hope to have summer camps here. We’ve got some high school ride clubs that are nearby, the Major Taylor Project would come out and practice all of these right of way scenarios. It really is for all ages and abilities.”

P.S. If you’re wondering where to find the Bike Playground – Kathy Dunn from West Seattle Bike Connections offered a detailed explanation of how to get there: “If coming from 16th Ave SW, turn east on 107th, go past the White Center Library to 12th Ave SW, jog right one block in front of Mt. View Elementary School, then left at the stop sign onto 108th. Proceed 2 blocks to 10th SW, turn right. Entrance to Dick Thurnau Park is on the left. turn left into the parking lot. The Bike Playground is entered from the very north end of the parking lot where the tennis courts used to be.”

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October 1st grand opening set for what was ‘traffic garden,’ now White Center Community Bicycling Park

September 19th, 2016 Tracy Posted in Parks, Safety, White Center news 3 Comments »

Back in January, we reported on the plan for a “traffic garden” at Dick Thurnau Memorial Park. It’s now less than two weeks from opening, and its name has changed to the White Center Community Bicycling Park. Here’s the official flyer for the October 1st celebration:

We’ll add more information as we get it.

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STAGE 1 BURN BAN: Now in effect in unincorporated King County

August 19th, 2016 Tracy Posted in Fire, King County, Safety, White Center news Comments Off on STAGE 1 BURN BAN: Now in effect in unincorporated King County

Just announced by the county:

The King County Fire Marshal today issued a burn ban in unincorporated areas of the county to prevent wildfires during the hot, dry conditions. In addition, the National Weather Service has issued a Fire Weather Watch for this weekend.

This is a Stage 1 burn ban and applies to all outdoor burning except for small recreational fires in established fire pits at approved campgrounds or private property with the owner’s permission. Recreational fires can pose a hazard so please use extra caution and consideration this weekend.

Recreational fires must:

-Be built in a metal or concrete fire pit, such as those typically found in designated campgrounds; and not be used as debris disposal

-Grow no larger than three feet in diameter

-Be located in a clear spot free from any vegetation for at least 10 feet in a horizontal direction, including at least 25 feet away from any structure and allow 20-foot vertical clearance from overhanging branches

-Be attended at all times by an alert individual and equipment capable of extinguishing the fire.

For properties located within cities, contact your local jurisdiction for requirements. This ban remains in effect until further notice.

The King County Fire Marshal will post updates on the burn ban on the Department of Permitting and Environmental Review website.

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Fireworks sales begin – here are the rules

June 28th, 2016 Tracy Posted in Safety, White Center news Comments Off on Fireworks sales begin – here are the rules

Fireworks are still legal in unincorporated King County, and sales have now begun at licensed stands. This year’s rules and restrictions, dates and hours, are all listed here (statewide). But please note that while it’s legal to buy them now, you cannot legally set them off until the 4th of July – next Monday – 9 am to midnight. And they’re not legal in the cities adjacent to unincorporated North Highline.

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FIGHTING CRIME: King County Sheriff’s Office advice on avoiding auto theft

May 26th, 2016 Tracy Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, Safety, White Center news Comments Off on FIGHTING CRIME: King County Sheriff’s Office advice on avoiding auto theft

The King County Sheriff’s Office deputy who presented the crime briefing at this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, Deputy Corbett Ford, has information to share to help you avoid becoming a victim of auto theft. He shares it in Etwo languages, first, English:

Every day someone becomes a victim of auto theft. We all think it isn’t that big of deal until it happens to you. A vehicle is stolen in the United States almost every 46 seconds. In 2014, there were 689,527 reported stolen vehicles. That amounts to more than $4.5 billion US Dollars. The Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Metro area ranked 8th in the nation with 20,268 reported stolen vehicle. This is a problem that affects all of us.

Following are a few Crime Prevention Tips that can help to keep your car from disappearing and ruining your day:

-NEVER leave your vehicle unattended with the keys in the ignition.
-Park in busy and well-lit areas.
-Equip your vehicle with an alarm and other anti-thefts devices.
-Lock your doors and keep the windows closed, even when your vehicle is parked in front of your home.
-Keep your vehicle information where you can get to it quickly.
-Report auto theft immediately. Police need your license plate and vehicle information.

And now, en Español:

Todos los días alguien se convierte en una víctima de robo de autos. Nadie le da importancia hasta que le sucede. Un vehículo es robado en los Estados Unidos casi cada 46 segundos. En el 2014, se reportaron 689.527 vehículos robados. Esta cantidad de autos robados asciende a más $ 4,5 billones de dólares. El área metropolitana de Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue estuvo en el octavo lugar a nivel nacional con 20.268 informes de vehículos robados. Este es un problema que nos afecta a todos.

Siguiendo algunos consejos de prevención del delito usted podria aprender como protejer su vehiculo.

-Nunca deje su vehículo si usted tiene que salir del auto.
-Estacionese en áreas concurridas y bien iluminadas.
-Equipe su vehículo con la alarma y otros dispositivos contra robos.
-Asegure las puertas las puertas y mantenga las ventanas cerradas, incluso cuando el vehículo está -estacionado frente a su casa.
-Mantenga la información de su vehículo donde se puede acceder a ella rápidamente.
-Reporte inmediatamente el robo de su auto. La Policía necesita el numero de la placa y la informacion del vehiculo.

Deputy Ford also shares the Top 10 List of Stolen Vehicles, as reported by the National Insurance Crime Bureau for 2014:

1 Honda Accord (1994)
2 Honda Civic (1998)
3 Subaru Legacy (1997)
4 Toyota Camry (1991)
5 Ford Pickup (Full Size, 2000)
6 Acura Integra (1994)
7 Chevrolet Pickup (Small Size, 1998)
8 Honda CR-V (1999)
9 Toyota Corolla (1993)
10 Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size, 1999)

Thanks to Deputy Ford for the info – share it with your friends and neighbors!

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For your calendar: April Pool’s Day at Evergreen Aquatic Center

April 12th, 2016 Tracy Posted in Evergreen Pool, Safety, White Center news Comments Off on For your calendar: April Pool’s Day at Evergreen Aquatic Center

Just announced:

One week from Saturday – see you there!

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Why local schools were in lockdown/sheltering for a while today

January 5th, 2016 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, Safety, Schools, White Center news Comments Off on Why local schools were in lockdown/sheltering for a while today

We checked with the King County Sheriff’s Office to find out what was going on after getting two messages about a reported “lockdown” at Cascade Middle School, and hearing scanner traffic about someone being tracked down on SW 117th. According to KCSO spokesperson Sgt. Cindi West, there was a report that someone at the Evergreen campus might have had a gun. So the search was on, and Evergreen and Cascade were affected for a while, she said. The person in question was eventually found – no gun. No injuries, no crime, situation over.

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Mount View Elementary student ‘grabbed by a stranger’

October 28th, 2015 Tracy Posted in Safety, White Center news Comments Off on Mount View Elementary student ‘grabbed by a stranger’

Thanks to the reader who shared this note received by families of Mount View Elementary students:

Dear Mount View Families:

We have learned about an incident in our neighborhood (of which) we want to make you aware.

(Monday) morning while walking to school, one of our students was grabbed by a stranger. Thankfully, the student was able to get free of the person and run to school. He reported the incident to an adult at school. Police responded and searched for the suspect but did not locate him.

We are sharing this information with you so that you may take appropriate precautions. Here at school, our staff will remain vigilant and our district security officers will have a heightened presence at times when students are outdoors.

This is an opportunity to have a discussion with your children reminding them of these precautions when walking to and from school.

Be aware of your surroundings.
Walk with a friend whenever possible.
If anyone approaches you or you feel threatened, report it immediately to a trusted adult.
We know this kind of situation can be alarming. Our students’ safety is of the utmost importance and we encourage you to talk with your children.

The suspect is described as a white male, 5’8” with mid-length brown hair, wearing a black coat, blue sweats, and white Adidas shoes.

If you have information about this incident, you are asked to call the King County Sheriff’s Office at 206-296-3311.

Sincerely,

Lisa Escobar
Principal

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