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 No Comments »

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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PHOTOS: Cleanup at ‘The Bog,’ before and after

October 7th, 2015 Tracy Posted in safety, White Center news 5 Comments »

We’ve reported before on efforts to clean up “The Bog” – and to make it less conducive to illegal camping, drug use, and crime. Aside from other concerns raised by those activities, the fact is that the area needs to stay clean because of its role in the area’s drainage system (as today’s rain reminds us).

The latest cleanup was a big one, and community member Gill Loring shares photos as well as post-cleanup info from King County senior engineer Ken Gresset, who, as we’ve reported here previously, has been leading cleanup efforts:

This past weekend, Ken and a group “Friends of the Trail” (their second time helping out) as well as a NH resident and her daughter got to it.

Excerpted from Ken’s e-mail: “Many thanks to all involved for a great cleanup last weekend. The group “Friends of the Trail” led by Wade Holden pulled out all the stops over two days and took 8 large truckloads of debris to the dump along with around 40 syringes.

Many thanks to Deputies Kennamer, Paul and Syson for their onsite security work and for Captain Boe for arranging their presence. Thanks also to North Highline residents Christine and her daughter who braved the onsite conditions to help out. The Sheriff’s department gave the campers three weeks of almost constant notice that the cleanup was coming and to take any possessions they wanted to keep with them.

On another bright note we did encounter one of the campers who seemed sincerely interested in getting help and we are working with a neighbor who knows her to get her connected to social services.”

Excerpted from another e-mail: “I walked all of the trails today. I didn’t find any camps and only encountered one person in the area. I explained the trespass laws to him and he moved along.

The key is going to be continued police presence to make the place unattractive to the illegal users. As soon as the place is posted, we will start enforcing the trespass laws. The place looks great!”

And from the North Highline resident who helped: “My daughter & I were able to help for about an hour or so…It was disgusting, smelled really bad back there & yet people were willing to live in that! Ken, the “trails crew” was great! They pulled out several mattresses, sofa, tv, clothes & crap – yes, really! Hopefully in the future there can be a work party to start clearing out some of that brush to open things up a bit more! I’d be there, just let me know when!”

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‘Traffic garden’ in the works for Lakewood Park

October 7th, 2015 Tracy Posted in Lakewood Park, Parks, safety, White Center news Comments Off on ‘Traffic garden’ in the works for Lakewood Park

From the Cascade Bicycle Club‘s newsletter, word of something new on the way to Lakewood Park:

The Cascade Bicycle Club Education Foundation is honored to be the recipient of a 2016 Youth Sports Facilities grant from King County Parks. This grant will provide $75,000 for the creation of a new traffic garden in White Center in Lakewood Park.

The White Center traffic garden will be a bicycle skills park where learners of all ages and abilities can practice bicycling in a safe, car-free environment. With on-site bicycle storage, traffic signs and real-world infrastructure elements, the Traffic Garden will be the perfect place to come and learn about bicycle safety.

The newsletter says groundbreaking is expected early next year, “with programming beginning in the spring.” We’ll be checking with Cascade later today to find out more.

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FOLLOWUP: State has the authority to call for an emergency fireworks ban, but doesn’t think it’s needed

June 26th, 2015 Tracy Posted in safety, White Center news 2 Comments »

Following up on our Wednesday report about a petition drive in which community advocates from here and West Hill asked for an emergency ban on fireworks: County leaders told us they don’t have the authority to do anything immediate, but that the state does. We finally got a chance today to inquire with the State Fire Marshal’s Office. Deputy Fire Marshal Lysandra Davis replied, saying that only the governor has that authority, but that calling for one isn’t warranted right now. Here’s the entire reply:

Our office has received numerous inquiries on this matter, and we value and appreciate each and every one.

Because Washington is a Home Rule State, legislative authority to limit or prohibit the sale, purchase, possession, and/or use of consumer fireworks is only granted to city, municipal, and county governments. However, any ordinance adopted by a county or city has an effective date no sooner than one year after its adoption, per RCW 70.77.250 (4). Because State Fireworks Law does not provide the SFMO or any other local jurisdiction/agency the authority to temporarily ban
fireworks, even on an emergency basis, it is unlawful to do so.

The only person with the authority to issue a temporary ban on fireworks sales/usage is Governor Jay Inslee. This would be done through a State of Emergency Proclamation which normally prohibits activities that the Governor reasonably believes should be prohibited to help preserve and maintain life, health, property or public peace. In the past, when emergency proclamations have been issued during heavy wildland fires (usually occurring mid-July to August), fireworks usage and sales were already prohibited by State Fireworks Law.

The current burn ban that is in effect only applies to state forests, state parks and forestlands under Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) fire protection, including Department of Fish and Wildlife lands; it does not include cities, municipalities and/or counties. This ban prohibits outdoor burning and fireworks and incendiary devices (which are never legal on DNR-protected forestlands).

While these drought conditions we are facing may be unprecedented, there is not a current statewide fire emergency that would warrant the Governor to declare a State ban on fireworks.

What I can assure you of is that the State Fire Marshal’s Office is committed to promoting fire safety and injury prevention year round with our Celebrate Safely and Legally campaign — emphasizing “personal responsibility,” especially during these extremely dry weather conditions.

So it looks like fireworks will be on sale, as planned, in unincorporated King County starting this Sunday, where the law allows their use 9 am-midnight on July 4th.

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Petition drive launched to ban fireworks in unincorporated King County this year

June 24th, 2015 Tracy Posted in safety, White Center news 3 Comments »

(A version of this is also published on our partner site West Seattle Blog)

Community leaders from the unincorporated areas of North Highline and West Hill have just launched a petition drive asking county leaders for an emergency fireworks ban because of drought conditions and exceptionally dry weather/vegetation – the petition is on this Change.org page. The petition is addressed to the County Executive and County Fire Marshal. Right now, fireworks sales in the unincorporated area are scheduled to start at noon on Sunday.

But is that even possible? After publishing this on our partner site West Seattle Blog a little earlier, we spoke with Jim Chan in the King County Permitting and Environmental Review department, which oversees the Fire Marshal’s Office. He says the same thing that WSB commenter Karen reported being told by the County Executive’s Office – that the county has no authority for an emergency ban; any ban couldn’t take effect for a year. Chan says a few Washington counties’ laws enable such a ban – Douglas and San Juan Counties, he mentioned – but for King County, that sort of authority has just never come up. We asked if the state would have authority, then, to take an action that could enable an immediate emergency local ban, and he said yes. So we’ll be checking next with the state Fire Marshal’s Office. Meantime, we were forwarded a news release that the county Fire Marshal’s Office had been planning to issue, saying only this:

King County fire agencies are urging citizens to attend one of the many professional public fireworks displays during the Fourth of July weekend. Prolonged dry weather and below average spring rainfall have cured grass and vegetation growth, creating high fire danger nearly six weeks earlier than normal. Last year in King County fire agencies responded to nearly 200 fire calls with 82 of them related to fireworks, as reported in the 2014 Washington State Fire Marshal report.

While it is not advisable to light fireworks, follow the three B’s – Be Prepared, Be Safe, and Be Responsible. Retail fireworks go on sale June 28 through July 4 and in those communities that allow fireworks, discharge is limited to July 4 from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. only.

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Stage 1 burn ban ordered for unincorporated King County as of Monday

June 19th, 2015 Tracy Posted in safety, White Center news 1 Comment »

Just announced:

Due to unseasonably dry conditions, little expected rainfall in the near future, and a low snowpack, the King County Fire Marshal is issuing a fire safety burn ban in unincorporated areas of the county effective June 22.

Sky lanterns are not allowed under the burn ban.

This is a Phase 1 burn ban and applies to all outdoor burning except for small recreational fires in established fire pits at approved campgrounds or on private property with the owner’s permission. 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 with equipment capable of extinguishing the fire.

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Highline Public Schools plans to ‘paddle’ school-bus-stop violators with bus-borne cameras, hefty fines

April 13th, 2015 Tracy Posted in Highline School District, safety, White Center news Comments Off on Highline Public Schools plans to ‘paddle’ school-bus-stop violators with bus-borne cameras, hefty fines

(Highline Public Schools photo)
If you ignore the “paddle” that warns you to stop when a school bus is loading/unloading – your chances of getting caught and fined have just increased dramatically. Highline Public Schools‘ news release explains why:

Highline Public Schools announced today that in its ongoing efforts to protect the safety of its students, it is the first school district in King County to implement a school bus stop paddle camera enforcement program.

The cameras, which have been installed on five buses initially, are designed to capture motorists who are putting children at risk by ignoring flashing school bus stop arms as buses load and unload school kids. The enforcement program will launch at the beginning of May, and motorists caught on camera ignoring the stop arms will face a $394 fine starting in early June – before then motorists who are caught on camera ignoring the stop arms will receive a warning.

Highline Chief Operations Officer Scott Logan was joined this morning by King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove and Highline school bus driver Loren Young at a press conference at North Hill Elementary School in Des Moines to announce the new public safety program.

“At Highline Public Schools, we take our duty to ensure the safety of our schoolchildren very seriously. Every day in our district, careless or irresponsible motorists ignore school bus stop arms, putting children boarding or exiting our school buses at risk,” Logan said. “That is why we are so happy to announce the start of our school bus stop arm camera enforcement program, the first of its kind in King County. By catching motorists who are ignoring the requirement to stop when the stop paddles are blinking, we believe we can reduce the number of these incidents and better protect the children in our care.”

King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove, the prime sponsor of legislation at the King County Council to enable Highline to move forward, also praised the effort.

“Every year, children getting on or off school buses are killed by careless and irresponsible drivers who ignore school bus stop signs,” Upthegrove said. “That’s why when I was in the legislature I supported the bill to allow enforcement cameras on school buses and it is why I sponsored legislation at the King County Council to establish this program. We need to stop these drivers who are putting our kids at risk.”

Highline school bus drivers, who routinely see motorists ignoring their school bus stop arms and putting the kids in their care at risk, also expressed their support for the newly launched effort.

“I have been a school bus driver in the Highline School District for 30 years. Every week on my route, I see drivers who fail to stop as kids get on or off my bus. In those situations, my first priority is to keep my kids from being hurt, so I rarely am able to get the license plates of these irresponsible drivers. But with the stop paddles cameras in place on my bus, I know we will finally be able to catch the bad actors who are ignoring my school bus stop paddle,” said Highline school bus driver Loren Young.

While the announcement happened in Des Moines, the buses to use the cameras will be on routes in other communities, including White Center, the district tells us.

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Changes ahead for SW Roxbury

April 8th, 2015 Tracy Posted in safety, Transportation, White Center news Comments Off on Changes ahead for SW Roxbury

The Seattle Department of Transportation‘s final plan for SW Roxbury – for which it has curb-to-curb responsibility – went public last night at a meeting in West Seattle. Here’s the presentation:

SDOT's SW Roxbury plan

The biggest changes are rechannelization – one lane each way plus a center turn lane – west of 17th, a speed-limit drop to 30 mph from 15th SW east, and 300 feet of sidewalk where none exists, east of 30th SW. Read details of the meeting on our partner site West Seattle Blog.

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SAFETY: Road resurfacing in the works for SW 107th west of White Center

April 6th, 2015 Tracy Posted in safety, Transportation, White Center news 3 Comments »

West of White Center, SW 107th east of 26th SW is in for special treatment – the only North Highline-area road on the list referenced in this King County announcement:

More than two dozen of King County’s busiest roads will get a surface treatment that provides tires with better grip and reduces the likelihood of skidding, thanks to a $3.2 million federal grant.

The surface treatment and additional guardrails will be installed on roads that King County’s Department of Transportation identified as high-crash locations outside of cities – in Highline/North Shorewood, on Vashon Island, outside Woodinville, in the Snoqualmie Valley, south of Issaquah, near North Bend, north of Covington, and between Auburn and Black Diamond.

“Drivers throughout unincorporated King County will be safer thanks to additional guardrails and an innovative solution to slippery roads,” said Executive Dow Constantine. “By focusing federal funds on the busiest roads with the most accidents, we will make the most of this investment in our region’s safety.”

So-called high-friction surface treatments bond aggregate materials to the top layer of a roadway, channeling away water and providing tires with more grip to reduce the likelihood of skidding and loss of control. The county has identified 24 locations for this treatment and four locations for guardrail and other improvements based largely on crash history and average daily traffic. Sites throughout unincorporated King County were chosen where the risks of running off the road are greatest.

“My district includes hundreds of miles of winding rural roadways where curves or hills create greater risks for skidding off the road,” said King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert. “These new roadway treatments help tires grip the road in dangerous areas. I am encouraged to hear that other transportation departments are also saying that this is an economical way to measurably improve safety.”

“Those that rely on the King County road system will be happy to know that with the help of federal funding we’re going to deliver targeted safety improvements to make our roads safer,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn. “We’re looking forward to having these improvements on Kent-Kangley Road, south of Issaquah, near Shadow Lake and near May Valley road.”

The county’s Road Services Division is scheduled to install the high friction surface treatments and guardrail in 2016. The agency has had to reduce service for roads and bridges in the unincorporated areas of the county significantly as revenues declined during the recession, and as a result, there is a growing backlog of county road needs. Recent strategic planning deemed safety as the most important consideration for allocating precious road dollars. With this federal safety grant, driving will be safer at these 28 locations.

The funds are provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation and administered by the Washington State Department of Transportation.

We obtained the information about SW 107th by checking with King County Transportation Department spokesperson Jeff Switzer.

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UPDATE: Woman in critical condition after being hit by suspected drunk driver in White Center

April 2nd, 2015 Tracy Posted in safety, White Center news 4 Comments »

(UPDATE FRIDAY AFTERNOON: KCSO says the victim is still alive, in critical condition)

6:39 PM: Thanks for the tips via Twitter. We’re on our way to find out more about the crash that has closed 16th SW north of 107th. According to a tweet from KING TV, a pedestrian was hit and seriously hurt. Avoid the area TFN.

7:08 PM: Sgt. BJ Myers of the King County Sheriff’s Office confirms that a pedestrian was hit and is reported to have been seriously hurt; the driver is in custody for suspected DUI. Sgt. Myers says investigators are likely to be on scene for a few more hours. Driving by on the way to the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, we noted the closure appears to be from 106th northward now.

7:24 PM: According to Sgt. Myers, the victim is a 50-year-old woman in serious condition. The driver is a 55-year-old woman. And the road’s expected to be closed until about 8:30. Meanwhile, our photographer has just sent photos from the investigation scene, which we’re adding above.

8:57 PM: Just drove through the area – 16th is open again.

8:33 AM: KCSO announced this morning that the victim died at the hospital. The driver is now booked for investigation of vehicular assault.

12:16 PM: KCSO now says they had erroneous information. The victim is STILL ALIVE but in critical condition.

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White Center traffic alert: Crash at 16th/112th

January 13th, 2015 Tracy Posted in safety, White Center news Comments Off on White Center traffic alert: Crash at 16th/112th

Thanks to the tipster who texted us this photo of a crash scene about half an hour ago at 16th SW and SW 112th. No info yet on circumstances or injuries, but take note in case you’re headed that way sometime soon.

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Followup: Crews making cleanup progress at ‘The Bog’

January 11th, 2015 Tracy Posted in King County, safety 3 Comments »

(White Center Now photographs by Patrick Sand)
King County crews are continuing to clear overgrowth, and more, by “the bog,” a site that has been something of a dangerous hiding place in recent years. This information is from Ken Gresset, who briefed the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council in November:

Much progress has been made at “The Bog.” The patrol road is in and leads 200 feet to a spot where the rest of the site can be inspected by spotlight. We will be back on the site on Monday and Tuesday to clear out remaining brush.

The site is well protected against erosion with 130 bales of straw spread on the disturbed earth and logs staked at the base of the slope to intercept any silt that would wash down from the hillside.

We stopped by at midday Friday for our photos – county crews were only allowing visitors on the site during their lunch break, so they wouldn’t run the risk of winding up in the path of heavy equipment. One crew member told us they had continued to find syringes and needles from drug users known to frequent the area. (See what they’ve encountered before, in these photos we published days after the November briefing.)

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Personnel shortage hits King County Sheriff’s Office hard, precinct commander tells North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

September 7th, 2014 Tracy Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, safety, White Center news 1 Comment »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Tough to have a meeting during a big game – but the issues before the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council couldn’t wait, and its Thursday night meeting went on as scheduled, despite the Seahawks’ concurrent home opener (ending, just before the meeting ended, with fireworks exploded by fans somewhere, audibly, nearby).

The marquee guest was King County Sheriff’s Office precinct commander Major Jerrell Wills (photo above), speaking about changes in KCSO, including scheduling changes, and the storefront-deputy situation (as previously reported, Deputy BJ Myers has been promoted to a new role and is no longer in the storefront; West Hill, to the east, has lost its storefront deputy too).

Maj. Wills said two candidates initially had sought the North Highline position, and neither worked out; he posted the job again (along with West Hill) and had no applicants, so he reposted, and “still doesn’t have any interested applicants” though the second posting was about to expire.

He says, “I’m not inclined to just pick someone” – a community liaison is a position to which he doesn’t favor drafting an appointee, he says, so he plans to discuss it again with Sheriff John Urquhart – he will not repost it, but hopes the sheriff will be “open to some of my operational ideas.” But, he says, White Center does still have “what most communities don’t have” – a community service officer (Peter Truong).

Major Wills stressed repeatedly that the “storefront deputy” is not the only KCSO position that can respond to concerns. Asked about current staffing, 6 deputies are on in the area per shift – 2 on Vashon, 2 in White Center/North Highline, 2 in Skyway. That would be more, Maj. Wills said, except for the fact his precinct alone has eight vacancies – the personnel situation is not a budget problem, but a personnel shortage problem, he insisted, adding that retirements are hitting the KCSO hard; many are getting to 30 years of service. (He mentioned that he’s been serving for 26 years.)

“We’re fighting an uphill battle,” he said about the problem, “so now we’re in a situation we’re calling redeployment.” For example, detectives who might be in specialized areas are being “redeployed to supplant our lack of staffing just to keep us at six (in the precinct) each shift.” That’s been happening since July and the union has agreed to let them keep doing it through January – “just so we can get to minimum every day.” And yet the retirements and other departures keep coming, he said.

“If not for the (staffing shortage), would we have more deputies assigned to the community?” asked NHUAC president Barbara Dobkin. Yes, there would be more per shift, Maj. Wills said. “What would that number be?” he was asked, but he didn’t have the specific number. “Per shift you might have two to three additional people.”

The attrition/recruiting problems are not unique to KCSO, Maj. Wills said. He also pointed out that the process of going through the academy causes a fair number of dropouts. They want to fill the positions, he insisted, “it’s just a challenge.”

Council member Elizabeth Gordon then asked Maj. Wills about homelessness/graffiti problems in certain areas, and he said he didn’t know about those specific problems, but did have an update on the pond/bog area. “That’s been a source of homeless encampments for some time,” he said, for the entirety of the two years he’s been here. Now signage is posted “all over” to warn campers that clearing is coming – “signage everywhere to notify, you can’t be in here, this is not a campground. … That’s the first part, education,” he said. Next part is cleaning – “King County code enforcement has been actively partnering with us to clean up the hedges, etc.” The cleanup was expected to start the following day and “they’re going to cut a road” so deputies can drive into the area, he added.

Once it’s been cleaned up, “then we’re going to go in and identify the people who are in there illegally and serve them with written notice that ‘you, John Doe, are no longer able to come back here … you’ve been warned’.” Then Community Service Officer Truong will help with figuring out some possible services/referrals for the people who are there: “We can’t arrest our way out of this,” declared Maj. Wills, so they hope to find housing/services for campers rather than just hauling them off to jail.

Major Wills also brought up the recent White Center bicycle-corral meeting and said while he’s not voicing a position on the proposed parking configuration, he found it helpful to be at that meeting – held in the KCSO storefront – to hear community concerns such as fears about safety (and lack of it) in the alleys. He said he plans to do some foot patrol in the alleys – “not to make arrests (but to) survey some of the issues I’m hearing about, the homeless, alcohol- and drug-addicted people who are impacting residents of North Highline.”

Another attendee wondered about whether anything can be done to attract a business or traffic to the vacant grocery store at 1st/112th in Top Hat, because, she says, it’s become a magnet for trouble. Dobkin said she’s been in touch with the owner, a Bellevue resident, who told Dobkin she is getting ready to sell the site, which is why there was tank abatement recently.

All in all, Maj. Wills said that they’re just trying to do “something” about a variety of problems. But, the people now camping at the bog “are not going to just vanish,” he said, then quipping, “It would be great if they would just go to the north side of Roxbury.”

Asked about recurring graffiti problems, he said covering it up as fast as possible is vital, or else it might just attract more.

A Metro Transit Police deputy (that agency is part of the King County Sheriff’s Office), Bill Kennamer, spoke up after Maj. Wills departed. He said he is assigned to the general West Seattle/White Center/vicinity area. The trouble spots he has addressed include 15th/Roxbury – “we’ve pushed them away, and now we all know where they are, they’re in the valley. … I try to tackle transit-related community problems.” He said he had “come to an agreement” with people who had sat in bus stops drinking their beer. He said, “The bus system is better now than it was before.”

Asked if the Westwood Village transit concentration had made anything worse, he said he had a “problem-solving project” open for that area, visited it “dozens and dozens of times,” and “closed it” because “the problems there are not Metro problems, they are park problems.”

There was a question about new graffiti vandalism on the former restaurant property on 16th/Ambaum, and about vandalism painted on some of the commercial buildings in downtown White Center. In general, it was reminded, they need to get owners’ permission to clean up graffiti and other such problems on private property.

King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, who was in attendance, was asked if his office might have meetings, a regular meet-and-greet, or a regular presence in downtown White Center. He said it might not be efficient or ideal for his office to continuously be the filter for county issues, when county government has other agencies and reps who can work with the community directly. But, McDermott added, he was there because it’s helpful to hear about community concerns.

Council member Gordon, who had brought up the issue, said that made sense but she asked because the community seems “fractured” and CM McDermott could be a “unifying force.”

Overall, president Dobkin explained, “We have a lot of issues here, and people feel like we’re being abandoned,” due to various factors, including the ongoing unincorporated status. “I mean, there are people sleeping in my alley. … People think everything is great in White Center, but it’s not.”

WANT TO BE ON THE NHUAC BOARD? If you live and/or work in the area, you’re invited to be part of it. Contact Dobkin through the NHUAC website.

ANNOUNCEMENTS: First thing on the agenda at the meeting:

*Council member Gordon had just come from a community-development forum in SeaTac and said those involved would be happy to have input from North Highline, such as “What are the issues that we’re facing and what are some of the barriers or challenges in getting them addressed?” For example, she said, “… there’s a lack of connection between the county and what goes on in this area … in particular, homelessness, things that go on in the business district.” A survey is online; find it here. President Dobkin said that Valerie Kendall, from the group overseeing the forums, would be at NHUAC next month, and that the survey is open for people to voice needs such as sidewalks.

Gordon also addressed the bike-corral concerns in downtown White Center, mentioning that possible alternatives are being looked at so that “another proposal” could be put out. She said community members’ opinions are being sought as well. Dobkin said that since it seems to be controversial and divisive, regarding the corral possibly replacing two motorized-vehicle-parking spaces, she thinks NHUAC shouldn’t take a position. Council member Pat Price said she found it hard to believe 20 people would come to downtown White Center riding bicycles. Dobkin and an attendee who didn’t identify himself pointed out that some of those who participated at the meeting and expressed support for the bike corral weren’t from White Center but instead were from West Seattle.

*Gordon also mentioned the Roxbury SW road safety project that is in the works (led by the Seattle Department of Transportation) and pointed people to the proposals that had been discussed at recent meetings. Dobkin said she had been to the first of the two meetings and was concerned that much of the work seemed to be happening on the west end; Gordon pointed to some of the proposals for the east end.

*Council member Price mentioned the White Center Food Bank‘s gala is coming up next month.

From the community, Gill Loring brought up four homeless camps in the “bog” (Neighborhood Pond) area, and said that another clearing operation is apparently planned in the area. He is particularly concerned that camp residents’ waste is going into the water. He added that there’s word of someone sleeping in an alley near his house, and urged people to report to 911 if that sort of thing is found (and, he added, make sure the dispatcher is clear you’re talking about the county, not the city).

*Final announcement – Gordon said seamountathletics.com has information about local high-school sports and their need for community support.

Watch northhighlineuac.org for word of the next meeting.

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Making Roxbury safer: What’s being proposed, including a ‘road diet’

August 1st, 2014 Tracy Posted in safety, Transportation, White Center news 6 Comments »

Though the city/county line runs down the middle of Roxbury for most of its length, Seattle is accountable for taking care of what’s between the north and south curbs. So it’s leading the way on the SW Roxbury safety project, for which North Highline Unincorporated Area Council and neighboring Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council led the campaign. The Seattle Department of Transportation unveiled its proposals on Thursday night, at the first of two meetings (the second of which is in White Center on Monday). Here’s a sneak peek via the slide deck:

The biggest part of the proposal is from downtown White Center westward – proposing “rechannelization,” or what’s also more conversationally known as a “road diet,” for the segment between 17th and 35th, converting it to one lane each way, with a center turn lane, and five-foot-wide buffers (shoulders) on each side. For full details on what’s being proposed – but far from finalized – on the full stretch, see our report on West Seattle Blog. Bring questions/concerns/ideas/etc. to the Monday meeting (August 4th), 6 pm at the Greenbridge Y, 9720 8th SW.

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Dates set for SW Roxbury safety-plan meetings

July 21st, 2014 Tracy Posted in safety, Transportation, White Center news Comments Off on Dates set for SW Roxbury safety-plan meetings

Two meetings are set for the Seattle Department of Transportation to go public with how Roxbury might be made safer – dating back to the joint call a year ago by the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council and the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council. SDOT has announced two meetings at which it plans to show “several different engineering options to improve safety for all modes.” The first one is on the West Seattle side, Thursday, July 31st, 6 pm at Southwest Branch Library. Second one is on the White Center side, Monday, August 4th, 6 pm at the Greenbridge YWCA.The project’s official page is here; check out the maps linked from the left side, including this one showing speeds, volumes, and intersections with the most crashes.

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Traffic-alert update: Tree on eastbound Roxbury now cleared

June 27th, 2014 Tracy Posted in safety, Traffic, White Center news Comments Off on Traffic-alert update: Tree on eastbound Roxbury now cleared

1 PM: Also published on partner site West Seattle Blog: Thanks to Krista for the tip (with photo) about a tree down across eastbound Roxbury at 10th SW. As you can see in the photo she shared, King County Sheriff’s Office is on the scene. We are en route to see if cleanup is under way yet.

6:25 PM: It wasn’t cleared as of three hours ago, but when we went back to check a few minutes ago, it was off to the side, and traffic was back to normal.

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Second meeting about SW Roxbury safety: Tonight in West Seattle

February 26th, 2014 Tracy Posted in safety, Transportation, White Center news Comments Off on Second meeting about SW Roxbury safety: Tonight in West Seattle

The first meeting was in White Center, and now the second big meeting about the in-the-works safety project for SW Roxbury is happening on the West Seattle side of the street – tonight, 6 pm, at Roxhill Elementary School. More details here, including the Seattle Department of Transportation‘s recap on what happened during the Greenbridge meeting earlier this month.

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