SCHOOLS: No Highline closure yet

March 11th, 2020 at 3:10 pm Posted in Coronavirus, Highline School District, Schools, White Center news | Comments Off on SCHOOLS: No Highline closure yet

Now that Seattle Public Schools has decided to close for at least two weeks, you might be wondering if Highline Public Schools will do the same. No decision yet, according to the district website:

This is the first of several communications over the coming days based on the rapidly evolving coronavirus situation.

This morning, Governor Inslee and Public Health Seattle & King County asked school districts in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties to prepare for potential school closures that could last weeks or months. We are anticipating an order to close in the coming days.

We know this raises all kinds of questions and implications including childcare needs for our staff and families, school meals, graduation, and much more. We are working on plans to address a range of impacts, and we will be in constant communication as we work through these issues.

Superintendent Susan Enfield says, “The coronavirus outbreak is an unprecedented regional crisis. It will take all of us working together to get through it–and we will get through it.”

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FOLLOWUP: Preparations continue at planned Top Hat coronavirus quarantine/isolation site

March 9th, 2020 at 10:27 pm Posted in Coronavirus, Health, Top Hat, White Center news | 11 Comments »

(WCN photo, Sunday)

Tomorrow marks one week since King County announced it planned to use the former Wilderness Technology Alliance site at 206 SW 112th in Top Hat as a COVID-19 quarantine/isolation site. No patients there yet, but preparation work continues, we confirmed with the King County Executive’s Office today. We asked a few questions today since we hadn’t seen the promised followup to last Friday’s telephone meeting yet; spokesperson Alex Fryer said that’s still in the works and likely will be sent to community members tomorrow.

Though no patients are there yet, Fryer said, they are on track to be ready as soon as Thursday; the second modular unit has been delivered, and the sewer line was installed Sunday. The old WTA building will be demolished by the middle of next week, he said (that would potentially clear the way for additional modular units).

During Friday’s call, county officials said they were still shaping the criteria for who this facility would house. We asked Fryer what they’d decided on. His reply:

Criteria would include those who have been exposed to the virus, who are not ill, and need a place separate from others; those who are symptomatic but not critical and in need of housing; and those recovering … examples include:

i. College students living in dorm housing

ii. People who have traveled to the region and don’t have a home to self-quarantine

iii. First responders who have been exposed or are exhibiting symptoms who can’t self-quarantine at home

iv. People experiencing homelessness

v. People who can’t self-quarantine at home because they have a family member who is at a high risk of contracting the virus

The King County Council is scheduled to consider emergency funding tomorrow related to the outbreak response; here’s the agenda and packet (PDF) for the 1 pm Tuesday meeting, with the emergency-funding response on page 239. The documents call for allocating $10 million to placement of the modular facilities, which so far have been announced for two Seattle sites (Interbay and North Seattle) as well as the Top Hat location.

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CORONAVIRUS: Updates from Highline Public Schools

March 7th, 2020 at 10:29 pm Posted in Coronavirus, Schools, White Center news | Comments Off on CORONAVIRUS: Updates from Highline Public Schools

Like most districts in the region, classes continue at Highline Public Schools. But some changes are taking effect next week. From the district’s newest update:

The health and safety of our students and staff is paramount, and we are closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19.

We have no known cases of COVID-19 among students or staff in Highline.

As Coronavirus continues to affect our region, we want to reassure you that the safety of our students and staff is our top priority. Public Health Seattle & King County is not currently recommending that schools proactively close unless they have a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a staff member or student.

Public Health has shared this rationale:

-Children are not known to get seriously ill from COVID-19

-Closing schools may not be effective because some children may congregate anyway at other locations

-Many parents, such as healthcare workers, need to be at work. If these critical workers stay home with children it causes significant impacts on the healthcare system and other institutions that are essential for our community to function

-If schools close, some children might have to stay home with alternative caregivers, such as elders, who are more vulnerable

-We don’t know how effective children are in spreading this disease

-Learn more about how Public Health makes this decision.

MARCH 6, 2020

All school cleaning: This weekend, all schools will get extra cleaning and disinfection. Surfaces not covered with papers, books and other materials will be wiped down with Clorox hydrogen peroxide wipes.

Field trips: We are suspending all school day and overnight field trips, including Camp Waskowitz, starting Monday, March 9 through Friday, March 20.

School events & athletics: All school events and athletics after 5:00 p.m. are canceled, with the exception of school conferences, to allow custodial staff time to thoroughly clean schools. This is based on Public Health recommendations to postpone events that bring together large groups of people. After-school activities sponsored by schools or partner organizations must conclude by 5:00 p.m. These restrictions on events and activities will be in effect Monday, March 9 through March 20.

Make-up school work: If your child is absent from school due to illness or safety concerns, your child’s teacher will provide assignments and opportunities for learning.

Remote learning: If Public Health advises us to close schools, we will not offer remote learning options. This decision is rooted in our commitment to equity and ensuring all students have an equal chance at success.

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CORONAVIRUS: King County conference call reveals new information about Top Hat quarantine/isolation site

March 6th, 2020 at 12:11 pm Posted in Coronavirus, Health, Top Hat, White Center news | 17 Comments »

(This is also published on our partner site West Seattle Blog)

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

New information on the King County quarantine/isolation facility planned at 206 SW 112th in Top Hat, just east of White Center, first announced Tuesday. The new details emerged in a conference call meeting that county reps organized for community members; we were on that call, which just concluded, for WCN and partner site West Seattle Blog.

The site will start up with two 4-room trailers, with up to six more when a vacant building on the site is demolished. (Above are our photos after the first trailer was delivered Tuesday – the county had 14 in storage on Harbor Island.) The county has now decided NOT to open the site until utilities including water/sewer are hooked up to the trailers’ built-in bathrooms – they originally had said they would start with portable toilets and hand-washing stations but have scrapped that plan. They expect the connections will be complete by the middle of next week.

The site will NOT have medical staff – but the county plans to “check in” with people at least twice a day. They also plan to deliver food and other supplies. And they will have 24-hour security who will “notify” county reps if someone leaves the site.

Who will be there? Criteria are still being developed, the county reps said. Three scenarios were mentioned for starters – people who are traveling and have nowhere else to go, people who are unhoused, people who can’t “self-quarantine” because of a situation at their home such as an at-risk person also living there.

How long will someone stay? If they’re being tested – until the test results are in, if those results are negative. If they’re ill, “until they’ve recovered.”

The call wasn’t strictly informational – strong opposition was voiced, primarily by people pointing out that the area is home to low-income people and other marginalized populations and should not have to bear this burden and risk. “10,000 people are opposed” was mentioned – apparently a reference to this online petition. But county reps were clear – this decision has been made and will not change.

Those on the call, besides several staffers from various county departments such as Local Services, included County Councilmember Joe McDermott and Burien Mayor Jimmy Matta. McDermott said County Executive Dow Constantine‘s request for emergency funding will be approved at next Tuesday’s King County Council meeting.

We have a few other details to add shortly.

ADDED 12:58 PM: First, for those wondering about the other two quarantine sites, the county has provided these addresses – 531 Elliott Avenue West [map] in Interbay and 1132 N. 128th Street [map] in North Seattle. The Top Hat site was formerly home to the Wilderness Technology Alliance.

Julie Hiatt of the North Highline Fire District, which serves the area, was on the call and said NHFD had not even had a meeting with the county to talk about this; one was promised. County reps also said they were not intending for NHFD to have to transport patients to/from the site; they are working with potential providers such as Tri-Med.

One community member on the call was aghast at the single-security-guard plan: “You’re bringing this into poor communties and telling us there’s going to be one security guard for people who might leave?” Security plans would be re-evaluated along the way, county reps said. Another community member: “If this is going to spread, this is not the community you want it to spread in – most (nearby) people don’t even have health insurance.” The site is in a densely populated area of North Highline, with neighboring apartment complexes including the huge new Southside by Vintage across SW 112th.

Another community member: “It seems like an experiment. … The community does not want this facility here. It’s going to cause death … There is death attached to this facility.” County reps countered that this was meant to save lives; Local Services director John Taylor countered, “The consequence to the community of not doing this could be disastrous.”

The call ended after an hour but more communication including an email list was promised.

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CORONAVIRUS: White Center Heights Elementary precautionary cleaning tonight

March 4th, 2020 at 11:56 pm Posted in Coronavirus, Health, Highline School District, Safety, Schools, White Center news | Comments Off on CORONAVIRUS: White Center Heights Elementary precautionary cleaning tonight

Thanks to the White Center Heights Elementary community member who forwarded this:

We have learned that a staff member who has been out ill this week has symptoms that may be related to Coronavirus. The individual is staying home and being monitored by a doctor. The doctor has not recommended a COVID-19 test at this time.

We are treating this with an abundance of caution. White Center Heights will get a deep cleaning this evening. School will be open tomorrow. We will continue to monitor this situation.

For more information about Coronavirus, please visit our website or call the district Health Services office at 206-631-3011.

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FOLLOWUP: Why SW 112th quarantine site was chosen, and 3 other sites announced

March 4th, 2020 at 2:28 pm Posted in Coronavirus, Health, King County, White Center news | 5 Comments »

That’s video of today’s King County briefing on the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, concluded a short time ago. Along with announcing new cases, and new recomendations, more quarantine sites were announced – modular housing in Interbay and North Seattle, like what arrived at 206 SW 112th in Top Hat yesterday, and a motel in Kent. King County Executive Dow Constantine also addressed the concerns over the Top Hat site, saying it was chosen because the county owns it, it has utilities, and it can be set up quick.

(WCN photo from Tuesday)

You can advance the video to (updated) about 11 minutes in, to see what he said. Today’s other King County announcements are in this news release.

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UPDATE: King County-owned Top Hat property is first portable-housing site for coronavirus patients; Senator Nguyen questions site choice

March 3rd, 2020 at 5:59 pm Posted in Coronavirus, Health, King County, White Center news | 31 Comments »

(WCN photos)

5:59 PM: That county-owned site at 206 SW 112th, across the street from the northwest side of the sprawling new Southside by Vintage apartments, is the first to hold a portable housing building that might soon be used for people who need to be isolated because of coronavirus COVID-19 illness.

The four-room, eight-bed unit is one of 14 that the county has been storing at the old flour mill on Harbor Island. We talked with King County Executive Services spokesperson Barbara Ramey at the site this afternoon. She says the county originally bought 20 portables like this one and six are in use elsewhere for people experiencing homeless. Who will use this, and when? That’ll be up to Seattle-King County Public Health, Ramey says. Here’s a look inside:

First, crews will be working to hook these up to utilities – they include bathrooms – but if they’re needed faster than that work can be done, she said, temporary hand-washing stations and portable toilets will be brought in. The county is planning deployment of the other 13 available portables – some at as-yet undetermined sites – as well as continuing to work on the purchase of a motel whose location remains undisclosed. Ramey also said there’s been “outreach” to neighbors to let them know what’s being done at this site, which holds an old commercial building that will be torn down.

6:15 PM: 34th District State Sen. Joe Nguyen just sent this news release questioning the site choice:

While lauding the state’s energetic response to the spread of coronavirus, Sen. Joe Nguyen (D-White Center) said the siting of a quarantine facility in White Center continues a pattern of systemic disregard for that community.

“I understand why this facility is needed,” said Nguyen, who represents White Center in the Washington State Senate. “But the appearance of placing it in a neighborhood that has already been historically marginalized conveys a message about whose safety we most value in our society that is not lost on me.”

Nguyen’s comments came after King County officials announced today that a quarantine facility for those diagnosed with coronavirus will be opened in the Top Hat neighborhood of White Center following news of multiple deaths from the virus earlier this week.

“It is promising to hear of action from the state regarding the containment of coronavirus,” Nguyen said. “While a quarantine facility does not necessarily mean the surrounding area is more prone to infection, I am wary to see that this facility has been placed in a community already deeply disenfranchised by decades of policies working against it.”

White Center is one of the most racially diverse areas in King County, with 60 percent of its population made up by people of color, according to 2010 Census records.

The quarantine facility is expected to be operating within 10 days and will include 32 rooms for people infected with coronavirus. More facilities are expected to be announced in the coming days in response to an increasing number of cases of the illness being diagnosed in King County.

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No North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting for March

February 29th, 2020 at 10:24 pm Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news | Comments Off on No North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting for March

From North Highline Unincorporated Area Council leadership:

Due to unforeseen circumstances, NHUAC’s Thursday, March 5th meeting is cancelled. Please plan on joining us for the next scheduled meeting on Thursday, April 2nd.

Thanks – we look forward to seeing you all in April.

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White Center Community Development Association, King County Housing Authority get new Zero Waste grants

February 28th, 2020 at 8:08 pm Posted in Environment, King County, White Center news | Comments Off on White Center Community Development Association, King County Housing Authority get new Zero Waste grants

Announced today by the King County Solid Waste Division:

The King County Housing Authority (KCHA) and the White Center Community Development Association will receive $40,800 in grant funding under a pilot project designed to promote recycling, decrease waste, and reduce exposure to toxic chemicals in King County’s unincorporated areas, starting with White Center.

King County’s Solid Waste Division and the Hazardous Waste Management Program launched the Zero Waste grant pilot program in White Center because it is among the most demographically diverse communities in King County’s unincorporated areas. White Center’s proximity to the Lower Duwamish Waterway Superfund site, two major airports, and a large industrial corridor is linked to health and economic disparities that continue to burden many residents.

“The grant from King County will provide key support to our White Center to White House Youth Leadership Program,” said Taylor Farley, WCCDA Development and Marketing Manager. “Funds will be used for youth education in proper recycling techniques and hazardous products management. Youth leaders will share what they’ve learned with the community, helping to transform thinking on environmental issues.”

“The King County grant will allow KCHA residents in White Center opportunities to live more sustainably,” said Patrick Malloy KCHA Resource Conservation Specialist. “We will reach our young people through an Eco Living Challenge to educate families on recycling and household hazardous waste management; our gardeners through a Green Gardening program to reduce green waste and the use of pesticides and herbicides; and all of the residents of the Greenbridge neighborhood through a 12 month program to reduce waste, recycle more, and properly manage household hazardous materials.”

Projects that will be funded are listed:

Eco Living Challenge – The King County Housing Authority was awarded $9,120 to teach 260 students at the Greenbridge and Seola Gardens Youth Clubs about waste reduction through recycling and composting, and about green alternatives to chemical-based commercial cleaning products.

Green Gardening – The Greenbridge and Seola Community Gardens is the place where up to 100 people will get hands-on training in organic gardening, composting, and natural pest management. The King County Housing Authority received $6,400 to carry out this program.

Greenbridge Waste Reduction and Recycling – An intensive year-long effort to spur recycling and responsible waste management, which will include collecting hazardous waste, will get underway at Greenbridge housing thanks to a $20,700 grant to the King County Housing Authority.

White Center Community Development Association – This organization will receive $4,580 to train young community leaders on best practices in composting, recycling, and waste reduction so they can share their knowledge with community members. Funding will also support paying for guest speakers on relevant environmental topics.

King County has set a goal to achieve zero waste of resources by 2030, as specified in King County Code and the 2019 Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan. The Solid Waste Division is also committed to equitable service delivery.

Nonprofits, community groups, schools, special purpose districts, tribes, businesses, and independent municipal corporations were all eligible to compete for funding for projects designed to benefit the White Center community.

Grants will be funded by King County Solid Waste disposal and Haz Waste Program fees.

For more information about the Zero Waste Pilot Program Grant, please contact grants administrator Lucy Auster at 206-477-5268 or lucy.auster@kingcounty.gov.

Learn more about the Solid Waste Division at kingcounty.gov/solidwaste. Learn more about the Hazardous Waste Management Program at hazwastehelp.org.

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County Councilmember Joe McDermott to formally propose fireworks ban today

February 27th, 2020 at 2:27 am Posted in King County, Safety, White Center news | 6 Comments »

(Also published on partner site West Seattle Blog)

(Reader photo: Fireworks debris, July 2018)

After years of clamor for a fireworks ban in unincorporated King County, last year’s deadly fire has finally ignited action.

As promised, King County Councilmember Joe McDermott – whose district includes White Center – is about to introduce legislation that would ban fireworks in the unincorporated areas. See a summary below (or here in PDF):

See the full text of the legislation below (or here in PDF):

We talked with Councilmember McDermott as he prepared to officially get it into the system today.

McDermott notes that 25 jurisdictions within King County – including Seattle and Burien, which bookend White Center – already ban fireworks. And in addition to the deadly fire in North Highline, he’s heard from constituents with other concerns, including wildfire worries on Vashon Island.

Yes, he’s heard the concerns raised before – what does this really do if there’s no extra enforcement? “It sets a new norm,” McDermott contends, and use will be reduced. What about the organizations that have raised money through fireworks sales? They’re going to have to find a new, not potentially deadly way to raise money. McDermott says the fundraising-related concerns were a factor in a related bill that has died for the year in the State Legislature, 34th District Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon‘s proposal to change state law so that fireworks bans could take effect faster. The stalling of that bill means that if McDermott’s proposal passes, it wouldn’t take effect until next year, so fireworks would still be legal in unincorporated King County this summer.

What are the chances it will pass? McDermott says he can count on support from at least a couple council colleagues, but he’s not taking anything/anyone for granted. If you have a strong opinion on the proposal, contact all the county councilmembers (here’s how). There also will be a hearing on the proposal, in the Local Services Committee chaired by Councilmember Reagan Dunn, to which the legislation will be referred after the council officially receivesit next week (no date for that hearing yet).

P.S. Professional fireworks displays would still be allowed in unincorporated King County – as they are in the cities with fireworks bans – by permit.

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VIDEO: Guardian One helicopter assists with auto-theft suspect in Top Hat

February 26th, 2020 at 6:32 pm Posted in Helicopter, King County Sheriff's Office, Top Hat, White Center news | Comments Off on VIDEO: Guardian One helicopter assists with auto-theft suspect in Top Hat

We got a few questions about the Guardian One helicopter’s presence over east White Center/Top Hat this afternoon. That video shows what it was all about – assisting as King County Sheriff’s Deputies on the ground chased after an auto-theft suspect. The accompanying summary:

The suspect initially evaded police and then was relocated at a house. The suspect got into the passenger seat of a vehicle and then ran from police again when confronted. Guardian 1 tracked the suspect with the FLIR camera and he was taken into custody in a backyard shed.

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MONDAY: First commute with new downtown Seattle pathway for buses from White Center, Burien, West Seattle

February 23rd, 2020 at 9:53 pm Posted in Metro, Transportation, White Center news | 1 Comment »

Buses from White Center, Burien, and West Seattle are now on the new downtown Seattle pathway – Monday’s the first weekday since the switch. Here’s the map and route list:

Columbia Street, once best known for an onramp to the southbound Alaskan Way Viaduct, is now carrying buses to and from surface Alaskan Way, connecting to Third Avenue. This Seattle Department of Transportation post shows its configuration.

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Shooting victim found in White Center

February 21st, 2020 at 9:56 pm Posted in Crime, White Center news | 3 Comments »

King County Sheriff’s Deputies are trying to sort out a shooting in downtown White Center. We got a tip that a shooting had been reported at 16th/Roxbury and went over to find out more. Between the last deputies at the scene and KCSO spokesperson Sgt. Ryan Abbott, here’s what we have learned: A man was found with a gunshot wound to the knee – found in the 9600 block of 15th SW, per Sgt. Abbott, but they don’t know exactly where the shooting happened; he says the victim, a 30-year-old man, has been “uncooperative” so far. Deputies at the scene said they first responded to a report of multiple gunshots. No arrests so far.

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Evergreen High School student serves as State House page

February 21st, 2020 at 3:32 pm Posted in Politics, White Center news | Comments Off on Evergreen High School student serves as State House page

(Photo courtesy State Legislative Support Service)

A White Center student will have a unique experience to share at school next week. Here’s the announcement we received:

Maddy Rice, a student at Evergreen High School, served as a page this week in the Washington State House of Representatives.

Sponsored by State Rep. Eileen Cody (D-West Seattle), Maddy is the child of Bobby and Andy Rice of Seattle. Pages assume a wide variety of responsibilities, from presenting the flags to distributing amendments on the House floor. Pages support the efficient operation of the Legislature while also receiving daily civics instruction, drafting their own bills, and participating in mock committee hearings.

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State Gambling Commission arrests 11 after investigating ‘a café in White Center’

February 19th, 2020 at 11:56 pm Posted in Crime, White Center news | Comments Off on State Gambling Commission arrests 11 after investigating ‘a café in White Center’

(Photos from Washington State Gambling Commission)

Announced by the Washington State Gambling Commission:

Gambling Commission agents made 11 arrests following an investigation into a Seattle business that has been operating illegal gambling.

For the past year, our agents have been conducting a joint investigation with the Seattle Police Department into illegal gambling activities occurring at a café in White Center. The café does not have, and has never had, a license to operate gambling. While serving a search warrant on Feb. 5, agents located evidence of illegal gambling, including: electronic gambling machines, cards, dice and gambling records.

During interviews, agents learned that the business was charging players an hourly fee in order to participate in the gambling activities.

This isn’t the first time we’ve been to this location. Our agents have conducted six other investigations into the café’s illegal gambling activities, beginning in 2004.

Seven players and three employees were arrested and booked into the King County Jail. The players were charged with professional gambling in the third degree, which is a gross misdemeanor. The employees were charged with professional gambling in the first degree, which is a Class B felony. One of the employees was also arrested in 2011 when we served a search warrant at the same location.

The business owner was arrested at the airport on Feb. 14 as he returned from an international trip. He was booked into the King County Jail on the following charges: ownership or interest in a gambling device; professional gambling in the first degree; money laundering; use of proceeds of criminal profiteering; and leading organized crime (class A felony).

The WSGC did not identify the business, but its announcement on social media showed SPD cars in the street on Delridge just north of Roxbury.

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FRIDAY: Bingo for seniors in White Center on Valentine’s Day!

February 12th, 2020 at 11:56 pm Posted in Fun, White Center news | Comments Off on FRIDAY: Bingo for seniors in White Center on Valentine’s Day!

It’s almost Valentine’s Day! That means this event is almost here:

The White Center Teen Program is hosting the a FREE Bingo Event for Senior Citizens on Friday, February 14th from 1-3p m at the Historic White Center Fieldhouse (also known as the White Center Community Center), in Steve Cox Memorial Park (1321 SW 102nd).

On Friday, February 14th, the staff and participants of the White Center Teen Program are once again hosting a special Bingo Event for Senior Citizens. Doors open at 1 pm and games (two cards at a time) are FREE. Coffee, snacks and prizes are also provided at no charge. Teen volunteers will be on hand to assist with calling the Bingo Games. All White Center Senior Citizens are invited to attend.

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SUBAREA PLAN: Got questions? Your next 2 chances to get answers

February 10th, 2020 at 6:18 pm Posted in Development, King County, White Center news | Comments Off on SUBAREA PLAN: Got questions? Your next 2 chances to get answers

If you still have questions about what’s under consideration for the North Highline Subarea Plan after the open house and NHUAC meeting earlier this month – two more chances to get answers, as announced by King County’s David Goodman:

On Wednesday, February 19, we will be attending a Greenbridge (King County Housing Authority) Community Meeting from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. (see attached fliers) to discuss our latest North Highline Subarea Plan proposals. The meeting will take place in the Joe Thomas Room at 9800 8th Avenue SW (across the courtyard from Dubsea Coffee). Vietnamese and Khmer interpretation will be provided, as will light refreshments.

On Thursday, February 20, we will hold our regular office hours at the White Center Library (1409 SW 107th St) from 1 to 5 p.m.

The maps and summaries from presentations so far are here.

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Open space, future zoning, crime & safety @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

February 8th, 2020 at 3:59 pm Posted in King County, North Highline UAC, White Center news | Comments Off on Open space, future zoning, crime & safety @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor>

Three hot topics comprised this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, first one of 2020.

OPEN SPACE: Sarah Brandt from King County Parks leads this program and tackled several topics, starting with the Land Conservation Initiative.

The county’s been accelerating protection of habitat and acquisitions in the past couple years. While several different types of open space are covered, she primarily spoke about urban greenspace. To make greenspace more equitable in urban areas, they used several criteria to identify areas where it’s most needed – including parts of White Center. The Parks Levy provides up to $10 million a year for acquisition, and there’s a tax that can be used too.

What’s in the potential pipeline includes:

-White Center Heights Park – a house nested in the park was purchased and will be demolished (on 8th just north of 106th)

-Forested 5-acre parcel toward the east (8th S., 101 to 103) – they’re in negotiations for this

-Looking at opportunities to grow Dick Thurnau Park

-Looking at an area south of Roxbury

“We’re doing more and want to hear more from the community …it can be a pocket park, a trail connection ..” She opened the floor. NHUAC president Liz Giba suggested that the current WC Food Bank site would be better used as open space (currently it’s slated for mixed-use development).

What about an area near Grace Church? someone asked. Discussions are under way, in fact.

Another suggestion: Consider the health impacts when you remove trees. Concerns were voiced about the removal of street trees. And another: Take into consideration residential development and how kids living there will get to parks.

Question: Once the county buys the land, what happens? Answer: Thy’re trying to cultivate partnerships. Washington Trails Association is one such organization. Grant programs can help with that. “We’re trying to help people understand how to fit together these funding sources.”

Question: What about the big open area near The Bog? Answer: Parks will endeavor to work more closely with Natural Resources.

There was also some discussion of what would happen to open-space-designated areas if North Highline were annexed. It was pointed out that the city zoning code is more complicated than the county’s, and in an annexation the annexing city might try to match its closest comparable zoning with what’s there now.

Another suggestion, when the subject of currently vacant land came up, 1st and 112nd.

Next topic – trees. A new climate-action plan is due out before year’s end. The county is close to its promise of planting 1 million new trees, she declared. By the end of this year, they hope to have a 30-year plan/vision. They want to remove barriers for people working to enhance that. “Our business district has one tree,” pointed out NHUAC vice president Barbara Dobkin. “Vocal advocacy” was advised by Brandt.

Some other concerns were voiced, including unstable trees and how to deal with them – before and after something disastrous happens. That spun off into a discussion of replacement policies – in King County and some of its cities. Hugo Garcia from the county said he’d look into what the policy is when government crews have to remove a tree.

Big question: Is access to greenspaces – like sidewalks – part of the plan? “Tell us that’s important,” urged Brandt. A discussion ensued of sidewalk challenges like this swamped section on the south side of Roxbury between 12th and 14th (photo courtesy Gill Loring):

NORTH HIGHLINE SUBAREA PLAN: David Goodman brought an update on the taking-shape plan, first one since October. He’s talked to “all sorts of people” in recent months, including schools, businesses, and “came up with this general proposal.” (Get a closer, clearer look via the PDF on the Subarea Plan website.)

The residential-zonng overview: “Housing affordability was a big theme,” he began. So they’re “slightly increasing the allowed density” near the 16th Ave. corridor. Where there’s one house now, there could be two units. They tried to focus on areas close to a commercial core and/or near a bus line. A zoming change, he stressed, wouldn’t mean you HAVE TO make a change if you didn’t want to. Greenbridge isn’t included “because it’s already at a higher density than we’re proposing.”

There’s a “P” designation – where you see that, the dimensions wiil be restricted to what they are now.

One person asked about Accessory Dwelling Units – they can be up to 1000 square feet. They would drop the current rule for one to be awner-occupied. (UPDATE: Goodman later clarified with the following:

The requirement that when a property has both a primary dwelling unit (a regular house) and an accessory dwelling unit (allowed to be up to 1000 square feet in size) one of them must be owner-occupied will stay the same. The difference under our proposed zoning for particular neighborhoods is that you could have two primary units (such as in a duplex or a townhouse-style development) in many cases where you are currently only allowed one; in this case, with two primary units, neither has to be owner-occupied because neither is an accessory dwelling unit.

In both of these cases you have two units on the property; the difference is that in the first case one is a primary and one is an accessory, and in the second case both are primary. In practice there is minimal difference between these two situations, but the regulations for owner-occupation kick in only when one of the units is considered accessory.

Regarding sidewalks – they would be required with increased density, Goodman noted. He also addressed the proposals for commercial areas – first, expanding the pedestrian area, so future new construction would be “less car-oriented.”

Two parcels that are east of 15th and south of 100th and that are currently industrial would be changed to commercial and mixed-use – retail ground floor, apartments over it, mindful of the fact that RapidRide H Line will be running on 15th SW. They would be required to be 20 percent housing that’s “affordable.” Meantime, in the heart of downtown White Center (along 16th), they do NOT plan to go higher-rise – “mostly at the scale it currently is,” limited to three stories.

Who would be trying to attract new investment/development? Prospective buyers/developers could work with Garcia’s Economic Development department, he said.

What about parking? King County still has requirements for that, Goodman said.

Seguing to Top Hat, Goodman pointed out that the last plan for this area was written in 1994. Unlike WC, Top Hat would allow some industrial uses – “small manufacturing,” for example. What’s zoned commercial now will remain that way, but certain small industrial uses will be allowed – a special “additional allowance,” if you will.

Garcia said they’re hoping that over time more such things – a small firm making dog accessories was mentioned multiple times – will move in.

He also said the King County Conservation Corps is moving further into WC and they hope to expand it to Top Hat. And Garcia urged people to get more deeply involved in the plan because there’s still time to have a say before this goes to the County Council.

As mentioned in our coverage of last week’s open house, what’s ahead in the Subarea Plan process includes:

-Public draft plan mid-March to mid-April
-Official draft to County Council in June (there’ll be commenting opportunities while they consider it too)

The county reps were invited to return in April to talk about other things such as the Opportunity Zone and the Hub project (on the WCFB site).

KING COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE: Deputy Bill Kennamer first offered praise for Local Services, saying “it’s kicked butt” in improving downtown White Center.

Crime stats are “pretty even year to year” – auto theft’s still high, burglary is down.

Problem properties: Two of the worst are moving well along, the deputy said – code enforcer Nick Stevens has been working on a house whose owners are a “large property management company” that just got a $12,000 fine and is suddenly up for sale, not far from Holy Family. Then there’s a “drug house” near 98th/13th; its owner died without a will, a family member moved in and allowed people to stay there in exchange for drugs – with no water service. It was in horrible condition, Kennamer said. But the probate’s since been settled; it’s expected to be sold, and the problem relative has been arrested three times. A cleanup crew’s been there and it’s been sealed with plywood. Regarding another one, near 1st/106th – they’ve spoken with the landlord and the problem tenant’s out, with the house being remodeled.

A variety of other quick questions were addressed. Deputy Kennamer noted the past month included about half a dozen firearms-involved crimes with people who shouldn’t have had guns. Earlier Thursday, he added, they were chasing a suspect wanted on warrants.

Kennamer also mentioned that LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) is on the way to White Center.

NEXT MEETING: If you care what’s going on in your community – be there in person next time! 7 pm March 5th, North Highline Fire District HQ (1243 SW 112th). Options for White Center youth will be discussed.

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Need help with your property taxes? You might qualify for this

February 6th, 2020 at 10:26 pm Posted in King County, White Center news | Comments Off on Need help with your property taxes? You might qualify for this

Announced by King County:

King County Executive Dow Constantine and King County Assessor John Wilson launched King County’s new online portal to allow people to apply for a reduction in their property taxes.

Last year the legislature expanded eligibility for the existing property tax exemption and deferral programs for low-income senior citizens, individuals with disabilities, and veterans. And until today, citizens could only apply for these programs by filling out paper forms.

“Rising property values around King County can hit seniors and disabled veterans in the pocketbook,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “The new online tool will make it easier and more accessible for those eligible to apply for the exemption they deserve, and honor our neighbors who have built this community and defended our country.”

“The expansion of this program is literally going to help people stay in their homes; and this new online tool is going to make it much easier for taxpayers to get the help they are entitled to,” said King County Assessor John Wilson.

The change in the law lowers the disability rating qualification for the disabled veteran’s property tax exemption program from 100 percent to 80 percent. In addition, the legislature raised the income threshold for these programs, making thousands of more people eligible for help. King County Taxpayers who are 61 years or older, own their home, and have an annual income of $58,423 or less after certain medical or long term care expenses, may be eligible. The previous income threshold in King County was $40,000.

Taxpayers should visit taxrelief.kingcounty.gov for more information and to apply online.

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SUBAREA PLAN: NHUAC update tomorrow, one week after White Center open house

February 5th, 2020 at 6:41 pm Posted in King County, White Center news | Comments Off on SUBAREA PLAN: NHUAC update tomorrow, one week after White Center open house

If you haven’t been paying attention to the North Highline Subarea Plan development process, it’s time to start. Part of the plan calls for zoning changes that will define major local areas like White Center for years to come. You can hear about them at the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council‘s meeting tomorrow (Thursday, February 6th, 7 pm); we got a preview at last week’s open house.

Along with a chance to browse highlights of what’s under consideration so far – displayed on easels around the community room at North Highline Fire District HQ (same place NHUAC will meet tomorrow) – attendees heard a short presentation from point person David Goodman and colleagues.

Key points:

*Draft “vision statement” for North Highline:

*Changes in the heart of White Center encouraging mixed-use development

*Changing “R-6” (six housing units per acre) zoning to something more dense

Where do you come in? Goodman repeatedly stressed that they want to hear from North Highline residents, workers, etc., “what they’d like their neighborhood to be like in the future,” what it should “reflect.” Hugo Garcia from Economic Development was there, too:

He said the plan needs to help retain businesses and to draw businesses more representative of the community.

So here’s what happens next, in addition to the NHUAC discussion/briefing:

-Public-review draft goes public in March
-Comments taken on that
-Final draft developed
-Goes to King County Council in June
-They have a year to review it

So it’s not too late to get involved and take a close look at what’s being discussed.

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