FRIDAY: Health Fair @ Greenbridge

June 14th, 2016 at 6:30 pm Posted in Greenbridge, Health, White Center news | Comments Off on FRIDAY: Health Fair @ Greenbridge

Just out of the inbox today:

Come to the annual Greenbridge Health Fair this Friday, June 17th from 4-7 pm. It will be held at Greenbridge Plaza, 8th Ave SW & 99th Ave SW. There will be free health services and resources to help your family stay safe and drug free! There will also be free healthy food, prizes, entertainment, and giveaways. Don’t miss this fun, healthy, and family-friendly event! For more information, contact Mike Graham-Squire at or 206-353-7945.

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VIDEO & AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE: 1st night of Boundary Review Board hearing on Seattle’s proposal to annex White Center and most of what else is left of unincorporated North Highline

June 13th, 2016 at 7:03 pm Posted in Annexation, White Center news | 3 Comments »

(WCN photo)

7:02 PM: We’re at the Technology Access Foundation’s Bethaday Community Learning Space with dozens of people here to talk and hear about the city of Seattle’s proposal to annex most of what’s left of unincorporated North Highline. We’ll be updating live as it goes. It’s standing room only so far (they’re trying to get more chairs), and is starting with an explanation of what the King County Boundary Review Board is and does.

(Added 12:39 am: First half of our unedited video of the first night of the hearing)

“This hearing is very much a public process,” begins Lenora Blauman, executive secretary for the board (which is missing two of its members – one excused, one recused). She also adds, in case anyone is wondering about notification, that notices were in news publications “including local blogs and newspapers” and that while they are only required to put up 10 posters, “we in fact put up 39.” She says the proposed annexation area has a population of about 17,500, and describes its boundaries (we’ll add the map later). She recaps that the annexation election would be no sooner than 2017 and could be held in 2018, as Seattle already has said.

7:15 PM: The board’s lawyer is going over some of the procedures, and saying “we want to conduct ourselves as much as possible as if we are in a courtroom” (though it’s “a quasi-judicial proceeding”). The testimony will start with the parties who have the most at stake – reps for city and county government. He explains that once everyone has testified – up to three nights, tonight, tomorrow, and Thursday, are set aside for that – and the city of Seattle “gets the last word” with a rebuttal, the board will then deliberate, and that is open to the public to sit in on. An en-masse swearing-in of potential witnesses followed, and the secretary announced interpreters are available for Spanish and Vietnamese speakers.

7:20 PM: James Haney from Ogden Murphy Wallace, ‘special counsel’ for Seattle, is the first witness, making the city’s presentation. With him, he says, are Kenny Pittman – annexation point person on the mayor’s staff – and assistant Seattle Fire Department chief Jay Hagen. He says “this is the second phase of the city’s two-phase approach to annexation of all the remaining unincorporated area between Seattle and Burien” – first phase was the Duwamish Triangle, “which is awaiting an election scheduled to take place this fall.” He says the city wants “a unified government” for the area. He calls the area at issue here – “Area Y” – “intensely urban.”

He declares that this area “will benefit” from annexation to Seattle and says the city’s brief lays that out in detail, including: “This will unite several neighborhoods divided from each other by separate boundaries,” such as Delridge and White Center, Glendale and South Park, Roxbury Heights and the South Delridge Triangle. Also: “This area … deserves urban services that Seattle is uniquely positioned to provide.” And, those services “will improve,” services such as police, which Haney says will be provided at levels higher than currently provided by the King County Sheriff’s Office, not just patrol but also specialty services such as Bomb Squad and SWAT, Anti-Crime Team, and more.

Also, he says, grants will be available through the Department of Neighborhoods; planning services through the city; preschool and other social services through the Department of Early Learning; no-cost business consulting and loan programs through the Office of Economic Development; library services through the Seattle Public Library, “which includes continuing access to the King County Library System.” And he says he wants to stress, “Utility services will remain the same” – not including assumption of the utility districts, which would require separate votes. “Not only is assumption not proposed this evening, but, at least in the case of the sewer districts, highly unlikely in the next six years,” because of revenue issues. “Fire service will be the same, and will improve,” with the city operating North Highline Fire Station 18, “staffed 24/7 with an engine company consisting of 4 fire professionals, one more than (now),” and “three stations (in Seattle)” providing service – 37 in Sunrise Heights, 11 in Highland Park, 26 in South Park, with response times “a minute to a minute and a half longer” than from NH Station 18. SFD also has hazmat, technical rescue, and a dive response time “that will all be available for service in this area.”

He says he wants to address the objections filed by the North Highline FD. He acknowledges concerns about the distance from current ALS – advanced life support – 14 minutes from Medic 32, “unacceptable.” He says Seattle will be looking at ways to address that – possibly making Station 18 a “paramedic engine company,” or moving Medic 32 further south. “The Seattle Fire Department can and will solve this issue so that residents of North Highline will receive ALS services in a timely manner … Seattle is not going to annex an area and provide services that are much less than (other areas of the city).” He says they’re also looking at an “automatic aid agreement” but says the city hasn’t needed one in the past.

Other objections from the NHFD, which we will hear about when they speak later, include the timing of the annexation related to the Duwamish Triangle annexation, and service to North Burien; he says a meeting is set for June 29th.

“Seattle is the only city that can bring unified government (and urban services) to (Area Y),” Haney reiterates. “Other cities are not able to bring services to this area. If this area is to be part of a city … Seattle is where it will have to go, since Seattle is the only one with North Highline in its potential annexation area at this time.” Burien, he notes, tried to annex the area, but “voters overwhelmingly rejected that annexation and Burien has now taken this area out of its potential annexation area. … North Highline needs urban services,” and the only way to get them, he says, is to be part of a city. He concludes, “Tonight, the request of you is to allow the people to vote. We are not asking you to decide if North Highline should become part of the city of Seattle – the people will decide that.”

Board member Claudia Hirschey asks about Seattle’s ALS response standards. Assistant Chief Hagen comes up to answer. The city has almost 20,000 ALS calls a year, transporting 11 percent of those patients via city medic unit. The 2015 response time – from time assigned to arriving at scene – was 6:08, he said, including call processing. From “en route” to on scene, 4:58. He said even their “slowest” medic unit is busier than King County’s busiest medic unit, and that enables SFD to “saturate” the skills – paramedics have “high repetition and low skill degradation.”

So how would the response time problem be solved before annexation? Hirschey asked on followup. Haney said there’s not necessarily a specific time frame, with the vote no closer than a year-plus: “We’ve got some time to solve this.” Responding to another board member, he agrees that the BRB does have to take fire-service levels into account. Pressed again on possible solutions, he lists one not mentioned earlier, possibly contracting with a south King County service provider. “The city is very confident that (it) will be able to provide service at the level that Seattle is currently able to provide (elsewhere).”

Board member Paul McCready asks about the other possible jurisdictions. Assistant Chief Hagen talks about the county’s “zones,” some of which have automatic-aid agreements with other jurisdictions. He says Seattle is “a little bit behind the curve” in pursuing such agreements, but intends to catch up.

Board member Laura Kisielius asks about current response times for ALS to NH. Haney doesn’t know but will try to get the information.

Next question is about police dispatch times from the Southwest Precinct in West Seattle. Haney says right now there will be at least 6 officers on any shift for the area, while right now KCSO has three at the most on a shift. “There’s going to be a lot more police officers out there.” He also mentions the Community Police Team resource “going around all the time checking on things.”

7:57 PM: Asked about utility rates, Haney says they should stay the same, except for a “franchise fee.” Among other things, he says that it “would be suicidal for the city” to try to take over the sewer services because that would affect the tax share the city is going to get for the first several years of the annexation, if it happens. What about cable TV? He mentions a “franchise fee” for that too but says the feds limit what that can be.

Board member Ronald Little says, isn’t it the ultimate goal of the city to annex the water and sewer districts, and just postponing that now? Haney says, well, ultimately, yes, but that’s a separate process – which again, he said, would be at least six years down the road. Technical discussion of the process, including a potential public referendum on any such assumption, ensues.

8:06 PM: Seattle’s lawyer is done, and King County’s Karen Freeman – who has represented the County Executive’s office at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meetings – is now speaking. “This entire project was envisioned to close in 2012 and we are way beyond that date and I think everyone in the room feels that,” she says, noting that she’s been working on North Highline annexation since 2007, and that NH was the only “urban island” claimed by multiple jurisdictions as part of their potential annexation areas – something that is now prohibited. She recaps the complicated history of how that all has unfolded. “The status quo current levels of service provided by the county are … not sustainable, and this is a key issue,” Freeman declares. “The mix of county funding sources is limited (so) county funding can’t support urban-level services that communities like North Highline desperately need. Cities (can).” She also notes that the Legislature-approved tax funding that will be available to Seattle if this annexation goes through is not available to anyone else – basically, it’s this, or nothing. She also talks about how King County’s roads are deteriorating and they can’t keep up with it, and how the county can’t compare with law-enforcement staffing or human-services provision, either.

She rebuts one point about documents including a previous Memorandum of Understanding, saying it expired in 2012, and are not “without a sunset date” as apparently someone is contending. She says the county doesn’t have money to offer – facing a $50 million budget deficit – but “Seattle’s proposal realizes (an) important vision for North Highline” and the county supports allowing it to be put to a vote of the people.

Board member McCready asks if they can get a list of the services “the county cannot provide.” Freeman says yes.

Another board member: What will happen to King County housing projects in this area after annexation? Freeman says KC Housing Authority is a separate entity, and “their projects will continue to move forward.”

Next question is about a fire-station land issue from a few years ago. Freeman reiterates that they expected all “large urban islands” to be resolved by 2012 (five remain now) so, thinking they’d be done by then, they’d have some budgetary leverage to move an annexation forward. “But we did not complete all of our annexations and the agreement expired and here we are.”

8:19 PM: The board is taking a break, to reconvene at 8:25.

(Added 7:15 am Tuesday: Second half of our unedited video of the hearing’s first night)

8:28 PM: Brian Snure, lawyer for the NH Fire District, says it’s against the annexation until SFD has an operating plan, and that it’s submitted a written statement laying out the objections.

As he notes, if the annexation is approved, NHFD will cease to exist. “There’s no guarantee that Seattle has the political will or ability to provide its Fire Department with the services (needed to serve this area),” for one, particularly the Advanced Life Support issue mentioned earlier. Also of concern, the loss of services for North Burien.

He says that while the city filed this notice more than a year ago, the city did not reach out to NHFD with a plan until just last month. The city did come out to meet with the board (as covered here) and answered some questions from the NHFD board – but “trust us, we’ll take care of the operational issues when the time is right” seems to be the response. “They’ve had plenty of time to plan this annexation, they should be coming forward with specific (plans) – absent such (plans and agreements), we think the annexation needs to be denied. … Maybe they need another year. Maybe they need to come back with an actual plan.”

Snure then says that Seattle is “not a reliable automatic-aid partner in providing services.” And he says the annexation “will not provide a logical service area.” Instead, he says, “it will destroy one.”

Questions include a stat that Snure mentioned – a 6-minute ALS response time. South King County Medic Unit 4 is the unit that responds now, from downtown Burien, was the clarification – courtesy of SFD assistant chief Hagen.

8:41 PM: Joseph Quinn, lawyer for King County Fire District 2, now takes the podium. He is the last scheduled to testify before public comments. “The Boundary Review Board has to attain the preservation of logical service areas,” he began, “and I don’t think we can say some services are merely operational. ALS … is a life-or-death service. … You want in the case of a heart attack the fastest service you can get.” Seattle needs to “have a plan” for that. How can the board make a decision without that information? he asks. “I think we need answers.” Also, “right now, (North Highline) Station 18 is our primary response station for North Burien,” he notes, as was worked out in “five-party talks” before previous proposed annexation talks. This is where the aforementioned “land for a station” comes up. He says that even if the agreement technically expired, “we still need a station” in that area. He says things would be different if Seattle said it would have an automatic-aid agreement, serving from Station 18. He says his district would “suffer” the way things sound now, without a “logical service area. .. We (would be) left with no northern-area station.” He has also noted that right now, Burien and North Highline share not just a fire chief but also other officers, “across the line.” He summarizes that they need more than promises … they need a plan.

Could the memorandum of understanding that expired in 2012 have been extended? Did anyone try to do that? No, says Quinn – “annexation just kind of languished.” Next, they discuss the status of Station 19, which was transferred as part of the 2010 annexation of the southern half of North Highline by Burien. And then in response to another question, Quinn says that since it was obvious in 2008 “what the impact would be on North Burien,” it should have been recognized that would still be an issue now. “That’s been known for years.”

8:57 PM: Public testimony will start now, and tonight’s hearing will go to about 9:30, it’s been announced. So they’ll try to get to people who won’t be able to come back tomorrow.

First is Lois Schipper, who points out that while White Center is an ethnically diverse community, the room here is predominantly white. In response, the poster-placing is pointed out again. Schipper says reaching out to various communities personally would be ideal; the board secretary says they tried but got no response. She speaks about the fire services first – and says there was a fire at her house and Seattle was who responded. “From where I sit in that area, I would rather be part of Seattle and have all their resources available rather than (having to rely on) an aid agreement.” Regarding schools, she says she’s glad the school district boundaries wouldn’t change, but is glad about the Seattle Families and Education Levy and how it would provide afterschool services. She adds that she feels there hasn’t been enough education about what happens if the area is not annexed; she then voices her support for becoming part of Seattle.

Next, Martha Toffei, who says she’s a retired library worker and brings up the new $8 million King County library in White Center. She asks “what’s going to happen to the White Center library? Right now it’s in limbo.” (See our coverage of this month’s North Highline UAC meeting for more discussion on that point.) She says she is also concerned about policing, since Seattle has fewer officers than it would prefer.

Third called to the podium is Lana Anthony, who speaks briefly: “I believe Seattle has a lot to offer and I believe we should be allowed to vote.”

Fourth, Dennis Eaton, who says he has questions and concerns: “White Center will be one of the poorest areas of Seattle … what is the city planning to do with the tax money it will get (if it annexes) this area – will it be used for improvements and services in this area, or go into the general fund to be used for something else?” He also is worried about the new WC Library’s future. And he wonders about zoning – he’s currently in a six-per-acre single-family zone, and is concerned about backyard cottages being allowed if Seattle zoning is used instead.

9:11 PM: Fifth to speak is former Burien deputy mayor Rose Clark, who says she’s speaking about schools. She says the cities who currently are part of Highline Public Schools work well together, and she thinks that adding Seattle to the mix could raise some problems that should be discussed sooner rather than later. “There is concern that the higher density of Seattle … would impact the whole Highline School District,” with overcrowded schools that would lead to boundary changes throughout the district, and could require land to be bought to buy new schools. She wants to see the annexation process slowed to allow Seattle Public Schools and Highline Public Schools to talk about possible school transfers, or for Seattle zoning to consider being more like the zoning in the Highline district areas right now.

Two final witnesses – first, Pat LeMoine, who says he lives on Myers Way in the unincorporated area and is concerned about what’s happening with people experiencing homeless who live on the city side of the line along Myers. He says: “Myers Way has become Seattle’s human dumping ground. Seattle should be focused on discouraging this kind of behavior” and should encourage people there to accept help. He thinks that it’s an example of how North Highline will be treated by Seattle “if we get annexed.” He thinks the city would have the “same leniency for Myers Way” in front of homes “like Ballard.” He also says he didn’t even know about this meeting until last Thursday – last such meeting, there was a mailing to homes. “If you know a woman is being abused by her boyfriend, would you allow her to marry her abuser? … Burien did not respect our community, it appears Seattle will not either. This is really a big issue.”

Next, a woman who says she is against Seattle annexation “as of now.”

After her, Brian Hastings, who brings up the Evergreen Pool (a facility King County closed and a nonprofit reopened). “We provide an important service – my nonprofit’s been running (the pool) for the past six years, and (in that time) we’ve taught 10,000 of our kids how to swim.” He talks about he’s been fundraising and “need(s) more financial support …” This area doesn’t have it, he says. “There’s nothing left. And I’m one small entity.” A board member says, “So are you for or against annexation?” Hastings said, “I thought I made that clear … I’m for.”

Chestine Edgar is next. “I was present at the last annexation hearing (regarding) this area … Any area that is taken by an entity is to be provided services at the level it currently has, or greater.” She said the board could make a ruling and allow the operational details to be worked out later and contends that’s what happened last time. She says Seattle is the only area that could provide the services needed, so she urges the board to approve the annexation.

Next is a King County Housing Authority rep, Jen Ramirez Robson. She notes that KCHA operates Seola Gardens and Greenbridge in the White Center area. “Between our mixed-income communities and voucher program, we house 10 percent of the population in White Center. … Having the city provide an urban level of services is very important to us.” KCHA also houses 10 percent of the Highline Schools student population, she says, and looks forward to the Seattle “Preschool for All” program. They would continue operating their sites, she says, if annexed. In response to a question, she says KCHA has no plans for new public housing in this area, though there is space in Greenbridge for more “market-rate housing.”

9:36 PM UPDATE: The hearing’s over for tonight; public testimony resumes tomorrow, 7 pm, same place. We recorded all of tonight’s meeting on video and will upload it soon as we’re back at HQ, adding it, in two pieces (on both sides of the 8:25 pm break), when it’s ready.

7:15 AM TUESDAY: Both video clips are now added inline above.

-Tracy Record, WCN editor

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MONDAY: King County Boundary Review Board annexation hearing begins

June 12th, 2016 at 11:00 pm Posted in Annexation, White Center news | Comments Off on MONDAY: King County Boundary Review Board annexation hearing begins

Monday night brings the next major step in the process that will determine whether White Center and vicinity become part of Seattle: The King County Boundary Review Board opens its public hearing on Seattle’s proposed annexation. It’s scheduled for two nights – Monday and Tuesday – and, if extra time is needed, Thursday. It’s at the Technology Access Foundation‘s Bethaday Community Learning Space in Dick Thurnau Memorial Park, 605 SW 108th Street. Here’s the agenda for Monday night:


It is from this list that witnesses will be called to testify.

Stephen Toy, Public Hearing Chair

Evangeline Anderson, Laura Kisielius, Sylvia Bushnell, Ronald Little, Mary Lynne Evans, Paul MacCready, Jay Hamlin, James Polhamus, Claudia Hirshey

RECUSED – Miguel Beltran

City of Seattle North Highline Area “Y” Annexation


6:30 PM Introduction of Exhibits

7:00 PM Introductory Comments on Hearing Procedures and Swearing in of Witnesses

7:15 PM Presentation by City of Seattle (20 minutes)

7:35 PM Presentation by King County (15 minutes)

7:50 PM Presentation by North Highline Fire District (10 Minutes)

8:00 PM Presentation by King County Fire District #2 (10 minutes)

8:10 PM Other Government Jurisdictions (10 Minutes)

8:20 PM General Testimony: Groups are limited to 10 minutes and individuals to 3 minutes

8:50 PM Rebuttal: City of Seattle (10 minutes)

V. FILE NO. 2367 – City of Seattle North Highline Area “Y” Annexation – Board deliberation and direction to the staff on Resolution and Hearing Decision


The hearing is open to the public, and you’re welcome to speak as long as you sign up in advance, as noted above.

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Looks like Uncle Ike’s is joining the White Center cannabis business scene

June 10th, 2016 at 11:23 am Posted in Businesses, White Center news | 4 Comments »

The state Liquor and Cannabis Board has approved a license for Uncle Ike’s to open a retail marijuana store at 9822 15th SW in White Center, in the Asiana Square shopping center. We had received a tip about this and sent an inquiry to the company a few days ago, which was acknowledged, without a “yes” or “no” answer – now, the LCB website provides the confirmation. Uncle Ike’s first location is in Seattle’s Central District, where it’s sparked some controversy since opening in 2014.

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FOLLOWUP: Closed White Center Dairy Queen will NOT reopen as a DQ, company says

June 8th, 2016 at 3:23 pm Posted in Businesses, White Center news | 4 Comments »

Another followup in the saga of what had long been a Dairy Queen at 10256 16th SW in White Center: Gill sent the photo of equipment being carted off yesterday, about a month after it closed, with notes on the door blaming “register failure.” We reached a corporate spokesperson today, and he says this will NOT be reopening as a DQ. What WILL happen to it? Up to the building’s longtime owner, who records suggest is different from the “sublicensee” that ran the DQ. We also don’t know the fate of the employees who said they hadn’t been paid for their last two weeks of work. But, if you are looking for a Blizzard or Peanut Buster Parfait, your nearest stop will be in Burien, a few miles south (14310 Ambaum Boulevard).

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Starbucks, Popeye’s on the way to White Center Chevron site

June 3rd, 2016 at 9:27 pm Posted in Beverages, Food, White Center news | 21 Comments »

Thanks to the texter (we’re at 206-293-6302 any time) who tipped us to this tonight:

A brand-new land-use sign is up on the periphery of the White Center Chevron at 15th/16th/100th, for a project titled Starbucks of South Seattle. The notice also mentions a separate permit application forthcoming for Popeye’s Fried Chicken.

We won’t be able to reach the respective chains for comment until next week, but county records show the site – long listed for sale – was sold two months ago to Madison, a well-known Seattle developer, for $2,250,000.

Right now, the standalone Starbucks nearest White Center – which of course has excellent independent coffeehouses including Caffé Delia and Dubsea Coffee – is in West Seattle’s Westwood Village shopping center. The nearest Popeye’s is in Renton.

The infosheet that we found posted on the south side of the lot says a public comment period is open until June 27th, and describes the first part of the project as involving “development of a 2,475-square-foot shell building for a future coffee shop, demolition of existing convenience store, gasoline filling station, removal of two underground storage tanks, and car wash.” While the notice says the application was filed with the county May 9th, it lists the “date of mailing” as today (June 3rd).

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Myers frustrations, libraries’ future, more @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

June 2nd, 2016 at 9:18 pm Posted in Annexation, North Highline UAC, White Center Library, White Center news | 8 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

The most intense discussion at tonight’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting was a side trip off the agenda and outside the county – the Myers Way campers, with and without vehicles, on City of Seattle-owned land right over the boundary.

But first, from the agenda – WC’s new library – and its role in the annexation debate:

NEW LIBRARY, AND ITS FUTURE IF SEATTLE ANNEXATION HAPPENS: New NHUAC president Liz Giba pronounced the new White Center Library “awesome.” KCLS executive director Gary Wasdin took centerstage right after that, declaring it a “wonderful space.” It’s now been almost two weeks since the dedication/ribboncutting (WCN coverage here). He quoted Rachael Levine of the White Center Library Guild – present at the NHUAC meeting too – who had said at the ceremony, “if you want to support the library, use it.” He said, “Every single step of the White Center Library has been driven by community.”

He acknowledged that “top of everybody’s minds” is the issue of annexation and what happens if White Center is annexed by Seattle. “Nothing has really happened” since last time he talked about it, he began. For one, he reminded everyone that KCLS also has a library in Greenbridge. “Should annexation (happen), a decision has to be made about the future of those (two) libraries … and whether they are King County libraries or Seattle Public libraries … To be perfectly fair, that’s not my decision to make.” It’s the community’s decision, he said. “We will support whatever decision is made and will make it work and will fight to make sure you have libraries. … As a reminder, there are basically two options … assuming annexation is approved and happens: Option 1, that SPL takes over operation of the libraries,” which he said would require “some kind of written agreement with the city of Seattle” including a commitment that they would remain libraries. Or “Option 2, Seattle contracts with King County Libraries” to operate them. “Why would you do that? Actually, there are pros and cons to both sides.” That includes the fact that library patrons would continue to be both city and unincorporated-area residents. “We have an agreement with SPL that (people can) interchangeably use both systems.”

As for finances – with the caveat that it’s his opinion – “I think it makes more sense for Seattle to contract with us. … Let’s say annexation takes place, you all stop paying the King County Library operating tax. … Seattle could opt to pay us for the lost tax revenue, to continue to operate the two libraries. The reason that’s a benefit to the city of Seattle is that the cost of operating them is far more than the tax revenue that is generated.” He says that likely wouldn’t and couldn’t be an indefinite agreement, “but it’s the option that we’ve floated … we’ve shared it with Kenny (Pittman, Seattle’s point person on annexation).” He again said the community ultimately needs to make the decision. And he suggested that those interest in this should share it “with anybody who will listen to you” – and that includes the Boundary Review Board, which has a two-day hearing on Seattle’s annexation proposal coming up in two weeks in White Center (he said KCLS will have two staff members at the hearing), June 13, 14 and possibly 16. “You have a little leverage here because they [Seattle] need a positive vote. … Libraries are different … You all paid for this library” – via levy – “so you should have a say in … what you think the future of that library should be.”

Wasdin said he hasn’t seen anything regarding the cost of “the physical act of annexation” – he alluded to a past agreement, now expired, that at one point had KCLS planning to pay Seattle to take the libraries, but that was before the current WC libraries were built. Now, “it would just be a transfer … obviously with a lot of logistics …” and that could be complicated, including the fact that the state owns the land on which the new library was built, Wasdin said. He said it’s around $2 million a year to operate the two libraries in WC. Getting things in writing are important, he said, given that whatever commitment elected officials make, there’s no guarantee they’ll be in office forever.

Wasdin also pointed out that for example, KCLS operates a library in downtown Seattle, in the Convention Center – operating its 49 libraries is NOT a matter of district boundaries.

“This is the cheaper option for them,” Wasdin reiterated, in terms of the decision to be made if annexation happens – but he said he doesn’t believe most layers of Seattle government, such as the mayor and council, have even thought about it yet.

Asked about the debt on the buildings, Wasdin said that the bond payment, through 2024, would continue, as far as he knows. He said that’s another argument for KCLS continuing to operate it even if the area is annexed – they’d still be paying it off.

What about the old White Center Library building? It’s been sold to West Seattle Montessori School – the deal hasn’t quite closed yet, said Wasdin. “That’s a very special building, sentimentally,” he added.

As Wasdin’s section of the agenda wrapped up, NHUAC board member Elizabeth Devine said she was looking forward to the new library’s air conditioning with the sizzling weather expected this weekend.

CRIME BRIEFING: Storefront deputy Bill Kennamer was at the meeting with the newest information on local crime trends. Here are the three sheets he circulated:

Auto theft is way down – though they’ve recovered more cars than were stolen locally (“stolen somewhere else and brought here”), said Deputy Kennamer. Burglaries “have spiked significantly,” and he thinks both the heroin-use epidemic and increase in people experiencing homelessness are to blame. A resident in the Myers Way area says the latter “is getting ugly … if we don’t do something about this, it’s going to drag the community down.” Another attendee said, “The police can’t handle all this … and it’s not just here, it’s everywhere.”

Deputy Kennamer says he’s frustrated too – “the only thing I can do is hassle people as they come and go, I can’t tow cars, I can’t call code enforcement” because the Myers Way site is in Seattle city limits. He also talked about the pollution that seemed to be happening on the land on the east side of Myers because of unauthorized encampments. Asked how many people are there, he suggested hundreds, and thought at least 11 RVs are currently camped by the entrance to the Myers Parcels on the west side of the street.

(If you don’t read our partner site – here’s the latest proposal for what the city might be doing with the land.)

Much discussion ensued with concern about whether Seattle Police are doing anything about the problem, and some alleging that the Seattle City Council has taken action or made statements somehow hindering SPD from doing anything.

Elizabeth Gordon of the NHUAC board suggested that perhaps the community could use this situation as leverage related to the ongoing annexation discussions, “basically something that says, ‘this is what we want if you want us to vote for annexation – that doesn’t guarantee we’ll vote for annexation but it sure might help,” perhaps requesting a city-county task force “to address the situation on Myers Way jointly,” among other things.

One attendee noted that it’s “not just a law-enforcement situation” and mentioned a model in San Francisco for how people experiencing homelessness are being helped, “not the model we have (here) now.”

NHUAC vice president Barbara Dobkin said in her view it’s a “Seattle problem” that the city is not addressing. Board member Devine said she’s worked with people experiencing substance abuse and it’s important not to “lump all the homeless” together, but it is important to take a look at those who are “a menace to our community” and ensure they are not “immune from the consequences of their behavior … (don’t just) say ‘the homeless’ and think we are covering it all.” Her voice broke as she spoke of someone who wound up along Myers Way because he was down on his luck, and got mugged and robbed by “predators.”

Deputy Kennamer said at that point that earlier in his law-enforcement career, people experiencing homelessness broke into three categories – substance-addled people who had burned all their bridges, people with mental illness, people running from the law. Now, he said, he is seeing a younger group of people who decide to live this way “and steal everything they can steal … and the vast majority … are drug addicts – that’s the group we have to aggressively police. … I spend the bulk of my day dealing with them, chasing them from one park to another park … but I’m not handcuffed. The Sheriff’s Office is not handcuffed.”

While he says “there’s drug dealing going on,” he says the days of meth labs in RVs appears to be over – it all comes from elsewhere.

Discussion meandered back to why people are on the streets, and one attendee pointed out that many have wound up there because of domestic violence. Board member Devine pointed out that services are available for DV survivors – that they could call 211 to seek resources.

Keep calling police, Deputy Kennamer advised, as well as political pressure – “show up at the King County Council meeting – you have a voice.”

The talk then circled back to an attendee wondering if there could be a regional way to examine the problem. “We are talking about human beings living in a region, and we should be looking at a way to deal with it rather than just looking from one place to the next.”

Toward the end of the discussion, Kennamer pointed out that the shortage of law-enforcement resources leads to a shortage of ability to be proactive. And improvement isn’t on the horizon – he said a recent meeting included information that the department is almost $4 million short, which could mean no air and sea resources.

Meantime, Deputy Kennamer said September 1st is the target date for the White Center storefront to move from 16th SW to its new home at Steve Cox Memorial Park.

After he left the front of the room, NHUAC president Giba worried aloud that the Myers situation did not portend well for how Seattle would treat this area if annexed. But she expressed hope for working in collaboration with Highland Park and South Park – “they are our neighbors.” Meantime, though, she noted that King County government is the current government of this area and needs to be pressured to protect the area from being abused.

ANNEXATION CODA: Before meeting’s end, annexation came up again, with the aforementioned Boundary Review Board hearings looming. NHUAC president Giba said that what’s needed right now is information from Seattle – “be straight with us.”

COMMUNITY SERVICE AREA MEETING: President Giba gave a recap of the recent annual North Highline Community Service Area meeting at Seola Gardens; among other observations, she said it was disappointing that this area’s King County Councilmember, Joe McDermott, wasn’t there. “It was shocking that our councilmember wasn’t there,” said NHUAC board member Dominic Barrera. One top county official who was there, Sheriff John Urquhart, drew kudos for his presence and presentation.

COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENTS: Gill Loring announced the work party this Saturday, 9 am-1 pm, at North Shorewood Park (see our earlier announcement for details) … Another attendee announced June 9-10, 1-4 pm, car wash at New Start High School … The King County Council committee’s next hearing on proposed marijuana rules is coming up at 9 am June 16th, said Mark Johnston, who’s been a community watchdog on the issue, saying anyone with concerns about marijuana zoning in unincorporated King County should “speak up” – public comment will be part of that meeting … Another attendee noticed a sign up for a new affordable-housing project at 1st and 112th in Top Hat, almost 300 residential units and 38,000 square feet of commercial space. (We’re researching this right now and will have a separate followup.) … White Center Kiwanis‘s annual Jubilee Days pancake breakfast is coming up … Petitions for Initiative 1491, allowing a family member to petition the court to “suspend access to a firearm of a loved one who has become a danger to himself and/or others,” were brought to the meeting … A part-owner of the Highline Bears was on hand to make sure NHUAC knew about the team, with home games at Steve Cox Memorial Park the next three Friday nights, 7:05 pm.

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets first Thursdays, 7 pm, but will be on hiatus now until September, when the county Comprehensive Plan will be on the agenda – watch for updates. You’ll also see board members at the aforementioned Boundary Review Board hearing – again, here’s the notice for that hearing, set for two days and possibly a third.

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4 ways to help White Center parks this summer

June 2nd, 2016 at 8:05 am Posted in How to Help, Parks, White Center news | Comments Off on 4 ways to help White Center parks this summer

From Lina Rose with King County Parks:

I believe that a great way for community members to make a positive impact is to join together in service to improve the health and safety of their parks. Studies show many shared benefits to working towards healthy urban forests in our communities – from increased ecological value, animal habitat to positive public health impacts like lower asthma and obesity rates when there are trees or a healthy park nearby. Studies also show, and I have seen this many times anecdotally, that crime within parks declines when restoration efforts are going on there. A challenge is that when that activity leaves the park… where does it go. Not everything can be solved through restoration efforts but this service is one key ingredient to a healthy and safe community.

I am leading 9 events in White Center this summer, 4 of them are open to the public:

June 4, 9 am-1 pm North Shorewood Park (National Trails Day!)

June 11, 9 am-1 pm Thurnau Memorial Park

June 18, 12 pm-3:30 White Center Heights Park (Seattle Works Day)

August 13, 9 am-1 pm North Shorewood Park

Interested community members should contact me by phone or email prior to the event so I can make sure that they have all the information they need for the project and that I have an accurate count of volunteers to plan for tools, etc.

E-mail Lina at to let her know you’ll be there.

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White Center restaurants: Bok a Bok’s quarter-ton day

June 1st, 2016 at 9:51 pm Posted in Food, restaurants, White Center news | Comments Off on White Center restaurants: Bok a Bok’s quarter-ton day

Thanks to Gill for the photo from Bok a Bok Fried Chicken‘s first day in White Center; he reports that the line was already to the front door, and tables full, by early afternoon. Bok a Bok says it was out of chicken by early evening, running through a quarter-ton (500 pounds if you’re division-challenged), but ready to start frying again at 11 am tomorrow.

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Preview Thursday’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

May 31st, 2016 at 4:39 pm Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news | Comments Off on Preview Thursday’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

You’re invited to the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council‘s last meeting before summer hiatus:

When: Thursday, June 2 @ 7 pm
Where: North Highline Fire Station (1243 SW 112th Street – parking and entrance in the back of the station)

Please join NHUAC, North Highline’s volunteer community council, at our June 2nd meeting. Through its “All Are Welcome!” community meetings, the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council (NHUAC) aims to add opportunity to our community’s equation:

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

This month, we will be joined by Executive Director of the King County Library System, Gary Wasdin. This will be his second visit with us and the timing couldn’t be better. White Center’s beautiful, new library is finally a reality! If you haven’t visited yet, do yourself a favor and visit this great community resource on the 1400 block of SW 107th Street (behind Mt. View Elementary). If you go before our meeting, you can share your thoughts about the WC Library and its place in the North Highline community with Mr. Wasdin.

You may have seen a television broadcast or some online discussions about challenges associated with homelessness facing the Top Hat neighborhood of North Highline. We recently met some involved Top Hat residents at a meeting about the Myers Way Parcels. It was the perfect opportunity to invite them to Thursday night’s meeting to help educate us about the Top Hat neighborhood and share experiences and ideas.

Back this month, from the King County Sheriff’s Office, will be our own Storefront Deputy, Bill Kennamer. In addition to bringing us update on crime stats, Deputy Bill is sure to be listening to the Top Hat discussion and offering his unique perspective.

Please note that NHUAC will not be holding meetings in July and August – regular monthly meetings will resume in September.

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WestSide Baby’s special delivery: 278 donated strollers

May 30th, 2016 at 12:01 am Posted in WestSide Baby, White Center news | 1 Comment »

(Photo courtesy WestSide Baby)

Another reminder that regional family-assistance organization WestSide Baby, headquartered in White Center, doesn’t only deal with diapers: WS Baby is celebrating a donation of 278 strollers. Here’s the announcement:

278 local children will be more mobile thanks to a recent charitable donation. Summer Infant, a manufacturer of juvenile products, has donated 278 brand new strollers to local nonprofit WestSide Baby for them to distribute to low-income families through a network of over 120 social service agencies.

The donation, which is worth more than $60,000, was made after WestSide Baby issued a request to help them fill a high number of requests for strollers to provide to low-income parents. In 2015 the nonprofit was unable to fulfil more than 850 of the requests for strollers from families who needed them.

Nancy Woodland, WestSide Baby Executive Director, says: “We are very excited about receiving such a generous donation from Summer Infant. This donation means that we are very likely to be able to provide strollers for all of the parents who request them this year. Many of the parents that we serve are forced to choose between buying equipment for their children and paying for necessities such as bills or rent. A stroller can make the difference between a parent and child staying in or leaving the house.”

The more help WestSide Baby gets, the more families it can help – here’s what you can do, any time.

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SPORTS: Highline Bears win big in second-season opener at Steve Cox Park

May 29th, 2016 at 1:44 am Posted in Sports, Steve Cox Memorial Park, White Center news | 1 Comment »


By Randall Hauk
Reporting for White Center Now & West Seattle Blog

The semi-pro Highline Bears baseball team launched its second season at Steve Cox Memorial Park in grand fashion Saturday night, downing the Langley Blaze 10-0 to give manager Rich Lindros a big win in his debut.

Starting pitcher Al Miller needed just seven innings to collect his complete-game shutout, thanks to the efficient Bears offense which used just three hits to generate enough runs to trigger an early end to the game via the “mercy rule.” Miller also surrendered only three hits on the evening, striking out two.

After Blaze starter Brandon Marklund loaded the bases in the fourth inning by hitting three Bears batters, second baseman Connor Jones delivered a two-out single to score Cameron Slader and Colton Kelly.

Marklund’s control struggles continued in the fifth inning, when he again loaded the bases without giving up a hit, this time walking first baseman Angel Valencia before hitting the next two batters. The Bears would pounce on the opportunity, plating six runs in the frame despite a Parker Coffey single being the only hit the home team would produce.

The Bears finished things in the seventh, again taking advantage of Langley pitching issues. After Ben Fitzhugh and Connor Jones each drew walks, third baseman Drew Larea doubled down the right-field line to make it 9-0. Myles Wesner grounded to second, but Ben Foerster’s throw to the plate could not prevent Jones from scoring a game-ending run.

Following the game, children in attendance were invited to run around the bases while Bears players lined the infield offering high-fives to their young fans, who then proceeded to collect autographs from their heroes in blue.

The two teams will meet again today (Sunday, May 29) at Steve Cox (1321 SW 102nd) for a doubleheader beginning at noon. Tickets are $5; kids under 12 get in free.

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White Center restaurants: Bok a Bok Fried Chicken ready for Wednesday opening

May 28th, 2016 at 7:54 pm Posted in Food, restaurants, White Center news | 7 Comments »

(WCN photos)
That’s Chef Brian O’Connor (second from left) and his crew at Bok a Bok Fried Chicken, ready for opening day Wednesday (June 1st) on SW 98th just east of 16th SW. We reported almost two months ago that Bok a Bok was on the way to that space; tonight we stopped in for a few photos during Bok a Bok’s “media preview” night. We were a little early so the food wasn’t ready yet; we don’t eat on the job anyway, so we’re happy to show you the crew and the space, seating 22:

Chef O’Connor describes it as “fast casual” but not mega-fast – it’ll take about 12 minutes to fry up your order. Speaking of which, here’s the menu, given to us on paper at tonight’s event:

Bok a Bok will open daily at 11 am, running as late as 11 pm if they haven’t run out of chicken yet. The website should be ready before opening day.

P.S. Chef O’Connor is also still working on a second White Center restaurant, as we mentioned in April, Same Same Noodle Bar, location still TBA.

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White Center Dairy Queen workers say shutdown shorted them 2 weeks’ pay

May 28th, 2016 at 12:51 pm Posted in restaurants, White Center news | 5 Comments »

We’ve received several questions about what happened to the White Center Dairy Queen at 10256 16th SW, which has been shuttered since earlier this month, with only a note on the door alluding to “register failure.”

(Its page on the corporate website features a “temporarily closed” icon.) Now a letter from some of the employees has been published by Working Washington, saying they weren’t paid for the two weeks before the shutdown, and didn’t even know about the closure until they showed up for work and found the restaurant shuttered:

… The delay of the checks have affected a lot of the employees. One of the employee(s) is homeless with her one year old daughter and is struggling to find a job and is struggling to provide for her family, another employee is behind on their student loans for college, and another person is unable to pay for their car insurance.

The majority of the employees are unable to pay monthly bills such as phone bills, utility bills, water bill, and rent. …

We will be trying again after the holiday to reach DQ corporate, which is in Minneapolis. As its site points out, restaurants are owned by individual franchisees, but the workers’ letter alleges that the shutdown was ordered by the parent corporation. So far we haven’t found the franchisee in public databases (King County does not have a restaurant business-license database) but we’re still looking.

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

May 26th, 2016 at 2:36 pm 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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TONIGHT: King County ‘Town Hall/Open House’ for unincorporated North Highline

May 24th, 2016 at 10:57 am Posted in King County, White Center news | Comments Off on TONIGHT: King County ‘Town Hall/Open House’ for unincorporated North Highline

This annual event is happening tonight:

It’s a chance to hear about, and ask questions about, a wide variety of county services, programs, and issues.

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VIDEO: White Center Library grand-opening celebration

May 21st, 2016 at 12:41 pm Posted in Libraries, White Center news | 1 Comment »

The new White Center Library is open! If you want to be part of Opening Day, get there by 5 pm, if you haven’t been there already. A half-hour-long ceremony got things going this morning, starting with music by the Cascade Middle School Symphonic Band:

King County Library System director Gary Wasdin observed that the WC Library groundbreaking was one of the first big things he was involved with after starting the job last year:


He said this is the fourth library that KCLS has opened this year. Next, KCLS Board of Trustees president Rob Spitzer, who said they’d “learned a lot about the community” in the process of getting this library built:


All the while, a steady rain continued, but the crowd wasn’t daunted – many brought umbrellas:


It’s not a ribboncutting without an elected official, and this one featured 34th District State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, who noted that the library in Burien, where he lives, is a jewel, and this one too will be a “community gathering place” close to WC’s downtown.


Overall, Rep. Fitzgibbon proclaimed, those who planned and advocated for and built this library “nailed it.”

The new WC Library will have an even-closer relationship with Highline Public Schools, with Mount View Elementary next door, and the district’s superintendent Susan Enfield offered a few words at today’s ceremony too:


She also declared it a “wonderful community hub … not just a place to read and check out books.” It’s also a place to see art – including the red panels around the building, which architect Nick McDaniel from NBBJ explained are representations of White Center’s murals:


June McKivor, president of the White Center Library Guild, spoke next:


While she has lived in WC since 1976, she said, the community’s library history goes back much further, and she mentioned a few milestones, which also were detailed in the event program, including the first library opening “below the Fieldhouse steps” in 1946, six years before the guild itself formed. (The Year McKivor moved to WC is the year the old library on 16th SW opened.) But the most important history she shared was that of the fight to make sure this branch actually got built: “A few years ago, this beautiful building was in danger of not being built.” A petition drive ensued, proving “strength in numbers,” she said.

McKivor and Wasdin joined next in honoring someone whose passionate advocacy made a big difference – she was often the face and voice of the Library Guild in so many venues – Rachael Levine:


A plaque with rock sculptures in the garden on the north side of the library now pays tribute to her:


“Community is not one person,” Levine said, “it’s all of us.”

And then, everyone was reminded that the best way to advocate for the library is to use it. Once the ribbon was cut and the doors opened, they did:




Again, the library is open until 5 pm today – go celebrate!

(If you see this before 2 pm, that’s when you can enjoy Rimawaynina Cumbe, Traditional Cumbia Colombiana.)

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TODAY: White Center Library grand opening

May 21st, 2016 at 4:34 am Posted in Libraries, White Center news | Comments Off on TODAY: White Center Library grand opening

(Photo by Christopher Boffoli)
Today’s the day! The brand-new White Center Library will be dedicated and celebrated today, starting at 9:30 am. Above, the photo is by West Seattle photographer Christopher Boffoli, whose work “Octopus Survey” will be on the wall in a library conference room. Below, the photo is by Gill Loring from the White Center Library Guild, during a preview inside:

(Photo by Gill Loring)
Gill says visitors need to know that the library’s main parking lot will be closed for the celebration, but offsite parking has been arranged at a nearby church. It’s been 14 months since the formal groundbreaking for the 10,000-square-foot library at 1409 SW 107th, funded by a bond measure passed by voters a dozen years ago.

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‘Bike Everywhere Day’ station today at Dubsea Coffee

May 20th, 2016 at 3:42 am Posted in Transportation, White Center news | Comments Off on ‘Bike Everywhere Day’ station today at Dubsea Coffee

It’s “Bike Everywhere Day” – formerly “Bike to Work Day” – and if you’re biking, you have a “celebration station” to visit in White Center: Dubsea Coffee in Greenbridge, SW 99th/8th SW. It’s co-sponsored by the YES! Foundation and the Major Taylor Bike Club, and bicycle riders are invited to stop for free coffee, bananas, treats, bike checkups, and info about bicycling in WC. 6 am-9 am.

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Teenager shot in North Burien

May 19th, 2016 at 8:44 am Posted in burien, White Center news | Comments Off on Teenager shot in North Burien

Though this happened in North Burien, just outside our coverage area, we’ve had some questions about it this morning, so we’re publishing the King County Sheriff’s Office news release:

At around 12:13 am (today), King County Sheriff 911 communications received reports of the sounds of gunfire in the area of SW 116 St and Ambaum Blvd SW, in Burien. Very shortly thereafter, they received updates that a man had been shot in the chest and was lying in a parking lot of an apartment complex in that same area.

Deputies from Burien arrived in the area within minutes and found the victim, later learned to be 17-year-old male, lying near an apartment complex in the 11400 block of 16th Ave SW. The victim had a single gunshot wound to his chest. Deputies as well as medics from North Highline Fire and King County Medic-1 provided aid to the victim at the scene before he was rushed to Harborview Medical center for emergency surgery.

Because of the nature of his injuries, Deputies were only able to get a very limited description of the suspects from the victim. At the time, they were described as two Hispanic males wearing dark clothing. It is believed that they fled on foot and then possibly in a silver or gray 2000s-era sedan. A K-9 track was attempted but no suspects were located.

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