Why three White Center-area schools were in lockdown

June 12th, 2015 at 1:17 pm Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news | Comments Off on Why three White Center-area schools were in lockdown

1:17 PM: We’ve been getting texts asking why Cascade Middle School, Evergreen Campus, and Mount View Elementary were in what the texters describe as “lockdown.” According to King County Sheriff spokesperson Sgt. Stanley Seo, deputies are searching for a student who was reported to have been seen with a “weapon.” They believe they know who they are looking for, and the search continues; the Guardian One helicopter has been in the area too. Important to stress, no injuries have been reported. And as we finish writing this, Highline Public Schools tweeted that the lockdowns have been lifted.

1:32 PM: New information from Sgt. Seo: The person who was seen may NOT have been a student. No one’s in custody so far. The earlier lockdowns were just precautionary.

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What the King County Sheriff’s Office helicopter has been doing over Top Hat

June 11th, 2015 at 1:29 pm Posted in Helicopter, top hat, White Center news | 1 Comment »

The King County Sheriff’s Office has just explained what the Guardian One helicopter has been doing over Top Hat. From Twitter: Deputies were sent to a report of “a possible stolen car with person inside, S 100 ST and 2nd Ave S, Deputies arrived and the suspect fled … Deputies have set a perimeter, Helicopter on scene to assist, K9 tracking, stay inside to help the K9 track. … The car is a 1993, red, Acura Integra, 3 door, and is a confirmed stolen car. … Keep an eye out for a white male in his 20’s, in a t-shirt and jeans; this is the suspect who was in the stolen car and ran off.” We’ll update with any new information.

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NEXT FRIDAY: After-school fun at Mount View Elementary carnival

June 6th, 2015 at 10:02 pm Posted in Fun, Schools, White Center news | Comments Off on NEXT FRIDAY: After-school fun at Mount View Elementary carnival

You’re invited! Just in from Mount View Elementary:

Mount View Elementary will host a carnival for the school on Friday, June 12th to celebrate the academic success of the students, to raise money for our sister-school in Honduras, and to support the school’s PTA. There will be face painting, bouncy houses, games, the circus, and MANY awesome raffle prizes! Please come and celebrate TWO fantastic causes!

When: Friday, June 12th, 4-6 pm

Location: Mount View Elementary, 10811 12th Ave SW

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VIDEO: What was said at this morning’s brief ‘briefing’ on possible Seattle annexation of White Center/North Highline

June 3rd, 2015 at 12:17 pm Posted in Annexation, White Center news | Comments Off on VIDEO: What was said at this morning’s brief ‘briefing’ on possible Seattle annexation of White Center/North Highline

The briefing at this morning’s meeting of the Seattle City Council Education and Governance Committee was indeed brief; when the video is available via Seattle Channel‘s website, we’ll post it here so you can see for yourself. (ADDED EARLY THURSDAY: Here it is.)

The topline is that Seattle will go ahead and file the next round of paperwork with the Boundary Review Board by Friday, to continue to preserve its options for getting the state sales tax credit, but it was reiterated multiple times that this is just procedural so far and that there are many more points along the way where they would be able to say “no, we’re not proceeding.” While the filing will trigger a six-month period with the BRB, it was also said by city staffer Kenny Pittman – long the point person on this process – that extensions would be possible and almost certainly sought. And it was reiterated multiple times that the city would not annex without a vote of the people in the North Highline area. One more note: They’re still hoping that, during this Legislative special session in Olympia, the tax credit will be beefed up, to $8 million a year for a finite period, rather than the currently on-the-books $5 million.

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White Center businesses: Caffe Delia closing for a few days; Bud Nation now open

June 2nd, 2015 at 8:24 pm Posted in Businesses, White Center news | Comments Off on White Center businesses: Caffe Delia closing for a few days; Bud Nation now open

Two downtown White Center biznotes, both from tweets by Caffe Delia – and the first is about their own business:

Hey everybody, we are going to be closed Wednesday June 3 through Saturday June 6. Our cousin Andrea has passed away and we’re going back east to be with our family. We hope to be back open Sunday.

They also sent word that the recreational-marijuana store we mentioned here recently is now open:

We reported here a month ago that Bud Nation’s license had been approved for 9640 16th SW.

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The Big Read: Big program coming up this fall in White Center, SeaTac, and Tukwila

June 2nd, 2015 at 4:17 pm Posted in Libraries, White Center news | Comments Off on The Big Read: Big program coming up this fall in White Center, SeaTac, and Tukwila

Announced today by the county library system:

The King County Library System (KCLS) will host a community-wide Big Read program this fall to explore and discuss the immigrant experience in the communities of SeaTac, Tukwila, and White Center.

With more than 60% of the population being persons of color, 30% foreign born, 40% speaking a language other than English at home, and more than 70 languages represented in the area’s school districts, SeaTac, Tukwila, and White Center are the most diverse in King County.

Immigrants and refugees have contributed to King County’s sweeping demographic change in the last 20 years. In these neighborhoods, the increase in immigrant-owned businesses, religious centers, and organizations addressing new residents’ unique needs, has generated cultural division and tension as well as great opportunities for building cultural awareness and new social competencies.

Presented by KCLS, the Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA), Highline Public Schools, Highline College, King County Housing Authority, and the White Center Community Development Association/White Center Promise, The Big Read will engage residents in conversations about their experiences, and give the entire community a welcoming and safe environment to explore issues that are close to home in these areas, including gentrification and racial tension.

The program will begin this fall, offering free copies of the novel The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears to encourage all residents to read the book and join in the conversation. Author Dinaw Mengestu drew on his own experience having fled Ethiopia to The Other Washington: D.C.

The community read and related activities will begin a cross-cultural dialogue about how we are different, but more importantly, our common experiences and desires for a thriving community.

The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts, designed to revitalize the role of reading in American culture by exposing citizens to great works of literature and encouraging them to read for pleasure and enrichment. King County’s southwest corridor is one of 75 communities nationwide participating in The Big Read from September 2015-June 2016. The national Big Read is managed by Arts Midwest.

For more information, please contact Jo Anderson Cavinta jacavinta@kcls.org 425-369-3454. This fall, there will be a full calendar of events for The Big Read in SeaTac, Tukwila, and White Center available online at kcls.org.

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TAF Expo on Saturday – families invited!

June 1st, 2015 at 5:25 pm Posted in Fun, White Center news | Comments Off on TAF Expo on Saturday – families invited!

Coming up this weekend in White Center:

How can robotic technology help people and communities in ways it has not yet? How might a mobile app help solve a common problem? What goes into building the speediest drag racer? Can you build a robot sumo wrestler? What does STEM mean to our youth today? All these questions and more will be answered by elementary and middle school students at the TAF Expo this Saturday.

The TAF Expo is an annual end-of-school-year exhibition event celebrating the accomplishments of TAF students. Kids and families who are curious about STEM learning opportunities in Southwest Seattle and want to see a sampling of what TAF and #STEMbyTAF are all about, are encouraged to attend. This year’s Expo is on Saturday, June 6, 10 am-1 pm, at TAF’s headquarters, Bethaday Community Learning Space, in White Center (605 SW 108th St.).

Here’s what you can expect to see at the Expo on June 6th:
• Youth Inventions: innovative STEM solutions developed by 6th-8th graders from the White Center region
• STEM Project-Based Learning at Mount View Elementary exhibition with 3rd-6th graders
• Youth robotics competitions by 4th-6th graders: robot drag race, a fancy robot “catwalk” revue, and TAF’s ever-popular Sumo Wrestling Robot tournament!
• Peer youth coding workshops led by young women from Girls Who Code
• Hands-on STEM workshops for young children, provided by Pop-Up Science, a Seattle-based nonprofit mobile science museum
• More information about TAF Programs in White Center and beyond
• Food, prizes, FUN!

Lunch will be provided. This is an all-ages family event; children who are not currently enrolled in TAF programs must be accompanied by an adult. White Center area youth who are currently in 5th and 6th grade, who may be interested in our middle school STEMbyTAF Labs program, and their families are especially encouraged to attend. This is TAF’s seventh annual end-of-year Expo, and our third one at Bethaday Community Learning Space. A flyer for the event is attached. Email sarahw@techaccess.org for more information, or call 206-725-9095×102. Learn more about TAF at www.techaccess.org.

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North Highline annexation? Seattle City Council committee to discuss Wednesday, with Friday deadline for filing ‘intention’ notice

June 1st, 2015 at 11:24 am Posted in Annexation, White Center news | 1 Comment »

Just received the Seattle City Council Education and Governance Committee agenda for this Wednesday (June 3rd), 9:30 am, and it includes a discussion on two potential annexation areas for the city – one of which is the remaining unincorporated North Highline area. This is a briefing item, not a vote; the NH-related portion of the staff memo says:

In December 2014, the Council passed Res. 31559 calling for the annexation of the larger and more populated North Highline Annexation Area. At that time, the Council made clear its intent that this resolution was a placeholder to preserve the ability to take advantage of an expiring state sales tax incentive that could come with annexation. The incentive redirects to the City $5 million a year in sales tax revenues for 10 years, but there have been attempts by the City and the County to improve this incentive from the State Legislature. A legislative proposal was floated to change the incentive to $8 million a year for 6 years, but nothing has been adopted at this time. The City’s efforts in this regard are ongoing.

This Council has not yet taken a policy position on the merits of annexation of North
Highline. In order to preserve the option of utilizing the existing sales tax credit, Res. 31559 calls for the filing of a Notice of Intention to Annex with the BRB within 180 days of passage of the resolution. June 5 is the last day to file this notice, which essentially continues and solidifies the placeholder set by the Council last December.

If the BRB completes its review and determines that the City may proceed, the Council would need to make a policy decision about whether or not to send an annexation vote to the residents of North Highline. Presumably, such a decision would come after an extensive public outreach process and more detailed discussions regarding financial and operational considerations.

The committee meets in the City Council chambers in downtown Seattle at 600 Fourth Avenue. If you can’t be there in person, the meeting will be webcast live at seattlechannel.org.

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White Center businesses: B & D Aquarium, one of a kind

May 31st, 2015 at 12:48 pm Posted in Businesses, White Center news | 1 Comment »

EDITOR’S NOTE: Earlier this year, a reader sent us a postal-mail letter worrying about the future of White Center’s B & D Aquarium, the only aquarium-supplies store for miles around (West Seattle, for example, has none). He asked us to do a story. Took a while, but here it is.

Story and photos by Randall Hauk
Reporting for White Center Now

“I’ve been hanging on so long, I’ll hang on as long as I can.”

Being a brick-and-mortar retailer these days can be a challenging prospect, even for businesses which have accumulated decades of expertise in their industry while serving their community.

Such is the case with White Center’s B & D Aquarium, regarded by many Puget Sound-area hobbyists as a valuable resource for serious hobbyists, who rave about the shop’s incredibly knowledgeable staff and the intense care paid to keep healthy stock available.

B & D’s owner, who prefers to be identified only as P.D. (“That’s what all my friends call me.”), started his business in 1972, originally located at 35th SW & Roxbury. Listen to P.D. tell his story:

The current location at 10450 15th Ave SW (next to the White Center Eagles, with a large Clown Loach painted on the north-facing side) is the fourth iteration of the store.

Between P.D. and his two employees, B & D Aquarium staff offer knowledge compiled through more than 100 years collectively in the business, which started and has been maintained all through the passion of a true hobbyist. In addition to all the advice and equipment needed to start and maintain your home aquarium, B&D Aquarium’s 70 tanks offer a variety of fish from “all over the world . . . except Antarctica.”

A year after quitting his aquarium-shop job, P.D. found himself missing the atmosphere of being surrounded by fish, especially after having had to get rid of most of his 52 tanks at home due to the expense. In an early ’70s version of crowdfunding, P.D. opened a shop with “the help of friends and donated tanks.”

When the shop found itself in need of a new home, “customers and ex-employees all came in to help move,” says P.D. And though he also says he was “lucky to find this place,” four years later, B & D hasn’t entirely recovered fiscally from that move, as his humble business has struggled to compete with larger pet shops and online retailers.

“I’ve seen (chain pet stores) selling equipment for less than our wholesale cost,” says P.D. of the challenges in staying competitive. “People tell me, ‘We bought our stuff somewhere else because it was cheaper, but we come to you for advice because you know what you’re talking about.”

The loss of revenue from that segment of their potential customers already forced B & D to get out of the saltwater side of the aquarium business several years ago. Advising people who were not spending money in their shop was also taking too much time away from the time needed to properly care for the fish they have on hand.

And for P.D. and his colleagues, all dedicated hobbyists themselves, taking shortcuts to create time and reduce operating costs is simply never a consideration.

In order to assure the fish he sells leave the shop in good health, P.D. says, “they have to be treated, quarantined, and watched. We make sure they’re 100% healthy, which takes ten times as much work as making sure they’re even 99% healthy.”

His love for the hobby and the fish themselves also can get in the way of cynically taking every dollar that presents itself at his cash register.

“I spent far too much time talking people out of buying things to be profitable!”

That level of dedication is precisely what draws hobbyists from throughout the greater Puget Sound region for their aquarium needs. It also speaks to why B & D has such a loyal, if small, customer base. Spending the extra money on the fish initially saves them later on the cost of chemicals and other treatments that follow fish not properly prepared for the move to a home-aquarium environment.

But how do people get drawn so strongly to a hobby that requires significant expense and effort to maintain? Perhaps even to the point of running a struggling shop for forty-plus years?

“It’s a spiritual experience,” explains P.D.. “It can lower your blood pressure. They prescribe it for hyperactive children. It can really open your eyes . . . (one gets a) completely different understanding of the whole universe.”

“It can be wonderful.”

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council to talk about marijuana Thursday, last meeting until September

May 30th, 2015 at 9:51 pm Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news | Comments Off on North Highline Unincorporated Area Council to talk about marijuana Thursday, last meeting until September

Before taking a summer break from the monthly meeting schedule, the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council will take a closer look at one of the area’s hottest topics:

When: Thursday, June 4 at 7 pm
Where: North Highline Fire Station (1243 SW 112th)

We are pleased to be hosting James Paribello and Frank O’Dell from the Washington State Liquor Control Board, who will provide the latest updates regarding legislation, siting, and licensing of recreational marijuana stores (502 stores). We will be discussing the process for potential conversion of the now unregulated medical marijuana dispensaries to 502 stores.

Specifically, we are interested in how this new legislation will impact the greater White Center/North Highline community. With 8 unregulated medical dispensaries and two licensed 502 stores presently in the community, as well as a potential grow/processing operation, how many more businesses will we see?

Plan on attending and bring your questions and concerns for this important and informative community discussion.

Our White Center Storefront Deputy, Julian Chivington, will also be on hand with information on crime trends and general community safety concerns.

All are welcome – see you there!

Questions: contact – bdobkin@northhighlineuac.org

For the agenda please see: northhighlineuac.org

(Please note: NHUAC will not be holding meetings in July and August)

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Congratulations to Mount View Elementary teacher Jamie Ewing, winner of national Innovator Award

May 26th, 2015 at 2:46 pm Posted in Education, Schools, White Center news | Comments Off on Congratulations to Mount View Elementary teacher Jamie Ewing, winner of national Innovator Award

(Photo courtesy Highline Public Schools)
Big congratulations in order for a local teacher – here’s the announcement from Highline Public Schools:

Mount View Elementary teacher Jamie Ewing earned first place in The Henry Ford’s Innovative Nation Teacher Innovator Awards. Ewing is one of ten first place winners in the country.

The award recognizes educators who are using the classroom to inspire innovation, creativity, problem-solving, and critical thinking among their students.

“I would like to congratulate this nationwide group of educator innovators who are truly changing the way students are learning in the classroom,” said Patricia Mooradian, president of The Henry Ford. “I look forward to welcoming them here this summer and watching as this program continues to grow.”

Winners were selected by a team of judges based on their original and creative approaches to teaching, their resourcefulness, and the positive impact they make on a daily basis in the classroom. Student engagement, learning goals, and evidence achieving those goals were also taken into consideration.

“Jamie is a collaborative teacher who consistently shares his expertise, commitment, and innovative thinking with our learning community,” said Mount View Principal Lisa Escobar. “He engages students by empowering them to solve meaningful problems using critical thinking and technology.”

First place winners will receive a week long “Innovation Immersion Experience” at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan, taking place July 25 – July 31, 2015. The experience includes behind-the-scenes tours with curators and archivists, a teaching innovation workshop, and a special recognition ceremony.

Ewing is a National Board Certified Teacher. Microsoft inducted Ewing into its Expert Educator Program in 2013, and he was named a 2015 Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert (MIE Expert). He has also been named a 2013 Innovative Teacher of the Year recognized by the Academy of Arts and Sciences in Education and 2014 Teacher of the Year recognized by the Museum of History and Industry.

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White Center Memorial Day 2015: Holiday info

May 25th, 2015 at 9:51 am Posted in Holidays, White Center news | Comments Off on White Center Memorial Day 2015: Holiday info

(WCN photo: Veterans’ Triangle Park at 16th/Roxbury/Delridge)

Some helpful information for this holiday Monday:

TRANSPORTATION: Metro is on a Sunday scheduleSound Transit Route 160 also is on a Sunday schedule.

SCHOOLS: Highline Public Schools are closed, as are most if not all independent schools.

LIBRARIES: King County branches are closed today.

U.S. POSTAL SERVICE HOLIDAY … according to the official USPS list.

MEMORIAL DAY CEREMONY AT FOREST LAWN: In West Seattle at 2 pm, all are welcome at Forest Lawn Cemetery for the traditional Memorial Day event with American Legion Post 160 and VFW Post 2713. (6701 30th SW)

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VIDEO: Highline Public Schools out today for education-funding walkout

May 21st, 2015 at 8:56 am Posted in Education, White Center news | Comments Off on VIDEO: Highline Public Schools out today for education-funding walkout


(Highline educators demonstrating this morning at 16th/107th)
Today’s the day that Highline Public Schools are closed as the Highline Education Association has its one-day walkout to protest the state of education funding. Picketing is happening in various locations now (including 16th/107th), and then around noon, walks/marches are planned – locations are in this post on the HEA’s Facebook page – the Evergreen campus is one of the starting points. Today’s school day is scheduled to be made up on May 26th.

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SW Roxbury Safety Project walking tour tonight

May 20th, 2015 at 9:20 am Posted in Transportation, White Center news | Comments Off on SW Roxbury Safety Project walking tour tonight

Interested in the changes planned for SW Roxbury – all the way from 4th Avenue to 35th? The Seattle Department of Transportation plans a public “walking tour” along the entire length tonight, and all are welcome to join at any point along the way – walking the full distance or just meeting up at a certain point with comments and/or questions. Here are the times/places listed by SDOT:

5:30 pm – 4th/Roxbury
5:50 pm – 8th/Roxbury
6:15 pm – Delridge/16th/Roxbury
6:45 pm – 26th/Roxbury
7:15 pm – 30th/Roxbury
7:45 pm – 35th/Roxbury

Just look for team members in brightly colored safety vests!

If you haven’t been following the plan for safety improvements, here’s one of our reports from West Seattle Blog on the unveiling of the plan last month.

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Highline Public Schools to close May 21st because of teacher walkout

May 13th, 2015 at 7:20 pm Posted in Education, Highline School District, White Center news | Comments Off on Highline Public Schools to close May 21st because of teacher walkout

All over the region, teachers are staging one-day walkouts to protest the state of education funding, among other things. Today, Highline Public Schools announced that its teachers plan to walk out one week from tomorrow – Thursday, May 21st – so it’s closing schools that day:

All schools in Highline Public Schools will be closed on May 21 due to a teacher walkout.

The Highline Education Association (HEA) — the teachers’ union — has voted to participate in a one-day walkout on May 21. Highline does not have enough substitute teachers to cover all classes that day, so school is cancelled on May 21.

Highline will make up the school day on May 26, the district’s scheduled snow make-up day.

HEA wrote in communication with its members, “The target of HEA’s May 21 Day of Action Walkout is the WA State Legislature, not the Highline School District.”

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Update: Bike To Work Day on Friday

May 13th, 2015 at 6:24 pm Posted in Transportation, White Center news | Comments Off on Update: Bike To Work Day on Friday

ORIGINAL 6:24 PM REPORT: According to the Cascade Bike Club‘s map for Bike To Work Day events on Friday, local businesses are presenting a “commute station” in downtown White Center again, 6-9 am.

10:26 PM UPDATE: Apparently not – Caffe Delia indicates the map info is inaccurate. We HAVE direct confirmation of the West Seattle Bridge station, at least, if you’re headed that way.

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White Center scene: A little roadside cleanup

May 11th, 2015 at 11:15 am Posted in White Center news | Comments Off on White Center scene: A little roadside cleanup

Thanks to @smokeycretin9 for the tip via Twitter … county crews were out doing some roadside mowing this morning; we caught up with them along eastbound Roxbury, just east of downtown White Center. So if you travel Roxbury later today – you might notice the south side looks neater!

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License approved for White Center’s first recreational-marijuana retail store

May 8th, 2015 at 10:04 pm Posted in White Center news | Comments Off on License approved for White Center’s first recreational-marijuana retail store

The latest list of license approvals published by the state Liquor Control Board shows one for what would be White Center’s first recreational-marijuana store. As has been discussed often by the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council – again just last night – the area has had a relatively sizable number of medical-marijuana outlets for some time, but no recreational-marijuana outlet yet. The LCB’s list says the license is approved for a business to be called Bud Nation, at 9640 16th SW, Suite A. (9640 16th SW is where the Northwest Cannabis Market medical-marijuana enterprise first opened.) We wrote almost exactly a year ago about an applicant at Suite D being among the more highly placed applicants in the state’s lottery. No further details on the newly approved licensee yet, but we’re working to find out more.

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Like garage sales? 340+ of them to the north on Saturday during West Seattle Community Garage Sale Day

May 8th, 2015 at 5:16 pm Posted in west seattle, White Center news | Comments Off on Like garage sales? 340+ of them to the north on Saturday during West Seattle Community Garage Sale Day

If you need a few things … and/or just like to shop garage sales, rummage sales, yard sales, whatever you want to call them … head north and shop West Seattle Community Garage Sale Day tomorrow (9 am-3 pm, Saturday, May 9th)! Our partner site West Seattle Blog presents/coordinates WSCGSD, which this year has a record 340+ sales. The online map is here, and that page includes a link to a printable version (21 pages of sale descriptions and map sections).

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s May meeting: Crime stats, community planning, property values…

May 7th, 2015 at 9:04 pm Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news | 3 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Hot topics from crime to planning filled tonight’s meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

WHITE CENTER CRIME STATS: Storefront Deputy Julian Chivington was at the meeting to present a briefing. He primarily focused on sector K-1, though K-11 and K-7 are also part of the area. He showed hot spots for car thefts and car prowls; Part 1 crimes (homicide, aggravated assault, robbery, rape, burglary, larceny, vehicle theft, arson) are going down, 83 incidents in April, down from 88 in the same month last year and a peak at 106 last July. He said new hires are beefing up the staffing – more incidences of 3 deputies in White Center or even 4, compared to it often being 2 until now. Part II crimes – almost everything else – are down even more significantly 85 in the past month, from a peak of 135 during one month over the winter. Violent crime has dropped dramatically, according to a 3 1/2-year chart he showed. Burglaries and attempts are down from 14 in March to 11 in April.

Deputy Chivington said he talked to the burglary/larceny detective today who “had a whole bunch of success stories” – 5 in custody in the last three weeks for vehicle theft, for example, including “a prolific vehicle thief/car prowler that hit both Seattle and us … he’s looking at some pretty good jail time.” He took a residential-burglary report and collected fingerprints – they’re waiting on the results – and “the neighbors had cameras pointed at the house … detectives went to (the suspect’s) house” and the suspect confessed, Deputy Chivington said. Looking through the reports, he said mail thefts are down; a lot of previous victims “have put up locked boxes for mail” or pitched in for locking mailbox clusters, and that seems to have helped.

The bus stop fight at 102nd on April 26th involved a stabbing, Deputy Chivington said, but the victim was not being cooperative with investigators.

Miscellaneous cases – One that involved the SWAT team recently happened because a stolen vehicle had been stripped and turned up at the “Gypsy Joker clubhouse” at 5th/116th, Deputy Chivington said … the deputy says he’s working on various “problem houses” in connection with the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

ASSESSOR’S OFFICE UPDATE: Phillip Sit from the office of King County Assessor Lloyd Hara presented an update, starting with a reminder of the different tech tools you can use online to find out more about your property’s value, taxes, etc. One called LocalScape – recently launched – will show a variety of numbers you might be interested in – appraised values, number of properties, changes in appraised values by residential area, local sales – you can click on a pin to find out more about a specific property, when it was sold, for how much, etc. It also offers demographic data (including areas you can select, not just premapped areas).

“We visit your property every six years, so if something changes, we might not be aware of it,” he reminded everyone.

King County is the “second-fastest-growing urban county in the country right now,” said Sit. That includes 1,500 people moving here from California every month right now, he said. The county’s values has increased 13.9% since last year. 85 of 86 residential areas increased in value for their 2014 valuation, but only 20 of those areas, all on the eastside, “have increased beyond their 2008 valuation.”

The valuation card you get from their audience will show up starting later this May, and the number is set on January 1st. They survey a variety of things in the area – including teardowns and sales – to calculate the value. In an area with many teardowns, most of your assessed value might be on the land, not the house.

The big question: “Does higher assessed value necessarily mean higher property taxes?” Answer: “It depends – factors include assessed value of your property, total taxable property value in your community, budgets adopted by your local governments, voter-approved measures. In Seattle, for example, the amount of property tax per $1,000 of assessed value went down a dollar because of new construction.

P.S. Watch for an Assessor’s Office town hall in the North Highline area this summer.

OFFICE OF PERFORMANCE, STRATEGY AND BUDGET: Karen Wolf from this office, which is part of the County Executive’s department, came to talk about the Comprehensive Plan update – a process that’s starting now, to culminate with finalization next year. She says County Councilmember Joe McDermott has asked for a “sub-area plan” in this area to see if major changes to be made. That’s a “neighborhood plan, a deeper look at a community,” Wolf elaborated when asked by NHUAC president Barbara Dobkin what exactly that meant.

She was asked whether the county is looking at zoning that would require housing for multiple income levels – like Greenbridge and Seola Gardens, for example. Talk to your councilmember, she suggested.

Overall, they’re hoping to plan for a more walkable community, saying the past zoning was “a barrier to having retail businesses come in and create sidewalks so you could walk there.”

What about tax breaks to encourage more businesses, especially tech firms with many jobs, to locate perhaps on underutilized sites like Top Hat’s former Bernie and Boys market site? wondered NHUAC’s Elizabeth Gordon. She also asked what good it does to address economic/social inequity if you can’t really have any effect on what kind of development winds up going where? Wolf acknowledged that’s a conundrum, and went on to mention a New York Times story about commute times being a predictor of getting out of poverty. “So what can we do as planners to help improve that situation? That’s something we’re going to look at.” She said they’re looking not just at the “bad things present in a community” but also “the good things that are lacking. … We’re going to be learning a lot of this with you, as the process goes along.”

She learned a lot just hearing from NHUAC board members and meeting attendees, including the fact that White Center has only one grocery store. It was observed that Wolf shouldn’t have been surprised by what she’s hearing – as she clearly was – and it was pointed out by an attendee that NHUAC “has been de-funded,” which means the county isn’t getting as well-rounded of a view. “How many different groups do you listen to?” she was asked.

NHUAC’s Liz Giba suggested that “too many groups in North Highline don’t have open meetings” (which NHUAC does). Wolf said the next step is to “work with the community to come up with a vision,” and then to “work with professionals to (pursue it).”

Concerns were also voiced that North Highline needs more “economic diversity.”

Wolf tried to reassure concerns that, as NHUAC’s Elizabeth Gordon put it, “the plan (itself) is a silo,” by saying planners would be meeting with people involved in a wide range of components that go into the plan, including housing, safety, and transportation.

Timeline? Right now, Wolf’s department is “developing the scope of work,” which will be followed by developing a draft plan by next winter, and the County Council adopting the updated Comprehensive Plan about a year from now.

BOARD MEMBERS’ ANNOUNCEMENTS included a May 31st health fair “open to the community” announced by Elizabeth Gordon, at Breath of Life Church on 26th SW, 1 pm-5 pm; she also announced a June 26th fun-run fundraiser for the Evergreen campus. … Liz Giba mentioned TAF‘s summer camps – register ASAP! – info here … Barbara Dobkin mentioned a “potential marijuana grow operation” at 1109 1st Avenue S., right across from an I-502 recreational marijuana store, and that a comment period for a conditional-use permit is coming up; she has information about it, for anyone who wants to comment, for/against/otherwise – you can contact her to find out more.

COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENTS: White Center Kiwanis is announcing its pancake breakfast coming up in July during Jubilee Days – “if you buy tickets early, you save $2 at the door” … White Center Library Guild is having plant sales on Fridays and Saturdays, noon-2 pm at the library, throughout the month of May, both vegetable and flower plants.

NHUAC meets on first Thursdays, 7 pm, at the North Highline Fire District‘s HQ. A Liquor Control Board rep is expected at June’s meeting, to talk about cannabis.

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