Newest plan for Subarea Plan @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s November meeting
By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor
The reinvention/relaunch of King County planning for this area headlined the November meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council.
NORTH HIGHLINE SUBAREA PLAN UPDATE: David Goodman from the King County Department of Local Services made a repeat appearance. For context, he shared a demographic snapshot of North Highline compared to King County as a whole, and a few trends:
“The relative affordability of White Center has decreased quite a bit,” Goodman observed. He also showed a snapshot of recent developments – “not a tidal wave of development, but some pretty significant” additions.
And he explained Opportunity Zones, which cover two census tracts in the area:
There’s no requirement to disclose when a project is being funded as part of this program, Goodman noted.
Updating the Subarea Plan process, he said its scope has been expanded beyond its original land-use focus:
The work already done on the land-use plan will be incorporated into “this new structure,” Goodman promised. The Community Needs List that’ll be built will help shape what goes into the next county budget, he added. Here’s the type of topics they hope to hear about:
In the nine months of outreach done before the planning process was “paused” in March, here’s some of what Goodman said they heard a lot about;
“The book is still open on all these things,” he stressed. Here’s the timeline over the next year and a half:
They already have some ideas for the Community Needs List:
NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin asked for more information about the Opportunity Zone – whether construction that happens in it results in tax-exempt properties. Short answer, no, said Goodman. NHUAC’s Liz Giba suggested that the countywide permit process needs to be “tightened up.” Impact fees should be reconsidered to help consistently fund sidewalks and schools, for example. She also wanted to see an “opportunity analysis” and more green space – additional pocket parks “in places where there are decrepit buildings right now,” for starters.
Traffic calming is badly needed, too, said Dobkin, with speeding problems on east-west arterials.
King County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Kennamer said mandatory trash pickup should be considered – it’s optional in the unincorporated area but not in cities, he noted.
Goodman also said they’ve heard a lot of interest in smaller commercial spaces – “It’s a little tricky to find a way to make that happen, but it’s one thing we’re thinking about a lot.” They’re trying to “think of some creative ways to incentivize” this, realizing that landlords might be more inherently comfortable with large established tenants. Giba noted that small businesses are more popular than large corporate ones, and recalled large buildings’ commercial pasts, such as the DSHS building on 15th having been a grocery store. She also wondered if anything’s being done about the West Seattle Bridge detour traffic’s effects on White Center; Goodman said he has a regular call with Seattle city planners and is talking with them about some engagement in White Center. Deputy Kennamer says this is affecting streets all the way down to 116th. He also noted he’s getting a radar gun soon and plans to “run traffic” on 26th, 28th, 106th, 107th, and 112th.
His regular update was next up at the meeting:
DEPUTY KENNAMER: He said he can’t book people into jail right now for trespassing or theft, He also noted that staffing remains low and not likely to change. He said everyone arrested in the shooting behind the Smoke Shop pleaded guilty recently. He mentioned that people keep breaking into the house next to the burned-down Yarington’s Funeral Home site, where there was a fire recently.
A discussion of graffiti vandalism broke out from there; Kennamer said the murals have been the most-effective tool used against it, but also observed that there is not a big problem with gang graffiti locally, just tagging.
Regarding property crimes, Kennamer said auto theft’s up, residential burglaries are down.
CREDIT UNION STRATEGIC PLANNING: The meeting began with a presentation about grant opportunities through the Community Development Financial Institution Fund.
Speaker Rick Thomas said they’re working with Express Credit Union to help people in the area with financial opportunities, through a grant program.
He said the program could even lead to an ATM or part-time presence in the community for Express, which has had a program going in Othello and hopes to replicate that success in White Center.
COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENTS: White Center Kiwanis is selling nuts as they do every year – text Scott at 206-465-8432 if you’re interested.
NEXT MEETING: The next first Thursday is December 2nd – watch here and nhuac.org for updates.
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