WHITE CENTER’S FUTURE: What’s next for King County Comprehensive Plan update

December 21st, 2022 Tracy Posted in Development, King County, White Center news Comments Off on WHITE CENTER’S FUTURE: What’s next for King County Comprehensive Plan update

The next update to the King County Comprehensive Plan – a road map for future change and growth – is proceeding through the system, and the county has sent an update on its recent survey:

In September, we reached out to get your input on the 2024 King County Comprehensive Plan update (2024 Update). We heard from thousands of people from across King County – community members who shared their thoughts on social equity, affordable housing, and climate change in our region.

We’re currently processing and translating all of the survey results Today we’re excited to share the preliminary survey results. We’ll share additional data as it becomes available.

King County will use the results to guide the 2024 Update. As set in the Scope of Work, the update will focus on actions to address social equity, affordable housing, and climate change.

Upcoming 2024 Update engagement opportunities

In February 2023, the County will release a summary of the proposals currently being contemplated for the 2024 Update. At that time, you’ll have the opportunity to see the direction the update is going in and let us know if it is on the right track. Your feedback on those proposals will help inform the additional development and refinement of the 2024 Update.

Additionally, a Public Review Draft of the entire 2024 Update is anticipated to be issued in June 2023 for public review and comment, along with a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) Draft Environmental Impact Statement. More opportunities for public review and feedback on the update will also occur during King County Council review of the proposals throughout 2024.

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COMMENT TIME: Land-use application for White Center Hub project

December 15th, 2021 Tracy Posted in Development, White Center Community Development Association, White Center news Comments Off on COMMENT TIME: Land-use application for White Center Hub project

Thanks to Richard for the tip. King County has published a “notice of application” for the White Center Hub project. That opens a formal comment period until January 3rd. Most of the documents are linked here. Here’s one of them, the site plan:

Project toplines are the same as discussed at last May’s presentation (WCN coverage here). The main application number is CDUP21-0002. Contact info for the permitting division, if you have a question or comment, is here.

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King County proposes banning natural gas in most new unincorporated-area construction

September 22nd, 2021 Tracy Posted in Development, Environment, King County, White Center news Comments Off on King County proposes banning natural gas in most new unincorporated-area construction

Announced today by King County Executive Dow Constantine – a proposal to change building codes, including a ban on natural-gas use in most new construction. At the heart of that part of the proposal:

The proposed Ordinance:

• Prohibits fossil fuel combustion for space heating in all commercial buildings and in multifamily buildings four stories tall and taller;
• Prohibits fossil fuel combustion for water heating in multifamily buildings four stories tall and taller, as well as hotel/motel and group residential buildings; and
• Increases efficiency requirements, including for lighting and window insulation levels.

As building codes apply to new construction, building additions, and some mechanical and building feature replacements, the effect of the proposed Ordinance would primarily be to reduce natural gas expansion in all commercial buildings, and multifamily buildings over three stories tall, thus helping to curb future GHG emissions.

The city of Seattle already has passed similar legislation. Read the full announcement, including what else would change, here. The proposal goes to the County Council for consideration (documents are here).

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TUESDAY: King County Council public hearing on proposal to enable ‘microhousing demonstration project’ in White Center

June 8th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Development, housing, Politics, White Center news Comments Off on TUESDAY: King County Council public hearing on proposal to enable ‘microhousing demonstration project’ in White Center

Tuesday afternoon’s King County Council meeting has a public hearing of note for White Center – on what is in essence a rezoning proposal that would allow “a microhousing demonstration project…(that) may include residential space for up to 60 people.” No specific project or site is outlined in the proposal, but it would allow the project on any of 375 properties in this described area:

… generally bounded by SW Roxbury Street on the North, 12th Ave SW on the East, SW 107th Street on the South, and 19th Ave SW on the West.

The hearing notice says the proposal is aimed at “adopting provisions for a microhousing demonstration project” – microhousing being the term for very small studio apartments, potentially with multiple units sharing, for example, one kitchen. It also includes a specific proposal for Vashon Island as well as the rezoning for White Center. The potential WC project would “encourage development of housing that is affordable to low and moderate income individuals.” While the council-packet documents say, “The specific location of the urban demonstration project has not been identified,” they also include specifications such as that the building(s) could be up to 60′ high.

You can go here to find all the documents for the proposal. The “SEPA checklist’ has the most details; you can also read the full text of the legislation. Go here to see how to plug into the 1 pm Tuesday meeting. That’s also the link to follow if you’d like to sign up to comment during the meeting, which will be streamed here.

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

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

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

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

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

The maps and summaries from presentations so far are here.

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DEVELOPMENT: Ex-Barrel Tavern demolished

October 23rd, 2018 Tracy Posted in Development, White Center news 1 Comment »

Thanks to Iris for tweeting the photo. What was once the Barrel Tavern is now rubble. We noticed the telltale pre-demolition fence around the site recently; Iris reports that the demolition happened in this morning’s fog. We checked county permit records and so far what we’ve found – besides the issued demolition permit – is this notation from last year: “Mandatory pre-application meeting to discuss feasibility for mixed-use development consisting of a 3-story structure with medical offices, residential apartment units, and ground-floor café and retail spaces.” County Assessor’s Office records (from which the photo below is taken) list the site as having the same ownership as South Seattle Veterinary Hospital next door.

Some history goes down with the ex-Barrel, such as this.

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Update: Demolition day for ex-restaurant at 11060 16th SW

January 2nd, 2015 Tracy Posted in Development, White Center news 4 Comments »

(UPDATE: Photos added from end of demolition work)

12:43 PM: Thanks to reader Sally for noticing a new banner on the fencing around 11060 16th SW, the long-vacant, often-vandalized former restaurant (El Chalan, Ezell’s, Wendy’s). The banner touts a bank as “proudly fund(ing)” a project there. The project was news to us, so we looked it up. From the King County Assessor’s Office site, a quick line:


After checking out the banner and starting this story last night, we went back today and discovered that the longtime eyesore is being demolished.

1:17 PM: Adding photos and backstory. It’s been eight years since El Chalan, last tenant of the building, shut down, according to random mentions we’ve found. The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council long campaigned to get the property owners to keep the graffiti vandalism and overgrowth in check; we reported here on a major cleanup almost two years ago. Since then, we’ve seen periodic paintouts.

Meantime, as to its future – according to county permit records, the apartment proposal has been in the system for some time, but just got going in earnest this past September.

ADDED: A few more photos, from the very end of the demolition:

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Financing deal closes for Technology Access Foundation project in White Center

February 1st, 2012 Tracy Posted in Development, Education, Lakewood Park, White Center news 4 Comments »

(Rendering of new center)
Announced today via news release (read it in its entirety here): A financing deal that’s part of the package for the TAF center in Lakewood Park has closed. Here’s how the $ shakes out:

Financing for the facility was supplied by multiple public and private partners. Enterprise Community Investment, one of the largest allocatees of New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC), provided $12.5 million in NMTC allocation. A $2.9 million bridge loan was financed by Enterprise Community Loan Fund, which used proceeds from the sale of its Enterprise Community Impact Note to fund part of the loan. The Seattle Foundation made a $1 million investment in the Note last April as part of its commitment to support development of projects that promote the health of local communities. Impact Capital participated in the bridge loan by providing $1.46 million of the $2.9 million in bridge financing. Other financing included $2 million from King County, $1.5 million from the State of Washington; $1 million from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; grant funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; a $500,000 federal appropriation arranged by Senator Patty Murray; and $300,000 from Microsoft Corporate Community Affairs.

The three-story facility is expected to be open before year’s end.

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Strength of Place Village: Applications to be taken; community tour planned

July 1st, 2011 Tracy Posted in Development, housing, White Center news 1 Comment »

(Thursday image from construction webcam at Strength of Place Village)
Updates from Kate Gill de la Garza at Capitol Hill Housing, which is a partner in building Strength of Place Village in White Center: They’re about to start taking applications for people to move into the low-income housing development at 14th and 100th, and there also will be a community tour for anyone interested in taking a look as it gets closer to completion. Here are those two announcements.

Submit an application
Sit down with a Quantum Management representative to fill out an application for housing & ask questions!
Date: Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Location: YWCA Learning Center at Greenbridge
Address: 9720 8th Avenue SW
Time: 3 pm-7 pm

For that event ONLY, child care, light refreshments and interpretation in Spanish, Vietnamese & Somali will be available, according to the announcement. Also, you can find a housing application by going to this page on the White Center Community Development Association site or picking one up at WCCDA HQ at 1615 SW Cambridge. Meantime, here’s the tour announcement:

Community Tour
Come and see what quality affordable housing looks like!
This tour is open to all!
Date: Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Location: Intersection of 14th Avenue SW & SW 100th Street
Time: 4 pm-6 pm

You can check in on the construction via the site webcam – see it here.

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: New officers; annexation update; proposed development Pappas Village; more

June 2nd, 2011 Tracy Posted in Development, North Highline UAC, White Center news 1 Comment »

(New NHUAC officers, L-R, treasurer Ron Johnson, secretary Stephen Porter, president Barbara Dobkin, vice president Pat Price; photo by Patrick Sand for WCN)
By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

From tonight’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting – new officers, an update on Burien’s thought process regarding potential annexation of the rest of unincorporated North Highline, and a tense discussion regarding a new proposed development:

NHUAC OFFICERS’ ELECTION: Barbara Dobkin was elected president, Pat Price was elected vice president, Ron Johnson (who was also nominated for both of those offices) was elected treasurer. Stephen Porter was elected secretary (two other prospective nominees declined to run).

ELECTION RECAP: Just before her election as president, Dobkin noted that incumbents won all the spots up for public election last month, and thanked “everybody who helped out at the elections,” which were held in a two-hour span the evening of May 19th.

ANNEXATION AND MORE, IN THE BURIEN BRIEFING: City manager Mike Martin says the council will discuss annexation at its June 20th meeting, describing it as a “general” discussion about potential direction, which he expects the council to settle on by August, to know “what it wants to do regarding annexation,” and he expects a potential vote in “less than a year.” That factors into the library controversy; Burien councilmember Rose Clark mentioned a meeting with Library Board members at City Hall, regarding concerns over the potential library consolidation. She said the Burien mayor and council have sent a letter “asking them to not make a decision until we have completed our discussions on the annexation. … Our position is: The libraries belong right in the local community where students and family have close access and can walk to them and use them as they have before.” Martin said he has no particular stake in what library site might be chosen, and urged NHUAC members “not to dig into one idea … until you see how everything is in play and manifests itself. …” He recounted the Puget Sound Park “debacle” and said he hadn’t been opposed to the idea of a library in the park, but rather to the idea that the community had not been consulted.

Also: Martin said that if the weather holds, the last round of paving on Ambaum – which will take about four days – is about to start, and the entire project (including striping) should be done by June 15th. More projects are in the works; “you’re going to see a lot of asphalt going down this summer,” he promised, with $6 million more worth in projects “out there,” after the Ambaum project, which is worth about $3 million … He also discussed the “visioning” project, which surfaced concerns about education and crime; the latter, he said, is not so much a problem as a perception problem, but he said there is indeed a problem with “how we educate our kids.” … Also at the NHUAC meeting, Burien Parks’ Debbie Zemke made a guest appearance to announce a new outdoor-concert series in North Burien – free, to be held on the grounds of Hilltop School (she said they would have liked to have it in a park but power and electricity issues couldn’t be worked out), 6:30 pm Wednesday nights, July 13th with Banda Vagos, July 20th with Global Heat, and July 27th with the Camano Cadillac Band.

DELRIDGE NEIGHBORHOODS DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION & PAPPAS VILLAGE: This organization is headquartered in West Seattle, but is involved with White Center projects, including the under-construction Strength of Place Village, and the proposed Pappas Village, which sparked a heated discussion. First – NDNA executive director Derek Birnie presented a primer to NHUAC, explaining that his is one of eight similar community-development organizations in the general Seattle area. Though most people know them for development, that’s not all they do, Birnie explained; they also have been active in health/fitness advocacy. Their development projects, he says, couple community facilities with affordable housing – with examples including the Delridge Library branch in the same building as Vivian McLean Place; he also told the story of how the historic Cooper School building was transformed into Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, after neighbors said the building needed to be brought back to life.

Regarding Strength of Place, he said they just had a walkthrough because it’s 50 percent done – the first families will move in in September, and it’ll be done in October. (DNDA partnered with Capitol Hill Housing to make the project happen, and the partnership helped “attract more resources,” he explained.) The next project, Pappas Village, at 14th/107th (a one-acre parcel), is envisioned as offering “housing units that are affordable and accessible to low- and moderate-income families in White Center,” he explained, with “a mix of unit sizes that provides housing opportunities for some larger families.” Their first thought is for 60 units. For its commercial space, Birnie said child care might be a possibility – they’re talking to some possible providers. One challenge is that the project slopes away from the street, and he’s not certain whether that might get in the way of some underground parking. They’re still seeking a development partner and financing, in hopes that the former will lead to the latter, and they’ve just gone public with a “request for proposals” – they’re asking for interest to be expressed by the end of July. If they don’t find a partner, they might have to figure out something else to do with the property – maybe even putting it up for sale – Birnie said.

NHUAC’s ongoing concerns about too much low-income housing in the greater White Center area resurfaced here. Councilmember Jessica Stoneback asked if there would be a mix of housing for people with not-so-low income levels, and said that while she lives nearby, she hasn’t heard anything about the project; Birnie said they had been partnered for outreach with the White Center Community Development Association, and that he will check on what’s being done. Councilmember Liz Giba added that she is also concerned about the concentration of poverty in the area, and wondered if Birnie were “aware of the numbers” and how much the concentration of poverty “hurts this community.” He said he is, and acknowledged that Greenbridge‘s promised mix of homes for sale with the rentals hasn’t materialized. He said DNDA recently spoke with the Washington Housing Finance Commission and asked them for more flexibility regarding “what gets developed on this property” – though they originally had had to commit to “affordable housing” only. Councilmember Ron Johnson expressed similar concerns. New president Dobkin called it “disheartening” that there hadn’t been much outreach and said she hadn’t even heard about this proposal until recently. “No one is opposed to affordable housing,” Dobkin said, but the housing base in the community desperately needs diversification – the concentration of low-income housing has harmed the tax base, she said.

The property owners, Gus and Mary Anne Pappas, were there. She countered the NHUAC members’ comments with, “We think this project is going to be great”; an associate of hers who worked on the deal said that a project like this seemed to be an improvement over the two houses that currently are on the acre-plus parcel, and noted that the Pappas’s are longtime White Center residents, whose name will be on the project. Council and audience members said they had never heard that before. Birnie stepped in and acknowledged, “A ball has clearly been dropped” regarding communication of this project. Then he reiterated that his organization is open to changes in how the property might be developed, and that needed to be kept in mind given “the intensity of feelings.”

One such feeling that surfaced after Birnie was asked who chose the site for the project, and replied that the White Center Community Development Association was involved: “Who made the (WCCDA) a spokesperson for the community?” asked former NHUAC president Greg Duff, whose home is now in North Burien (and he’s running for City Council). Birnie said he couldn’t speak for them.

KING COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE: Sgt. Rodney Chinnick, who runs the KCSO gang unit – “which is busy these days,” he noted – “pinch-hit” with the latest stats. Residential burglaries and assaults ‘are both going in the wrong direction,” he said. There had been some arrests recently, but he noted the younger suspects didn’t stay behind bars so long “because of the turnstile system of justice” for juveniles. He speculated that the higher assault rate might be tied to summertime behavior and alcohol ingestion, and warned that this weekend will tell the story, since good weather is forecast. … He was asked by councilmember Douglas Harrell how funding is going for the Gang Unit; Chinnick said that some of it is dependent on grants, and they’re still awaiting word on renewal of at least one key grant. … Questions were asked regarding how to deal with a problem involving alcohol abuse near a local grocery store; if there’s a problem, it was reiterated, call 911 – don’t think too hard about whether to call, just know that the dispatchers have a prioritization system (and if you suspect there’s a problem with an establishment, whether store or bar, report it to the State Liquor Control Board). Councilmember Christine Waldman also noted you can make reports online. Also regarding alcohol and related violations, Sgt. Chinnick said the closure of Club Evo had dramatically reduced the number of calls to that address; noting that the injunction that closed the club became permanent in mid-May, he also pointed out that the ownership hasn’t changed and could choose to open a new business.

POTENTIAL CHANGES IN ZONING: A representative from King County DDES says a planned project in White Center has brought a proposal for changes in “special district overlay” conditions applying to development in the area. One change would involve setbacks from an alley, prompted by a development proposal that would have to be set back further than any of the existing buildings because of current codes, so an exception is being considered. Another exemption for the proposal would involve landscaping. NHUAC members asked for more specifics; the project is proposed for a stretch of 16th between 106th and 107th, potentially with a ground-floor church and apartments over it. That was the major item of discussion, though he also brought along documents with a sheaf of other tweaks, not project-specific, proposed to codes. He says the County Council is expected to take action in fall.

WILL THERE BE MONEY FOR NHUAC AFTER THIS MONTH? The county liaison who was on hand said it’s not known yet – but the County Council is expected to discuss the Unincorporated Area Councils issue at an upcoming meeting.

PUBLIC COMMENT: One person spoke, Gill Loring, who announced that the White Center Bartell Drugs store will soon have its drug-take-back bin up and running, per the White Center-South Delridge Community Safety Coalition … He also noted that Zippy’s Giant Burgers is open in White Center (as we’ve been reporting) – he says he had one for the first time and “they’re really good.”

ANNOUNCEMENTS: The North Highline Fire District will be accepting applications for volunteer firefighters soon; applications will be on the website sometime early next week. … The White Center Recycling Event is happening at Evergreen High School 9 am-3 pm this Saturday … The White Center Library Guild’s big fundraiser sale is June 18 … The next King County Library Board meeting is on June 28th, and president Dobkin reminded all of what’s at stake (here’s our coverage from the last meeting).

FIREWORKS FOR JUBILEE DAYS: Wednesday, July 13th, councilmember Giba said, is when the pre-Jubilee Days fireworks display is scheduled. Friday, July 15th, a retro-rollerskating event at Southgate Roller Rink is scheduled; Saturday, July 16th, has the parade and a car show, and Sunday, July 17th, will be the second/final day of the festival.

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets the first Thursday of the month, 7 pm, at North Highline Fire District HQ.

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‘Green jobs’ training showcased at future White Center development site

July 21st, 2010 Tracy Posted in Development, Environment, White Center Community Development Association, White Center news 1 Comment »

(Video and photos by Cliff DesPeaux)
For White Center Now and partner site West Seattle Blog, photojournalist Cliff DesPeaux covered today’s “Got Green?” “green jobs”-program media event at SW 100th and 13th SW, on the site of the future Strength of Place Initiative (SOPI) Village in WC. The video above is from the media briefing that kicked off the event, at one of the existing houses that will be demolished as part of the revving-up project:

SOPI is a project to create 30 future housing units, involving the White Center Community Development Association as well as both the West Seattle-based Delridge Neighborhood Development Association and Capitol Hill Housing. The workers who are training in weatherization techniques at the future demolition site are hoping to be providing as part of a City of Seattle project that organizers say will kick off this fall. As part of today’s event, Seattle Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith was on hand (he speaks about 5 minutes into our video clip). RIght now, 14 trainees are learning at this site. A walking tour followed the briefing, going inside the house to see what the trainees are working on – such as measuring for insulation:

In the next photo, Michael Siva is working in the crawl space:

Placards at the training site reminded onlookers what the project’s about:

You can find out more about Got Green? here. As for Strength of Place Initiative, groundbreaking is set to happen later this summer – here’s one of the renderings:

Its description, from project managers:

Located on the corner of SW 100th Street and 13th Avenue SW, the project will have 30 apartments ranging from one-bedrooms to three-bedrooms for low-income families making less than about $55,000/year. Strength of Place Village will also deliver living-wage construction jobs to White Center and will be green built to the Washington State Evergreen Sustainable Development Standard.

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Behind-the-scenes look at White Center Square – in 2 ways

April 7th, 2010 Tracy Posted in Businesses, Development, White Center news Comments Off on Behind-the-scenes look at White Center Square – in 2 ways

(National Development Council’s Michelle Morlan with White Center Square developer Con Vong)
By Tracy Record
White Center Now

Con Vong says his family hasn’t chosen the date yet for the anticipated July grand opening of White Center Square, but the choice will be a big one: “You’ve got to pick a good day.”

The date was strategically chosen, after all, for last May’s groundbreaking (WCN coverage here) at the site along 100th between 14th and 15th SW (map), and the ceremony featured prayers and blessings as well as shovels.

Now, 10 months later, the buildings are up, though the future 68-space parking lot is still rocks, dirt and heavy equipment. We took a hard=hat tour of the site this week at the invitation of local reps from the National Development Council, a nonprofit agency that helped arrange the financing for the $11 million project, including the use of New Markets Tax Credits – a federal program whose future is by no means guaranteed, which is why those involved with it are working to get the word out about what it’s helped achieve.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Rainy season alert from the county

September 30th, 2009 Tracy Posted in Development, King County, White Center news Comments Off on Rainy season alert from the county

A news release we received from the county this morning – important information regarding keeping construction sites from becoming a problem during the rainy season – if you’re involved with construction, read on: Read the rest of this entry »

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Follow Up on Editorial: Should We Take Susan Hutchison Seriously

September 28th, 2009 Ricardo Posted in Boulevard Park, Development, Economy, Election, Government, housing, Jail Sites, Jobs, King County, Safety, Sustainability, Traffic, Transportation, White Center 19 Comments »

For those who missed it, KUOW today broadcast an interview with, King County Executive, Susan Hutchison.  You can find the interview at KUOW Weekday.  In a prior post I had made the following observation which sparked a fair amount of discussion:

Ms. Hutchison has never held public office.  She has never had to struggle with the political realities of governing a complex political entity whose ambits include not only roads and sewers but social services, neighborhoods and law enforcement.  It is difficult to see how her experience on the board of the Seattle Symphony prepared her, in the slightest way, for such a weighty role.

If anyone had any doubt about Ms. Hutchison’s lack of specificity on issues, policies or even advisors, it is worth a listen (available on podcast).  Pressed by the moderator to name a single advisor who she consults, or who she would bring to her administration, she flatly resisted naming anyone, except to say bus drivers.  Her conclusion was “trust me” they will be great people.  I have nothing against bus drivers, but maybe she could have named a couple of the guys that she intends to bring to the Hutchison administration that will “bring people together.”  I’m sorry but calling Hutchison a “lightweight” does not begin to describe the chasm that is her lack of qualification to hold such an important post.  Listen for yourself.

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Should We Take Susan Hutchison Seriously: Editorial by Ricardo A. Guarnero

September 23rd, 2009 Ricardo Posted in Annexation, Boulevard Park, Businesses, Development, Economy, Election, Greenbridge, housing, Metro, North Highline UAC, Politics, White Center 22 Comments »

Given that White Center, Boulevard Park and surrounding areas are governed directly by King County, the choice of King County Executive should be taken very seriously.  The two candidates are Susan Hutchison and Dow Constantine.  Constantine is a fixture of West Seattle and White Center politics, so he is a known commodity.  Not so, Susan Hutchison, who hails from the East Side of the County.  Candidate Hutchison has run a “feel good” campaign, emphasizing her position to “bring people together.”  Her website’s issues page contains four short paragraphs, with the following priorities:

Jobs & the Economy:

Susan will help give small businesses the tools they need to create jobs…

Improve Transportation:

Susan will quickly implement simple changes to encourage transit ridership…

Budget Reform:

Susan will identify waste and restructure the budget to ensure our tax dollars are being spent effectively.

Protect Our Environment.

Susan will forge partnerships between environmental, labor and business groups as we work toward our common goal…

That’s it folks, Susan Hutchison’s platform for managing one of the biggest governmental entities in the country. In her defense, it might be said that she is offering as much detail as the two lightweights who are currently vying to be Seattle’s next mayor.  But then, that’s not much of a complement.

I will forthrightly state that I do not like Ms. Hutchison’s right-wing politics and that on that basis alone, she should be disqualified for the position.  Seattle and King County residents are a tolerant, liberal community.  To have a George Bush conservative speaking for us, just does not sit well.  But what about her competence?

Ms. Hutchison has never held public office.  She has never had to struggle with the political realities of governing a complex political entity whose ambits include not only roads and sewers but social services, neighborhoods and law enforcement.  It is difficult to see how her experience on the board of the Seattle Symphony prepared her, in the slightest way, for such a weighty role.

I often disagreed with former King County Executive, Ron Sims, but I found him thoughtful, intelligent and most importantly, quite knowledgeable on any issue relating to his role as Executive of the very large and expansive King County.  On the issue of affordable housing, we know nothing as to where Hutchison stands?  Does she support the Greenbridge and High Point housing/community developments?  If so, on what basis?  If not, why not?  Where does she stand on the issue of incorporation which raises the hackles of so many of White Center’s residents?

And what of her experience dealing with communities of color or economically distressed areas?  How does her “bringing people together” chirp really address the many challenges that White Center faces?  The fact is, nothing in her background begins to give her a serious understanding of White Center or similar communities.  There is no on-the-job training for such issues.  And Ms. Hutchison has given no indication that she even remotely cares about such issues.  In the end, Hutchison is what she was in her prior role as newscaster, a pretty face with a vacuous resume.

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Seattle Mayoral Candidate Mike McGinn A One Song Bird: Gut the Viaduct Plan – Editorial by Ricardo A. Guarnero

September 16th, 2009 Ricardo Posted in Alaskan Way Viaduct, Development, Election, Government, Politics, Traffic, Transportation, White Center 11 Comments »

It appears that Seattle Mayoral Candidate, Mike McGinn has staked his campaign on one issue, gutting the viaduct tunnel plan carefully negotiated by all the relevant players.  If he wins, he has stated, he will view his victory as a mandate to undo the viaduct replacement plan.  In its stead, McGinn has promised more busses, sidewalks and bike paths.  As someone who regularly commutes on the viaduct it’s hard for me to see how more sidewalks and bikepaths is going to make my commute any easier.  Oh, yeah, and McGinn says he wants to use light rail to replace the viaduct.  Geez, I didn’t know that Sound Transit was planning a light rail leg for West Seattle and White Center.  Wait, there is no light rail leg for West Seattle.  So if McGinn is elected we can expect protracted delays on replacing the viaduct, procuring boatloads of money and the decade’s long process of what:  extending the light rail line to West Seattle.  No problema.  I’ll take the tunnel.  It’s clear that McGinn does not live in West Seattle nor does he use the viaduct to commute.

What is particularly disingenuous, is McGinn’s claim that the tunnel option was voted down by Seattle voters.  This is simply not true.  A tunnel option which would have meant tearing down the viaduct and digging up a tunnel was rejected.  The deep bore tunnel that is currently planned would leave the viaduct in place while the tunnel gets built, saving West Seattleites years of aggravating surface detours.  This option was negotiated because it provides the most mobility and least interference while it is getting built.  What McGinn is proposing would set us back a decade and have us revisit the viaduct replacement options once again.  Recall how all this useless process killed the monorail (we had to vote on it three times).  And in the meantime, we have to hope that a seismic event doesn’t make the whole thing hollow by bringing down the decrepit structure.  Busses, bikes and sidewalks, Oh My!

McGinn’s ill-defined plans for the viaduct are enough to nix the guy in my book.  Add to that, the fact that he has never held electoral office, that most of his policy positions lack any specificity and you have a feel-good kind of guy that you might pick for your soccer team, but not a mayor for a major city.  Seattle needs better.  I’m not crazy about Joe Mallahan, but he at least seems considerably more grounded on policies.  We have already had a couple of amateurs embarrass the City.  It’s time to let the grown ups proceed with real policies grounded in reality.

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White Center Community Development Association holds luau fundraiser

August 31st, 2009 Ricardo Posted in Development, White Center 1 Comment »

Foregoing the usual banquet, the White Center Community Development Association held its annual fundraiser as a luau in the recently renovated White Center Heights Park.  Over $12,000 was raised; 320 attended.  The entertainment was all derived from the Pacific Islander theme, right down to the pig — roasted underground and here seen, well cooked.

Pacific Island Dancers

Pacific Island Dancers

Fire dancer at CDA luau

Fire dancer at CDA luau

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Random Thoughts on Tacoma and White Center

July 19th, 2009 Ricardo Posted in Businesses, cafe rozella, Crime, Development, Economy, Full Tilt Ice Cream, Greenbridge, People, White Center 3 Comments »

Two elderly ladies walk into Cafe Rozella gushing about the cafe.  Unprompted, one of them says, “we love White Center.  We tell people we live in West Seattle, because of White Center, not in spite of it.”  I relate this anecdote, because despite it’s ragged edges, White Center is a place of vibrancy and life.

Years ago, I used to have an office job in downtown Tacoma.  If we wanted to get something to eat, we would troop into our cars and head to Old Town or the Tacoma waterfront.  The downtown core was desolate.  As one of my colleagues used to say, “you can’t buy an Aspirin in downtown Tacoma.”  Sadly, he was right, there was nary a Bartells, Walgreeens or even a small Asian grocery store to buy anything essential.  Coffee shops were nonexistent and the hilltop area was still a war zone.  I relate this, not to knock Tacoma, after all, it has really improved, but it has improved in ways far different than White Center.

Most of Tacoma’s improvement has been the subject of heavy top-down government investment and tax incentives.  While the Greenbridge Project on the west side of White Center might be considered similarly, “top down,” it is but a small part of what makes the area a better place.  White Center has always had a community and a functioning business core.  Many White Center businesses, (Center Tool Rental, White Center Glass), have been there for decades.  Nonetheless, there was a time, not too long ago, when the walk on 16th Avenue SW, south of Roxbury, was undertaken with trepidation and certainly never after dark.   Today, White Center is a different place.

Immigrants from all parts of the world have opened businesses throughout the White Cener business core. This is organic growth, from the roots up.  Projects such as Greenbridge seek to encourage such growth.  As well, there are businesses opening from locals who want in on a dynamic area.  Cafe Rozella is but one, there is also Full Tilt Ice Cream, Proletarian Pizza and word of a couple of other new businesses.  These are businesses operated by young people who are dynamic and future-oriented.  Tolerant and educated, they are what social scientist, Richard Florida would call the creative class.  Rather than berate the lack of a McDonalds, we celebrate the Pho shops, the Salvadorean pupusas and the Guyamas Burritos amongst many other great eating establishments.

So next time you have friends visiting from out-of-town, do the Space Needle but bring them to White Center and invite them to take in the rich melting of cultures inherent in this corner of the world.  And, if by chance, one of your guest gets a headache and, if you want to buy an Aspirin there is the Super-Walgreens and the local Bartells.  But I suspect a custom ice cream cone from Full Tilt or an Americano from Cafe Rozella would work just as well.   Cheers!

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New Pizza Place Coming to White Center

May 27th, 2009 Ricardo Posted in Businesses, Development, Economy, Food, White Center 10 Comments »

The heart of White Center will host a new pizza parlor. In keeping with our Commie-working class theme, the pizza place will be named Proletariat Pizza. The location is the old Elisa’s Bakery site, just across the street from Full Tilt Ice Cream. Great News for White Center!

Future Site of Proletarian Pizza

Future Site of Proletariat Pizza

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Announced: Parade Route for Devil’s Dance Parade in White Center – May 29th – 6 p.m.

May 19th, 2009 Ricardo Posted in Arts, cafe rozella, Development, Full Tilt Ice Cream, Fun, Music, White Center 3 Comments »

Son de los Diablos Parade

Son de los Diablos Parade

The Parade Route for the Devil’s Dance has been announced: The Parade starts at El Paisano, on the corner of 15th Ave. SW and Roxbury, proceeds to La Fondita at SW 98th St., and then to Full Tilt Ice Cream at 9629 16th Avenue SW then to the Triangle at Roxbury/16th Ave. SW/Delridge and then from there to Cafe Rozella for a Muscial Performance. (Choreography by Monica Rojas, Ph.D.)

Diablo Dancing to Afro-Peruvian Rythms.

Diablo Dancing to Afro-Peruvian Rythms.

Afro-Peruvian Dance and Music:  El Son De Los Diablos
NPR States, “Afro-Peruvian music has complex, sensual rhythms. Its instrumentation is spare, originally just nylon-string guitar, bass and a wooden box called cajon. When it started getting outside attention in the mid-’90s, it felt new. The music’s lean architecture and introspective mood differentiated it from the likes of salsa and merengue.”
“The people of the so-called Black Pacific were so far removed from their African origins that the creators of Afro-Peruvian music couldn’t rely much on cultural memory. So they created instruments, rhythms and a compelling musical aesthetic that was largely a product of their imaginations. The pride of Afro-Peruvian music is the lando, an elegant dance with intertwined rhythms and a seductive undertow.”
El Son De Los Diablos will feature the musicians behind Grammy Award Winner Susana Baca.  Truly a unique experience of a hot new trend in Latin American Music.
Admission is FREE

Diablos do choreagraphed dance movements

Diablos do choreagraphed dance movements


African slaves were brought over to the Spanish colony of Peru in the 16th century to work mainly in the gold and silver mines of the high Andes. However their physique was not suited to the high altitude and they died by the hundreds. Their Spanish or Creole (descendants of European settlers in Latin America) masters sent them to work in the milder climate of the desert coast, where they laboured in the large haciendas; private farms. It was in their small huts, on the packed dirt floors of the courtyards overrun with animals and in the fields of cane and sugar cane that Afro-Peruvian music, song and dance were born.

The beginnings of slavery in Peru were different from the rest of the Americas. Although in Brazil or Central and North American countries it was common to import large groups of slaves from the same African tribe, only small and geographically dispersed ethnic groups were brought to Peru. This was meant to discourage rebel movements around the tribal chiefs, and as such, made almost impossible the preservation of communal traditions. Without a common language or tribal authority to remind them of their roots, Peruvian slaves were progressively integrated into the culture and language of their new country. As a result Afro-Peruvian music is a unique blend of Spanish, Andean and African traditions.

Centuries old, this music started to gain recognition in Peru about 40 years ago and it has became popular in the last 25 years. It was born in the coastal barrios (suburbs) and towns and was reconstructed and resurrected thanks to the work of a few artists and historians. Because the Africans were forbidden from playing their own instruments, percussion instruments developed out of the simplest household appliances; spoons, kitchen chairs, table tops, boxes, handclaps, until it reached this century with the creation of the cajon as a specific instrument to play music.

The cajon which is a wooden-box in which the player sits on to play, is thought to have originated in Peru.  The cajon is made out of hardwood with the front cover being of a very fine layer of plywood. The cajon has an open circle cut at the back of the instrument. The player sits and plays two main strokes as well as a few other variations. The main two consist of: the tone of the box which is played with the full palm in the middle of the “head” (this stroke is usually a bass or palm sound on a variety of African derived hand drums found around the world) and the slap which is played on the edge of the “head” of the instrument (this sound also part of the technique used in many hand drums around the world).

Cotito - El cajon

Cotito - El cajon

(A big thank you to Latino Cultural Magazine for the photographs.)

May 23rd, (Saturday), 7:30pm,  Afro-Peruvian percussionist Juan Medrano Cotito releases his new CD “La Voz Del Cajon” at  Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center.
$20 including CD.

These events are sponsored by AFrican ConeXion Project, 4Culture and Cafe Rozella.

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