PHOTOS: See unincorporated North Highline’s new park-to-be!

July 9th, 2020 Tracy Posted in King County, Parks, White Center news 1 Comment »

(WCN photos)

Five forested acres for less than $360,000. “A screaming deal,” as King County Executive Dow Constantine observed while touring unincorporated North Highline’s newest park-to-be this past Monday. We were along for the tour, as was a small county delegation including County Councilmember Joe McDermott.

The park plan for 10203 9th Avenue S., officially announced today, has been in the works a while. The acquisition was completed in January. Going back further, to last year, this is the site King County’s Dave Kimmett was talking about during a guest appearance before the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council. Its previous owners, who Kimmett said are in China, could have developed it as residential property, but decided to sell instead. It would admittedly have been tough to develop – for many of the reasons that make it perfect as open space, like a ravine for what the county says is an “unnamed creek”:

The county already has cleared some invasives and trucked out tons of dumped material, but there’s more work to do, and it’ll be next year before this is ready to debut as a park.

If you’re having trouble placing the site, here’s a map.

It’s definitely an urban oasis – airplane noise with Sea-Tac-bound jets right overhead, traffic noise with trucks rumbling along roads to the west, and a big apartment complex to the north. A half-mile of trails will be built through the park, which has only “social trails” now (and you can get a glimpse into the land’s north side from a walkway along the apartment complex’s south edge).

Restoration costs are expected to total around $30,000 for the next year or so of work. Meantime, more acquisitions are expected as part of the ongoing Land Conservation Initiative.

“Very exciting,” enthused Executive Constantine.

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ROAD-WORK ALERT: Roundabout painting next week

June 26th, 2020 Tracy Posted in King County, Traffic, Transportation, White Center news No Comments »

Announced today by the county:

Beginning 7 a.m. Tuesday, June 30 through 11:59 p.m. Thursday, July 2, parking will be temporarily removed to make room for Metro bus re-rerouting during roundabout painting work on SW 100th and SW 106th streets between 8th Avenue SW and 4th Avenue SW.

Parking will be temporarily removed in the following locations:

• North side of SW 100th Street between 4th Avenue SW and 8th Avenue SW

• Both sides (north and south) of SW 106th Street, 100-feet east of 4th Avenue SW and 100-feet west of 8th Avenue SW in White Center

This will allow King County Metro enough room to reroute buses while road maintenance crews paint the roundabout at the intersection of 8th Avenue SW and SW 102nd Street. Buses will remain rerouted for the full three days to allow time for the paint to cure. This work is weather dependent.

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More outdoor business? King County Council passes bill to pave the way

June 23rd, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, King County, White Center news Comments Off on More outdoor business? King County Council passes bill to pave the way

Being outside is safer in these COVID-19 times, and that’s the inspiration for a bill passed today by the King County Council. Here’s the announcement:

Legislation passed Tuesday afternoon by the King County Council may lead to increased flexibility for restaurants, retail shops, and providers of certain personal services across unincorporated King County.

Passed unanimously, the measure requests the County Executive allow restaurants, retail services, and providers of certain personal services to use private parking areas, other private property and adjacent sidewalks, alleys or other right-of-ways for new or additional outdoor seating or retail use.

“As our economy begins to open up, it is important that we look for ways to help businesses across the county,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, who sponsored the legislation. “Different communities have been affected by COVID-19 in different ways, and the legislation passed today creates more flexibility for businesses to provide outdoor dining, retail shopping, and other services as they try to recover from this pandemic while following public health guidance. I look forward to new opportunities to do business and enjoy expanded services all across the county, including in the beautiful Snoqualmie Valley!”

The measure would only apply during the county’s movement through Phases 1-3 of Washington’s Safe Start Plan. It would sunset during Phase 4.

“Let’s seize our opportunity to support innovative business ideas,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott, who co-sponsored the legislation. “As King County advances through the state’s Safe Start phases, we as a County should do all we can within these Public Health guidelines to support recovery in our communities. I envision great outdoor possibilities in White Center and on Vashon!”

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County’s help for small businesses: Sign up for coaching

June 11th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Businesses, Coronavirus, King County, White Center news Comments Off on County’s help for small businesses: Sign up for coaching

The announcement is from the King County Department of Local Services:

Business owners in unincorporated King County can call or sign up online to receive business assistance coaching. This service is provided under the $4 million Small Business Assistance Program, approved by the King County Council in May, to help businesses in the unincorporated areas recover from the impacts of COVID-19-related closures.

King County Local Services is contracting with two U.S. Treasury-certified Community Development Financial Institutions, Business Impact NW and Ventures, to provide the technical assistance to small businesses in unincorporated King County that have been hurt by COVID-19 and related public health measures.

Over-the-phone coaching will be available to businesses directly, as well as to local chambers of commerce and other community business organizations that serve businesses in these areas.

If needed, language interpreters will work with coaches and business owners during the technical assistance sessions. To access services in a language other than English, businesses should leave a phone message including the name of the language they speak. They will receive a call back from a coach and interpreter within two business days.

If you own a business in unincorporated King County, technical assistance coaches can help you with:

Information about the latest (federal, state, and local) funding and loan resources
Assistance with utility bills
Filling out grant or funding application forms
Coaching to help your business survive the impacts of COVID-19 closures

To access this technical assistance, call 206-331-3275 and leave a message. A coach will call back within two business days.

To learn more about this program, visit www.kingcounty.gov/localbusinesshelp.

The Small Business Assistance Program will also include a grant program to help small businesses in unincorporated King County “keep the lights on.” That program is set to launch later this month.

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FOLLOWUP: Top Hat quarantine site still idle

May 28th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, King County, Top Hat, White Center news Comments Off on FOLLOWUP: Top Hat quarantine site still idle

Almost three months after its abrupt announcement ignited community concern, the Top Hat site set up by King County for possible COVID-19 quarantine/isolation remains idle. On Wednesday’s weekly informational call for White Center ccommunity members, a neighborhood activist again asked about the site’s post-pandemic future, but the county insists it’s too soon to say. Meantime, the county is closing the Shoreline site it had set up for assessment and recovery, as explained by Angie Malpass:

As a result of flattening the curve, the operations at the Shoreline AC/RC site, designed to handle a surge of cases, are on hold now that our health-care system, and isolation and quarantine centers have plenty of capacity. The structures will likely remain standing through the end of June when the agreement between the City of Shoreline and King County expires, as we continue to monitor case counts and demand for isolation, quarantine and assessment/recovery centers.

That leaves four county centers in operation – Kent, North Seattle/Aurora, Issaquah, and Harborview Hall. 33 people in all are staying at those facilities, far below the total 246-person capacity. Along with those, the Top Hat site and one in Eastgate “continue to stand ready to open when needed, if demand grows or we experience a second surge,” Malpass said, but, “King County will bring current operational facilities up to full capacity before opening new sites for isolation, quarantine, or recovery.”

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PHOTOS: Top Hat quarantine/isolation site, as work nears finish

April 6th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, Health, King County, Top Hat, White Center news 3 Comments »

For the first time since the day it was announced five weeks ago, we have a close-up look at the quarantine/isolation site the county is setting up in Top Hat as part of its COVID-19 response.

These are county-provided photos taken at the site this past Saturday (April 4th).

Only one four-room modular unit was in place when the site was announcdd. The old Wilderness Technology Alliance building on the site was demolished to make room for more.

Angie Malpass from King County explains, “They are finishing setting up the rooms with supplies, and while it will be ready to open this week, the county is holding off on opening until there is demand, so the opening is TBD for now, based on numbers”

As of today, the county is housing 48 people at the three other sites it has opened so far.

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QUARANTINE SITE UPDATE: Might open Friday, might not

April 2nd, 2020 Tracy Posted in King County, Top Hat, White Center news 2 Comments »

Will the county’s quarantine/isolation site in Top Hat open Friaay as projected? County reps on Wednesday’s regular weekly community-update call couldn’t say for sure, but promised an email update by week’s end, one way or another. That’s the only real information that emerged from the call. The county has three other sites already in operation – in North Seattle, Issaquah, and Kent – with a total of 23 people now staying in them. The county says this one will have nursing staff on site when it opens.

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QUARANTINE/ISOLATION SITE: County’s update on Top Hat location

March 18th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, King County, Top Hat, White Center news 1 Comment »

(WCN file photo)

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Nobody’s in the Top Hat quarantine/isolation facility (206 SW 112th) yet. But the county is launching weekly community phone meetings for updates and Q&A. We participated in the first one this afternoon.

John Taylor from Local Services, Callie Knight from the Executive’s Office, Brad Binder from Public Health, County Councilmember Joe McDermott were among those on the call.

Regarding the timeline, Knight said the timeline for opening is still “at least a week and a half” away. April 3rd is the target date, to be open for 8 four-unit trailers, including one unit to be used as an on-site office, added Christina Gonzales of Facilities, who joined the call latr. They’re still working on utility hookups. So no one is occupying it yet, but work crews continue their efforts. Demolition of the existing building hasn’t yet been completed – that’s needed to facilitate more modular units.

Regarding health staff on site, Knight said they’re still working on that and whether it would be 24/7 or not. No matter how that works, everyone who occupies the site will have a cell phone and would be checked on by “public health professionals” at least twice a day. If they needed to be moved to a health-care facility, they would be.

As for requiring people to stay there – we’re not in a police state situation, Knight said, but they hope the decision to not house anyone there with behavior-health or social-service needs, they hope it will reduce the possibility. They are working on “notification measures …so that quick communication could happen” if someone does leave against advisement.

Nearby residents are going to get in-person outreach starting tomorrow, with a team of 4 county workers, and they’ve been reaching out to local businesses and apartment managers as well.

Will the food provided for quarantined people come from local providers? They’re working on that, county reps said. Will local volunteers be needed? Coordination of offers of help is in progress. Call participants mentioned that – separate from this – Camp Second Chance on Myers Way is having trouble getting sanitary items.

Want to be on the next call? email cknight@kingcounty.gov

In addition to this site, the county also has opened a former motel in Kent, where three people are now in isolation, and also has leased a motel in Issaquah as well as working on other sites in Bellevue, Interbay, and North Seattle.

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QUARANTINE/ISOLATION SITES: King County adds two on Eastside

March 14th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, King County, White Center news Comments Off on QUARANTINE/ISOLATION SITES: King County adds two on Eastside

No occupants yet at the Top Hat site, but King County’s daily coronavirus update included this update about two new quarantine/isolation sites, both on the Eastside, plus a new shelter space:

King County continues to look to its own properties and facilities as critical assets and resources, and is also actively pursuing new acquisitions countywide that can serve the needs of our communities during this unprecedented health crisis. The county is re-purposing and dedicating the following three county properties:

King County International Airport [Boeing Field]: In a continuing effort to lower the number of people in our larger shelter locations and achieve the recommended social-distancing guidelines (six feel apart), the Arrivals Hall at the King County International Airport (7277 Perimeter Road South) is being used to provide shelter for the men, typically older adults, who usually shelter at St. Martin De Porres in Seattle. This service began on 3/13/20, and last night sheltered 80 men, 55 years or older. This action will help prevent people from becoming ill in the first place.

Eastgate Parking Lot: A fully self-contained tent, with flooring and heat, has been purchased for use as an isolation and recovery location and will be placed on the county-owned parking lot located at 13620 Eastgate Way in Bellevue. The location will have 24/7 onsite security and health services staff. The site will be available in about a week.

Issaquah Motel (new acquisition): King County Facilities Management Division has finalized a lease of a motel located at 1801 12th Avenue NW in Issaquah. We are currently considering site uses that include expanding medical support for vulnerable populations or isolation for people who do not require significant social support services, as well as step-down medical care for people who do not require hospitalization to maximize available space in regional medical facilities.

King County will continue to identify or acquire properties in all parts of the county to ensure residents are supported appropriately through this health emergency.

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QUARANTINE/ISOLATION SITE: King County amends plan after Kent incident

March 13th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, King County, Top Hat, White Center news 5 Comments »

Received from the county this morning:

As King County’s response to COVID-19 evolves and to address community concerns, King County’s temporary housing units in Kent and White Center will be available for those individuals who are able to quarantine or isolate without the need of social services or additional supports.

On March 12, an individual experiencing homelessness and waiting test results for COVID-19 voluntarily responded to offers of service and took a room at the Kent motel currently used for isolation and quarantine.

At approximately 7:30 a.m., the individual disregarded the instructions of an onsite security guard and left the motel. The individual crossed Central Avenue North and entered a convenience store, where he allegedly shoplifted items before taking a northbound Route 153 King County Metro bus. The bus was taken out of service for cleaning and sanitation.

There have only been two people in this facility so far. The first individual tested negative and left the motel.

As the COVID-19 crisis unfolds and resources are rapidly moving to meet public health needs, King County is shifting the Kent and White Center sites to help people who do not need supportive social services.

Sites for those with behavioral health needs will be identified and staffed appropriately.

Public Health Seattle & King County expects that the vast majority of residents who are infected or who have symptoms will successfully isolate in their own homes. King County does not have a mandatory quarantine in place.

As we reported earlier this week, no one has been moved into the Top Hat facility yet, and the county says that might not happen for two weeks.

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TOP HAT QUARANTINE SITE: ‘At least 2 weeks’ before anyone moves in

March 12th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, Health, King County, Top Hat, White Center news 1 Comment »

Five days after an at-times-contentious phone meeting about the county’s plan to open a COVID-19 quarantine/isolation compound at 206 SW 112th in Top Hat, the promised email followup has arrived. The headline: Calli Knight from King County Executive Dow Constantine‘s office says, “I’ve confirmed with Facilities Management and Public Health that no one will occupy the site for at least the next two weeks. … While residents may see Facilities Management staff at the site working on utility hook-up, no one will be occupying the facilities. We are committed to giving as much advance notice as possible when the facility becomes fully operational (meaning when an individual or individuals actually utilize the facility to get well).” And Knight noted a change from what was said on Friday’s call: “Additionally, my team is working on confirming that medical staff will be on-site once the facility becomes operational.”

Meantime, she promised some of the funding approved this week by the King County Council would “provide robust language access services, and direct resources to community-based organizations in White Center” and added, “We will also continue to work through how best to support impacted businesses in White Center, Kent, and near the two facilities in the City of Seattle.” According to the daily update from Seattle-King County Public Health, the Kent facility – a former motel – has its first patient in residence; the news release also says, “The number of persons in King County’s isolation and quarantine sites will be included in regular updates provided by Public Health – Seattle & King County. No other identifying or personal information will be provided.”

Back to Knight’s email, she said she’s still “working to determine answers to a small number of questions” and hopes to have them by week’s end. Two “fact sheets” were attached – this one (PDF) with Q&A about the quarantine/isolation sites, including their future use; that answer: “We are focused on the public health emergency and creating spaces for people to safely isolate and quarantine. Future use of any of the emergency community services locations being created now is a conversation for a future time.” Here’s the other one (PDF), which overlaps to some degree with the FAQ.

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

March 4th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, Health, King County, White Center news 5 Comments »

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

(WCN photo from Tuesday)

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

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

March 3rd, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, Health, King County, White Center news 31 Comments »

(WCN photos)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 28th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Environment, King County, White Center news Comments Off on White Center Community Development Association, King County Housing Authority get new Zero Waste grants

Announced today by the King County Solid Waste Division:

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

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

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

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

Projects that will be funded are listed:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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County Councilmember Joe McDermott to formally propose fireworks ban today

February 27th, 2020 Tracy Posted in King County, Safety, White Center news 6 Comments »

(Also published on partner site West Seattle Blog)

(Reader photo: Fireworks debris, July 2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor>

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

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

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

What’s in the potential pipeline includes:

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

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

-Looking at opportunities to grow Dick Thurnau Park

-Looking at an area south of Roxbury

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 6th, 2020 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on Need help with your property taxes? You might qualify for this

Announced by King County:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key points:

*Draft “vision statement” for North Highline:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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FYI: New ‘adult-beverage ordinance’ now in effect in White Center and other parts of unincorporated King County

February 4th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Beverages, King County, White Center news Comments Off on FYI: New ‘adult-beverage ordinance’ now in effect in White Center and other parts of unincorporated King County

A reminder sent by the county’s Department of Local Services:

King County’s Adult Beverage Ordinance 19030 went into effect on Jan. 3.

This ordinance updates development regulations related to all adult beverage businesses—including wineries, breweries, distilleries, and remote tasting rooms—in unincorporated King County.

This ordinance will help King County prepare for and support the future evolution of the adult beverage industry in the region. It better implements and complies with the policies of King County’s Comprehensive Plan, Growth Management Act, and countywide planning policies.

The county’s Permitting Division, in coordination with the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and Public Health-Seattle & King County, has developed a process for implementing the new law for both new and existing businesses.

Under the new ordinance, a business license is required in unincorporated King County for all businesses that manufacture adult beverages and including tasting rooms. The license fee is $100. A separate Temporary Use Permit may also be required for special events.

To get an adult beverage business license application, please call the county’s Permit Center at 206-296-6600 or email DPERWebInquiries@KingCounty.gov.

Within 30 days of receiving an adult beverage license application, King County will notify the applicant whether their application has been approved.

If approved, the business license is valid for six months. Before it expires, King County will send each applicant a letter notifying them of any additional actions needed to bring their adult beverage business into compliance with the ordinance.

To renew an adult beverage business license at the end of six months, each applicant must demonstrate substantial progress toward bringing their adult beverage business into compliance.

After the initial six-month license period, all adult beverage businesses must renew their licenses annually.

King County Permits is beginning the process of notifying affected individuals and businesses about these changes this month. Details are available at https://kingcounty.gov/adult-beverage

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