FOLLOWUP: White Center scooter-sharing plan gets County Council committee OK

September 18th, 2019 Tracy Posted in King County, Transportation, White Center news No Comments »

The e-scooter-sharing pilot project proposed for White Center, noted here last week, went before the King County Council’s Mobility and Environment Committee today. The minutes show it won unanimous approval from the six councilmembers present. Read the full proposal here. Next step: Full council vote.

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VIDEO: Updates and answers from King County reps at annual North Highline ‘Town Hall’ in White Center

September 17th, 2019 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news 4 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

At last year’s King County “town hall” for North Highline, attendees heard about the then-impending Department of Local Services launch.

This year – the new department’s director John Taylor emceed the event, held last Thursday night at Seola Gardens.

We recorded it all – in two videos, first the presentation, then the Q&A:

Toplines:

King County Councilmember Joe McDermott‘s opening remarks highlighted:

*Council’s $315 million investment in children
*”Regional entity” to be created for responding to homelessness crisis – he believes it needs a more regional response
*Disappointed in Senior Centers being left out in levy funding – Vashon, West Seattle (as reported on our partner site WSB), SeaTac, Burien – from levy; he’s talking about it with executive branch
*Banning fireworks, as he discussed at this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting – mentions deadly fire last 4th of July
*Transportation – electric scooters pilot project (to be considered by a council committee this week) is “a real opportunity”

Next to speak, Elections Director Julie Wise
*Believes 85 percent of eligible voters are registered
*Reminds you that you’ll get ballot three weeks before election
*Lots of elections next year – presidential primary in March, regular primary in August, general in November
*”I believe my job is to remove barriers” and enthuses about postage-paid mail ballots plus 68 dropboxes

Then Rich Watson from Assessor’s Office
*Starting in 2020 new threshold for seniors’ property tax exemption – ceiling raised from $40K to $58K (65% of county median income). Intent of program “to keep seniors in their homes”
*Property values are flat – 5% or less
*Taxpayer Transparency Tool – also will show you how a ballot initiative will affect your property values

King County Sheriff’s Office Major Jesse Anderson followed
*He’s been precinct commander for 1 1/2 months
*The K1 sector had 1872 calls in the most recently tallid quarter
*Part 1 crimes – more violent + burglaries – 75 to 100 a month this year, up a bit from last year
*Auto Theft spiked in spring but then dropped
*VUCSA (drugs) – made quite a few arrests in summer
*Gang-related fairly flat
*Robberies flat
*Commercial burglaries up in August, detectives working hard on that
*5 to 15 residential burglaries a month

Then back to Taylor, who quickly noted that Local Services puts out quarterly reports. Also, it has field-office days at the KCSO office in White Center – 10 am-3 pm Thursdays. Taylor said it’s “important to be out talking to people.”

He also noted that the second community forum on the Sub-Area Plan is set for 6-8 pm September 23rd at Seola Gardens.

Next, Robert Burns from DNRP
*They want to add green space in White Center and throughout the fall will work with community members regarding where that should be and how it’s used.

Josh Baldi with Water and Surface Water Management
*They inspect facilities like stormwater ponds, businesses (140 or so per quarter), public outreach/education …they’ve long been monitoring Hicklin Lake and are seeing grants to help with that.

Katie Terry, acting Parks director, talks about the just-passed levy
*improvements at Dick Thurnau Park
*Growing/connecting open space – researching “a couple of” White Center properties
*Improving mobility through local trails – like, extend Green River Trail to meet up with Duwamish River trail
*More accessible – like fixing drainage at Steve Cox Park

Jim Chen, permitting
*2,400+ permits in first half of year
*MyBuildingPermit.com – expand online options – up to 52% of permits are handled online – once single-family permits are online, probably up to 70 percent
*Code Enforcement is one of their services
*Planning – June of 2020 is when they plam to deliver North Highline Subarea Plan
*This will set the stage for what can be built over the next 10-15 years

Road Services director
*1500 miles of road, 182 bridges, about 200 line staff who maintain that area
*They don’t see all the details so they need your help reporting it (here’s how)
*Very busy in WC – investing $400,000 in sidewalks, also improved striping, signs

Terry White from Metro
*He grew up in this area
*”Everybody deserves to move” – we don’t want to be like LA where you can’t move

Mark Ellerbrook of Housing, Homelessness, and Community Development
*White Center is an example of how city/county need to work together – positive feedback for Mary’s Place shelter
*WC Hub project (8th/108th), future vision for that site – “has a fair ways to go” – office, services, housing all in one spot – WCCDA, SWYFS, CHH – Probably a year away from applying for funding, another year for permit, so construction probably 3 years away
*Looking at microhousing demonstration project – what would it look like – in WC – ordinance due to council in December

From there, it was Q&A time. Some of the highlights (watch the video for everything):

Q: What about the floating islands in Hicklin Lake?
Baldi: They are legendary, were successful, felt good about the project.

Q: Why site microhousing in WC?
Ellerbrook: Lots of interest around it – what the county is doing is setting up zoning that would allow it to occur; a private developer would develop it. A 50-unit project is proposed (he stresses again they’re pushing for comments – council will consider demonstration ordinance). One rural project is proposed (Vashon), one urban (WC).

Comment: 4th SW is one lane feeding into Olson/Myers, everyone gets stuck behind someone turning left
Roads: It’s a KCHA project but come talk to us so we can get it investigated,

Q: What’s the 8th/102nd construction near WC Heights Elementary?
Roads: Sidewalks at each corner by the roundabout but no continued sidewalk on 8th. They tried for a grant, haven’t been successful yet.

Comment: The report earlier in the week on kids needing more play time seems counter to the White Center Hub taking away greenspace.

Comment: Trash pickup in WC has gotten better. Taylor says he used to work in solid waste, so that’s a big issue for him.

There was more discussion of the proposed microhousing.

Q: What is county doing to support Duwamish Tribe and get them recognition?

McDermott: We don’t have a formal relationship but he’s been doing land recognition at the County Council – regarding the Longhouse safety concerns, he’s written letters in support of grants, and wrote recently to the mayor,

Q: How does Elections verify names?
Wise: They keep a file of signatures. Even hers has been challenged. They challenge about 2% every election.

A comment led to some discussion about tax-exempt property. It was pointed out that only about 3% of the area’s parcels fall into that category.

Councilmember McDermott closed out the meeting by mentioning a few more things in progress – an anti-displacement measure, a Renters Commission, and more. The Town Hall was summed up as a “fantastic conversation.”

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Will scooter-sharing launch in White Center?

September 13th, 2019 Tracy Posted in King County, Transportation, White Center news No Comments »

It’s one of the things mentioned by County Councilmember Joe McDermott at last night’s Town Hall (full report to come) – his proposal for a pilot scooter-sharing program in White Center (and the rest of unincorporated North Highline). The council’s Mobility and Environment Committee may vot on the proposal next Tuesday; it meets downtown at 1:30 pm September 17th. You can read the proposed ordinance by going here. If approved, it would clear the way for up to two companies to provide e-scooter sharing in the area for a year-long pilot program starting this fall.

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REMINDER: County’s Town Hall Open House in White Center tonight

September 12th, 2019 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news No Comments »

Got questions? King County reps have answers. Tonight’s Town Hall Open House for North Highline is at 7 pm at Seola Gardens, as previously previewed here – you can also go as early as 6 pm and talk one-on-one with county reps.

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TOWN HALL TIME: King County reps coming to White Center on September 12

September 3rd, 2019 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news No Comments »

It’s almost that time again – come talk with and hear from King County reps at the annual Unincorporated Area Town Hall Open House for North Highline. As the poster says, it’s set for 7-9 pm Thursday, September 12th, at the Seola Gardens community room (11215 5th Avenue SW). Doors will open at 6 so you can arrive early and talk with county reps one-on-one.

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TONIGHT: North Highline meeting about King County Comprehensive Plan

July 25th, 2019 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news 5 Comments »

Just a reminder – 6 pm at Seola Gardens is the North Highline version of the King County Comprehensive Plan briefing and Q&A, as first noted here in early June. Even if you can’t go to the meeting, you’re still invited to comment on proposed changes – find out more here. The major WC-related amendment we’re seeing is one related to the planned affordable housing/nonprofit-organization “hub” project at 8th/108th.

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VIDEO: County plan for more open-space investment announced at White Center event

June 27th, 2019 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on VIDEO: County plan for more open-space investment announced at White Center event

(WCN photo)

1:14 PM: Earlier this afternoon, King County Executive Dow Constantine, County Councilmember Joe McDermott, White Center Community Development Association executive director Sili Savusa, and others gathered at WC Heights Park for a big announcement: The county and some of its cities plan to “vigorously accelerate the pace of land conservation over the next year,” proposing to invest $63 million in 61 open-space projects. One catch: Some of the money would come from the King County Parks levy renewal/expansion that’ll be on the August 6th ballot. We asked about any White Center-area specifics; the reply was that they’re working on something but not ready to discuss it publicly yet. We recorded the entire event on video and will add it when ready later. (Meantime, here’s the announcement on the county website.)

P.S. This follows up on two briefings at the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council in the past year – most recently in March.

ADDED 9:31 PM: Two videos – the announcement, and Q&A:

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King County Comprehensive Plan meeting set for White Center in July

June 7th, 2019 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news 1 Comment »

This came up at last night’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting (full report to come), and while nobody had the date handy, we found it online, so in case you’ve been wondering:

The 2020 Public Review Draft of potential amendments to the Comprehensive Plan and associated Development Regulations in the King County Code will be released on July 1, 2019. The following flyer summarizes the list of issues being considered.

Following release, King County is hosting five community meetings during the 30-day public comment period in July. At the meetings, you can learn more about the potential changes and have a chance to talk to staff about what they may mean for your area.

The White Center/North Highline meeting:

Thursday, July 25
6:00 to 8:00 pm
Seola Gardens Community Room
11215 5th Avenue SW

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White Center facilities/organizations among recipients of newest King County Youth and Amateur Sports Grants

May 22nd, 2019 Tracy Posted in Evergreen High School, Evergreen Pool, King County, White Center news Comments Off on White Center facilities/organizations among recipients of newest King County Youth and Amateur Sports Grants

$200,000 for new field lighting at Evergreen High School and $6,500 for improvements at Evergreen Pool are among grants announced by the county today. Here’s the news release:

Grant funding announced today by King County Executive Dow Constantine will provide opportunities for improving the health of youth sports groups throughout the county who lack access to recreational activities and programs.

Recipients of the 2019 King County Youth and Amateur Sports Grants will share $2.4 million in funding that can mean the critical difference between whether financially disadvantaged residents can participate in organized sports and other recreational activities.

“A big part of making King County a place where every person can thrive is providing access to opportunities – and that includes the chance to play on teams, join programs, or participate in outdoor fun,” Executive Constantine said. “With the grant funding I am announcing today, we are helping youth and adults overcome financial, transportation, and other barriers so that more King County residents can participate in activities and programs that improve quality of life across our county.”

King County Parks administers the Youth and Amateur Sports program and offers new grants each year. The next round of grants is expected to open January 2020.

The full list of grant awardees can be found on the King County Youth and Amateur Sports Grants website.

The program is funded and sustained through a 1 percent car-rental tax authorized by the Legislature in 1993. Funds can only be used for programs or capital projects that increase access to health-enhancing physical activities.

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THURSDAY: County Executive Dow Constantine to make parks-levy announcement at Steve Cox Memorial Park

February 19th, 2019 Tracy Posted in Election, King County, Parks, Politics, White Center news 2 Comments »

FIRST REPORT, TUESDAY: Forwarded by a community advocate who received this invitation:

Join King County Executive Dow Constantine for a special announcement!

Join Executive Constantine and Parks partners when the executive unveils his vision to fund King County’s parks and trails with a renewed levy when the existing one expires this December.

Join us!
Thurs, Feb 21, 2019
Steve Cox Memorial Park
1321 SW 102nd St
Ceremony begins at 10 a.m.

Show your love for King County’s most treasured places and learn about new ones that would be made possible through the Executive’s proposal.

Ceremony is expected to last 30 minutes, and we’ll have hot chocolate and coffee to keep you warm!

We sent an inquiry to the executive’s office this morning, asking for more information, but have yet to receive a reply. Here’s some backstory on the levy that expires at the end of this year, which voters approved by a wide margin back in August 2013.

ADDED WEDNESDAY: We received a media advisory about the event today. Watch for coverage tomorrow.

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FOLLOWUP: New partnership agreements for county Department of Local Services

January 25th, 2019 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on FOLLOWUP: New partnership agreements for county Department of Local Services

New information tonight about the Department of Local Services, county government’s new way of serving areas like this one. The announcement:

>The King County Executive’s Cabinet on Tuesday approved four partnership agreements between the new King County Department of Local Services and the county departments that provide the following services to unincorporated areas:

· Department of Natural Resources and Parks – Parks Division

· Department of Natural Resources and Parks – Surface Water Management Program, Stormwater Services

· Regional Animal Services of King County

· Public Health – Seattle & King County – Environmental Health Services Division, On-site Sewage Systems Permitting, On-site Sewage Operations and Maintenance, and Plumbing and Gas Piping Inspection.

These four service partnership agreements mark a significant milestone in the new model for delivery of services to the 250,000 residents and the businesses in unincorporated King County.

These agreements will enable the new department and its partners to improve the coordination of services and data sharing. This will allow the county to report back to the residents we serve in a more meaningful way and provide a better understanding of how effectively our services are being delivered.

These new agreements position King County Local Services to provide timely responses to issues that affect area residents and businesses and improve transparency and accountability by more accurately measuring how county service providers are performing in the unincorporated areas.

“Through these agreements, Local Services can respond more quickly and be more accountable on issues affecting residents and businesses outside city limits,” said Local Services Director John Taylor. “The agreements put us on the same page with data sharing, creating policy improvements, and aligning services. This will allow us to better coordinate our resources and work more effectively with the communities we serve.”

Local Services will spend the next year working to create similar agreements with other service providers. We’ll also continually improve our existing agreements as needed. And we’ll work with other non-King County service providers to create similar partnerships that could benefit residents and businesses.

“These new agreements between the Department of Local Services and other county departments are a great step towards providing exceptional services to the residents of unincorporated King County,” said King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert.

“When working to serve 250,000 unincorporated residents, coordination, teamwork and communication are vital. The newly formed Department of Local Services is already making substantial changes to the way these residents access their local government, and I’m excited to continue working with them to better serve the residents of unincorporated King County,” Lambert said.

The Service Partnership Agreements are available on the Department of Local Services website.

Here’s the direct link.

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King County’s new Department of Local Services is now officially in business

January 4th, 2019 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news 5 Comments »

One year after it was proposed, the King County Department of Local Services is now serving White Center and other incorporated areas. Here’s what the county wants to be sure you know about it:

The second we rang in 2019, the Department of Local Services officially became a standalone department. It comes after nearly a year’s worth of planning and following the Metropolitan King County Council unanimously approving Executive Dow Constantine’s proposal to establish the department.

While King County has always delivered critical services to residents and businesses of the unincorporated areas – who combined would account for the second-largest city in Washington – Local Services now serves as a “virtual city hall” that helps better coordinate and deliver those services.

The department consists of three divisions/programs that are familiar to the unincorporated areas:

· Permitting Division for development permit reviews, code enforcement and subarea planning

· Road Services Division responsible for 1,500 miles of County road and 182 bridges

· Community Service Area program

Contact us

There are several ways for residents and business to connect with Local Services:

· It has created an easy-to-remember email address for anyone with questions or comments: ASKLocalServices@kingcounty.gov

· You can visit the new Local Services webpage: https://kingcounty.gov/local-services

· Follow Local Services on Instagram: @kingcountylocalservices

The divisions will continue to operate out of their existing locations (Permitting is located at 35030 SE Douglas Street, Suite 210 in Snoqualmie; Road Services and the Community Service Area program are located at 201 S. Jackson St. in Seattle).

Residents with Permitting or Roads-specific questions can contact them directly:

· Permitting: 206-296-6600; DPERWebinquiries@kingcounty.gov

· Road Services: : 24/7 Road Helpline: 206-477-8100 or 800-527-6237 (800-KCROADS); maint.roads@kingcounty.gov

Leadership

Led by Director John Taylor, the 500-employee department will now focus solely on serving and communicating with the unincorporated areas.

Taylor previously served as an assistant division director at the King County Department of Natural Resources & Parks. He was instrumental in coordinating a landmark agreement signed last year by Executive Constantine that will simultaneously restore salmon habitat, strengthen the region’s agricultural economy, and reduce flood risks in the Snoqualmie Valley.

“King County has dedicated, hard-working employees who deliver high-quality service to the people of King County every day,” Taylor said. “The Department of Local Services will help better coordinate those services within the unincorporated part of King County, giving residents in those areas a way to see service delivery levels in their community and influence how services are delivered.”

Following his appointment, Taylor announced his leadership team:

· Danielle de Clercq, Deputy Director. Danielle is new to King County but brings with her a 30-year career in operations, management, business development, and consulting in the private and nonprofit sectors.

· Cheryl Binetti, Chief of Staff in the DLS Director’s Office. Over the past 12 years, Cheryl has served a variety of roles in the King County Department of Transportation, and most recently served as the Local Services Initiative Project Manager, playing a key role in the development of the new department. As Chief of Staff, she will ensure that DLS employees have the support and clarity for timely and accurate delivery of services, projects, and programs, and to grow and develop in their careers.

· Jim Chan, Director of the Permitting Division. Jim has served as the Interim Director of the Department of Planning and Environmental Review (DPER) since November 2017. He began his career with King County as a summer intern in 1989. After graduating from the University of Washington, he was hired on as a staff engineer in 1991 and progressed through the ranks to his current appointment as Interim Director of DPER.

· Rick Brater, Director of the Road Services Division. Rick has served in his current position on an interim basis since October. Prior to that he served as the King County Road Engineer and as the Engineering Services Section Manager. During this time, he has managed nearly $900 million worth of road infrastructure projects, including the South Park bridge project.

· Bill Greene, Chief Financial Officer. Bill served as the King County Department of Transportation Chief Financial Officer from 2007-2010, and then returned in the role in 2013 after serving with the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Phone number 206-477-3820.

· Mary Louis, Human Resource Manager. Mary has been on loan to the Department of Transportation as an HR Projects Manager since August 2018, and before that she served as the HR Manager for the Department of Public Defense since January 2017.

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VIDEO: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council talks with trio of elected officials, and more

December 7th, 2018 Tracy Posted in King County, North Highline UAC, Politics, White Center news 4 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Issues old and new were in the spotlight as December’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting put a trio of longtime local elected officials in the hot seat(s).

But first – NHUAC got a primer on a vote coming up in February.

WATER DISTRICT MERGER VOTE: Loretta Brittingham was here to talk about the merger that will go up for voter approval February 12th. Though she is a commissioner for Water District 45, which is proposed – in a February 12th vote – to merge with Water District 20, she made it clear she was there with an FYI, not an official presentation. We recorded what she had to say:

As you’ll hear in the discussion, this has been primarily publicized via water-bill inserts and public notices. There’s a bit more information on the District 45 website; here’s a map of the district’s coverage area.

ELECTED OFFICIALS: 34th District State Reps. Eileen Cody and Joe Fitzgibbon opened this segment of the meeting. President Liz Giba asked them first to share a bit of personal background. Fitzgibbon is a West Seattle resident and former Burien resident, and he spoke first. Cody, also a West Seattle resident, followed. We recorded it all:

Cody announced she’s retiring from her work as a nurse on January 9th. The reps answered questions starting with reports that the Legislature might revisit the Growth Management Act. Fitzgibbon said a “very conservative Eastern Washington” legislator is behind one idea to roll back certain parts of it, while another is from an Eastside Democrat who wants to “require minimum density.” Giba also brought up the recently opened development in Top Hat (1st/112th) and conflicting numbers regarding its potential maximum occupancy. Discussion ensued regarding notification requirements and potential ramifications of a higher resident count, such as an increased number of students at nearby schools.

A question from the gallery: What about health insurance? Cody chairs the House Health Care Committee, and noted that affordability “continues to be a big issue” so they’re trying to develop “a public option,” especially to help people with non-poverty “but not Bill Gates” income levels who don’t get tax credits. She also mentioned behavioral-health-care access and Western State’s difficulties. They’re working to find facilities around the state that can help handle some of the patient load. Cody mentioned substance abuse, too – “the opioid crisis is where we’re losing the most lives,” prescription recipients as well as heroin users, but, she said, meth is on the rise again, too.

That segued into a discussion of what your tax dollars are going for. Fitzgibbon noted that property tax bills will go down next year.

County Council Chair Joe McDermott arrived a little over an hour into the meeting. He’s finishing his third year as chair, eight years on the council, after 10 years in the Legislature. He too is a West Seattle resident.

NHUAC board member Barbara Dobkin asked about development regulation, or more like, the lack of it, especially multiple adjacent “small” redevelopments that together would have faced more scrutiny. McDermott, in his reply, noted that neighborhood planning will be happening in North Highline next year. Specifically – the county permitting department will be accountable for a Sub-Area Plan. And he reminded everyone that the new Department of Local Services is about to get going, as a “one-stop resource” to help people “better interact with the county.” That department will include “an economic development staffer that we have not had before” and McDermott says he will encourage that person to make White Center their first stop. McDermott also noted that the Local Services director nominee is up for confirmation shortly. “There are challenges in bringing urban-level services (here) but if we are your local government, we need to do a better job” in meeting those challenges, he said. Will the area’s unincorporated status change? McDermott said he’s not aware of any active conversations. That topic came up a second time, with an attendee asking if the county can get the conversation going (again). McDermott promised to at least ask; he also noted that he’ll be seeing Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan for a breakfast discussion about the county’s legislative agenda next week.

Other topics included marijuana and the North Highline concentration of stores. McDermott urged attendees to make this concern “very clear in the Sub-Area planning process” that’s coming up. Later, he was asked whether the North Highline planning process will dovetail with the city’s Highland Park-area process; McDermott said he’ll make sure they do, though he hadn’t previously heard of the latter. Tax reform came up too, with Fitzgibbon mentioning that passing a capital-gains tax is a priority for the coming session. “Do you really think (that) has a chance?” asked Giba. Fitzgibbon and Cody said yes.

Before their appearance wrapped up, they were asked what else will be going on. Fitzgibbon mentioned the Metro Route 120-to-RapidRide conversion planning; Cody mentioned several other health-care-related topics. McDermott mentioned that five gun-safety proposals he first brought up last summer have now all been passed: “That has been significant for me and included some significant accomplishments in the budget” to make them reality. He also brought up Evergreen Pool and some new county funding for it to help cover its ongoing operation-funding deficit, plus he had kudos for the nonprofit that’s managed to keep it open for almost a decade, after the county gave up operating it.

State Sen.-elect Joe Nguyen had also RSVP’d for the meeting, Giba said, but did not show up.

Also speaking at Thursday night’s meeting:

WHITE CENTER KIWANIS: Scott Davis began with a primer on Kiwanis – more than a century old – and what it does, including raising money for children’s health. In White Center, the club started as a spinoff from the Kiwanis Club of West Seattle in 2001. The club meets twice a month, first and third Wednesdays. “We’d love to have more members so we can do more things.” They sponsor Key Clubs to help local high school students (at Evergreen and New Start) develop their leadership skills – Key stands for “Kiwanis Educating Youth.” The Baked Potato and Taco Dinner is coming up on January 24th, 6:30 pm at New Start HS (ticket prices TBA); their fundraisers also include a midsummer Pancake Breakfast that coincides with Jubilee Days, and an annual nut sale that’s under way now. They support local charities including the White Center Food Bank and WestSide Baby. They also support local youth cleaning up local parks, and advocacy for drug- and alcohol-free youth campaigns.

REMEMBERING DEPUTY STEVE COX: President Giba took a moment at the start of the meeting to remember Deputy Steve Cox, who was a NHUAC president as well as law enforcer. As noted in our coverage of the tribute at last weekend’s Christmas tree lighting, he was killed in the line of duty 12 years ago.

NEXT NHUAC MEETING: They’re skipping January since it’s so close to New Year’s Day – next meeting February 7, 2019, 7 pm at NH Fire District HQ (1243 SW 112th)

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King County budget: Councilmember Joe McDermott’s toplines

November 13th, 2018 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on King County budget: Councilmember Joe McDermott’s toplines

The new county budget has been approved. Our area’s County Councilmember Joe McDermott sent this announcement about its highlights from his priorities for the region and his district:

Working to ensure a safe, welcoming and equitable county was a top priority for Metropolitan King County Council Chair Joe McDermott, which included investing to further the King County Gun Safety Action Plan, supporting and protecting our Immigrant and Refugee neighbors and friends, and promoting affordable housing in the County’s work to tackle the region’s homelessness crisis.

Gun Safety Action Plan

As a Council, we’ve taken steps to ensure we’re doing our part to protect residents from gun violence within the confines of the state’s preemption law. This work must approach the epidemic of gun violence as a public health crisis, and this budget does just that.

– King County Public Health will receive $180,000 to engage youth and young people affected by gun violence to learn from them how we might help make their lives, communities and schools safer from violence. This money funds the project authorized by the Gun Safety Action Plan in September.

– An innovative partnership between the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, King County Public Health and local law enforcement agencies around the County to track and prevent gun violence using a public health approach will receive $500,000 to continue its work for the next two years.

Immigrants and Refugees

This budget builds upon the work we started in 2017 that ensures Martin Luther King Jr. County remains dedicated to being a safe, welcoming community for all who live, work and visit here:

– $500,000 will be invested in outreach around the 2020 Census to ensure our immigrant and refugee friends, family and neighbors are appropriately counted without being intimidated by the Trump Administration’s discriminatory immigration questions designed to suppress responses. This work will be incredibly important so that all residents are counted. An accurate census count affects everything from Congressional representation to federal funding for housing, transportation and human services.

– The Immigrant and Refugee Fund investment for legal defense and community organizations, first passed by Chair McDermott and developed in partnership with the City of Seattle last year, will continue and grow for the next 6 years, through the Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy funds passed by King County voters.

Housing and Homelessness

Thanks to legislation and policy Chair McDermott sponsored earlier this year, the Council was able to distribute an additional $100 million in bonded money to invest in affordable housing throughout the County in the coming months. This includes over $70 million in affordable housing investments, as well as over $15 million for shelters for people experiencing homelessness in five different locations around the County.

District 8 Investments

In addition to Chair McDermott’s regional priorities, this budget supports programs and services throughout Council District 8.

– The King County Water Taxi will continue its high level of service, including over $3.5 million in investments for studying updates to the West Seattle Terminal, developing a Transit Hub and preserving Seacrest Dock.

o All of this while not raising fares that were previously planned to go increase in 2020 – the first biennium no fare increase has occurred since King County took over operations in 2012.

– The Creekside Village Apartments, a new project on Vashon Island integrating affordable rental housing, wetland preservation, and open space, will receive $4 million to work towards filling an incredibly important need for islanders.

– The Broadway Youth Opportunity Center, through Youth Care and Capitol Hill Housing, will receive $6.5 million to deliver housing and services for homeless youth.

– The Seattle Chinatown-International District PDA will receive $2.5 million to work on redeveloping the Pacific Tower North Lot for affordable housing.

– The Evergreen Pool in White Center will receive $106,000 to upgrade and maintain the vital service it provides families throughout the North Highline area.

– The Hope Academy in southern West Seattle, serving Somali students from around the region, will be upgrading their facilities with an investment of $25,000.

– The South Park Information and Resource Center will receive $36,000 to support their community sports program in the coming two years.

– The West Seattle Veterans Service Center will receive $5,000 to support their work supporting Veterans throughout the region.

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Why your property might soon get an in-person King County inspection

October 27th, 2018 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on Why your property might soon get an in-person King County inspection

White Center is one of more than two dozen areas of King County where the county will send appraisers for in-person inspections soon. It’s part of a periodic process, according to this announcement:

King County appraisers have begun the annual process of visiting neighborhoods to inspect properties in-person to set the values.

The Assessor is required by law to inspect each property in-person at least once every six years. In practice, that means King County property appraisers visit in-person about 1/6 of the properties in the county each year to ensure that homes are valued accurately and fairly. This translates to approximately 100,000 property inspections each year.

An inspection is generally an exterior observation for comparison with the property characteristics on file. To accomplish the inspections, Assessors may need to enter side or back yards. If additional information is needed, Assessor’s staff will first knock on the residence door to speak with a taxpayer if possible. All appraisers carry county ID.

For the 2019 assessment year, we will be inspecting the following residential areas through early spring of 2019:

· Inglewood
· Finn Hill
· Juanita
· Phinney Ridge
· Fremont
· Ravenna
· University District
· Sea Tac
· Tukwila
· Rainier Beach
· White Center
· Burien
· Des Moines
· Kent
· Woodmont
· Redondo
· Auburn
· Medina
· Hunts Point
· Clyde Hill
· Woodinville
· Cottage Lake
· Skykomish
· Newport
· Kennydale
· Lake Youngs
· Enumclaw Plateau

Citizens with questions should contact our Public Information Team at 206-296-7300.

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New Department of Local Services has its first director

October 2nd, 2018 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on New Department of Local Services has its first director

Announced by King County today:

Executive Dow Constantine appointed John Taylor to serve as the first director of the Department of Local Services, which will better coordinate and deliver direct services to the nearly 250,000 people who live in unincorporated King County.

Taylor currently serves as an assistant division director at the King County Department of Natural Resources & Parks. He will lead the newly created Department of Local Services, which will consist of a Permitting Division for development permit review, code enforcement, and subarea planning, a Road Services Division responsible for 1,500 miles of roads and 182 bridges, and a Director’s Office, which will include the Community Service Areas program.

“John Taylor will provide the leadership our new department needs to deliver outstanding service to the quarter-million people of unincorporated King County,” said Executive Constantine. “I want the Department of Local Services to start with a strong foundation that empowers our talented employees to achieve the highest level of customer satisfaction, and that is the workplace culture John will promote.”

King County is the regional government for 2.2 million residents, offering services such as transit, public health, public safety, emergency management, and wastewater treatment. For the nearly 250,000 people who live in urban and rural unincorporated communities, the county is the de facto city government.

“Executive Constantine wants to make sure that everyone who lives in unincorporated King County has their own version of a city hall, a hub that coordinates services that improve their quality of life,” said Taylor. “Having a new department dedicated to unincorporated communities will make it easier for us to deliver direct services that would be unmatched in any city.”

Taylor coordinated a landmark agreement signed last year by Executive Constantine that will simultaneously restore salmon habitat, strengthen the region’s agricultural economy, and reduce flood risks in the Snoqualmie Valley.

He earned his master’s degree in public administration at the University of Vermont.

The framework for the new department is based on a study that Senior Deputy Executive Fred Jarrett conducted at Executive Constantine’s request to determine how to better deliver direct and contracted services in unincorporated King County, including transportation, public safety, clean water, and increased access to opportunity.

The King County Council unanimously approved Executive Constantine’s proposal to create the Department of Local Services, which will begin operations on Jan. 1, 2019. Taylor’s appointment is subject to approval by the King County Council.

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FOLLOWUP: King County finalizes plan for new Department of Local Services

September 18th, 2018 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news 3 Comments »

With annexation apparently not on the horizon, White Center and the rest of unincorporated North Highline will be relying on King County for some time to come. The plan for a county Department of Local Servicesannounced last January – is now officially on the way to reality. Here’s the announcement:

King County Executive Dow Constantine thanked the Metropolitan King County Council for its unanimous vote to establish a new Department of Local Services to improve the coordination and delivery of services in unincorporated areas of the county.

The new department will consist of a Permitting Division for development permit reviews, code enforcement, and subarea planning, a Road Services Division with responsibility for 1,500 miles of County roads and 182 bridges, and the Community Services Area program.

“Our new department will help us deliver the highest level of customer service to the nearly quarter-million people who live in unincorporated King County, which would be the second-largest city in our state,” said Executive Constantine. “We are creating a go-to agency for the people who live in rural and urban unincorporated areas for direct services that improve the quality of life in our region.”

The ordinance approved today establishes the new Department of Local Services effective Jan. 1, 2019 — the same date on which Metro Transit becomes a stand-alone department. Executive Constantine expects to name the first director of Local Services in October following a competitive recruitment process.

“Our staff members have met with community councils and associations throughout unincorporated King County, and heard from residents at ten recent community town halls,” said Harold Taniguchi, Director of the King County Department of Transportation, who has been leading the transition to the new agency. “Thanks to their insights, the new department will be ready to hit the ground running in January.”

“I’m excited for the new Department of Local Services and eager for the opportunity we have to create the best-run local government,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, whose district serves a wide area of urban and rural northeast King County, said. “For the first time, unincorporated residents will have a director in the Executive’s cabinet dedicated to addressing their ongoing and emergent needs while delivering the high-quality services they deserve.”

“As a former city mayor, I understand the importance and complexity of providing local government services, such as roads, surface water management, and police,” said Councilmember Claudia Balducci, one of the co-sponsors to the ordinance. “As a County Councilmember I appreciate the challenges of providing local services to our far-flung unincorporated area. The creation of a new Department of Local Services provides us the opportunity to be more coordinated and more responsive to the residents for whom King County is the only local government.”

“From White Center to Vashon Island to the foothills of the Cascades, our unincorporated areas have unique and equally important needs,” King County Council Chair Joe McDermott. “Our residents there deserve flexible and proactive service from their local government, making the creation of this department an exciting step forward for the County.”

Executive Constantine also thanked Senior Deputy Executive Fred Jarrett for leading a Local Services Initiative that studied ways to improve how the county delivers direct and contracted services in unincorporated areas, including road and bridge services, public safety, clean water, and increased access to opportunities.

The Department of Local Services will be funded by existing revenues, and will be included in the 2019-2020 biennial proposed budget that the Executive will send to the Council on Sept. 24. The council is scheduled to adopt a King County budget by Thanksgiving.

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VIDEO: Conversation with the county @ North Highline Community Service Area Town Hall

May 30th, 2018 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news 1 Comment »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

It’s the county’s chance to have a conversation with you, explained County Council Chair (and District 8 rep) Joe McDermott, emceeing last night’s Community Service Area Town Hall for North Highline/White Center.

A parade of high-ranking county officials followed, as the event at Seola Gardens unfolded. Something new this year: The county is launching its new initiative to serve local areas in a different way. (Added: Full video of the event:)

Specifically:

“How do we act as a city?” is what deputy executive Fred Jarrett said about the launching of the Department of Local Services. That’s especially relevant to White Center, an urban but unannexed/unincorporated area.

Harold Taniguchi – director of transportation, who is working on the Department of Local Services initiative – said it will be up and running by the start of next year. He said the department should make things run more efficiently and effectively, with a focus on customer service. And, “we hope to be out in your communities in an organized way …” with more listening. “You get the feeling that sometimes we are listening – we hope to change that up.”

As part of the Local Services launch, some departments will be no more – Transportation among them, he noted. (Transit is splitting out and becoming its own department.) But transportation projects are in the works for the area all the same, Taniguchi promised – the 8th/108th mini-roundabout is on the way, and one at 8th/102nd will follow, he said, also mentioning drainage work on South 96th

He ran the crowd – estimated at 40+ – through an on-the-spot online poll via Slido.com, with such questions as, how should the Department of Local Services communicate with you?

Next, Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht cited a “five-month run of re-energizing the department,” so far. She says she’s working on a strategic plan, and community involvement is coming up. “It’s been an honor to serve so far.”

Deborah Jacobs, director of the Office of Police Oversight, followed the sheriff. Part of her office’s charge is to “bring the civilian voice.” She added that her department looks at the trees as well as the forest, and offers policy feedback to the sheriff. They’re also supposed to take on independent investigations, but that’s still subject to “collective bargaining with the unions.”

Kevin Brown, director of Natural Resources and Parks, mentioned that Movies in the Park will be at Seola Gardens at August 4th. Lots going on at Steve Cox Memorial Park, he added, including a kids-cooking program and more. He touted the June 6th Peace in the Hood jobs event (featured here on WCN). Also at Cox Park, the new $3 million field project for multiple sports is in the works – “one of the first publicly available synthetic field in this area.” The work means Jubilee Days needs a new carnival spot this year and that has not yet been worked out, Brown said.

Jake Tracy from the Department of Permitting and Environmental Review spoke next – marijuana is his main job and there’s a study happening right now regarding unincorporated areas, including a public-comment period. It’s related to concerns about clustering of marijuana businesses. It’s studying five areas including whether zoning needs to change to open up new areas “to meet our allocation from the state” and how unincorporated areas are being affected by the way things are. They’re studying complaint and crime data. The survey is taking comments through the end of June.

Mark Ellerbrook from the Department of Community and Human Services, who manages the county health and homeless services, followed. He said his department also is working on the opioid crisis, including helping people who want help get it immediately. He ran through a long list of other services his department provides, including administering the Veterans, Seniors, & Human Services Levy.

After short speeches, poll results from Harold – 15 participants, Sheriff and Parks were the single words with the most positive effect on the community.

Social media – “local blogs” were included – won for communication choice, with e-mail right behind. Safety and homelessness were the most-cited community challenges. And there was a long list of suggestions for what the county could do to help the community.

Then – open microphone for questions. Liz Giba, president of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, was first. She had sent a letter to various officials about the Burien murders of two young women and said she was troubled to not receive a single reply. She is concerned about the concentration of poverty in White Center and what’s being done to make it a more economically healthy community – more healthy overall. “What are you doing? What plan is there? Is there any answer?”

McDermott replied, “Is there enough of an answer? Probably not.” But some steps are being taken, he said, citing for example the Best Starts for Kids levy and its investment in youth. He also cited the expansion of the Veterans Levy. Giba followed up with her long-held concerns about another low-income development in the works at 8th/108th – more “concentration of poverty” – “when you continue to shove more people who need help into a small space, (a few) square miles, there’s going to be trouble.” She asked the county to reconsider what’s happening with the 8th/108th site. She said that it could be a home for various groups/agencies (which is part of what’s proposed for the possible future project). McDermott added that more housing needs to be built and that might result in “more than some people would like to see in some communities.”

The sheriff said that the investigation of the murders continues and she is traveling out of town soon to visit with one victim’s family. She acknowledged that the department has very little resources devoted to gangs but they’re trying to work more on that “across boundaries.” Gangs are a culture. “We’re close to solving” the murders, “but so much goes into this, and much of it, you can’t see.”

Asked by Carol from Myers Way about homelessness, Councilmember McDermott said it’s still a work in progress. He was also asked about minimum wage and whether the county might follow Seattle’s lead. He said it would make more sense if the state looked at its law.

Ellerbrook then took on the affordable-housing issue – saying 80,000 to 90,000 units is the current estimated gap countywide. More is needed in every community, he said. Over the course of a year, 30,000 people experience homelessness, he said. 24,000 people came in for services and many didn’t need them again. “Employment is critical,” he agreed. If someone becomes ill, for example, they might lose their (expensive) apartment and possibly never be able to get into one again. He also brought up common concerns that unsheltered people have about shelters, and how it might mean more healthy people, more people connected to services, if they can improve the shelter system. The county is working on its budgeting for homeless services and both navigation and services for vehicle residents are two areas they’re working on.

Barbara Dobkin of NHUAC brought up a petition the group had circulated at last year’s Jubilee Days, talking about the area’s low-opportunity status. They want the group to study issues such as WC’s housing situation.

Community advocate Gill Loring voiced concern that the county still is not reaching out to the diverse groups that make up the area’s population – pointing out that almost everyone at the meeting was white, until a youth group arrived. “I don’t hear it from the county, I don’t hear it from Dow, I don’t hear it from the council,” he said. ”… let’s all come together, let’s be one community … why can’t the county do something about that?”

McDermott responded by explaining the race-and-social-justice lens through which the county does its work, while acknowledging that outreach efforts need to be more successful. He also mentioned that the group was largely older, too.

It was then explained that the youth who had arrived are members of an internship program, White Center to White House, and one of them spoke next. She expressed concerns about the new youth detention center on Capitol Hill. McDermott said he believes the new center is necessary “until we reach our aspirational goal of zero youth detention.” The two had some back and forth. She wondered why community-based programs couldn’t be used instead. He said we are still at a point where some youth need to be separated from the community “for their own protection and that of the community.”

Jarrett also took the microphone to say that the county also is working on a plan to see how they will get to zero youth detention. He spoke about the subpar conditions at the building that the new center will replace. He also said part of it has been “reprogrammed” to be a nonsecure area where kids who need a safe place to go during a family crisis, for example, can be helped. And he went further, saying that work to get to a world where youth detention isn’t needed will take years.

The next person with a question/concern, also a youth, said that White Center schools (such as Evergreen High School) need more rigorous courses, more teachers of colors, more security, more technology access, and more building improvements. He presented McDermott with a letter, and he in turn promised to share it with state legislators and Highline school board members. He said that through the Sound Transit taxing district, King County will be getting a small amount of money to invest in education for the next 20 years.

Then a statement from community member Bob Price: The cause of homelessness needs to be addressed, not just the symptoms.

After him, Rudy Garza from the Coalition of Drug-Free Youth, who said that marijuana access is an increasing problem for youth. They see the proliferation of stores, they see the prevalent use, and figure it’s OK. “Where does it stop?” McDermott noted that legalization resulted from a statewide vote of the people.

Tracy said his work includes – as he had said earlier – looking at ways to avoid clusters of stores and to mitigate marijuana’s effects on communities. “Educating youth on why they shouldn’t use marijuana” is very important, he said. A discussion of shops’ locations ensued as well as where the tax money from marijuana goes. “We will have a report in the very near future,” Jarrett said. He added that a larger concern for people should be what percentage of their sales tax comes back to the county. Putting together the report is very complex, others added.

Another speaker reiterated concerns about the concentration of marijuana shops in Top Hat, and contended that they are keeping other businesses from coming to the area. “(It’s) hurting the community in so many ways,” she said.

Next concern voiced: Overgrown right of way. Taniguchi asked that specific locations be provided to reps at the meeting so they can check it out and potentially take action.

Then with one final question about the county partnering with schools – McDermott reiterated that he will share the youth concern with the school district, Jarrett advised focusing on the Legislature – the event wrapped up. The questioner countered that he doesn’t believe funding would be required for the county to partner with the district.

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TONIGHT: King County Community Service Area Town Hall for White Center/North Highline

May 29th, 2018 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on TONIGHT: King County Community Service Area Town Hall for White Center/North Highline

Got a question, issue, comment for/about your local government? Tonight, bring it to the annual Community Service Area Town Hall! Your County Councilmember Joe McDermott is scheduled to be there along with representatives of various county agencies/services. It’s set for 7-9 pm tonight (Tuesday, May 29th) at Seola Gardens, 10900 4th Pl. SW. Just show up!

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Bryan Hastings receives King County MLK Medal of Distinguished Service for rescuing Evergreen Pool

April 30th, 2018 Tracy Posted in Evergreen High School, King County, White Center news 1 Comment »

(WCN photo by Patrick Sand)

As a professional firefighter, Bryan Hastings (above right) was already a hero when he launched a different type of rescue – keeping Evergreen Pool from shutting down. Today, his years of work on that earned him a county honor, presented by King County Council Chair Joe McDermott (above left), whose office sent the full announcement:

In 2009, White Center’s Evergreen Pool was a victim of county budget cuts, closing after decades of providing aquatic fun to the people of south King County. Bryan Hastings directed the effort to establish a non-profit to help revive the red-brick pool and has become the Executive Director of WhiteWater Aquatics Management, the agency operating the pool. Metropolitan King County Council Chair Joe McDermott today recognized Hastings work on keeping this community asset open by presenting him with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Medal of Distinguished Service.

“From tirelessly raising money to the countless hours of his own time spent working on the pool himself, Bryan Hastings has dedicated himself to the Evergreen Community Pool,” said McDermott. “His work, as a volunteer, to ensure the pool remains an asset for all in the White Center community embodies the spirit of the MLK Medal of Distinguished Service.”

Evergreen Pool is in the unincorporated community of White Center and has been serving its residents, along with serving the city of Burien, for over four decades. The 2009 closure of the pool impacted communities that had been using the pool for generations.

Hastings, an Assistant Chief with the Seattle Fire Department, started as a volunteer in the effort to reopen the pool, helping raise nearly $500,000 in modernizations and improvements from various sources including the State and County.

Evergreen Pool is not only a location for pool parties, swim lessons, and exercise classes, it has become a resource for the homeless community in the area, providing shower facilities for the homeless through a partnership with human service agencies Neighborhood House and Mary’s Place.

The annual presentation of the MLK Medal of Distinguished Service is the Council’s way of thanking those who have made a particularly strong impact on the county and to encourage others to renew their dedication to serve their community.

This is the third year Councilmembers have recognized individuals in their districts who have answered the question asked by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “What are you doing for others?”

Checking the WCN archives, we see the pool was re-dedicated as Evergreen Community Aquatic Center exactly eight years ago tomorrow!

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