County budget preview includes White Center proposals

September 16th, 2020 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news No Comments »

King County Executive Dow Constantine presents his next proposed budget on Tuesday, and his office released a preview today. This preview was focused on criminal-legal system reform as well as anti-racism work; it includes two mentions of White Center:

• Invest $750,000 to co-create and implement alternative to policing in urban unincorporated King County

The Executive Office will partner with the King County Sheriff’s Office and community members to co-create and implement a new community-driven safety model in urban unincorporated areas such as White Center, Skyway and East Renton. This may involve hiring behavioral health professionals to partner with Sheriff’s Office Deputies and divert cases from criminal courts and jails. The goal is to design the program in 2021 and implement no later than 2022.

• Invest in community engagement

The 2021-2022 Proposed Budget makes investments to change the County’s approach to working with community to support co-creation and the long-term success of community-based organizations. This includes creating a participatory budgeting effort to determine how to invest $10 million in new capital projects in the urban unincorporated areas of Skyway, White Center, Fairwood, East Federal Way, and East Renton.

While not singling out WC by name, here’s a mention of unincorporated areas:

• Divest $4.6 million of marijuana tax revenue

Executive Constantine’s proposed budget shifts $4.6 million of marijuana excise tax revenue from law enforcement to community-based programs. This represents all the money received by King County from retail marijuana sales. $2.8 million would be devoted to a program to help individuals vacate convictions of marijuana-related offenses that are no longer illegal, and settle unpaid court fines, fees, and restitution that could lead to incarceration. Black communities have historically been disproportionately harmed by our nation’s “war on drugs,” and this begins to undo some of that harm. $1.35 million would be shifted to the Department of Local Services for programs co-created with residents in the unincorporated area, including youth marijuana prevention and employment programs. The remaining $450,000 would be used to create and support a community-centered advisory body that would determine how to spend marijuana taxes in future years.

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More scooters on the way to White Center and vicinity

September 4th, 2020 Tracy Posted in King County, Transportation, White Center news Comments Off on More scooters on the way to White Center and vicinity

(WCN photo, last month)

Three weeks into the North Highline e-scooter pilot, an expansion has just been announced by King County:

Momentum to bring shared electric scooters across King County is building, as a second major company has announced their e-scooters will be hitting the streets of North Highline, including White Center, on Labor Day.

Spin, a San Francisco-based industry leader, says they will roll out some of their fleet to the North Highline area just south of Seattle this Monday. Spin will join Lime as the two companies participating in a one-year pilot program created through legislation led by King County Councilmember Joe McDermott.

“This program is part of an effort to give residents a micro-mobility option that’s safe and socially distant, as well as a first-mile/last-mile option to connect with transit,” said McDermott. “Spin joining this effort will play a major role in further connecting the White Center community.”

Spin will deploy up to 50 scooters to popular transit stops across White Center on Monday (click here for a map of the service area), with pricing set at $1 to unlock and $0.25 a minute to ride. Users with limited incomes may be able to access scooters at discounted rates by applying for the Spin Access program. The program also grants access to those without smartphones, mobile location services, or credit cards.

The scooters are available from 8 am to 8 pm daily and riders can find the nearest available scooter on the Spin app and then activate it with the QR code on the scooter’s handlebar with the app. Riders are required to wear a helmet and should wear a mask anytime they might come within six feet of others. The scooters will be sanitized and maintained by Spin employees.

“We’re thrilled to partner with King County as a scooter provider for the next year. Spin is committed to working with county staff and local community stakeholders to ensure that Spin scooters increase transportation options, while reducing congestion and pollution,” said Kyle Rowe, Global Head of Government Partnerships at Spin.

The company says factors including the closure of the West Seattle Bridge have impacted the commutes of many White Center residents, making public transit an important option for some. As an incentive to commuters, Spin is offering users who park near specific bus stops when they end their ride $1 off their next ride – check Spin’s app for these select locations.

The White Center scooter pilot program runs through August 2021 and could be extended or made permanent at that time. Visit kingcounty.gov/scooters for more information about the program.

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King County gives more small businesses a chance to apply for grants

August 21st, 2020 Tracy Posted in Businesses, King County, White Center news Comments Off on King County gives more small businesses a chance to apply for grants

If your small business wasn’t eligible for a county grant before, maybe it is now. Here’s the update:

Small businesses will get another opportunity to apply for a King County Small Business Assistance Grant starting (today). Businesses will have two weeks to apply. These grants are for businesses that have been hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic and are located in unincorporated parts of King County (outside of cities). The updated requirements mean more businesses are potentially eligible for grant money than during the first round.

The new deadline to apply is Friday, Sept. 4. Visit kingcounty.gov/LocalBusinessHelp for more information.

The King County Council approved $4 million in supplemental funding for grants, technical support, and translation and interpretation assistance to help small businesses in unincorporated King County recover from the impacts of COVID-19 closures. During the first round of grant applications in July, King County Local Services—which is managing the program—received more than 400 applications from small businesses in unincorporated King County.

Local Services is working to award funds to successful applicants from the first round, but there are still grant funds remaining. To help as many businesses in need as possible, the agency is opening a second two-week application window on Friday with revised eligibility requirements. Local Services will work closely with the King County Council to get the approvals necessary for grant awards in early September for Round 2.

To be eligible for a grant in Round 2, businesses must meet the following criteria:

Thirty or fewer employees (up from 15 in Round 1)
Annual gross revenue of up to $3 million (up from $1.5 million)
Must have been in business since August 1, 2019 (down from 3 years)
Must have specific costs related to COVID-19 that have not been covered or reimbursed through any other grant funding or program (Round 1 prohibited applicants that had received any federal assistance)

To view the complete list of eligibility requirements, apply for assistance, or learn more, visit https://kingcounty.gov/LocalBusinessHelp.

Businesses that applied for a grant in Round 1 and did not qualify, but who would be eligible under the Round 2 criteria, do not need to reapply. Their applications have been automatically submitted for consideration in Round 2.

Business coaching and technical assistance are still available

Businesses in unincorporated King County can also get business coaching and technical assistance from a U.S. Treasury-certified community development financial institution under this program. Technical assistance coaches can help with…

Information about the latest (federal, state, and local) funding and loan resources
Utility bill assistance
Filling out grant or funding application forms
Coaching to help the business survive the impacts of COVID-19 closures
Other advice and assistance

To use these services, call 206-331-3275 (Relay 711) and leave a voice mail with your contact information and question, or fill out the Technical Assistance/Coaching Request Form at https://kingcounty.gov/LocalBusinessHelp. A technical services coach will call you back within two business days. If you need an interpreter, please also name the language you prefer when you leave your message. The technical assistance coach will have an interpreter on the line when they call you back.

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FOLLOWUP: White Center’s first scooters have arrived

August 17th, 2020 Tracy Posted in King County, Transportation, White Center news Comments Off on FOLLOWUP: White Center’s first scooters have arrived

That’s Marcos from Lime, delivering White Center’s first scooters about an hour ago in the heart of the White Center business district. As we first reported Friday night, this marks the start of the long-in-the-works “pilot program” for North Highline.

Lime tells WCN they’re delivering “up to 50” of these dockless e-scooters today. Cost: $1 to unlock and $0.36 a minute, and there’s a lower price available for people already enrolled in low-income programs. For more info about how the scooter-share pilot program works, go here.

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FYI: Online ‘Town Hall’ for North Highline this fall

August 15th, 2020 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news 2 Comments »

King County Local Services has sent early word of town halls coming up, including one for White Center/North Hghline:

This year’s unincorporated King County community meetings will take place online via Zoom. Participants will hear from elected and appointed King County leaders, as well as department staffers, about how their local government is delivering services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As with just about everything in 2020, King County Local Services had to think creatively about how to deliver these popular, usually in-person events while COVID-19 limits public gatherings. Last summer, hundreds of residents turned out to hear directly from King County leaders and officials, explore government services, and more at these events in their communities.

Residents said they preferred that Local Services hold the town halls in the fall, so this year’s meetings will take place—online via Zoom—in September and October.

The series will kick off on Tuesday, Sept. 8 with a meeting for unincorporated area residents and businesses in the East Federal Way area. Local Services will hold another event each week, moving through the unincorporated areas until the final event on Oct. 26 for the Snoqualmie Valley/NE King County area. Below is the full schedule:

Sept. 8: East Federal Way
Sept. 14: Four Creeks/Tiger Mountain
Sept. 16: Greater Maple Valley/Cedar River
Sept. 21: Fairwood
Sept. 23: SE King County
Oct. 1: Bear Creek/Sammamish
Oct. 6: Skyway
Oct. 15: North Highline (White Center)
Oct. 22: Vashon-Maury Island
Oct. 26: Snoqualmie Valley/NE King County

Each event will run from 6 to 9 p.m. Local Services will provide a Zoom link that users can use to join each meeting as it gets closer to the day of the event.

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FOLLOWUP: Scooter pilot program finally launches Monday in White Center and vicinity

August 14th, 2020 Tracy Posted in King County, Transportation, White Center news 4 Comments »

(Photo courtesy Lime)

This has long been in the works – and late today, County Councilmember Joe McDermott‘s office announced it’s about to start:

King County residents and visitors just south of Seattle will on Monday have a new local travel option.

Lime is launching a fleet of electric scooters to the North Highline area, which includes White Center, providing a new affordable, safe and sustainable transportation option.

The one-year pilot program, created through legislation led by King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, will give residents a micromobility option that’s safe and socially distant, as well as a first-mile/last-mile option to connect with transit.

“From the Greenbridge YWCA over to Moonshot Café and up to Salvadorean Bakery, there are a lot of essential trips throughout White Center and North Highline,” McDermott said. “I’m excited that electric scooters can be a part of connecting our community – from businesses, community centers, parks and transit. This pilot project will allow King County to learn how best to facilitate safe, reliable, affordable and accessible mobility options for everyone, and I look forward to throwing on my mask and a helmet and participating in the coming year.”

Lime will launch dozens of scooters in the area Monday (click here for a map of the service area), with pricing at $1 to unlock and $0.36 a minute to ride. Anyone already enrolled in a city, state or federal low-income program can access the scooters for $0.50 unlock and $0.07 a minute once they successfully apply for the Lime Access program. Low-income users who prefer to pay with cash can add balances to their accounts at select local 7/11 or CVS locations via PayNearMe.

Riders can access a Lime scooter by activating the QR code on the scooter’s handlebar with the Lime app. Riders can check their Lime app to see where the nearest scooter is. Riders are required to wear a helmet and should wear a mask anytime they might come in contact with others.

“White Center is one of the smallest markets Lime has ever launched, but it is also one of our most culturally rich,” said Jonathan Hopkins, Lime’s Director of Strategic Development for the Pacific Northwest and Canada. “There’s no more convenient way than riding a Lime to discover some of our region’s greatest diversity in food, shops, and even roller skating. Whether grabbing a taco or Korean fried chicken, or just trying to catch the bus, we hope to play our part in building a more connected community.”

Scooter riding also helps to support local businesses now in need as we reemerge from COVID. Lime rider surveys consistently find that more than 42% of scooter riders start or end their trips at local businesses. In some cities, as high as 77% of riders said they’ve visited local businesses and attractions more frequently due to Lime and an overwhelming 97% of riders have used scooters to visit a local business. Non-drivers are also found to spend more money at local businesses, according to a study from Portland, OR. Lime riders are also sustainable commuters; 48% of Lime riders globally use scooters regularly to connect to transit. Lime is excited about the potential to help restart local economies impacted by COVID by improving residents’ mobility and easing access.

The pilot program runs through August 2021 and could be extended or made permanent at that time. Visit kingcounty.gov/scooters for more information about the program.

The original plan was for the program to launch around the first of the year – but even pre-pandemic, as we reported in January, there were some delays.

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NORTH HIGHLINE SUB-AREA PLAN: Restart, and more

August 5th, 2020 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news 2 Comments »

From David Goodman at King County:

I am writing to provide you with an update on the North Highline Subarea Plan. When I last checked in back in March, we postponed the release of a Public Review Draft of the Subarea Plan to allow the community to focus on responding to COVID-19.

Since then, the King County Council completed their 2020 update to the Comprehensive Plan. Included in that update were changes to the subarea planning program that affect the North Highline Subarea Plan. These include:

An expansion of the scope of the Subarea Plan from land use only to all topics of interest to the community; and

A directive to create a Community Needs List, a community-identified list of service, program, and capital improvement projects that support the community’s vision established in the Subarea Plan.
Planning for the North Highline Subarea Plan and Community Needs List will begin this month and run through December of 2021. The work we completed between July 2019 and March 2020 will be incorporated into this effort.

To learn more about this new scope of work and provide input and direction, please visit our new project website and mark your calendar for August 18 from 7 to 8:30 PM for a community call to officially kick off this new planning effort. More information about the call is available on the website and on the attached flier.

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County executive visits White Center Heights Park to celebrate tree-planting milestone

July 30th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Environment, King County, White Center news 2 Comments »

(King County photo)

King County Executive Dow Constantine visited White Center Heights Park this morning to celebrate a milestone in the county’s tree-planting initiative. Here’s the announcement:

A partnership created by King County has surpassed the goal of planting one million trees throughout the region nearly a year ahead of schedule, achieving a milestone set by Executive Dow Constantine in the 2015 Strategic Climate Action Plan.

Executive Constantine and partners celebrated the 1 Million Trees initiative at King County’s White Center Heights Park, where they planted the ceremonial first tree in 2016.

Constantine today thanked the partners, volunteers, and employees who surpassed the goal to plant one million trees throughout the region nearly a year ahead of schedule, achieving a major milestone for the county’s Strategic Climate Action Plan.

Executive Constantine in August will send the King County Council his proposal for the 2020 Strategic Climate Action Plan, which will include a 3 Million Trees initiative that will maintain the accelerated pace for tree planting, protect forests and natural areas before they are lost forever, and prepare native forests for the impacts of climate change.

“In King County, we don’t just set ambitious goals to confront climate change – we create strong partnerships and mobilize volunteers to surpass them ahead of schedule,” said Executive Constantine. “We will build on this successful model to promote healthy, resilient forests for cleaner air and water, healthier habitat, and more tree cover in underserved communities.”

King County and more than 100 partners – cities, Tribes, nonprofits, youth organizations, schools, and businesses – have so far planted 1,122,535 trees in urban, suburban, and rural areas.

King County Parks’ Volunteer Program organized events throughout the region with more than 31,000 volunteers contributing to the initiative and helping restore parks. The county will offer more volunteer opportunities once it is permitted under Safe Start Washington.

The original goal – established in the 2015 Strategic Climate Action Plan – was for King County to plant a half million trees with partners planting the remaining 500,000 trees by the end of 2020. King County and partners planted the one millionth tree in February, 11 months ahead of schedule.

The successful partnership created a strong foundation that will help advance the 30 Year Forest Plan, a shared vision developed by King County and partners to guide forest management to achieve multiple benefits in the coming decades.

Cleaner water and air, healthier habitat, more shade, less flooding

The initiative has produced immediate and lasting benefits, including cleaner air and water, reduced flood risks, cooler salmon-bearing streams, more tree canopy in neighborhoods, and healthier forests and public greenspaces.

The roots of healthy trees stabilize slopes and prevent erosion while forests and natural land absorb rainfall, reducing the flow into streams and preventing floods. Pacific Northwest forests are among the best in the world at storing carbon because native tress have long, productive lifespans.

Successful tree planting initiatives require more than simply putting a large number of trees in soil. That is why King County and its partners also take action to ensure that the newly planted trees have the water, mulch, and space they need to mature.

Here’s the story from that first planting in 2016.

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ELECTION 2020: Appointed sheriff? And 6 other questions to decide in November

July 24th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Election, King County, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news 1 Comment »

Should the King County Sheriff go back to being appointed rather than elected? That’s one of the proposed charter amendments going to voters this November, as announced:

With the approval of three more measures on Tuesday, the King County will now send seven county charter amendments to the November ballot for a public vote to approve or reject them. The Charter Review Commission recommended 11 amendments in its final report last year, though it wasn’t expected that all the amendments would be considered by voters in the same year.

The following amendments will now appear on the November ballot:

=Specify that inquests should be performed for deaths in the county’s jails and provide the family of the deceased with legal representation during the inquest process.
=Include subpoena power for the King County Office of Law Enforcement Oversight to aid in its investigations.
-Make the King County Sheriff an appointed rather than elected position.
-Remove the Charter impediment to the sale of county-owned property below market value for affordable housing purposes, in accordance with recent amendments to state law.
-Update the Charter to change references to “citizen” to “resident” or “public” depending on the circumstances. This change would address several references in the Charter to the concept of citizenship being necessary to access certain aspects of county government.
-Prohibit discrimination in county employment and contracting based on someone’s status as a family caregiver, military status, or status as a veteran who was honorably discharged or discharged solely as a result of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“I am pleased to give the voters the opportunity to decide on these amendments to the way our county is governed,” said Council Chair Claudia Balducci.

The seventh amendment set for a vote in the fall was not a recommendation of the Charter Review Commission, but instead was a council-proposed amendment. This amendment would allow the Council to establish the duties of the Sheriff’s Office. Those duties are currently set by the charter.

The sheriff was appointed until voters decided in 1996 to change that.

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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 Comments Off on ROAD-WORK ALERT: Roundabout painting next week

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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