WHITE CENTER HUB: King County announces $3.2 million grant

January 24th, 2022 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news No Comments »

(Rendering by SKL Architects – community-center side of the HUB)

King County has announced $23.4 million in grants for seven affordable-housing projects – and the White Center Hub is one of them. The grants are from King County’s Housing Finance Program, administered by the Department of Community and Human Services. From the announcement:

Community Roots Housing / White Center Community Development Association – $3,250,000

A redevelopment of the White Center Hub will provide 76 units of affordable housing as well as commercial space to house a community center and event space for programming.

Here’s our most-recent update on the project plan; more details are in this report.

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Want to help spend $3.6 million? Take the first step Wednesday

January 18th, 2022 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news No Comments »

People in White Center and other urban areas of unincorporated King County will get the chance this year to be part of decisions on how to spend millions of dollars. An online info event Wednesday night (January 19th) is the first step toward getting involved. Here’s what it’s all about:

Participatory budgeting is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget.

It gives people real power to make real decisions over real money.

If you are over the age of 12 and live, work, or play in any of the following five urban unincorporated areas of King County, we invite you to participate in this process.

East Federal Way: $1.96 million for capital projects
East Renton: $301,000 for capital projects
Fairwood: $720,000 for capital projects
North Highline/White Center: $3.1 million for capital projects, $540,000 for programs and services
Skyway-West Hill: $3.9 million for capital projects, $810,000 for programs and services

King County’s Community Investment Budget Committee of 21 community members is working to design and carry out a budgeting process centered on racial equity and community voices. The process will build on community strengths and address specific priorities for each community, as identified by the Committee members. The Committee is also designing the larger participatory budgeting process to make sure that each community has control over how this money is spent and that funded projects address real community challenges.

Wednesday’s info meeting starts at 6 pm. This webpage has information on how to participate.

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STORM DAMAGE? King County wants to hear from you

January 12th, 2022 Tracy Posted in King County, Weather, White Center news No Comments »

People in unincorporated King County who suffered damage from the recent snow and rain are asked to report it ASAP. Here’s the announcement:
King County Office of Emergency Management (KCOEM) is collecting damage reports from residents and businesses from the winter cold, snow, and subsequent flooding events that have occurred since December 24, 2021. This will assist the state in its request for a federal disaster declaration.

KCOEM has created a new section on its disaster recovery webpage at kingcounty.gov/damage to share information about the Individual Assistance Initial Damage Assessment and provide links to damage reporting forms for residents and businesses.

Important things to keep in mind:

– Residents and business owners need to document all damages.
– Individuals should report damages to their insurance provider and to the county.
– There is no FEMA or other assistance available at this time for the current flooding incident.
– Insurance information is important: Does the individual have flood insurance? Homeowner? Renters?
– Do they have a furnished basement and what was the flood height?

Damage information will be gathered through Thursday, Jan. 20 from residents and businesses in unincorporated King County so it can be compiled and submitted to the Washington State Emergency Management Division.

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White Center Promise among events receiving King County grants

January 10th, 2022 Tracy Posted in Arts, King County, White Center news No Comments »

The county has announced grants are on the way to nearly 200 events, and at least one of them is in White Center: The list includes $5,000 for White Center Promise. The grants went to “local event and festival producers who faced significant revenue losses due to Covid,” according to the announcement. Grantees are in two groups, event budgets over $250,000 and under $250,000; the former were eligible for up to $50,000, while recipients in the latter group (including WC Promise) got up to $10,000.

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Most popular King County pet names of the year!

January 3rd, 2022 Tracy Posted in King County, Pets, White Center news 3 Comments »

(WCN’s recently adopted mascot, whose name did not make the Top 10)

Did you add a pet to your household in 2021? From the database of everybody who did, and who registered that pet with Regional Animal Services of King County – which serves unincorporated North Highline and many other parts of the county – we have the top 10 pet names of the year:

This year, King County residents have registered 66,279 dogs and 27,020 cats. Here are the most popular pet names:

Top 10 Dog Names

1) Bella
2) Lucy
3) Max
4) Charlie
5) Buddy
6) Daisy
7) Luna
8) Bailey
9) Cooper
10) Molly

Top 10 Cat Names

1) Luna
2) Lucy
3) Bella
4) Max
5) Shadow
6) Charlie
7) Kitty
8) Jack
9) Lily
10) Oliver

This list comes from pet license applications submitted to RASKC, which serves nearly one million residents living in 24 cities and unincorporated communities throughout King County.

If a licensed pet is lost, the finder can call the phone number on the pet’s tag – a service that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – to quickly reunite them with their owner. Pets receive a free ride home the first time they’re found, allowing owners to skip a trip to the shelter. Pet licenses also help fund RASKC and the important work it does.

In addition to handling lost pets and injured animals, pet license fees contribute to RASKC’s other vital duties, including animal neglect and cruelty investigations, spay/neuter programs, pet adoption services, and other work to humanely and compassionately assist local animals.

You can purchase pet licenses online, or at more than 70 convenient locations around the county, including many city halls and QFC stores. Learn more at Regional Animal Service of King County’s website, kingcounty.gov/pets.

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As requested in petition, $2 million for White Center economic recovery included in King County supplemental budget

November 23rd, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center Library 2 Comments »

(WCN photo from September 13th fire)

A month and a half ago, White Center community members launched a petition drive demanding King County do more to address the economic devastation caused by the recent business fires. Among the demands: “$2M emergency relief funding outside of (Department of Local Services) grants to assist fire victims and stabilize the White Center Business District’s rebuilding efforts in collaboration with community.” $2 million in help is on the way after a King County Council supplemental-budget vote today that included approval of the proposal by County Councilmember Joe McDermott. Here’s his post-vote announcement:

Following passage of a $672 million supplemental budget Tuesday, King County Councilmember Joe McDermott applauded the inclusion of $2 million for economic recovery in White Center following a string of fires and burglaries there. McDermott brough the funding as an amendment to the budget legislation.

“This investment in economic recovery will have a tangible impact on how the County can support the White Center community in the year ahead,” McDermott said. “From the pandemic to long-standing challenges for legacy businesses, this economic emergency brought on by the fires this year only heightened the need to ensure White Center can maintain an equitable, thriving community in the years ahead. I greatly appreciate my colleagues’ support for this community that, while struggling now, has incredible potential.”

The budget also included $175,000 for King County Sheriff’s Office overtime to help increase patrols in the area and funding for a new economic development staffer dedicated to the White Center community.

Multiple property fires this year damaged beloved businesses in White Center like the Locker Room Bar and Grill, Huong Xua Deli and others while subsequent window smashings and burglaries put the community on edge.

Local business owners submitted a petition to county officials, seeking direct aid to fire victims, funding for additional security in the community, a more transparent relationship with the King County Sheriff’s Office and local fire departments, and staffing for one-on-one support for local businesses not only for recovery but going forward to help avoid displacement in the area.

The $2 million in funding will be directed by the Department of Local Services to additional business grants and other economic recovery strategies to be developed in conversation and collaboration with the community.

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FOLLOWUP: Patti Cole-Tindall announced as interim King County Sheriff as of January 1

November 23rd, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news 1 Comment »

We noted yesterday that an interim King County Sheriff would be announced today, taking over after the term of elected Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht concludes at year’s end. Here’s the announcement, just in:

Executive Dow Constantine has appointed Patti Cole-Tindall to serve as Interim King County Sheriff while the County conducts a nationwide recruitment process for a new Sheriff to be appointed in mid-2022. Cole-Tindall will be the first person of color to serve as Sheriff in King County’s history. Executive Constantine also announced a new retention and recruitment bonus program for Sheriff’s officers.

Following the passage of a Charter Amendment in November 2020, the King County Sheriff’s Office is transitioning to an appointed, rather than elected, Sheriff. The Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) has developed recommendations for the characteristics of the next Sheriff, focusing on a strong background in law enforcement, community leadership, and community partnerships; a reputation for integrity, honesty, and transparency; the ability to inspire and motivate change; and a commitment to equity, racial and social justice, and LGBTQ+ issues.

“Patti’s background and experience in the Sheriff’s Office and across County government – working with labor, serving her community, and demonstrating integrity and transparency – make her uniquely qualified to step into this interim role. She embodies the key qualities we’re looking for as we begin to rethink community safety, hire the next generation of officers and search for a newly appointed Sheriff,” said Executive Constantine. “I am confident she will ensure a smooth transition and provide strong leadership for Sheriff’s Office employees and the public.”

Cole-Tindall has a background in law enforcement, labor relations, human resources as well as service to the community. She joined the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) in October 2015, serving as the Chief of Technical Services Division for almost five years before being appointed to Undersheriff, where she is responsible for day-to-day operations with the team of three Division Chiefs. She currently oversees the development and implementation of the KCSO strategic plan and the examination and strengthening of the KCSO complaint and use of force review processes.

Prior to that, Cole-Tindall served as the County’s Director of Labor Relations, advising Executive Constantine and the County Council on strategic planning, labor policy, and employment law. She concurrently served as the interim director of the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight, working with staff, the Sheriff’s Office, and the public to improve services and promote awareness of the role of civilian oversight in King County.

“I am honored to serve as the Interim Sheriff, and will be working closely with my management teams to support and lead the people of the KCSO until the new Sheriff is appointed,” said Cole-Tindall. “During this transition, my mission is clear: support our workforce, ensure a smooth transition, and listen to the communities we serve as we reimagine law enforcement in King County.”

Additionally, today’s appointment included the announcement of a proposal to be transmitted to the King County Council to, subject to ratification by the respective unions, appropriate funds for recruitment and retention bonuses for existing and new Sheriff Officers:

• A one-time $4,000 retention bonus to all commissioned Sheriff’s Office employees employed on Jan. 1, 2022
• A hiring bonus of $15,000 for lateral hires of Sheriff’s Deputies
• A hiring bonus of $7,500 for new Sheriff’s Deputies
• A $5,000 referral bonus for current Sheriff’s Office employees who refer successful candidates who are hired as Sheriff’s Deputies.

Last week, Executive Constantine announced the start of a nationwide search for King County’s next Sheriff. The recruitment process has worked to incorporate community identified priorities and qualifications for the next appointed Sheriff, using recommendations from PSAC and will include opportunities for input from community representatives, employees, and labor representatives. Cole-Tindall’s first day as Interim Sheriff will by January 1, and she will serve until the conclusion of recruitment in the summer of 2022 at which time a new Sheriff will be appointed.

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SUBAREA PLAN: King County extends comment deadline again

November 19th, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on SUBAREA PLAN: King County extends comment deadline again

King County really wants to make sure you have time to say something about the North Highline Subarea Plan. The latest announcement is that it’s extending the deadline for comments again:

The comment period for the North Highline Subarea Plan Public Review Draft and Land Use & Zoning Map Amendments has been extended from Sunday Nov. 28 through Sunday Dec. 19*.

There’s still time to share your thoughts on the plan that will guide growth and development in North Highline for the next 20 years. There are several ways to share your comments, including by completing a survey HERE.

Or you can:

Email to subareaplanning@kingcounty.gov. Please make sure that the subject line contains “North Highline.”
US Mail: Jacqueline Reid King County Permitting Division 35030 SE Douglas Street, Suite 210 Snoqualmie, WA 98065-9266
Phone/voicemail: 206-263-3000
The following resource, translated into several languages, has been added to the North Highline Subarea Plan website:

North Highline Subarea Plan Public Review Draft Reader’s Guide which also includes an explanation of key technical terms.

To see visuals that show examples of different forms of development referenced in project documents, go to this link:

A Residential and Commercial Development Examples Slide Deck

This slide deck, and other project information, can be accessed from the interactive project webpage at https://www.publicinput.com/northhighline

Also, be sure to check out the Draft Inclusionary Housing Proposed Ordinance that promotes affordable housing in new developments. Learn more at https://kingcounty.gov/legislation-review. The comment period for providing input on the draft ordinance has also been extended through Sunday Dec. 19*

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Haven’t commented on the draft North Highline Subarea Plan yet? You’ve got extra time

October 28th, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news 1 Comment »

From King County:

The comment period for the 2021 Public Review Draft of the North Highline Community Service Area Subarea Plan, and Land Use and Zoning Map Amendments has been extended through November 28. Learn more about the Subarea Plan at this link: kingcounty.gov/depts/local-services/permits/planning-regulations/subarea-plans/north-highline.aspx

Your feedback is vital to ensuring that the collective wisdom of the community is part of the development of the North Highline Subarea Plan. After the close of the comment period, King County will update the plan and map amendments based on the input received. The Executive will then send the revised plan and map amendments to the King County Council in early 2022. The Council is scheduled to review, revise, and adopt the North Highline Subarea Plan, including map amendments, in 2022. There will be a public hearing prior to Council’s adoption of amendments.

There are multiple ways to share your thoughts about the plan:

Dynamic web portal: Go to publicinput.com/NorthHighline and follow the process for providing comments on the Subarea Plan and Land Use and Zoning Map Amendments. This website also provides information and accepts comments in multiple languages.
Email to:subareaplanning@kingcounty.gov. Please make sure that the subject line contains “North Highline.”

US Mail:
Jacqueline Reid
King County Permitting Division
35030 SE Douglas Street, Suite 210
Snoqualmie, WA 98065-9266
Voicemail: 206-263-3000

The comment period for a draft inclusionary housing implementing ordinance that would apply in North Highline has also been extended through November 28. See the King County website for draft materials and ways to submit comments.

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‘We need to take action now’: Besieged business owners’ White Center plight draws promises from King County officials

October 20th, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news 2 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Eleven days and 750+ signatures after a White Center petition declared the community to be in a state of emergency, King County officials convened an online meeting to promise they’ll do something about it.

Tuesday afternoon’s meeting included one major promise: Extra King County Sheriff’s Office presence, via overtime spending. This, instead of the %175,000 worth of private security demanded in the community petition. KCSO presence at the meeting included the new Precinct 4 commander, Major Joe Hodgson. He brought updated crime stats for the heart of White Center, which are part of the slide deck used for the meeting:

A key community question for Hodgson and KCSO Patrol Operations Chief Jesse Anderson – how much money and time would the overtime investment in White Center total? And given community concerns about KCSO’s “ongoing unresponsiveness,” would the plan just bring “more of the same”? The department officials didn’t have exact numbers handy but insisted, “White Center is a high priority for us.” One business owner said words aren’t enough: “These issues, somebody has to do something about it … We need to take action now.’

Insistence that the county is already doing something was voiced at the very beginning of the meeting, when County Executive Dow Constantine spoke, trying to counter the petition’s pronouncement of a “lack of timely and effective action.” He said the county already had directed money to businesses affected by the fires, and made commitments – besides the KCSO OT – including providing the businesses with more “technical assistance.” He also said he’s seeking a disaster declaration that, if granted, would among other things qualify the fire-affected businesses to apply for sizable loans.

As for the fires themselves, investigator Tom Devine recapped what they believe so far – the July fire that started at the Lumber Yard Bar remains “under investigation … we’re actively pursuing all leads” and still very interested in community tips. The two Locker Room fires “weren’t criminal” but resulted from “reckless acts.” The fire at the old Atlas Electric building on 17th is believed to have been “not intentional” but rather related to “homeless people” and “some recklessness with flames.”

North Highline Fire District Chief Mike Marrs presented fire-prevention information, with specifics on how to make your property less fire-prone (you can see that advice in the slide deck above). He urged people to call and report even small fires, even if they’re already out.

The call for community tips and overall watchfulness was repeated by multiple meeting participants. For fires, crimes, even just something suspicious … report it. You might not get an instant response, but it will be on record.

Another theme: Cross-jurisdiction cooperation. Seattle Police and Fire leaders spoke at the meeting too. From the latter, SFD Chief Harold Scoggins didn’t give a presentation, but did answer a question about last month’s fire in South Delridge, noting that his investigators had ruled its cause “undetermined.” From SPD, the second in command from the West Seattle/South Park precinct, Lt. Dorothy Kim, brought crime stats from the West Seattle neighborhoods that border White Center (you can see those in the slide deck above, too).

The meeting, facilitated by Department of Local Services director John Taylor, hopped around to a variety of topics, including what the county is doing to “reimagine public safety” as it moves from an elected sheriff to appointed sheriff. But it circled back to community involvement toward the end, with KCSO’s Manny Apostol listing projects he’s coordinating – a community cleanup, a mural project, a “business block watch.” (No specific dates yet, but if you’re interested in any of the above, email him at manuel.apostol@kingcounty.gov.)

Taylor concluded by insisting again, “We heard you.”

(If you missed the meeting, you can watch the recorded video here:)

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What do you think of the draft North Highline Subarea Plan? Comment meeting next week

October 14th, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on What do you think of the draft North Highline Subarea Plan? Comment meeting next week

Just in from King County Local Services:

Share your thoughts about the North Highline Subarea Plan Public Review Draft at a public meeting:

Open comment meeting
Thurs. Oct. 21, 6-7:30 p.m.
Spanish interpretation available

Does the draft plan represent your vision for the future of your community? Your voice will be heard…and used.

Learn more about the plan at: kingcounty.gov/north-highline

Join the meeting via Zoom:
kingcounty.zoom.us/j/83881432281 / Passcode: OPENperiod
Dial-in: 253-215-8782 / Meeting ID: 838 8143 2281 / Passcode: 7290039119

Comments will be accepted through Thursday, Oct. 28.

Questions or comments? email SubareaPlanning@kingcounty.gov

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PUBLIC SAFETY: Meeting next Tuesday for White Center businesses

October 13th, 2021 Tracy Posted in Crime, King County, Safety, White Center news Comments Off on PUBLIC SAFETY: Meeting next Tuesday for White Center businesses

Just received from King County Local Services, word of an online public-safety meeting for White Center businesses next Tuesday (October 19th):

Here’s the participation info in clickable format:

Join Zoom Meeting
https://kingcounty.zoom.us/j/85676401136
Meeting ID: 856 7640 1136 / Passcode: SAFEpublic

Dial-in: 253-215-8782 / Passcode: 5584815021

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VIDEO: King County Executive candidates answer questions @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

October 9th, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County, Politics, White Center news Comments Off on VIDEO: King County Executive candidates answer questions @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

iframe width=”504″ height=”284″ src=”https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/s8b_yuMs92M” title=”YouTube video player” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen>

(Added: Video of the full NHUAC meeting, including the forum)

With the start of general-election voting just days away, most of this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting was devoted to a “town hall”-style forum featuring the two candidates for King County Executive. We’ll report the rest of the meeting separately, but want to note first that incumbent County Executive Dow Constantine and challenger State Senator Joe Nguyen have another online forum tonight (7 pm Saturday, presented by the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce, viewable (updated link) here).

On Thursday night, NHUAC’s Liz Giba moderated the forum, opening it by explaining that the organization does not endorse candidates and is focused on White Center and the surrounding unincorporated areas. She also noted that both candidates live in north West Seattle. Below is our recap – the questions and answers are reported as our summarizing/paraphrasing rather than exact quotes, except what’s within quotation marks.

****QUESTION: Both were invited to introduce themselves including where they were born and educational/employment background.

CONSTANTINE: Born at Swedish Hospital, lives in the same West Seattle neighborhood where he’s lived his whole life. He graduated from West Seattle High School and is a UW graduate , law school too. Qualifications: Lawyer, state legislator, county councilmember “and I think I’ve proved my ability to get difficult things done.” He touted the COVID response, responses to the climate crisis and entrenched racism, and more. “We’re moving forward with an agenda we’ve been pushing for years.” He also said the county’s been recognized for fiscal prudence.

NGUYEN: He was born at Virginia Mason Hospital, raised in White Center, graduated from Kennedy Catholic High School, went to Seattle University and has degrees in economics, finance, and humanities. He’s in analytics and strategy at Microsoft. He’s the first legislator of color in the 34th District. He talked about caring for his father after a disabling car crash, and the community giving back – “ever since then I felt compelled to serve the community at whatever level possible.” He says he’s part of “the most diverse Legislature in the history of Washington state.” But many issues “are at the local level.” He said he believes “talent is universal but opportunity is not.”

****QUESTION: King County just released the draft North Highline Sub-Area Plan, which appears to complete NH transition to a high-density neighborhood. In light of the analysis of Seattle’s urban-village strategy, which does not reduce BIPOC displacement, this is troubling: “Housing and equity are very connected.” Do you agree that King County should use findings of Seattle’s racial equity analysis to make decisions for NH? If not, what should be done?

NGUYEN: Hasn’t reviewed the analysis but believes more affordable housing is needed, more housing in general. But you also meed resources to mitigate growth – transit, utilities, etc. And how do you mitigate for possible displacement effects?

CONSTANTINE: This is a conversation we’ve been having for many years. You can’t be against displacement and against affordable housing. The development will keep coming … the plan was co-created with the community. What happened in West Seattle overwhelmed the intention – demand overran the supply. “We need not allow that to happen in White Center,” but aggressive action will be needed.

****QUESTION: In 2011, White Center CDA commissioned an opportunity analysis that found WC is a low-opportunity neighborhood. In 2015 King County named it a neighborhood of opportunity. But programs are not enough … Data shows North Highline with health challenges, poverty, child mortality, and other problems at a higher rate than West Seattle. (Stats were displayed.) Also some NH schools are majority poverty-level students, compared to schools in West Seattle. As executive, how can you assure NH students have the opportunity to achieve their potential?

CONSTANTINE: You have to focus on lifting up people in the community. That’s why we worked on a community-needs list, participatory budgeting, focusing on helping the White Center HUB project by transferring county-owned property … that’s also why North Highline (and Skyway) should be part of a city. Burien or Seattle. Tax base would provide urban services. Proud that through Best Starts for Kids we’ve been able to invest heavily, keep families from becoming homeless … “It’s my determination that we’re going to continue these kinds of investments. … We have to break loose of these historic racist realities.”

NGUYEN: Experienced the disparities firsthand, attending school in White Center. “Right now King County doesn’t have a dedicated office of economic development,” and that would help. “There are resources like Best Starts for Kids, nonprofits serving this area” … He repeats, “opportunity is lacking but talent is not,” as he has observed in his work with a nonprofit. “These are things that I experienced back in” (the ’80s).

****QUESTION: North Highline suffers from people experiencing “mental distress.” She brings up high-profile crimes, shooting, arson. “Gunshots are common. the sheriff’s office is underfunded, deputies are spread thin.” How as executive would you reduce crime, trauma, and related problems?

NGUYEN: Some of this is an effect of economic distress. Many calls are for non-criminal activity. Have community-safety officers to assist with noncriminal offenses … “so we can break that cycle and won’t see the same person over and over again.”

CONSTANTINE: “Many of these questions are why I created a Department of Local Services.” He said he came to the area the day after the shootings outside Taradise Café. Yes, having more community service officers is important, but also other kinds of responses, like community interveners. “It’s gotta be a multipronged approach.” He has two mental-health street teams and proposed funding for two more – at least one would circulate to areas such as White Center and Burien. He said he also came to the neighborhood after the Lumber Yard fire and that $108.000 has been provided to help, and additional resources are being identified to help the WC business district in this time of crisis.

****QUESTION: People in need are being segregated economically. I would like to hear both of you say you’ll correct that, to allow poor people to live in more affluent neighborhoods.

NGUYEN: Redlining is a reality. More density is a solution. Innovative anti-displacement strategies like community land trusts can help. More resources such as transit, job opportunities, would help too.

CONSTANTINE: Economic diversity is important to everyone. That’s a two-way street, it means protecting people from displacement even as outside economic pressures cause pressure. And in more affluent neighborhoods, cities need to make more room for more types of housing. Affluence, the way we’ve seen our region transform, are powerful forces.

At this point in the forum, Giba invited others to ask questions.

****Question from NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin: Development in her neighborhood has been haphazard. Lots have been clear-cut. What about the neighborhoods? Developers are calling every week seeking to buy property. How do we protect what we have?

CONSTANTINE: The Sub-Area Plan includes development standards. Some cities like Seattle have “much more refined standards for neighborhoods.” Touts his Land Conservation initiative. Mentions the new greenspace in Boulevard Park.

NGUYEN: Talks about a document to protect urban canopy. Development needs to be “mindful of how we protect our greenspaces.”

Following up, Giba mentions the White Center HUB plan proposes development in a forested area. “Is there some way to put it elsewhere?”

NGUYEN: He’s seen renderings and thinks it’s incorporating some of the landscape, but it’s not a bad spot (for the project) overall.

CONSTANTINE: He agrees that every razed lot is a lost opportunity. Plans need to address that.

****Question from NHUAC’s Pat Price: The new greenspace (that Constantine mentioned) is on the edge of South Park, practically in Seattle. A study conducted over a decade ago suggested that White Center could improve access to and availability of parks. We haven’t heard more about what’s possible. What about all that land off Myers Way? Any plans to do something there?

CONSTANTINE: Park acquisition id “kind of my jam.” Department of Natural Resoures and Parks is “very focused on our service to NH” – he mentioned the recently spotlighted program to hire more people experiencing homelessness to do park cleanup. No new info on parkland negotiations. But see the Sub-Area Plan – “White Center needs more greenspace,” and that will be done “in lockstep with the community.”

****Question from WC resident Sabina regarding the Land Use Plan and zoning amendment: Doesn’t adequately address some issues, such as the west side of White Center (28th/30th/Roxbury) – street infrastructure is subpar – if the density there is going to double, it’s poor urban planning. Nothing in Sub-Area Plan will addresses how those blocks are going to get needed infrastructure. This will exacerbate inequality.

NGUYEN: Agrees that lack of sidewalks is a problem, says state has a package that would fund them in unincorporated areas. “Not only is it a safety issue but also an efficiency issue.”

CONSTANTINE: That infrastructure is part of draft Community Needs List, awaiting more community discussion and input. Good to hear the state might fund unincorporated-area sidewalks, which are badly needed. In addition, “we are focused on some pretty significant investments.” Mentions RapidRide H Line is starting service next year.

****Question from Carmel: She’s a local business owner who works with many others. “We’ve really been hurting with the fires … best way to increase opportunity for business owners would be to join u at our table instead of telling us to come to yours.” Mentions a meeting the next day. Will you attend?

NGUYEN: Yes. My family had a business in that area (years ago).

CONSTANTINE: Will try to cancel a conflict and be there. Top county staffers including Local Services director John Taylor will be there.

****Question from community member Loretta: She feels like NH is more part of Burien than Seattle. Urges the candidates to keep their distance from the Seattle City Council. Meantime, “there’s so much crime out there,” she sees a need for consequences.

CONSTANTINE: He does try to keep his distance from the Seattle City Council, he said with laughter, saying that it includes “fine people” but he disagrees with some of their direction. Regarding crime, “what we’re seeking to do is” earlier intervention, with young people

NGUYEN: Lot of programs are available now that didn’t used to be – need to address ohn a systemic basis.

Both agree more behavioral-health investment is needed.

****Question from Mark from Skyway: Concerned about corruption, vaccine hesitancy, and more in Sheriff’s Office. Sees a lack of concern among deputies for urban unincorporated areas. Since the next Exec will be in charge of the sheriff, please address.

CONSTANTINE: Looking forward to dealing with some of the challenges. Sheriff’s Office has funding challenges, a lot of vacancies. “We need to focus in making sure we have a smooth transition to a new sheriff,” and one who leads the transformation of policing. Need better response times but don’t confuse that with response types – there are calls that don’t require uniformed police fficer.

NGUYEN: Need true accountability. Next Sheriff should be able to hold folks accountable and transform the way things are done.

****Question from Marissa: Speaking as a coalition coordinator, regarding youths’ behavioral health – school practitioners say there’s a big need for behavioral health services for youth, increased by the pandemic. There’s money being spent on it but how is it really supporting the need for services in schools? There’s a big difference between saying there’s a community partner, and having someone being able to get into services. Students are getting referred but can’t always access services. How can we plan for the short-term imminent need for these services in schools, and what are you doing right now?

NGUYEN: State allocated about $300 million. But how we fund schools is inequitable. Meeting with Seattle and Highline school board members to talk about how this looks going forward.

CONSTANTINE: “A lot of these issues come back to the dire lack of behavioral health services” – this all started back in the ’80s, then in the Great Recession the state disinvested … the county’s been scrambling “to prop up this house of cards.” Best Starts for Kids helping. “I’m excited about (its) renewal.” But “we’ve inherited a terrible tax system … this economy could pay for everything we need to live healthy successful lives” but tax system is “grossly unfair.”

They wrapped up after about an hour and a holf. We’ll publish other notes from the meeting separately later today, and also plan to cover tonight’s County Executive forum. The NHUAC event was recorded but we haven’t found a link – if and when we do, we’ll add it.

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PETITION: ‘The White Center community declares our state of emergency’ with urgent call for more King County support in fires’ aftermath

October 8th, 2021 Tracy Posted in Fire, King County, White Center news 2 Comments »

(WCN photo from September 13th fire)

Announced by the White Center Community Development Association: An online petition drive has been launched to demand more support from King County in the aftermath of the recent fires. From the petition page:

The White Center Community declares our state of emergency. After five fire events within the last four months, the entire community is devastated. The fires have affected 11 beloved businesses and their employees, all losing everything in the rash of fires over the last four months. The lack of timely and effective action from our elected officials, County staff, and the Sheriff’s Department have and will continue to impact our community negatively for many years to come.

We are alone in rebuilding our businesses and community.

Business owners and neighbors have raised over $290K for fire victims ($165K to the Lumber Yard) and continue to raise funds. Elected and County staff have not offered any additional emergency funds or additional support. The business district as a whole continues to experience crime, theft, violence, and a sharp decrease in monthly revenues.

The following businesses have been impacted and devastated: Huong Xua Deli, John’s Hair and Nails Salon, The Boxing Gym Westside, La Tipica Oaxaquena, Nuggi Boba, The Locker Room, Ben Schreck workshop, Dottie’s Doublewide, Rat City Tat2, Bizzarro Italian Café, Full Tilt, and The Lumber Yard.

This petition encompasses the needs surfaced from hundreds of hours of conversations over the past four months and over the past 25 years. We need an emergency fire response plan by our elected officials and County staff NOW.

INVEST IN WHITE CENTER SO WE CAN REBUILD, THRIVE AND GROW:

– Hire private security for 8 hours overnight, 7 days a week, to be funded by King County. Invest $175,000 per year into the community, targeting damaged areas immediately.

– $2M emergency relief funding outside of DLS grants to assist fire victims and stabilize the White Center Business District’s rebuilding efforts in collaboration with community (comprehensive business district plan, re-establishing/affirming zoning, etc.) immediately.

– Businesses who do not hold or have minimal insurance coverage should automatically be qualified for a minimum of $25,000 in emergency assistance immediately.

– Create a task force of professionals, available daily, on a drop-in basis, to help fire victims navigate systems and relationships. Provide 1:1 assistance (salvage assistance, navigating insurance, and permitting processes, assessing rebuilding options, funding, re-entry etc.) until the business is able to re-enter and resume regular business hours at full capacity immediately. Provide delivery of assistance in Vietnamese and Spanish.

– Build transparency and accountability between community members and the Sheriff’s Department. Provide basic details of all Sheriff’s deputies, duties, and assignments in White Center (names and badge numbers of officers working in White Center during the 2017 – 2021 Sheriff Department budget for White Center, and patrol routes).

– Fund a position to help retain existing businesses and recruit new businesses in White Center. The position will support existing businesses going through lease renewals or re-location, and assists property owners and developers that are rehabilitating or developing buildings with retail space design, pricing and tenanting.

The petition page also suggests contacting local officials, and includes their phone numbers.

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TONIGHT: Concerned about displacement in North Highline? Don’t miss tonight’s briefing

October 6th, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on TONIGHT: Concerned about displacement in North Highline? Don’t miss tonight’s briefing

Online tonight at 6 pm, a briefing on anti-displacement strategies in two of unincorporated King County’s urban areas – including ours:

The King County Executive (transmitted) the final Skyway-West Hill and North Highline Anti-Displacement Strategies Report to the King County Council on Thursday, September 30th.

The Department of Community and Human Services and Department of Local Services are co-hosting a community briefing on Wednesday, October 6 from 6:00-8:00 pm to present the report’s final recommendations, next steps, and future opportunities for community involvement.

The event will be recorded for anyone who is unable to attend.

All Skyway-West Hill and North Highline community members are invited to join this briefing, even if you have not attended previous sessions. Because we have limited time in this meeting, it will be important that participants familiarize themselves with the anti-displacement strategies that have been under consideration.

Here are few ways to do that:

-Visit www.publicinput.com/anti-displacement to learn about this project and the strategies under consideration.
-Check out our Anti-Displacement Strategy Toolkit – this toolkit contains the slides from the earlier workshop sessions and helpful written explanations of each strategy.

If you have the time, you can also watch the recorded Anti-Displacement Workshop Sessions.

This report’s recommendations provide a concrete path forward in King County’s efforts to address historic disinvestment and structural racism in two diverse and culturally rich neighborhoods. We look forward to sharing the content of the report and discussing the implementation work ahead of us!

We hope you will join us for this important meeting, and please share this opportunity with other folks who live and work in Skyway-West Hill and North Highline!

For questions or more information about the Anti-displacement Strategies Report Community Briefing on October 6th, please contact Isaac Horwith at isaac.horwith@kingcounty.gov.

If you are not already registered to attend, that’s who to email to get the link for attendance – though earlier announcements listed Monday as the deadline for signing up, the event page says that it’s not too late to sign up by email.

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New county jobs program shown off at White Center Heights Park

September 29th, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County, Parks, White Center news Comments Off on New county jobs program shown off at White Center Heights Park

(Photo via @kcexec on Twitter)

From left above, King County Councilmember Joe McDermott and King County Executive Dow Constantine were at White Center Heights Park today to shine the spotlight on a new pandemic-relief program offering work to people experiencing homelessness. Here’s the news release explaining it:

King County Executive Dow Constantine today met with one of the new crews restoring and enhancing regional parks and trails, an early success of the Jobs and Housing Program he included in the pandemic recovery package announced earlier this year.

King County’s Jobs and Housing Program hosted focused recruitment events at emergency shelters to offer people experiencing homelessness the opportunity to join King County Parks Beautification Crews, earning salaries that can help them transition to permanent housing. The new program applies the Rapid Rehousing model developed by the King County Department of Community and Human Services to connect participants with housing.

King County is working to expand the Jobs and Housing Program to other county services, including logistical support for emergency management, sanitizing fleet vehicles, and providing customer support for animal services.

“Our new Jobs and Housing Program is one example of how we are sparking an equitable recovery throughout King County,” said Executive Constantine. “By connecting our unhoused neighbors with good-paying jobs and case managers who can help them transition to permanent housing, we are helping more people and families thrive.”

Successful candidates for the program can earn between $20 and $25 per hour for temporary positions and can receive housing supports. Program participants will also receive career support aimed at helping them transition to permanent jobs and permanent housing. The program helps people who have gaps in their employment history and potentially offers them professional references for future job searches.

The beautification crews are starting at five King County parks where they will perform a variety of tasks, such as landscaping, athletic field maintenance, trail building and maintenance, construction and demolition, invasive weed removal, restoration, and planting. The first regional parks where the crews operate are:

Five Mile Lake Park in South King County
White Center Heights Park
Marymoor Park in Redmond
Tolt-MacDonald Park and Campground in Carnation
Three Forks Natural Area along the Snoqualmie River in East King County
Ravensdale Park near Maple Valley

The program will increase King County Parks’ seasonal crews by 36 people who are currently experiencing homelessness. The additional workforce is particularly helpful now that more people than ever are enjoying the regional parks and trails during the pandemic.

King County Parks has so far conducted five recruitment events at emergency shelters in Seattle, South King County, and East King County. Once background checks and physicals are complete, King County Parks provides crew members with on-the-job training while other partner organizations assist with securing housing and career counseling.

King County Metro is helping crew members arrive at worksites with its ORCA Business Passport program, which connects workers through its regional transit network, including Vanpool.

Executive Constantine included funding for the Jobs and Housing Program in the combined $600 million COVID-19 supplemental budget he proposed in March. It has multiple funding sources, including the American Rescue Plan, FEMA, and the county’s General Fund. The County Council approved $38 million for the program in May.

Other potential positions created by the Jobs and Housing Program could include:

Cleaning and sanitizing vehicles and heavy-duty equipment for King County’s Fleet Services Division
Caring for animals and engaging with customers at Regional Animal Services of King County
Performing litter removal in the road right-of-way at King County Roads Division
Performing litter removal in unincorporated King County organized by the Department of Local Services

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

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

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

The proposed Ordinance:

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

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

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

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North Highline’s future: New way to have a say in how it should look

September 17th, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on North Highline’s future: New way to have a say in how it should look

From King County:

King County Local Services is working with the North Highline community to create urban design standards for new commercial, multi-family, and mixed-use developments.

To align these new design standards with the community’s values, we’re forming a community advisory group to help develop these standards in a way that reflects the values and assets of the community. If you’re interested in applying to be a member of that group, please use our online application form.

The project team is also gathering input directly from community members through an online survey and upcoming events. Do you have ideas to share? Your voice matters — please take the survey!

Check out this information sheet to learn more about the project, or contact Jesse Reynolds by email (jesreynolds@kingcounty.gov) or at 206-477-4237.

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County offers help for unincorporated-area small businesses affected by pandemic

July 8th, 2021 Tracy Posted in Businesses, King County, White Center news Comments Off on County offers help for unincorporated-area small businesses affected by pandemic

Applications are open for a King County program to help small-business owners in unincorporated areas including North Highline. From the announcement:

As part of King County’s initiative to help our region recover from the pandemic, the King County Council has dedicated $4.5 million to help small business owners in unincorporated areas.

The application period opened Wednesday, July 7 and closes Wednesday, Aug. 4. Small business owners can apply online at kingcounty.gov/localbusinesshelp or by calling 206-477-3800 beginning today.

King County Local Services will administer this new grant program, which is open to businesses with 30 or fewer employees and $3 million or less in annual gross income.

Owners who receive grants will be reimbursed for business-related expenses incurred since March 3, 2021. Reimbursable expenses include rent, payroll, business utilities, goods and services, and COVID-19 accommodation costs.

This program is specifically intended to help small businesses, as was the county’s first round of grants offered last year. Through that earlier program, more than 571 businesses received or are in the process of receiving up to $5,000 each from King County Local Services, for a total of nearly $3 million.

In 9 languages:

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HEAT WAVE: King County and WCCDA opening Top Hat cooling center with individual rooms

June 25th, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County, Weather, White Center Community Development Association, White Center news 4 Comments »

We’re now under an Excessive Heat Warning through Monday. Just received this announcement about the site once set up (but never used) for pandemic quarantine/isolation:

With high temperatures expected to soar past 100 degrees through the early part of next week, the county will make 20 air-conditioned units available from 4 p.m., Saturday to 10 a.m., Wednesday. Overnight stays will be available.

The White Center Cooling Center is located at 206 SW 112th St., in the Top Hat neighborhood.

Those who are interested should call 206-572-5557.

The center will offer a way for residents—including those experiencing homelessness—to escape the heat. The center will welcome overnight stays as well as an air-conditioned area with water and refreshments for shorter visits.

Those who stay overnight will be able to enter and leave the facility from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. The doors will be locked outside of those hours, with some exceptions for late arrivals.

Service and emotional support animals are welcome. Masks and social distancing guidelines will be followed per Washington State and King County requirements.

Teams from King County and the White Center Community Development Association will staff the site, and private security will be on-site day and night.

This effort is a partnership between DCHS, Local Services, FMD and the White Center Community Development Association.

At this time, the White Center Cooling Center will be the only such facility offered in unincorporated King County. You can find other cooling centers on the King County Emergency Management blog.

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