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

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

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

(WCN photo from Tuesday)

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

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

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

(WCN photos)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Announced today by the King County Solid Waste Division:

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

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

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

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

Projects that will be funded are listed:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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County Councilmember Joe McDermott to formally propose fireworks ban today

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

(Also published on partner site West Seattle Blog)

(Reader photo: Fireworks debris, July 2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The maps and summaries from presentations so far are here.

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

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

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor>

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

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

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

What’s in the potential pipeline includes:

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

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

-Looking at opportunities to grow Dick Thurnau Park

-Looking at an area south of Roxbury

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Announced by King County:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key points:

*Draft “vision statement” for North Highline:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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REMINDER: North Highline Subarea Plan open house tonight

January 30th, 2020 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on REMINDER: North Highline Subarea Plan open house tonight

Tonight’s open house is your next major chance for Q&A and info about the in-progress North Highline Subarea Plan. Here’s the reminder:

This is a final reminder for the North Highline Subarea Plan Open House on Thursday, January 30 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the North Highline Fire District (1243 SW 112th). Food and interpretation in Spanish, Vietnamese, and Khmer will be provided. Organized childcare will not be provided, but children are welcome to attend the event.

If you haven’t already, please fill out our survey about our latest Plan proposals. It’s available in English and Spanish. Summaries of our draft land use plan proposals are available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Khmer, and Somali on the right-hand side of the North Highline Subarea Plan website, along with lots of other information about the Subarea Plan.

We checked with the project lead David Goodman; a short presentation is planned at 6:15 pm, but otherwise, this is a “drop-in” event.

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FOLLOWUP: Potential fireworks ban advancing on two political fronts

January 29th, 2020 Tracy Posted in King County, Safety, White Center news 3 Comments »

(Reader photo: Fireworks debris in West Seattle, July 2018)

Are the days – and nights – of legal fireworks in unincorporated North Highline coming to an end?

The calls for a ban intensified after last year’s deadly fire. King County Council Vice Chair Joe McDermott says he supports a ban. This week he told us that he’s been working on the ban proposal with both the county permitting division and King County Executive Dow Constantine, and that he expects Constantine to send the proposal to the council next week.

Even if a ban passed quickly, though, state law requires a year before it could take effect, so there would be at least one more year of legal fireworks. When this all came up for discussion last September at a North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, 34th District Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon talked about legislation to change that. Now, he’s introduced it – HB 2307, “to allow local governments to ban fireworks immediately” – and tells us it’s progressing in the House. Our area’s senior state Representative, Eileen Cody, is a co-sponsor. The Local Government Committee took action to advance it last Friday, two days after a hearing. Now it’s moved on to the Rules Committee for review.

To comment on that bill, you can go here. As for the proposed county ban, we’ll publish a followup when it’s introduced.

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FOLLOWUP: What ever happened to White Center scooter-sharing?

January 23rd, 2020 Tracy Posted in King County, Transportation, White Center news Comments Off on FOLLOWUP: What ever happened to White Center scooter-sharing?

(Mysterious scooter sighting in West Seattle last October)

Last fall, there was plenty of buzz when the King County Council passed a plan for a scooter-sharing pilot in White Center – just a quick ride over the line from Seattle, which, unlike many big cities, hasn’t launched a scooter program yet. The plan at the time was to get it going around the first of the year. But here we are three weeks into 2020, and nothing yet. So we asked County Councilmember Joe McDermott, the scooter plan’s sponsor, what’s up, when we saw him tonight at a meeting we were covering for partner site West Seattle Blog. Answer: It’s still in the works – the county is getting ready to seek proposals from potential providers, and is now hoping to launch the program in a month or so. Whenever the scooters hit the street, McDermott vows he’ll be one of the first to ride!

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SUBAREA PLAN: Office hours today, open house next Thursday

January 23rd, 2020 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on SUBAREA PLAN: Office hours today, open house next Thursday

Two more chances to talk about the North Highline Subarea Plan and where it’s going. From planner David Goodman:

This is a reminder that I will be holding field office hours (today), Thursday, January 23, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the White Center Library (1409 SW 107th Street, Seattle). Please stop by if you’d like to chat about anything related to the Subarea Plan. I’ll be in one of the meeting rooms toward the back of the building.

We hope you will also join us at the North Highline Subarea Plan Open House on Thursday, January 30 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the North Highline Fire District (1243 SW 112th Street, Seattle). Food and interpretation in Spanish, Vietnamese, and Khmer will be provided. Organized childcare will not be provided, but children are welcome to attend the event.

If you haven’t already, please fill out our survey about our latest Plan proposals. It’s available in English and Spanish. Summaries of our draft land use plan proposals are available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Khmer, and Somali on the right-hand side of the North Highline Subarea Plan website, along with lots of other information about the Subarea Plan.

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SURVEY FOR YOU: Help grow King County’s Forest Plan

January 18th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Environment, King County, White Center news Comments Off on SURVEY FOR YOU: Help grow King County’s Forest Plan

King County is working on a 30-year Forest Plan, and wants to know your thoughts, especially here in an urban unincorporated area, so they asked us to publish a request for your participation in a survey:

Our spectacular forests store carbon, cool streams and provide recreational opportunities. As we work with communities to develop a 30-year plan to expand forest cover and improve forest health, we’re conducting a public survey.

What is most important to you? Should we prioritize the role of our forests in confronting climate change? Or planting trees to improve air quality? Or promoting healthy forests in King County Parks? Or enhancing wildlife habitat? Or something else?

What are the most important actions King County can take with partners over the next 30 years? Should we focus on improving the health of existing forests or preserving additional forestland? Should we plant trees in areas where there is lower tree cover or should we plant more trees near rivers and streams?

We invite you to take a few minutes to take the brief survey to share your ideas for how we ensure that future generations continue to benefit from healthy, vibrant forests: www.kingcounty.gov/forestplan

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NORTH HIGHLINE SUBAREA PLAN: New survey, plus another chance for Q&A

December 18th, 2019 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on NORTH HIGHLINE SUBAREA PLAN: New survey, plus another chance for Q&A

The work of mapping North Highline’s future via the Sub-Area Plan continues, and you have another chance to comment via a new survey, plus a chance for face-to-face Q&A. From King County’s point person David Goodman:

A reminder that I will be holding field office hours for the North Highline Subarea Plan tomorrow, Thursday, December 19, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the White Center Library (1409 SW 107th). Please stop by if you’d like to chat about anything related to the Subarea Plan.

I am also pleased to share that we have opened our Phase 2 Survey, which is available in English and Spanish. The survey asks questions about our draft land use proposals and features a visual guide with pictures of different types of residential, commercial, and mixed-use buildings. The survey will remain open through the end of January.

You can view the results of our first survey here.

Please visit the North Highline Subarea Plan website for more information.

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VIDEO: Helping keep downtown White Center clean, new King County Conservation Corps gets media spotlight

December 3rd, 2019 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news 1 Comment »

Though it’s been at work for almost two months, the King County Conservation Corps got its official moment in the spotlight today, as a lineup of political and community leaders hosted a media briefing and cleanup event. Here’s our video of the entire 20-minute briefing, plus some Q&A:

Those speaking included King County Executive Dow Constantine, County Councilmember Joe McDermott, Natural Resources/Parks deputy director Lorraine Patterson, and White Center Community Development Association executive director Sili Savusa. The KCCC was explained as a five-member team that is out on cleanup patrol five days a week – four in White Center, one in Skyway, with other urban unincorporated areas to come. The county has authorized a six-month pilot program, currently set to run through April, at a cost of about $125,000. They’re partnering with the nonprofit Millionair Club to provide the workers, who are earning $18-$20 per hour. They had some extra help after the briefing:

After the briefing, we got some additional specifics about White Center. Right now, the crew is working on an area bounded by Roxbury and 100th, 14th and 17th. It could expand further south as time goes by. This is all under the umbrella of the semi-new Local Services department, whose director John Taylor was also part of the briefing. We asked Constantine during the briefing if the continued beefing-up of what LS provides means the county has given up on what used to be the insistence that WC would have to be part of a city someday; he said no, that’s still the long-range plan, but right now it’s in charge of providing services so they want to do the best they can.

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Be part of the plan: Your next chance to get involved with North Highline Subarea planning

November 18th, 2019 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on Be part of the plan: Your next chance to get involved with North Highline Subarea planning

Thursday’s your next chance to meet with David Goodman, who’s working on the North Highline Subarea Plan. His latest update:

I will be holding field office hours on Thursday, November 21 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the White Center Library (1409 SW 107th St). Please stop by if you’d like to chat about anything related to the Subarea Plan. I’ll be in one of the meeting rooms toward the back of the building – look for the guy with the maps! If you are unable to make it to the library at that time, I’d be happy to coordinate a meeting or call separately – my contact info is at the bottom of this e-mail.

My colleagues and I are currently refining our first draft proposals to share with the community during the next phase of public engagement, which we anticipate will begin in early December. We consider these proposals to be conversation starters rather than final products and look forward to receiving the community’s feedback and ideas.

The North Highline Subarea Plan survey, available in English and Spanish, will remain open through Thanksgiving.

Haven’t responded to that yet? Go here!

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King County Renters’ Commission to be created

November 13th, 2019 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on King County Renters’ Commission to be created

The announcement is from the King County Council:

King County renters will soon have a stronger voice with elected leaders and county departments. The King County Council on Wednesday approved an ordinance to establish a King County Renters’ Commission.

“As inequality grows in this region, it is the Council’s responsibility to ensure that renters’ rights are protected, and their voices are elevated,” said Councilmember Larry Gossett, who was the prime sponsor of the ordinance. “The King County Renters’ Commission gives renters the vehicle to strengthen their role in unifying their voices to create and advocate for policies that will benefit renters, especially those in the unincorporated areas of King County.”

The ordinance will set up a seven-member Renters’ Commission that would advise the council and the executive on issues and policies impacting renters in unincorporated King County. Councilmembers Larry Gossett and Jeanne Kohl-Welles sponsored the measure as part of a suite of legislation to bolster tenant protections and improve access to affordable housing, primarily in unincorporated areas of King County.

With nearly half of all households in King County renting their homes, rental issues are top of mind for many of the county’s 2 million residents. Additionally, 72% of African American households are renters, compared to 38% of white households, and renter households have significantly lower median household income than homeowners in King County.

“This commission will bring a much-needed fresh perspective to our policy making decisions regarding tenants’ rights and regulations that impact renters,” Kohl-Welles said. “As we move forward as a government and representative body of the people of this County, it is imperative that we continue to bring new voices to the table – especially those voices that have traditionally been left out of the process.”

The seven appointed members will represent a variety of backgrounds and perspectives including historically underrepresented groups.

Similar to the City of Seattle’s renters’ commission, established in 2017, the county Renters’ Commission will monitor enforcement of existing laws, look for opportunities to strengthen and improve those laws or advise creation of new ones. The group will also develop an annual report that includes recommendations on improving affordability with a focus on unincorporated parts of the county.

The council recently approved legislation that would create a strategy to develop and retain affordable housing in Skyway and White Center. A committee is still considering other actions that would clarify county code on when and how landlords can evict tenants as well as set up a pilot program to help low-income renters when they are displaced by rent hikes in Skyway and White Center.

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NORTH HIGHLINE SUBAREA PLAN: Have a say today!

October 24th, 2019 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news 3 Comments »

Your next chance to get involved in planning our area’s future is this afternoon. David Goodman, who’s leading the county’s work on the North Highline Subarea Plan, sent this message:

Thank you to everyone who has engaged with us over the past few months about the North Highline Subarea Plan! Since we began this process in July we have attended over 20 meetings with community leaders and groups and received nearly 100 responses to our survey. We sincerely value your involvement and input in this process.

I will be holding office hours on Thursday, October 24 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the White Center Library (1409 SW 107th St). Please stop by if you’d like to chat about anything related to the Subarea Plan.

We are now moving into a new phase of the planning process. My colleagues and I will spend the next few weeks drafting an outline of the North Highline Subarea Plan that addresses the issues that the community has shared with us. Beginning in mid-November and running through the end of January, we will share that outline with the community and work together to ensure that the Plan is reflective of your values and vision for the future.

The North Highline Subarea Plan survey, available in English and Spanish, will remain open through the end of the month. This is a great opportunity to share your thoughts on your neighborhood and help direct our planning work.

Please visit the North Highline Subarea Plan website for more information.

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Affordable-housing, renter-protection proposals advancing in King County Council

October 15th, 2019 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news 18 Comments »

News release from the King County Council:

A major renter protection and affordable housing package moved forward on Tuesday when a King County Council committee passed the first of four pieces of legislation.

“This package of legislation is a major step in the right direction to protect the most disenfranchised residents in King County,” said King County Councilmember Larry Gossett, who championed the package. “If this legislation is approved, King County can be a model throughout the country on protecting renters, enhancing affordable housing, and mitigating the impacts of gentrification on longtime residents and those in need of affordable housing.”

Brought forward by Gossett and co-sponsored by Councilmembers Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Joe McDermott, the first legislation – passed by the Health, Housing and Human Services Committee – will take aim at creating a strategy to develop and retain affordable housing in Skyway and White Center.

The program, to be developed by the executive’s office and then implemented by council, would create community land trusts in communities with the highest minority populations in King County. It would include mandatory or voluntary inclusionary zoning, maintaining affordability for people living at up to 50% of area median income in White Center and Skyway. In addition, it would give preference to local community members displaced by increasing rents the first option to move back into those communities.

Tuesday’s passage marks the first step toward implementing a major renter protection package. Gossett and Kohl-Welles have backed three more pieces of legislation that will work together to increase protections for renters across King County and build up new programs to reduce displacement in at-risk communities.

The measures include:

*Formation of a King County Renters’ Commission to advise officials on renter issues and possible measures to improve housing access and affordability.

*Revision of King County code to clarify when and how landlords can legally evict tenants through addition of just cause eviction definitions.

Creation of a pilot program to help low-income renters when they are displaced by rent hikes in Skyway and White Center. The program would be a five-year pilot that would help tenants displaced by rising rents relocate back to their community through rental assistance and increased protections for existing renters.
“On paper, our economy is thriving,” Kohl-Welles said. “But in reality, too many of our neighbors are struggling to get by and are being priced out of their homes. This suite of legislation will help increase affordability for and access to stable housing as well as increased representation for renters. Most important, it will help renters feel a sense of stability knowing they can’t be evicted without just cause.”

Tuesday’s approved motion will go before the full council at its Oct. 24 meeting, while the other three measures will undergo further discussion in the council’s Health, Housing and Human Services Committee.

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