Here’s what’s planned for December’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

December 3rd, 2023 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news No Comments »

This Thursday, take a little time out of your schedule to dive into what’s happening in your community. You don’t even have to leave your home – the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets online at 7 pm Thursday – here’s the preview:

The Opportunity to Be Informed, Be Involved and Be Heard!

Where? North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When? Thursday, December 7, 2023, at 7 pm

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 820 0154 8577
Passcode: NHUAC2023 (Case Sensitive)

Unable to join via Zoom? Please call: 253 215 8782
Meeting ID: 820 0154 8577
Passcode: 332771534

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

You are invited to join NHUAC’s last meeting of 2023 at 7 pm on Thursday, December 7th. 2023 has been a year of transition in our community. One of NHUAC’s goals is to keep you abreast of changes and in touch with the people who are making decisions that affect North Highline.

Due to our unincorporated status, the King County Council serves as our local government. King County Councilmember Joe McDermott will be replaced after more than a decade. We met Councilmember Elect Teresa Mosqueda and shared pertinent data about North Highline with her at NHUAC’s October meeting. NHUAC will continue to provide opportunities for discussions with her as she moves forward as our representative on the King County Council.

Last month, we learned that the King County Library System’s Executive Director, Lisa Rosenblum, was retiring. She has been a positive force in improving our relationship with KCLS by improving service and saving the Boulevard Park Branch. In October, Verna Seal of Tukwila was appointed as Trustee by the King County Council. To talk about the future of KCLS, Trustee Seal will join us on Thursday along with Mary Sue Houser, Olympic Regional Manager.

The North Highline Fire District is vital to everyone that lives, works or visits North Highline. In 2019, after extensive contract negotiations, the NHFD contractually consolidated with Burien’s King County Fire District #2. The consolidation allowed the districts to improve cost sharing, increase efficiencies and firefighter training and share KCFD#2’s Fire Chief. The consolidation has been an undeniable success under Chief Mike Marrs’ leadership. After 34 years of service, Chief Marrs is retiring. Join NHUAC on December 7 to thank Chief Marrs and welcome his successor, Chief Jason Gay.

After serving as White Center’s Storefront Deputy since 2015, Deputy Bill Kennamer retired from the King County Sheriff’s Office in April after 25 years of service. His successor, Detective Glen Brannon, will make his final presentation of the year at Thursday’s NHUAC meeting.

Knowledge Is Power

Learn, share, and help make North Highline a healthier community.

Thursday, December 7 at 7 pm – Invite Your Neighbors!

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From libraries to law enforcement at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s November meeting

November 3rd, 2023 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 1 Comment »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

The King County Library System was the star of the show at November’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, held online Thursday night – not just because its departing executive director was there, but also because of a spirited presentation by two KCLS employees dedicated to your “Freedom to Read.”

KING COUNTY LIBRARY SYSTEM: Lisa Rosenblum – KCLS’s soon-to-retire leader – was a special guest. She was asked which accomplishments gave her the most pride. “For the staff to understand that we work for the taxpayers and we need to be accountable for their dollars,” she began. “Every department under my watched has been changed,” with stricter financial rules, more technology, adding peer navigators and a social worker, among other things. She also said that “managing a very large library system during COVID” was a big accomplishment too. “None of the staff got sick from community spread in our libraries.” She also is proud of making KCLS “fines-free” – not a big hit on revenue, despite what you might think. “The persons most affected by fines are the least able to pay them,” she said they’d learned. (They do charge people eventually for unreturned books.) They’re the second-largest digital lender in the country, fourth-largest in the world, so that library users have choice. “Most people want choice now in their libraries, so we budget for choice” – and they’ve won three budgeting awards, she added. This year KCLS also was a nominee – the only one in Washington State – for a major national award.

NHUAC’s Liz Giba asked some specifics about Rosenblum’s workstyle. How does she work with the board? They’re a governing board and her bosses, who delegate the job of running the system to her. “I work with them to see … what are their big vision items … They tell me what they’re interested in, and I try to present to them some of the exciting programs and services we offer.” In turn, they tell her what the community’s interested in.

Who do you talk to if you have concerns? Email the board – find the address here – Rosenblum said. As for who’s succeeding her, “I’m not involved in replacing me,” but the board is hard at work on it, she said. Though her original announcement was for a November 30th retirement, she’s now staying on until mid-December.

Accompanying her was regional manager Mary Sue Houser. She’s relatively new in that job.

Rosenblum was asked about the KCLS role in matching people to resources – and explained those go far beyond books. She spoke of noticing early on how people came into the libraries to stay warm and dry. Their staff wasn’t necessarily trained to provide social services. So now they have peer navigators as well as community partnerships, such as visiting nurses and resource fairs. “It has a lot of really positive ripple effects,” Houser said. The system has four navigators, who are based at various libraries – the nearest one is based at the Burien Library. “It travels a lot by word of mouth,” explained Houser.

Rosenblum also talked about “welcome centers,” which offer resource assistance in various languages. “Most people feel that a library is a safe space, a comfortable space,” and feel good about visiting them to get help like that.

Later in the meeting, NHUAC’s Pat Price, active with the White Center Library Guild, asked if the board would return to its pre-pandemic tradition of meeting at some library locations. They have resumed that, she was reassured, and KCLS will provide the schedule of its occasional on-location meetings, Houser said.

CELEBRATE FREEDOM TO READ: Brenna Shanks and Melissa Mather, also from KCLS, came to talk about this initiative. The library system came up with a definition of “intellectual freedom.”

They point out that First Amendment rights aren’t just about “the person speaking,” they’re also about “the person listening.” And you get to decide your information needs. The library doesn’t share your information needs with anybody. “Looking at access as a right, as a freedom,” in other words.

How serious is the censorship movement in our state? an attendee asked. Not as “dire” as elsewhere, they replied, while detailing some “interesting developments.” They’re trying to track such things as “passive banning behavior” – hiding books or removing books, for example. They hope to use such things as opportunities to talk, which isn’t what’s happening with major national movements, they said. They also showed the definition of libraries as “limited public forum”:

Rosenblum – who said she stayed to listen “because I love this presentation” – noted there was a protester outside a KCLS board meeting the other day. “And we allow that,” in the spirit of the initiative. Shanks explained that this “freedom” doesn’t mean protecting a material, but instead protecting your right to see it:

They also work to ensure the libraries are for everyone:

And that means those interested in controversial material, too:

“If someone has asked for an item, we don’t ask why they want it, we don’t ask whether they’re for or against it,” but they’ll do their best to get it, Shanks said. They also discussed the criteria for where materials are placed in their collections. “This is what you’ll see in a lot of these book bans – ‘we don’t want this in the teen area,'” etc., said Shanks.

This can be “nuanced,” she said. “It’s a living conversation all the way around.” That includes “inclusive vs. exclusive.”

They noted that there can be conflicting opinions – they’ve even had a call for banning the Bible because of its anti-LGBTQ passages, for example. Overall, they warned, book bans are on the rise:

So what can you do?

KING COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE: White Center’s Storefront Det. Glen Brannon said “it’s been another good month.” More categories of crime are down than up:

Regarding the uptick in kidnappings, he said that’s not necessarily the kind “you see in the movies” – it’s “any time somebody’s forced to go someplace they don’t want to go.” Commercial burglaries, vandalism, and auto theft are up – re: vandalism, he said it’s because more graffiti vandalism is being reported, and he took credit for some of that.

He discussed how White Center is dealing with the new state drug laws – diversion through LEAD is.a big part of them. The jail’s not taking misdemeanor bookings, so they can arrest and file charges “but as part of the process at the time, I do a warm handoff to a diversion expert” – such as a social worker “who starts working with them to start getting better.” If a person pursues the services, they might not get charged. Det. Brannon says that’s in keeping with law enforcers’ real roles as “peace officers.”

NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin asked about a “drive-by shooting on 21st last weekend.” Det. Brannon said it involved a house with a person who had some criminal background but had been “doing good” until recently. He didn’t have any specifics otherwise – there were no “victims” since neighbors called in to report hearing shots but nobody at the house called to report anything personally. An attendee was concerned about a vacant lot “behind Little Caesar’s” where people seemed to be camping. Det. Brannon talked about how when you move people along, they just move a bit further. Another neighborhood concern brought an explanation that they can’t just arrest people for trespassing any more – “I have to do a lot more growling and a lot less arresting.” Is there a way to use ambient tactics to discourage people from lingering? Yes, but it’s not so easy – and “the question is, where are they going to move to next?”

Asked if KCSO was seeing an increase in 3D-printed “ghost guns,” the detective said no, guns are more often coming from thefts and burglaries. Also, “we are seeing a lot of modified firearms.”

On gangs, he said, they’re not really fighting over White Center right now – “moving through” but not battling for turf.

On another topic, the recurring issue of loud music from Tim’s Tavern and other venues came up. “This is really a disturbance of our lives here,” said Dobkin, asking what neighbors could do “if the sheriffs can’t manage this issue.” Brannon said there are specific ways in which they are required to measure noise, and they didn’t have the equipment, but just got approval to buy it. He also said that when last he visited Tim’s two weeks ago they were installing insulation, but that may not have worked. So he’s warning them that he’ll be using new equipment and will if necessary “start writing tickets.” He says he’s hoping to procure the equipment within a month. (A discussion of zoning and codes ensued.) But, he warned, he asked the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office who will then handle the cases – and he says he was told “they’re both in murder trials right now.”

An attendee complained about vandalized cars being “dropped” on 1st SW in Top Hat. Det. Brannon said there’s someone in the area ‘trying to make a living flipping cars.” He’ll check on the current situation.

NEXT MEETING: First Thursday at 7 pm most months – watch for confirmation when that gets closer.

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THURSDAY: Library, public-safety updates @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

October 29th, 2023 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, Libraries, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on THURSDAY: Library, public-safety updates @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

The Opportunity to Be Informed, Be Involved and Be Heard!

Where? North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When? Thursday, November 2, 2023, at 7 pm

Join Zoom Meeting:

Meeting ID: 823 9563 4169
Passcode: NHUAC2023 (Case Sensitive)

Unable to join via Zoom? Please call: 253 215 8782
Meeting ID: 823 9563 4169
Passcode: 696893428

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It’s November and time to exercise the right and responsibility to support our democracy by voting. Last month’s Candidate Forum featured candidates Sofia Aragon and Teresa Mosqueda, who are competing to represent our area on the King County Council. If you couldn’t attend, you can read the White Center Now post here.

This month’s meeting will focus on other important ways we support our democracy – reading and libraries. Our guests will include King County Library System’s (KCLS) Executive Director, Lisa Rosenblum; Mary Sue Houser, Olympic Regional Manager; Brenna Shanks, a Selection Librarian for the Teen Collection; and Melissa Mather, a Public Services Librarian from the Skyway branch.

Before Director Rosenblum joined KCLS in January of 2018, its relationship with our area had been quite tumultuous. She has been a positive leader for KCLS. When she visited NHUAC about three months in, the long-waited renovation of the Boulevard Park branch was settled. It reopened in May of 2019. A true success for our community, democracy, and Lisa Rosenblum!

KCLS understands that the freedom to read is fundamental to any democracy and protected by our First Amendment right. Last month, KCLS started a year-long campaign to create awareness and encourage conversations on the topic. Brenna Shanks and Melissa Mather will share Celebrate the Freedom to Read with us and Mary Sue Houser will answer questions specific to our library region.

Last, but surely not least – White Center’s Storefront Deputy Glen Brannon will update us!

Knowledge Is Power

Learn, share, and help make North Highline a healthier community.

Thursday, November 2 at 7 pm – Invite Your Neighbors!

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From crime to politics, here’s what was discussed at fall’s first North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

October 9th, 2023 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 2 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council returned from summer hiatus with an online meeting illuminating issues from crime to the King County Council District 8 election.

The meeting facilitated by NHUAC’s Liz Giba started with announcements, including a political forum.

HIGHLINE SCHOOL BOARD RACES: Sandy Hunt dropped in to make sure everyone knows the League of Women Voters is presenting a Highline School Board forum tomorrow (Tuesday, October 10th) – here’s the info:

It’s happening in person. Hunt said that this is one of the “most important School Board (elections) we’ve had in a long time,” so you’re urged to go find out more about the candidates.

KING COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE: KCSO Storefront Detective Glen Brannon and Community Resource Officer Nate Hammock – who also can be found at the Steve Cox Memorial Park office – appeared. Brannon said crime trends are “having a rough year” – up consistently from last year – “that kind of reflects coming out of COVID.” Lower-priority crime is trending “closer to normal” – He wanted to clarify “what you can expect from us and what you’ll see as time goes on,” including “the co-responders program.” Precinct 4 has funded six positions – mental health professionals paired up with deputies – to “really start doing more outreach” as most of the crime in WC is “survival crime – people shoplifting … to live.” He said throwing those people in jail “doesn’t work” so they are working with people to ‘get them out of the circumstances forcing them to do those crimes.” Two teams are out at work at the moment and a third time is riding with the Fire Department, while KCSO is hiring another team. Co-respondr cars work 7 days a week, starting at 8 am, contacting people early, with another one reaching out close to bedtime, and the third team filling in gaps. “I am a big fan of this.” He goes out with the teams when he can and develops relationships with people on the street. He said the ability to put people in jail “has not changed … for most property and misdemeanor crimes we still do not have the ability to take people to jail.” But they have LEAD. He jokes “they took away my stick but I’m going to hit you with the biggest carrot I can” – and that’s LEAD. That leads to referrals to counselors rather than prosecutors IF the suspect enrolls in services within 30 days and starts working on “getting their life better.” If they do, then they drop the potential charges.

Regarding KCSO staffing, “we are still down number-wise but for the first time in three years we are below the 100 mark” – fewer than 100 vacancies – less than half what it was a year ago. “We’re getting good people … and I’m very excited about it.” Within 2 to 6 months that should start reflecting in numbers of units on the street. “King County is a great place to work,” he said.

Does that mean the WC area might get another position? It’s staffed with two deputies but has funding for three, the detective said, adding that Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall sat down with command staff and looked at where calls were the highest and that shifted more staffing to Precinct 4 (Burien etc.). What about diversity? That’s going pretty well, Det. Brannon said, noting that he’s working with “a young deputy” who speaks five languages.

An attendee asked about an “open-air drug market” near his neighborhood, near the 16th/107th mini-mart. “We do have a vibrant transient/homeless population in WC and we have for a long long time,” the detective acknowledged, saying it’s a situation they’ve long been working on, and that he never drives by that area without stopping to talk to anyone he sees. The co-responders are part of that.

Regarding the music-noise situation plaguing some neighborhoods west of downtown WC, Det. Brannon said a stage redesign and noise-deadening curtains are still supposedly in the work, and he is buying a decibel meter to help with enforcement. He says four bars are playing outdoor music; two are wrapping up for the season, and he’s working with the other two. But he said if they have to “get to the ticket-writing stage … we’re going to break some ground” because prosecutors say they’ve never pursued those kind of charges before. The tickets start at $125 and can scale up quickly, he added.

(WCN photo: Memorial for bus-shooting victim)

Major Mark Konoske was asked about the fatal shooting on a bus near 15th/Roxbury. “There was a variety of evidence available that we’re following up on … I’m optimistic we’ll end up catching some people … there are leads we’re following up on.”

Regarding burglaries in the area, He stressed the importance of reporting anything out of the ordinary – “call us and we’ll send a car out.” NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin said that phoning things in can be frustrated – there was an obvious abandoned-likely-stolen car in her neighborhood and was told that it had to be there for three weeks before anything could be done (even though she saw suspicious activity around it) – finally it was taken, likely re-stolen, she said. Det. Brannon said whoever she spoke with misspoke, because vehicles on the street in unincorporated King County are supposed to be moved every 24 hours. Call it directly to his attention if they’re not getting traction some other way, he said.

CANDIDATE FORUM: Sofia Aragon and Teresa Mosaueda, finalists for the King County Council District 8 seat that Joe McDermott is leaving, were the guests. NHUAC’s Giba made it clear that the organization does not make endorsements but does work to inform citizens, and that was the reason for the forum. The candidates were given up to three minutes to answer questions. Mosqueda lives in North Delridge and Aragon lives in Shorewood. Each first received a chancr to introduce herself.

ARAGON: She is Burien’s current mayor. Her education involves two bachelor’s degrees and a law degree. Her experience includes the mayoral service and the challenges Burien has been dealing with – homelessness, drug use, housing, public health. She has lived all over the county including unincorporated areas so “I have an appreciation of the reliance on the county” by areas such as North Highline. She’s running because regional leaders “can do better.” Her goal to be “to focus on common-sense solutions.” She is an “immigrant child from the Philippines who grew up in South Seattle” and was inspired by her mom to become a nurse. As a mayor, she’s been taking action to combat the surge in drug-related deaths.

MOSQUEDA: She is chair of the Finance and Housing Committee on the Seattle City Council. Her experience has been in health and workers’ issues. She has worked to ensure the LEAD and Co-LEAD programs got investments, and programs similar to what was discussed earlier in the NHUAC meeting. She said she has worked to increase the Health One team in the Seattle Fire Department. “I have been on the forefront of helping to increase investments in our dual dispatch system,” and she said she looks at every investment “through the health lens,” which is why she wants to move to the King County Council. She has a Masters in public administration, and an undergraduate degree, and is a third-generation Mexican-American hoping to be the first Latinx to serve on the King County Council.

How much time did you spend in North Highline in the year before filing?

MOSQUEDA: She said her family spends some time in White Center, including the library, and looks forward to learning more about the area and its concerns.

ARAGON: She says the area has a “very lovely business district … that’s been hit hard” and she has dined there. She has also gotten prescriptions filled at area drugstores. She says she’s in the area “several times a week.”

Giba showed some stats showing that the area faces many health and economic and educational challenges.

She also showed stats comparing the area with Burien and West Seattle.

“The inequity continues throughout the entire 34th [Legislative] District.” So, she asked, if they agree that segregation is a problem on those many counts.

MOSQUEDA: She said she wishes people would see this data and “take to the streets” … absolutely we have a problem where economic (and other) segregation exists today,” as evidenced by that data. She said redlining maps of the past can be overlaid and you can see where those problems persist today. “Segregation persists in our community and it’s limiting where people can call home” She said shes worked in Seattle to look at public policy through that sort of lens, including an ordinance “recognizing racism as a public health crisis.” What she’d like to do on King County Council:

-create more affordable housing
-direct investments into food-security programs
-direct investments into climate justice

“This is a crisis,” she declared, and “exactly why I want to go to the county.”

ARAGON: She agreed it’s a problem and said that in Burien they look at whether certain populations “are isolated” and try to bring them together. Latinx is the largest population, she said, “and we have create a number of cultural events to really celebrate that heritage” as well as looking at services including being sure people can access them in Spanish language. That includes recruiting Spanish-speaking police officers, she said. “in the county we could do a better job,” maybe creating an economic-development office, she said. Looking at how North Highline “can maintain its uniqueness” while finding a way it can “grow and thrive,” too, she said. She also said that COVID put inequities in the spotlight along with “what are the things we’re doing and not doing to exacerbate these disparities,” such as providing services in Seattle but expecting people to make it there from around the county to access them.

Giba asked about 1,300 tax-exempt units with more than 1,700 bedrooms – as of 2018 – in North Highline. Many are occupied by children. Services rely on local taxes but tax-exempt properties aren’t contributing, she noted

She said the area needs better policies, not just programs, to deal with struggling schools serving those children. Giba named three local schools that are “over the tipping point.”

NHUAC’s Amelia C asked a question about economic and racial diversity.

ARAGON: Yes, they’re important, “it’s the changing nature of our world” and we need to embrace it. Regarding housing, she said mixed-use is a good model and policies encouraging those are good, as well as Habitat of Humanity-type housing models, and housing that serves 50% AMI, as well as supportive housing for the chronically homeless. Mary’s Place will be expanding in the Shorewood area of Burien, too. “All of that needs investment by governmental entities.”

MOSQUEDA: Yes, economic and ethnic diversity – and “all forms” of diversity – are an important goal. Gender, age, more. “We need to be welcoming and creating policies that welcome everything,” including recognizing that King County is about half POC and a fourth immigrant. Making sure that everyone has a place to call home is vital. Income diversity, too. LGBTQIA representation, to more. She also noted that the “upside-down nature of our tax code” is to blame for some of the problems Giba had spotlighted to open the question. She also noted she’s “led on gun violence strategies.” She says many issues are “intersectdional’ and will require “an intersectional approach.”

Amelia also asked what each would do to ensur tax-exempt housing was equitably distributed throughout the county, not just concentrated in North Highline.

MOSQUEDA: We should not be relying on property tax to fund public schools – “that’s just doubling down on the segregationist approach.” Washington’s tax system is the most regressive in the nation, and working to right that is vital.

ARAGON: Lobbying for the nurses association, she had advocated for a more equitable tax structure. She agreed that the current tax code is “highly problematic.” She said that there should be a way to see whether an area in need of more investment “can be first in line.” There’s a lot of strategies to focus on pepole already in crisis but kids need to be given tools to stay “out of that path.”

If elected, will you sponsor King County to use fact-based opportunity analysis?

ARAGON: She embraces data-driven decisionmaking. “The solutions also need to be community-based,” she said.

MOSQUEDA: “Fact-based policy is my jam!” she exclaimed. She believes in decisions “rooted n proven strategies.” She gave a few examples of ‘fact-based policies I’ve invested in over the years. One is investing in the youngest children. She also talked about how rent increases just after the pandemic found Mary’s Place seeing a dramatic increase in families showing up in need of housing – and voting to increase affordable housing is something on which she has focused.

NHUAC’s Dobkin asked the next questions, showing a map of zoning changes from the King County Subarea Plan. It’s changed from R-6, six units per acre, to R-18. The neighborhood is primarily single-family homes but intended to change, with inclusionary zoning. What is the candidates’ understanding of IZ?

MOSQUEDA: Seattle has done a lot of work on that, she said. It’s a “both/and” approach for building more housing to serve both people who are here and people who are coming here because it’s a great place to be. She said including greenspace is vital. New buildings need to reflect the neighborhood – some neighborhoods even have old pre-existing apartment buileings that blend in, or if not, “can be re-created … so that more people can live in our region.” She says that not creating more housing is ‘an environmental-justice issue” because then people have to live further out, commute farther to jobs, or live in housing that paves over green spaces.

Dobkin followed up that IZ is usually used to “integrate lower-income people into higher-income neighborhoods … so how does IZ in a lower-income neighborhood work”? Mosqueda said that it’s a matter of diverse “price points,” and ownership opportunities as well as rentals. She said it’s important that IZ not displace existing low/moderate-income residents.

Where else has IZ been built in King County? Dobkin pressed. Mosqueda mentioned Yesler Terrace.

ARAGON: She said it’s not just a matter of integrating with “high income” but also with “market rate.” Overall, she thnks it’s a “great concept” but some details need to be worked out, such as “what percentage” of units need to be affordable? Should there be affordable housing countywide? It’s important to place it strategically around the region. She said Burien has a history similar to North Highline – “we always felt as if things were being done to us.” She said it’s a plus that she’s used to dealing with that. She also understands the importance of having a discussion with a community before coming up with a plan like this. Infrastructure is important too.

Dobkin went on to talk about what she called “destructive” construction that’s led to a “tremendous amount” of tree-cutting without infrastructure to support increased density – no sidewalks, “rural” streetlighting, etc. “We don’t have enough parks (or) greenspace.” Though the county assured residents it wouldn’t happen overnight, people are already buying up property. So, what steps woud the candidates take to support current and future improvements to facilitate the density increase?

ARAGON: She reiterated that her experience with Burien’s unique challenges mean she’s suited for working on issues like that.

MOSQUEDA: She said it’s important to recognize that policies can be felt by communities like this as just piling on to burdens they already bear, situations in which they historically have not been heard, have not been at the table. To “right that wrong,” communities need to be brought to the planning “table.” Specific discussions about trees, sidewalks, etc. are vital, and she understands that previously, it seemed like “development going rogue.” She said there’s a county effort to do an inventory of greenspace. She agrees that streetlighting is a key component of community safety. Seattle City Light needs to show that area the same urgency for responsiveness and investment, and she can bring her experience of having worked on a committee overseeing it. She also talked about regulating short-time rentals.

The floor was opened to community member questions, but there were none. So Giba asked another question: Since KCSO deputies can’t book suspects into jail for crimes like theft and vandalism, what do you think of that and what steps will you take to improve public safety?

ARAGON: The talk of “defunding police” a few years ago was harmful. The system has racism and bias, but that can be improved. What she heard in the question is that current laws aren’t being enforced “and that IS problematic … (so) we need to address the officer shortage.”

MOSQUEDA: Much of what KCSO discussed earlier in the meeting is needed, along with hiring additional officers, which she has supported in Seattle. But “fewer people … are coming to that profession” so it’s important to help free up officers from responses that don’t require armed law enforcement. She wants to ‘double down” on programs like LEAD and Co-LEAD, and Community Passageways, “to come and help people instead of arresting them.” But “we also know that our jail is at capacity … and understaffed” and has bad health conditions, so King County Executive Dow Constantine is “trying to close down that jail and find safer places for people to go.”

NEXT MEETING: (corrected) November 2nd. (That’ll be five days before voting ends in the general election, on November 7th.)

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THURSDAY: Join NHUAC’s conversation with the King County Council District 8 candidates

October 2nd, 2023 Tracy Posted in Election, North Highline UAC, White Center news 1 Comment »

This Thursday’s the big night – with two weeks to go until voting begins, the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council will talk with the candidates for King County Council District 8, the seat that Joe McDermott is leaving:

You Are Invited

Candidates Forum
Presented by: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

Thursday October 5, 2023 @ 7 PM


King County Council District 8 Candidates
Teresa Mosqueda & Sofia Aragon

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 883 6022 7989
Passcode: NHUAC2023 (Case Sensitive)

Or Join by Phone: 253 215 8782
Meeting ID: 883 6022 7989
Passcode: 839454575

All Are Welcome – Bring Your Questions – Get the Facts
Be Informed Be Involved Be Counted


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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council skips September, reconvenes in October with County Council candidate forum

September 4th, 2023 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on North Highline Unincorporated Area Council skips September, reconvenes in October with County Council candidate forum

Our area’s community council, the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, has just announced its first meeting of fall – on Thursday, October 5th. Here’s the announcement:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Will Not Be Holding a September 2023 Meeting

Hope everyone had a wonderful, restful Labor Day weekend. It is always hard to say goodbye to our beautiful NW summer. Fortunately, there are plenty of long days and good weather to enjoy as we move into fall.

NHUAC will not be holding a September meeting. Our meetings will resume on Thursday, October 5th at 7pm when we host a Candidates Forum with Teresa Mosqueda and Sofia Aragon, who are running for the King County Council’s District 8 seat. Joe McDermott, who has held this seat since first elected in 2010, did not run for re-election.

If you have attended any of our past forums, you know there will be plenty of time for attendees to address questions to the candidates (see links below to their websites).

Mark your calendars and plan to attend on Thursday, October 5th, 7 pm, over Zoom.

Hope to see you then!

Here’s our coverage of NHUAC’s most-recent meeting, in June.

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Myriad hot topics, from homelessness to fireworks enforcement, at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s June meeting

June 4th, 2023 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on Myriad hot topics, from homelessness to fireworks enforcement, at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s June meeting

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Summer break has begun for the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council‘s meeting schedule – but not before an info-packed June meeting, held online last Thursday. Here’s how it unfolded:

NEW BOARD MEMBER: Brigitte Vaughn was voted in at the start of the meeting.

COUNTY COUNCILMEMBER JOE McDERMOTT: It’s his 13th and final year on the council, as he’s decided not to run for re-election. He first recognized Pride month, pointing out that its roots are in the Stonewall uprising in 1969, with significant leadership from drag queens (who are under attack in some parts of the U.S. these days) – “While in our local jurisdictions we may feel supported, well over 200 laws have been introduced in recent years” seeking to delegitimize LGBTQIA+ people, and vigilance is vital – “Pride isn’t a weekend a year or a month, it’s something we have to be engaged in throughout the year … recognize that we cannot ‘other’ marginalized communities and we must champion (them all).”

That said, McDermott offered some reflections on his 22+ years in elected office and says he’s excited to find his “next career.” From there, NHUAC’s Liz Giba started with questions – homelessness first, and this week’s murder at the unsanctioned encampment on Myers Way. McDermott pointed to the situation in Burien, where a controversy is raging after an encampment sweep that has led to a new camp on city-owned land and an order to vacate that site. He said living unsheltered isn’t “ideal” but “you don’t sweep an encampment without a place for people to go,” noting that federal judges have made that clear. The people along Myers Way haven’t been offered places to go. The Regional Homelessness Authority has been working on outreach at the site for more than a month, he said. “What’s essential to understand is that those links (to services and shelter) don’t happen in one visit” – in some cases it might take seven visits/contact to build a relationship to the point where they’re ready to accept it. NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin noted that the greenspace at the site is being destroyed. Who’s responsible for preventing that? The conversation digressed from there and McDermott noted that the contention that many homeless people come here from out of town is erroneous – most list “last fixed address” as in King County. An attendee jumped in with questions such as whether the county has a fund to help people avoid becoming homeless. McDermott said, “We’re not at the point where we should be to prevent homelessness in the first place,” even eight years after he and other leaders declared that homelessness is an emergency.

Next question was about the hotels bought to help chronically homeless people; McDermott noted that a small sales-tax increase was instituted to fund that, and that more than 1,000 units have been procured, with 1,600 the goal. Some are empty, McDermott said, because they don’t have enough staff to run them. But still, he said, up to 1,000 of the purchased-so-far 1,200 units are occupied. The labor shortage is indeed at least in part because human-service work pays poorly – 37 percent less than private-sector workers doing similar jobs, with similar skillsets, McDermott said.

PERFORMING ARTS CENTER: The discussion of homelessness likely could have lasted the entire meeting, but some guests had to interrupt because they could only stay for a short time – they’re from the Burien Actors Theatre, working toward creation of a Burien Performing and Visual Arts Center. Arts brings money into the local economy, declared Maggie Larrick. She tag-teamed with Eric Dickman, who said that they want to build a 300-seat center. Their many arguments in favor of the center included a study that communities with arts centers have less crime. They want to build it on a county-owned site near the parking structure in downtown Burien. Affordable housing could be built over the center, they explained. They’ve talked to Metro, which they say plans community meetings to talk about the site’s possibilities. Dickman and Larrick say they need “control” of the site – some kind of commitment – before they could start major fundraising. “We find this is a way to make art more accessible,” especially for South King County residents who don’t want to, or can’t, go all the way to Seattle, said Larrick. McDermott says he’s met with them before about the idea.

BACK TO CM McDERMOTT: The problem of graffiti vandalism was surfaced. If it’s not public property, it’s up to private-property owners to take care of it – but county workers can help if it’s OK with the property owners. John Taylor with the Department of Local Services said they do try to get to gang graffiti as fast as possible. Same goes with hate graffiti, McDermott added. Giba wondered what the Conservation Corps‘ responsibilities are. It’s a transitional work/housing program, currently with two 5-member crews, who are mostly deployed in the North Highline and Skyway areas. So how would private property vandalism be addressed/ It would be brought to the county’s attention, Taylor said, and then they’d try to get the property owner’s permission so they could handle it.

Shortly thereafter, McDermott noted that Deputy Glen Brannon will become the WC Storefront Deputy on July 1st, coming from patrol work in Burien. He described the deputy as “fantastic.” The deputy joined the meeting at that point in a brief prelude to his official appearance later. One attendee had asked if there was an increase in hate graffiti and he said if it’s seen, “we need to stamp that out yesterday.”

Giba then brought up the recurring issue of loud music from the recently opened Tim’s Tavern. She read email she’d received from one of the owners, acknowledging the concerns and explaining how they’re addressing them. That included use of decibel readers, closing at midnight and ending music at 11 pm, some Sunday and all Monday events being held in the building, installing noise-reduction curtains around the outdoor area. Giba said they told her they try to keep decibels to 80 at their parking lot, 93 closer in, but she said residential areas should be maxing out at 55. Dobkin said she’d never in all her years called in a noise complaint but the current situation is “unbearable”; but the KCSO resources weren’t able to respond. “It’s really interfered with our life – we can’t have our windows open,” she said. “It’s a problem.” Deputy Brannon said it’s important to keep calling 911 when you need to. He added, “I would take some consolation in that we have open communication now with the owners of the bar,’ and they can keep communicating.

Regarding criminal justice, Deputy Brannon said they basically can’t currently jail people for non-violent crimes but “we need to be able to.” McDermott said they’re still trying to balance the fact that jail “is not a therapeutic place” and they need “carrot and stick … not just the stick.” But if someone says they’re ready for treatment “we don’t have treatment on demand” available. He said the recently approved crisis-center levy is a “step in the right direction” but “there’s more work to be done.”

Giba next asked about the fireworks ban – last year was an “educational year” so this year, will there be enforcement? There’s no enforcement limitation this year, McDermott said, but it’s “not law enforcement, it’s code enforcement – citations mailed to people.” He noted that if there aren’t enough deputies to enforce things like noise ordinances, there aren’t enough to go around ticketing people for fireworks. He also noted that the fireworks ban’s big achievement so far is the end to sales in the local area. Giba said she understood but wondered how they’re getting the word out about fines, and if they are verifying complaints. Here’s the information Local Services reps provided:

Starting June 14, residents will be able to report violators to the King County Permitting Division:

Online by visiting (Users will have to sign up for our system)

Phone: 206-848-0800

No, code enforcement officers won’t be out on the streets, Taylor said – those means of reporting – online and phone – are what will lead to citations. (Video and photos can help.) Taylor added that a “significant amount of public education” is planned, and that people get one warning, so if somebody got a warning last year, this year they get a citation. Last year about 600 complaints came in – more than half in non-KC jurisdictions – and they ended up issuing “between 100 and 200 warning letters to people” after the 4th of July, just a few dozen after New Year’s. He thinks that ultimately this method will be more impactful, with $150 citations. “I’m optimistic,” he declared.

Dobkin then asked if the county can help NHUAC find meeting space so they can get back to in-person again. McDermott and Taylor promised to help brainstorm.

McDermott then warned that since the Legislature hasn’t taken a key tax-reform step, the county is looking at a big budget gap. But they’re fighting to keep even the unfilled funded positions and have not cut any storefront deputies. That led to …

DEPUTY BRANNON’S REPORT: He’s been with KCSO for eight years and says White Center “is a great place to be a police officer.” He said they’re seeing some worrisome trends – including a resurgence in gang activity, and there is a “bit of a gang war going on.” WC has ‘historically been everybody’s property in the gang world” but some gangs ‘coming up from out of the valley” are competing for it, an you might see their two-letter gangs. Five years ago, they managed to push them back down to South King County and get some people in jail, and they’re getting out. The Roxbury Lanes shooting was NOT random and was “kind of gang-related.” There’s been an arrest. “Two gentlemen got caught in a beef and two other people got caught in the crossfire.” That was brand-new news so we missed the last few minutes of the meeting while writing that up as a breaking story – KCSO had not disclosed the arrest earlier in the day, though the jail roster showed the suspect was taken into custody early in the morning, and we had even seen Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall in person earlier in the evening (at the White Center Pride flag-raising).

NEXT MEETING: As noted above, it’s summer break – but we’re sure to get the announcement when NHUAC’s getting ready for the first meeting of fall.

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Here’s what’s planned for last North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting before summer break

May 29th, 2023 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on Here’s what’s planned for last North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting before summer break

It’s an easy way to connect to what’s happening in your community – set aside an hour and a half to join the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting online this Thursday! The announcement explains how:

The Opportunity to Be Informed, Be Involved, and Be Heard!

Where? North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When? Thursday, June 1, 2023, at 7 pm

Join Zoom Meeting:

Meeting ID: 873 9166 6828
Passcode: NHUAC2023 (Case Sensitive)

Unable to join via Zoom? Please call: 253-215-8782
Meeting ID: 873 9166 6828
Passcode: 419924913

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Happy Pride Month! Before joining NHUAC’s last meeting before our summer break (June 1 @ 7 pm), King County Councilperson Joe McDermott will help kickoff the festivities at the White Center Pride Flag Raising Ceremony outside Mac’s Triangle Pub.

Please join our discussion with him, which is sure to cover his decades of experience in public office. Although history is important, it will not be our focus. We’ll discuss issues that face our North Highline community today, including:

– The lack of deputies;

– Homelessness and housing;

– The abundance of graffiti and

– Our lack of community greenspaces, which in addition to their beauty and positive effects on physical and mental health, help protect communities like North Highline from the damaging effects of climate change.

We’re also looking forward to voting on adding Brigett Vaughn to NHUAC’s board and hoping to meet White Center’s new Storefront Deputy – Glen Brannon!

Knowledge Is Power
Learn, share, and help make North Highline a healthier community.
June 1, 2023 at 7 pm – Invite Your Neighbors!

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Your property taxes explained @ May’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

May 15th, 2023 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on Your property taxes explained @ May’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

How exactly does the property tax process work? That’s part of what you would have learned if you’d attended this month’s North Highline Uncorporated Area Council meeting. In case you didn’t, we have toplines:

COUNTY ASSESSOR: John Wilson was first guest of the night. He noted that his office sets value for 720,000 parcels around the county. Last year, they had 9,000 valuation appeals. He explained the process of what goes into tax bills, and what goes into valuation.

Market sales are a strong factor in calculating residential values, for example.

They have to calculate 600 different levy codes including 150 different taxing districts. The taxes property owners pay go to a wide variety. Values calculated this year, for 2024 property taxes, are up 21 percent … while for this year’s taxes, values were up 6 percent. Here’s what taxes fund:

King County provides just under 50 percent of all state property tax revenue, he noted – followed by Snohomish, around 22 percent. More numbers: White Center valuations are up about 30 percent. That doesn’t mean your taxes are going up that much, though. 43 percent of your property-tax bill is voter-approved levies. 80 percent of property-tax revenue comes from homeowners – only 20 percent from commercial-property owners. (That’s inequitable, Wilson said, and would like to see it changed. “Homeowners and renters pay a disproportionate share of property taxes, and that ought to change.”)

Wilson also offered some education about the senior property-tax exemptions, and he talked about the changes in state law that will allow more to become – or remain – eligible for them.

That’ll mean even people with $72,000 household income will be eligible – up to 30,000 more households, he said. There’s also a deferral program, but someone eventually has to pay the taxes you deferred, either when you die or sell the house, for example. He noted a couple more relief bills that were proposed but didn’t make it through the Legislature. Later, he noted that the senior exemption program brings his office 1,200 calls a week. They have a backlog they hope to have remedied within three months or so.

In Q&A, he was asked, among other things, what happens with properties whose owners had tax exemption and then died. How does the Assessor’s Office find out? Tips are good, Wilson said, as they don’t have the staff to proactively keep verifying. What about when an exempt property becomes a rental? That too would be great to get a tip about, he said. Another attendee voiced the suspicion that renters vote for tax increases because they don’t think it’ll affect you. Property owners invariably pass the cost along in the rent they charge, Wilson assured her, and he thinks renters are aware of that. Another attendee who identified herself as a renter verified that.

Since zoning now allows multiple accessory dwelling units on properties, will that increase valuation even for those without them? Maybe over time, Wilson said, since valuations do have some relation to zoning. It mostly depends on how widespread that kind of construction becomes.

If one spouse qualifies by age but the other doesn’t, can they still apply? Wilson said yes.

NORTH SEA-TAC PARK: Sandy Hunt and Noemie Maxwell visited to talk about what they’re working on. They showed why they’re fighting for up to 100 forested acres that could be lost to airport expansion – they say trees are a vital factor in health outcomes.

They recapped their successful fight against losing some of the forest to an employee parking lot, then learning they weren’t out of the woods yet, so to speak. They talked about its environmental attributes, including a “true bog” and a creek. The area also is used for bicycling, disc golf, even rugby – it’s not “just” trees. They said that when homes were removed from the area decades ago, people were told the land would remain in “open public use.” There’s already been a lot of development – warehouses, for example.

Here’s what they’re fighting for:

How they’re going to get there, isn’t clear yet. There are “legal protections” they need to fight for, for example. But awareness is also big. Like the trees:

They’re collecting signatures here. They’re also open to speaking to other groups and helping with related advocacy. They also hope supporters will speak at Port Commission meetings. They might have to hold demonstrations, and that requires people-power. They’re not giving up and going away, is their message, even if and when attempts are made to assuage them by saying “no current plans.”

TIM’S TAVERN: NHUAC’s Barb Dobkin says she lives more than half a mile away but can hear the new venue’s nightly outdoor music in her home even with doors/windows closed. The state Liquor and Cannabis Board rep who usually attends NHUAC meetings said he had invited the operators to attend, though they didn’t show. He spoke with them about the sound levels and reported that they are working with their bands. But as another attendee from King County government, Michael Morales, noted, it’s a code issue, not an LCB issue. “What they’re doing is completely allowable in the business district.” Nonetheless, he said, they’ll look into it.

NEW BOARD MEMBER: The NHUAC board has another prospective new member – Brigitte introduced herself. “I want to be able to have a voice,” she declared. The vote on adding her to board will likely be taken next month.

SPEAKING OF WHICH … NHUAC meets first Thursdays most months, 7 pm, online, so June 1st is likely the next meeting.

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White Center’s deputy change, and what else is on the agenda for North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s May meeting Thursday

May 1st, 2023 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on White Center’s deputy change, and what else is on the agenda for North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s May meeting Thursday

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council‘s monthly meeting is this Thursday (May 4th), 7 pm online. Here’s the agenda announcement:

The Opportunity to Be Informed, Be Involved and Be Heard!

Where? North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When? Thursday, May 4, 2023, at 7 pm

Join Zoom Meeting:

Meeting ID: 894 3453 0620
Passcode: NHUAC2023 (Case Sensitive)

Unable to join via Zoom? Please call: 253-215-8782
Meeting ID: 894 3453 0620
Passcode: 060150115

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

NHUAC’s May 4th meeting will start with a changing of the guard. Last month we learned that Deputy Bill, White Center’s Storefront Deputy, would be retiring after 25 years with the King County Sheriff’s Office. It is now official; Deputy Bill has retired. However, his sense of community carries on. Bill will begin the meeting by introducing his successor, Deputy Glen. Join us in wishing Bill the best and welcoming Deputy Glen Brannon!

Property taxes, many of us pay them, whether we own or rent our homes. The amount of our taxes is directly related to the property’s assessed value. We’ll be joined by King County Assessor John Wilson to bring us up to date on the assessment process, possible exemptions, and other things pertinent to this substantial expenditure.

In addition to their beauty and positive effects on physical and mental health, greenspaces also help make communities like North Highline more livable by protecting them from the damaging effects of climate change. Last month, we learned from King County’s Dave Kimmett of an opportunity to purchase some property near Seola Pond. NHUAC, with the help of community member Sabina Beg, recently wrote a letter supporting the acquisition of those parcels. (Thanks, Sabina!) A few months ago, we submitted a letter in an effort to protect North SeaTac Park. This month Sandy Hunt and Noamie Maxwell will join us discuss that very worthwhile effort.

Deputy Glenn has been asked to make his first report to our community. We’re looking forward to that as well as hearing from Brigitte Vaughn, who has stepped forward to join NHUAC’s board.

Join us as we look to a future with the addition of new members and Deputy Glen!

Knowledge is power.

Learn, share, and help make North Highline a healthier community.

May 4, 2023 at 7 pm – Invite Your Neighbors!

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Power, greenery, and a retirement announcement @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s April 2023 meeting

April 6th, 2023 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 1 Comment »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Though not announced that way, this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting had a suitable agenda for Earth Month – with clean energy and greenspaces as the first two major topics:

SPARK NORTHWEST: Amy Bettle spoke from this nonprofit focused on a “clean energy transition.” They have a program called “Energize” that’s coming to unincorporated urban areas including White Center and Skyway. Its goal is to provide “energy-efficient electric heating and cooling,” via heat pumps, to supplement whatever recipients are using now. It will cover 100 percent of the costs for low-income households chosen to participate and 80 percent of the costs for moderate-income participants. They’re hoping to streamline the process that would lead to heat-pump installation. It starts with workshop attendance and then moves to getting a bid. The program also will support contractors who are women and/or people of color. Right now they have a “request for qualifications” open for HVAC contractors, and they’re recruiting community members to help them make the choices via participation in a selection committee this month. In May they’ll start sharing information about workshops that start in June, for prospective customers. Once the systems are in place, Bettle said, customers’ energy bills could be up to 60 percent lower. Committee members, meantime, will get a $450 stipend for the time they take to participate. What if it’s a renter household – would the income limits apply to the renter or the homeowner? The former, Bettle said, though landlords of course would have to be involved in approving the installation. Also of note, this isn’t limited to single-family housing – installation could be made in a multi-family unit too. Find out more about Energize here.

(WCN photo from Glendale Forest, 2020)

LAND CONSERVATION INITIATIVE: David Kimmett from this program was in attendance with an update. In North Highline, the focus is on “urban greenspace.” They want to create more of it “in a community like North Highline,” Kimmett said, because the benefits are manyfold – including physical and mental health. Three acquisitions completed in recent years were Glendale Forest (five acres with a stream, and they’re working on adding a trail, which will require a bridge over the stream), a “small property at White Center Heights,” and “a property next to Dick Thurnau Park.” He recapped each of those three. He talked about restoration work, such as extensive ivy removal in Glendale Forest. At the Dick Thurnau Park-adjacent site, acquired ,ecently, the intent is to support the upcoming HUB project with more of a greenspace buffer. It has a house (currently boarded up) that’ll be torn down, and will extend the park out to 108th, Kimmett said. About the WC Heights acquisition, he said, the site already was bordering on county land on three sides, and had a house that’s been removed, with restoration soon to begin. He then talked about hoped-for future acquisitions, like some property along Duwamish River-feeding Hamm Creek, It’s a steep ravine that’s not developable but can be restored into a “healthy urban forest,” Kimmett believes. Not suitable for trails, but a step toward their “conservation goals.” He’s also interested in some land that’s currently church-owned in an unincorporated area of Arbor Heights, near Seola Pond (which already is county-owned). Kimmett hopes the kind of community-involved restoration that’s been done at Seola Pond can expand onto these potential acquisition sites. He’s now “raising funds to acquire these” – a process that can “only be done onca a year” – so he’s seeking support. That fundraising is done through the Land Conservation Initiative – which has a committee to review such proposals – he clarified in response to a question. How can community members show support? he then was asked. Kimmett said he needs “community support from organizations,” writing letters of support. NHUAC board members and attendees subsequently voted unanimously to write a letter of support. An attendee from a group that does a lot of restoration work further south in the county said she’ll see about having her group write a letter too, and a White Center Kiwanis rep said the same. Asked about the time frame, Kimmett said, “ASAP” – by the end of the month, at the latest. Kimmett’s appearance concluded with some brainstorming about possible future acquisition sites.

CRIME/LAW ENFORCEMENT: Deputy Bill Kennamer is retiring at month’s end after 25 years. Three deputies applying for his White Center community position were in attendance and Kennamer called them (and other applicants) “really good cops.” The interviews are next Monday, he said. Meantime, he said crime took a big drop – major crimes and other kinds – in the past month. “We had a good month last month,” Kennamer summarized. Some notable incidents – gunfire in front of Roxy’s, an attempted child kidnapping outside Seola Gardens, an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound, armed robbery at the Boulevard Park 7-11, a strong-arm street robbery. “Auto thefts are through the roof, auto recoveries are through the roof,” he added. Kennamer also was asked about the bust – which he led – that resulted in a big haul of stolen guns; he said the Top Hat building where it happened has some evictions in the works. He also mentioned a few other things: On April 22nd, KCSO will participate in a “Coffee with the Community” event at the White Center Starbucks. The burned-out building on the west side of 16th is getting extensive redevelopment, he added, and the former Bizzarro site will become a coffee shop and pizza parlor. NHUAC invited Deputy Kennamer to come by post-retirement and say hi any time.

NEW BOARD MEMBER: Amelia says she’s excited “to be more involved in the community” by joining the NHUAC board. She was added by a unanimous vote.

COMMUNITY DINNER: White Center Kiwanis is presenting a steak dinner 5-7 pm April 21st at the White Center Eagles’ HQ. Vegetarian option too (portabella mushroom). They’re fundraising for their work with youth.

NEXT MEETING: NHUAC usually meets on first Thursdays, 7 pm, online, so the next meeting should be Thursday, May 4th. (They’re still hoping to find someplace to resume in-person meetings.)

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Here’s what you’ll learn at April’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

April 2nd, 2023 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on Here’s what you’ll learn at April’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

Announced today by the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, for Thursday’s meeting:

The Opportunity to Be Informed, Be Involved, and Be Heard!

Where: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting
When: Thursday, April 6, 2023 @ 7 pm

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 824 5445 6397
Passcode: NHUAC2023 (Case Sensitive)

Unable to join via Zoom? Please call: 253 215 8782
Meeting ID: 824 5445 6397
Passcode: 989947391

At last month’s meeting we introduced Amelia, a North Highline resident who works at a local business and responded to February’s announcement that we are looking for people to join NHUAC’s board. Thursday’s NHUAC meeting will begin with a formal vote on Amelia’s addition to NHUAC. Join us as we look to NHUAC’s future with the addition of new members.

Are you interested in saving money? Are you concerned about pollution and climate change? Have you heard about Spark Northwest, the non-profit that has helped thousands of homeowners, farmers, tribes, and low-income communities switch to clean energy? At our April 6th meeting, NHUAC will be joined by Amy Bettle, Project Manager at Spark Northwest. Amy will share information about her organization’s contract with King County to bring energy efficient heat pumps to hundreds of residents of North Highliner Highline and Skyway.

In addition to their beauty, parks also help make communities like North Highline more livable by protecting them from the damaging effects of climate change. NHUAC recently wrote a letter supporting an effort to protect North SeaTac Park. It said, in part: “We are writing to urge you to…permanently protect and perpetuate this park… North SeaTac Park offers rare access to nature…. our physical, emotional, and community health are tied to accessible green spaces…Urban green spaces provide critical habitat and land upon which air and surface water pollutants are filtered. They also mitigate the urban heat island effect. North SeaTac Park is a collective natural backyard for those of us not fortunate enough to have one….” Please join NHUAC and King County’s David Kimmett, who has been working on adding much needed greenspace to North Highline.

Knowledge is power.

Learn, share, and help make North Highline a healthier community.

April 6, 2023 at 7 pm – Invite Your Neighbors!

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From nonviolence to neighborhood tidiness, here’s what happened at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s March 2023 meeting

March 2nd, 2023 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on From nonviolence to neighborhood tidiness, here’s what happened at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s March 2023 meeting

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

As always, the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council tackled a variety of topics during its monthly meeting, held online earlier tonight. And by meeting’s end, NHUAC’s board had grown by one. Here’s how it all unfolded:

ALTERNATIVES TO VIOLENCE PROJECT: First guest was Sandy Hunt from the Highline Education Association to talk about the Alternatives to Violence Project, “bringing nonviolent solutions to resolving conflicts” in the community. This will include some afterschool programming. Hunt said she first heard about the program six years ago and now they’ve been offering training to teachers since Decembers. “Schools are just one piece of the ecosystem,” so they want to spread this to the greater community. She explained the project:

She said it’s been effective in building relationships and conferring skills. It’s also a youth development project, and the Cultures United soccer team is involved too. It’s taught in a weekend-long workshop, Friday nights plus all day Saturdays and Sundays:

Facilitators can choose from 400 activities to customize for each group. “It’s really about taking people’s stories, stories of conflict, and transforming those stories into one in which instead of expecting the worst, people expect the best,” she said. They have workshops in the area later this month:

Go here to find out more/register.

KING COUNTY PERMITTING/CODE ENFORCEMENT: Jim Chan, permitting division director, introduced Tom Campbell, the new code-enforcement manager, who came from a similar job in Bellevue about two months ago; he spent 15 years there after 10 years in the Seattle Fire Marshal’s office. NHUAC had asked for an update on certain properties; they obliged, with updates on 10 properties. Campbell began with a vacant property in the 9600 block of 15th SW; he said that’s basically “been a parking lot .. for several years.” It’s been inspected twice, with no further action; he said the county has to prioritize, depending on what danger a site poses. This was considered the lowest priority, Priority 3, so the case was closed. (He explained later that they have to prioritize because of limited funding.) NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin took exception with the county rep’s description as a “parking lot”; she said it’s “more like an impound lot.” Campbell said that also qualifies as “vehicle storage.” Dobkin said, “It’s baffling to me that we have what looks like an impound lot in the heart of our business district … is that use allowed for it?” Campbell said he would check; “it wasn’t viewed as an unpermittied use.” Next, a house (we didn’t catch the address) with numerous vehicles parked as well as overgrowth. It was considered for a referral to abatement but then the number of vehicles on the property went down to two and action was put on hold; last year there was a fireworks complaint, and a letter was sent. Neighbors of the property said there’s only one inoperable vehicle there now but it’s stuffed with trash, which is also piling up around the property, attracting rodents and other wildlife. Discussion then veered into other concerns about the house, including whether it’s being undervalued/undertaxed. It was suggested they invite a guest from the King County Assessor’s Office to discuss such issues.

Next, the 21st SW property where a man was shot and killed by Seattle Police serving a warrant in August 2021. Dobkin said its renters “left shortly after that” but the property was in bad shape and people kept breaking in. Its owner subsequently cleaned it up, Dobkin said – and dumped the detritus in the park across the street. The house is still not secure, she said. Campbell explained why the homeowner couldn’t be cited if there was no direct evidence that she had done the dumping.

Then a property in the 10400 block of 22nd SW – they’re in the process of abating the property, Campbell said. They’ve been trying for years to work with this family, he said, and now they’re getting estimates on cleanup costs, to address the property and right of way, including vehicles in which people are living, They’re also working with Animal Services. “This time we’ll be cleaning up the entire property and assessing the condition of the house,” Campbell said. The house might have to be declared uninhabitable. But even if it is, “we can’t keep them from living in their vehicles,” he said, but they’re looking at a “social service intervention.” He added, “Any hoarding situation is difficult to deal with” – including for those who hoard. Could the house be ordered torn down? “That’s not an action the county takes lightly,” especially in these days with so many people houseless, Campbell said.

10600 block 22nd SW – this too is in the abatement-planning process, and the operation might happen at the same time as the previously mentioned one – “at least the exterior cleanups.” One site on Myers Way did have a few past cases involving an accessory structure; concerns about a huge stack of pallets were raised. Four properties on the list – including one owned by the county – had no code-enforcement cases on record, Campbell said, so he had nothing to report; one property had a recurrence of past problems.

Campbell explained that code enforcement is complaint-based, so if someone hasn’t complained about something/someplace, it’s not likely to be on their radar. “We can’t be out at every property 24/7 … real-time reporting by the people living in the neighborhoods (matters).”

On another matter, NHUAC’s Liz Giba mentioned the problematic hookah lounge had moved out. But she’s wondering about the new tenant and its use of a basement. Chan said, “We’ve reached out to them” about what’s needed and promised to “run by and take a look.” Dobkin also wondered about noise issues from music planned nightly at the future Tim’s Tavern (ex-Drunky Two Shoes). Chan said there’s nuisance noise, which is up to the King County Sheriff’s Office, not the permitting division. The Liquor and Cannabis Board rep in attendance said they’ve applied for a liquor license with entertainment, and that the local authority – King County – had been notified, with 20 days to respond if there are concerns.

NEW BOARD MEMBER: Amelia C, a Top Hat resident, answered the recent call for new board members. She works at Moonshot Coffee in White Center. “I love it here and I want to see this place become the vibrant place it can be.” She was added to the board by acclamation. They’re still open to new members, added Dobkin. “It’s a great way to be involved in the community” – the organization’s been active since 1996.

COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENTS: Bill Tracy from White Center Kiwanis said they’re having a steak/portabella mushroom dinner on Friday, April 21st, 5 pm at the White Center Eagles‘ aerie, dinner and music – 206-248-2441 to reserve tickets, $35 for one, $60 for two.

NHUAC meets first Thursday most months, 7 pm, online – check between meetings for updates.

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THURSDAY: Here’s who will be at this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

February 27th, 2023 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on THURSDAY: Here’s who will be at this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

The announcement from NHUAC leaders:

The Opportunity to Be Informed, Be Involved and Be Heard!

Where? North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When? Thursday, March 2, 2023, at 7 pm

Join Zoom Meeting: Click here

Meeting ID: 844 1007 4134
Passcode: NHUAC2023 (Case Sensitive)

Unable to join via Zoom? Please call: 253-215-8782
Meeting ID: 844 1007 4134
Passcode: 598963166

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=Thursday’s NHUAC meeting will include introducing Amelia, a North Highline resident who also works at a local business. Amelia responded to last month’s announcement that we are looking for people to join NHUAC’s board. The current NHUAC members will vote on Amelia’s membership at NHUAC’s April 6thmeeting. Join us as we look to NHUAC’s future with the addition of new members.

We will also be joined by Sandy Hunt, president of the Highline Teachers Association. The association is working to end violence and promote economic and social justice in the Highline School District. The future of North Highline rests with our young people and NHUAC looks forward to hearing from Sandy.

Jim Chan, King County’s Director of Permitting, has also been asked to join us. The Code Enforcement Division falls under Permitting and we understand it has a new leader, Tom Campbell, who will also be joining us. See you Thursday at 7 pm!

Knowledge is power.

Learn, share, and help make North Highline a healthier community.

March 2, 2023 at 7 pm – Invite Your Neighbors!

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The many faces of community health, at 2023’s first North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

February 8th, 2023 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on The many faces of community health, at 2023’s first North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Deep dives into two important agencies/programs – the King County Sheriff’s Office and LEAD – comprised most of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council‘s first meeting of 2023, online last Thursday. The meeting was focused on “the health of North Highline,” as NHUAC’s Liz Giba put it. It began with guests from KCSO.

UNDERSHERIFF JESSE ANDERSON: He began by acknowledging the Memphis murder of Tyre Nichols. “There are so many things I could say about the officers who were involved, but none of it is good.” He called Mr. Nichols’s death “a preventable loss of life.” He also insisted that KCSO’s culture “is nothing like” what happened in Memphis. “There’s definitely a cultural problem in that agency that we don’t have.” He said even the name of the team – now disbanded – that the officers were part of, SCORPION, was shocking and unbelievable. He then segued into the importance of thoroughly screening KCSO applicants, “even if that means we carry large numbers of vacancies for quite some time … We must be very diligent.”

On to the state of KCSO: “We’ve made significant steps forward, especially last year, with hiring more people, setting up a recruiting plan … We are really leading the way in our area for numbers of hires.” There are currently 112 vacancies. He said some new reruits are due out of the academy in spring. The vacancies are spread throughout the department: “We’re all sharing in the pain.” Training efforts are a challenge with 750 “commissioned people,” but KCSO is looking for opportunities wherever they can be found – de-escalation, active-bystander training (teaching officers that if their partners are “crossing a line … they have a duty to intervene to stop that”), and more.

Giba asked where recruitment efforts are focused – geographically, for example. “We go everywhere we can,” replied Anderson. “We’re all over looking for those opportunities for recruitment.” An attendee asked if deputies could be shown and named online; the reply was that some departments have had an issue with ID theft when trying that. For now, if you’re looking to contact a specific deputy, call your nearest precinct.

Anderson also said they’re working to form the Community Advisory Board that new Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall announced, and said they’ve had a good number of applicants so far. “We’re looking forward to this,” he said of the future group.

Other attendee questions included Block Watch activity and concerns about gunfire activity suspected to be involved with a hookah lounge. An adjacent business owner wanted to know, “Is there anything going on with that establishment … that’s going to make the situation any safer?” Deputy Bill Kennamer said, “Yes,” and mentioned permitting and other investigations under way. “It is number one on my list of things and I’ve been working to get the place legally shut down … if they can’t control their business and the people surrounding their business … then it becomes a nuisance business.” The nearby business owner said that he’s worried on Friday and Saturday nights that “bullets are going to come through the wall.” Local Services director John Taylor affirmed that they’re working on a variety of fronts. Various discussion of potential logistics ensued. The business owner concluded, “It’s very reassuring to hear (this is) very much on the radar.”

Another attendee brought up fireworks, which became illegal in unincorporated King County as of last year. He said his neighborhood becomes “World War III” around the 4th of July. What’s the plan to deter it? he asked. Taylor fielded the question. He agreed it’s a serious problem – “it isn’t just lighthearted fun” – with the deadly fire just a few years ago. Last year they just did warnings, he recapped, but they’ve set up a system for reporting violations; last year they got more than 700 complaints. They sent letters to them all this past year, with warnings. They had about as third that many complaints on New Year’s Eve. If they get a complaint again this year for somebody who got a warning this year, they’ll face a penalty. “Anyone who sets off fireworks is going to get contacted by us,” Taylor promised. Deputy Kennamer pointed out that the retail outlets are already gone, so that means far less availability.

The next KCSO guest was Major Mark Konoske, local precinct commander. He talked about oversight – reporting misconduct and how it’s investigated, with an independent agency getting involved. Giba then asked how he’s dealing with the new role. Lots of calls for service, and it gives them a sense of purpose – “very fulfilling,” he said. He had previous experience in the precinct, two, including as a sergeant, and then briefly as an interim chief of Burien Police. He also introduced Community Service Officer Nate Hammock, who’s been a CSO since August. “What I do is provide non-law enforcement services to the community … (as a) relief to deputies … I’m not a law-enforcement officer,” but he can certainly handle questions about law enforcement. Don’t call him if there’s an emergency. “What we do is respond to, most commonly, found property … I’ve returned a lot of stuff recently. ” He can also check residences by request when people go out of town, give presentations on safety to schools and churches, and drive around to serve as a deterrent. He recently helped White Center Heights Elementary improve crosswalk visibility. “I’m just trying to be proactive.” CSO’s also plan and attend community events (“Shop With a Cop” was one example he gave).

LEAD: Project manager Aaron Burkhalter for North Highline and Burien headed up a big delegation at the meeting. He said the program’s now more than a decade old, having started in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood, as a better way of dealing with people “cycling over and over again” into and out of the jail system. They help clients with a variety of services and resources. “What are their long-term goals?” is one question with which they deal with clients. “The program has expanded internationally” and now operates in all of Seattle’s precincts. They often get referrals from law-enforcement officers like Deputy Kennamer. LEAD is “pre-arrest diversion” but ideally they will be able to work with people long before it gets to the arrest stage.

A year and a half has now passed since LEAD started working in White Center. Burkhalter said they currently are working actively with 3 people and are trying to establish relationships with more than 20 others. He said LEAD has a “secret sauce” in getting people to sit down together – from social workers to law-enforcement officers to prosecutors – to talk about the clients. “The people we work with have legal involvement,” maybe cases, maybe warrants, maybe regular law-enforcement contact. Asked by Giba about whether LEAD represents clients in court, Burkhalter said no, but LEAD does have a legal team that “jumps in” on occasion with a complicated case, and case managers can provide support and clarity when the court matter relates to the work they’re doing with a client.

Burkhalter also clarified that LEAD is “not a homelessness program … it’s a public-safety program,” though housing is of course an issue for many of their clients, “and that’s why the case-management piece of this is so critical.”

Next to speak was Aleczandria Jamerson, a program manager in the area. She spoke of their work establishing trust and building relationships with clients and other community members. She stressed that they’re working with people who are suffering – yes, their actions have effects on the community, but it’s important to understand where their clients are coming from – “the various traumas they’re dealing with on a daily basis can really affect their progress.”

It was also explained that “this is taxpayer-funded work.”

Case manager Khalil Butler introduced himself. “I’m out there with my feet on the ground three to five days a week.”
Senior case manager Reese followed, the senior case manager for Community Passageways through LEAD, joining the agency about a month and a half ago. Shanisse, also a relatively new arrival via Community Passageways, is focusing on the Recovery Navigator Program. Giba asked what percentage of the people they deal within in White Center “have a drug problem.’ Answer: “100 percent … that often presents with co-occurring things like mental and behavioral crises that they’re going through at one time.” Is decriminalizing drugs a healthy approach? Giba asked. Aleczandria said they come from a “harm reduction” approach. She says that many of them had a life event that triggered this – they did not start with drug addiction, they had, perhaps a mental health crisis, and now substances help them cope with what their living situations are. So decriminalizing drugs is a complicated issue. “If we begin to address what their basic needs are, then maybe we can begin to prevent … worse behaviors. … In an ideal world we’ll talk about deflection rather than diversion.” That means getting to the root of the problem rather than just treating “the symptoms.” Butler said that “positive change isn’t something you can force on people ,.. they have to want to.” And meeting their needs first is a more successful approach. “I would challenge anybody in this room to sleep for one night on the concrete in 25-degree weather sober.” One attendee asked how they connect, because he’s seen people suffering on the street and is at a loss to figure out what to do. They get referrals, Aleczandria said, but they also are out in White Center all the time. They might offer a sandwich to make a connection and explain themselves, offer their card, so the people they meet can reach out when they’re ready. She also noted that some people refuse shelter because they’ve had horrible experiences at shelters, which aren’t always safe. The LEAD people build relationships and do a “warm handoff” when the people they’re dealing with are ready. They also know that “today may look very different from tomorrow” for people in need. They “chip away” at the barriers keeping people from moving into something better – ID, a phone, etc.

NORTH HIGHLINE CRIME UPDATES: Deputy Kennamer said Part 1 crimes are at the lowest they’ve been in January in several years (*47). There’ve been two homicides in recent weeks, and a shooting the previous night, One homicide was a stabbing – we don’t know where it started but the victim got onto a bus in Greenbridge, took the bus to St. Anthony’s, they transferred him to Harborview and he died there. They think he might have been living in an encampment near Westcrest Park. Then there was a domestic violence stabbing in the 400 block of SW 110th – the suspect was arrested and booked that night. The most recent shooting victim – Wednesday night on 8th Place – is expected to live, but it’s an open/active case, so the deputy didn’t have additional information. NHUSC’s Barbara Dpbkin noted an increase in graffiti vandalism; Kennamer said there’s definitely an uptick in “Latino gang graffiti.” The county does not have a law requiring property owners to clean it up.

NHUAC BOARD NEEDS MEMBERS: Want to get involved? Contact NHUAC!

NEXT MEETING: NHUAC meets most first Thursdays, 7 pm, online until they find an in-person meeting place again.

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King County Sheriff’s Office and LEAD in the spotlight at 2023’s first North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

January 29th, 2023 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on King County Sheriff’s Office and LEAD in the spotlight at 2023’s first North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

Just announced for Thursday (February 2nd):

The Opportunity to Be Informed, Be Involved and Be Heard!

Where? North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When? Thursday, February 2, 2023, at 7 pm

The death of Tyre Nichols, the young father who died as the result of a traffic stop in Memphis, is heartbreaking and points to the importance of police knowing the communities they are sworn to serve and protect.

Deputy Bill Kennamer of the King County Sheriff’s Office is a regular participant in NHUAC meetings because he is an important member of the North Highline community. This month we are going to expand the public safety discussion. Deputy Bill will be joined by:

Undersheriff Jesse Anderson
Precinct 4 Commander Major Mark Konoske
Community Service Officer Nate Hammock

For the past 4 years, KCSO has supported the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) a/k/a “Let Everyone Advance with Dignity” program in North Highline. At a 2019 NHUAC meeting, then-Major Anderson said: “The bottom line is, we want people to turn their lives around.… It’s a great tool, like many other resources we bring in.”

To update us on LEAD’s work, we will also be joined by Reese Abram and Tanisha Davis-Doss of King County LEAD and Aaron Burkhalter, LEAD Program Manager with the Public Defenders Association.

Knowledge is power: Learn, share, and help make North Highline a healthier community.

February 2, 2023 at 7 pm – Invite Your Neighbors!

Join Zoom Meeting:

Meeting ID: 817 6325 0231
Passcode: NHUAC2023 (Case Sensitive)

Unable to join via Zoom? Please call 253-215-8782

Meeting ID: 817 6325 0231
Passcode: 155949808

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

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REMINDER: No North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting this month

January 2nd, 2023 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 3 Comments »

Quick reminder – while the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets on first Thursdays most months, it’s not having a January meeting, so this Thursday’s calendar is clear. Next NHUAC meeting will be 7 pm Thursday, February 2nd, online – watch for the preview when it gets closer.

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Here’s what happened @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s last meeting of 2022

December 8th, 2022 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on Here’s what happened @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s last meeting of 2022

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council tackled a variety of topics in its last 2022 meeting, held online last Thursday night. Two scheduled guests weren’t able to attend due to illness, so the meeting ran shorter than usual. NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin facilitated.

DEPARTMENT OF LOCAL SERVICES: Director John Taylor was the night’s spotlight guest. He has led the department since it was created four years ago “to do a better job of being a municipal government for unincorporated King County” – in which a quarter-million people live, in “a huge geographical area.” He had a variety of updates – the county’s first participatory budgeting round, which split $10 million among five areas, with decisions made by a group with representatives of each area (including 5 from White Center/North Highline). This area got about $3 million, in turn spread among about a dozen programs. “Project awards are in the process of going on right now.” (We covered the funding announcement here.) He says the newly adopted county budget has another $10 million for the next participatory-budgeting round and the county will again look for community members to get involved. “It’s an opportunity to get real money into the community.”

Other budget items of note – the Conservation Corps will continue in White Center and expand to other unincorporated areas – “removing graffiti, picking up litter … at least a couple days a week.’ Economic-development work will continue too. He noted that “community-needs lists” were used to prioritize spending this time around. Overall, he said, the unincorporated areas were dealt with more reactively than proactively, but the “needs lists” moved them toward the latter. The budget is a “good start” toward responding to many of those needs, in Taylor’s view. He sees the past and future lists a “great way” to communicate to government officials what you need from them.

Also: The Subarea Plan was about to go to the County Council for a final vote. Passage will be followed by implementation of zoning changes among other things. WC is part of an “urban growth area” and that means it needs to densify and make room for more people, he says, but he believes the plan does a good job of “keeping White Center, White Center” and minimizing displacement. If the plan has unintended consequences, “we’ll adjust – we do a good job of that.”

He then invited questions. Taylor was asked what’s up with 16th/107th, where the road is in bad shape. He advised reporting it to, which will lead to a service request and a road supervisor going out for a look. Dobkin asked about the recent Smoke Town fire (for which a suspect has been charged, as we’ve reported) and how businesses are being helped, including those damaged by last year’s fires. Economic-recovery specialist Michael Morales from the county said a special district was drawn up for that area and businesses were eligible for $60,000 grants that can be applied to expenses from related losses. He said those awards will be going out before year’s end. Regarding Smoke Town, he said county reps were there the day after the fire and are working with the store’s owner. They’ve had 58 out of about 80 eligible businesses in the area apply for the grants. They expect to have some leftover money to be “reappropriated.”

Other questions/concerns included difficulty reaching people to resolve problems, and then a specific question about three parcels “missed in the process” of rezoning – a “missed opportunity” as the attendee described it. The question was asked by a person who owns one of the parcels and spoke about it at a recent County Council meeting, And that’s who would have to take action, Taylor said, via a “line amendment.” Taylor recapped the many months over which the plan had been reviewed and said that it seems a little late in the process to get those parcels added to the plan. So he said about all the attendee could do would be continuing to push individual councilmembers in hopes that maybe one could sponsor an amendment. That led to a side discussion about how the results of the forthcoming rezoning would be monitored. And, Taylor was asked, will there be any funding for sidewalks in higher-density rezoned areas? That’s usually a requirement for developers, Taylor said, though he also noted that some. of the participatory-budgeting money went toward new sidewalks in Skyway.

Dobkin then had a concern about Code Enforcement not responding to concerns. Taylor said the county code was written a long time ago “with a property-rights focus” so it’s easy for “bad actors … to ignore us.” Their tools are generally restricted to “paltry fines.” He hopes that people will remember that in “every single one of these cases … there’s a person attached to it,” maybe a hoarder dealing with mental illness, for example.

Another question was about the new tenant at the former Taradise Café location and what kind of progress they’re making (it’s been a year since we first mentioned them). The county reps had no specifics but “we’re hopeful it’s going to be a very different experience than the community had under previous ownership.” Eric Thomas from the Liquor and Cannabis Board said its liquor license has been issued and that what he found online indicated it might open by year-end, The county reps also added that the fire-damaged deli on the west side of 16th is close to a permit for repairs.

What about the microhousing project? No new info. Anything new with a problematic hookah lounge? The LCB’s Thomas did not have an update on the investigation, The formerly closed cannabis business on 1st has reopened but with limited hours.

HOLIDAY EVENT: White Center Santa Con is coming up December 10th.

ELECTION RESULTS: Shoutout to the Evergreen High School Key Club for doorbelling 1,500 residences to campaign for the Highline Public Schools bond.

REMEMBERING STEVE COX: December 2nd marked 16 years since the deputy and North Highline community champion was killed in the line of duty.

IN-PERSON MEETINGS: Dobkin said they just can’t find a place “that works” – the North Highline Fire District HQ, former in-person meeting site, “won’t be available until after the summer.” So they’ll continue on Zoom until further notice. No January meeting, so NHUAC’s next meeting is in February, first Thursday at 7 pm as usual, February 2nd.

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Start your December with North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s last 2022 meeting

November 27th, 2022 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 3 Comments »

On the first night of December, the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council hosts its last meeting of 2022. Here’s why you’ll want to join in:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting – Zoom meeting

When: Thursday, Dec 1, 2022 @ 7 pm

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 830 2403 8714
Passcode: NHUAC2022 (Case Sensitive)

Join by Phone:
253 215 8782
Meeting ID: 830 2403 8714
Passcode: 738468041

Mark your calendars and plan on joining the discussion at NHUAC’s December 1st meeting. As noted at our November meeting, we were hoping to secure a site to end the year with an in person gathering. Unfortunately, we have not been able to locate a suitable room, so for the time being we will continue to meet via zoom.

The last two years have been interesting and challenging. We would like to extend a big thanks to all who continue to sign on to the monthly meetings and stay involved in community issues. Even though we have not been together in person, we have managed to stay connected and are grateful for the support you all have shown. Our goal is to keep the community informed, involved, and to give a voice to the decisions that impact our North Highline community.

With that said, we are pleased this month to welcome the Director of the Department of Local Services, John Taylor. The Department of Local Services was established in 2018 to better meet the needs of unincorporated King County and is the “go-to agency” for the unincorporated communities. John will provide information as well as take questions regarding permitting, code enforcement, and roads, to name a few.

We are also happy to have Bong Santo Domingo, Program Manager/Community Liaison, to provide updates and information regarding community issues.

Deputy Bill Kennamer will also join us with an update from the Sheriff’s Office.

Also of note:

On Tuesday, November 22nd, the King County Council held a public hearing on the proposed 2022 update to the King County Comprehensive Plan. This followed 8 months of Council review of the plan, which includes the Skyway-West Hill Subarea Plan and the North Highline Subarea Plan. The Council will consider the testimony received, and potentially take action at the December 6, 2022 meeting.

“The King County Comprehensive Plan is the guiding policy document for land use and development regulations in unincorporated King County, and for regional services throughout the County including transit, sewers, parks, trails, and open space.”

It is important to note that The North Highline Subarea Plan includes dramatic zoning increases in several of the residential North Highline Neighborhoods. NHUAC devoted several monthly meetings with county planners regarding the proposed changes. If you were not able to attend any of these informative NHUAC meetings and would like to review the plans you can find a thorough report on NHUAC’s April meeting at here.

If you would like information on the King County Council meetings, click here.

We look forward to seeing everyone – Thursday, December 1, 7 pm

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Money, microhousing, more @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s November meeting

November 3rd, 2022 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 4 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Here’s what happened at tonight’s monthly meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, held online:

CRIME STATS/TRENDS: Community Deputy Bill Kennamer spoke of some “pretty ugly crime trends.” Robberies totaled 40 this time last year, 72 so far this year – “an 80 percent increase – definitely a problem.” Weapons violations are up 65 percent. “Simple assaults” (lower level of injury) are up 40 percent – from 162 to 229. Drug offenses are up 110 percent – “we are seeing less and less hypodermic needle action, but an absolute ton of fentanyl smoking going on.” He believe that’s the reason for an increase in overdoses. If you have family or friends who use drugs, get Narcan just in case. “It works. … it keeps people alive.” He said there’s “some good news on the drug front” – a special-emphasis team in the precinct did a raid yesterday that got $5.5 million in drugs off the street. He couldn’t say where but the raid was executed by “precinct-level detectives.” Deputy Kennamer said today’s garage fire was in a garage used as a residence by the adult son of the adjacent homeowner. The resident went to the hospital with smoke inhalation (that’s an update from our earlier coverage). Asked about staffing, Deputy Kennamer said what’s happening now is “a staffing crisis.” They have the openings and the funding, both Kennamer and King County Councilmember Joe McDermott agreed, they just don’t have the people applying and training to fill them.

COUNCILMEMBER McDERMOTT: He’s budget chair this year. The first vote on the proposed “striking amendment” – which will go public tomorrow, with councilmembers’ proposed changes to King County Executive Dow Constantine‘s budget proposal – is planned one week from today. First, per the previous discussion, he wanted to emphasize that King County “has NOT defunded the police.” The alternative programs it has supported/will supported are in addition to law enforcement, not instead of. “We’re doing innovative things, responding to some issues (for alternative public safety),” but not proposing cuts in law enforcement. The proposed two-year budget was almost %16 billion, he said. That includes revenues collected for a specific purpose that must be spent for a specific purpose. Property tax revenue is limited to a 1 percent increase year by year, but “even in a good year” expenses go up more than one percent, so there’s what they call “a structural gap.”

His budget priorities in general include: public safety, law-enforcement oversight, rider experience in transit, firearm safety, promoting helmet use, supporting the White Center Food Bank as it moves to its new location, affordable-housing investments, more money for participatory budgeting, Narcan availability, and more. Public comment can be given in-person or online at next Thursday’s budget meeting; the budget then goes to the full council on November 15th.

In Q&A, clarification was requested on the 1 percent cap. It’s the maximum percentage by which county revenue can go up – so just because your valuation goes up X percent doesn’t mean what you owe will go up that much – it’s a cap on what the county can collect. Why does the county rely so heavily on property taxes? McDermott explained that property and sales taxes are the main sources approved by the Legislature – even cities have more options for raising revenue. Subsequent discussion involved how much revenue was and wasn’t being spent on/in North Highline – there’s no specific breakdown by geography within the county budget, said McDermott. He also reminded everyone that while the county collects property taxes, it’s just the treasurer – only a fraction of what you pay actually goes to King County.

On other topics: Councilmember McDermott had an update on the Subarea Plan; legislation won committee approval in July, and a full-council public hearing will be at 1 pm November 22nd – online or in-person – and you can comment via email too: He talked about some refinements that are being proposed. NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin asked about inclusionary zoning and whether it was really right for North Highline – something Seattle’s been doing for several years – and McDermott said it should lead to a greater variety of housing availability. NHUAC’s Liz Giba voiced concern that the Subarea Plan documentation had only recently appeared online but had been otherwise in existence for months. She read some criticism attributed to the White Center Community Development Association saying the process had been inadequate. Giba suggested any decisionmaking be delayed, and more outreach be done. Dobkin also alleged that the WCCDA itself didn’t reach out to all parts of the community. Permitting division head Jim Chan jumped in to say that inclusionary zoning is meant to be anti-displacement, not to lower taxes for some so others pay more. If all housing that was built was market-rate, people will be displaced. Also, he said, the Comprehensive Plan will have an Environmental Impact, and that will cover the Subarea Plan as well. Giba asked the question, is there no chance the Subarea Plan might lead to more tax-exempt housing in North Highline? McDermott said no, he couldn’t say that.

MICROHOUSING DEMONSTRATION: David Neiman Architects won an RFP process for this and plans to submit a permit application within a few weeks; a pre-application meeting already has been held. They’re asking the county how flexible it will be on a variety of standards. They need to justify anything that would deviate from code, Chan says they were told. One deviation they’ll propose: No parking for the units, Chan said. Dobkin voiced concern about more tree loss contributing to warmer temperatures. McDermott reiterated that they authorized one project to be built in a certain area – just one. He also said he’s proposing an update to the Urban Unincorporated Tree Code, as an offshoot of concerns voiced earlier this year about tree removal on lots where homes are being built. The site under consideration is 16th/102nd, Giba noted – 1619 SW 102nd, per the county website.

HOOKAH LOUNGE: A permit application to remedy a violation was submitted last week and will be reviewed, Chan said. Is the building safe? asked Giba. An enforcement person has, Chan said, and he affirmed that all safety concerns were investigated and nothing of note was found.

FORMER TARADISE CAFE: They did a walkthrough with an inspector two weeks ago, Chan said. “They still have some work they need to do with Labor and Industries – electrical – and Health,” he said, adding that the inspector advised them that more permits may be required “if they expand any further,” and electrical work/fire safety issues were discussed.

WHY NO IN-PERSON MEETINGS YET? Dobkin said they just can’t find a space, though they hope to have some sort of gathering in December somewhere.

ANNOUNCEMENTS: White Center Kiwanis is selling nuts again this year – if interested, call Scott at 206-465-9432.

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