From politics to shelter to food to crime to the roundabout @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

June 10th, 2019 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 5 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Lots of news at Thursday night’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, last one before NHUAC goes on summer semi-hiatus.

Headlines included:
-Think White Center’s recent increase in violent crime is gang-related? King County Sheriff’s Office says no.
-White Center Food Bank needs a new home.
-Sen.Joe Nguyen implores you to speak up

But first:

MARY’S PLACE UPDATE: Executive director Marty Hartman and White Center site director Kecia Pannell presented the latest – three years after “we started a conversation,” as Hartman put it. They began with a video: “It’s up to our community to say, ‘Stop this crisis’,” Hartman said toward the end of the video, which featured families helped by MP. “You invited us into your community,” Hartman said afterward, saying the WC shelter had helped “hundreds of families.”

She presented stats including one saying that to afford the average two-bedroom apartment in King County, your income has to be almost $27/hour – “most families don’t have that kind of income.” MP handles the King County Community Family Shelter Intake Line, which took 3,915 calls last year alone. “We were able to shelter 41 percent of those families … but we know we can do more … to get to ‘no child sleeps outside’.” Of the families they serve, 94 percent are from Washington state, 83 percent from Seattle or King County. Seventy percent have at least one family member who’s working – and still, they are homeless. The good news: Most families who become homeless experience that only once in their lifetime.

White Center was MP’s second 24/7 shelter; now it has four. It just opened another night center. Almost all are in buildings slated for demolition – “the ultimate in recycling,” Hartman smiled. They also serve single women via their day center, and they have seen a 44 percent increase in seniors among them – “there is a silver tsunami coming,” Hartman said.

Right now, MP has 600 beds, triple what they had four years ago. They also have special programs: Popsicle Place, for homeless families with children have chronic health problems. “Every parent wants to sacrifice for their child’s miracle” – and that may mean a job loss, a home loss. Thirteen rooms for 13 families, increasing to 45 when they move into an Amazon building early next year. (The current 13-family space is at the MP site in Burien, which MP owns, housing 200 families in all; “a couple bought [the four-acre Burien site] for us and we’re paying them back.”) Baby’s Best Start is for pregnant women and new moms; there’s a wing for it at the WC shelter. Also, the Kids’ Club is at all their sites – they work with schools to be sure kids get transportation, care, etc.

Most families are with MP “for about 85 days now,” said Hartman. They work on housing as soon as a family arrives, talking about what barriers might exist and how to remove them. MP works “with landlords and property owners to build relationships and identify available housing options for our families. … Our families are resilient and responsible,” declared Hartman. They also have “diversion” to help some families avoid shelter altogether, moving them directly into housing rom tens or cars – 286 families last year, more than double 2017, the first year they did that.

White Center specific stats:

Panell took over the briefing, first with words of gratitude. Last year, 126 families were served, including 179 children. 29 people got jobs, with the help of an on-site employment specialist; 47 families were moved to “more-stable living situations.” (Asked where they’re finding housing, Hartman said generally to the south – Federal Way and beyond, most often, she said.)

How can you help? Landlords and connections are what they need most now, as well as “your voice …keep talking,” Hartman implored. Volunteer help is big too. From yard work to reading to kids, they can use the help; teach arts and crafts, music, sewing, etc. They also have the Make-A-Home program to furnish homes for families who are moving into housing with very few belongings.

Another tidbit: The food-recovery program, with food donated by Starbucks and Amazon, has helped them bring daily food costs down from $18/person to less than $4.

WHITE CENTER FOOD BANK: Executive director Marélle Habenicht said the WCFB has had a big year, including the conversion to a grocery-store-type model and appointment system. Running more efficiently has enabled them to allow families to come three times a month instead of twice, and their distribution hours have doubled.

They have also worked on a more-dignified way for people to be served.

Their “Grow to Give” garden expanded last year, too. That’s helped them better serve more families with fresh foods. It’s 1200-square-feet now, with a newly installed aquaponics system. This has helped them expand what they grow – they just got four dragonfruit cactuses, for example.

In 2018:

18,491 times families shopped
1458 babies
23,448 adults
17,000+ seniors (who have a special distribution day on Thursdays; they also have a mobile distribution system for residence facilities)
76 percent of the people they serve “identify as a community of color” – a similar percentage of the staff is the same, and they have staff speaking five languages, which helps with intake

857,000 pounds of food distribution
5200 healthy-food certificates that people can take to local markets where they can find culturally appropriate foods

They grew 13,000 pounds of “ulturally relevant and requested foods” last year – items that are often expensive to buy. They rescued 175,000 pounds of food last year that otherwise was landfill-bound. “We’ve made a really big push in the last couple of years to recover food,” Habenicht explained.

She said “volunteers are critical to what we do” – more than 400 people helped out last year. “We couldn’t do what we do without them,” she said.

They’ve been working with One Million Tampons to cover menstrual needs, including partnerships with schools.

About the Hub Project redevelopment: The WCFB will not be part of it after all, because they couldn’t run a big capital campaign for it as well as their own capital campaigns. So “we need a new home,” about three to five years from now. They learned from talking to people that the WCFB needs a more-central location in WC anyway. “We do a lot more than (offer) food … being closer to downtown White Center gives us more opportunities.” They need 6,000 square feet of a building and about half an acre outdoors for garden and parking. “That is what we are hoping for.” They also hope it will be a green building – a company recently offered them solar panels, which will have to wait until they move toa new HQ.

But: “Our ultimate goal is to not be needed … to shut our doors.” So they hope to own their future location, to be self-sustaining, and “so we can give it back.”

A Greenbridge resident brought up something Habenicht mentioned briefly – a problem with the roundabout – she said that she was told the 8th/108th bus route was removed and that “the roundabout is illegal” but another one is going to be built at 8th/102nd. The topic resurfaced multiple times during the meeeting.

SEN. JOE NGUYEN: Having heard about the bus/roundabout snafu, Nguyen leaped to the front and said he had just texted County Councilmember Joe McDermott to say, “What the f*** is going on?” Not specifically his jurisdiction but “it uses state money,” so why not.

He also mentioned his WC roots, with a shoutout to “my librarian from Cascade Middle School” being in the room.

As for the Legislature:

“It was a fantastic year for folks who are more progressive,” Sen. Nguyen said. He said it’s not a case of politics being good or bad – while 400+ bills got passed, more than usual, that’s still only about 10 percent of what was introduced. $47 million for the 34th District, “largely for this area,” including the finishing of 4th Avenue, he said. $2 million to finish the Burien Mary’s Place, too. “You really have to fight for everything …if you have legislators who don’t participate, who don’t show up, you get screwed.” He said it’s why he was “more aggressive than … well, everybody.” He said he doesn’t care if he gets re-elected, he just wants people to be involved.

Education was a big issue for him, he said. Access to education is a big thing, mentioning the Washington Promise scholarship covering tuition for students from families making less than $50,000 a year. He said they lowered the real-estate excise tax for 80 percent of people – “if your property is worth less than $1.2 million.” That tax affects you when your house sells, it was clarified. Asked later about the school-funding situation, Nguyen mentioned passage of the school-levy lift.

Transportation was another big issue for him.

But he said the first thing he noticed in Olympia was “rampant mediocrity.” He noted that it’s a part-time Legislature. And he found himself the legislative tech expert because he works at Microsoft. He shared an anecdote about someone trying to pass a bill that technically “didn’t make any sense, and if I wasn’t there” to say something, it might have passed.

He was brisk and funny and at times of course deadly serious, saying he opposes youth detention and the King County youth-detention center that’s being built. He also mentioned the law he passed clearing marijuana convictions for those who were convicted as adults.

Sen. Nguyen said he’d met with the governor earlier in the day and fixing the justice system was one topic.

He also mentioned $900 million in support for endangered orcas. He said he believes there are ways to boost the orca population without killing sea lions/seals.

He reiterated, “I can’t tell you how important it is to advocate.” Be loud. Speak up. It’s what he says he’s doing.

If you can’t go to Olympia in person, someone asked, what’s the best way to engage?

Email and call, said Sen. Nguyen. He also noted that remote testimony is allowed in the Senate, too. He said he’s doing everything he can, and also expressed his disgust at some – even some who call themselves Democrats – but “don’t do any work.”

Another question had to do with the inequitable distribution of marijuana tax money and stores. Nguyen invited followup conversation with the person who asked.

His election success came up – “we doubled the number of people of color” in the Senate – “how may is that?” “eight” – as did a wide variety of topics, from tax reform to arbitration to family-leave requirements.

Housing and homelessness will be his focus next year – noting that keeping people housed is “three times cheaper” than getting them out of homelessness once it happens.

NHUAC president Liz Giba brought up the correlation between poor health and environmental justice. She said they’ve been trying to get a study done.

CRIME UPDATE: “We had a significant increase in violent crime last month,” said Deputy Bill Kennamer, who is now the community crime-prevention deputy (title change from “storefront deputy,”he said).

Is it gang related? Kennamer said he’d asked.

A detective and detective-sergeant positions have just been advertised for the Gang Unit, but right now, it remains a unit of one, he noted.

“None of the recent WC shootings are gang related or gang motivated,” is what Det. Joe Gagliardi told him, Kennamer said. Certainly “gang-like,” he acknowledged.

No updates on the shooting outside Saar’s Super Saver,but it remains

Burglaries are the same, auto thefts are down significantly.

Crime analyst: 16th/108th arrests of people with guns

10th, 98th/16th another arrest for unlawful gun possession

(Yes, they are “local” suspects – Delridge to Burien – “a lot of them don’t live here but this is the middle”)

He mentioned a couple problem properties – “one on 13th and one on 17th” – are on his radar, and something is going to be done with the latter, a former business property that was bought by what Kennamer described as a property-flipper who’s just seen it for the first time and is working to get it cleaned up so he can bring in a new tenant.

Other points of discussion included noise enforcement. “It’s archaic, the noise ordinance,” lamented Dep. Kennamer.

What about parking? There is no street camping in White Center, Dep. Kennamer declared, while warning “I’m not solving the problem, I’m just moving the problem.” He said he’s “ruthless” about parking enforcement. But, he said, the enforcement is usually related to people “making a mess” – if they don’t, he doesn’t know they’re there.

Back to the roundabout: “We are working with Metro to find a fix,” said a Local Services rep. Metro buses are legally allowed to go over them, but “the passengers are kind of tossed around every time they do that.” But Kennamer noted that the roundabout has achieved the traffic calming long sought

asklocalservices@kingcounty.gov if you have a problem or question.

P.S. We were in touch with Local Services and Metro the day after the meeting to ask about the roundabout situation. The Road Services Division simply acknowledged the situation:

King County Road Services Division is aware that the roundabout at 8th Avenue SW and SW 108th Street – which was recently installed to mitigate a high-collision location – presents challenges for Metro buses. We are working collaboratively with Metro to identify as quickly as possible a solution that serves the community and all users of the intersection in a safe manner.

Metro said the situation’s in its third month:

Route 128 southbound was rerouted in March, serving different stops after we learned our 40-foot-long buses couldn’t safely navigate the left turn through the roundabout. Northbound route 128 trips can navigate a right turn and they remain unchanged on their original pathway. Details of the new stops served were communicated with riders.

NEXT MEETING: In September. But look for NHUAC at the Jubilee Days Street Fair in July.\

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THURSDAY: Sen. Joe Nguyen, White Center Food Bank, Mary’s Place @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

June 3rd, 2019 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 3 Comments »

What are you doing Thursday night? You’re invited to take a little time to soak in a lot of community information and involvement:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When: Thursday, June 6, 2019 at 7 pm
Where North Highline Fire Station at 1243 SW 112th Street in White Center
(Parking and Entrance are in the Back of the Station)

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

Will you be part of NHUAC’s final community meeting before the summer hiatus? If so, you will learn about North Highline’s government, neighborhoods and meet some neighbors.

(WCN photo, December 2018)

The portion of North Highline west of State Route 509 is in Washington’s 34th Legislative District. NHUAC looks forward to hearing from Sen. Joe Nguyen at our June 6th meeting. Sen. Nguyen was last with us prior to his election to the 34th District’s seat in the state senate. That discussion ranged from cannabis to housing. We’ve asked Sen. Nguyen to share his thoughts about his first session, his next session, and how things are going in North Highline. There will be an opportunity to make comments and ask questions.

(WCN photo, March 2017)

This month’s meeting will also give us an opportunity to hear from two neighbors and important local organizations, the White Center Food Bank and Mary’s Place.

In the two years it has been in White Center, Mary’s Place has rewarded our support by living up to its promises. One of those promises was to keep the people of North Highline informed. Mary’s Place Executive Director Marty Hartman and Kecia Pannell, Site Director at White Center’s Family Center, will join NHUAC.

Did you know that, not far from SeaTac Airport, there was once billboard that read:

“Will the last person leaving SEATTLE –
Turn Out the Lights”?

It was the 1970s. The loss of nearly 70,000 Boeing jobs, during the “Boeing Bust,” ultimately resulted in regional unemployment of 17%. People were struggling. The White Center Food Bank (WCFB) stepped up to help and became an unofficial part of the North Highline community. Over the decades, the WCFB has continued to be an important community member. Come hear the latest news from White Center Food Bank!

Knowledge Is Power
Learn, share and help make North Highline a better place.
June 6th – bring a neighbor

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Marijuana and more @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

May 9th, 2019 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, North Highline UAC, White Center news 6 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

A long-hot topic was discussed relatively calmly at this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, held May 2nd at NH Fire District HQ.

MARIJUANA: Jim Chan and Warren Clauss from the county came to talk about the new report (which you can see here or embedded below).

New sub-area planner Jay Hill was in the audience as were planner David Goodman and external-relations manager David Dow – a White Center resident – from the Department of Local Services. The staffer who put together the report now works for the county council, which Chan said declined the request for his attendance.

To date, the council hasn’t taken any action on the report, Chan said. The report said that no further zone areas need to be added for marijuana activity. But it acknowledged the inequitable distribution of marijuana businesses and recommended a cap. The subarea plan for West Hill recommends an even lower cap – two. Existing businesses would be grandfathered, though.

However, NHUAC president Liz Giba wondered, isn’t it unlikely that any of the existing stores – six in unincorpoated NH -are going to close? Clauss acknowledged, that’s true, their sales are all doing well. He thinks more favorable conditions elsewhere might ultimately pull them away. Chan said the Legislature likely didn’t expect that some communities would ban marijuana, and that has led to some of the inequitable distribution. But wouldn’t limiting sales in this area add to the marginalization of disadvantaged communities who had been disproportionately prosecuted pre-legalization? asked Aaron Garcia from the White Center Community Development Association. Good question, said Chan. Garcia also wondered about marijuana businesses seeking to expand the types of merchandise they offer. There are strict limits, he was told.

The report addressed a variety of types of data, but some of the sample sizes were too small to “make accurate conclusions,” Clauss noted.

As for where the tax dollars go, there is an inequity but it’s a state issue, the county reps noted – the county only gets back $2 million. That is split fairly evenly between public health and public safety. Giba wondered if some of the money could be funneled back to “keeping things clean” – the streets, for example.

The marijuana businesses aren’t any more of a crime magnet than other types of businesses, KCSO Deputy Bill Kennamer noted when the talk turned to that issue. The report looks at those stats, added Clauss.

Would grandfathering allow for example one family member to pass to another? Chan didn’t know, but another rep present didn’t think so.

So the bottom line is that to change things would require putting pressure on state legislators? Yes, was the reply. But in terms of the county, watch for announcements of sub-area-plan meetings.

Want to see the report? If you can’t download it, you can request it from asklocalservices@kingcounty.gov

SIDE NOTE: Before the county reps left, an attendee brought up a loud party along 17th SW last weekend. Deputy Kennamer said noise complaints are becoming more common and he’s still figuring out how to address it.

CRIME UPDATE: The deputy had his own spotlight shortly thereafter. In crime trends – burglaries are down, auto thefts are up. “We’re getting a lot of cars stolen that are then used in crimes of violence.” One-third of the 100 Part I crimes – auto thefts. All the violent crimes have been solved quickly.

Do we know why the burglar who was shot and killed by a White Center resident chose that house? Kennamer said, no, but it’s worth noting that there’s a “problem house” on the other side of the street. They’re still not 100 percent certain about whether someone else was involved; that’s pending blood analysis.

Regarding marijuana businesses, as discussed earlier in the meeting, “none are any worse” – Nimbin’s had a few drive-through burglaries, Star had a shooting, but otherwise he said they were no more of a draw for crime than liquor stores.

A few other notes: One of the recent gunfire incidents in downtown WC had 45 rounds fired.

Got a nuisance house? Work with code enforcement.

One attendee pointed out that the businesses on the west side of 17th near 98th had suffered burglaries and theft. It might not have been reported to KCSO yet; Deputy Kennamer was asked to stop by and check on them.

Asked about emphasis patrols, he mentioned WC and Burien are having ongoing Thursday-Friday-Saturday overtime-funded patrols along the 16th/Ambaum corridor.

Despite the trouble spots, WC is far better than it was, say, 20 years ago, Kennamer reiterated.

WATER DISTRICT MERGER: Water District 45 is merging into WD 20 as a result of the recent election, commissioner Russ Pritchard reminded everyone. This means lower bills for District 45’s former customers. Involved are 10,415 service connections and 1,500 hydrants serving about 45,000 residents, he said. The old District 45 HQ will be sold; an appraiser just came out. So it’s not vacant pre-sale, the Highline Bears baseball team is temporarily headquartered there.

14th/120th has a “secret” underground reservoir, holding about 8 million gallons, he also noted, and now it’s part of District 20, which is headquartered at 1st S. and 126th.

HIGHLINE BEARS: GM Justin Moser spoke to NHUAC, opening by recalling baseball’s heyday in the community, and saying they want to bring “entertainment and fun” to the community. Ticket prices are no higher than $8. Opening night is June 1st, 7 pm, and County Councilmember Joe McDermott will throw out the first pitch. The team has 27 home games and will even have a “Christmas in July” night in which the players will wear ugly sweaters and throw out a first snowball instead of a first pitch. Their players, who come from college baseball, will be giving back to local communities via street cleanups and other volunteer activities.

COALITION FOR DRUG-FREE YOUTH: Rudy Garza spoke about the event coming up tonight (May 9th) – here’s the official invitation. Speakers will include Burien Mayor Jimmy Matta and State Senator Joe Nguyen.

LIBRARY UPDATE: KCLS’s Angie Benedetti said, “There’s nothing I like better than opening a meeeting with good news.” That news – Boulevard Park Library is reopening May 18th, with a 9:30 am ribbon-cutting ceremony. She shared the branch’s history going back more than three quarters of a century, when it was one room with a little over 500 books. She said it retains its classic architectural charms but has new rooms and a piece of art by Barbara Earl Thomas, glass walls telling the story “The Secret Reader.” Benedetti also shared some recent anecdotes including a “Box Drive-In” a week ago in which 100 little kids made cars out of boxes and got to watch a movie. NHUAC president Giba recalled that there was a time when the community was in danger of losing the library.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Wendell Davis noted that the White Center Warriors wrestling team, which meets at Chief Sealth IHS, has a world champion – 17-year-old Dustin Camacho. ….On May 24th, New Start High School Key Club wll have a car wash at the school, and at a TBA date in June, the Evergreen High School Key Club will have one too, said Aaron Garcia … 6/15, an Art Walk will coincide with the first-ever White Center Pride event.

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets 7 pm first Thursdays most months at the NH Fire District HQ.

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THURSDAY: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council looks at marijuana, and more

April 29th, 2019 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on THURSDAY: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council looks at marijuana, and more

A new month is almost here and so is the announcement of what’s on the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council agenda this Thursday:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When: Thursday, May 2, 2019 at 7 pm
Where: North Highline Fire Station at 1243 SW 112th Street in White Center
(Parking and Entrance are in the Back of the Station)

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

Last month, Doug Baxter-Jenkins of CHI Franciscan/Highline Hospital shared important and disturbing information about the state of North Highline’s health. The data begs the question: Why?

This month’s NHUAC meeting will focus on where we’ve been and how we got here since the legalization of marijuana. In a 2013 neighborhood meeting, King County publicly presented its proposal to limit marijuana businesses in North Highline. However, that proposal never became reality. By July of 2016, there were 15 legal marijuana stores in unincorporated King County; 13 of them were in either North Highline or Skyway.

On July 25, 2016, the King County Council passed Ordinance 18326 which, according to King Council Members Joe McDermott and Larry Gossett, “would further concentrate retail marijuana stores in low-income and working-class neighborhoods and, more often than not, minority neighborhoods.” The King County Department of Permitting and Environmental Review (now Permitting) was tasked with preparing a report on the marijuana industry in unincorporated King County. After 2-1/2 years, the King County Marijuana Report is complete and filed with the council. To learn about and discuss the Marijuana Report, we will be joined by Jim Chan, Director of King County’s Permitting Division, Warren Clauss, Permitting’s expert on marijuana, and John Taylor, Director of King County’s Local Services Department. To read the King County Marijuana Report before our discussion, you can find it here.

Angelina Benedetti of the King County Library System, Commissioner Russ Pritchard of Water District 20, and our own Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer will also join us to share important happenings in North Highline. Then… the floor will be yours!

Knowledge is power.

Learn, share and help make North Highline a better place.

May 2, 2019 at 7 pm – Bring a Neighbor!

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From April’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting: What you need to know about local health

April 21st, 2019 Tracy Posted in Health, North Highline UAC, White Center news 2 Comments »

We weren’t able to cover this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting but NHUAC has shared with us, so we can share with you, a slide deck with some important but troubling information:

(You can also see it here in PDF.) You can read more about the CHNA process at the CHI Franciscan website.

P.S. NHUAC has a new website – same address – where there’s a link to video of part of April’s meeting. The next meeting will be first Thursday in May – May 2nd – 7 pm at North Highline Fire District HQ (1243 SW 112th).

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COMMUNITY: Healthy agenda for this week’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

March 31st, 2019 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 2 Comments »

Be there! Here’s what the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council will be hearing and talking about on Thursday:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When: Thursday, April 4, 2019 at 7 pm
Where: North Highline Fire Station at 1243 SW 112th Street in White Center
(Parking and Entrance are in the Back of the Station)

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

April’s meeting will focus on better health, both physical and emotional, in North Highline.

Health care professionals often tell us what we should be doing to live long, productive lives. The table will be turned at this month’s NHUAC meeting. Highline Medical Center wants to hear from us! Doug Baxter-Jenkins, CHI Franciscan’s Community Integration Program Manager, will present data from the latest Community Health Needs Assessment. We will have a chance to ask questions, provide comments, and suggest ideas for action to build a healthier community together. Be sure to take advantage of this opportunity to tell Highline Medical Center where it should focus its community health work over the next three years.

Seattle and King County are in crisis. The reasons include the trauma and effects of addiction, untreated mental health issues, and homelessness. The last month has been especially difficult in North Highline. Our first responders bear the heavy weight of dealing with the fallout. Lisa Daugaard and Kris Nyrop of the Public Defender Association will join NHUAC to discuss the LEAD® program, which King County plans to begin in North Highline. LEAD® stands for Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion. It will give KCSO a new option when dealing with low-level offenders. Officers will be able to direct low-level offenders to case-management and services such as drug treatment and housing – instead of prosecution and jail. Join us to learn more about how LEAD® may help make North Highline safer and healthier for everyone.

White Center Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer will provide an update on what has been keeping KCSO busy in North Highline over the last month.

Then… the floor will be yours!

Knowledge is power.

Learn, share and help make North Highline a better place.

April 4, 2019 at 7 pm – Bring a Neighbor!

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From open space to Local Services, and more, @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

March 8th, 2019 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 2 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Thursday night’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting was the first of the year, since January’s regular night was too close to the New Year’s holiday and February’s was snowed out.

Here are the highlights:

MORE PARKS AND GREENSPACE? Dave Kimmett from the King County Land Conservation Initiative returned for a followup on his November appearance, which was more generalized regarding the KCLCI. He was invited back to talk about White Center specifics. “I’m out there trying to buy new park lands” is how he explained his role. It’s a “fairly new and major initiative coming out of King County Executive Dow Constantine‘s office.” KCLCI has six focus areas, including “neighborhood green and open space.” He noted that half a million people living in King County don’t have “ready access” to parks/open spaces. So they’re looking at the areas – particularly urban communities like White Center and Skyway – that need more green space. Part of this relates to work that’s being done by the King County Open Space Equity Cabinet “of 21 community leaders.” (See the membership here.) They’re coming out with a report soon. In the meantime, as Kimmett’s short slide deck concluded: “Tonight is the first of many steps to engage residents (in the) community to help us create more greenspace in White Center.” He said the County Council has adopted new code to increase the amount of bond money that can be tapped into to buy land. “This is the first year we’re implementing all this.”

Asked by NHUAC president Liz Giba whether he had an idea how much land was under consideration for purchase in North Highline, Kimmett said no. “We don’t know – we have to spend time to identify where are the right places to invest money,” the “right opportunit(ies).”

The map he brought showed vacant – per the tax rolls – sites, though attendees quickly pointed out that many of the sites shown on the map were under development or had plans on file.

Kimmett said he hoped one of the next steps might be to assemble a group and/or have a separate standalone meeting to look at these sites and hear community suggestions. They could come up with a list of priorities for purchases, over time.

And then he revealed one might already be in the works: The revelation followed a site suggestion from Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer, who pointed out a parcel on 8th Ave. S. that’s a “problem-solving” site of his. Kimmett said he’d actually been contacted by the site’s owners about possibly selling it as potential park land – five forested acres – instead of planning a potential apartment building; they had heard about his presentation last fall.

Subsequent conversation included a suggestion that the county look at the multijurisdictional land along Myers Way. Kimmett also mentioned some land adjacent to King County Parks parcels that is attractive because “we always like to add to what we already have.”

Giba also asked about a site that’s already county-owned – at 8th SW/SW 108th, where the White Center Food Bank and the temporary Mary’s Place shelter are located. While there’s been longrunning talk about building a new complex including affordable housing at the site, Giba thought the site could incorporate open space and maybe a longer-term home for the facilities there now. Kimmett mentioned a 14-acre Skyway site that has been eyed for more than a decade but has site challenges (including a sizable wetland) and hasn’t found a developer, so it’s under consideration now as parkland (the site is known as Brooks Village), so he said he’d look into this site’s status. But, Kimmett cautioned, the initiative’s success isn’t just about buying up a lot of land – it has to be strategic and programmable.

No timeline for all this, yet.

LOCAL SERVICES DIRECTOR: John Taylor made his first appearance since taking over the new department that’s tasked with delivering services to the unincorporated areas.

He noted that it’s not really a “new department” so much as a reorganization – Transportation was broken up, for example, and Road Services is part of this new department since its responsibilities are entirely focused on unincorporated areas. Creating the department involved only one new hire – they’re adding an economic-development program manager for the unincorporated area.

The Permitting Division is also part of it – with improvements planned including “more staff time to respond to customers” and “streamlining requirements for already-built-construction permits” – as are Community Service Areas (of which North Highline is one) and Service Partnership Agreements.

“We’re also responsible for knitting together the stove pipes,” Taylor noted. He is hoping to help inform the unincorporated areas on what the other departments are achieving, to. Communication and outreach are a big part of it as well.

Along with the economic-development hire, the department is also interviewing for “two new subarea planners,” and that will facilitate North Highline planning next year as well as the Skyway-area planning that’s under way now.

Road Services funding is still low, Taylor said, as he showed a slide regarding the department’s snow and ice priorities, with 28 trucks with plows withs anders, 8 graders, 6 anti-ice trucks, 9 backhoes, 7 front loaders, 5 dump trucks, “to cover an area the size of Rhode Island.” They also can deploy County Parks and Solid Waste equipment and personnel – 10 dump trucks with trailers, a grader, backhoe, and over a dozen smaller construction trucks, with 10-15 personnel of those departments driving the trucks. “Leveraging assets from other departments” was something made possible by the reorganization that created Local Services. Taylor noted that the department moved “500 tons of salt in one night” to keep ahead of the February snows – almost half what it keeps on hand each year. He also showed slides detailing the massive response that the snowfall required.

He noted that on some non-priority routes that they couldn’t get to immediately, they had to use heavy construction equipment to dig out of snow. But overall, doing all they could do meant it was not the “huge disaster” it could have been. Ideally, though, he said, they could have used 60 trucks rather than 28 – so they’re going to look into outfitting trash trucks with plows for potential future use. They’re also going to look at plow mounts for other departments’ trucks “in case this happens again.” And “we’re going to look at a funding solution for the county’s road problem” – he says the roads are used by people and jurisdictions that don’t contribute any money toward them.

Asked what’s being done about poor road quality in White Center, Taylor said some sort of resurfacing is being planned – he says that County Executive Constantine basically said they’re not going to wait for annexation any more, they’re “going to get done what we need to get done.”

If you’re concerned about development and zoning, that’s a topic for the upcoming sub-area planning, Taylor said in response to a concern voiced by NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin. But, he warned, the tradeoff could be more delays for building permits, which is a problem even now – “we’re getting beat up” for six-week delays, he noted.

P.S. Taylor’s department is running an online survey right now – go to Sli.do and enter #localservices as your event code.

DEPUTY KENNAMER’S UPDATE: He began by saying, “We have been experiencing a push of homeless (people) into the area … since Seattle’s squeezing the balloon.” He said the Myers Way east-side area that was swept has stayed swept. The 509 cloverleaf areas – “huge” camps – were swept, with WSDOT help, and people who were there were offered shelter, but he got no takers, he said. “I don’t know how to fix that,” he lamented.

Otherwise – low-level crimes are “significantly down” in the area, but “our more-violent crimes are up.” Most of the recent high-profile crimes have been solved, he said.

Deputy Kennamer was asked about a transient drug user “behind the Pizza Time” and says he can’t arrest the person “because prosecutors won’t file .. the political climate has to change” for cases like that to be pursued.

He also said that while the area is densifying, particularly with redevelopment in the Greenbridge area, the number of deputies assigned to it has not. “Two cops are working … right now” in the area, he noted. “The guys tonight are running ragged.”

“That’s unacceptable,” said an attendee.

Kennamer said that citizen advocacy is the only way to change that. “Without pressure, it’s not going to change.” A discussion of the county-budget-cycle timing ensued.

(WCN photo from February 22nd)

Asked about the gunfire near 16th/98th two weeks ago, he said it was “between two groups.” Not a random situation? pressed the attendee. “The location might have been random,” said Kennamer.

One attendee asked about the recent 509 shootings and thought there should be more publicity about those.

ANNOUNCEMENTS: Dobkin brought up the Camp Second Chance situation – as we’ve reported on West Seattle Blog, the Highland Park Action Committee is opposing extending its stay on the Myers Way Parcels … The White Center Kiwanis‘s recent fundraising dinner was a success … A donation drive for hygiene kits for people living unsheltered is happening at Cascade Middle School … And then, an announcement that drew gasps of delight:

(WCN photo from June 2018)

HONK! Fest West is coming back to White Center on June 1st, closing 16th on a smaller footprint, Roxbury to 98th. The rep who announced that was invited to return to NHUAC in May with a briefing … A King County Parks rep said youth programs are on track to smash records, plus the White Center Repair Event is coming up this Saturday:

She also said that Steve Cox Memorial Park Fields 2 and 3 are expected to open within the next few weeks; Field 1 is lagging a bit, in need of post-snow turf repairs.

UPCOMING MEETINGS: A LEAD program rep and CHI Franciscan rep are expected to be next month’s guests; Taylor and Permitting reps are being invited for May. … NHUAC meets first Thursdays most months, 7 pm, at the North Highline Fire District‘s headquarters.

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THURSDAY: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s first meeting of 2019

March 2nd, 2019 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on THURSDAY: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s first meeting of 2019

The snow got in the way last month. This month’s a go. Just announced by the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, the plan for Thursday night’s meeting:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When: Thursday, March 7, 2019 at 7 pm
Where: North Highline Fire Station at 1243 SW 112th Street in White Center
(Parking and Entrance are in the Back of the Station)

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

It’s time to have a community meeting. The weather forecast seems to be typical for this time of year so we’re going to get back on schedule. The first NHUAC meeting of 2019 will give us the opportunity to learn how King County intends to increase its outreach to and improve life in North Highline.

Our ability to access parks and green spaces and the quality of our natural environment have strong effects on physical and mental health and the quality of our lives. As he promised in November, David Kimmett of King County Parks will join us to share current information about the Open Space Program and gather community input about the green spaces in North Highline that need protection before they are lost to development.

We will also be joined by John Taylor, the director of King County’s newest department, Local Services. The goal of Local Services is to “develop new and better ways to serve” the people of unincorporated King County. What motivated the change? What’s been done so far? Good decision-making requires good information. What data is Local Services using to assess the needs in North Highline and compare them with the rest of the county? What does the data show? Where can our North Highline community access the information? From garbage to round-abouts and building codes, these are only some of the questions and issues that come to mind. Bring yours to this important discussion about life in North Highline.

NHUAC is always happy to see White Center Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer, who will update us once again about police activity in our community.

Then … the floor will be yours!

Knowledge is power.

Learn, share and help make North Highline a better place.

March 7, 2019 at 7 pm – Bring a Neighbor!

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THURSDAY: February’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting canceled

February 5th, 2019 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on THURSDAY: February’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting canceled

Before we even got a chance to publish the agenda for February’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, it was canceled due to weather concerns expressed by previously scheduled guests – so scratch it off you calendar for Thursday, and pencil in the first Thursday of next month, March 7th.

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

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

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also speaking at Thursday night’s meeting:

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

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

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

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Senator-elect Joe Nguyen, Reps. Eileen Cody & Joe Fitzgibbon, Councilmember Joe McDermott @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council on Thursday

December 3rd, 2018 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on Senator-elect Joe Nguyen, Reps. Eileen Cody & Joe Fitzgibbon, Councilmember Joe McDermott @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council on Thursday

On Sunday, 34th District State Senator-elect Joe Nguyen was at White Center’s Diamond Hall for a post-election (full story here). Thursday night, he’ll be back in WC as one of four local elected officials invited to the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s December meeting. Here’s the announcement:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When: Thursday, December 6, 2018 at 7 pm
Where: North Highline Fire Station at 1243 SW 112th Street in White Center
(Parking and entrance are in the back of the station)

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

Please join NHUAC at our last meeting of 2018. We’ll be welcoming State Representatives Eileen Cody and Joe Fitzgibbon, King County Councilmember Joe McDermott and State Senator-elect Joe Nguyen. This is a rare opportunity to engage with those who make many of our laws and regulations. What is going on in our county and state governments? What is going right? What needs to change? What do our elected representatives plan to work on in 2019 and why? What do they need to know about us?

Another elected official, member of the White Center community, and a regular at NHUAC meetings, Commissioner Loretta Brittingham, will educate us about an upcoming February vote on the future of Water District #45.

Scott Davis, another NHUAC regular and strong community supporter, will share information about the White Center Kiwanis, its upcoming Baked Potato Dinner, and give us the opportunity to purchase their eagerly anticipated holiday nuts for $20 a tin.

Deputy Bill Kennamer will be on vacation, but KCSO hasn’t forgotten us! Major Bryan Howard will be there to answer our questions.

Do you have something on your mind? Join us and share at NHUAC’s last meeting until February 2019!

See you Thursday, December 6, 2018 at 7 pm

Because Knowledge and Community Are Power!

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Land, water, highway @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

November 8th, 2018 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on Land, water, highway @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

Toplines from November’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting:

LAND CONSERVATION INITIATIVE: Darren Greve and Dave Kimmett brought an update on King County’s Land Conservation Initiative.

The program has been in the works for about 2.5 years and this coming year their department will be working to define which areas can be considered for the longterm plan to find and acquire more land to use as parks, green spaces, and trails in King County. Priority will be given to low-income areas. Part of that plan will be to waive matching funds so that open spaces can be created in the lowest-income areas without having to clear a financial hurdle.

Part of what they’re trying to do will be included in extending the County parks levy. In the 2020s there might be an additional ballot measure strictly for acquiring property. Greve pointed out that the existing levy funding can only be used for upkeep and operation. An added ballot measure could be used to acquire land.

Q&A for them started with concerns about adequate community-wide input. Kimmett said he’s the boots-on-the-ground person and is willing to come back and talk to NHUAC about their immediate area. In the exchange, NHUAC president Liz Giba mentioned that she had suggested some land for such purposes and no one got back to her. The county reps apologized for that and Kimmett promised to return in February with a more detailed map and extended conversation about potential WC areas that could be considered.

HIGHWAY 99 TRANSITION: The Alaskan Way Viaduct‘s permanent closure is now just two months away – January 11th. WSDOT’s Laura Newborn gave a general presentation on the plan (see West Seattle Blog coverage of the original announcement, plus the recent update with details for a goodbye/hello celebration weekend February 2-3). If you want to join in the bike ride, fun run, and/or walk on The Viaduct, be sure to sign up for your choice(s) ASAP!

STORMWATER MANAGEMENT: The County Council’s still considering where this fee goes in the budget plan; Josh Baldi of the Water and Land Resources Division told NHUAC that the overall budget includes money to do visioning for the White Center area, which would mean identifying areas with runoff problems. Baldi said the money would go to unincorporated areas since the improvements that might have been needed earlier were put off until the various areas voted on annexation; the county realizes some investment is needed and will be back next year to identify areas.

CRIME: Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer said crimes overall are static or down. Car thefts made a huge drop in the past month. He speculated that a key arrest or two might account for that.

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets first Thursdays, 7 pm, at North Highline Fire District HQ, 1243 SW 112th.

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From the Viaduct to your taxes, topics to be tackled by the North Highland Unincorporated Area Council this Thursday

October 29th, 2018 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 1 Comment »

Got questions about the Viaduct-to-tunnel transition coming up early next year? That’s one of multiple hot topics that the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council will tackle Thursday night. The announcement:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When: Thursday, November 1, 2018 at 7 pm
Where: North Highline Fire Station at 1243 SW 112th Street in White Center
(Parking and Entrance are in the back of the Station)

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

Still trying to decide whether Joe Nguyen or Shannon Braddock should be our next 34th District State Senator? Last month’s NHUAC Candidate Forum gave us the opportunity to observe the candidates and hear their opinions on a variety of issues. You can watch the video here, thanks to White Center Now! The discussion ranged from cannabis to housing, concentrated neighborhood poverty and our reduced life expectancy.

*According to a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, turning vacant lots of trash and weeds into green spaces improves the mental health of residents struggling with urban poverty. Considering this new report, NHUAC is pleased to welcome Darren Greve and Dave Kimmett. They will update us on King County’s Land Conservation Initiative. The 30-year plan is designed to protect 65,000 acres of green spaces before they are lost to development.

*Go north much? $2.2 billion and 3 years later than expected, the Alaskan Way Viaduct will close forever on January 11th. Highway 99 will be closed between Spokane Street and Belltown, so it can be aligned with new SR 99 tunnel, before it opens in February. Laura Newborn and Ashley Selvey of the Washington State Department of Transportation will join us to answer questions, offer suggestions and share resources to make the transition as easy as possible.

*Stormwater management and your property taxes will also be on our agenda. John Taylor of King County Parks and Natural Resources will fill us in on what we can expect.

*Once again, Deputy Bill Kennamer will update us with news and statistics from KCSO.

Then … the floor will be yours!

Knowledge is power. Learn, share and help make our community a better place.

Thursday, November 1, 2018 at 7 pm

Bring a Friend!

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VIDEO: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council hosts 34th District State Senate candidates’ forum

October 7th, 2018 Tracy Posted in Election, North Highline UAC, White Center news 4 Comments »

(White Center Now/West Seattle Blog video)

Voting for the general election starts in less than 2 weeks. The most hotly contested race on local ballots is for 34th District State Senator, with Joe Nguyen and Shannon Braddock emerging from an 11-candidate primary. The latest major appearance by both was at this past Thursday night’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting; we recorded it on video and you can watch the unedited hour-and-a-half-long forum above. We’ve also noted key points in text below – not full transcriptions, just excerpted points, but perhaps of interest if you don’t have time to watch the video or go see one of their upcoming appearances (listed below):

INTRODUCTIONS: Each got 5 introductory minutes. Braddock was born in Texas but her family moved to Bellingham when she was a toddler and she was there through college; after living in some other places, she moved to West Seattle 19 years ago. She’s a mom of three, 11-year-old daughter, 14-year-old son, 19-year-old son.

In the context of mentioning the day her younger son came home talking about an active-shooter drill, she mentioned that she’s for Initiative 1639 and even if it doesn’t pass, she said she would sponsor bills to be sure “each part of it” move forward. She also recapped her work history for County Executive Dow Constantine and County Councilmember Joe McDermott.

Nguyen talked about growing up in White Center – born in what’s now Seola Gardens but was then Park Lake – the son of refugees from Vietnam. He said they struggled in those early years but the community gave to his family, including building a ramp for his dad after a crash left him a quadriplegic. His family lived in Burien for a while and now Nguyen lives in West Seattle, a dad of two kids, 1 and 3. He talked about his career in technology strategy and job-training resources.

First question: NHUAC president Liz Giba showed data about the public-health discrepancies in the area, and North Highline residents having a life expectancy as low as 76 years old, six years below the lowest life expectancy for someone in West Seattle and asked the candidates if they believed it was an accident.

Nguyen said no, it is reality, and he experienced it growing up. “Certain parts” of the area need more attention.

Braddock also said no, it’s not an accident, and talked about the county using an “equity lens” that she believes the state needs to use as well.

Nguyen said more community representation in the decisionmaking process is important, especially with regards to cultural competence.

Second question, from NHUAC vice president Barbara Dobkin, was about low-income housing and whether it’s OK that more is being built in North Highline because land is cheap.

Braddock said no but also spoke about the challenge of displacement and how her campaigning brought her to many doorsteps where people said they would have to move. She also said that affordable-housing needs should be considered community by community, rather than one size fits all.

Nguyen said that land’s value needs to be considered as more than a price, but also what that land means to the community. He also espoused a holistic look at affordable housing – are services available? And he mentioned the importance of tax reform as seniors and others deal with rising property taxes.

Dobkin followed up by asking their opinions about the siting of affordable housing. Nguyen said it should be “all over the place.” Braddock said she supports “inclusionary zoning” as well as the Block Project, which seeks to site tiny houses in people’s yards as a “community-inclusive way to provide housing for homeless” people.

Next question dealt with gang violence, and recent Burien murders related to it. Is it related to poverty and a lack of opportunities? Yes, said Braddock, and the community needs to work closely with young people to fix that. Giving youth the option to learn about trades can help. “We can’t let up – we start to do this work … and then we take our foot off the pedal and we think the problem is solved,” Braddock said. Nguyen mentioned recently being at a Burien City Council meeting and noted that more money was being invested in policing than in youths’ futures. “We need to make sure we’re putting the emphasis on prevention,” he said.

Then a frequent NHUAC discussion topic, the state-allowed concentration of marijuana stores in North Highline and the robberies that have happened at most of those stores. “Concentrating in one area is not appropriate,” Nguyen said. He suggested the problem was again a lack of representation and an absence of leaders “pushing back.” Braddock said that while marijuana is legal because of an initiative, it was “clumsily” implemented. Both agreed that the allocation of tax revenues needs to be revisited to focus on communities’ needs.

Next, homelessness and how to help unsheltered people. Braddock noted that the crisis “has been building for many, many years” and told an anecdote about someone sleeping in her carport a decade ago while visiting his mother at a nearby care center. She said she supports 24/7 shelters – “navigation center” type shelters – and looking at “more surplus lands” for affordable housing/shelters. She says WSDOT is exempt from surplus-land review and would like to see that change. She also mentioned funding generated by a state document-recording fee and “protecting” that; Nguyen noted that it’s not generating what it used to and said it should be brought back to its former level. He also suggested tax incentives/credits for property owners who need it to fix up their property – provided they keep a certain level of affordability for tenants.

If they were elected, what would they do the rest of the time (given that legislator is a part-time job)? Braddock said she couldn’t keep her current job as it’s too demanding so she’d have to get something else. Nguyen said he’d be able to keep his job because his employer Microsoft had a paid-time-off program that would cover his legislative time.

An attendee question next: Candidates talk about supporting small business but don’t follow through, so does either candidate have small-business experience and what would they do to support such businesses? Nguyen said his family had run a billiard hall in White Center at one point and he saw firsthand the taxes that small business have to deal with; he said he’d like to abolish B&O taxes for small- and medium-sized businesses. He also observed that other costs, including health care, can be onerous for small-business owners too. And he spoke of supporting a friend who was setting up a business and needed help with other important things such as setting up a website. Braddock said that her family had some small businesses including a restaurant that lasted about a year, and she saw “the energy and the work” that went into running businesses. She suggested that the 34th District could have for example a “small business advisory committee” surfacing issues to her.

Another attendee question involved the difficulty of families being able to afford participating in sports and other programs. Braddock voiced support for helping with that and ensuring that families know about grants that are available. Nguyen mentioned his past involvement as a youth served by the local Boys and Girls Club and said he agreed that more funding was needed for youth programs.

Next attendee question: The Public Works Trust Fund, loans from the state to local agencies for local projects, and concerns about those loans’ availability. Nguyen said he’s not familiar with it but promised that he would fight for local needs. Braddock talked about coalition-building to evangelize support for that sort of need.

And another: A relatively new North Highline resident talked about property-tax breaks for seniors and wanting the eligibility level to expand. Braddock said that was another example of why tax reform is so important. She also said greater awareness is needed for already-available tax breaks. Nguyen also said a more-equitable tax structure – including a capital-gains tax – is important.

Asked about campaign contributions, Braddock defended accepting $750 from Coca-Cola and said she is not supporting the anti-tax Initiative 1634 that soda companies are funding. She said she can’t afford to self-finance her campaign. Nguyen said he can’t either but doesn’t take “corporate PAC money.”

Another question was from an attendee who said that anecdotally she’s noticing more teenage pregnancy and wondered about public-health services’ availabilities. Both candidates agreed the situation should be examined.

Next person asked about rent control. Braddock said “traditional” rent control didn’t seem to have worked but she would support lifting the ban so that local governments could explore “opportunities for innovation” in keeping rents down. Nguyen said he’s “for rent control” and supports strengthening tenants’ rights.

An attendee asked about the Washington Hospitality Association and its opposition to the $15 minimum wage. Nguyen said he “took a meeting” with the organization but was not looking for their money or endorsement. Both said they support the $15 minimum wage.

Next: Their positions on North Highline annexation – when, who, how to get there? Nguyen said residents should decide ‘where they go and how that looks.’ He said he personally favors Seattle but acknowledges it could lead to faster gentrification and displacement. “My family still lives here and they’re going to have a hard time staying here if prices go up any (further).” Braddock also said it’s up to the community and the county needs to do the best it can with the services it provides. She also noted that Seattle is the only city potentially pursuing annexation right now.

Asked about veterans’ issues, both mentioned veterans in their families and said it’s vital to ensure veterans can get the care they need.

An attendee who said she had worked in sexual-violence prevention asked what the candidates would do in that area. Braddock mentioned her proposal for consent education becoming part of health education in schools. Nguyen said he agreed and also wanted to strengthen laws and procedures related to assaults.

WHAT’S NEXT: Upcoming forums announced for both candidates include:
-Tuesday (October 9), Admiral Neighborhood Association (6:30 pm, Sanctuary at Admiral, 42nd/Lander)
-October 17th, Delridge Neighborhoods District Council (7 pm, location TBA)
-October 18th, West Seattle Chamber of Commerce (6:30 pm, DAV Hall, 4857 Delridge Way SW)

VOTING: November 6th is Election Day – get your ballot into a drop box by 8 pm or get it to the US Postal Service (remember, stamps no longer needed!) in plenty of time to ensure it’s postmarked by that date.

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ELECTION 2018: 34th District State Senate candidates @ October meeting of North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

September 22nd, 2018 Tracy Posted in Election, North Highline UAC, Politics, White Center news Comments Off on ELECTION 2018: 34th District State Senate candidates @ October meeting of North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

As noted in WCN coverage of the September North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, next month, NHUAC plans a forum with 34th District State Senate candidates Joe Nguyen and Shannon Braddock. That’s now less than two weeks away – Thursday, October 4th – so they’re reminding you to be there! 7 pm Thursday, October 4th, at NH Fire District HQ (1243 SW 112th).

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King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht tells North Highline Unincorporated Area Council about her ‘intense’ start

September 10th, 2018 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht tells North Highline Unincorporated Area Council about her ‘intense’ start

(WCN photos by Patrick Sand)

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

It wasn’t Mitzi Johanknecht‘s first guest appearance before the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, but last Thursday was her first appearance as King County Sheriff.

She said the start of her term has moved fast and been “intense.” It began with training that hadn’t happened in a few years. Eighty “less-lethal shotguns” – “beanbag rounds” – were distributed in the first quarter. And they’ve bought more, “with the goal of having almost everyone who’s in a patrol car … to have that tool on board with them.” She put through a supplemental budget request at mid-year and got funding for a full-time recruiter, which she said the department hasn’t had in years.

A few weeks ago, she sent King County Executive Dow Constantine her proposed budget. He asked for millions in cuts; “I said no,” the sheriff declared. “We respect that (he wants us to) cut our budget, but we see some real needs in our communities.” They’ve asked for a Regional Gang Task Force, starting with a sergeant and two detectives from KCSO, “so we can get our arms around the gang problem … (which) extends across all the borders.” In the next week or so, she said, we’ll see the executive’s budget, and she expects to see that included.

Another accomplishment: A fulltime community liaison, who will be working fulltime on drafting a community engagement plan. “This is a person who isn’t a badge or gun toter …somebody who actually has experience” in community engagement. The job will be posted soon, she said.

They’re also proposing combining some KCSO units to create a Youth and Family Section. And they’ll be working to fight fraud and scams – protecting seniors, for example. Also, they’re asking for a new Training Detective – looking ahead to the potential passage of Initiative 940 (De-escalate Washington) – and Mental Illness and Drug Dependency funds to coordinate someone that will work on services such as crisis intervention.

What about marijuana-related money – is it helping? asked NHUAC vice president Barbara Dobkin. The sheriff replied that in order to get some added resources, she suggested putting that money toward helping people with addiction issues, among other things.

Will the area get more officers, given the increased density? The sheriff said she asked for 18 more officers – 6 more at each of the unincorporated-area precincts. She also noted that a staffing study is under way.

As for those on staff already – NHUAC board members told the sheriff that they get great service from the people currently assigned – Kennamer, Peter Truong, etc.

NHUAC president Liz Giba asked about notification when new marijuana businesses are proposed, like recently opened Mr. Buds. Major Howard said they aren’t asked for their opinion at the start, only at renewals.

In an ensuing random discussion, the sheriff noted that she has trouble getting to all her e-mail.

P.S. 9:30-11 am October 3rd at Brass Knuckle Bistro, several KCSO reps will be available for Q&A at “Coffee with a Cop.”

Before the sheriff’s arrival, two members of her local team presented their update:

CRIME UPDATE: Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer (above left) said that KCSO has changed its data-storage methods, so he didn’t have as much data as usual. But they had a lot more “Part 1” crimes than usual. Precinct 4 commander Major Bryan Howard joined Kennamer at the front of the room and explained that every department in the U.S. is converting to a better way to parse data – but comparing new stats with old ones under the old system is apples to oranges. He said crime is going to look higher because “the way we are counting it” has changed. The shift, Howard said, happened back on July 16th. They are writing reports in a new system, too. Everything is compliant with NIBRS (explained here). He does believe auto theft is trending slightly higher. Kennamer said some repeat offenders are back on the street. Major Howard noted that juvenile offenders are now booked only for the most serious things.

The precinct currently has 31 officers but at full staffing should have 42, Howard said. They’re recruiting but it’s tough. Full staffing would mean 3 officers at a time in White Center rather than 2, and would mean more proactive policing, “the kind of policing we want to do, the kind of policing our new sheriff wants us to do.”

Howard also talked about the Myers Way encampment zone and said that about six weeks ago, they looked into concerns that campers had spilled into the unincorporated area. Those concerns turned out to be unfounded, he said; a grand total of one person was found camping outside city limits.

Giba asked for a status update on the Burien murders. Major Howard said there were no updates that he could discuss.

Also at Thursday night’s NHUAC meeting:

PLANT AMNESTY: Former NHUAC board member Dominic Barrera is now the executive director of this organization founded by the late Cass Turnbull.

Since taking over Plant Amnesty, Barrera said, he’s worked to broaden the organization’s audience beyond its North Seattle-heavy focus. Toward that end, PA will be offering classes in White Center starting this fall – first one, 7 pm Wednesday, September 19th, at North Highline Fire District HQ. October 24th and November 14th will be the two following classes – the topics include pruning. Barrera said he’s been learning too – “my rose bushes are better than ever, my Japanese maple is better than ever …”

He also discussed the Seattle tree-ordinance controversy. He said one big concern is the removal of “exceptional trees” from the protections in the new proposal. He also noted that the ordinance has now been placed on a slower track and won’t likely be voted on until early next year. He said one thing advocates will do in the meantime is case studies. NHUAC vice president Barbara Dobkin noted that in this area, “it’s a free for all” and “legacy trees” are being cut down with impunity. Barrera said an attempt to craft a countywide tree ordinance failed years ago.

REDEVELOPMENT: In downtown White Center, the former Club Evolucion and former Fantasy Shop are owned by the same investor and both will be split into multiple business spaces, Deputy Kennamer said he had learned. He also noted the work that’s under way on the new Greenbridge development on the east end of the area, off 4th SW.

ANNOUNCEMENTS: Upcoming events include the White Center Food Bank gala at the Brockey Center on October 20th and the Southwest Youth and Family Services gala on October 27th. .. The White Center Eagles are having a First Responders Appreciation Dinner, 3-6 pm September 16th, free for any first responder …the White Center Art Walk is coming up, too.

UPCOMING MEETINGS: The October meeting will be a candidate forum with 34th District State Senate candidates Shannon Braddock and Joe Nguyen. In November, the King County Land Conservation Initiative is a planned topic, and they’re hoping for a state Liquor and Cannabis Board followup. In December, NHUAC is looking toward a legislative focus with State Reps. Joe Fitzgibbon and Eileen Cody, plus the State Senate seat winner. … NHUAC meets on first Thursdays most months, 7 pm at NHFD HQ (1243 SW 112th).

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King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht to visit North Highline Unincorporated Area Council this Thursday

September 3rd, 2018 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht to visit North Highline Unincorporated Area Council this Thursday

Labor Day’s here and it’s time to look ahead to a full fall for everything from schools to community groups. On the latter front, the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council would love to see you Thursday – here’s the preview:

(See the notice here in full-size PDF.)

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No North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting tonight, but …

July 5th, 2018 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on No North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting tonight, but …

From the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

Please note that the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council will not be holding meetings in July and August. Regular monthly meetings will resume on Thursday, Sept 6 @ 7 pm. Hope to see then.

In the meantime, stop by the NHUAC booth at Jubilee Days, Saturday, July 21st.

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council
Meetings: First Thursday of the month, 7 pm
Where: North Highline Fire Station
1243 SW 112th Street

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From babies to baseball and beyond @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

June 8th, 2018 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, WestSide Baby, White Center news 2 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council is now on summer semi-hiatus after another information-packed meeting at North Highline Fire District HQ in White Center:

NEW BOARD MEMBER: Wendell Davis, a local USPS worker and dad of 4, long active in the community including sports coaching, has joined the NHUAC board.

WESTSIDE BABY: This organization helping local families “to provide the essential items that every child needs to be safe, warm, and dry” has long been headquartered in White Center, but this was executive director Nancy Woodland‘s first appearance.

She stood beneath a photo long displayed in the fire station that happens to show her husband – a North Highline FD firefighter – and child. In 2017, WestSide Baby served more than 40,000 kids in western King County. She explained how WS Baby works, with two locations now – besides the WC HQ, there’s also a location opened earlier this year in South Lake Union, and drop-off sites for strollers, car seats, diapers, etc., all over the county. They partner with more than 110 social-service agencies. They don’t provide housing; they don’t provide money. “We are experts at just providing the material items” that families need as they get back on their feet again. She told the story of helping a single dad raising his baby who couldn’t afford items beyond a “bucket car seat” in which the child was spending all waking and sleeping hours. It’s not just about feeling good, Woodland said, there’s science and research behind why this matters – Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. “Something as small as a diaper can change the world.” Another analogy: It’s like helping somebody push a boulder uphill.

Ways you can help – Stuff the Bus month is July, the Bus Bash is July 22nd, during Jubilee Days (the WS Baby school bus will be in the parade again this year), and clients will be invited to WS Baby for the event for the first time – the community’s invited too. They run on volunteer power and tomorrow are moving their distribution area to get more room, because their distribution numbers have doubled in just the past year and a half. “Every single child deserves love, and deserves joy, and deserves to know that they matter,” she concluded.

MARY’S PLACE UPDATE: More than a year after Mary’s Place opened a shelter in the former King County Public Health building next to the White Center Food Bank, a rep came to talk about the property they’ve just bought in Burien. “This does not mean we’re leaving White Center,” said Liz McDaniel, to cheers. She explained they have changed their staffing structure so “one person will be in charge of one building.” Meantime, they hope to open the new Burien location – a former rehab center – the first week of August. They hope community volunteers will help them get the Burien site ready as they did before WC opened. It will have a capacity of 218 people – “about 60 families.” Among the work they are doing are painting bright colors and expanding the dining room – the building’s been vacant a year so it needs cleaning, refreshing, setting up the rooms. Their work days will likely be in late July. This will be their furthest-south location so they will be working with the Highline school district as well as likely some to the south. It will also be their fifth 24-hour facility. Asked how many families are exiting into housing, McDaniel said it averages one a week.

KING COUNTY LIBRARY SYSTEM: Angie Benedetti, who manages “the six libraries surrounding the airport,” came to talk about the imminent remodeling of the Boulevard Park branch –

KCLS has just announced that the branch will close for up to nine months starting June 24th. She said that just this past month, they have eked out a little money from the 1 Percent for Art program and the branch will get some original work by Barbara Earl Thomas. It’ll be incorporated into the meeting-room glass. (A few windows will be added to the branch in the remodel, by the way.) The contractor who is handling the job might get it done faster – KCLS has worked with them elsewhere and “had a really great experience,” she said. They aren’t yet planning to add any hours at other branches to make up for the closure. What will the library’s staff be doing during the closure? They’ll move to other branches temporarily – some to Burien, some to White Center, some to Tukwila. P.S. The branch’s beloved “donut table” will be staying, restored and refinished.

KING COUNTY COMMUNITY AND HOUSING DEVELOPMENT: Mark Ellerbrook spoke about affordable housing in the North Highline/WC area, distributing paper copies of a map with approximate locations of sites where he says it is available. NHUAC president Liz Giba said she had wanted a list of the properties and how many bedrooms their units had, to compare with an inventory she had taken a year or so ago. She is concerned about an overconcentration in this area. Ellerbrook said he believes the county Housing Authority owns about eight properties. Fair housing “is a really important question,” he acknowledged, saying they are talking with various neighborhoods about “what is the fair share” and what responsibilities communities have. Ellerbrook also said that more housing is ultimately the solution for getting people out of shelters, such as the families that Mary’s Place is helping in White Center and, soon, in Burien, as mentioned earlier in the meeting. “The way that they get people out of their shelter is that they have a place to move to.”

Giba also brought up the under-construction Southside complex in Top Hat, which she says she’s been told will potentially house up to 1,500 people.

Accused by one attendee of concentrating low-income residents with “slums” resulting, Ellerbrook said, “That’s certainly not our intention.” Another attendee asked if the county is campaigning for higher wages so that there are fewer low-income residents; Ellerbrook said that’s outside the housing bailiwick but the county does have multiple employment-related programs. A discussion of earnings and low-income housing qualification ensued, as well as a point often made in similar discussions – that publicly owned projects don’t result in property-tax revenue to support community infrastructure. “So what’s really happening is that our local taxpayers are supplementing and making up the difference,” Giba observed.

KING COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE: New Southwest Precinct commander Maj. Bryan Howard said he started his career in the precinct in 1991, and has moved around since then, but has always considered this “his home precinct. … I have returned to this precinct at every rank.”

He said they are focused on three things:

-Crimefighting, so everyone feels safe doing “whatever they want to do.”
-Community engagement. “If you don’t know at least one officer by name, then we’ve failed … we need to be out and about in the community.”
-Taking care of our officers – being sure they know they are appreciated and supported, among other things.

Maj. Howard also brought up an issue that’s often arisen at NHUAC meetings – what’s done with tax revenue from marijuana? He said they’re requesting that one full-time DUI-handling officer be funded with that money.

He was followed by storefront deputy Bill Kennamer, who handed out the latest crime stats – K-1 is White Center, K-11 is Seola and vicinity, K-7 is Boulevard Park and unincorporated South Park and vicinity – and while auto theft is up year to year in all three areas, it’s down from Kennamer’s last NHUAC briefing two months ago.

MARIJUANA SURVEY: NHUAC vice president Barbara Dobkin urged everyone to answer the online survey that was announced during the recent Unincorporated Area Town Hall – ” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>here’s the link.

EVENT ANNOUNCEMENTS: The White Center Food Bank‘s “block party” is coming up Saturday; the WC Community Development Association‘s Refresh (formerly Spring Clean) is coming up too … The Highline Bears‘ season has begun at Steve Cox Memorial Park, and president Russ Pritchard said tomorrow is Jelly Donut Day, which means the first 200 in attendance get a coupon for a free jelly donut at the concession stand … among other promotions, Bring Back the Sonics night (with former Sonics players expected to be on hand) … July 20th is ice-cream night, July 21st will be Food Truck night with eight food trucks due, and they even have a bobblehead night coming up. Here’s the promo schedule. The team has signed a five-year lease with the county. Tickets by the way are $8 adults, under 12 free.

NEXT MEETING: NHUAC won’t meet in July or August, but you’ll see them at Jubilee Days. So at this point, first-Thursday meetings will resume in September – watch northhighlineuac.org for updates.

P.S. Before adjourning, NHUAC board members also agreed to send a joint letter with the Highland Park Action Committee, expressing disappointment in the city of Seattle decision – announced earlier in the day – to give a one-year extension to Camp Second Chance to stay on the Myers Way Parcels. See it here.

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THURSDAY: What you’ll hear/talk about at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s June meeting

June 3rd, 2018 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on THURSDAY: What you’ll hear/talk about at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s June meeting

Just announced by the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council – what’s ahead for Thursday’s monthly meeting:

WestSide Baby has called White Center home for nearly two decades. Although it’s home base is here, WestSide Baby collects, inspects and distributes free diapers, clothing, cribs, and safety gear for children throughout western King County. Executive Director Nancy Woodland will make her first visit to tell us about keeping thousands of children safe, warm and dry!

Place Matters. If you participated in King County’s recent North Highline / White Center Town Hall, you heard many concerns about our neighborhood. If you missed it, here’s a link to WCN’s report.

Where we live determines much about how we live and die. In fact, our zip code can impact life expectancy more than our genetic code. The Fair Housing Act was passed a week after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Still, 50 years later, segregation and inequity continue. In 2015, King County acknowledged that “It is becoming more widely known that King County residents do not enjoy the same health, resources, and opportunities because of their race and where they live.” Valerie Kendall of King County Housing and Community Development will discuss local housing, a significant factor in determining how our community fits into King County’s vision of “a healthy and vibrant community where everyone has a stable home.”

Speaking of stable homes, Mary’s Place has found one! Liz McDaniel will update us on the White Center shelter as well as plans for its new home.

Angie Benedetti of King County Library will have the latest information on the Boulevard Park Library remodel.

Once again, Deputy Bill Kennamer and Captain Rick Bridges will update us about KCSO’s activity.

Then… the floor will be yours!

Knowledge is power. Learn, share, and help make our community a better place.
June 7, 2018 at 7 pm – Bring a Neighbor!

NHUAC meets at North Highline Fire District HQ (1243 SW 112th).

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