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
us02web.zoom.us/j/83024038714?pwd=NjNqZFA3allGQUpUZFlZajE1QzRJdz09

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 whitecenternow.com 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: CouncilCompPlan@kingcounty.gov. 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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Here’s what’s on the agenda when the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets this Thursday

October 30th, 2022 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on Here’s what’s on the agenda when the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets this Thursday

If you live, work, study, and/or play in White Center and/or vicinity, the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council is your community council. The next info-packed meeting is this Thursday – here’s the announcement:

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

Where? North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When? Thursday, November 3, 2022, at 7 pm

Join Zoom Meeting:
us02web.zoom.us/j/83376874452?pwd=Z3JEMUYxQXM3WFN0d1N1aGVtdGZCQT09

Meeting ID: 833 7687 4452
Passcode: NHUAC2022 (Case Sensitive)

Unable to join via Zoom? Please call 253-215-8782
Meeting ID: 833 7687 4452
Passcode: 742851493

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

“Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human-beings.” -Nelson Mandela

King County Department of Public Health recently released its updated City Health Profile Report. The report includes demographics, social and health indicators for 48 King County cities and communities. The report’s data confirms that the North Highline/White Center community struggles with poverty, segregation, and their ramifications. City health profiles – King County

What can be done to improve the health and opportunity in our neighborhood? The job of planning belongs to our King County government. Joe McDermott, our representative on the King County Council, will be joining NHUAC’s November 3rd meeting to update us on a variety of proposals and issues facing the North Highline/White Center community. They include the Proposed North Highline Subarea Plan, King County’s Proposed 2023-2024 Budget, and the White Center Microhousing Demonstration Project, which was approved by the King County Council over 2 years ago. How will these plans and projects improve life in our neighborhood?

We have also asked Jim Chan, King County’s Division Director for Permitting, to provide updates on the Microhousing Demonstration Project, the hookah lounge, and other buildings in the area and the effect of the upcoming budget on hiring in the Department of Permitting.

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

Knowledge is power.

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

November 3, 2022 at 7 pm – Invite Your Neighbors!

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Candidates, schools, and safety in the spotlight at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

October 14th, 2022 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 1 Comment »

By Jason Grotelueschen
Reporting for White Center Now

Neighbors heard from state legislature candidates and discussed a major school levy and local safety concerns at last week’s online meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council (NHUAC). The meeting was led by NHUAC president Liz Giba and vice president Barbara Dobkin.

First on the agenda was King County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Kennamer, who noted that it was a “busy summer” in White Center and the surrounding area. He said that most criminal statistics were down compared to last year, but that there has been a “lot of armed robberies, spread all over the place” (11, by his count) in recent months. Issues with “static campers” and tents have also generally improved, he said.  However, he also noted that some the statistics are likely down because some residents and business no longer call those in, because they know that currently “those crimes go unpunished.” Kennamer said that due to current restrictions, officers in Seattle and all of unincorporated King County aren’t allowed to directly book people for “quality of life” crimes (like trespassing, graffiti and shoplifting) and nonviolent misdemeanors. Officers in cities like Burien and Seatac can book into the SCORE (South Correctional Entity) jail in Des Moines, but Kennamer said that isn’t an option for him for the county jail until the governor’s emergency orders expire. For example, businesses “don’t call whenever something gets stolen,” he said, “I can write a case report and send it to the prosecutor’s office, but I can’t take that person to jail, which is frustrating.”

Kennamer added that despite the limitations, residents should always call 911 if they see something suspicious. Participants in the meeting brought up some recent examples in which individuals were suspicious and/or threatening in parks and public areas, and Kennamer stressed that even if dispatchers and officers aren’t always able to fully take action, it’s crucial for neighbors to call it in so there’s a record of it. He added that with regard to homeless activity in the area, there was recently a leadership change with the county’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program, and this program has been a useful tool. He said that with winter coming soon, it’s important to encourage to encourage homeless individuals to seek out and accept (which they sometimes don’t) options for housing. Kennamer also said that officers have made progress, with the community’s help, as it relates to “drug houses” and properties that have had issues with criminal activity, as well as problematic encampments, but it’s important for the community to keep calling in things that they see.

Next on the meeting agenda was an overview by Vicki Fisher, longtime principal with Highline Public Schools, about Proposition 1: Highline Public Schools Bond which is on the ballot next month. The bond would provide funds to rebuild three aging schools (Evergreen High School and Tyee High School by 2025, and Pacific Middle School by 2027) as well as supporting repairs at schools across the district. Passing the bond will require at least 60% approval from voters, Fisher said, and involves a $518 million price tag but will not increase the tax rate (due in large part to other expiring levies and bonds).

Fisher began by clarifying the difference between levies and bonds: “Levies are for learning (LL), and bonds are for buildings (BB),” she said, adding that levies are asking the community to support things for learning like books, tech, and specialized instruction, while bonds such as Proposition 1 are for capital projects such as replacing schools and providing repairs for buildings.

Fisher said that the three impacted high schools were built in the 1950s and 1960s and are generally very outdated (this was confirmed by several meeting attendees who shared anecdotes about friends and family attending the schools decades ago, and noted that repairs were needed even then). If the bond is approved, Fisher said, the projects will proceed quickly because they are “shovel ready” due architectural design work that was already completed thanks to funding that was approved in 2016. Fisher added that this work is important in order to provide a great high school experience across the entire district, bringing the three schools up to the same standards as the more recently improved Mt. Rainier and Highline schools.

In response to a question about where students at Evergreen would go during construction, Fisher said that because of the large size of the Evergreen campus, students can stay in the existing buildings while construction is completed elsewhere on the property, and then after they move into the new building in 2025, the existing buildings will be demolished and landscape work will be completed. Fisher encouraged voters to visit the Proposition 1 website for more information, and to vote on November 8.

The remainder of the meeting was a forum for State House candidates Leah Griffin and Emily Alvarado, who advanced in the August primary election for the 34th Legislative District “Position 1” seat which is open because State Rep. Eileen Cody is retiring (West Seattle Blog article here) after 27 years. (For “Position 2” in the 34th, Joe Fitzgibbon is the incumbent running for reelection against Andrew Pilloud, while Joe Nguyen is the State Senate incumbent for the 34th, running against John Potter.) The 34th covers all of West Seattle and Vashon Island, White Center, and west Burien.

Griffin and Alvarado (see WSB reports about their campaign announcements here and here) were given time in the meeting to make statements as well as answer questions from meeting attendees. Both candidates are Democrats, and reside in West Seattle area.

In her opening statement, Griffin described her professional background as a librarian and teacher of information literacy (currently at University Prep in northeast Seattle), and her focus on public service particularly in the past 8 years. From her March 2022 campaign announcement:

Griffin is a certificated school librarian who works on sexual assault policy reform at the state and federal levels. After being raped by a man in her neighborhood in 2014 and seeing how broken the system is for survivors, Griffin knew she had to do something to make things better for other survivors. In 2015, she was appointed to the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) Task Force in the Washington legislature with the aim of solving the myriad of problems survivors encounter navigating the justice system in Washington State.

As a representative of survivors, Griffin significantly contributed to the passage of HB1068, to test new rape kits, HB1109 to increase trauma informed interviewing techniques for police, HB2530 to track rape kits through the system, SB1539 to prevent child sexual assault, SB5649 to increase the statute of limitations for rape, and HB1109 to fund and test all untested rape kits in Washington, HB2318 to store unreported kits, and amend the legal definition of rape kits, and SB6158 to create model sexual assault protocols for hospitals.

She also helped write and lobby for the Survivors’ Access to Supportive Care Act with Senator Murray and Representative Jayapal to increase access to Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners in hospitals. Leah connects her work to her community by working with the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center, Legal Voice, RISE, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, and the Washington Library Association. She sits on the board of the Sexual Violence Law Center.

Griffin noted that she heard about Eileen Cody’s retirement the day after her bill was signed, and knew that she needed to take the next step.

In Alvarado’s opening statement, she touted her deep experience in the area of affordable housing, as a leader at the City of Seattle Office of Housing, and currently as a a vice president with the housing nonprofit Enterprise Community Partners.  From her April 2022 campaign announcement:

For more than a decade, I have worked collaboratively to create affordable housing throughout our region, championing policies and investments that foster inclusive, healthy communities and reduce homelessness. … Everyone deserves quality, affordable housing, education and health care, in a safe, thriving community.”

The announcement also describes Alvarado as “an attorney, coalition-builder and former community organizer” who “has fought for reproductive justice, equitable community development, and economic opportunity.”

Alvarado described herself as a tireless advocate for building stronger communities, while spending her “whole life in public service.” She emphasized her strong performance in the August primaries and her breadth of endorsements.

Liz Giba from NHUAC then asked the candidates how much interaction they had with North Highline prior to the campaign. Alvarado, who lives in West Seattle, said that the oldest of her two children plays Highline soccer, and she spends a lot of quality time in the parks and businesses in and around White Center. Griffin, who lives nearby in Highland Park, said that she walks to the “main strip” in White Center almost every day, and did her student teaching in 2008 at Highline High School and worked at Noble Barton for a time.

Giba then shared some data from the North Highline Health Reporting Area (HRA) showing some of the extreme economic and societal challenges that neighbors face. When ranked against other areas, North Highline was #1 or #2 as it relates to poverty, reliance on food stamps, lack of secondary/advanced education, firearm deaths, lack of insurance, and other factors. Giba asked the candidates for their thoughts on the data, and asked what they would do about it if elected. Griffin said that the statistics definitely underscore historical issues with race in the area, and that “acknowledging that is important, but now what do we do about it?” She recalled that when she taught at Highline, there were actually incentives in place to make the smallest number of photocopies for educational resources, and that she encountered issues with staff support as a librarian in the past (not an issue in her current school, which has lots of resources, but she said “every student in Washington deserves that.” Alvarado said that “the data is terrible and damning, but not surprising, because place-based poverty is all over.” She reiterated that this has been a huge area of focus in her career, and would continue to be so in Olympia. She talked about the necessary blend of having safe housing, economic opportunity access to child care and small-business assistance. She stressed that “this is not about the people here — they’ve just been denied opportunity.”

In response to these comments, Giba drilled a little deeper and said that she heard both candidates saying that we need better programs and more money in North Highline, but that this has been said for years, and she wonders if the problems are more about the local concentration of low-incoming housing. Alvarado agreed that when you have more low-income housing in your community then you’d obviously expect the statistics to reflect that, but that when she thinks about this in the context of surrounding areas and a country that has massive wealth disparity, it’s even more of a testament of deprivation of resources in a community that could be changed. Griffin said one of the things being discussed is the need for more housing, noting that we’re “250,000 units short” to meet housing needs in Washington state, which seems to make the case for increasing density, but it needs to be equitable density (not just in areas that already have the vast majority of low-income housing). Alvarado added that we need more housing choices in all communities,, and in places that have higher rates of poverty we need more strategies to grow generational wealth. She added that in North Highline, home ownership rates are much lower than the King County average, especially for Latinos, and that we need targeted strategies for pathways to owning houses and businesses.

Giba presented some additional data, regarding significant disparities in educational opportunities and outcomes for students in the area (particularly White Center Heights school) compared to other areas in King County. Giba said “even if you put money in neighborhood, if you still have kids struggling at home,” and she asked for the candidates’ input. Alvarado agreed that when you have a lot of students in poverty in a single school, it’s challenging, but noted that “if you give those kids the best teachers and resources then they can be high-quality learners having high-quality experiences.” Griffin said that she agreed with Alvarado that we can invest in schools in a way that gives students what they need, adding that we “have a paramount duty to fund education. Schools without nurses, social workers, librarians, paraprofessionals and testing — those aren’t fully-funded schools.” Griffin added “there’s a lot we can do to look at revenue and upside-down tax structure, and find resources to make sure every school in the state is fully-funded.” Alvarado noted that with regard to schools in which multiple languages are spoken, “that’s an asset, not a deficit, in our world and our economy.”

NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin noted that North Highline isn’t an area in which “redlining” was a problem; the issue was that people with less economic means “were pushed here, where Section 8 vouchers could be used.” Alvarado mentioned a few barriers to having affordable housing be more equitable across the county:  1) restrictions in family zoning, which are exclusionary,  2) we need more affordable housing resources, or there is scarcity, and we can’t reward  behavior of developers only building affordable house where it’s inexpensive to do so, and 3) displacement must be addressed, with regarding to rising rents. Griffin agreed, and with regard to rent prices, noted that when she purchased a home in Highland Park it was “one of the very last HUD houses; my mortgage here is less than many friends pay in rent” and we need to increase the stock of homes.  Griffin added that it’s important to make sure seniors aren’t displaced, and have a place to scale down.

Dobkin pressed the candidates on some of their comments, saying “I hate to sound jaded, but having lived in community for 20 years, we’ve heard the same things, yet schools have not progressed and things haven’t improved.” She said “millions in grants and money hasn’t helped, and it’s hard to hear same things over again,” and noted that King County representatives have even said in NHUAC meetings that “they build tax-exempt housing here because it’s cheaper.” Alvarado said she appreciated the comment, and said “these are deep, hard and somewhat intractable issues” and the pandemic has only made things harder. She asked what immediate policies the group thought could have an impact on quality of life. Giba said the county is in the process of adopting the North Highline Subarea Plan, which will increase density “even though our current infrastructure is really lacking, like stormwater, sidewalks and parks.”  Griffin said “I hear you, and areas of investment need to happen” and added that it’s crucial to improve aid to small businesses in White Center.  She mentioned last week’s announcement of the City of Seattle’s Storefront Repair Fund involving $2,000 grants to assist businesses with propery repairs (paid for by $2 million in federal funds), and noted that expanding similar programs to White Center is necessary. She mentioned the impact of the numerous fires at White Center businesses, saying “they still haven’t recovered, and I would support that funding to help.” Alvarez added that “North Highline deserves services for quality of life. Government can’t just be about big policies, it has to be about delivering services.”

Giba asked about the overall importance of public safety. Griffin noted that this is something she cares deeply about, as someone who was “personally impacted by a violent crime, but then encountered broken systems that didn’t work.” She said that she toured the Monroe correctional facility a couple of years ago, and encountered inmates laboring for 42 cents an hour, which “broke my heart and changed my mind about the justice system. Now we have a system based on punishment, but if we want to address the issues then we need it to be based on rehab and reform.” Alvardo said that she believes that everyone deserves to be safe in our communities, and we need to address and tackle issues of public safety. She added that “in King County, we don’t have a place to bring people who are in crisis, and we need a good strong real relationship with the police who are doing hard work out there.” She said there’s a need to rebuild the partnership and trust between the community and law enforcement.

In closing, Griffin thanked attendees for coming to the meeting, and said she is running for office “because I believe the stories of people in our community matter.” She added that “I love White Center, this is my home, and I’m grateful to talk to you about improving outcomes for all of us.” Alvarado thanked NHUAC for the opportunity to get together, and said she believes “that everyone should have a strong foundation in life, a strong community, and together we can do it.” She said it’s hard work and that she is “pragmatic but hopeful” in the goal of not leaving anyone behind.

As the meeting drew to a close, Darlene from the “log cabin” (the community center at Steve Cox Memorial Park) also shared some updates from King County Parks and the White Center Teen Program:

1. Our Recreation Aides put together a highlights video from the 2022 Summer Sack Lunch Program that ran out of both Thurnau Memorial Park and Steve Cox Memorial Park: https://youtu.be/N6e0AdPkMwU 

2. The Annual Outdoor Halloween Carnival is coming up on Saturday, October 29th from 2-5pm at Steve Cox Memorial Park.

The social-media page for the carnival is here.

NEXT MEETING: NHUAC usually meets on first Thursdays, so the next meeting would be November 3rd.

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State House candidates, school levy, more @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council this Thursday

October 3rd, 2022 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, Politics, White Center news 2 Comments »

The biggest local races on next month’s ballot will be the highlight of Thursday’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting. Here’s the announcement:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting
October 6, 7 pm – Via Zoom

NHUAC is pleased to be hosting a forum for the candidates for the 34th Legislative District, Leah Griffin and Emily Alvarado. This is a great opportunity to hear from the candidates and ask questions on issues that impact our lives in North Highline/White Center.

Additionally, we will be joined by Deputy Bill Kennamer who will provide information on crime trends and Vickie Fisher, who will provide information on the Highline School District Levy.

Join Zoom Meeting
us02web.zoom.us/j/89441720967?pwd=Z2NWdTJ2dzZMd2E5TnBSbVFQOFRvdz09

Meeting ID: 894 4172 0967
Passcode: NHUAC2022 (Case Sensitive)

Or by Phone: 253 215 8782
Meeting ID: 894 4172 0967

Passcode: 758440156

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council to resume meetings in October

August 29th, 2022 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on North Highline Unincorporated Area Council to resume meetings in October

Update from NHUAC:

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council wishes you a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

Please join us for our next monthly meeting on Thursday, October 6th at 7 pm.

Looking forward to seeing you in October!

Watch for specifics when that date gets closer.

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Newly confirmed King County Sheriff to talk with North Highline Unincorporated Area Council at June meeting

May 30th, 2022 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on Newly confirmed King County Sheriff to talk with North Highline Unincorporated Area Council at June meeting

(WCN photo, May 3rd)

Three weeks after she was in White Center being introduced as King County Executive Dow Constantine‘s choice for sheriff, Patti Cole-Tindall was confirmed by the County Council. And this Thursday, the sheriff will be the spotlight guest at the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council‘s June meeting. Here’s the announcement, with information about how to attend:

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

Where? North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting
When? Thursday, June 2, 2022, at 7 pm

Join Zoom Meeting:
us02web.zoom.us/j/89722266403?pwd=ty1fe6OL4ZpmKewKueNIof31QX7XJh.1

Meeting ID 897 2226 6403
Passcode (Case Sensitive): NHUAC2022

Unable to join via Zoom? Please call 253-215-8782
Meeting ID: 897 2226 6403
Passcode: 008064836

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

NHUAC’s June 2nd meeting will be the last before the summer break and it will be an important one. You will have the opportunity to hear from and talk to the leaders of our local first responders, the North Highline Fire District (NHFD) and the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO).

Chief Mike Marrs of NHFD has been participating in NHUAC’s meetings on King County’s proposed Subarea Plan for North Highline. Chief Marrs will join us to discuss the fire district’s perspective on the proposed plan, the upcoming 4th of July holiday and the new fireworks ban.

There’s a new sheriff in town! On May 24th. the King County Council unanimously confirmed Patti Cole-Tindall as King County’s Sheriff. Sheriff Cole-Tindall will make her first visit to NHUAC at the June 2nd meeting. She will be joined by Undersheriff Jesse Anderson, who you may remember as Major from his time as Commander of the Southwest Precinct in Burien and his visits to NHUAC. We welcome them both and, of course, Deputy Bill Kennamer!

Before NHUAC meets again, you can enjoy a tasty breakfast while helping the White Center Kiwanis support our young people! The White Center Kiwanis’ 12th Annual Pancake Breakfast will be held on July 16th from 8 am to 12 noon at the White Center Eagles. Tickets can be purchased from any White Center Kiwanis member, Bill Tracy (206-248-2441), or at the door.

You are invited to join the conversation because knowledge is power.

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

June 2, 2022 at 7 pm – Invite Your Neighbors!

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What you might not know about the cannabis business, and how it’s regulated, @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s May meeting

May 5th, 2022 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 2 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

The cannabis business and how it’s regulated comprised the spotlight topic at tonight’s May meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council. Here’s what happened:

STATE LIQUOR AND CANNABIS BOARD: Lt. EP Hackenberg handles this region. He noted that there are seven stores in the White Center/North Highline area.

He showed the income and taxes paid by just those seven stores – public information by terms of the measure that legalized cannabis – $5.5 million in taxes last year alone:

There were two processing facilities during the year – West Coast Premium Products and Kush Mountain Gardens – but Lt. Hackenberg wasn’t sure if they are still in operation. Their “tax footprint” is/was negligible, though.

One big task for his agency, compliance checks:

So far this year they’re at 86 percent compliance, but historically it’s been more like 95 percent. He also acknowledged the recent robberies targeting cannabis retailers – including ones that resulted in three deaths, one budtender, two robbers – and said they offer safety tips to shops. (That advice is available on the LCB website.) He clarified that his agency is not a primary law-enforcement agency so they don’t respond to or investigate crimes like these – local law enforcement does. Then he added that there’s one thing his agency has in common with local law enforcement – they’re hiring.

In Q&A, NHUAC’s Liz Giba wondered if safety measures would be codified/regulated, or just left up to stores. For one, they are required to have cameras, Lt. Hackenberg said, but he hasn’t seen any evidence that anything else will be required. “We want to give them options for how they can be safer in running their business.” NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin asked if he had any data on store holdups and other crimes in this area. He didn’t have a specific NH breakdown. And there have been different robbery groups/individuals – it’s not just one group responsible for all.

Next up was Officer Erick Thomas from the LCB. He was there to talk about the education/enforcement division. He showed the numbers for liquor and cannabis businesses – the former far outnumber the latter:

The White Center area is in the jurisdiction of one of the 15 statewide cannabis-enforcement officers – he is that one right now, responsible for 285 licensed locations – and one of the 48 retail-liquor enforcement officers, who has 127 licensed locations to keep tabs on. Discussion with him clarified that there are five operating marijuana stores, and one processor, in the White Center/Top Hat area. WALCB also has “compliance consultants,” two of whom work in King County. Here’s what officers like him do:

He said they check 7 locations a month, and location often helps determine the priority – a store not far from a school, for example, woudd be a high priority. If he gets a complaint about a business, he has 60 days to investigate. He also does “closing checks” during regularly scheduled night shifts each month. The division also spends many hours on education, “We put a large focus on education as part of enforcement.”

Want to file a complaint? You can do that online. You can do it anonymously but as an officer, he prefers to be able to talk with the complainant, to get more detail. If he knows who the complainant is, he can circle around and explain how the investigation turned out.

In Q/A, Officer Thomas was asked about the plans for a menthol-cigarette ban. He said he does not expect that to be a problem – they managed to handle the flavored-vape ban, and this is likely to be similar. Next question: Say you get a complaint about a bar serving minors. How do you investigate? That will often lead to a compliance check, or even surveillance, if he has information on a specific employee and a specific time of day. He investigated that kind of complaint in North Highline in 2020 and that generated a violation, which can result in a $500 fine or a multi-day license suspension. He said the business failed multiple compliance checks and could have lost their license; instead, they sold the business, and now there is a new licensee in the same location that has passed its checks.

What about hookah lounges? asked NHUAC’s Pat Price. The one that’s been the site of some issues in the area is on their radar, Officer Thomas said. They “continue to work” that spot, he said. He also noted the Taradise Café situation, in which “many agencies” were involved, the county found a violation that closed it, and all that unfolded before its proprietor’s untimely death; now the building is in different hands. He also was asked about the unlicensed cannabis stores in White Center in the past; WALCB was involved in that. Two different owners. two raids, the second one was King County-led, he said. They got a tobacco license, applied for a liquor license, but that didn’t work out when an investigation revealed ties to past ownership. Overall, Thomas said, they work rather stealthily – no uniforms, no marked cars, “you don’t see us around .. a lot of times customers, employees don’t even know we’re in there observing operations.”

Overall, “we want successful retail operations in our community,” Thomas underscored.

Do they get many complaints? They’re starting to ramp up, but less than a dozen so far this year. He added later in the meeting that he had just done compliance checks and six out of seven went well.

King County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Kennamer, a regular guest, couldn’t attend the meeting, but NHUAC did also hear from Marissa Jauregui, who coordinates the local Coalition for Drug-Free Youth. She talked about youth trends and said her organization works with Cascade Middle School and Evergreen High School, and has worked in the White Center area for a decade.

Seeing family and/or friends use substances influences young people’s choices, she noted. She also showed results of a survey showing that substance use is up among local youth in the past year:

Why are they using? Many reasons:

Understanding is vital when approaching conversations about this with youth. She also talked about the physical facts of dependence and addiction. Cannabis is becoming “more commonly used about youth people …. (because of) a misperception that you can’t become addicted.” Smoking, vaping, and dabbing are the most common ways youth use cannabis. It affects memory, learning, sports performance, even a risk of psychosis and schizophrenia with heavier use. Regarding alcohol, memory and learning are affected, and in this case, the younger you start drinking, the more likely you are to become dependent. And then there’s nicotine – something that youth start using without knowing much about it, and then they unwittingly become dependent. It’s often used in vaping – with a lot of other dangerous mystery chemicals.

She also mentioned fentanyl since there was a recent discovery of cannabis laced with it – you might ingest it unknowingly, but “the risk of overdose is strong.” It’s also showing up in pills.

When does the coalition meet? she was asked. There is a big event next Tuesday, online:

ANNOUNCEMENTS: Price noted that the White Center Library is open again and trying to rebuild attendance, and the White Center Library Guild is looking for new members (watch for more on that soon). The guild will have its sidewalk sale at the library July 15th and 17th. … Inbetween, on July 16th, the White Center Kiwanis will host its pancake breakfast at the WC Eagles HQ, 8 am-noon … Giba also reminded everyone that the King County Council continues working through the North Highline Subarea Plan (among other planning matters) and that she encourages attendance at the May 24th and June 28th meetings, online, 9:30 am.

NEXT NHUAC MEETING: 7 pm June 2nd, online, before summer hiatus.

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Cannabis in the spotlight at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s May meeting

April 30th, 2022 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 1 Comment »

Next chance to connect with your community council is this Thursday – here’s the announcement:

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

Where? North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When? Thursday, May 5, 2022, at 7 pm

Join Zoom Meeting

us02web.zoom.us/j/86184303928?pwd=VFNRSEtQVHhNMTVzTUZiWXFtYWo5QT09
Meeting ID 861 8430 3928
Passcode: NHUAC2022 (Case Sensitive)

Unable to join via Zoom? Please call 253-215-8782
Meeting ID: 861 8430 3928
Passcode: 538997120

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

White Center has a colorful history. “During the Prohibition years (1916-1933), the trade was bootleg liquor. Some members of local law enforcement were in on the smuggling.’ After Prohibition ended in 1933, bars and restaurants that serve alcohol became a significant part of White Center’s legal business community. White Center — Thumbnail History – HistoryLink.org

The legalization of alcohol put the newly formed Federal Bureau of Narcotics at risk. It needed something to prohibit. Cannabis was chosen for a number of reasons, including money. Companies such as DuPont and Ford feared competition from products that might be produced from hemp. Racism was another motivator. The ”name…’marihuana” painted cannabis as foreign and dangerously exotic, making it seem as though the criminalization of marijuana was necessary to keep the country safe.” The History of U.S. Marijuana Prohibition – CNBS

In 2012, Washington voters legalized the recreational use and sale of marijuana. Since legalization, cannabis shops have become a substantial part of the community. With them came tax dollars and concerns ranging from the effect of such an abundance of these businesses on our young people to the recent rise in robberies of cannabis shops.

In 2015, the Liquor Control Board became the Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB). So, what is the state of the liquor and cannabis businesses in our community and state? NHUAC will be joined by LCB’s Lieutenant E.P. Hackenberg and Officer Erick Thomas at our May 5th meeting. You may know Officer Thomas. His territory includes North Highline, and he participates in NHUAC and Coalition for Drug-Free Youth meetings. We’ve asked Lieutenant Hackenberg to talk about maintaining safety in cannabis stores and other industry-wide issues. We welcome them both and, of course, Deputy Bill Kennamer!

Knowledge is power.

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

May 5, 2022 at 7 pm – Invite Your Neighbors!

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s April meeting spotlights the Subarea Plan

April 13th, 2022 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 1 Comment »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

The plan intended to shape North Highline’s future is advancing through the branches of King County government, and it held centerstage at this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting.

NORTH HIGHLINE SUBAREA PLAN: The meeting began with an encore appearance by Jacqueline Reid, who is now the plan’s point person. King County Executive Dow Constantine‘s recommended version of the plan has gone to the King County Council.

The document was sent to the council at the end of March. It’s all part of an update to the county comprehensive plan, so it’s accompanying documents covering other areas of the county, and some code amendments. When you get to the list of documents (follow the links here), just look for the North Highline Community Service Area Subarea Plan link. It’s now in the County Council review phase, so that’s where to direct questions and concerns. Reid summarized all the comments they’d received and how they’d tried to reach people.

You can see the comments, she said, by going here: https://www.publicinput.com/northhighline Here’s a few toplines of what Reid said they heard:

Then she hit some toplines of the proposed plan itself, starting with zoning classifications:

That’s an “overview map,” she stressed. Color coding indicates where a change is proposed. Map Amendment 4 is what would make the zoning changes.

She said one block of parcels proposed for upzoning was removed because it wasn’t close to frequent transit after all, while they added some near White Center Library. Feedback, meantime, is keeping the south block on this view as industrial

A “pedestrian overlay” will ban marijuana production/processing among other rules:

In downtown White Center, zoning will be for up to 55′ height. They also will limit businesses to 5,000 square feet.

They’re implementing Inclusionary Housing, with a preference for people “with ties” to the area. Reid went through some policies spelled out by the Subarea Plan:

In Q&A, Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Kennamer wondered about the plan for increasing infrastructure and supports – public safety, schools, etc. – if all the potential density comes to fruition. Yes, they have to consider the plan’s “implications,” replied Reid. Then King County Councilmember Joe McDermott noted that just because something is rezoned doesn’t mean anyone is required to redevelopment.

NHUAC’s Liz Giba wondered about the “opportunity zone” designation and how that factors into rezoning. King Countys Hugo Garcia said it won’t overlap with the business district – it’s a federal designation and it hasn’t drawn much interest so far.

Giba also noted the poverty levels in the Highline Public Schools elementaries in the area; Reid said the county was committed to developing partnerships with agencies and departments. “We need to focus on opportunity for everyone,” Giba declared.

She then wondered what ever happened to White Center’s microhousing pilot project. McDermott said it was about streamlining the permit process, so they approved the idea of two projects. Two sites have been selected, one on Vashon and one in WC, he said, and the council has adopted legislation specifying those two projects, but he had no further details. (We’ll follow up.)

NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin noted that developers have “exploited” areas where lots were platted at 2,500 sf and said that she’d been told over the years that the “loopholes” would be addressed, but they never have. She wondered what loopholes would turn up in this rezoning. King County’s Jim Chan said the market is pricing itself to the point that density is naturally being maxed out. Developers will find a way “to squeeze every inch” of potential density out of property ‘because it pencils out for them,” he observed. The lack of infrastructure supporting that dense development was Dobkin’s major concern. A discussion of the Community Needs list ensued.

to a question about building safety, Chan said they’re hiring – more building inspectors, for example. They’re having a tough time finding people, but they do have openings to fill.

Dobkin brought it back around to: “You keep saying we’re an urban area, but we don’t have the amenities of an urban area” – no sidewalks, not even mandatory trash pickup.” McDermott said, “You’re right,” but noted that the “funding model” of living in an unincorporated area doesn’t support all the amenities and services. “The county’s funding doesn’t exist in the same way that a city has funding opportunities” – fewer ways to raise funds, for example. And that’s why it would benefit North Highline to annex to a neighboring city, he contended, “Yes, we’ve heard all that,” she said. “Annexation is not happening, and we don’t see that in our future.” McDermott suggested they lobby cities if they feel it would be “advantageous.”

WHAT’S NEXT: The Local Services and Land Use Committee will be having briefings and discussions later this month – some action may happen June 21st, and then the SEPA (environmental review process) will launch, continuing into fall.

NEW SHERIFF: McDermott was asked about the announcement of three finalists for King County Sheriff. It’s the King County Executive’s decision to choose the sheriff and send the nomination to the council, McDermott confirmed. He pointed out that the announcement mentioned two public forums – April 18th and 21st.

IN-PERSON MEETINGS? The North Highline Fire District HQ is undergoing some renovations and the meeting room is being used as temporary living quarters through fall, so there’s no venue until then.

DEPUTY KENNAMER: He mentioned traffic troubles (including the 8th/Roxbury crash earlier in the day). Crime stats – a significant increase in commercial burglaries (200 percent); residential burglaries (67%) – 9 and 10 in the past month, respectively. Car thefts more than doubled – six of the seven larcenies were catalytic-converter thefts. He mentioned the pot-shop robberies early last month, “probably the same people who are robbing all the pot shops.” There was a shooting on 14th on March 20th, and the carjacking from the Vintage complex in which teenagers were involved/arrested. Several gunfire incidents with no injuries, too.

NEXT MEETING: NHUAC meets at 7 pm first Thursdays, so the next meeting will be May 5th.

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Three local groups/projects get county grants

April 7th, 2022 Tracy Posted in King County, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on Three local groups/projects get county grants

King County just announced a list of more than $100,000 in grants for groups and projects in unincorporated areas via the Alan M. Painter Grant Program. The program is explained as follows:

Community groups in unincorporated King County competed for the grants, which range between $500 and $5,000 each. Applicants had to match at least one quarter of the total cost of their projects, and the projects had to be accessible to all unincorporated residents, regardless of race, income, or language.

Community Engagement Grants support projects that advance the King County Strategic Plan and achieve at least one of the following goals:

-Promote the engagement of unincorporated area residents in community or civic activities
-Educate local residents about issues that affect them
-Implement a community enhancement project
-Identify and gather community needs and priorities
-Meet King County’s equity and social justice goals of increasing fairness and opportunity for all people, particularly people of color and those with low incomes and/or limited English proficiency

Here’s the full list. The local recipients include the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council (which meets tonight), receiving $2,270; Southwest Little League is getting $4,000; and the Seola Riparian Repair project will receive $3,500.

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Subarea Plan back in the spotlight at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s April meeting Thursday

April 3rd, 2022 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on Subarea Plan back in the spotlight at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s April meeting Thursday

Another dive into the North Highline Subarea Plan is at the heart of this Thursday’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting agenda. Here’s the announcement:

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

Where? North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When? Thursday, April 7, 2022, at 7 pm

Join Zoom Meeting:

us02web.zoom.us/j/85898466765?pwd=ays3cm4xQ2xJYTdZa0JjNEdJNUVGZz09

Meeting ID: 858 9846 6765

Passcode: NHUAC2022 (Case Sensitive)

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

Meeting ID: 858 9846 6765

Passcode: 887033793

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

“Neighbor is not a geographic term. It is a moral concept.” – Rabbi Joachim Prinz

“Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human-beings.” -Nelson Mandela

Have you any idea how many kids it takes to turn off one light in the kitchen? Three. It takes one to say, “What light?” and two more to say, “I didn’t turn it on.” – Erma Bombeck

Some thoughts to ponder before NHUAC’s April 7th meeting where we’ll learn more about the county’s vision for our community, a/ka the North Highline Subarea Plan. We’ll be joined once again by Jacqueline Reid, of King County’s Department of Local Services (DLS). She will share the recommendations of Executive Dow Constantine. His proposal went to the King County Council last week for discussion. deliberation, finalization, and ultimately a vote. Councilman Joe McDermott, Fire Chief Mike Marrs and Deputy Bill Kennamer will also join the discussion.

According to a 2011 Opportunity Mapping Analysis, White Center is a “low opportunity neighborhood” with “some of the worst health outcomes in King County… ranking number one for diabetes-related deaths, infant mortality, and heart disease….” The report also cites “academic achievement and poverty challenges.” “School poverty has serious implications not just for students, but for districts, communities and the region.”

How will the Subarea Plan improve life in our neighborhood? In November of 2020, NHUAC was joined by David Goodman who shared some data the county had compiled from and about our community. David is gone, but his presentation is worth reviewing. whitecenternow.com/2020/11/10/newest-plan-for-subarea-plan-north-highline-unincorporated-area-councils-novem

Knowledge is power.

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

April 7, 2022 at 7 pm – Invite Your Neighbors!

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Early reaction to 16th SW plan, draft design standards, more @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s March meeting

March 8th, 2022 Tracy Posted in Neighborhoods, North Highline UAC, White Center news 6 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Two projects proposing White Center changes large and small were in the spotlight at the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council monthly meeting, held online last Thursday night.

16TH SW PLAN: Last month, NHUAC got a short presentation about this, and word of a survey. This month brought the full presentation, as the survey continues until March 18th.

To recap, the county plans to trim 16th SW between 100th and 107th to one vehicle-travel lane each way – the question is what that will look like, and how the rest of the road will be apportioned. “The goal is to reduce speeding and to make it safer for people to cross the street,” said Broch Bender from King County Road Services. That section of 16th, Bender said, saw 217 collisions between 2011 and 2020, 19 involving pedestrians.

It’s a $1.6 million project, with construction expected in summer/fall 2024.

After the county decides which option to build, other aspects will be discussed. Bender had details of the planned improvements at intersections:

The road currently has two travel lines each way, one center turn lane, and 34 on-street parking spaces in the project zone.

Option 1 would add a buffered bike lane on each side of the street, reduce vehicle travel lanes to one each way, and add 19 parking spaces.

Option 2 would have a parking lane on each side, would reduce vehicle travel lanes to one each way. 39 parking spaces would be added.

Here’s a comparison of components:

In Q&A/comments, one attendee worried about traffic diverting through neighborhoods, which they said has increased during the West Seattle Bridge closure – could roundabouts be added to discourage that? Bender said they’ve heard that suggestion from others. They’re still evaluating data to address traffic diversion, Bender replied.

Another attendee wondered why parking would be added, since there doesn’t seem to be a need for it; yet another was concerned about the bicycle lane placement between other lanes. Fire Chief Mike Marrs wondered about the impact on public safety, with the loss of lanes. Generally, the emergency vehicles use the center lane, was the reply. Will this connect to a bike lane on Ambaum, so it’s not just a few orphaned blocks? asked another attendee. It will connect to a new dedicated bus lane south of 107th, and, the county team said, and there are thoughts that bicyclists might be able to use that – they’re interested in comments on that. “The combined bus/bike lane is trash,” replied the attendee. “I don’t even know how that occurred to someone, to put the largest vehicle on the road in the same lane with bikes.” Bender stressed to everyone, including those commenting at this meeting, to please use the survey to ensure their comments are “documented – that’s how we’re going to go about this, what we hear from the community will make it into this design.”

Speaking of which, they had some early results (we published the survey link here and on partner site West Seattle Blog after last month’s NHUAC meeting) – here’s how they’ve distributed the survey:

So far, the bike-lane option is leading:

That includes with respondents who said they live nearby:

The King County team expects to return to NHUAC later this year with an update. Meantime, take the survey!

There’s a survey for the next topic, too:

NORTH HIGHLINE URBAN DESIGN STANDARDS: Jesse Reynolds led this presentation. He stressed that the design standards do not involve zoning:

“If zoning was a cake, this would be the icing on the cake” – how the building, street, landscaping look, “what your eye sees as you walk down the street.” They’re taking comments/ideas through March 28th (here’s the survey). Then June 30th they will send a proposal to the County Council. After an array of initial outreach, here’s what he said they’ve heard:

The standards, once developed, will apply to future development. One person thought there should be standards for marijuana businesses; Reynolds said the standards won’t affect the use of buildings, only how they look. (In side discussion, Deputy Bill Kennamer noted that there was an application for another shop in the old Rat City Records space on 16th, and it was being challenged.)

Back to the design standards – here’s how they’ll break down:

“We’re trying to set this up so you all have more stake in how development (plays out) in your community,” he said, explaining the public process in which this would result, and showing examples of what’s in the draft document, like these renderings of multifamily/commercial development:

Reynolds also noted a concept called GreenCenter, as a “checklist that requires (a certain percentage of) landscaping.” And he said there’ll be standards for new buildings so they fit in with the current neighborhood character. Safety concepts, too.

There would also be a Local Business Support Fund into which developers would pay in exchange for increased commercial density.

In Q&A, clarification was sought for how prospective developers would be expected to determine the context; that’s all spelled out, Reynolds said. NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin asked who’s on the committee that’s been working on this, as it’s the first this group has heard. This is the first “public meeting,” said Reynolds. The draft standards will be on the agenda for the upcoming North Highline Town Hall on March 22nd. Meantime, take the survey!

CRIME/SAFETY: Deputy Kennamer said the shooting at the 76 station (it wasn’t at the library, as some had reported) was one of the biggest issues of the past month – the 13-year-old victim and another man got involved in a gunfight. One of the guns has been recovered. There was a robbery on 16th. This past month saw a big increase in aggravated assaults, for reasons unknown. Larcenies are down; vehicle thefts are up – “all over the place, not just White Center and Burien,” he said. He thinks it’s because auto thieves “know that cops can’t stop them any more, they can just drive away.” Commercial burglaries are down – a prolific suspected burglar remains in jail. Here are the stats:

In discussions of traffic trouble, Kennamer noted, “As soon as the West Seattle Bridge gets fixed, 90 percent of our problems will be solved.” An attendee brought up an early-morning drive-by shooting at 18th/100th on February 5th and wondered what’s going on with the repeat shootings in the area. “Usually they’re early in the morning, and nobody saw anything,” so there’s no evidence to follow.

One attendee said they’re glad to hear about the King County catalytic-converter task force and wondered what steps to do to protect a vehicle. Deputy Kennamer said there’s aftermarket protection you can install, but it would be better if there were tougher laws about selling catalytic converters. Other topics included loud music in west White Center – the Liquor and Cannabis Board agent in attendance suggested it’s a rental venue that has had some really loud events.

ANNOUNCEMENTS: Darlene Sellers from the Teen Program said the fifth season of Log Cabin’s Got Talent is coming up, They’re accepting videos in all kinds of talent – Saturday, March 19th, is the deadline; March 25th is the show. They’ll have a touring arts-and-ice-cream truck stopping at several parks. … Jerry Pionk from Local Services reminded everyone about the aforementioned March 22nd North Highline Town Hall “one last time by Zoom” … Michael Morales introduced himself; he’s working on the displaced businesses from the big fires last year, to “help plan out what they want to do next,” navigate the permit process, find financing resources. “This block will be rebuilt,” he declared.

NEXT NHUAC MEETING: 7 pm first Thursday in April – that’s April 7th.

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Planning, development, road changes, more on the agenda for North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s March meeting

February 27th, 2022 Tracy Posted in King County, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on Planning, development, road changes, more on the agenda for North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s March meeting

What’s changing in our area and how can you have a say? Several big topics are on the agenda for the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council‘s March meeting, online this Thursday night. Here’s the announcement we just received:

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

Where? North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting
When? Thursday, March 3, 2022, at 7 pm

Join Zoom Meeting:
us02web.zoom.us/j/4554402206?pwd=VTBjU2huaXZ0YkNSMmQ3V1BMckFCUT09

Meeting ID: 455 440 2206
Passcode (case sensitive): NHUAC2022

Unable to join via Zoom?
Please Call: 253-215-8782
Meeting ID: 455 440 2206
Passcode: 590112761

Thanks to all who participated in NHUAC’s February meeting! The discussion about the Subarea Plan for North Highline was an intense and important one and it is not over. Jacqueline Reid of King County’s Department of Local Services (DLS) will join us again in April to discuss the recommendations Executive Dow Constantine makes to the Subarea Plan. His proposal is expected to go to the King County Council by March 31st for deliberation. We are hoping Councilmember Joe McDermott will also be able to join us. Mark your calendar for April 7th!

The Subarea Plan is not the only tool DLS is working on to enable increased density in North Highline/White Center. Jesse Reynolds will be joining NHUAC this coming Thursday (March 3rd) to discuss the North Highline Urban Design Standards project. Jesse is manager of the project, which is charged with creating an urban design framework for new commercial, multi-family, and mixed-use developments. The proposed standards include formalized public input in the development review process. Thursday’s meeting will give you an opportunity to weigh in on what is being proposed for that process as well as the county’s ideas for designing a safe and welcoming neighborhood with a distinctive identity. Please join us to learn about the proposed design standards, share your opinions, and welcome Jesse who recently moved to Arbor Heights.

Another big change we heard just a little about at the February meeting was King County’s 16th Ave SW Pedestrian Safety and Traffic Calming Project in White Center, which aims to add safer street crossings at all intersections, streamline travel lanes, increase on-street parking, and possibly add bike lanes. Broch Bender, Road Services’ communications manager, will join us for a more in-depth presentation and to listen to ideas and comments from community members.

Last, but certainly not least, come learn what has been happening in our community our from Community Deputy Bill Kennamer!

Knowledge is power.

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

March 3, 2022 at 7 pm – Invite Your Neighbors!

Here’s our coverage of February’s NHUAC meeting, which includes a link to the still-open survey about the 16th SW plan.

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Big changes proposed for part of 16th SW in White Center, upzoning, fireworks ban, more @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s first 2022 meeting

February 4th, 2022 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 5 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

The biggest news from Thursday night’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting was also the shortest item on the agenda. That’s how the night began:

16TH SW RECHANNELIZATION PROJECT: Months after a hint that something was in the works for 16th SW, the proposal has been unveiled. Broch Bender from King County led off the meeting simply to say that 16th SW is being proposed for rechannelization between 100th and 107th, and a postcard is going out soon to residents and businesses within half a mile of the project zone. This stretch has seen more than 20 pedestrians hit – at least two killed – in the past decade.

As shown on the flyer, they’re asking you for opinions on two options – with or without bike lanes. In both options, general traffic lanes will be reduced from two each way to one each way, and parking will be added on at least one side of the road. Here they are in cross-section view.

You can tell King County what you think via this survey. The project website has even more details – including, at the bottom, the project budget (about $1 million) and a construction timeline – 2024.

Also at the NHUAC meeting:

ENVIRONMENT: Nicole Sanders had three environmental/sustainability topics to discuss – rebates proposed for electric-vehicle charging installed in affordable housing, for starters. She said some have contended it’s not needed but within a few years, EV pricing is expected to match gas, among other reasons. There’s no funding currently set aside for these possible rebates but that could change.

Second, greenhouse-gas mitigation – whether this should be required. State legislation might pre-empt local action, so they’re advising county council not to pursue any specific local legislation right now.

Third, research on whether “new fossil-fuel facilities” have enough financial coverage – insurance, etc. to cover possible impacts including pollution and disaster. Three types of facilities can be built in unincorporated King County.

Sanders reviewed where these types of facilities can go and what requirements there are. She showed where there’s industrial land in North Highline that could allow these types of facilities, but also said the likelihood of any getting proposed/built seems low. Then she showed the risks and possible reasons for financial-coverage needs. Here’s the timeline for possible legislation – look for a public-comment period to start at the end of March.

If you have a question:

No, this isn’t coming forth in anticipation of any of these types of proposals – but they just want to be ready, the county reps said, in case one does emerge someday.

NORTH HIGHLINE SUBAREA PLAN: Jacqueline Reid returned to NHUAC with an update. They’re currently going through all the public comments received last fall, with a revised draft policy due at the end of March. These are some of the topics that have come up:

Planned upzoning is in the yellowed areas on this unofficial map:

Reid showed where residential zoning currently allows 6 dwellings per acre and would be upzoned to 12 per acre

Height limits would stay the same – 35 feet. This upzoning could add eventually more than 1,000 units. There’s also a proposal to increase some areas even further – up to 18 or 24 units per acre:

R-24 would have a 60-foot height limit. Questions were asked about some neighborhoods that are now zoned R-6 suddenly leaping to R-24 – “is there a discussion about stepping” to cover the transition? “This seems like a huge upzone … with no transition.” Concerns also were raised about a lack of services and infrastructure in some of the areas proposed for upzoning. One attendee was concerned that North Highline is targeted for more than its share of growth; Reid said that was not the case.

Ultimately, it was pointed out that the state sets the numbers that local areas are expected to absorb, and that means their comprehensive plans have to show how they will do that. Not planning for growth is not an option. Funding could be withheld, for one.

FIREWORKS BAN: Local Services director John Taylor was there to talk about the new fireworks law. It kicks in this year. Public displays are still allowed with permits.

They’re considering alternative non-police methods of enforcement for the second year and beyond (the first year is warnings only). That would include having people report fireworks violators, with citations to be sent to them via Code Enforcement, rather than sending an enforcer out.

Questions included, how could you cite someone by mail if they’re illegally shooting off fireworks someplace besides their home? Discussion included plans for education to make sure everyone knows fireworks are now illegal.

EX-TARADISE CAFE: NHUAC’s Liz Giba said there are concerns work is being done there without permits. Taylor said he’d look into it. A state Liquor and Cannabis Board rep said the new owner has received conditional liquor-license approval and apparently hopes to open within a few months. (We reported on the new owner two months ago.)

UNINCORPORATED AREA TOWN HALL: This year it’s going to focus on the Community Needs List, Taylor said – reviewing what they’ve heard and prioritizing it, so that the needs can be used in priorities for the next budget biennium.

CRIME UPDATES; From Deputy Bill Kennamer – gun crimes have more than doubled, and deputies are disappointed that when they do arrest people, “they’re out of jail very quickly.” He mentioned this week’s proposal that even fewer suspects be allowed to be booked. The County Executive’s Office has provided funding for 33 hours of overtime each week – almost a full deputy, as he put it – to crack down on crime in the core.

Asked if crime is getting more violent, Deputy Kennamer said absolutely, and ticked through various incidents including a brazen robbery in which someone was pistol-whipped.

OTHER UPDATES/ANNOUNCEMENTS: The LCB rep said an unidentified convenience store in White Center was caught selling alcohol to minors four times and lost its license; it’s since ben sold to a new owner who’ll been making a fresh start.

Darlene Sellers from King County Parks said teens have a new job launch program coming – they voted to have cosmetology and salon professionals present, next Thursday. (We’ll have a separate announcement on that tomorrow.)

NEXT NHUAC MEETING: 7 pm March 3, online.

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s first 2022 meeting this Thursday

January 30th, 2022 Tracy Posted in King County, North Highline UAC, White Center news 1 Comment »

Here’s the announcement of NHUAC‘s first 2022 meeting:

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

Where? North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting
When? Thursday, February 3, 2022 at 7 pm

Online: us02web.zoom.us/j/89442816603?pwd=Rzc5NjdhUmhjNDNpSnY0REVSWlBWZz09
Meeting ID: 894 4281 6603
Passcode: NHUAC2022 (case sensitive)

By phone: 253-215-8782
Meeting ID: 894 4281 6603
Passcode: 973460559

You are invited to NHUAC’s first meeting of 2022 on Thursday, February 3rd at 7 pm. The new year offers new opportunities to establish an equitable, healthy North Highline. King County has been busy. What we do today will determine North Highline’s health far into the future.

For instance, we impact our physical environment in many ways such as pollution, burning fossil fuels, and deforestation. Changes like these have triggered climate change, soil erosion, and poor air quality. As a planner with King County’s Green Building Department, Nicole Sanders has worked on the county’s energy codes and has news to share about electric vehicle parking and research on greenhouse gases and fossil fuel facilities.

Unfortunately, the maps of zoning amendments in the county’s proposed Subarea Plan did not identify most streets. Jacqueline Reid of King County Permitting will be back to help us understand what the plan means. Understanding what the county is planning for us is essential. King County’s Subarea Plan will be a road map to life in North Highline from public health to economic and ethnic justice to segregation and discrimination to displacement, fair housing and opportunity to schools, parks and open spaces to density and permitting to roads and infrastructure, police, and public safety to fireworks and cannabis shops.

Speaking of fireworks, it’s been a long time coming but fireworks are now illegal in North Highline and the rest of unincorporated King County. We will be updated on that and other issues by John Taylor, Director of the Department of Local Services, Fire Chief Mike Marrs, and, of course, our Community Deputy Bill Kennamer.

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

February 3, 2022 at 7 pm – Invite a Neighbor!

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REMINDER: No North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting this month

January 4th, 2022 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 1 Comment »

Just in case you lost track: The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council isn’t meeting this month, so its next meeting is expected to be on February 3rd. Watch nhuac.org (and here, of course) for the announcement. P.S. Here’s our coverage of NHUAC’s year-end meeting.

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Looking ahead @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s last 2021 meeting

December 9th, 2021 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news 5 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council‘s December meeting coincided with a sad anniversary – 15 years since the murder of King County Sheriff’s Deputy Steve Cox, who was also NHUAC president at the time. NHUAC’s Liz Giba dedicated the meeting to Deputy Cox: “Please keep him and his family in your thoughts.”

Here’s what else happened:

DISCUSSION WITH ELECTED OFFICIALS: Three people who have long represented North Highline in local and state government (though all three live in West Seattle) were the first guests. County Councilmember Joe McDermott was first of the guests to describe what he’s working on, including economic help for White Center in the wake of the recent fires. The anti-displacement report` and Subarea Plan are coming to the council soon, too.

State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon – who noted that he lives in Highland Park, close to WC – has been working on issues including fireworks. He’s been trying to repeal the state law that requires a waiting period before a fireworks ban takes effect (though it’s too late to make a difference for the unincorporated King County ban). The capital budget passed last session includes money for the relocation of the White Center Food Bank as well as for the operation of the Evergreen Aquatic Center.

State Rep. Eileen Cody continues her focus on health care and said a big issue right now is keeping people working in the health-care industry. “Health care always has a million things but that’s the big one right now.” Giba asked her about the training situation. Cody said there are now “simulation labs … like computerized dummies” but RN programs haven’t used them as much as LPN, so she’s working to expand training/education capacity.

Asked about the Growth Management Act and how it factors into White Center’s future, Rep. Fitzgibbon explained that it stipulates various elements that need to go into future planning. But “the state doesn’t approve or disapprove a local land-use plan” like the ones King County is working on, It was created as “more of a bottom-up system.” He explained that the accountability comes from the ability for citizens to be able to file appeals.

A discussion ensued on how and when to comment on the plans. Do it now, urged McDermott.

Jacqueline Reid, who is now handling the Subarea Plan for the county, provided some information about how to access a “reader’s guide” and other components.

Also discussed: Regional growth and densification – more of it has happened north of Roxbury than south, Fitzgibbon and Cody noted. Giba stressed concerns about an unequal number of low-income units planned in White Center rather than mixed-income “vibrant and diverse communities.” NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin added that low-income units are “needed everywhere” but disproportionately built in White Center because it’s “easy to build.” Fitzgibbon said a law passed in the Legislature this past year might help with that, requiring communities to plan for housing “at all income levels.” He added, “I think that’s relevant to a concern we’ve heard from this community for a long time.” Plans incorporating this will have to be adopted by 2024, he said.

In closing, McDermott reminded everyone that the comment period on the North Highline Subarea Plan continues until December 19th – he said that Chapter 4 in particular addresses housing and human services. Cody said North Highline “needs to figure out where it’s going to annex to … I don’t think it can last much longer” without that. Giba noted that Seattle has never put an annexation vote forward. Fitzgibbon simply said thanks to the community advocates in the (virtual) room.

Another big topic:

WHITE CENTER POND/BOG: It’s being redesigned, according to a team from King County stormwater services.

It’s historically a wetland but is used as a stormwater facility.

There’s access for public use but it’s not used a lot. It has a variety of issues they hope to address:

They hope to enlarge the ponds for more holding capacity, and to have them hold water year-round. The southernmost pond by Steve Cox Memorial Park was redesigned recently and is seen as successful. She said they’ll try to preserve the large trees in and around the pond while they’re digging. They hope to expand the “Cell 2” pond area to put water in a somewhat hidden area that is currently known for unsavory activities.

They’re looking for feedback on redeveloping the ponds so they can increase recreation opportunities and greenspace access in the area. They hope to have a preliminary design by summer, maybe to show off at Jubilee Days, with construction not until the summer of 2024. So currently they want to hear ideas for the site.

They are also looking for more people/organizations to talk to abut this. A Greenbridge resident spoke up and expressed interest in connecting his neighbors with the county team. Another local resident spoke about environmental concerns and the pond’s importance to migratory birds.

KING COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE: Deputy Bill Kennamer had some “very good news – our burglary numbers are down significantly, because we finally caught our prolific burglar” – someone arrested during a burglary in Burien. We have since reported separately on the suspect, Nicholas Pierce, charged in four burglaries. Meantime, Deputy Kennamer said, Vehicle thefts/recoveries are “way up” – most of the recoveries are close to the Beverly Park house mentioned earlier. The owner has been working hard to evict the troublemakers but this may be about to break. The category of crime including car prowls is up. Aggravated assaults are down. “Simple assaults” are up. The 16th/107th parcel is under development as a combination apartment complex and storage facility, he added. Asked by Dobkin about emphasis patrols, Kennamer said those are happening “primarily in the downtown business corridor” but also stretching as far west as Roxbury Lanes.

Various topics were then discussed, including the status of vandalized business. Dobkin wondered about all the graffiti on the former Northmart on 16th. There’s no county law requiring the cleanup of graffiti on private property, Kennamer noted. He also noted that the former Taradise Café is being remodeled to be what he was told will be “another restaurant.” The LCB officer in attendance said he hasn’t been notified of any new application for the building. The day after the meeting, one was filed, and we talked with the proprietor for this report.

A few quick mentions:

PARKS SAFETY: They’re having listening sessions with community members regarding safety in parks, especially people who live near the newly acquired Glendale Forest.

WHITE CENTER KIWANIS: Mark your calendar for the January 20th baked potato and taco fundraiser for New Start High School.

NEXT MEETING: NHUAC is skipping January, so the next meeting will be Thursday, February 3rd.

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‘Our Community: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow’ at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting Thursday

November 28th, 2021 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on ‘Our Community: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow’ at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting Thursday

First Thursdays usually bring the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council‘s monthly meeting, and tonight we know what NHUAC is planning for December 2nd:

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

Where? North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting
When? Thursday, December 2, 2021 at 7 pm
Join Via Zoom:
us02web.zoom.us/j/86882502547?pwd=T1oya2VTVUFsV2FHY0VFWlB0OFcxZz09
Meeting ID: 868 8250 2547
Passcode: NHUAC2021 (case sensitive)

Or Call: 253-215-8782
Meeting ID: 868 8250 2547
Passcode: 361212590

Please join NHUAC’s last meeting of 2021 on Thursday, December 2nd at 7 pm. 2020 has been a tough year for the North Highline / White Center community. As painful as it has been, trauma is not new to our community. This meeting marks 15 years since Deputy Steve Cox was killed in the line of duty. The next day, the Seattle Times headline read:

Slain deputy had become White Center’s “Superman”

It was not an exaggeration. Deputy Cox grew up playing ball in the park which now bears his name and a memorial in his honor. He learned that knowledge and education are power, so he got a good education, became an attorney, and worked as a prosecutor in Eastern Washington. That didn’t last too long.

Deputy Cox came back to White Center because he wanted to make it a better place for everyone. He joined the Sheriff’s Office and became White Center’s Store Front Deputy. Steve cared about our White Center community and believed in all of us. “Don’t Quit” was his favorite poem. It sums up the way Deputy Cox lived his life and is his lasting message to all of us. Although Steve was a family man with a new baby, he volunteered to help whenever he could. Steve was NHUAC’s president when he died. Those of us who knew him could not help but learn from him. He still leads the way in NHUAC’s efforts to support a heathy community of opportunity that does not back away from its struggles.

With that goal in mind, the focus of this meeting will be: Our Community: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Please join the conversations with State Representative Joe Fitzgibbon, King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, Marta Olson of King County’s Department of Natural Resources & Parks, and, of course, our Community Deputy Bill Kennamer.

Knowledge is power.

Learn, share, and help make North Highline a better place.
December 2, 2021 at 7 pm – Invite a Neighbor!

ADDED: Here’s the agenda.

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council focuses on fire safety, Subarea Plan @ November meeting

November 7th, 2021 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on North Highline Unincorporated Area Council focuses on fire safety, Subarea Plan @ November meeting

From Thursday night’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

WHITE CENTER FIRES/SAFETY: Guests were King County permitting-division director Jim Chan, fire/building marshal Chris Ricketts, Fire Chief Mike Marrs, and Sheriff’s Office community crime-prevention Deputy Bill Kennamer. Marrs noted that six “large-loss” fires happened in the area in a relatively short time, but no, that doesn’t mean a firebug is on the loose – only one of the six fires (the July 5th fire that started in the Lumber Yard) was a “criminal act of arson.” The others were the result of “reckless” acts but not criminal. The Locker Room fires were both believed to be “discarded smoking material … in the front planter box,” while the Atlas Electric building fires were believed to have been started by trespassers. NHUAC’s Liz Giba wondered, do any of the businesses involved or nearby have fire alarms? Reply: Not that anyone present was aware – “they’re (the buildings) pretty old.” Marrs recalled some deadly fires in other parts of the country – “older buildings quite often have a higher fatality rate,” though so far no lives have been lost here. Giba asked, “Is there any talk about making the buildings in White Center safer?” Ricketts noted that laws often change after a catastrophe somewhere; he noted White Center’s former Club Evo, which was under orders to upgrade and add sprinklers, but ran into a problem connecting to water supply. To her question, it was noted that “we can only hold people accountable to (upgrading to) the code when there’s a change to the structure.” These upgrade systems are “extremely expensive.” Maybe some lower-cost actions – like an alarm – would make a building safer, though not as safe as newer buildings.

Participants wondered about certain kinds of grants or government funding to pay for safety upgrades; not as available as you might hope, said Local Services director John Taylor, though he mentioned the “participatory budgeting” $3 million. He also said Road Services is looking at a potential redesign for 16th SW, and another longer-term effort to look at “building back” in the WC core. Meantime, Marrs said a fire-safety mailer is going out to downtown businesses soon, Are there regular inspections? Short answer, no, as the Fire District doesn’t have a dedicated inspector. All they’re doing is “tactical surveys” so they know what they’d have to do if there’s a fire, Marrs said. Chan recalled an annual-inspection program in the past “but we prioritized the larger structures” – schools, multi-family residential buildings, for example. But they’ve since had to “re-focus” funding on other things, like permit work. Taylor agreed to take a look at what can be done. Ella Williams from County Councilmember Joe McDermott‘s office said they’re looking at ways to help, including through the budget process. Regarding trespassing by unhoused people seeking shelter, Deputy Kennamer said that with LEAD‘s help, many people have gotten housing – but not everyone will accept services, and they’re worried about people breaking into the burned-out building on 16th.

Moving to the topic of help for fire-affected businesses, Taylor noted that a dozen businesses have received $108,000 total do far, and recapped the recent federal disaster declaration making July 5th fire victims eligible for low-interest loans, Giba asked how long the burned-out buildings can stand. It’s up to the businesses and property owner(s), Taylor said; Chan said that if it’s secured and not a safety hazard, “it can stay for a while.” They keep watch on health/safety concerns such as rodents. Deputy Kennamer said he’s been contacted by the building’s owner three times already to clear people out (they were gone before deputies arrived). “We do not have the right to order a property owner to redevelop, or sell,” Chan noted. All the affected businesses are currently going through the insurance-claims process right now, Taylor added. He also said that the county plans to waive the permit fees for rebuilding.

OTHER AREAS OF CONCERN: Asked about other areas of concern, Deputy Kennamer said the Empire Hookah Lounge in Top Hat has been linked to more than a dozen crimes of violence – including four shootings – and 69 other “calls for service.” He would like to see it get a fire inspection because it draws big crowds. It’s been cited for code violations already, Ricketts said. Erick Thomas from the Liquor and Cannabis Board said if they don’t comply, their license could be in jeopardy. … Kennamer also mentioned a Beverly Park house that’s been a hub of criminal activity – recently in one day alone, three stolen cars were recovered. One of the tenants now has an eviction notice because of the criminal activity.

NORTH HIGHLINE SUBAREA PLAN: Jacqueline Reid was there with a reminder that the plan draft is up for public review through November 28th. As point person for the plan, she replaced David Goodman, who moved on to another job. Here’s the timeline for the plan:

The draft is two parts – both a written document and a package of map amendments:

Here’s how to comment:

Part of the proposal is for upzoning to higher density.

How would the resulting loss of yards and trees be dealt with? asked Giba. There are some landscaping requirements, said Reid. NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin said that’s a surprise to hear because she’s seen many smaller homes built recently “with absolutely no landscaping.” Chan noted that the intent was to pack in the density where there is urban infrastructure. “But we don’t have that infrastructure,” protested Dobkin. Sidewalks are missing, drainage is poor, there’s no way for kids to walk safely to parks. Taylor said that should all be on the “community needs list.” When Reid continued with her presentation, she mentioned that development height between Roxbury and 100th would be limited to 40 feet to keep within scale. She also called attention to the Draft Inclusionary Housing Program, which sounds a lot like the HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability program in Seattle, an incentive for affordable housing, either developed outright or supported by developer fees. Giba urged everyone to take the time to review the draft and comment – in hopes that’ll lead to a healthy White Center in the decades ahead.

CRIME TRENDS: Deputy Kennamer said auto theft is up, probably related to the aforementioned house, but the real story is commercial burglaries, which “really spiked last month” – 19. They’re looking for a suspect who they think is linked to most of them. Firearms calls were up. Dobkin mentioned a huge trash pileup outside the house where Seattle Police shot and killed a man earlier this year, in the 10000 block of 21st SW; Kennamer and Taylor promised to see what could be done.

NEXT MEETING: Thursday, December 2nd, 7 pm online.

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