wwrhahaWhat are our neighborhoods? Where are the boundaries? Our name is WWRHAH, for Westwood, Roxhill, and Arbor Heights, but it’s not that simple. What is each?

Short version answer:

Roxhill is everything east of 35th Avenue SW to a jagged line in the east, about to 29th, or sometimes 28th, or sometimes 25th. Or sometimes 16th. Or Delridge. And north from Othello south to Roxbury and the county. Except for where Holy Family is, where the neighborhood shoots out to the south a few blocks.

Westwood is inside of Roxhill, except where it’s not, and sometimes people call all of Roxhill by the name of Westwood, or vice versa. And Westwood goes from 35th all the way to Highland Park’s neighborhood, and eats part of the Delridge neighborhood. Plus it invades the county at Holy Family like an annexation beachhead.

Arbor Heights is like a quiet nubbin to the rest of West Seattle as West Seattle is to Seattle itself, and is mostly self-contained, except that every map arbitrarily seems to give about 50% of one street down in the waterfront neighborhood in the Arroyos to the Fauntleroy neighborhood. Which is where this short answer begins to really fall apart–how is a street in two neighborhoods and how are neighborhoods inside of each other?

Long version answer:

 

There is no “official” Westwood, but it’s become it’s own neighborhood with the growth of Westwood Village Center. A long time ago, it was just all Roxhill. Which still exists, and Westwood is inside of Roxhill… which is an “official” neighborhood, as far as the city of Seattle’s maps are mostly concerned. Mostly? Yeah. Stick with us — it will make sense in a minute. Mostly.

What is Roxhill? City-data.com says this is Roxhill. Then there is Arbor Heights, one of the younger neighborhoods (annexed into Seattle in the 1950s from King County). The Arbor Heights neighborhood map is easier to peg down. Here’s City-data.com for Arbor Heights.

But what about “official” city maps? Here are some we found on the seattle.gov website, cropped down. Version #1:

map1

Well, that’s confusing — no Westwood. And they have these two maps, as well. They look almost the same. But this will in the end only make things more confusing. Just wait. Alternate city maps of Roxhill and Arbor Heights:

roxhillmap1

arborheightsmap1

But what is confusing, you may ask? Aren’t they almost the same? Just about, yes. But then you have this   city neighborhood map, that throws it all out:

cityneighborhoodmap

Here’s the important part:

notofficial

So where does that leave us?

Well, just look at the nice little hand drawn imagery we’re using on this website, which is taken from an awesome map you can buy from the people at Big Stick in Chicago (no relation to anyone here at WWRHAH! We just found it off of Google.). No neighborhood is “official”.

That sums it up, and it is the same thing actual city officials and the nice people at the Department of Neighborhoods will tell you:

All the boundaries exist where we say they are, and they exist as they say we do. The city border is fixed–unless the City Council, our neighbors, the county, or the state changes it. Zip codes are fixed–unless the Federal government changes them. But your neighborhood? You decide that. Did you know that there was once a neighborhood called Roxhill Heights which was the hillside east of 35th above Longfellow Creek, closest to what is today Westwood and Roxhill Park? Yeah, most of us didn’t either, until someone noticed it on some county land records. It’s an artifact now that not many people use today. Just like–what are the Arroyos I mentioned before? And is it Arroyo? Arroyo Heights? Is it Arbor Heights, technically, or Fauntleroy? Or their own neighborhood?

Just like there was no Westwood once, but now even people in Chicago say there’s a Westwood neighborhood in Seattle.

We are what we decide we are.

wwrhah

The last question you probably have:

Why are these neighborhoods going into this together? Why not apart?

Because it happened organically, as a spur of the moment thing, and because the individual neighborhood groups over the years for Westwood, Roxhill, and Arbor Heights all fizzled out over time. Sometimes quickly; sometimes with a slow and labored whimper. In January 2013 a couple of 8th grade  boys were robbed at gun point in Roxhill Park–which sits in the literal intersection between our neighborhoods. Then there was an explosion of armed robberies, and things came to a boil.

This article on the West Seattle Blog is about the robbery of the children. This comment is what led to this group forming:

One of the most important steps the Westwood/Roxhill community can take is establishing a neighborhood council, a feature of Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods. This puts you in direct contact with elected officials and city departments, as well as providing access to resources, grants, and services. It allows you to represent yourselves as a ‘hood, and get meaningful results (e.g. your meetings can/will include representatives from Metro, Seattle Police, Schools, Parks, SDOT, and Seattle City Council, as well as neighborhood associations, businesses and community events).

I will commit one full year to establishing this council. This includes serving on the executive committee, securing (free) meeting space, setting agendas, and securing speakers/presenters. What you give is 2 hours, one night a month, plus any extra activity you want to take on to make your neighborhood rock.

Mat McBride, Chair, Delridge Neighborhoods District Council

And that was that, and we were off and running beginning in the first week of February 2013. The Arbor Heights people–apparently without any city-level love for decades (like the fact that our fire hydrants didn’t work and nobody knew that) joined in and said, “What about us too?”

There was some discussion: should we only do this together to get up to cruising speed, and then split off? That talk got ignored pretty quickly and we plowed ahead together. Most meetings are a nearly 50%/50% split between the Westwood/Roxhill folks and the Arbor Heights folks. There are at least two other “super groups” in the city system like us: North Delridge and some neighborhoods in Southeast Seattle that are beginning to band together.

WWRHAH together has a population that surpassed Ballard’s. We’re as big as the population of Green Lake. We’re as big as the population of the City of Tukwila.

What are our neighborhoods? What we want and need them to be. What do we have? Not a ton of businesses, or infrastructure. A few parks. A few schools. A nice little outdoor mall. But we have a lot of people, and the city is paying attention to us finally.

They’re listening because we said:

“We’re Westwood, Roxhill, and Arbor Heights, and there are 18,000 of us.”

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What are our neighborhoods?

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