December 3, 2013 WWRHAH meeting notes

Here are the notes for our December 3rd, 2013 meeting!

Intro & Community news:

Pablo Lambinicio reported that on some blocks around the Westwood & Trenton area, stolen cars had been found parked on their block recently, and that “alley poachers” had been seen cruising and searching for metal and construction materials that could be taken—even off of private property, and not the public right-of-way. If you see anything like, please call the Seattle Police Department ASAP to report it. The police have told us repeatedly—call 911 for everything! They will route the call as needed.

The group was reminded that the West Seattle Transportation Coalition (which initially formed here out of WWRHAH, and that we officially endorsed ourselves in our November 2013 meeting) needs more volunteers. Go here for volunteer info on the WSTC site.

Aligning with the District Councils:

After just over a year of going (mostly) completely solo as an operation, we’ve decided it’s time for us to send representation to both the Delridge and Southwest District Councils. For those who aren’t aware, at a high level the City of Seattle politically is structured like this:


City DON Neighborhood structure

Neighborhood Councils (like us) review and help to handle neighborhood-specific matters. We sometimes work with neighboring groups, like we are on our Roxbury safety project with Highland Park, White Center, and North Highline. We can go directly to the city, county, and state as needed. We’re mostly autonomous. We elect our own leadership, have our own rules, our own by-laws, and so forth. Every neighborhood does it a little different. We send 1-2 elected or selected representatives to a District-level council.

District Councils are higher level, and the City of Seattle recognizes 13 districts. West Seattle has two: Southwest District (west of 35th) and Delridge District (east of 35th). The District Councils are made up of representatives of all the groups in their area and work on higher level issues or multiple-neighborhood, district-wide issues. The District Councils, like us, elects officers, has committees, and performs work for the community. The District Councils then send elected representatives to the City Neighborhood Council, which works along with the City Council and Mayor on the city budget, land use zoning, and other major issues in a major advisory role.

WWRHAH, like a handful of other neighborhood councils in the city, is a coalition of several neighborhoods. However, only us and one other (in the Southeast) straddles two different districts. Arbor Heights is a problem, because it’s divided with 2/3 of it in the Southwest and 1/3 roughly in Delridge. Because of this, WWRHAH technically sits in both Districts.

We had three volunteers last night to be representatives to the District Councils:

  • Eric Iwamoto (WWRHAH Vice-Chair) and Rory Denovan, both Arbor Heights residents, will represent WWRHAH through Arbor Heights to the Southwest District Council, which meets on the first Wednesday of every month.
  • Pablo Lambinicio, from the Friends of Roxhill and the member of the preceding incarnation of the Westwood community council, will represent WWRHAH for Roxhill and Westwood at the Delridge District Council, meeting on the third Wednesday of every month.

If anyone else is willing to help help them as needed, please email us at

Infrastructure updates from Chris Stripinis:

No updates yet on the Roxbury safety project; we’re still pending on SDOT meeting with the KCDOT (this week!) for more news. SDOT & KCDOT will still hold public hearings in January.

Barton Street CSO Control Project & RainWise:

Mary Wohleb from King County was at the meeting tonight talking about the sewer overflow project on Barton Street (more details here on this page). This project has more details here on the County website. The short version is that rain water overflow gets into our storm drains, and carries to the Sound, which as it comes from our yards and streets carries environmental contaminents. King County is directed by law to have only one “overflow” event per year, where the amount of run off exceeds our capacity to filter and process it for contaminents. Currently we are averaging four per year. This project will help to mitigate this. From regulatory law, this overflow issue is the County’s responsibility.

To fix this, the county will install special soil systems on neighborhood streets to help filter out and collect the water run off. This project has been underway for some time, and the local neighbors affected have been meeting extensively and (we’re told!) positively over it with the County.

barton project area

Short version of how this mechanically works: these new spaces (“swales”) will serve as “sponges” to collect storm water and rain overflow. These will use specially constructed soil filters to clean off contaminents to a great degree (such as oils). The swales will then direct some of the water flow to a central location that will act as deep gravity well. Maintenance of the cleaning aspect of this will be at central locations that will be periodically maintained by the county. There have been extensive geological studies on this previously–there are no erosion concerns at all in this area. This area is extremely safe for this swale project.

Roads will not be narrowed, but on some locations there will be wider curb bulbs, and they will only consume the square footage of a single parking space. The County will fund this. A third party contracter will maintain this over time, that is trained in the maintenance of them. Homeowners in the neighborhoods do not need to maintain the swale — County staff and agents will work with and on the swale. They will use native plants where appropriate based on water levels, lighting, etc.

The upcoming and remaining project schedule is as follows:

  • January – May 2014 – Drill deep wells; remove trees that no one wanted to adopt or transplant
  • March – August 2014 – Major construction, first eight streets
  • March – August 2015 – Major construction, second seven streets
  • December 31, 2016 – total project completion deadline

The County and contractors don’t have a fixed schedule yet for which streets will be in each phase of the project. That will be a later public announcement once the next planning phase progresses further.

On the map, there are areas of the project listed (in Yellow) that are listed as “delayed”.  The areas taht are delayed will only happen IF we need the additional capacity of them for additional overflow control. The County’s models say that we may not; they will come back later if needed to build these extra swales. Additionally, the Rainwise program (which helps to mitigate these overflows as well) ends in 2015 from it’s current funding. The City and County may revise and extend both programs if more CSO mitigation is needed. This project was done under a consent degree from the City of Seattle — it cannot be terminated as it’s considered vital infrastructure.

Rory Denovan raised the point that a number of the plants that have been selected for the swales are non-native, and are starting to show up in our greenbelts as invasive. Using pollinating native plants would have tremendous benefits for our local ecology and should be preferred for these installations. Scott Blackstock (plant steward for Roxhill Park) was in agreement. Mary and the County will look into this to see what can be done to adjust the selected plants.

Upcoming public meetings coming up on this will be:

  • January 23, 2014: Westside School at 630pm
  • January 25, 2014: High Point Neighborhood House at 10am

During construction, there will be a 24-hour hotline for residents at 206-205-9184 for any issues.

Roxhill Park and ideas for grant applications in 2014:

From NabeWise on Flickr

Roxhill Park, from NabeWise on Flickr

After all the discussion last month, we’ve narrowed our most viable options to the following:

Educational/service requirements for ecology education & clean up. This is the idea where students from West Seattle elementary, middle, and high schools will come to Roxhill Park each year for a class, with level-appropriate education on the native wildlife and plants. For the older kids, they also have specific community service requirements to graduate. This would be combined with the educational component, so that they can easily fulfil a few hours doing park clean up in the same trip. If we stagger enough classes, it will almost double the clean-up frequency of the park, and everyone wins (the kids get a class on local ecology; knock off some of their service requirement; and the park gets a clean up for the neighborhood).

Fitness/exercise stations for the park/playground perimeter, and possibly a basketball court by the skate park. This is the idea to put various adult-level fitness stations around the perimeter of the castle and playground area. Thematically, it would be to encourage fitness: the littlest children play in the sandbox. They graduate to the little kid’s baby castle. They then graduate to the actual tall castle, with the covered slide. They then graduate to the nets and the bars at the far end. Then, as adults, they graduate to the fitness stations that begin there and wrap back around to the sandbox area. A basketball court (if we can fit it!) is an extra bonus for everyone.

Lighting for the Barton side of Roxhill Park by the buses. There is no desire for lighting all the way back into the forest or bog. Each year $90,000 is given to each of the 13 DON districts under the Neighborhood Park & Street Fund. We can apply this to the Roxhill lighting project. This would be organized and applied  for through SDOT.

The proposed hydrology repair for the various cells of the bog will be punted by us on this current city-level grant cycle due to the potential scope and size of that project — this is a much bigger years-long undertaking. The ballpark minimum estimate to complete the environmental repairs of the bog would be easily north of $100,000+. We will talk later to the King County Conservation District about this and begin that process sometime in 2014.

Our next meeting:

Our next meeting is the first Tuesday in January, on the 7th, at 615pm sharp in the upstairs room of the SW Branch of the Library on 35th Ave SW! See you there; happy holidays to all!


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