WWRHAH February 2015 minutes

Here are the minutes from the February 2015 WWRHAH meeting!

Our next meeting is Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015, 615p-745p at the Library at 35th & Henderson in the upstairs room.

27 people were in attendance tonight.

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Crime report from SPD:

The numbers from November 30, 2014 to Jan 25, 2015:

32 shoplifting attempts in Westwood Village
4 residential burglaries
3 car prowls
2 armed robberies in Westwood Village
1 stolen car
1 recovered stolen car
1 stolen bike

Those numbers don’t include the recent spurt of robberies in the media. In regard to the recent robberies of kids near Denny and Sealth, SPD starting doing bike patrols on the main routes to school before and after the school day and is still working on those cases.

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Committee and various updates…

Grant money for lighting & sidewalks:

1. We got a call from King County Metro last week letting us know that in response to the big Westwood Village walkaround we did last winter with SDOT, King County Metro, SPD, and various elected officials, we have received a grant for $175,000. It will be for significant lighting and sidewalk improvements all the way from 30th to the bus stop across from Westwood Village. It’s already in design phase and will be installed sometime in 2015. Scott Blackstock mentioned that the vendor who installed the Rapid Ride stop several years ago just dumped leftover slag concrete all along the park south of the sidewalk. WWRHAH will follow up to make sure all clean up is done correctly.

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Upcoming grants for pedestrian safety:

2. We are applying two new grants: a curb bumpout at 29th and Barton to substantially increase pedestrian crossing safety here. The second one is to fund a Roxhill Elementary school pilot program for accessing the Roxhill Bog for environmental education; the grant will be put an ADA compliant path from the school to the pond inside of the bog.

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Bog visibility by the bus stop:

3. A question came up about the tall growth of alder and aspen trees near the bus stop that limits visibilty. Scott mentioned some work and study they’ve done that will long term change the way the trees grow, keeping the environment natural, but will soon increase visibility naturally.

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Huge news about the Bog hydration:

4. The good news came up from Rory Denovan and Scott that the the Bog Committee met with some enivronmental firms from the city and county for another examination of the park’s water flow and supplies. The Bog Committee with the experts drilled a variety of study wells and at long last confirmed the presence of old pipes that appear to be most likely draining the water from the bog. This would confirm all of the research from old records and studies that Scott, Rory, David Perasso and others did in the past. Essentially, the water is draining too fast, drying out the area. The fix if this is all accurate — as signs point to — is a new barrier to modify water retention to keep the Roxhill Bog properly hydrated and flooded wet as close to year round as possible… without any risk to nearby properties or the park.

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Roxbury & 35th Safety improvement news is coming, and Barton is collapsing:

5. For SDOT, the Roxbury and 35th Ave SW Safety Studies are due for more news “at any time now” according to our contacts in SDOT. Chris Stripinis has been in contact with some civil engineers in SDOT, and he’s gotten them to take a much closer look at the deteriorating asphalt and pavement on the Rapid Ride and bus routes, especially on Barton from 35th to 26th, where in some areas the road looks to be visually collapsing. SDOT is looking into the numbers to see what can be right now with King County Metro.

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Arbor Heights construction:

6. Our complaints about the cedar/wooden storm drain covers in Arbor Heights appear to be panning out — SPU and SDOT were seen auditing corners, and multiple curbs south of Roxbury and east of 35th are being torn out and replaced for ADA compliancy, and the wood storm drains are marked in some spots, so that process is moving forward. It is not inexpensive, so it will likely go in fits and starts.

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White Center annexation/upzoning and other improvement discussions…

We didn’t talk about the pros and cons of White Center annexation. The County and City governments are both interested in making annexation happen, but this was about the pending improvements we and others have been pursuing on the north side of Roxbury, and to help inform White Center and North Highline residents know about them to help hopefully push matching improvements on their side of the county line.

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SDOT:

Sara Zore from SDOT came up first from the Traffic Management Division, talking about the SDOT plans for the entire Delridge Way corridor, from North Delridge to South Delridge and White Center. This is only conceptual and design work right now, so any proposed changes are not committed and locked in yet. She talked about the various sorts of projects and items they are looking into under the Complete Streets program that SDOT does, and the process that will be involved in getting to and deciding what will happen to Delridge Way. There are going to events for Delridge Way planning and design, as we saw in the past six months with both Roxbury and 35th Ave SW. The process for outreach is going to be over the next six to eight months, so approximately through October 2015.

SDOT was asked a few questions:

Are any improvements funded yet? Not yet; they may be funded out of the new Bridging The Gap levy that is upcoming.

Are any of the corridors they’re working on for this project chosen based on higher need? No, nothing like that has been decided yet.

Does the fact that Westwood/Highland Park’s Urban Village has received $0.00 in capital funds play a role in deciding where we are in the priority list? She said she wasn’t sure but that the Delridge Way project is in the Top 30 projects city wide right out of all projects.

Why are we narrowing roads and putting more bikes on the roads, when bikes don’t pay gas taxes? That’s actually not true that everyone points out — most bicyclists own vechicles from studies, and a lot of the roads money also comes from property taxes for municipal work.

What are the plans to get input on these projects from non-English speaking populations? SDOT is going to study all the demographics for who lives in these corridors, but they don’t have the budget right now to use the Department of Neighborhood’s mutli-lingual public outreach specialists. They are going to have, however, interpreters and intermediaries at various SDOT events, but they will be general events, not language-specific events for now, based on these budget issues.

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DPD:

Susan McLain, the Deputy Planning Director of the Department of Planning and Development, came up next to talk about the Westwood/Highland Park Urban Village. Cindi Barker from Morgan Junction, the City Neighborhood Neighborhood Council Land Use Chair and a member of the West Seattle Land Use Committee, joined Susan as well.

Susan talked about what DPD does first, for land use and zoning planning, and architecture requirements for planning. Susan then walked us through the Urban Center and Urban Village concepts that the city uses for it’s zoning and land use planning, and how the city tries to direct the bulk of residential growth into each of them. She explained also how they work with other departments, such as helping to get Delridge Way buses to Westwood Village completely, to mitigate the food desert that is Delridge and Highland Park.

Cindi walked the group through the process in how zoning changes are often driven from the community level upwards, to be in compliance with and enact the City Council approved Neighborhood Plans and the Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan updates that are underway. The Comprehensive Plan will guide all city land use and planning decisions for the next twenty years, and the major feedback period is still going on right now, and in 2016 the City Council will vote on a final update to the 2035 plan. Most neighborhoods have a steward role that helps to interface on the process on behalf of community groups like WWRHAH. Kim Barnes from Westwood has volunteered previously to fill this role for us and speak for the WWRHAH area in the 2035 update process.

Questions for Karen and Cindi:

Are the existing neighborhood plans online? Yes! If you just Google for Westwood Highland Park Neighborhood Plan, it will be the first hit on seattle.gov.

How much growth was our area supposed to get? We were forecost to grow by 145 households in the past 20 years, but are only at 40% of that value right now. The actual growth is market driven, and hasn’t reached as far south as us yet.

How does the zoning just north of White Center compare to zoning in the Morgan and West Seattle Junctions? The area there is basically the same zoning as Morgan Junction, but with the auto/car driven zoning that allows parking lots in the front of buildings. Morgan Junction has the neighborhood/pedestrian zoning that requires new buildings/upgrades to be closer to the street with parking in the back. If the community wanted to later change the zoning to be like Morgan Junction, it would require quite a few steps and lots of outreach, but it is a straightforward process.

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King County and reasons why the County wants White Center annexed:

Last was Chris Arkills, the Transportation Policy Advisor to King County Executive Dow Constantine to talk about the possible improvements to White Center that could crossover with City improvemetns, and why the County needs to get areas like White Center annexed.

The main reason is the state’s growth management act from the 1990s, which prevents with an urban growth boundary that bars the county from allowing massive new development in outlying areas to prevent and limit urban sprawl. This law also limits what kind of services the county can provide to unincorporated areas, and limits how counties can raise revenues with taxes, to further limit what counties can do versus what cities can do. Essentially, the County Government is wildly restricted and limited, meant to service rural area residents and provide some regional services like the Metro bus service, waste water, and public health and safety (police, courts, jails — the public safety part is now 80% of the county budget every year).

Basically, the County has no money, no tax revenue, and legally no ability to properly provide services to urban unincorporated areas like White Center, North Highline and Skyway.

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