TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Friday updates; weekend (& beyond) previews

October 24, 2014 at 6:21 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle traffic alerts | No Comments

(WS bridge and Highway 99 views; more cams on the WSB Traffic page)
Happy Friday! Traffic watch is on. And so are our previews for the weekend and beyond:

LOTS OF HALLOWEEN: This weekend is arguably bigger for Halloween events than October 31st. Preview them in our West Seattle Halloween Guide. And take extra care out there tonight and tomorrow night.

WEEKEND TRAFFIC ALERTS, CITYWIDE: See SDOT’s roundup for this weekend here.

HARVEST FESTIVAL ON SUNDAY: Junction streets are closed and buses are on reroute for Sunday’s 10 am-2 pm festival – the closure starts first thing in the morning, as participants (including us!) will be loading in, as will Farmers’ Market vendors.

WATER TAXI SCHEDULE CHANGE ON MONDAY: The 7-day-a-week, all-day West Seattle Water Taxi schedule ends Sunday. Then on Monday, the 5-day fall/winter schedule begins – preview it here.

Firefighter Storytime brings Engine 37 to High Point Library – and word of its future replacement

October 23, 2014 at 10:25 pm | In West Seattle fires, West Seattle news | No Comments

(WSB photos by Torin Record-Sand)
Today, firefighters from Station 37 in Sunrise Heights came to High Point Branch Library to read “No Dragons for Tea” to preschoolers and to explain basic rules of fire safety. They opened the reading with news that Engine 37 will be replaced soon by a newer fire engine. More on that shortly. First: Brian Shaner read for the storytime today.

Other firefighters from Station 37 – Lt. Paul Adams, Jorge Bernal, and Tiffany Colman – were present for the reading. After reading, Bernal suited up to introduce the children to what a fully suited firefighter looks like.

The goal of this part of the presentation is to help kids know, if they ever are in an emergency situation and come face to face with a suited-up firefighter, that they shouldn’t be scared.

After about 25 minutes, everyone was invited to take a tour of Engine 37, which was parked outside the library.

We asked SFD spokesperson Kyle Moore later about the replacement plan for E-37. He confirmed: “Station 37 is getting a new, larger engine before Christmas. The new Engine 37 will have a modern cleaner-burning engine with additional safety features but the same pumping capacity. The older engine will be turned into a reserve engine.” E-37 is one of three that SFD is replacing, he added, along with E-35 in Ballard and E-20 in Queen Anne/Interbay.

Update on West Seattle’s ‘pit’: No digging Saturday; crane assembly Monday

October 23, 2014 at 9:10 pm | In Utilities, West Seattle news | 1 Comment

Also tonight, a two-part update from King County Wastewater Treatment District on West Seattle’s own “pit,” the 60-foot-deep hole being excavated for the million-gallon combined-sewer-overflow tank across from Lowman Beach.

First, KCWTD’s Doug Marsano says excavation crews will NOT be working this Saturday after all; one more Saturday of excavation work is still expected, November 1st. But the following Monday, this will happen:

King County contractors will use the east part of the 7000 block of Beach Drive SW (between Lowman Beach Park and the project site) to assemble a crane that will be used to finish digging out the Murray CSO Control Facility tank area. The crane will be delivered and assembled on Monday, October 27 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Neighbors and park users should expect traffic delays of up to 15 minutes on the 7000 block of Beach Drive during these hours.

To maintain local access, there will be no parking on Beach Drive S.W. between the project site and Lowman Beach Park from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Flaggers will work with drivers to ensure safe passage around the assembly area.

Further details are in the official project notice here.

Highway 99 tunnel-machine rescue pit digging on hold after 3 days

October 23, 2014 at 6:47 pm | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, Transportation, West Seattle news | 20 Comments


As reported here just three days ago, WSDOT announced digging had begun for the pit going down 120 feet to rescue the Highway 99 tunnel-machine cutter head. Tonight, WSDOT has announced the digging is on hold. Here’s the entire update:

On Oct. 23, WSDOT archaeologists monitoring the access pit excavation observed a deposit containing shell material that requires further evaluation and may indicate the presence of cultural materials. No artifacts or human remains were found. WSDOT has very strict protocols when archeological material is discovered and those protocols were followed today. Excavation activities in the access pit have stopped and we are now coordinating with the Federal Highway Administration and tribal governments, and the Washington State Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation to determine the next steps. As more information is available to share with the public, we will pass it along.

The image above is a screengrab from the project’s monitoring cameras, which are online “live” here.

West Seattle development: Views of the old and the new

October 23, 2014 at 6:33 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 6 Comments

Two scenes from the Junction/Triangle area:

FAUNTLEROY/EDMUNDS: Most of the future site of the mixed-use Whittaker is now cleared; just the last section on the southeast corner, the old Chevrolet showroom and service area to the west, remains (our photo was taken from Fauntleroy, looking southwest). A few blocks west:

4730 CALIFORNIA: Michael shared that photo showing that the facade of the midblock mixed-use project on California between Alaska and Edmunds is finally in view. Work on this project began with demolition in June of last year.

Update: Crash at 26th/Roxbury; man hit by bus, hospitalized

October 23, 2014 at 4:47 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle traffic alerts | 7 Comments

4:47 PM: Police are blocking most if not all of the 26th/Roxbury intersection because of a crash, reported to involve a bus and pedestrian. If you need to travel in that area, find alternatives for now.

5:11 PM: Police just announced over emergency radio that they’ll be reopening Roxbury.

9:26 PM: The pedestrian is a 25-year-old man, according to SFD, who suffered a severe arm injury and was taken to Harborview Medical Center in serious condition. We don’t have police information about the crash but commenters say a Sound Transit bus hit the man.

West Seattle wind watch: ‘Special weather statement’ just issued

October 23, 2014 at 3:39 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle weather | 2 Comments

(Added 4:42 pm: Rainbow this afternoon, photographed by Julie)
3:39 PM: Weather experts (like West Seattleite @MetPatrick22) have been watching this for some days – and now the National Weather Service has issued a formal alert, in the form of a “special weather statement”: Looks like it’s going to get windy on Saturday. At this point, gusts aren’t expected past 45 mph, but they’re watching closely. Here’s the full text of the alert.

4:11 PM: Again, that’s just for the weekend, but things are a little crazy right now – burst of hail followed by major downpour.

PHOTOS: Partial solar eclipse, seen during West Seattle sunbreaks

October 23, 2014 at 2:15 pm | In Skies Over West Seattle, West Seattle news | 5 Comments

All week long, just in case of sunbreaks or clear skies, Alice Enevoldsen has been hosting events at local libraries, leading up to today’s partial eclipse of the sun. Right now, she’s at High Point Branch Library for a viewing party, and yes, as the photos tweeted by librarian Nathalie Wargo show, some of it’s been seen!

You have to look through a safe viewer – looking directly at the sun will harm your eyes – but they’ll have something for you to use, if you didn’t make or don’t otherwise have your own. As laid out in Alice’s most recent edition of Skies Over West Seattle here on WSB, the eclipse peaks at 3 pm with the moon’s shadow covering slightly more than half the sun. HP Library, by the way, is at 35th/Raymond, and Alice promised that even if viewing was or became impossible, she’ll have an astronomy talk inside.

3 PM UPDATE: Kevin Freitas has been tweeting while the eclipse is in view:

The sun has continued to come and go. From here, the eclipse will wane, still partly visible for another hour or so.

ADDED 3:22 PM: Back to rain/sun mix. More eclipse photos:

(Copyright 2014, Jason Gift Enevoldsen)
ADDED 6:39 PM: We stopped by Alice’s viewing event for a pic of our own (that’s her in red):

And one more photo, from Trileigh Tucker:

That’s Rob Duisberg holding binoculars projecting the eclipse view.

Also closed today: Roxhill Park ‘castle’ play structure; community-crafted turret to be removed for reinforcement

October 23, 2014 at 12:46 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle parks | 11 Comments

12:46 PM: Thanks to the person who texted us that photo of the suddenly fenced-off play structure at Roxhill Park and asked what was going on. We’re still investigating, but according to one round of e-mail forwarded to us, there is a safety concern with the custom-created metal “turret” on the community-built castle structure, which might be removed as a result, or moved. We’re working to find out more, but in the short run, please note for starters that the play structure – opened a year and a half ago after an extensive community funding/building project – is closed off.

1:12 PM UPDATE: Even the group that reported the safety problem didn’t get notice that the play area would suddenly be shut down, according to this e-mail just received from Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council chair Amanda Kay Helmick:

On October 8th, the WWRHAH Community Council wrote an email to Carol Baker at Parks mentioning the way the turret was leaning substantially to the left, and we were concerned that although, it has always leaned, it looked worse. We let her know that we are dead set on keeping the turret if indeed it needed to come down – and re-purpose it elsewhere at the playground.

Carol Baker emailed back on the 17th saying that “We had our parks engineer, architect and trades staff out earlier this week. They are developing plans but it will be repaired on site. Won’t know timeline until plans are finished but will let you know when I do.”

WWRHAH received confirmation today from Carol that “Initial plan was as I said below (above). However, there are people in the department who are concerned that the safest approach will be to temporarily remove the head. When it comes to safety we must error on the side of caution. ” Parks management has been reminded how important this special artwork is to the community who supported the play area rebuild. I will let you know when I know more.”

We are dismayed that the Community was not informed that the work would be taking place immediately, and the park closed. We have a call into Parks now to get a timeline and confirmation that the turret will be saved and re-purposed.

1:57 PM UPDATE: Parks spokesperson Joelle Hammerstad answered our inquiry:

The turret over the play structure is an art project that is filled with reflective tiles that are quite heavy. A recent inspection has our structural engineer concerned that the tiles may be too heavy for the Trex structure onto which they have been attached.

Out of an abundance of caution, we closed the structure — for the moment. We’re going to bring in a truck to pluck the turret off the top of the structure and re-open the play equipment to kids.

We’ll take the turret back to our Westbridge maintenance facility (located in West Seattle) to strengthen it before taking it back and replacing it.

We don’t know when that truck will be out, but it will be ASAP.

Our preference would have been to notify the community before the fences went up, but we felt it was important to act quickly.

2:48 PM: Update from Hammerstad via Twitter – Parks will be putting up explanatory signs at the play area this afternoon. Turret removal is not likely before tomorrow.

West Seattle (Athletic) Club closed today, tomorrow, with change reported to be in the works

October 23, 2014 at 12:05 pm | In West Seattle businesses, West Seattle news | 19 Comments

Apparently not all West Seattle (Athletic) Club members received the e-mail announcement that the fitness center at 2629 SW Andover is closed today and tomorrow, as the court-ordered deadline for its owner to pay $1.1 million nears. E-mail from several members this morning indicated the closure has indeed happened, without explanation (and we just went over to photograph the sign on the door). We added the announcement last night to our most recent update (read it here).

The closure so far seems to match the scenario laid out in a club employee’s e-mail to some of its fitness instructors; that e-mail suggested the club would reopen under new management/ownership. As first reported here in early October – and reiterated by property owner John Pietromonaco when we spoke with him Tuesday – this Friday is the deadline for owner Sam Adams to pay $1.1 million, mostly back rent, or face eviction. Pietromonaco told us that if Adams failed to do that, he had a plan to keep the club running. If any new information on the club’s future becomes available today, we’ll add to this story.

West Seattle Thursday: Haunted house; open house; ‘Dogfight’ debut; firefighter storytime …

October 23, 2014 at 10:30 am | In West Seattle news, WS miscellaneous | No Comments

Five highlights today from the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar and our WS Halloween Guide:

FIREFIGHTER STORY TIME: 11:30 am at High Point Branch Library, preschoolers learn a lesson about fire safety, and who better to teach it than Seattle Fire Department firefighters. (35th/Raymond)

SOLAR ECLIPSE VIEWING PARTY – OR ASTRONOMY PRESENTATION: 1:15-3 pm, Alice Enevoldsen of Alice’s Astro Info and Skies Over West Seattle fame will be at High Point Branch Library for a solar-eclipse-viewing party, just in case there’s a break in the weather; if the eclipse isn’t visible, she’ll give an astronomy presentation, so come to the library anyway! (35th/Raymond)

HAUNTED HOUSE AND FALL FESTIVAL: First big event from the WSB West Seattle Halloween Guide – 6 pm, fall festival and haunted house at High Point Community Center. (6920 34th SW)

SEATTLE LUTHERAN HIGH SCHOOL OPEN HOUSE: School-open-house season continues with tonight’s 7-8:30 pm open house inviting families to West Seattle’s only independent high school. Details in our calendar listing. (41st/Genesee)

OPENING NIGHT FOR ‘DOGFIGHT’: 7:30 pm at ArtsWest (WSB sponsor), it’s the first performance of the musical “Dogfight,” described as “the romantic and heartbreaking story of three young marines in 1963 on the eve of the deployment to the small but growing conflict in Vietnam.” Directed by AW’s new artistic director Mathew Wright. (4711 California SW)

School fundraising season: Arbor Heights Elementary’s ‘Circle of Friends’

October 23, 2014 at 10:15 am | In How to help, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | No Comments

Some have auctions, some have walk-a-thons, some have “direct drives” – whichever the method, it’s the time of year when PTAs ask for the support of their communities (and school funding has certainly been in the news lately). From Arbor Heights Elementary:

Join the Circle of Friends! The Arbor Heights Elementary PTA invites any and all members of the West Seattle community to Join the Circle of Friends by participating in our direct fundraising drive October 13-31st! 100% of funds raised by the PTA go to support programs that enrich the educational experience of students at Arbor Heights! The Arbor Heights PTA funds its $74,000 annual budget (which, shockingly, is bigger than our school’s operating budget provided by the State!) through various charitable giving events (membership drive, direct drive, annual auction, etc.).

This year PTA priorities (voted on by the membership) include: Young Authors Day, 5th Grade Camp, Instrumental Music, Kindergarten Aides, Playground Equipment, Academic Enrichment and Field Trips, Safety Patrol, Library, Global Reading Challenge, Sports Equipment, and Teacher Requests for innovative learning.

Visit arborheightses.seattleschools.org to learn more, download a donation
form, donate online, or set up a recurring donation! Thank you!

If you have a school fundraiser under way or coming up and want to invite the community to be part of it, please make sure we know about it – thanks!

TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Thursday on the move

October 23, 2014 at 6:16 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle traffic alerts | No Comments

(WS bridge and Highway 99 views; more cams on the WSB Traffic page)
The second bridge camera is back, so we have four views once again in our daily traffic watch. Meantime, two reminders:

SUNDAY – HARVEST FESTIVAL: Junction streets are closed and buses are on reroute for the 10 am-2 pm festival (and the setup/breakdown time before/after). Details in our most-recent preview.

MONDAY – WATER TAXI SCHEDULE CHANGE: The 7-day-a-week, all-day West Seattle Water Taxi schedule ends Sunday; next Monday, the 5-day fall/winter schedule begins – preview it here.

1,065 crashes in 10 years on 3 miles of ‘I-35.’ Safety project begins, to create a ‘more forgiving’ street

October 23, 2014 at 3:45 am | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 48 Comments

By Tracy Record & Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers

(September 2006 reader photo, memorial at 35th/Graham)
Susanne Scaringi

Oswald Clement

Gregory Hampel

Andrew Seffernick

James St. Clair

Their names weren’t all spoken during Wednesday night’s launch meeting for the 35th SW Road Corridor Safety Project. But the knowledge that five crashes on “I-35″ had ended their lives – five deaths in seven years – hung heavy.

“There are so many reasons we want to eliminate these serious crashes,” said SDOT‘s Jim Curtin, opening the first “issue identification” meeting for the project, which he is managing. “… We want to create a street that’s more forgiving, so when people do make mistakes, the consequences aren’t so tragic.”

What began Wednesday night – 8 months after it was promised – is intended to result in changes and improvements within a year, along the three miles of 35th between Avalon and Roxbury – three miles that have seen 1,065 crashes in the past 10 years, Curtin said.

(May 2013 crash at 35th/Roxbury: WSB photo by Christopher Boffoli)
Distraction is blamed for about a third of the crashes. After that: Speeding, impairment, failure to grant right-of-way. Despite the absence of a major safety campaign, there has been progress.

willowspeed.jpg

(October 2008 speed sign at 35th/Willow, where recent studies showed the highest average speed)
The speed limit along the project area is 35 mph; studies from the past year show that speeds have “come down considerably since 2007,” Curtin said, but they are still over the limit. 85 percent of the traffic is going almost 41 mph at SW Willow, 38.5 mph at SW Brandon, 36.5 mph at SW Roxbury. At those speeds, “we’re rolling the dice .. pedestrians do not typically do well” if hit at those rates of speed.

Backing up: He began with a presentation; not recommendations or suggestions, but instead, the project’s goals and facts. We recorded those first 46 minutes on video, including some Q/A:

Below, you’ll see the slide deck Curtin walked through during that opening presentation:

(PDF version is here.)

Curtin stressed that 35th is “a neighborhood” – 488 parcels along the three-mile stretch in the project zone, 73 percent of them single-family homes, 11 percent apartments/condos/townhouses – so when there are crashes, they are virtually (and sometimes literally) “in people’s front yards”:

(January 2010 crash at 35th/Cloverdale – WSB reader photo by Bruce)
While he stressed repeatedly that “tonight, we’re not jumping into solutions at all,” it was clear that some are eager, even ravenous, for solutions. One man who said he’s had two cars “totaled, absolutely totaled” decried people who drive on 35th SW “as if it were the Indianapolis 500,” particularly in the years since it became the last north-south two-lanes-each-way road through the heart of West Seattle.

(Seen April 2010 at 35th/Webster, shared by MAS)
He continued, “If you put 35th on a road diet, you won’t need more people to enforce (the speed limit).” (He was challenged loudly by other attendees and Curtin had to put the brakes on what almost accelerated into a shout-down.)

The speed van and radar trailers are among the measures implemented since 2007 that have brought speeds down somewhat, “but there is still room for improvement,” Curtin declared. (Our archives include this long list of changes made as of a 2008 discussion (note that a road-diet study was mentioned then, six years ago).

Police enforcement has brought some progress over the years.

(WSB photo: April 2011 emphasis patrol on 35th)
Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Steve Wilske told attendees about an enforcement period in which SPD made contact with 200 drivers over four months, with 70 pulled over for “talking on a cell phone while driving,” 40 for speeding, and the other 90 for “various violations” (including other forms of distracted driving). He said they might be back on 35th, and they are hoping to “do the same thing … in different areas.” The overtime is covered by grants they seek.

In Q/A, Curtin and Wilske were asked how road design might affect the stated major causes of crashes, distraction and impairment. “The way we design our streets have a huge impact on how people behave on our streets,” Curtin replied. “We have great big wide streets,” and, for example, that encourages people to speed, he says. “That’s why in Seattle our neighborhood streets are designed to be 25 feet wide with parking on both sides,” very little room to speed.

One resident of 35th mentioned that other drivers “don’t like their momentum broken” by, for example, his necessary turns into his own driveway, or buses slowing/stopping to pick up people. He suggested it would be worse “with three lanes” – referring to widespread suspicion that a “road diet” (rechannelization) is already decided. “Nobody’s said anything about three lanes at this point,” said Curtin, reiterating that this is the discussion stage, not the design stage.

But the topic came up again and again, and Curtin mentioned something he’s said before – that while Seattle has “done more than 30 road diets,” usually preceded by “gloom and doom,” the latter does not come to pass. (Fauntleroy Way SW, rechannelized in 2009, is a frequent example.)

Another point he made: While every intersection is a legal crosswalk – and you’re required to stop – SDOT won’t mark them “on roads like 35th” unless there is a signal. If they “change things significantly on 35th,” that would allow more marked crossings, he noted.

Was there ever a traffic change that didn’t work out? Curtin was asked. He brought up California SW, “which we put on a road diet twice, in 1970s and 1990s,” and while, he said, it worked well along most of the stretch, it did not work in the heart of The Junction, so they reversed it. “And that’s the beauty of a road diet – it’s just paint,” so if it doesn’t work out, the road can be repainted.

That led to a question about the state of SW Alaska, westward from 35th. Curtin pointed out its status as a bus route – “every time a RapidRide bus passes you, that’s hundreds of people who would (otherwise) be in cars” – as some solace for traffic concerns.

After those 46 minutes of presentation plus Q/A, breakout conversations were offered for topics including a proposed neighborhood greenway on 34th SW, which will be studied, Curtin said, next year – and what Curtin acknowledged might be “difficult choices” involving hot topics such as parking and channelization.

The 40-plus people in attendance were invited to offer their thoughts at three tables – broken geographically into the north, central, and south sections of 35th. Notes were written on huge sheets of paper mapping section of I-35.

WHAT’S NEXT: Curtin couldn’t stress enough that this is the input phase – offer your comments and concerns now, before something is designed/proposed. Next big chance to do that is meeting #2, same format as this one, though Curtin promised “tweaks”: 3:30 pm next Tuesday (October 28th), 3:30-5 pm at Southwest Branch Library, which, unlike Wednesday night’s venue, is on 35th (at SW Henderson) … a spot where we’ve covered a few crashes in the past year alone, including this one exactly one year ago:

(WSB photo: October 2013 crash at 35th/Henderson)
In February of next year, SDOT expects to unveil and circulate “design alternatives,” with a decision to be made in spring. In the meantime, if you have something to say, say it, urges Curtin: “If anyone feels they’re not being heard at these meetings, send me an e-mail at any time (jim.curtin@seattle.gov) … I’d be happy to come out and walk the corridor with you … I’d be happy to meet with you whenever and wherever.”

What would YOU do to make 35th SW safer? Come tell SDOT Tuesday – or via the contact options here.

West Seattle Crime Watch: ‘Wagner Prowler’; phone robbery; road rage

October 22, 2014 at 10:38 pm | In Crime, West Seattle news | 5 Comments

Three West Seattle Crime Watch reports tonight. First one is a reader report:

Saturday night our elderly neighbor had a prowler down on Beach Drive. The man, described as a white male, was in her backyard around 2 am. Her house guest was awakened by his VERY distinctive ring tone “The Charge of the Valkyries” ! I thought that was distinctive enough that someone may be able to identify the Wagner Prowler. It appears that he was trying to gain access to a neighbor’s yard..but took off when his cell phone went off.

We don’t have the block number. But keep an … ear out.

Next – two from the police-report files: Another smartphone stolen, and an odd cross-peninsula case of “road rage”:

Click to read the rest of West Seattle Crime Watch: ‘Wagner Prowler’; phone robbery; road rage…

West Seattle scene: Maybe the sun will come out tomorrow

October 22, 2014 at 9:18 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle weather | 1 Comment

Sunbreaks can strike at the most surprising times. So in case somehow the partial solar eclipse tomorrow afternoon becomes visible, you want to be prepared. For the past three days, Alice Enevoldsen of Alice’s Astro Info and Skies Over West Seattle fame has helped West Seattleites do just that, with pre-eclipse events at local Seattle Public Library branches. This afternoon, Alice was at Delridge Library coaching prospective eclipse-watchers through the creation of pinhole viewers (so you can experience the eclipse without damaging your eyes by looking at the sun). The photo was shared by the family of Raina (at center, with Alice at left and Chrissy the librarian at right). But even if the sun doesn’t make it through the clouds here, you’ll be able to check out the eclipse through webcasts.

Fields so close, yet out of reach: West Seattle Booster Club letter-writing campaign seeking ‘equity and safety’

October 22, 2014 at 5:33 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools, WS & Sports | 13 Comments

From the West Seattle Booster Club:

Care about equity and safety for West Seattle High School athletes?

West Seattle Booster Club urges you to join their letter-writing campaign! Read the letter below, then write to Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors (MS 11-010, PO Box 34165, Seattle, 98124-1165) and Seattle Parks and Recreation Board of Park Commissioners (100 Dexter Ave N, Seattle, 98109) to help create positive change for (the) sports program. Thank you for supporting WSHS athletes!

If you can’t see the letter as embedded above, it’s here in PDF.

Update: Rescue response south of The Junction; window washer OK after brief bout of trouble

October 22, 2014 at 3:56 pm | In West Seattle news, WS breaking news | 8 Comments

3:55 PM: Seattle Fire is sending a “rope rescue” response for what might be a window washer in trouble on a building in the 4800 block of California SW. You might hear/see a TV helicopter shortly, too. More to come.

3:58 PM: Per scanner, the window washer is reported to be OK on a 4th-floor balcony, so some of the SFD units are being canceled.

4:06 PM: The last SFD units were leaving as we arrived – all’s well, incident over.

Countdown to West Seattle Junction Harvest Festival: Activity previews

October 22, 2014 at 3:54 pm | In West Seattle festivals, West Seattle news | 5 Comments

Counting down to this Sunday’s West Seattle Junction Harvest Festival (by which time the weather is supposed to be better – showers likely, not steady rain!) – a few reminders and previews:

STREETS CLOSED: Even if you are not going to the festival, keep in mind that California will be closed from Oregon to Edmunds and Alaska from 44th to 42nd – the West Seattle Farmers Market and the festival’s “harvest activity” booths will all be out in the street for the duration of the 10 am-2 pm festival. This means transit rerouting, too – see the alerts on the Metro website.

HARVEST ACTIVITIES: Thanks to everybody who’s sending previews of what they’re planning. We’ll feature a few a day for the next few days. Today’s mentions: My Three Little Birds in Morgan Junction will be there with the chance for kids to “stop by and make a hanging decoration for their house on Halloween. They can make a witch hat or a spooky spider. We will also hand out candy for the kids and a coupon for parents or grandparents,” says proprietor Jennifer. … Infinite B Canvas Creations proprietor B. says, “At my booth kids will be painting handprint harvest inspired trees on canvas panels. I’ve attached display examples that my little nieces Lillian (6) & Zoey (3) made for my booth.”

Meantime, West Seattle School of Rock proprietor Phil says, “We will be running spontaneous 2-3 minute Little Wing activities throughout the day as large enough groups of little ones (about ages 3-6) walk up. We will also have electric guitars the kids can check out. We will have percussion instruments at our booth for the kids to use.” Also, WSB sponsor Potter Construction will be there with a mini-pumpkin toss in their booth. More previews tomorrow!

ALSO AT THE FESTIVAL: 11 am-1 pm chili competition (9-sample flight for $10, benefits the West Seattle Food Bank), 11:30 am costume parade from Junction Plaza Park, noon-2 pm trick-or-treating. Aside from the chili fundraiser and anything you buy from the Farmers’ Market, festival activities are free!

Traffic alert: Power-pole fire closes 9th/Henderson (and beyond)

October 22, 2014 at 1:27 pm | In West Seattle fires, West Seattle news | 12 Comments

1:27 PM: Avoid 9th SW/SW Henderson vicinity in south Highland Park for a while; roads are blocked as emergency responders deal with what was reported as a power-pole fire. We’re heading over to look.

2:31 PM UPDATE: 9th is closed at Henderson and at Trenton. We were told at the scene that City Light will have to replace the pole, so the closure might last a while. No outage reported, though.

2:53 PM: STREET CLOSED signs are now arriving in the area, more proof it’ll be a while – with 9th closed from Barton to Trenton, Henderson closed east of 10th.

3:07 PM: Scanner-monitored discussion indicates the closure will constrict back to 9th/Henderson.

8:35 PM: We just stopped by the scene. 9th isn’t blocked, but Henderson is, and police/utility crews there say they will likely be working “a few more hours.” The new pole is up but now it’s time for connecting, testing, etc. – and they’re working in rain and wind.

Found in West Seattle: Recognize these binders? Or this bicycle?

October 22, 2014 at 1:14 pm | In Crime, West Seattle news, West Seattle police | 4 Comments

Two “found” reports:

WHOSE SPORTS-CARD BINDERS ARE THESE? Southwest Precinct Det. Brian Ballew shares the photo – he is hoping to find either the owner of those binders (and what’s in them) or at least someone who knows whose they might be. He confirms they’re the same ones mentioned at last week’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting. If you have any info (or if they’re yours!), please contact Det. Ballew directly at 206-233-7836.

Second, a reader report:

BICYCLE FOUND: As with stolen cars, we spotlight found/stolen bicycles when we get word of them. The photo is from Julie, who says someone left a red, men’s Excitor 21-speed road-type bike in her yard. She’s reported it to police but if you know whose it is, speak up so it can be returned sooner rather than later.

West Seattle businesses: The Cask has closed in Admiral

October 22, 2014 at 12:47 pm | In West Seattle news, WS beverages | 26 Comments

Thanks to the readers who e-mailed this morning to report that The Cask in The Admiral District has closed. We have just confirmed that with proprietor Marty Ogan; no further elaboration. He took over the wine/beer bar at 2350 California SW earlier this year; it opened in summer 2010, a few owners ago, in a space that had previously been home to a shoe shop. This means two storefronts are now empty in the commercial building on the east side of California north of Admiral Way, after Royal India Grill‘s sudden closure five months ago.

West Seattle development: Last phase of Whittaker site teardown

October 22, 2014 at 11:39 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 8 Comments

Rain or shine, the demolition and construction work in the heart of West Seattle is proceeding – and today, at the future site of The Whittaker (4755 Fauntleroy Way SW), the last round of demolition has begun. Teardown of the 1952-built former auto-dealership buildings on the south side of the site started this morning. The view in the top photo reminds us of the same stage of demolition on another formerly Huling-owned site five years ago. *added* Here’s a photo from just before the beams were revealed:

Just in case you’re a new arrival: The project to be built here includes ~400 apartments, ~600 parking spaces, and retail (Whole Foods remains the only announced tenant so far). The Masonic Center at 40th/Edmunds is not part of the site and will remain, getting some parking-lot improvements as part of the “public benefits” promised by the developers next door.

P.S. Speaking of development – the West Seattle Land Use Committee‘s scheduled to hold its third meeting tonight, 6:30 pm, Senior Center of West Seattle (Oregon/California).

West Seattle Wednesday: 35th SW kickoff; Oktoberfest; eclipse countdown; Highland Park Action Committee; Y expansion; more!

October 22, 2014 at 10:12 am | In West Seattle news, WS miscellaneous | No Comments

(Ducks we photographed at Sunday’s Fauntleroy Fall Festival. This seems like their kind of day.)
From the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar:

WORK AT HOME? TAKE A BREAK … and join the weekly Home Office/Co-working Meetup at West Seattle’s only co-working hub, WS Office Junction (WSB sponsor). Noon-1 pm. (6040 California SW)

ECLIPSE COUNTDOWN EVENT: One more library event with Alice Enevoldsen, looking ahead to tomorrow’s partial eclipse of the sun (hey, we just might get a sunbreak) – make a pinhole viewer, 4 pm, Delridge Branch Library. (5423 Delridge Way SW)

FREE OKTOBERFEST DINNER: 5 pm, Emeritus West Seattle invites you to a free event with dinner, music, pretzels, beer, and more – just RSVP; our calendar listing explains how. (4611 35th SW)

35TH SW SAFETY PROJECT KICKOFF: 6:30 pm at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center, it’s the long-awaited, announced-months-ago kickoff meeting for the 35th Avenue SW Road Safety Project. This is **not** a meeting at which you’ll be shown what the city has come up with and asked for comments; this is billed as a bonafide chance to tell SDOT what matters to you in designing a plan, so be there if you can:

Purpose: Review existing conditions and traffic data, discuss toolbox of potential engineering and enforcement strategies, and hear concerns and ideas from residents

This has been years in the making – here’s some backstory. (6400 Sylvan Way SW)

(added) WEST SEATTLE LAND USE COMMITTEE: 6:30 pm at the Senior Center of West Seattle, it’s the third meeting of this still-taking-shape group intended to look at “big picture” issues regarding development/land use on the peninsula. (Oregon/California)

(back to original report) HIGHLAND PARK ACTION COMMITTEE: 6:30 pm potluck followed by 7 pm meeting, featuring these topics:

The agenda includes an update on the Seattle Public Utilities’ natural drainage project (also called roadside raingardens or green stormwater infrastructure), planned along several blocks of 17th Avenue SW. The project is currently in design with construction anticipated for mid-2015. We will also be hosting a speaker from Communities in Schools at Highland Park Elementary, who will share with us some upcoming events for community involvement at the school.

HPAC meets at Highland Park Improvement Club. (12th/Holden)

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE WEST SEATTLE Y EXPANSION PLAN? Another community meeting is set for tonight at 7 pm at the YMCA (WSB sponsor)’s Studio 5 – details here. (4518 Fauntleroy Way SW)

POETRY AND STORYTELLING: Once a month, writers gather at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor) to share their work with each other and everyone else who’s interested. You’re invited! 7 pm. (5612 California SW)

AND MORE … these daily highlights lists only spotlight a few of the MANY events on our calendar – take a minute and browse the rest (for today, tomorrow, and days/weeks beyond) … thanks!

Buy/give/make apple pies, in Bells of the Sound bake-a-thon

October 22, 2014 at 9:13 am | In How to help, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

(Apple pie “before” photo, courtesy Bells of the Sound)
Before we hunker down and get really serious for the day – after a rough commute for many – let’s talk pie. Not for right now, sorry. This is one you have to plan for. It’s an annual pie-making/selling/giving event here in West Seattle, and we don’t always get word in time for you to join in, but this year, we did. From Shirley:

Would you like to donate an Apple Pie to help feed the homeless through the Union Gospel Mission this Thanksgiving? Or, Would you like a homemade Apple Pie for Thanksgiving – but don’t have time to make it?

If either of these is tempting, we can help you out! Bells of the Sound is making homemade Apple Pies for Thanksgiving and we’d be delighted to make one for you. Pies will be available on the 15th of November – ready to freeze. Return the completed form to Shirley Lindberg, Bells of the Sound, c/o Tibbetts United Methodist Church, 3941 41st Ave SW, Seattle, 98116; call me at 206-300-5724; or email me at Director@BellsOfTheSound.org for questions or more information. Please pre-order your pie by November 2nd. We only make enough for the pies that have been pre-ordered.

Also, if you love making apple pies, please feel free to email me as well. We have previously made between 600 and 700 pies on our Pie-Making Day – and extra hands are always welcome.

Holiday concerts have also been scheduled, and you can check the Bells of the Sound website for a concert near you. The West Seattle concert is scheduled for Tibbetts United Methodist Church on Friday, December 12th at 7:30 pm.

TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Rainy Wednesday; 35th SW ‘kickoff’ tonight

October 22, 2014 at 6:34 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle traffic alerts | 24 Comments

(WS bridge and Highway 99 views; more cams on the WSB Traffic page)
6:34 AM: Early trouble: Northbound I-5 is backed up to and through downtown because of a jack-knifed semi-truck near Mercer, currently blocking the two left lanes. And if for any reason you are headed this way from north of downtown, the southbound Battery Street Tunnel is closed with a stalled vehicle.

6:43 AM: WSDOT reports tow trucks have pulled the semi out of the way, so now it’s just “residual backup” on northbound I-5. We’ll take the chance to publish this morning’s transportation-news notes:

35TH SW SAFETY PROJECT KICKOFF MEETING TONIGHT: 6:30 pm at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center (6400 Sylvan Way SW), a meeting you could say has been years in the making. This isn’t the unveiling of a plan, according to SDOT, but an “issue identification/feedback session,” as explained a ways down the project’s home page.

7:07 AM: The southbound Battery Street Tunnel has reopened.

‘WHAT TIME DO YOU HIT THE BRIDGE?’: WSB Forums member “Beaglenut” is asking the question here as an informal poll. Come back for the link later and jump into the conversation!

7:47 AM: New truck trouble on NB I-5 into downtown – a stalled semi in the right lane before the Convention Center lid.

8:26 AM: Delridge has been worse than usual, per commenters. Nothing officially on the logs or otherwise mentioned, so we’re not sure if there’s a specific cause besides “terrible commuting morning overall.”

In cheerier news – If you ride ferries or maybe the Vashon Water Taxi, watch again for whales. We reported late-in-the-day sightings yesterday – and now an Orca Network commenter on Facebook has first word of one today, a few whales seen last hour from the Bainbridge ferry.

8:35 AM: Thanks to Dartanyon for the tip via Twitter, if you’re headed toward Beacon Hill: “Disabled Vehicle left lane, Spokane Street between 14th and 15th.”

9:15 AM: SPD tweets that there’s been a spinout in the NORTHBOUND Battery Street Tunnel, with one lane blocked.

9:45 AM: Now **all** northbound lanes of 99 at the tunnel are reported by SDOT to be blocked while tow crews clear everything out.

9:53 AM: All lanes open, per SPD.

3 PM: Various traffic challenges around West Seattle but biggest one is likely to last into the afternoon commute, at last report: 9th SW at Henderson, Barton, Trenton is closed because of a power-pole fire; the pole is going to be replaced, we were told.

West Seattle school-staff sizes: District’s list; school board member’s Gatewood postmortem

October 22, 2014 at 1:38 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 11 Comments

Two notes about public-school staff sizes and district changes. First, Seattle Public Schools says the final enrollment counts are in, so it’s making staff-size changes where needed. The Seattle Schools Community Forum website has published the memo from acting Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland to principals, with these changes for West Seattle-area schools:

Staff reductions – 1.0 FTE (full-time equivalent) at Madison Middle School, 0.6 FTE at Denny International Middle School

Staff increases – 1.0 FTE at Concord International Elementary School, 0.5 FTE at Sanislo Elementary School

The memo did not include enrollment numbers, but we’ll be asking the district for that information.

Meantime, two weeks after the looming loss of one FTE at Gatewood Elementary led to an unprecedented – and successful – fundraising drive, West Seattle’s school board rep Marty McLaren has issued an extensive postmortem on what happened and why. She sent it to her e-mail list (open to all) on Tuesday night. In it, she concludes, “in my opinion, the Seattle Public School District was not remiss in its action of surplusing a Gatewood teacher.” In case you’re not on that list, here is McLaren’s report, embedded below or PDF format here:

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