New King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay Leads WHCA’s Winter 2020 Quarterly Meeting Lineup

  WHCA Event

by Devin Chicras

Our first community meeting of the decade brought dozens of neighbors together to meet our new King County Councilmember and learn more about the 2020 Census, a new recycling startup, how Skyway Park is expanding, and more!

WHCA Community Quarterly Meeting – Winter 2020 Facebook Livestream

The entire meeting was livestreamed on Facebook so no one had to miss a minute.

WHCA Winter Quarterly Meeting 2020 guests arrive at Skyway VFW 2020-01-21
WHCA Winter Quarterly Meeting 2020 guests arrive at Skyway VFW

One major benefit of attending meetings in person is to check out the valuable resources on our table, and to connect with your neighbors!

WHCA Board President Jeremy Williams
WHCA Board President Jeremy Williams

WHCA Board President Jeremy Williams opened the meeting with an acknowledgment of the recent loss of Charles “Chuck” Vitiritti. He mentioned how active Chuck was in the community, and mentioned that one way neighbors can get involved in supporting their community is to volunteer with WHCA.

Skyway Water and Sewer General Manager Cynthia Lamothe
Skyway Water and Sewer General Manager Cynthia Lamothe

Skyway Water and Sewer General Manager Cynthia Lamothe said Chuck “gave it his all. For his VFW, for his country, and for his community. He was tireless… The best thing we can do is to carry on the things he did in his memory.”

Cynthia also reported on the Skyway Sewer Lift Consolidation Project. The project has started with a new contractor, and will break ground in February.

She also updated us on the King County Franchise Ordinance situation (would charge the District a fee for having pipes in King County right-of-way). Washington Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s decision and said that the County could proceed. The District is evaluating its options.

KCSO Community Service Officer Scott Dungan
KCSO Community Service Officer Scott Dungan

KCSO Community Service Officer Scott Dungan shared that our West Hill Community Crime Prevention Officer Deputy Jen Eshom has been invited to go train at the academy and will be leaving her position shortly. An interim officer will take her place for a couple months until Deputy Jimmy Mitchell comes back from leave. Crime in West Hill has been very minimal lately.

Skyway VFW Post Commander Larry Weldon and Auxiliary President Cheryl Scheeler
Skyway VFW Post Commander Larry Weldon and Auxiliary President Cheryl Scheeler

Skyway VFW Post Commander Larry Weldon and Auxiliary President Cheryl Scheeler explained the VFW’s community-centered mission and asked for new members. There are several upcoming events that are open to the public.

Friends of Skyway Library Kathleen Sidwell
Friends of Skyway Library Kathleen Sidwell

Friends of Skyway Library Kathleen Sidwell reminded everyone about the book sale shelf at Skyway Library, there is a dropbox for cash. There are many new events at the library including King County Community Service Areas’ office hours, AARP tax help, and kids’ storytimes.

Eric Wilcox US Census Bureau
Eric Wilcox US Census Bureau

Eric Wilcox from the US Census Bureau emphasized how important the 2020 Census is. You will get a letter with instructions on how to fill out the census online in March.

See our 2020 Census roundup here.

Cierra Sisters Founder Bridgette Hempstead
Cierra Sisters Founder Bridgette Hempstead

Cierra Sisters Founder Bridgette Hempstead invited everyone to their World Cancer Day celebration on February 8th at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center. Cierra Sisters is an African-American breast cancer survivor and support organization.

Founder of Ridwell Ryan Metzger
Founder of Ridwell Ryan Metzger

Founder of Ridwell, Ryan Metzger, explained his new recycling startup that lets you recycle anything from plastic film to holiday lights in a box on your porch. Learn more at Ridwell.com.

Yvette Dinish of CORD Community Owned Real Estate Development
Yvette Dinish of CORD Community-Owned Real Estate Development

Yvette Dinish of Community-Owned Real Estate Development (C.O.R.D.) introduced the new organization to create a community trust, and asked for folks to come talk to her if they were interested in sharing contact information and taking a survey.

King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay
King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay

King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay mentioned that he grew up in Skyway and this community is “near and dear” to him.

King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay
King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay

His overarching vision for Skyway-West Hill is “a collaborative one.” The whole state, and maybe the whole country, should be paying attention to us. See his op-ed in the Seattle Times here.

Skyway has “an opportunity to get it right before it’s too late” regarding gentrification. We can be a model for the entire country. He’s been meeting with state representatives and senators to tell them about what opportunities exist here around housing, anti-displacement, and investing in small businesses.

We need to address the fact that King County’s tax structure is broken, because of severe limitations from the State. We can only raise revenue through property taxes and sales taxes, and there is a +1% per year cap.

“I’d love to work with each and every one of you to make [things] happen”. You can reach Girmay at girmay.zahilay@kingcounty.gov.

King County Parks David Kimmett
King County Parks David Kimmett

David Kimmett of King County Parks displayed a map that showed that the only two assets King County Parks owns in West Hill are Skyway Park and a series of disconnected parcels called “Bryn Mawr Park”.

Skyway Park Acquisitions
King County Parks David Kimmett shows parcels adjacent to Skyway Park that are currently owned and/or recently purchased by King County Parks (fuschia) and those that they are looking to acquire (red)

David mentioned they recently were able to add to Skyway Park by purchasing a parcel right behind Roman Casino, under the power lines. There are a couple of other parcels under the power lines adjacent to Renton Avenue South that they are also currently in the process of working with the current owner to purchase. Purchasing a parcel in the back of the parking lot behind Holy Temple Evangelistic Center would create an entrance right near Skyway Library.

Because Roman Casino has new owners, Parks will once again reach out to see if they can acquire and vacate the street going into the park near the casino to create a more welcoming entrance.

Krista Dooley of Washington Trails Association
Krista Dooley of Washington Trails Association

Krista Dooley of Washington Trails Association previewed the work that will go into creating a new trail down the power line hill from Renton Avenue South into Skyway Park. Community would be invited to help plan, and volunteers would be welcome to help build it. They also have an outdoor leadership program for youth, and a gear lending library.

King County Parks Brooks Village Skyway Potential Acquisition 2020
King County Parks Brooks Village Skyway Potential Acquisition 2020

Brooks Village property (down Renton Avenue South past Skyway Grocery Outlet) may also be something King County Parks acquires in the near future. There will be more community engagement around this going forward.

King County Water and Land Resources Division's Lizzy Stone and Sarah Brandt
King County Water and Land Resources Division’s Lizzy Stone and Sarah Brandt

King County Water and Land Resources Division’s Lizzy Stone and Sarah Brandt want community feedback about why trees matter. They are updating their Strategic Climate Action Plan, and have an initiative to plant 1 million trees by 2020 (they’ve already exceeded this amount). They want our feedback to determine priorities for the next 30 years.

King County Local Services Director John Taylor
King County Local Services Director John Taylor

King County Local Services Director John Taylor provided an update on the Skyway-West Hill Land Use Subarea Plan and shared some highlights from the department’s very first year of existence.

Skyway-West Hill Subarea Plan update
Skyway-West Hill Subarea Plan update and timeline

The Executive-recommended Skyway-West Hill Subarea Plan was transmitted to King County Council on September 30th, 2019. It is currently being reviewed by the Mobility and Environment Committee. The goal is for the Council to adopt the plan by the end of June 2020. Once the subarea plan is adopted, the proposed zoning will go into effect. Staff is already working on the action items featured in the plan.

You can submit comments by attending Council meetings or submitting responses online.

WHCA Winter Quarterly Meeting 2020 Audience at Skyway VFW 2020-01-21
WHCA Winter Quarterly Meeting 2020 audience at Skyway VFW

Jeremy wrapped the meeting by reminding everyone of the upcoming 2020 Presidential Primary election (see our overview here), how important it is for folks to become monthly donors to WHCA, and opportunities for organizations and businesses to secure their annual sponsorship of WHCA.

At our next Quarterly Meeting on April 21st, WHCA Board Elections will be held.


Hey neighbors! If you like having a more engaged, informed and vibrant community, you can make a huge impact by joining your neighbors in giving $5 or more a month to the leanest, hardest working all-volunteer nonprofit in the neighborhood.