by Devin Chicras
Could a roundabout slow down vehicles speeding past 7-Eleven on MLK/SR 900? Will we see affordable housing and free preschool in downtown Skyway? West Hill Community Association’s Winter 2022 Community Quarterly Meeting touched on these topics and more on February 15. Watch the full video below, or read on for highlights.
- Skyway Coalition
- Renton School District
- King County Sheriff’s Office
- Skyway Water & Sewer District
- Skyway Community Van (King County Metro)
- Alajawan’s Hands (The Alajawan Brown Foundation)
- EVs, Greenhouse Gases, and Fossil Fuel Facilities
- SR 900/Martin Luther King Jr. Way South Corridor Study
- Skyway $5 Million Fund for Affordable Housing RFP
- Low-income Weatherization Program
- Fireworks Prohibition in King County
Quick updates from organizations that serve Skyway-West Hill.
REPRESENTED BY: Rebecca Berry, Manager
Skyway Coalition’s purpose is to work together by engaging our community in advocating for resources, projects, and policies that will enable the Skyway community to create a vibrant, walkable, ethnically diverse, and civically engaged community that involves the collective voice, wisdom, and expertise of its residents and business owners in ongoing civic decision-making.
- Many exciting projects, from working on getting a community center and participatory budgeting to revealing a new job opening – sign up for their newsletter to stay connected.
- Sign up to become a member of the Coalition and help work on issues like affordable housing and economic growth.
Renton School District
REPRESENTED BY: Randy Matheson, Executive Director of Community Relations
Spanning 32.5 square miles, Renton School District provides a safe and challenging learning environment for a diverse population of approximately 15,500 students in pre-K through 12th grade at 4 high schools, 4 middle schools, 15 elementary schools, and an early childhood learning center.
- Two 4-year replacement levies for Renton School District were on the ballot for the February 8 Special Election, both passed with over 60% approval.
- Positive COVID-19 cases have dropped significantly within Renton School District since the start of the calendar year.
- Currently down to only one staff member and six students with COVID-19.
- Governor Jay Inslee is expected to make an announcement about the indoor mask mandate for schools this week, Renton School District will await news and then make decisions on how best to continue to keep students and staff safe.
- Major construction projects at Lindbergh High School, Hazen High School, and Renton High School approved by voters in 2019 are underway.
- Hazen High School pool will be closed for a year while it is renovated, Lindbergh High School has significant upgrades coming to science classrooms and the entryway, and Renton High School science classrooms and locker rooms are being improved.
- Did you know: the large field on the west side of Renton High School hasn’t been touched in years because the land it sits on is archeologically protected. Any time they need to dig, they have to call out archeologists to ensure there are no tribal artifacts or evidence of burial grounds associated with the Duwamish people.
- Because this adds extra time and money to projects, Renton High School students still do not have a playfield or ballfield onsite, so the District is looking at ways to address that in the future while navigating the archeological restrictions.
- Work is being done at Dimmitt Middle School as well.
- We’re seeing a lot of growth in our schools, and will bring back updates on enrollment trends at a later time.
King County Sheriff’s Office
REPRESENTED BY: Major Joseph Hodgson and Deputy Josh Storks-Sayles
The King County Sheriff’s Office is a local police agency in King County, Washington, United States. It is the primary law enforcement agency for all unincorporated areas of King County, as well as 12 cities and two transit agencies that contract their police services with the KCSO.
- Commercial burglaries and vehicle prowls are up over the last month, but it’s important to look at context – vehicle prowls are up from one in December 2021 to seven in January 2022, but that can be the work of one or a small group of individuals. The stat can change depending on if those individuals are active or not.
- Regionally, crimes in general were trending upward in January 2022, there were only a couple exceptions: there were fewer residential burglaries and firearms violations.
- King County Sheriff’s Office is facing some substantial staffing concerns – there are currently around 100 vacancies.
- To address these vacancies, some property crime detectives have been redeployed to patrol, and anyone calling to report property crime will likely be sent to an online form which will be reviewed at a later date – deputies will not be sent out to your property to investigate.
- Our highest priority is to make sure we are available to answer calls for emergency service.
- Captain Pete Horvath is being transferred to the north precinct.
- On March 1, Captain Heather Volpe will be joining Precinct 4 from the Comms Center.
- “Skyway Walks” are starting back up, you’ll see Deputy Josh Storks-Sayles and other deputies walking up and down the Skyway Business District on foot and strengthening relationships with community and businesses.
- Deputy Storks-Sayles will be working with Alajawan’s Hands again on some possible upcoming projects.
- KCSO is currently interviewing for a new community service officer to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of long-time Skyway-West Hill CSO Scott Dungan.
Skyway Water & Sewer District
REPRESENTED BY: Jon Ault, President of the Board of Commissioners
Skyway Water & Sewer District is a Special Purpose District located in the West Hill area of unincorporated King County. Skyway’s service area is approximately 1.8 square miles for water (serving 3,350 customers) and 2.7 square miles for sewer (serving 4,050 customers). The District maintains approximately 40 miles of water mains and 48 miles of sewer system piping. An elected three-member Board of Commissioners establishes District water and sewer rates, sets policies, and oversees operations. The Board meets regularly on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 6:00 p.m. All meetings are open to the public. Day-to-day District administrative and operational duties are carried out by a nine-member staff along with consulting engineers and counsel.
- Jon is standing in for General Manager Cynthia Lamothe for today’s report (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CYNTHIA!)
- Due to temporary COVID-19 policies, Skyway Water & Sewer District has not charged penalties or late fees, filed liens, or discontinued service since March 24, 2020.
- While the state’s utility late fee and shutoff moratorium ended on September 30, 2021, Skyway Water & Sewer District further extended their temporary policies until December 31, 2021.
- Effective January 1, 2022, the District’s standard policies for non-payment, late fees, and liens were reinstated.
- Although customers had until January 31, 2022 to enter into a payment agreement if they were unable to pay their bills due to the impact of COVID-19, still contact the District to see if there are any remaining options for your situation.
- As of right now, over 200 shutoffs are expected for February 23.
- See more updates, including current capital construction projects and a 2021 recap in the Skylines newsletter.
REPRESENTED BY: Jon Gould, Chief Community Impact and Government Relations Officer
Childhaven partners with parents and community to strengthen families, prevent childhood trauma and its damaging effects, and prepare children for a lifetime of well-being. Childhaven operates the Cynthia A. Green Family Center in Skyway.
- Currently determining feasibility for an affordable housing and early learning mixed-use project, hoping to make determinations by the end of March 2022.
- LIHI (Low Income Housing Institute, which currently runs Progressive Skyway Village, the tiny home village on MLK) now has a purchase and sale agreement for three vacant parcels totalling about 18,000 square feet along Renton Ave S next to the 7-Eleven at 76th Ave S, which is also near the Cynthia A. Green Family Center on 76th Ave S.
- LIHI would manage the affordable housing, which would likely be subsidized permanent affordable housing for renters in the 30-50% AMI range (average median income).
- Childhaven would offer early learning classes following state’s preschool program (ECAP) – free, full-day preschool that could serve up to 120 kids with five classrooms.
- If the property is closed on, there would be robust community engagement, about an 18 month fundraising and financing period, and then construction would likely begin in 2024.
Skyway Community Van (King County Metro)
REPRESENTED BY: Kahdijah Jackson, Community Transporation Coordinator
Community Van (from King County Metro) is your solution for getting around your neighborhood. This community rideshare program makes it easier to run errands, get to appointments, and enjoy social events and recreational outings. Community Van is driven by volunteers, and anyone may schedule a one-time ride or recurring trips.
- Volunteer drivers do not have to pay, but riders pay the standard Metro fare. Think of it as a shuttle you can borrow to affordably pull off a group outing to a hiking trail with your church or club, or even offer a trip to the grocery store for your elderly neighbors. Or for those just looking to do good, volunteer to be a driver to help others with their own trip!
- If you’d like to help drive the van, or have an idea for a trip, contact Kahdijah.
- WHCA’s Winter newsletter, mailed to all addresses in unincorporated West Hill, resulted in the Community Van program getting its first volunteer driver and roundtrip!
- The next roundtrip with a volunteer driver will be to the Skyway Resource Center pop-up event (also featuring a COVID-19 vaccination clinic) on February 25 from 3-5 p.m., and more riders are wanted! Reach out to Kahdijah to book your ride.
- There is a new Facebook Group you can join for updates.
Alajawan’s Hands (The Alajawan Brown Foundation)
REPRESENTED BY: Ayanna Brown, Co-Founder
“The mission of the Alajawan Brown Foundation is to continually expand the work started in the spirit of 12-year-old Alajawan Brown who selflessly gave of himself, his time, and resources – just to make a difference in the most important aspect of his community: PEOPLE.”
- Planning has begun for the annual Alajawan’s Family Reunion event on Friday, April 29, 2022 (likely noon-7 p.m.).
- Skyway Grocery Outlet owners Jeff and Erin McNeil have agreed to again host the event in their outdoor space with community stage.
- Like 2021, event will include a resource fair and possibly a youth COVID-19 vaccination clinic.
A deeper dive into current topics and items of interest, presented by subject matter experts.
EVs, Greenhouse Gases, and Fossil Fuel Facilities
PRESENTED BY: Nicole Sanders, Green Building Planner (King County Department of Local Services, Permitting Division)
The King County Permitting Division provides land use, building, and fire regulatory and operating permits, code enforcement, and a limited number of business licenses in unincorporated areas of the county.
- Part one: Exploring an affordable housing rebate to offset new electric vehicle (EV) charging and wiring requirements.
- In 2021, codes were adopted requiring EV charging and wiring for future chargers to be installed in new developments and large renovation projects.
- In 2022, King County Council directed staff to research whether a rebate for affordable housing developers was needed for them to comply with these new requirements.
- Staff is currently looking into what level of affordability (average median income) should qualify, how much the program would cost, potential funding sources, and what would happen if requests exceeded available funding.
- Part two: Exploring creating greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation requirements for large projects.
- In 2022, based on the comprehensive plan updates conducted in 2019 and 2020, King County Council directed staff to research whether large projects should be required to reduce their emissions or counterbalance emissions by purchasing offsets or credits.
- Since 2020, two new related developments occured at the state-level: the Climate Commitment Act addresses carbon emissions reductions and offsets for large emitters (over 25,000 metric tons annually) starting in 2023, which would account for about 75% of their emissions, but prohibits the county from taking stronger measures. There is also a Governor’s Directive called the “Greenhouse Gas Assessment for Projects” (GAP) which is looking at creating a similar program for emitters over 10,000 metric tons per year.
- We probably won’t know how successful these programs are until about 2024 or 2025, so staff is recommending that council not pursue legislation at this time until “the dust settles” at the state level and we can see where actions at the county-level could be most effective.
- Part three: Exploring whether possible new fossil fuel facilities have financial coverage (insurance, bonds, etc.) for potential impacts and if not, should the council add those requirements.
- Possible new fossil fuel facilities that could be built in unincorporated King County and fall under county permitting would be a oil terminal, liquefied natural gas plant, or a gas electricity plant.
- There are no existing gas electricity plants in King County (even all nine of Puget Sound Energy’s plants are located outside of King County), and the probablity of one being built in this county is fairly low.
- Staff does not believe water pollution and air emissions require additional financial coverage.
- Brownfields (contaminated sites) are a risk for oil terminals, and while the property owner is liable, risks might increase if they go bankrupt.
- Staff is suggesting the county require a decommissioning plan from new oil facilities that would identify hazardous products used or generated onsite along with possible risks and costs, which may influence hazards handling and mitigation requirements.
- Explosions and fires are more of a risk for liquefied natural gas plants and oil terminals, but are still rare.
- Staff is suggesting an explosion risk evaluation for all three facility types prepared by a professional and reviewed by a third party which also provides evidence of financial coverage – this step may influence plant layout and how materials are handled.
- The overall probability of any of these facilities being built is fairly low due to land costs and availability, existing site and development restrictions, and the trend of these facilities being built outside of King County already.
- While the probability of a new fossil fuel facility in King County is low, “it’s better to be prepared”, and King County codes often influence other jurisdictions statewide.
- An ordinance addressing these items is still under review, but will be made available for pubic comment from March 30 to April 14, undergo any necessary revisions, and go to King County Council for review on June 30.
SR 900/Martin Luther King Jr. Way South Corridor Study
PRESENTED BY: Maan Sidhu, Assistant Area Traffic Engineer for King County and Thomas Noyes, Senior Transportation Planner (WSDOT)
Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) keeps people, businesses and the economy moving by operating and improving the state’s multimodal transportation system.
- Starting in Fall 2020, WSDOT began a community engagment process to understand community priorities and roadway issues for SR 900 (MLK Jr. Way S) from 57th Avenue South (near Progressive Skyway Village, heading toward I-5) to Renton city limits.
- Community response to the survey revealed top concerns about SR 900: vehicles drive too fast, not enough sidewalks or lighting, and too much congestion at S 129th St.
- Recommended projects include:
- Improvements to the entire stretch of SR 900, including 10′ wide sidewalks, corridor illumination, and landscaping to invoke a more residential feel.
- ADA improvements to the intersection at S 129th St including updating curb ramps, pedestrian push buttons, and concrete curbing.
- Installing a new signalled intersection at S 133rd St to help avoid collisions between vehicles eastbound turning left up S 133rd St and oncoming traffic headed west on SR 900, as well as add a new pedestrian crossing.
- Installing a signalized pedestrian crossing near S 135th St (by Creston Point Apartments) to help residents cross to get to the bus stop across the road.
- Creating a new roundabout at S 129th St to slow down drivers and increase access to businesses at that intersection, as well as install rectangular rapid flashing beacons to help pedestrians safely cross.
- Reducing speed limit from 50 miles per hour to 45 miles per hour.
- There is currently no funding identified for these projects, but WSDOT is currently looking for funds, including working with State Senator Rebecca Saldaña to secure funding.
- A joint effort between WSDOT and King County Metro will create a new sidewalk north of 68th Ave S to create safer access to routes 101 and 102, and is expected to be constructed by late 2022.
Skyway $5 Million Fund for Affordable Housing RFP
PRESENTED BY: Yasmeen Perez, Equitable Development Program Manager and Joanna Armstrong, RFP Coordinator (King County Department of Community and Human Services)
The King County Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS) manages a range of programs and services to help our county’s most vulnerable residents while working to strengthen our communities.
- The Skyway $5 Million Fund for Affordable Housing request for proposals (RFP) was released on January 19, 2022 form King County Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS).
- Applicants can apply for up to $500,000 in grants for predevelopment work (site identification, broker fees, feasibility studies, etc.) and up to $2 million in loans for acquisition and/or construction.
- Building on years of community organizing, Skyway advocates worked with Councilmember Zahilay to secure $5 million in King County’s 2021-2022 Biennial Budget in the Housing and Community Development Fund for Affordable Housing in Skyway-West Hill.
- King County DCHS and local residents worked closely together over several months to develop this RFP.
- The purpose of the fund is to support equitable, community-driven development of new affordable housing units located in Skyway-West Hill that help prevent displacement, align with the anti-displacement strategies report recommendations, and build wealth and financial stability in historically underserved communities.
- Applicants must be a nonprofit based in or with programs designed for the community, or that is in partnership with such an organization – a track record of racial and social equity values is a must.
- If the project is for rental housing, units must serve households with incomes at or below 60% of Area Median Income (AMI) in King County.
- If the project is for affordable homeownership, it must serve households with incomes between 50 and 80% AMI.
- Proposals are due by 1:00 p.m. PST on Monday, March 28, 2022.
- Joanna Armstrong, RFP coordinator, can answer any questions via email: [email protected].
- Communities Rise is offering one hour of grant writing consultant assistance for eligible organizations, and the deadline to apply for assistance is March 14, 2022.
- Proposals can be submitted through ZoomGrants (RFP documents available at the link in the “Library” tab) or via email to [email protected].
Low-income Weatherization Program
PRESENTED BY: Sunnie Park, Development Manager and Heather Eklund, Administrative Program Manager for Weatherization (King County Housing Authority)
KCHA provides rental housing and assistance to more than 55,000 people. This quality, affordable housing supports health and self-sufficiency. Our community centers and educational programs help children succeed in school and in life. And our investments in smart, sustainable growth support the revitalization of local communities.
- KCHA is a public agency independent from King County government which provides rental housing (they own, manage, and operate over 100 properties across the county) and assistance (Section 8 vouchers for low-income households and housing choice vouchers for homeless veterans and their families) to 34 cities in the county (exceptions are Seattle and Renton), supporting over 22,000 households.
- Locally, KCHA has been working with Renton Innovation Zone Partnership (RIZP) and WHCA on the Skyway Resource Center project, as well as owning and operating the Aspen Ridge Apartment Homes on 68th Ave S.
- KCHA has offered a weatherization program since the 1970s to help low-income renters and homeowners reduce their energy costs.
- Eligible homes can be single-family homes that are site built or mobile homes occupied by either the owner or renter, or multifamily housing run by a housing authority or nonprofit – privately owned housing may be eligible if they can prove income eligibility.
- Income eligibility (60% WA State AMI or lower) is determined by the income of the owner or tenant living in a single family home, or for duplexes through multifamily housing, as long as half of the units are income eligible, the whole building is eligible.
- Applicants must be within King County (but not within Seattle city limits), and be either Puget Sound Energy or Seattle City Light clients.
- The application process can be completed online, but it can be easiest to call or email first to ensure eligibility: [email protected] or (206) 214-1240.
- Typical weatherization measures include an energy audit, insulation, air sealing, ventaliation, heating and cooling service or replacement, and respiratory health improvements.
- Potential benefits of these actions include lower utility bills, improved indoor air quality, increased comfort in the home year-round, increased housing sustainability, and alleviating asthmatic triggers.
- The program is funded by federal, state, and utiility grants, but there may be more expensive items deemed to not meet a savings to investment ratio that the owner would have to cover, such as windows.
Fireworks Prohibition in King County
PRESENTED BY: John Taylor, Director (King County Department of Local Services)
The county maintains county roads and bridges, issues permits, manages land use planning, and provides many other services to unincorporated areas—which are grouped into seven Community Service Areas. King County Local Services is here to help connect you with these services. Our goal is to make it easy for you to find what you need, do what you need to do, and tell us what you think.
- Sales and use of consumer fireworks was prohibited throughout unincorporated King County in 2021 – read WHCA’s detailed breakdown and watch our exclusive Fireworks Town Hall event with Councilmember Girmay Zahilay.
- While warnings will only be issued for 2022, enforcement will begin in 2023 which includes criminal penalties (misdemeanors) and civil fines.
- King County Council directed staff to evaluate alternative enforcement options that include an unarmed, nonpolice response to fireworks violations.
- Currently, the model they are considering would mean people calling 911 to report fireworks violations would be routed to a voicemail system to provide all details of the violation, and the violators would receive a warning letter – on the second offense, the violators would get a citation and fine with an option to appeal.
- Property owners would be liable for fireworks use on their property (such as a business or church parking lot), but could appeal a citation.
- King County Fire District 20 has stated that they do not have the capacity to enforce this law as they are very busy during the July 4 holiday, but would support the education campaign leading up to that day.
- King County is not yet able to answer questions from the public about how they would prevent misuse of this reporting hotline, and those with additional questions can follow up by contacting John Taylor at [email protected].
King County Local Services’ “Local Lunch”
Questions? Comments? Need help with something? Stop by an informal Zoom meeting on Fridays (12–1 p.m.). Join via Zoom (Meeting ID: 927 2117 2144, Passcode: LOCALlunch) or call 927 2117 2144 (Passcode: 7244038399).
Thank you to our crew!
Gratitude to WHCA Co-chair Fin Hardy for facilitating, Co-chair Jeannie Williams and the WHCA Advocacy Committee for planning, and to Skyway Coalition liaison and WHCA tech manager Jeremy Williams for the brilliant technical support and live streaming services.
Save the date
Save the date for our next WHCA Quarterly Community Meeting at 7 p.m. on April 19, 2022. At this time, the meeting is expected to remain virtual-only.
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.