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Parking pinch on Beach Drive

Street preservation repairs will take place on July 11th though the 14th from the 4200 block to 5300 Beach Drive. SDOT map labels it as Spot Rehab. See you on the west side of the road!

Estimated Project Dates:
1/1/2016 – 12/31/2016

Street Impact: Reduced Street Capacity
Sidewalk Impact: None
Parking Lane Impact: None

Project Notes:
CREW SPOT REHAB

Contact: carrie.parker@seattle.gov

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Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

Update: Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook seawall project

It’s been since December 2014 that the public comment period ended in regard to the Alki Coastal Erosion project spearheaded by the Seattle District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The project outlines a plan to replace a stretch of seawall that precariosly holds back the 50″ diameter sewage pipe that flows around 2 million gallons of wastewater per day.

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A representative from the Army Corps Public Affairs Office promptly responded to my inquiry in wondering what the delay was for getting construction started….

“According to our project manager, we received a letter of concurrence from the State Historic Preservation Officer and we sent our feasibility report and appendices to our higher headquarters in Portland June 1 for review and approval. We are now waiting for them to review – if they determine we’ve adequately addressed their comments, then we’ll be ready to get going on the Design and Implementation phase. We are anticipating approval this summer.”

I’m not sure if “approval this summer” will result in any near-term progress. However, I can tell you that the Seattle Parks Department’s truck drivers are getting pretty nervous how the seawall is holding up every time they park near it to backfill the erosion

The newly refinished Barton Pump Station and nearly completed Murray Ave Station won’t do much good if the main artery to the West Point Treatment Plant ruptures due to a collapsing seawall. All of us living down near the beach will know first hand the meaning of “it all rolls downhill”.

 

Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

Beach Drive short term rental properties under direct fire (opinion)

Representation of known short term rental units in Seattle

More like a scattered shot gun approach if you ask me. The Seattle Mayor & esteemed Council members are set to propose strict regs on ALL short term (under 30 days) rental properties in the entire city. That of course includes all of West Seattle and the handful of units on Beach Drive which yours truly just went live with in May. 

The purpose and intention of the proposed legislation is to discourage homeowners with non-owner occupied properties to choose housing out of town tourists over more permanent long term renters. If it all goes as planned, the Council predicts there will be 300 new long term rental units on the market.  They stop short on claiming they’ll be “affordable” but that’s what they really want, and frankly should want.

Councilmember Tim Burgess that chairs Affordable Housing prides himself on using “smart policies and evidence-based solutions”. Really?

From personal experience, the few guests we have hosted so far have either had family living in West Seattle, were referred by neighbors that don’t have enough space for out of town relatives, a family from Minnesota that drove up from Portland to hang out and see a Twins game at Safeco Field, and a local West Seattle resident celebrating a landmark birthday with her out of area friends as a stay-cation. What they all had in common is…

  • They did not want to rent a hotel downtown and fight traffic and parking.
  • They did not want to stay in the basement of someone’s primary residence.
  • They all wanted a private waterfront home all to themselves which is not available anywhere commercially in the city.
  • They all spent a majority of time & money hanging out in West Seattle.

Other than required licensing, the Council is not going to hinder homeowners that are using their primary residence for housing STR guests. The idea is that this segment of the market is merely trying to make ends meet and subjecting them to the proposed regs wouldn’t result in additional permanent units anyhow. Well, the only 2 homeowners I know around here using their primary residence as a STR have entire apartment units on their lower floor and choose short term rather than permanent renters. Not trying to pull them into the crab boil as well but it probably won’t be long before the City sics their proposed staff of STR inspector goons on them as well!

Now we need to make a decision what to do with our house next door if the legislation passes through as proposed. Rent it out on a permanent basis? No, we also like the flexibility of using it for ourselves, family & friends. Sell it? Maybe some years down the road. Bottom line is that the City of Seattle will miss out on any further taxes & licensing fees we generate and West Seattle establishments will lose some year around tourism dollars. It’s just too much work & expense to run a STR like ours for the proposed limit of 90 days a year when the break even point is more like around 160 days.

 

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West Seattle’s one and only hotel/motel

I’m not saying a problem doesn’t exist in other parts of the city. All of Burgess’s example’s of why short term rentals are cheating permanent locals from finding affordable housing border downtown Seattle. He claims extreme abuses of entire apartment/condo floors being held out for STR to tourists. We’ve recently learned that “entrepreneurs” are actually renting out permanent apartment space and then jacking the rent to STR guests all with 100% approval of the building’s management team (also receiving a cut, of course). I also wouldn’t be surprised if abuses are taking place with the recent high density rezoning and micro housing attended for gram & gramps or permanent local renters.

Seems to me that the Council and Mayor should be targeting those abuses rather than ma & pa on Beach Drive.

 

Scupper, reporting/ranting for Beach Drive Blog

Reader asks about park bench replacement at Beach Drive & Jacobsen

A very popular rest stop at the south end of Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook took a tumble from corrosion back on February 23rd (shouldn’t have eaten that last bite). Neighbors and out-of-towners have enjoyed watching the scenery under the huge “Raptor Tree” that Eagle & Osprey often use to spy on prey. Love that tree!

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Appears that the 2 legged benches are all failing at the weld just under the bench. There a few more with the same design near the drinking fountain that had caution tape applied immediately after the Jacobsen bench toppled . The tape has since come off and the older benches still stand… barely

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The newer 4 legged butt rest looks like a much better design for being near the saltwater…

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As far as replacement, we reported a few years back on plans to rebuild that entire section of the deteriorating seawall. No bench replacement or additions were to happen until the seawall issue gets solved. Construction was intended to start last Summer but the design work was never finalized. A response from the Army Corp of Engineers back in November 2015 didn’t show much progress.

 Unfortunately I don’t have any updates at this point. We are still working through our feasibility phase process before we can move into final design.

I have a current email out to the Army Corp asking for any further progress & will update as soon as they respond.  Meanwhile, the storms keep pounding it and the park department continues to backfill the erosion.

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Picture above taken on the stormy morning of 3/10/16… photo below was furnished by a Beach Drive neighbor the very next morning. Park department workers mentioned that they really didn’t like parking their heavy equipment on the slumping strip of grass which precariously covers  the 54″ sewer line carrying 50 million gallons of sewage per day!

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Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

Killers chasing chum off of Beach Drive

Several onlookers lined the sidewalk along Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook watching a nearby Orca pod. The whales have been spotted all over the area for the last couple of days according to West Seattle Blog reports. The Orca are most likely chasing the large fall chum salmon run which contains nearly 90% of the entire annual chum numbers that migrate down to central & south Puget Sound.

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It was also reported that The Whale Trail organization has spotted other aquatic species in the area as well.

 

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Well, maybe not ALL of them…

 

Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

 

Slow down with Proposition 1 …opinion

SDOT’s new levy project to move most of Seattle sounds like another great plan for West Seattle (remember the monorail Green Line?). Status quo with more bike lanes and speed enforcement is exactly what we need! Let’s take closer look at each enhancement…

Fauntleroy WayKey elements include paving, adding a protected bike lane, transit enhancements, and signal upgrades, improving safety and reliability for all travelers. Sounds terrific for Vashon Island comutters. How much $ are they contributing again??

Roxbury Street & 35th AveOver the last three years, 294 collisions, 128 injuries, and 2 fatalities have occurred. We are currently planning and designing near-term safety improvements paired with education and enforcement, working towards the city’s Vision. I believe a majority of these accidents occur from drivers slamming on their breaks trying to avoid the traffic-cop camera’s mailing out $190 tickets for doing 22 in a 20mph School Zone… when lights are flashing or children present or distracted by taking your eyes off the road to get a read on the myriad of signs designed to “educate us”.

SW Alaska Street:  The levy would provide funding to make safety improvements like redesigning the roadway. That’s an easy one. Just put the design back to where it was before adding the “bus only” & the staggered right turn only lane. Can you imagine being an out-of-towner trying to drive that stretch all the way to the junction?

Admiral Way: Project Goals

  • Encourage slower speeds  Tell that to the bikers doing 40 mph down the hill.
  • Reduce collisions  Collisions happen.
  • Accommodate existing maximum on-street parking occupancy There’s plenty of occupancy in motor homes & vans along Beach Drive.
  • Provide a comfortable and predictable bike connection between Alki and California Ave business district Why just bikes?

Here’s a more comprehensive plan that’s much more inclusive to our residents…

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The rest of the levy just repairs what we already have at a cost of $275 per year per household (median household of 450K) as opposed to the $130 we’re currently paying with the Bridge the Gap levy.

I’m convinced that the rest of the city just believes we West Seattleites love a good parade and need to slow down. While crawling in traffic between Admiral & Fauntleroy junctions yesterday, I reminisced of escorting my HiYu princess along California Ave. I wanted to roll down my window and give the float wave to all the angry impatient drivers heading the other way.

If you ask me, the rest of the city better look out. Old timers tell us it only took 71 years to get the high level bridge over the Duwamish!

Seattleites endured in trying to secure a high-level bridge that would get them to and from “the mainland” without being held up by boat traffic along the Duwamish River.

West Seattleites began campaigning for the bridge in 1916 and at one point threatened to secede from the city if it didn’t deliver.

Thank goodness we now have the West Seattle Bridge. Where else can you sit in traffic all day, soak in the wonderful views and dream of the day Starbucks can land a 4th cup of jo on your car hood’s drone pad.

They first named Alki “little New York” when the city founders came ashore. Now with all the new high density residential buildings coming on-line, we are becoming the “little Manhattan Island” of Seattle and could use a transportation plan that helps us get around.

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Scupper, blathering opinions on Beach Drive Blog (My wife, the blog boss, only allows me 1 opinion per year!)

C’mon baby douse my fire

Another type of vessel has been taking a spin on the popular Beach Drive test track. Joining Delta Marine and the WA State Ferries is a brand spanking new 108′ fire boat built by Foss Maritime & bound for the Port of Long Beach California. The super pumper named “Fire Boat 20” tested forward & reverse for most of the day along the drive this morning.

According to Pacific Maritime Magazine

The Long Beach pair each carry four Caterpillar 3512-C main engines, producing a total of more than 8,000 HP. Two engines are dedicated for pumping only, while two do double duty – propulsion and simultaneously adding more pumping power for a total of over 40,000 gpm. A pair of Cat C12 150-kW gensets provides the boats’ electric power. The largest monitor will be capable of delivering 12,000 gpm at a 600-foot range. The other nine monitors range from 1,500 to 6,000 gpm. Top speed is 12 knots – sufficient for a compact port like Long Beach. The low-wash speed is eight knots and on-site endurance is five days.

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Being one of the most technically advanced emergency boats in the world, it even has systems that protects the firefighters from chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats. I looked into buying one to protect Beach Drive but couldn’t negotiate them down from the 25+ mil price tag!

 

Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

Bottom line: Plug your nose & talk to the State

In our continuing coverage regarding the foul Beach Drive bouquet, A small community meeting with representatives from King County Waste Water just adjourned from the sidewalk of 4700 Beach Drive SW. Armed with a color 4 page report regarding the soundness of their sewer, King County says it wasn’t them!

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Four leakage sensors were setup inside man-holes along the circa 1957 main line that runs along the drive…

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With no solid evidence supporting sewage runoff as our culprit, the meeting turned into a “now what” conversation. An ecologist from the county recommended that neighbors start a permit process asap with Washington Fish & Wildlife for dealing with the next round of rotting sea lettuce. The permits apparently last five years. If  NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is correct, we could be literally blown out of our houses next summer! An article issued by King 5 back in July reported NOAA’s prediction for Seattle’s chances of continued warming…

SEATTLE – There’s a 90 percent chance El Nino will continue through this coming winter and an 80 percent chance it will extend to early spring 2016, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center reported Thursday.

The stench has been no stranger to the Fauntleroy Cove area where residents took action to remove the seaweed. The Seattle Times reported

When the problem last emerged in 1990, state officials attacked it by corralling the seaweed in nets and hauling it out into the sound, where it was dumped. They did this for three years at a cost of about $10,000 a year, then stopped. The problem abated until this summer, when average temperatures were three to four degrees above normal and the Puget Sound area saw more sunshine than usual.

A few residents present at the meeting showed interest in moving forward to find a solution. Maybe consulting with other neighborhoods that have or are currently dealing with this issue would be a good start. We did learn that Dumas Bay click here for their study & Shilshole Pt. were also plugging their collective noses and working on solutions.

 

Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

 

 

1917 Atlas clearly shows Carroll Street Pier

I’ve been fascinated for years about the maritime history of Weather Watch Park. A plaque at the park describes how a long pier serviced passengers via the infamous Puget Sound Mosquito Fleet . In a blog post from 2013, we researched city/county archives & local museums looking for any photos or maps that would clearly establish the piers existence. There wasn’t much there except verbal accounts from a long time resident and a few vintage NOAA charts with a dark line jutting out.

I recently gave it another shot by emailing the Seattle Public Library’s at ASKspl.org (thanks Suky!). Within a day or so, I received an email with this 1917 Sanborn Atlas which clearly shows the area landmarks…

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A close up look not only shows the named pier but also a small Public Comfort Station at the head of the dock! Following east along Carroll Street, you can see the old locations of the Alki Congregational Church & the Fire Dept/Hall across the north side of the street.

 

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I just love this stuff.

 

Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

New stink to an old story?

EDITORS NOTE: Please scroll to the bottom of this post for an update.

Some new controversy is brewing in regard to the rotten egg-like stench we reported along parts of Beach Drive SW.  A neighbor in the 4600 block reportedly complained about the gaseous smell to a King County Wastewater representative and was told that the cause could possibly be related to a recent CSO (combined sewage overflow). At first flush, I would think they are referring to heavy rains we experienced on August 29th which pushed our monthly total far beyond the average.

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Another concerned neighbor and I caught up with a KC Waste Water truck hanging out this morning at the base of Jacobson Street. The gentleman in the truck explained that he was tasked with installing sophisticated sensors at different points along the sewer line that would indicate any accidental sewage leaks. He went on to say that most complaints of the odor have been located between around LaRustica Restaurant and about the 5000 block of Beach Drive. Also checked out were the City of Seattle lines that run down Jacobson to the main county line. Where the two lines intersect create what’s called  the SW Alaska Street Seattle Combined Outfall which dumps out into the sound when the Alki overflow treatment plant becomes overwhelmed.

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Incidentally, this particular outflow rarely overflows according to report studies (.1% yearly 1987-2007) however it is not uncommon to have some leaky-poos just north at the 63rd St & Alki outflows.

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The CSO Status website used by recreational divers and beachcombers has been experiencing technical difficulties and is not showing any real time data for the outflow stations in the immediate area.

King County West Point Treatment is encouraging all residents along the drive to report any stink zones with the exact time they occur. This will go along ways to get to the messy bottom of the mystery. 24 hour odor hotline 206-263-3801

A meeting had been setup between representatives of King County Waste Water Treatment, concerned homeowners and local media for this Friday but has been temporarily postponed.

 

Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

 

UPDATE September 25, 2015: We received this email from a local resident:

Hi. Thought I would pass along some information about my morning’s experience regarding the odor on Beach Drive.

Last night when the odor intensified, I called the hotline you posted on the Blog (thanks for that information).  This morning around 11:30 a King County representative came to measure the levels of hydrogen sulfide, the likely gas causing the odor.  The couple of manholes out in front of the house had a zero reading for hydrogen sulfide.  At our deck, water side, the reading was .02.  At the bulk head, the reading was .14.  The rep said this was definitely abnormal and KC continues to be perplexed as to the cause but is actively investigating. 

He expected some public announcement next week on the status of the investigation.

Thanks again for the information on the Blog.  Helps to inform and connect us all.