About Scupper

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!

2015-09-30 16.13.00


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



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…

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.


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.

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.



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.



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.

Wooo weeeeee! “Fauntleroy stench” stink’n up the beaches

Don’t blame it on the dog or over clean the cat box. This mornings low tides and the lack of a good breeze is making it nearly unbearable around Beach Drive. Rotting seaweed or sea lettuce is busy emitting hydrogen sulfide into the air we breath.

The term “Fauntleroy stench” was coined back in the late 1980’s when the the cove and other areas around the sound experienced this same rotten egg sensation. The Seattle Times wrote an article about it during the hot summer 1998 when Fauntleroy residents were complaining of headaches and nausea due to the strong odors.

In small amounts, the gas can burn the eyes, nose and throat, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In moderate amounts, it can bring on headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and respiratory problems.

Contrary to what you might think, opening windows and doors while running fans is the best way to purge the scourge from your home.

Some experts believe that a mild winter combined with a prolonged hot summer is the yummy recipe to bring the stench. If that’s the case, next year could be a real duesey! I just think it smells like Labor Day.



Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

I’ll bet THEIR mellow was harshed!

As many of us were standing at the base of Mee-Kwa-Mooks park last night wondering why a dozen or so fire & rescue units (and more converging within a dog’s howl) were blocking Beach Drive SW, a group of kids were sitting around an illegal fire set 150 yards up the hill in the tinder dry forest.

IMG_4209This freshly created pit wasn’t here during the day yesterday

Can you imagine the scene?? Just sitting around the fire cracking a beer talking about a new carbon fiber hood or up-coming protests when… “are those sirens coming this way?”. Then justified paranoia sets in as the first responder slams on their brakes at the bottom of the hill with another dozen screaming on the way! I can picture the precious PBR’s being sacrificed to the fire in effort to calm the smoke not to mention the already drank ones puddling at their feet.


Last night’s onlookers watching responders searching the waters for false alarm parachuter

I’m pretty certain the kids were mingling with the crowd of on-lookers by this point and relieved that they weren’t “the incident”. There’s only a few really good stories friends get to share together. I’ll bet this is one counts.

All kidding aside though, the fire up in the park appears to have burnt all the way out. One spark the wrong way and we would’ve had a real situation. There was a pretty decent northerly blowing and several houses (friends) bordering the park in harms way.


The old illegal pit circled by the old Schmitz mansion’s concrete retaining wall blocks appears to have been put out of service by purposely fallen trees (what could possibly go wrong with that method?). The dead bush in the foreground is drier than an old Christmas tree in June.


Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

Deflated birthday balloons causes massive response off Emma Schmitz memorial park

A rescue response of about two dozen vehicles and several coastguard/police boats converged along the shores of Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook at around 10:00PM tonight. A witness called in what they thought was a parachuter dropping into the sound about 200 yards off the beach. After 40 minutes of searching, divers and boats at the scene radioed in a large bouquet of mylar balloons floating in the water. Surprise! Close to a hundred or so spectators lined the street to witness the non-event unfold.


A rescue diver assesses the theater…


It was actually nice to see a false alarm for once on this stretch a beach that’s witnessed it’s share of tragedies.


Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog


Beach Drive home slips out at high tide last night

At about 2:35 AM this morning, 6021 Beach Drive SW was on it’s way to a new lot on Orcas Island in the San Juans. We spotted the tug with the circa 1926 home riding the out going tide past Alki just after 3:15AM. The previous owner was featured last night on the King 5 Evening News  explaining why she and her husband decided to wade through all the permitting hoopla to donate the 1040 square foot home to Opal Community Land Trust , a charitable organization that provides affordable housing on Orcas.

I wasn’t able to get any decent pictures of the home floating by but thought I could just make out Ringo fishing from the second floor window. Here’s some photos of the home via King County’s website…


Fair winds and following seas!


Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog


Peavey Sawmill – A bit of Beach Drive’s colorful past

It was about a year ago to the day that I ran into a local historian and West Seattle legend, John Kelly. John was responding to an inquiry I had made regarding an old pier that was once said to serve the Mosquito Fleet at Weather Watch Park.

Good afternoon

I’m responding to your inquiry to Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society. I am a lifelong WS resident as were my parents and grandparents. I am 92, but cannot say I pesonally saw the Floating dock there. However, there are photos, as I recall, at the Log House Museum on 61st.
There is a mural at the WS Junction on the east wall of the Campbell Building, Callifornia and Alaska St.(alley)

My mother’s family camped at Rose Lodge around 1905 just a block or two north of Carrol St.
My father’s family camped about a mile south next to the Peavey Sawmill, which was on the shore between Juneau & Raymond Streets during the same period. Piling remnants are still visible there.

I personally met with John at his apartment in The Kenney to pour over research and photos he’d compiled over the years about the historic Beach Drive sawmill. At low tide, we drove down to the actual site where a local resident was kind enough to allow us access to the beach, where at 92, John had no issue climbing down the rocks and driftwood to the weathered remnants of south Alki’s first industry…


Site of the Peavey Sawmill circa 1905-1925 near the 5200 block of Beach Drive SW. Mr Kelly is seen standing amongst the pilings that once managed the large log booms brought in from tugs.


Mr Kelly mentioned that his uncle owned a summer property alongside of the mill where they would erect platforms & tent shelters for family gatherings on the beach.  Check out the corrugated siding of a mill building behind this reunion of fine ladies.


John’s Aunt Caroline Kelly Houghton & friends photo taken in 1907


Although not quite 100% sure, John believes this next photo is likely a taken out in front of the mill where his family would fish and boat



This tract map of 1912 clearly shows the location of the mill and nearby streets



Mr Kelly wrote a detailed essay regarding the mill for the SW Seattle Historical Society click here to read. Beyond the essay, I recall John telling me about horse stables located across the street from the mill. In the early evening, the horses would pull wagons of finished lumber north along dirt roads to the paved street and electric streetcar line south of Alki Point near Orleans Street. After hours when regular passenger service closed for the day, the trolly line would serve to transport lumber & other commercial freight to Duwamish Head where more conventional transportation could be arranged.

He also made mention of the narrow stairway leading down to the beach from where Juneau street intersects with Atlas. Bears were often seen eating berries along the hillside!

PeaveyJuneauStThe stairs down Juneau Street are long gone but a green belt still exists. Photo taken at the top of Atlas Street.


Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog


Unusual carcass washes up on Beach Drive shore

A local neighbor reported this washed up shark carcass to Washington Fish & Wildlife late this morning while walking his dog along Emma Schmitz Viewpoint…


Beach Drive resident Mark Snyder spotted the nearly 6 foot hulk after peering over the edge of the seawall to see what all the bird racket was about.

A spokesperson from WSFW believed that it may be related to a species of Thresher shark they’ve been seeing due to the warmer than usual waters off the coast. She also mentioned that ocean going ships will often snag an animal from distant waters and deposit them on inland shores as they reduce speed. A Wildlife boat has been dispatched for tomorrow morning to drag the shark back to the Armeni ramp for proper disposal.

Mark is often seen sail boarding on the windiest of days around here and told us that “this will definitely make me better at my sport, I’d hate to fall out there and meet one of these guys!”


Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

The Tacoma & Samish ferries testing off Beach Drive

Notice all the unusual ferry traffic off of the drive lately? WSDOT is putting two boats through the paces prior to Coast Guard safety inspections.

The Samish is the latest 144 car Olympic class boat that will join the San Juan Island fleet this summer. She’s the second of three new boats designed to replace some of the aging Evergreen State Class ferries that were built in the 1950’s.

The MV Tacoma is the infamous jumbo that blew a few fuses in late July and left hundreds stranded. An employee from WSDOT (West Seattle resident & a BDB reader!) told me she was very excited to see this ferry rejoin the Bainbridge route starting in April.

IMG_3986Unusual sight to see a couple Washington State ferries drag racing while hiking through Mee-Kwa-Mooks park.


Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog