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.


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



Well, maybe not ALL of them…


Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog


Escape the Stench

This is just in from a Beach Drive neighbor, Mary:

West Seattle has a real treasure a short distance away from Beach Drive’s odoriferous low tides: The Arboretum at South Seattle College’s north end.  Leaves there are beginning to turn reds and yellows.  Amble the winding paths through pleasant-smelling shrubbery (e.g., Golden Elaeagnus).  The award-winning dwarf conifer collection also begins changing colors this fall. Free guided tours Oct. 10.


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


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

Routine maintenance on Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook sea wall

A Seattle Park & Rec crew performed some routine and temporary repairs today along the aging sea wall.


Winter storms and runoff has caused erosion in several areas behind the 1927 wall… and in front of the 54″ sewer main where the crew will back-fill with gravel.


The permanent fix is still in the paper stage with the Seattle division of Army Corp of Engineers.  I’m waiting for a response regarding any progress and will report on any new developments.


Melissa Leslie of the US Army Corps of Engineers informed me that there are no updates at this time.

The feasibility report is still under review at our Division office. Once the project is approved we will then start the design phase to reach 100% design. Seattle Parks is probably just be conducting maintenance at this time.


Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog


Official News Release regarding popular Beach Drive seawall project

Hot off the press from the Seattle Division of US Army Corp of Engineers:

SEATTLE – The U.S Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District, has partnered with the Seattle Parks and Recreation to design and implement a coastal storm damage reduction project under Section 103 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1962, as amended. The public comment period for this project runs through Dec. 31.

Emma Schmitz Overlook is located at 4503 Beach Drive SW, south of Alki Point in Seattle. The site includes a seawall built around 1927 that has deteriorated over time. Currently coastal storms and erosion threaten public infrastructure located in and around the seawall, including a 54-inch King County sewer main, a major public arterial, city park property and other underground utilities. The recommended plan includes construction of a soldier pile seawall parallel to the shoreline throughout the study area. The new seawall would be a few feet higher and seaward of the existing seawall. This would provide protection against damages caused by coastal storm events that occur in Puget Sound.

In 1998, the City of Seattle was prompted to take emergency action to stabilize the shoreline to the north of the proposed federal project when storm waves resulted in the failure of a similar section of existing seawall and subsequent erosion of shoreline protection that threatened utilities, roadways, and public lands. The city completed permanent emergency repairs on this adjacent site, which is not included in the scope of the proposed Federal project.

The recommended plan was chosen because it has the least environmental impacts, cost the least cost and meets all project purposes. Coordination with resource agencies and federal tribes is ongoing and preliminary indications expect a concurrence with the project.

The implementation cost of the recommended plan is estimated to be $2.29 million and will be cost-shared 65 percent federal ($1,488,000) and 35 percent non-federal ($801,000). The non-federal sponsor, Seattle Parks and Recreation, is responsible for all lands, easements, right-of-ways, relocations, and/or disposal areas which are controlled by the sponsor. Economic analysis suggests the project could prevent millions of dollars of physical and non-physical damages, resulting in a favorable benefit-cost ratio.

Submit comments to this office, Attn: Environmental and Cultural Resources Branch, no later than December 31, 2014 to ensure consideration. In addition to sending comments via mail, comments may be e-mailed to The Notice of Availability and Draft DPR/EA can be found at the following website: Requests for additional information should be directed to Ms. Melissa Leslie at 206-764-6587, or the above e-mail address.

Tanya M. King
Public Affairs Specialist
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District
206-764-6958 (office)
206-422-2679 (cell)
206-764-3769 (fax)

I would like to think that this project could grease the skids of King County in favor of Beach Drive residents considering to raise their own seawalls from events caused by global warming.

Historic1968 Emma Schmitz Park seawall circa 1968. Photo credit to City of Seattle archives

Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

Comment period open for Emma Schmitz Memorial seawall project

With an official press release due out as soon as this Monday, Beach Drive Blog has been notified by Seattle Parks and the Seattle District of the US Army Corp of Engineers that public comment is now open in regard to the pending seawall replacement for the southern section of Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook Park. Public Comment closes December 31st 2014. Click here for the Public Notice. Comments may be e-mailed to

Tanya M King, Public Affairs Specialist with the Corp is very interested in being the single point of contact for any unofficial comments or concerns residents may have regarding the project. There are several different public entities within the immediate scope of the project (Seattle Parks, King County sewer and road, City of Seattle utilities & sidewalk, etc) and Tanya is committed to work with all jurisdictions to get your answers “it may take a day or two or even longer in some cases, but I will do my best to make life easier for residents looking for answers or expressing concerns”. Please see Tanya’s contact info at the bottom of post.

We wrote an article back in April when Becky Rufin, Parks Engineering Manager with Seattle Parks & Rec was kind enough to share the 64 page proposed plan for the new seawall. Per Becky’s email today…

If approved by the federal government, the Seattle Parks Department will be entering into a cost-sharing agreement for replacement of this aging structure. Project design and construction would actually be executed by USACE.
Please note there is currently a public review period open for the proposal, and comments must be received by December 31, 2014.

Beach Drive Blog asked Tanya to confirm a few specifics regarding the project. She responded before I could even finish the post!

How much taller will the new wall stand above the existing? 2 to 3 feet

Is any type of railing going to be installed? Too early to tell. Not to that level of design stage yet but it would be built low if built at all.

What if any new landscaping will there be? Would work with parks dept. but low native shrub/vegetation is what we’d expect in respecting neighbor’s views.

One new aspect to the plan is in respect of losing a few feet of public beach when the proposed wall is built in front of the old wall…

Due to the close proximity of the sewer main to the existing seawall structure, moving the alignment of the new seawall landward was assumed to increase the risks of potential failures during construction and significantly increase overall costs of the project. Therefore, the decision was made to move the alignment slightly waterward and mitigate for any nearshore (beach) area lost as a result of the project. A small amount (0.02 acres) of beach would be lost due to the footprint of the new seawall. To offset the loss of habitat, the project would reclaim adjacent beach habitat by removing a portion of riprap placed in the 1998 City of Seattle emergency repair. This entails lengthening the amount of seawall installed in order to stabilize the shoreline back to or near its pre- 1998 alignment and removing the waterward riprap and fill materials. The proposed ratio would be a 1:1 replacement as this habitat reclaims the lost habitat imposed by the new seawall and could begin to function immediately post-construction.

I think Emma herself would be pleased to know her overlook park could grow a little wider…


This 1940’s photo shows Emma (on right) with her daughter-in-law Frankie posing beside the old family mansion that once stood where Mee-Kwa-Mooks Park is now. Courtesy of Bob Thomas who found the photo in an attic of a property he now owns.

Again, please contact Tanya for any unofficial (non-public) questions or concerns regarding this long overdue project,

Tanya M. King
Public Affairs Specialist
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District
206-764-6958 (office)
206-422-2679 (cell)
206-764-3769 (fax) 



Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

Better watch your step!

If you’re one of the many humans being walked by your dog along Beach Drive, you may be wondering when the Mutt Mitt boxes will be refilled. You’re going to have “hold it” until at least year-end according to the Seattle Parks people I’ve talked to. Lack of funding and having to prioritize needs will be the theme for the remainder of this year.



One thought is to load up our local boxes with those biodegradable produce bags you get from grocery shopping. These boxes are located along Beach Drive at Cormorant Park, Mee-Kwa-Mooks, Lowman Beach, and the north entrance to Lincoln Park. I’d eat my (clean) shoe if Seattle Parks funds bags over employees in the foreseeable future.


Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

Working on the Sea Wall at Emma Schmitz View Point

Our intrepid reporter, Scupper, captured this photo of workers doing a temporary fix on the sea wall by Emma Schmitz View Point.

Wall Repair


This is to repair the damage from the stolen vehicle that went over the sea wall last month.