Money, micro-housing, more @North Highline Unincorporated Area Council November Meeting
By Tracy Records
White Center Now Editor
Here’s what happened at tonight’s monthly meeting of North Highline Unincorporated Area Councilheld online:
CRIME STATISTICS/TRENDS: community deputy Bill Kennamer spoke of some “pretty ugly criminal tendencies”. Thefts totaled 40 this time last year, 72 so far this year – “an 80% increase – definitely a problem”. Weapon violations increased by 65%. “Simple assaults” (lower level of injury) increased by 40% – from 162 to 229. Drug offenses increased by 110% – “we are seeing less and less hypodermic needle action, but an absolute ton of smoldering fentanyl.” He believes this is the reason for the increase in overdoses. If you have family or friends who use drugs, get Narcan just in case. “It works. … it keeps people alive. He said there was ‘good news on the drugs front’ – a specialist squad on the compound raided the compound yesterday which removed 5 .5 million street drugs He couldn’t say where, but the raid was carried out by “detectives at the precinct. Deputy Kennamer said the garage fire of today had happened in a garage used as a residence by the adult son of the adjacent owner.The resident went to hospital after inhaling smoke (this is an update to our previous coverage). on staffing, Deputy Kennamer said what is happening right now is “a staffing crisis. They have the openings and the funding, both Kennamer and King County Councilmember Joe McDermott agreed, they just don’t have the people applying and the training to fill them.
BOARD MEMBER McDERMOTT: He’s the budget chair this year. The first vote on the proposed ‘striking amendment’ – which will be released tomorrow, with changes proposed by council members to the King County Executive Dow Constantine– budget proposal is due within a week from today. First, per the previous discussion, he wanted to point out that King County “did NOT fund the police”. The alternative programs it has supported/will support are in addition to law enforcement, not in place of it. “We are doing innovative things, addressing some issues (for alternative public safety),” but not offering cuts in law enforcement. The proposed two-year budget was nearly $16 billion, he said. This includes income received for a specific purpose that must be spent for a specific purpose. Property tax revenue is limited to a 1% increase from year to year, but “even in a good year” expenses increase by more than 1%, so there is what they call “a gap structural”.
Its overall budget priorities include: public safety, law enforcement oversight, transit passenger experience, gun safety, promoting helmet use, supporting White Center Food Bank as it moves to its new location, investments in affordable housing, more money for participatory budgeting, the availability of Narcan, and more. Public comments can be given in person or online at next Thursday’s budget meeting; the budget is then submitted to the plenary council on 15 November.
In the questions and answers, clarification was sought on the 1% cap. This is the maximum percentage by which county revenue can increase – so just because your assessment increases by X percent doesn’t mean what you owe will increase that much – it’s a cap on what the county can collect . Why is the county so dependent on property taxes? McDermott explained that property and sales taxes are the main sources approved by the Legislature — even cities have more options for raising revenue. A later discussion focused on the amount of revenue spent and unspent on/in North Highline — there’s no specific geographic breakdown in the county budget, McDermott said. He also reminded everyone that while the county collects property taxes, it’s just the treasurer – only a fraction of what you pay actually goes to King County.
On other topics: Council Member McDermott provided an update on the sub-sector plan; the legislation was approved by the committee in July, and a full public hearing will take place at 1 p.m. on November 22 – online or in person – and you can also comment by email: [email protected]. He talked about some improvements that are proposed. NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin asked about inclusive zoning and whether it’s really good for North Highline — something Seattle has been doing for several years — and McDermott said it should lead to more housing variety being available. NHUAC’s Liz Giba expressed concern that documentation for the sub-area plan had only recently appeared online, but had otherwise existed for months. She read some reviews attributed to the White Center Community Development Association saying that the process had been inadequate. Giba suggested that any decision-making should be delayed and more outreach should be done. Dobkin also alleged that the WCCDA itself has not reached all parts of the community. Permits Division Chief Jim Chan chimed in to say inclusive zoning is meant to be anti-displacement, not to cut taxes for some so others pay more. If all the housing built was at market price, people will be displaced. Also, he said, the overall plan will have an impact on the environment, and this will also cover the sub-area plan. Giba posed the question, is there any chance the subzone plan will lead to more tax-exempt housing in North Highline? McDermott said no, he couldn’t say that.
MICROHOUSING DEMONSTRATION: David Neiman Architects won a bidding process for it and expects to submit a permit application within weeks; a pre-bid meeting has already taken place. They ask the county how flexible it will be on a variety of standards. They have to justify anything that deviates from the code, Chan says, they were told. One discrepancy they will offer: no parking for units, Chan said. Dobkin expressed concern about the increased loss of trees contributing to warming temperatures. McDermott reiterated that they allowed one project to be built in a certain area – only one. He also said he was proposing an update to the Urban Unincorporated Tree Code, in response to concerns raised earlier this year about tree removal on lots where homes are being built. The site under investigation is 16th/102nd, noted Giba – 1619 SW 102nd, according to the county website.
HOOKAH LOUNGE: A permit application to remedy a violation was submitted last week and will be reviewed, Chan said. Is the building safe? Giba asked. A law enforcement person did, Chan said, and he said all security issues were investigated and nothing of note was found.
FORMER TARADISE CAFÉ: They visited with an inspector two weeks ago, Chan said. “They still have work to do with labor and industries – electrical – and health,” he said, adding that the inspector had informed them that more permits might be needed “if they are in trouble.” extend further”, and electrical works / fire safety issues were discussed.
WHY NO IN-PERSON MEETINGS YET? Dobkin said they just couldn’t find space, although they hope to have some sort of rally somewhere in December.
ANNOUNCEMENTS: White Center Kiwanis is selling nuts again this year – if interested call Scott at 206-465-9432.
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