West Seattle/White Center 2012 - Year in Review

2012 saw major changes in the complexion of West Seattle as higher density development got more intense. The year also saw many local business changes with restaurants coming and going, and entrepreneurs still finding West Seattle to be a good place to open a business. In White Center, 2012 was a year of mobilization as business and community members worked to make it a destination for foodies and shoppers alike.

Cherished members of our community were lost, and many new ones were born.

In our year in review, we have attempted to cover the big stories; those with the greatest impact on our lives. We hope you enjoy this look back at the year 2012.

Development in 2012
New apartment projects are popping up left and right in West Seattle as developers salivate over available land and an ever-expanding Seattle population, to the ire of many longtime residents who are watching the peninsula’s small town character wash away into the Sound. Three multi-story aparment/retail projects that guarantee to permanently alter West Seattle’s skyline made progress towards reality in 2012. Two are slated for the heart of the Junction – one at the southeast corner of California and Alaska and another where the old Petco building stands at 4724 California Ave S.W. The largest project in the pipeline is planned for the “entryway” into West Seattle at Fauntleroy and Alaska, coming in at three-quarters of a city block with 370 apartments, 570 parking stalls and a Whole Foods store. Just across the street, where “The Hole” has sat dormant for years, developers are planning to build apartments and a fitness center as well.


A snow and ice storm for the record books
2012 came in like a lion. Heavy snowfall pounded the area in mid-January, overloading the city’s plowing capabilities and leaving residential side streets inundated with the white stuff for days. People were urged to stay home, schools shut down, meetings and events were cancelled, and garbage collection screeched to a halt. On Thursday, Jan. 19, an ice storm slammed the region, coating everything in a thick layer of ice and making driving more treacherous than before. The weight of ice-encased tree limbs eventually caused them to fall, damaging power lines and leaving tens of thousands without power for many days.


Papa’s Pub in White Center closed down
Businesses shut down all the time, but the decision of Papa’s Pub owner’s to close for good in February was symbolic of a community, business district, and law enforcement push in 2012 to clean up and revitalize White Center. Authorities alleged Papa’s was a drug and gun trafficking front and raided it in October of 2011 as part of Operation Center of Attention. Later, facing a string of liquor control board violations, the owners decided to call it quits.

Papa’s sat dormant for much of 2012, but Meander’s Kitchen – a favorite in West Seattle – moved into the space in November.


A murder mystery on Beach Drive
Kent resident Greggette Guy, 51, traveled to Beach Drive in West Seattle on the stormy night of March 12 to take a walk along the water near Me-Kwa-Mooks Park. She never returned home, and the next morning a passerby saw her body floating in the Sound, a half-mile north of where she parked her car. Police said Guy was the victim of sharp force trauma to her neck and asphyxia due to drowning. The culprit behind the crime remains a mystery and residents along Beach Drive lobbied for (and got) improved lighting and other safety features near the murder site.


Lou Tice, West Seattle native and Pacific Institute founder, passed away
Lou Tice passed away on April 1, 2012, at the age of 76. Tice, along with his wife Diane, founded The Pacific Institute in 1971. The institute is located on Harbor Ave S.W. in West Seattle and focuses on human potential education. Tice taught his inspirational lessons on reaching one’s full worth to world leaders, Fortune 500 CEOs and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll among many others.

Tice attended West Seattle High School and later taught and coached at Highline High School and Kennedy High School in Burien before starting TPI.

His funeral service was attended by many whose lives he touched.


Killing spree ended in West Seattle
On May 30, a tragic day for Seattle, Ian Stawicki walked into Café Racer in North Seattle where he methodically shot and killed four people. He took another woman’s life near city hall 30 minutes later, stole her vehicle and drove to West Seattle where authorities said he abandoned the SUV on Delridge Way and met up with an acquaintance. Stawicki roamed West Seattle for several hours, reportedly stopping for a haircut at a Junction salon and purchasing a blueberry plant from West Seattle Nursery.

A Seattle Police detective spotted Stawicki walking in the Fairmount Park neighborhood that afternoon and when Southwest Precinct Officer Scottie Luckie responded to the scene and confronted the armed man, Stawicki dropped to his knees and took his own life.


Seattle shopping forever changed with plastic bag ban and liquor privatization
On June 1, liquor sales became privatized in Washington State and stores across West Seattle and White Center stocked their shelves with the stuff. Serious checkout shock followed as retailers put the base price on the shelves, making the new prices look amazing, but added a 20.5 percent sales tax and a liter tax at checkout. Prices skyrocketed as jaws dropped. One month later, on July 1, Seattle’s plastic bag ban kicked in, forcing people to either pay $5 for a paper bag or bring in their own. The two laws intersected months later when it became clear grocery stores had a liquor theft epidemic, exacerbated by the fact that thieves were bringing in their own bags as a convenient cover.

Zipline proposal raises public ire
In late June, a media leak about a potential zipline and ropes course to be built by a private company in Lincoln Park caused many in West Seattle to protest what they saw as a failure of the Seattle Parks Department to notify and include the public in the evaluation. The public rancor came to a head in July at a Fauntleroy Community Association meeting during which Parks Dept. and the private company's representatives were roundly booed. Parks withdrew the proposal within days.

Disney legend, West Seattleite Ginny Tyler died at age 86
Ginny Tyler (born Merrie Virginia Eggers on Aug. 8, 1925) was raised in West Seattle, attended West Seattle High School, and later rose to entertainment prominence as the voice of KOMO Radios’s “Mother Goose” in the 1950s. She headed to Hollywood next and becoming the voice actor for several Disney characters and became the Head Mouseketeer of the original Mickey Mouse club in 1962. Tyler passed away at 86 with her family at her side in Issaquah. A celebration of her life was held at Kenyon Hall in West Seattle.


Garbage strike came to an end
Waste Management drivers went on strike on July 25 to demand better wages, and were joined in union solidarity by Seattle Public Utility garbage collectors. WM drivers and administrators finally came to an agreement on August 2, ending the strike. Across the city, and certainly in West Seattle, business dumpsters overflowed and household recycling, garbage and compost piled up on the streets for weeks. Seattle fined Waste Management $1.24 million for the missed pickups, and that money was used to reduce residential and business customers’ bill in November.


Metro introduced RapidRide service to West Seattle, but not without hiccups

Sept. 29 marked the largest sweeping change to King County Metro service in recent memory, and in West Seattle it meant the introduction of the RapidRide C Line bus service and route changes all across the peninsula. One of the main promises of RapidRide was pickups every 10 to 15 minutes at stops from Westwood Village, through the Junction and into downtown.

Things did not quite work out that way as commuters complained of waiting at stops for up to an hour with no bus in sight, and when one finally came by it was too full to take any more people on. Metro brought in more buses and worked to fine-tune the service – a process that continues today.


Learning Center opens in White Center while a West Seattle elementary is saved
The Bethaday Community Learning Space opened on Oct. 25 in White Center after seven years of fundraising by the Technology Access Foundation to bring a hi-tech learning environment and community space to families in North Highline.

In West Seattle, the Schmitz family fought Seattle Public Schools potential plan to stop using Schmitz Park Elementary as a public school. SPS still plans to move students and staff to a new facility at Genessee Hill in 2015, but promised to keep Schmitz Park reserved for the public education of elementary students. The land where the school sits was donated by the Schmitz family to the school district over 50 years ago.


North Highline emphatically declines annexation

A contentious debate from both sides of the border between unincorporated North Highline and the City of Burien waged on for many months prior to November, when residents of North Highline and White Center finally had a chance to vote on Burien’s proposal to become part of their city. A total of 5,675 people out of an estimated 17,000 residents voted on the proposal, with 64.9 percent of those voting against annexation. With the vote, North Highline remains unincorporated until some else sends an invite (Seattle?) or they become a city themselves.


Marijuana and gay marriage legalized

Washington State voters approved gay marriage and legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults in the November election. The new laws took effect on Dec. 6.

West Seattle residents Jane Abbot Lighty, 77, and Pete-e Petersen, 85, were the first couple to get their marriage license signed in King County by Executive Dow Constantine.

Adults 21 and over realized while they could now legally possess small amounts of marijuana and smoke it in the privacy of their own homes, there was no legal way to actually obtain it.

The state has one year from Dec. 6 to figure out a licensed, retail way to make that happen.


In a final item

Murder in 2012
Sadly, West Seattle and White Center were not immune to high rates of violence that plagued the city in 2012. Michael Travis Todd, 36, was shot and killed outside a Morgan Junction bar in January, and the alleged triggerman was West Seattle resident Lovett Chambers, 63. Kent resident Greggette Guy, 51, was found floating in the Sound after she was murdered on Beach Drive in March (her case is still unsolved). In November, White Center resident Margaret Ryan, 69, was stabbed to death, allegedly at the hands of her own son Brodie Lamb.

In other cases, convicted killers answered for their crimes in 2012. In April, Highland Park resident Anthony Smith, 25, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the 2011 shooting death of Sweetheart Failautusi in White Center. 20-year-old Angelo Felice was sentenced to just over 14 years in July for the stabbing death of West Seattle resident and storied Vaudeville performer Hokum W. Jeebs. Four men were sentenced to a combined 73 years in prison for the 2009 murder of 26-year-old West Seattle resident Steve Bushaw.

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