Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor: April 28, 2007

Give these residents a fence

In response to the story "New park? Not in their backyards" (April 18):

So, you didn't want a park in your backyard?

Juanne Lockett’s problem with an arrogant city government is terrible. Give a few bureaucrats some money and control and you get a park, whether you want one or not. Then, if a nuisance is created, it's not their responsibility.

The city's attitude seems to be that it's the resident's fault for not appearing at a city-scheduled meeting. Those families were probably working or fixing dinner for their kids when the city held its meetings.

The city's cavalier attitude toward the trespass and litter issue impacting these homeowners is disgusting. A fence, not a few signs, needs to be erected.

Ray Lockwood, Federal Way

City's traffic nightmares go way back

This letter was inspired by Bob Roegner's April 25 column on Federal Way traffic.

It is tempting, albeit unproductive, to make up factoids about the economic "Gross City Product" sacrificed by all of us, as we sit immobilized in lines of cars and monster pickups and SUVs with idling engines.

And of course we're all the while making our generous per-capita contribution to global warming and smog, as our vehicles guzzle Middle Eastern and Venezuelan oil.

Federal Way's laughably inadequate major-street pattern dates back to our city's origins, as suburban areas sprawling outward into an unincorporated once-rural King County region, with our traffic engineering issues (barely) administered by an absentee King County office in Bellevue, evidently quite unfamiliar with Federal Way's layout.

Since its incorporation, the City of Federal Way has indeed fixed a few of the inherited problems. However:

• Federal Way's traffic engineers seem to think that a proliferation of speed bumps on arterials are a cure for every ill. True, macho teenage drivers won't try to reach 80 mph on those streets more than once, if they want to still have any kidneys left. The rest of us can have our grocery loads tipped over, and our cars' steering linkages knocked out of adjustment.

• Traffic circles are sprouting all over the place. The ones that I must navigate daily engender utter confusion as to who has the right of way, which can get exciting in bad weather. "Helpful" green signs have been posted, with symbols resembling an anthropologist's male ("Mars") symbol run amok. At least the centers of these traffic circles are nicely landscaped.

• As Bob Roegner's column mentions, the center strips on Highway 99 have made U-turns a local death-defying extreme sport. The center strip from South 324th Street to South 328th Street is a full quarter of a mile long. The downtown U.S. Post Office branch, and businesses such as Midas mufflers and my wife's Filipino grocery/cafe ("Manila's Pride") are almost inaccessible if you're not traveling on their side of Highway 99. As the saying goes, "You can't get there from here; you have to start from somewhere else."

• The streets and lights around the expanded Lowe's megastore at South 356th Street and Enchanted Parkway are so inadequate that it now takes four changes of the light to make a normal left turn. Some of the fault is a light a quarter of a mile west at South 356th Street and Highway 99 — that seems to be set to treat South 356th Street as a minor unimportant side street. The stalled traffic backs up for that entire quarter of a mile, blocking folks trying to exit the Lowe's parking lot.

• The Christian Faith Center, a megachurch being plopped down into what had been a quiet area of low-capacity streets. Whenever it opens for holy business, the backdoor route from the south end of Federal Way to the main uptown business area will instantly become gridlocked. I guess that patience in traffic jams must be good for the soul; also, the two speed bumps on one of the three little side streets now leading there. The street widening currently in progress is only right in front of the the Christian Faith Center's grand entrance, and does not lead back (at least yet) to connect with any main traffic routes.

• No circumferential road around "downtown Federal Way." State Farm Insurance recently rated Highway 99 and South 320th Street as the most dangerous intersection in Washington state. Three-quarters of such a circumferential route actually does exist now, but the northwestern corner piece is missing; it would have to go through the school bus depot area. If that depot were to be moved, maybe a road could run through its present location.

There has been a little progress. There are two new Food Bank newspaper bins located in the area around Top Foods, so that newspapers can be dropped off without one's car being rear-ended by an angry speeding SUV driver as one pulls out again into traffic — which almost happened to me at the original Food Bank newspaper bin stationed along curly-whirly blind-curve Campus Drive, near the Weyerhaeuser Aquatic Center.

And I commend the Federal Way police for the posted radar-controlled lighted signs indicating the speed of passing cars. They seem to be accurate, and are a much kinder/gentler way of persuading speeders to slow down than giving out a blizzard of "revenue-enhancement" traffic tickets — or building yet more numerous obnoxious speed bumps across main traffic routes.

Chuck Hastings, Federal Way

North Shore's widespread impact

We in Northeast Tacoma owe a debt of gratitude to our friends and neighbors in Federal Way and Browns Point who are standing by us in these trying times.

We deeply regret that our city fathers lacked the foresight to protect us from the pending disaster of the North Shore Golf Course development. Unfortunately, you will share in our misfortune probably with a minimal benefit of mitigation.

The North Shore Golf Course serves as a primary catch basin for the Northeast Tacoma watershed. Although the vegetation serves as a sponge to soak up storm water runoff, it has been necessary to add retention ponds to provide additional protection. Even so, last November’s storms caused the northern area of the course to flood, threatening to submerge our main east-west thoroughfare, Northshore Parkway.

Imagine what havoc the planned covering of up to 60 percent of the course with impervious surfaces and the removal of several of the retention ponds could create. Possibly a reprise of the Twin Lakes floods of the 1990s. Efforts to restore Joe’s Creek would be impacted and the ongoing attempts to restore its salmon runs negated. The added nutrient stream would enhance the crop of sea lettuce in Dumas Bay.

Increased traffic will be dumped onto your already crowded streets. Our main routes to employment and shopping unavoidably run through Federal Way. Your new large development on SW Campus Drive will compound the problem. Hard to foresee what the morning and evening traffic jams would look like or how the wreckers would get through to service the rear-enders.

Our streets are already undersized, tired and worn. Yours will soon be the same. Expect more taxes and traffic delays for road work!

We will lose another large piece of our rapidly diminishing "green space." The tall evergreens, which help scrub the aroma of Tacoma (which seems a little more pungent these days) from our prevailing southerly breeze, will be missed.

Imagine a fire raging in the tightly-packed cracker box condos with area fire departments trying to find an entrance and traverse the narrow and winding streets to the fire. I vividly recall a heart attack victim spread out on the 15th fairway last summer. The responding aid units searching for an entrance finally resorted to carrying their equipment through our backyard and climbing the fence to render aid.

The developer will likely offer some grandiose plans for mitigating the impact on our infrastructure. But how quickly mitigation can morph to litigation when it comes time to pay the bills.

The bottom line is that this is not solely a City of Tacoma problem. It is an area problem encompassing the City of Federal Way, King County, Browns Point and Pierce County.

All of us stand to be impacted.

What to do? We will not be able to fend off our greed-motivated adversaries with rhetoric alone. Hone your political skills. Search for pertinent information. Support additional impact studies. Be sure that your city planners remain proactive and do not fall asleep at the switch, as ours did. Do not allow artificial political boundaries to serve as an excuse for inaction.

Time is short. We have little time to prepare for the prolonged battle that will likely ensue. For the sake of the future, we must prevail.

Gene Foster, Tacoma

Show Sanjaya some love

Just read your article on Sanjaya Malakar's elimination from "American Idol" (April 21).

It's truly sad that his (current) hometown has shown him no real support.

As with most of what has been said about him, your attitude is much more revealing of your own character than his. And your ability to parrot inaccuracies from other poor quality press sources immediately reveals the quality of staff on your local paper.

Having heard the press conference online and reading the more professional articles penned by competent journalists, it is obvious that your article is intended to belittle him and make him sound weak or stupid.

If he were either, he would not have won such a huge following. And that following is not all teens or tweens or people who want to malign "American Idol." My husband and I are ages 42 and 39, married, Republican, white, Southern. We're both huge admirers of Sanjaya Malakar. He has shown levels of perserverance, good humor, intelligence, wit and style that very few Americans of any age could equal.

Watching this season of "American Idol" has proven beyond any doubt that Sanjaya is the decent, compassionate adult and Simon Cowell is the petulant, whiny child.

To quote Jay Leno, Sanjaya is "honorable" and a "class act." I couldn't have said it better.

He also possesses a voice with a sweet, pure tone and the ability to make his listeners feel joy and love. To quote Jennifer Lopez, "There is a light about him." And Diana Ross: "Sanjaya is love — there's something in his spirit that makes you care about him." And to agree with Tony Bennett: "I'm a huge fan."

Sanjaya's kind soul has recast his experience of Simon in the best possible light — making excuses for Simon's (and other's) bad behavior but never offering excuses for his own mistakes or challenges (like the cold that plagued him during the British Invasion week).

I, and many others, love his voice, find pleasure in his vocals and believe that solid training will allow him to evolve into a well-respected singer. He was not out of his league on "American Idol" in anything but judge's support and onstage experience.

But what is already worthy of respect is his character.

Which is more critical — that a person be of good character or that everyone on the planet agree that he has a good singing voice?

In every way that counts, Sanjaya is a credit to America. Federal Way should be proud to claim him as a native son. That you're not quick to do so provides a clear reflection of your city's character.

Sad.

Genoka Thomassy, Austin, Texas

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