Community Post

Snow Response Open House: What I Learned

Tonight I made a stop at the city’s open house about their response to the mega snow storm of 08. There were 9 city departments there with 4-6 city employees for each one.  But attendance by citizens was very light.  City staff must have outnumbered them by 10 to 1.  

Here’s a few things I learned:

  • Metro is working with the city to prioritize bus routes for plowing in the next storm. They said their goals are to make sure that big routes will have service, including the #48 and some of the east/west routes in the CD. They expect to have a preliminary plan in place by the end of the month.
  • The “when-will-my-bus-arrive” problem does not have a near-term solution for storms. The current system doesn’t work when buses are taken off of their normal routes, and a new GPS-enabled bus tracking system is at least a couple of years off.
  • The city’s transportation department is now getting out to repair streets that were damaged in the storm. Sweepers are out to pick up the sand & gravel, pot-hole rangers are working (you can make requests on the city’s website), and crews are starting to re-stripe major arterials. However, they couldn’t say if 23rd Ave was on the list or when it might be taken care of.
  • The emergency planning department couldn’t provide any concrete rules about where emergency shelters might be available in cases where there’s a lengthy power outage during cold weather. Generally, community centers can be shelters, but they can’t say which ones would be certain for any given area.  Their advice: have a hand-crank-powered radio and tune in for updates in an emergency
  • The mayor said he was there to hear citizens concerns and make sure they were taken into account as the city reworks its plans for snow. He said that the city has no intention of spending money on new plows or other equipment, but would be looking to line up some private contractors that could be brought in whenever things got really bad again.

There was also this cool graph that showed the amount of snow in various parts of they city over the course of the storm:


0 thoughts on “Snow Response Open House: What I Learned

  1. How did they decide on the areas? I know the CD had more snow than many parts of the city.

  2. Let’s see, 9 departments x 5 employees = 45. One tenth of that is five? Five citizens showed up? The City may have screwed up, but at least they’re making an effort to reach out to us. And the citizens? Was there a game on TV?

  3. Probably because the snow is over, and nobody cares anymore.

    Until the next snow, that is.

  4. I had other plans. I did not see notification in any paper or on the news, just here. The same day.

  5. I had another meeting to attend, but this does not mean I have forgotten the 10 to 11 days of no #2 (my favorite bus), #3 or #4.

  6. The notice about the 3 meetings concerning snow was on all the TV news stations, both papers, and on the city’s website for the Mayor! How much more notice do you want? A personal phone call or pick-up service? Get a clue. This is exactly what happens with city’s citizens….they don’t take responsibility for their own outcomes!
    What everyone forgets is that weather is a prediction not failproof….plan now for that next snow fall. And incidentally, last year and the year before, the city held several open houses on how to be prepared on emergency preparedness. Snow disaster preparedness is no different than earthquake preparedness, just a different disaster. Prepare for it now!

  7. The city’s non-sensical opposition to the use of salt on the roads made this event 10 times worse than it needed to be.

    That is the one thing that I blame the city for. I don’t think they should buy more plows or anything like that, but the position against using salt just does not make any sense.

  8. I live on Yesler, There is still an awful lot of sand there. Wonder if it will get cleaned up????

  9. 1) The City did a very good job in establishing an environment of 1:1 engagement rather than the typical 1: many approach. I think this diffused the anger that might have been in the room had anybody showed up.

    2) None of the officials really had any big solutions; rather, everybody said, “oh yeah, we just need to coordinate better.” Rocket science type stuff. And there was plenty of blame to go around (KC and City finger pointing, albeit nicely). Even the Mayor said to me, “We send over our plowing map and they, well, I guess they do whatever they want with it.” Can’t we all just get along?

    3) Scott is right about the numbers. The overwhelming majority of folks there were City employees. I have some pretty strong feelings about the lack of participation from the CD. I don’t think we should be surprised or shocked when the City chooses not to come to our area again on issues like these. Garbage in, garbage out (meaning the feedback, input, not the people). I took the opportunity with the Mayor and SDOT’s Grace Crunican to lobby on other issues (crime, transportation, etc). We can rub our tummies and pat our heads at the same time.

  10. Sorry, I might not have been paying attention to the notifications and had other commitments that evening. I don’t think salt has to be the first solution, since some were getting around fine without it. Still the 10 to 11 days without bus service is enough to burn anyone and not reasonable. Others were eventually getting out and about. It felt like shutting down the buses was a Metro cost savings on the backs of their customers. But, it was very costly to downtown businesses.