Summer 2014 Trial Enforcement Period for illegal vehicle traffic to the Beach

King County and the Seattle Parks Department have proposed a Security Gate to control vehicle access to the Beach Area of Discovery Park.

One of the counter solutions that has been offered is to provide better enforcement of the parking and activity laws instead of a Gate.  Therefore during the summer, a trial enforcement period has been implemented. 

The original plan was to have off-duty police officers work 20 shifts of 4 hours each over the summer.  But having the off-duty officers present has not been possible due to demand for their services elsewhere in the City.  Also, off-duty SPD Officers CANNOT issue tickets or actually do enforcement - they can talk to people, but they have to call 9-1-1 for any police action !

Another issue that has come to light in conversations with the involved Departments, is that sending the Fire Department, the Police Department, and Parking Enforcement down to the Beach is NOT a good use of these resources.  When they are down at West Point they are too far away to respond promptly to more urgent needs and emergencies elsewhere in the City and in Queen Sector which includes Magnolia.  It becomes a question of priority, and how accessible do we want these resources to be when we need them in our neighborhood.

King County is asking the public to visit their web site to view the list of infractions AND to help with reporting any violations that they witness:  parking violations, drinking, littering, dogs on the Beach, bonfires/beach fires, etc. Photos are encouraged.

Incidents at Discovery Park Beach

Also, please send your COMMENTS and PERSONAL EXPERIENCES to:

More information about the Proposed Gate is posted further down on this page.

Action Alert:  Subdivision of private inholdings proposed for Discovery Park

UPDATE 8/5/14 the sale of the houses to Rise Enterprises by Forest City has been set back from to November 2014.

UPDATE 6/7/14 on Proposed Subdivision Permits:

Department of Planning and Development held a public meeting on May 29, 2014 on the proposed permits to subdivide (short-plat) the land parcels with the historic houses into 22 individual lots - one for each house.  

Please note again:  Preservation of the historic structures is NOT the issue, and NO new houses are being proposed at this time.

Below is a link to the DPD Project Fact Sheet that was handed out at the meeting.  If you go down to the "2nd page" there is a list of seven "Criteria for Approval."

Number 4 is the one of most relevance:

"Whether the public use and interests are served by permitting the proposed division of land."

Comments may still be submitted up until DPD makes their final decision.

Please email (again) (DPD Staff contact)  (Seattle Mayor)

1.  Include the 3 project numbers (#3016939, 3016941, 3016942)

2.  Argue that Criteria #4 quoted above would not be met i.e. the public use and interests would NOT be served by permitting the proposed division of land due to the incredibly unique location of these parcels surrounded by Discovery Park, etc.

3.  Require that street dedications to the City be a part of any decision - It is in the public interest for the City to insist on dedication of Washington Ave and Montana Circle with the same widths as would normally be required (i.e. the public should be able to walk on these streets and sidewalks in front of these homes just like in any other Seattle neighborhood - currently any public access is considered trespass.)

6/3/14 Magnolia News Article on the DPD Meeting


The Back Story

Friends of Discovery Park sent a letter to Mayor Murray on February 23, 2014 - our final "Hail Mary" to try and get SOMEONE at City Hall to step up and intervene on the sale of the private inholding historic houses within Discovery Park.

We have been aggressively working this issue since 2005, but to no avail.  Now it will be on Mayor Murray's watch if this property is subdivided, and these houses go into the hands of 22 different owners with their 22 different ideas about life in the City's largest natural area park. 

NOTE:  These houses on Officers Row and Montana Circle are NOT "part" of Discovery Park - they are private in-holdings completely surrounded by Discovery Park.  The houses and the 3 parcels of land they sit on are owned by Forest City.  The proposal is to subdivide (short-plat) the 3 parcels, so that each house will own it's on piece of dirt (no new houses will be built.)

The buyer is a large developer from Vancouver BC - Rise Properties Trust.  They are represented locally by the firm Thrive Communities.  They plan to vacate all of the houses, and completely remodel the interiors.  Once remodeled and updated, they will be put up for sale to 22 new owners.

NOTE:  The preservation of these historical buildings is NOT the issue - they are already legally designated as historic, and are already legally protected by the Fort Lawton Landmark District Guidelines in considerable detail.  Any alterations to the exteriors of the buildings or the grounds must receive prior approval from the Landmarks Preservation Board.

Fort Lawton Landmark District Guidelines 6/2012

Here is a link to our webpage for more information on the entire Landmark District: Fort Lawton Landmark District

The Primary Function-Central Purpose of Discovery Park is "to provide an open space of quiet and tranquility for [ALL] the citizens of this city - a sanctuary where they might escape the turmoil of the city and enjoy the rejuvenation which quiet and solitude and an intimate contact with nature can bring."

Having a residential neighborhood which is just like any other Seattle neighborhood, located in the heart of the Park, detracts from this Primary Function-Central Purpose. 

Our goal is to defend The Master Plan and protect the Park for ALL the citizens of Seattle to enjoy.  If the houses remain under SINGLE OWNERSHIP, they could continue to be residential (or low-impact business) rentals.  The rentals could then come with enforceable restrictions in the lease agreements that promote a code of conduct that is compatible with the Primary Function-Central Purpose of Discovery Park.

And the best owner of these homes for Discovery Park would be by a City organization such as Historic Seattle.  (Money could be borrowed, the houses could provide collateral for the loan, and the income from the houses could service the loan.)  Unfortunately that is not the path we are on, and our elected officials for the most part have been unresponsive.


And just as it is now with the City's Landmark District Guidelines, there will be no effective way for the Public to require any meaningful enforcement of any private community HOA rules when they are violated, or there is encroachment on the Park.

Discovery Park should not become the private estate for 22 private homeowners.

First, read the following 2 documents & watch the KIRO-TV news clip to understand the FACTS of the situation:

Letter to Mayor Feb 2014

Why This is Important - What's All the Fuss About

KIRO-TV News Clip April 2014

Then, please:

1.  Email Mayor Murray TODAY with your comments on SINGLE OWNERSHIP of these parcels:

Send your email to members of the City Council:

2.  Email DPD:  OPPOSE the permits for projects #3016939, 3016941, 3016942 to subdivide the 3 parcels because "the public use and interests would NOT be served by permitting the proposed division of land" due to the incredibly unique location of these parcels surrounded by Discovery Park, etc.

Send your email to: with a cc to Mayor

3.  Share with your friends, and spread the links :) :) :)


On 5/7/14 since we have still not had the courtesy of a reply from Mayor Murray, we sent the following email to the Seattle City Council:

Letter to Seattle City Council 5/7/14

Thoughts for the City Council from a Supporter of Historic Structures and Discovery Park

Daily Journal of Commerce Article 5/28/14

6/10/14 Mayor's Office Replies to FoDP

This is urgent - the time is now or never.

Park Projects to be funded through FoDP in 2014

1.  Repairs to the UTAH POND shoreline will stabilize the bank, and provide a "viewing area" for bird watchers.  Photo of Utah Pond south shore where bank is eroded.

2.  A PEDESTRIAN PATHWAY along Texas Way from Bernie Whitebear Way over to the Army Gate, and to W Lawton St will be constructed by Park Staff.  Photo of pathway location.

3.  Additonally, the Park Department will re-PLANT shade trees the length of the planting strips in the North Parking Lot where originally they once were.  Photo of planting strip which at one time had 2 rows of trees.

IMPORTANT CONTACT NUMBERS (for additional numbers, see CONTACTS in sidebar):

*** Single Point Contact Person for Discovery Park to report Campers, Safety Concerns, Repairs Needed, ANY Park Issue good or bad, etc.
    Patti Petesch

*** Criminal/Illegal Activity:  Seattle Police Dept

*** West Point Sewage Treatment Plant to report Odors, Discharge, problems you encounter along the shoreline next to the Plant, etc. OR to schedule a Tour of the Plant:
    206-263-3800 (24 hours)
    Dan Grenet
To report a problem, please call immediately so any problem can be located in the Plant while it is still occurring.

If you are a Member of Friends of Discovery Park, and would like to serve on the Board, please send us an email:

April 9, 2014:  Speeding Cyclist Kills Dog

A woman walking The Loop Trail with her dog on a leash, was crossing Illinois Ave IN THE CROSSWALK when a cyclist speeding down the hill struck her dog and killed it.  There were 2 cyclists - both fled the scene without stopping later saying they were going too fast to stop !!! 

Parks needs to better MARK The Loop Trail crossings at Discovery Park Blvd and at Illinois Ave - next time it could be a person instead of a beloved pet.   

Parks says the speed limit in the Park is 15mph, but current Park signage is inconsistent and says otherwise:

West Point Security Proposed Gate Project 

The latest information from King County and Seattle Parks on the proposed Gate:

King County and Seattle Parks and Recreation held an open house at the Discovery Park Visitor Center on 8/21/13 and again on 12/11/13 to provide information about the West Point Treatment Plant Security Gate Project.  King County also held a public information event at West Point on 6/28/14.

For several years, King County and Seattle Parks Department have dealt with illegal activities on Discovery Park beaches, and uncontrolled vehicle access to the West Point Treatment Plant, beach areas, and the West Point Light Station.  People just ignore the BIG "restricted access, authorized vehicles only" sign, and illegally go about their merry way to the beach.

To address these ongoing and serious problems, King County and DPR are proposing to install a new security gate on Discovery Park Blvd.  It would be located in the vicinity of the old, now removed, Capehart housing complex.  This gate will provide controlled access to the Treatment Plant and the beach areas.

The Discovery Park Master Plan specifically prohibits private vehicle traffic through the Park.  The Master Plan provides for special Permits to drive to the beach ONLY for scheduled groups, and for the handicapped/disabled.

Unfortunately too many people think that it is OK for them to cruise through the Park because they are not "parking", or to drive to the beach because the Visitor Center is closed and there is no one to stop them.  It is NEVER OK for private vehicles with able-bodied people to DRIVE to the beach.  

This park is dedicated to peace and tranquility and getting away from the automobile. WALKING is the primary mode for exploring Discovery Park.  There are other Magnolia and Seattle Parks that offer drive-by views, and auto-centric beach access.

Some ideas for mitigation that FoDP has suggested are:
1.  Have the Visitor Center open 7 days a week. 
2.  Have the Visitor Center open later hours in the summer to accommodate increased early evening use of the Park.
3.  Provide a Shuttle Service (as called for in The Master Plan) that circulates between all 3 parking lots and the beach during the busiest Park hours, especially on summer weekends and holidays.
4.  Much better signage to inform park visitors that beach access by vehicle is restricted, and not intended for lookie-loos.

King County

Seattle Parks

Location of Proposed Security Gate

Parking Issue with Owners of Officers Row Houses August 2013

One issue that was raised at the hearing before the Landmarks Preservation Board voted on the Guidelines, was the issue of parking along California Blvd - specifically at the south end.  Forest City (owner of the houses) thinks they and the residents of the houses should be allowed to park there.  However, FoDP and the Park Department made the following points:

1.  California Blvd is PARK DEPARTMENT property, not Forest City/private property.

2.  California Blvd is RESTRICTED ACCESS - only Washington Ave residents and their guests (and FAA Tower personnel) are allowed to use it i.e the general public is not even allowed to drive up there.

3.  The Park Department DOES NOT allow public parking anywhere along California Blvd, and this policy has been in effect for 40 years.

4.  California Blvd is NOT overflow parking for the private residences any more than it is parking for the rest of us.

5.  FoDP is dismayed that Forest City should think they (or any future owners) are entitled to special privileges over the general public in the use of our public space - Discovery Park is not their private estate !

Friends of Discovery Park will be monitoring this going forward as we presume Forest City will make every effort to "buy" parking privileges in Discovery Park that the rest of us are not afforded, and which are contrary to The Master Plan and the policy on vehicles in the Park.

Park Department contact:

Parks Superintendent:

Southern End of California Blvd

Illegally Parked Forest City Tenants

Outdoor Cats are Primary Source of Bird & Mammal Mortality - New Study Jan 2013

A new study has just come out that found that the annual bird and mammal mortality caused by outdoor cats is much higher than has previously been reported - deaths are now estimated at 1.4 to 3.7 billion for birds, and 6.9 to 20.7 billion for mammals :( :( :(

Every reason to believe that pet cats entering Discovery Park from the surrounding communities are taking their toll on our wildlife.

Off-Leash Dogs Continue to Kill Park Wildlife

Dead Opossum

Discovery Park is NOT an off-leash dog park !!!  If you see anyone with a dog off-leash, promptly call the Seattle Animal Shelter at 206-386-7387 and talk to an Officer (put this number in your cell phone.)  SAS resources are distributed based on "complaints", so the more phone calls coming from Discovery Park = more officers patrolling in the Park.  They will not rush right out and find the person(s) you are calling about at the time, but they will increase the frequency of patrols going forward.

Please do your part to stop these rude, inconsiderate, and irresponsible dog owners from degrading the Park experience for the rest of us.