City Of Burien Says: “AquÃ Se Habla EspaÃ±ol”
AquÃ se habla espaÃ±ol.
Translation: â€œSpanish spoken here.â€
And these words could be a message from the City of Burien to the members of its growing Spanish-speaking community.
Thatâ€™s because Burien recently added a Spanish-language phone line for people who call city hall (the direct # is 206-436-5556).
Here’s an audio sample of it (click the “Play” button below):
â€œIf it’s well publicized, I think it will prove to be very useful and be well received by Latino residents,â€ says Spanish translator Kenneth Barger â€“ the â€œvoiceâ€ of the Spanish line.
This line can help bring members of the Latino community into the â€œmainstreamâ€ of the larger local community, Barger says, especially â€œif it is part of a broader effort, as is the case with the translated documents available in Burien, the [cityâ€™s] new radio station with Spanish material, and the bilingual newsletter.
â€œOf particular importance is the practical information for emergencies, crime prevention, and so forthâ€ that the line offers Spanish-speaking residents, â€œbecause a community is only safe when all of its members are safe.
The Spanish line is available both to people who call the cityâ€™s 24/7 information line (206-241-4647, or directly at 206-436-5556) and press â€œ2â€ at the prompt, and those who call city hall during business hours and request certain information in Spanish.
The lineâ€™s five Spanish-language information categories are:
- Business licenses
- Reduced cable television rates
- How to file a citizen-action reques
- Community information, which includes:
- Emergency preparedness
- Free Burien shuttle
- English-Spanish conversational group
- Crime prevention Block Watch
- Citizenship/naturalization preparedness
Carolyn Towle, a city accountant who also manages its communications systems, said the idea for a Spanish line originated with the cityâ€™s Communications Committee.
Last spring, says Towle, she was approached by members of the cityâ€™s Communicationâ€™s Committee, who suggested that answers in Spanish be provided for commonly asked questions received at the front desk.
At that time, she had to say no. The cityâ€™s existing communications technology could not support the system they wanted for it. But upgrades made as part of the move into the new Burien City Hall/Library building last June made it possible.
â€œI went back after the move and said, â€˜OK, weâ€™ve got the technology now and Iâ€™d like to move forward with it,â€™â€ Towle says. Next, â€œI want to the gals at the front desk and they put together a two-page list, a script, of the frequently asked questionsâ€ they wanted answered in Spanish.
They then talked with Steve Botkin, a public relations consultant for the city, who provided ideas for the Spanish line including incorporating it with Burienâ€™s public radio station (540 AM).
â€œThis line is for information only,â€ Towle notes. â€œThere is no voice mail for callers to leave messages for city staff.â€
Barger adds, â€œThis part of the county has an even greater Latino population than elsewhere in the state, so if anyone is going to offer such a service, it’s great that it’s here. This sort of welcoming gesture makes people feel more a part of the community, which makes the whole community stronger.â€