Burien vs Seattle Annexation On Docket At N. Highline Council Meeting

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by Mark Neuman

The gavel came down hard last night (Thursday, March 4) in a spirited meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council in White Center.

The prospect of annexation with either Seattle or Burien focused the minds of the approximately 50 citizen attendees at the meeting, held at the headquarters station of the North Highline Fire District on SW 112th Street.

“You’ve had your chance to speak, and the public comment period is over,” council president Gregory Duff told one member of the audience as he hit the table twice with his gavel. That audience member at least three times tried to question invited speakers who were officially addressing the council.

Some attendees, almost all residents of North Highline, voiced dissatisfaction that the public comment portion of the meeting preceded the arrival of Kenny Pittman, Senior Policy Analyst for the City of Seattle.

Twenty citizens addressed the council during the comment period, all speaking about the annexation issue.

Fifteen spoke in favor of annexation with Seattle, three in favor of joining Burien, and two spoke in general terms without clearly stating a preference.

Barbara Dobkin favors annexation with Burien.

“I can call (King County Deputy Sheriff) Jeff Hancock on his cell phone, and he answers it,” Dobkin told the council. “There was a house fire a few doors down from me recently and the fire department was there in about two minutes. I see the high density of Seattle. I don’t want White Center to look like Delridge.”

Liz Giba, of a group called “People for Burien”, addressed the council.

“I would like to have an educated vote,” Giba said. “Seattle will focus on their affluent neighborhoods.”

The green portion of this map is the area of White Center that could be annexed by either Seattle or Burien.

Mercedes D’Antona has lived in White Center for about five years. She told the council:

“I get a little emotional about annexation. I am Hispanic. Seattle is a huge, humongous beast. Seattle has huge demand (on its services). We would not benefit. I like the laid back lifestyle we have here. I do not want to be suffocated.”

Brad Truesdell, a twelve-year resident of White Center said “Seattle is the best choice. They have three times the gang unit” than is currently available.

Truesdell, who envisions Ambaum Boulevard blossoming from time to time into a “multicultural open air mall,” said that White Center, once annexed with Seattle “could become the real International District of Seattle.”

Stephanie Dotson, who opposes annexation with Burien, told the council: “I have lived here forever. I find it extremely distressing that this council and audience have very few people of color.”

Mark Ufkes, who heads the White Center Homeowners Association, illustrated with placards that Seattle’s list of services to the public exceeds services provided by Burien.

“All we want is a chance to vote (on annexation),” Ufkes told the council.

One man who did not address the council was Gill Loring, a homeowner in White Center since 1998. He told The White Center Blog following the meeting that he favors annexation with Burien.

The newest member of the King County Council, Jan Drago, said at the meeting she will “not oppose” North Highline annexation. Drago recently completed four terms as a member of the Seattle City Council.

Pittman, of the City of Seattle, said North Highline District firefighters who might be temporarily displaced in the event of an annexation with Seattle would immediately go to the top of a re-hire list for firefighter jobs that open up at any fire station in Seattle.

King County Deputy Sheriff Jeff Hancock introduced nine members of the Sheriff’s gang unit. They reported that during 2009, the number of street gangs attempting to do business in and near North Highline was reduced from 21 to 15.

More information on the NHUAC is available at their website.

(Graphic courtesy North Highline Unincorporated Area Councils website)

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18 Responses to “Burien vs Seattle Annexation On Docket At N. Highline Council Meeting”
  1. TcB says:

    Let’s watch and see what Mark Ufkes comes up with. “Join Seattle and there will be Rainbows! Join Burien and you will break off from the earth and be swallowed by a black hole!” Or something like that.

    • SD says:

      I’m concerned Burien cannot provide the level of support within its current boundaries. Further expansion into N. Highline might indeed result in being “swallowed into a black hole” or in business terms…run in the red. The city council needs to restrain themselves from making poor financial decisions.

      • TcB says:

        This is more important than concern about the next couple of years and the desire for a few bucks more property value, or even the “cool” factor with a Seattle address (I can use either Burien, or Seattle as my address and the post office doesn’t care). Seattle developers are looking greedily at White Center and the first Avenue corridor. White center will become the place to put the population, and first avenue (past Top Hat) will become an industrial base. The Federal flood plain maps will chase industry up into this area if it becomes available, and Seattle won’t care much about the residents up the hill. It’ll just be another few thousand people who won’t have a voice anyway. That being said, I’m not an “annex White Center” booster. But I will be that much closer to all the new industrial down the street that will come.

  2. Heidi says:

    check out the whitecenternowblog.com – he’s out done himself by posting you-tube videos of badgers!

  3. Mark Ufkes says:

    One thing we can always count on at this blog site is the personal attacks and ridicule for people who have a different view. Many of us are working, in their own way, to make our community better. To be attacked personally by you folks is becoming a badge of honor. And then for you to hide your childish remarks by not using your full names . . . I love it.

    The offer still stands. Any of you who want to debate the issues in public (of course you will have to use facts and not ridicule) you know where to find ,me. And for the record, I have never posted anythng on youtube.

    Mark Ufkes

  4. Heidi says:


    sorry – I was mistaken about Mark , it was an individual named George whom I can’t find anywhere – He is a mysterious North Highline resident who will not make himself public, and Mark, you know my last name is Johnson and sorry about posting your name, you are right about that – it was George! I didn’t intend to ridicule you, my apologies.

  5. Jim Branson says:

    Mike Martin signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Seattle and King County stating that:

    “All parties agree that the annexation of North Highline communities to more than one city is the preferred option at this time given the diversity of community preferences and the significant cost of services associated with annexing the entire North Highline area communities.”

    Later it says:

    “Burien agrees to pursue annexation only in area X, and Seattle agrees to pursue annexation only in area Y, until December 31st, 2011.”

    This MOU can be found in the Burien packet for the next Council meeting.

    All parties have agreed that, since Burien has already annexed area X, the only question on the table right now is Seattle or not Seattle.

    So why is Kathy Keene in the media trying to persuade White Center that Burien is the better option for them if Mike Martin has already signed an MOU stating that Burien will not pursue annexation of area Y until 2012?

    • jim clingan says:

      Because Seattle did not agree to or sign the MOU.

      • Jim Branson says:

        The document bears the signature of Kenny Pitman, senior policy advisor for Tim Ceis. Take a look for yourself.

        • jim clingan says:

          Jim – That may be true, but the agreement subsequently went to the Burien and Seattle City Councils for approval. Burien approved the MOU and Seattle did not.

          • Jim Branson says:

            The Seattle City Council disagreed with the process, not the outcome. Whether or not Seattle City Council signed on, Mike Martin said in the MOU that all of north highline would be too much for Burien. What has changed since then? We haven’t even annexed area X yet, and we haven’t seen if Burien can manage it. Once Arbor Lake is clean and crime-free, then it might seem plausible that all of White Center is not too much for Burien to handle.

      • SD says:

        My apologies…I’ve been on the fringe (stayed in touch reading Highline Times & B-Town Blog, but not directly immersed in these discussions), so it’s confusing to me that Burien was able to proceed with pursuing “X” but not “X & Y.” Not that I agreed with Burien pursuing “X” but why is “Y” even in the equation now?

        • Jim Branson says:

          If you’re asking me, I don’t think area Y is in the equation. It could only be under consideration again if Mike Martin went against the document he signed.

  6. jim clingan says:

    Jim –

    It may be that the Seattle City Council did not agree with the process OR the outcome. At the moment, Burien is not trying to annex the northern part of North Highline. Burien begins the transition of the southern portion April 1, a few weeks from now. At some point, either Seattle or Burien will annex the northern portion. Seattle seems to be interested in putting it on the ballot later this year, but the Seattle City Council has to give its approval. If that happens, there will be a vote by the citizens of northern North Highline. If that vote should fail, and Burien decides to pursue the annexation of the rest of North Highline, they are free to do so. Either way, the citizens of North Highline will be able to determine their own fate.

    Not to get too far into the tall grass here, but your 8:26 reply to me regarding Mike Martin saying “all of North Highline would be too much for Burien” probably ended with “at this time.” But that doesn’t mean that Burien will not move forward with an annexation vote some time in the future. And since the MOU was not signed by Seattle, it could happen before December 31, 2011.

  7. Pat Price says:

    in response to “Brad Truesdell, a twelve-year resident of White Center said “Seattle is the best choice. They have three times the gang unit” than is currently available.”
    The 9 member Gang Unit we met at the Thurs. nite NHUAC meeting (from the King County Sheriff’s Dept.) work in our North Highline Unincorporated Area (both halves) & the City of Burien, with a total population of approx. 60,00 residents. The 27 member gang unit of Seattle covers a population of approx. 600,000 residents. Do the math – do you think those 27 guys can all come out here and take care of our problems ? I don’t think they are hanging around doing nothing in Seattle these days.
    For anyone who wants to learn more about their community: attend a meeting of the White Center-South Delridge Community Safety Coalition to learn about crime & safety issues, monthly on the 4th Thursday of each month, 6 pm, at the DSHS Bldg. in White Center.

  8. Dale says:

    Someone told me last night that if my hot water heater bites the dust Burien would force me to buy a permit before I can buy and replace the heater. If true if I lived in Seattle would I have to do the same and would the permit cost me more or less? The fellow also said that if I lived in Burien I would be forced to install at “catch basis” under the water heater so I am wondering about Seattle’s requirements on this account.

    By the way the water heater in my old house (that we have lived in for over forty years so I have replaced lots of water heaters) is not cylindrical but instead rectangular and is built into the kitchen cabinetry.

    Using this example of a test case as to which city allows its citizens more freedom.

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