Burien vs Seattle Annexation On Docket At N. Highline Council Meeting
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.
â€œYouâ€™ve had your chance to speak, and the public comment period is over,â€ 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.
â€œI can call (King County Deputy Sheriff) Jeff Hancock on his cell phone, and he answers it,â€ Dobkin told the council. â€œThere 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 donâ€™t want White Center to look like Delridge.â€
Liz Giba, of a group called â€œPeople for Burienâ€, addressed the council.
â€œI would like to have an educated vote,â€ Giba said. â€œSeattle will focus on their affluent neighborhoods.â€
Mercedes Dâ€™Antona has lived in White Center for about five years. She told the council:
â€œI 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.â€
Brad Truesdell, a twelve-year resident of White Center said â€œSeattle is the best choice. They have three times the gang unitâ€ than is currently available.
Truesdell, who envisions Ambaum Boulevard blossoming from time to time into a â€œmulticultural open air mall,â€ said that White Center, once annexed with Seattle â€œcould become the real International District of Seattle.â€
Stephanie Dotson, who opposes annexation with Burien, told the council: â€œI have lived here forever. I find it extremely distressing that this council and audience have very few people of color.â€
Mark Ufkes, who heads the White Center Homeowners Association, illustrated with placards that Seattleâ€™s list of services to the public exceeds services provided by Burien.
â€œAll we want is a chance to vote (on annexation),â€ 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 â€œnot opposeâ€ 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 Sheriffâ€™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)