Citizens Speak Out Over Burien's Possible Annexation Of White Center
Opposition to any expression of interest by Burien in an eventual annexation of the remaining North Highline Unincorporated Area was strident at Mondayâ€™s (March 22) city council meeting.
â€œWhy does Burien think it can afford White Center when Seattle canâ€™t?â€ Kathy Parker demanded of council members. â€œIâ€™m still holding hope that one of you will stem the tide â€¦ just because you can, donâ€™t.â€
She urged them â€œto choose not to wear the mantle of arrogance that can bankrupt our city.â€
The council decided later in the meeting not to adopt at this time a resolution declaring the cityâ€™s interest in eventually annexing the remaining North Highline Unincorporated Area.
The southern unincorporated area in North Highline will officially be annexed by Burien on April 1.
On March 8, council members directed City Manager Mike Martin to draft a resolution clarifying Burienâ€™s intentions regarding the remaining unincorporated area.
That resolution â€“ proposed as a response to Seattle Mayor Mike McGinnâ€™s expressed support for the annexation by Seattle of the remaining unincorporated area â€“ was intended to let north North Higline residents know they have an alternative.
But McGinn and the Seattle City Council backed away last Friday from considering the annexation until 2011 or 2010 because of the costs involved.
Although a majority of citizens addressing the lawmakers opposed any council consideration of an additional annexation by Burien, several speakers â€“ most from North Highline â€“ supported an eventual move to bring the remaining unincorporated area into the city.
Opposition based on concern over the cost of such an annexation was expressed by the first two persons to offer comment.
â€œYou have a fiduciary responsibility,â€ said John Poitras, who added crime in White Center is â€œvastly higherâ€ than it is in the surrounding area.
â€œThereâ€™s no financial responsibility to what weâ€™re going to do,â€ declared Chestine Edgar. She asked for a delay to allow time for a â€œtrue financial analysis before actually considering annexation.â€
Representatives of Burienâ€™s Business and Economic Development Partnership, wary of the competition White Center could pose as a second retail core within the city, were firm in their opposition to any additional annexation in the foreseeable future.
Expressing the partnershipâ€™s â€œgrave concernâ€ about moving ahead the resolution at this time, Doug Moreland called it â€œabsolutely premature. With the economic bite of the White Center area, it makes no sense. So why are we doing it at this time?â€
Annexing north North Highline would create â€œdueling commercial areas in Burien rather than a central downtown area.â€
Partnership member Bob Ewing said â€œnow is not a good time.â€
And Jim Hughes added â€œit just doesnâ€™t makes sense â€¦ emotionally Iâ€™d love to embrace it, but thereâ€™s just too much going on in this community. He encouraged the council to â€œfocus on the job at handâ€ â€“ annexing south North Highline.â€
Mark Minium said he felt â€œblindsidedâ€ by the proposed resolution of interest in north North Highline.
â€œWhy all of a sudden do you people think you can walk in here and decide what needs to be done without asking me?â€ he asked.
â€œBefore you take another bite out of the apple, take care of Burien first. Thatâ€™s what youâ€™re elected for. Do not write a check that you canâ€™t cash. If we lose any more car dealers, weâ€™ll be sitting here without our tax base.â€
â€œApril 1 will be a historic day,â€ said Greg Duff, president of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council. â€œNow I ask for the same foresightâ€ that lead to the annexation of south North Highline.
â€œToo many citizens of North Highline think they have only two choices â€“ unincorporation or Seattle. All this resolution does is tell citizens of North Highline that that have a third option. Burien needs all of North Highline to make the city complete.â€
Gil Loring told the lawmakers, â€œWe just want to have an opportunity in the future to become part of the city. We donâ€™t expect you to come in and rescue us. At the time annexation is required by the state or King County, please keep us in mind.â€
Rachel Levine said, â€œIn a few days, I will be officially a member of the city of Burien and I am very happy.â€ Calling White Center an asset, she added, â€œI know you have fiduciary responsibilities, but you also have a responsibility to look ahead.â€
And Liz Giba urged, â€œPlease donâ€™t let stereotypes get in the way of common sense.â€
Pat Price reminded council members that not only White Center but large parts of other neighborhoods, including Boulevard Park and Top Hat, are remain unincorporated.
â€œWe are willing to wait until Burien has the success that it needs with annexation [of south North Highline] before you consider us,â€ he said, at which time â€œI hope you will consider us.â€