Citizens Speak Out Over Burien's Possible Annexation Of White Center

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by Ralph Nichols

Opposition to any expression of interest by Burien in an eventual annexation of the remaining North Highline Unincorporated Area was strident at Monday’s (March 22) city council meeting.

“Why does Burien think it can afford White Center when Seattle can’t?” Kathy Parker demanded of council members. “I’m still holding hope that one of you will stem the tide … just because you can, don’t.”

She urged them “to choose not to wear the mantle of arrogance that can bankrupt our city.”

The council decided later in the meeting not to adopt at this time a resolution declaring the city’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 Burien’s intentions regarding the remaining unincorporated area.

That resolution – proposed as a response to Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn’s expressed support for the annexation by Seattle of the remaining unincorporated area – 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 – most from North Highline – 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.

“You have a fiduciary responsibility,” said John Poitras, who added crime in White Center is “vastly higher” than it is in the surrounding area.

“There’s no financial responsibility to what we’re going to do,” declared Chestine Edgar. She asked for a delay to allow time for a “true financial analysis before actually considering annexation.”

Representatives of Burien’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 partnership’s “grave concern” about moving ahead the resolution at this time, Doug Moreland called it “absolutely premature. With the economic bite of the White Center area, it makes no sense. So why are we doing it at this time?”

For now at least, Burien's possible annexation of "Area Y" is on hold.

Annexing north North Highline would create “dueling commercial areas in Burien rather than a central downtown area.”

Partnership member Bob Ewing said “now is not a good time.”

And Jim Hughes added “it just doesn’t makes sense … emotionally I’d love to embrace it, but there’s just too much going on in this community. He encouraged the council to “focus on the job at hand” – annexing south North Highline.”

Mark Minium said he felt “blindsided” by the proposed resolution of interest in north North Highline.

“Why all of a sudden do you people think you can walk in here and decide what needs to be done without asking me?” he asked.

“Before you take another bite out of the apple, take care of Burien first. That’s what you’re elected for. Do not write a check that you can’t cash. If we lose any more car dealers, we’ll be sitting here without our tax base.”

“April 1 will be a historic day,” said Greg Duff, president of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council. “Now I ask for the same foresight” that lead to the annexation of south North Highline.

“Too many citizens of North Highline think they have only two choices – 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.”

Gil Loring told the lawmakers, “We just want to have an opportunity in the future to become part of the city. We don’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.”

Rachel Levine said, “In a few days, I will be officially a member of the city of Burien and I am very happy.” Calling White Center an asset, she added, “I know you have fiduciary responsibilities, but you also have a responsibility to look ahead.”

And Liz Giba urged, “Please don’t let stereotypes get in the way of common sense.”

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.

“We are willing to wait until Burien has the success that it needs with annexation [of south North Highline] before you consider us,” he said, at which time “I hope you will consider us.”

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One Response to “Citizens Speak Out Over Burien's Possible Annexation Of White Center”
  1. Rob says:

    My only concern with White Center is (If I have my facts straight) It has a negative $$$ stigma. As I understand it, more $$$ go out in services than actually comes in. Not a great investment for a struggling (financially) city like Burien.

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