LETTER: Why Are Citizens Complaining About Burien's Shoreline Master Plan?
So why are the citizens of Burien complaining about the Shoreline Master Plan (SMP)?
Perhaps it is because they are witnessing the creation of still one more badly crafted, inaccurate document by the City of Burienâ€™s staff. No matter how much public input the citizens are trying to provide to help clean it up and turn it into a workable document, the City Council, the Planning Commission and the city staff are ignoring them. The City of Burien operates on the 5 D Method of Government when dealing with citizens: Deny, Deflect, Derail, Delay and Donâ€™t allow or listen to citizen comments. Over 400 citizens signed a petition and asked that the work on the SMP be slowed down so that it could be correctly written. The Community Development Director, Scott Greenberg, has made it clear, through the Planning Commission, that no further public comment is going to be allowed at the meetings regarding the SMP. The document is going to be hurried through the Planning Commission in spite of its errors.
This is not the first time that Mr. Greenberg has used this strategy to fast track ordinances and plans that he wants incorporated into city documents. While authoritarian control of the Planning Commission has moved documents along quickly in the past and in the direction he and his predecessors have wanted them written, it has left the citizens of Burien with documents that are poorly written, riddled with errors and ripe for potential lawsuits. When citizens make honest requests to have these ordinances or plans corrected, they are pretty much told to get lost. It was this general attitude by city staff that resulted in Burien losing a lawsuit for approximately $14,000,000.
Additionally, other documents that are of little interest to him or the City Manager, Mike Martin, remain in antiquated condition which also creates situations that put the city at risk of being sued. There are many of these outdated ordinances and codes that no one can make any sense of-including the city staff. A number of Burienâ€™s documents still reference King County Codes that King County got rid of 14 years ago.
As an example, Burienâ€™s most current Critical Areas Ordinance, dated 2003, which is supposed to be based on Best Available Science (BAS), contained a Critical Areas Map that was in disagreement with the written document. It still contains a wetland rating scale that is based on no science. Additionally, the Critical Areas Ordinance does not agree with the Comprehensive Plan which is the â€œguidingâ€ document for the city.
The Comprehensive Plan, which is also supposed to be based on the Best Available Science, does not agree with the Best Available Science in the Critical Areas Ordinance. For the past seven years of 2003-2010, the Comprehensive Plan contained a different Critical Areas Map which showed the neighborhood of Hurstwood to be a wetland. However, Hurstwood was not a wetland because homes were obviously built in it. Someone in city hall made an error and turned to property lines into wetland lines on the map. How did this go unnoticed for so long?
Then, within the Comprehensive Plan, there are Policy descriptions that do not agree with the maps contained in the Plan. As a result of these errors, there are then errors in the zoning codes. This is clearly sloppy workmanship at tax payer expense and probably could have been prevented if sufficient citizen input had been allowed, seriously considered and the correct amount of time had been given to editing.
Now, these same errors are being replicated and perpetuated in the Shoreline Master Plan. The city staff does not welcome comments and does not wish to address or correct errors. The city staffâ€™s only major goal is to get the Shoreline Master Plan done quickly regardless of its quality or accuracy. The real losers in this process are the citizens. The SMP draft is one more piece of junk paper being produced at a cost of over $117,000 to the citizens of Burien and the State of Washington.
For those new citizens recently annexed to Burien-approach this city government with caution. What ever happened to government of the people, by the people and for the people?
I guess not in Burien.
– Chestine Edgar
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