Is Burien Trying To ‘Fast-Track’ The Annexation Of North Highline?

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by Scott Schaefer

A reliable, well-placed source tipped us off Friday morning (June 3rd), to speculation that the City of Burien may be trying to ‘fast-track’ the annexation of the remaining part of North Highline (aka White Center) within the next 60 days, based on a letter sent to the King County Library Board and signed by Mayor Joan McGilton (full letter below).

The intention of the letter is to request that the KCLS board delay their decision on closing and consolidating both the White Center and Boulevard Park libraries (read our previous coverage here), and it includes language implying that the city “will resolve this question by the end of July.”

Here’s a direct quote from the letter (download it here, PDF file), dated May 27th:

Mayor Joan McGilton

“…for us and for all our residents, the Burien City Council on Monday agreed to consider the question of annexation within sixty (60) days. I cannot obligate the Council, but I believe it is highly likely the Council will resolve this question by the end of July. We ask your board to delay any action regarding library improvements in our community until that decision is made. As for timing, there are two possibilities:

1) The Council does not pursue annexation. In that case, we will work with you to find an acceptable option to move ahead immediately, beginning no later than August 1 this year. Or:

2) The Council decides to advance annexation. In this case, we would ask you table the question until after the residents of North Highline have a chance to vote on whether to join Burien.”

We’ve been following the city’s North Highline annexation interest fairly closely (read our extensive coverage here), yet this new document seems to imply that there’s a sudden rush to make a decision within 60 days.

Initial research indicates that one reason the City of Seattle decided not to pursue the remaining area of North Highline (they voted 8-1 against it in March) is that it may cost $10 million dollars more to manage the area annually than what the new tax base might generate in revenue.

Our source says that Mayor McGilton may bring this issue up for vote at the next council meeting, scheduled to start at 7 p.m. this upcoming Monday, June 6th.

“People who have concerns about what is going on need to come and speak up quickly at this next meeting,” said our source.

Residents in the “south” North Highline area approved annexation by Burien in a 2009 election, and officially became part of the city – North Burien – on April 1, 2010. This increased the population of Burien to 47,605, making it the state’s 21st largest city.

The City of Burien has previously said that they would not consider further annexation until 2012, and only after a careful financial analysis was completed. Far as we can tell, this analysis has not yet been finished.

Mayor McGilton sent the following letter to the King County Library Board as well as the King County Executives pretty much promising them that this will be decided by July, 2011:

Click image to download PDF of letter.

We’re curious to know what YOU think – please take our Poll, or leave a Comment below:

Should the City of Burien 'fast-track' the annexation of the rest of North Highline?

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14 Responses to “Is Burien Trying To ‘Fast-Track’ The Annexation Of North Highline?”
  1. big Nate says:

    Hey Scott

    Thanks for reporting on the North Highline Annexation question, can you use your considerble access to post something that would provide some clarity on the White Center Annexation question that some people seem to think is happening undercover.

  2. Get a clue burien city council says:

    Precursor to white center. It’s gonna be next.

  3. Cyndi Upthegrove says:

    What’s the rush? Why not get the financials done, correctly, and use them to make an appropriate decision. If we cannot afford it, don’t do it. If we can afford it, then ask the folks up north to vote. We know that they are not unanimous about wanting to be in Burien.
    Again, what’s the rush?
    Perhaps the KC Library Board has put the Council in a box. I hope they can separate their issues and deal with this one item at a time; libraries first, then annexation when/if the numbers warrant.
    The above gives the appearance of going around good process.

  4. Get a clue burien city council says:

    My mistake, didn’t read the article close enough, this is it. “north highline” is white center. That didn’t take long.

  5. Get a clue burien city council says:


    The powers that be in burien are convinced that they can turn white center around because their track record in burien is so great. Good luck with that.

    10 million dollars a year! Seattle passed, the county is trying to get rid of it , so what do the wise people at burien city hall do, they decide they want it. Brilliant. A new library is not worth losing 10 million per year.

    Like I said yesterday, they are trying to do this under the radar. Calling it “north highline” doesn’t change the fact it is white center

  6. Get a clue burien city council says:

    Hey chris,

    You wanted proof last night, here it is. I thought you were “dialed in” to what happens at city hall. Guess you need a new phone.

  7. Questions! says:

    Tail wagging dog? Do we need another library? The main one really sparked a genuine economic revival in Burien. We got a few new pawnshops, so lets build another library in a even worse economic area. ( I think the condos and lots are still empty.)

    Do we have any other vision or do we keep building libraries and rain gardens and continue to ignore the other community needs? How do we even know what our community wants? Perhaps our “visioning” study isn’t playing out as it was thought and so we must rush to annex anyway?

    Who was it that said the definition of insantiy is to keep doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result?

  8. Get a clue burien city council says:

    This poll result is exactly why this won’t be on a ballott. Because it would go down in flames. The city council knows this. Which is why they are trying to rush this through. They aren’t going to be thinking about it until July. It has already been decided. The votes are there on the city council.

    The Burien city council has lost sight of the fact they are public servants. And mike Martin has forgotten he works for the people of the city of burien. If this goes through without input from the residents of burien and against their wishes then big changes should take place at city hall. Vote them out.

  9. Chris says:

    Now wait just a sec. I believe the statement by Mayor McGilton simply implies that the council MAY consider taking two actions:

    1. Deciding not to pursue a further annexation at this time, or

    2. Deciding to move forward with an annexation initiative.

    This does not mean that an annexation vote would occur within 60 days. Keep in mind that the last time Burien pursued annexation, it took over EIGHT years before it went to a vote. I really don’t think the city would move forward with an annexation in haste before having all the latest financials in order.

    Perhaps some our simply making a mountain out of–well you know.

  10. Get a clue burien city council says:


    I’ve got some great swamp land I can sell you. The council knows all the financials. The county and state is going to give burien 5 million per year for 10 years to abate some of the cost. But burien estimates they are still going to lose 1.2 million per year on the annexation. But the burien city council and mike Martin are convinced they can improve white center so that they aren’t losing money. In other words they are out to lunch.

    Of course you know all of this because you are “dialed in.”

  11. joan m johnson says:

    Is this the King County Library Board that ripped out all the security cameras in the libraries? No mother will want their kids in the library any more, particularly after dark; no one will want to park in your underground parking lot; the loiterers will not feel threatened, just the patrons and taxpayers. Folks, do you know how much you pay for the library every year? Check it out.

    Also, PLEASE DON’T fast-track the annexation. CANCEL it.

  12. Rob says:

    Scott is the poll run by the City of Burien? Because I can’t register a vote on it.

  13. Pete says:

    Don’t know why people would be against white center annexation. Burien’s already known as ghetto. This will just solidify that perception!

  14. Hotrodgal says:

    I find it odd that the perception on KCLS actions hovers around Burien getting a new library. What really is important here is that two community libraries and their patrons have become pawns in KCLS mad grab at the remainder of the 2004 bond money.

    The result would be the loss of the two libraries in the immediate neighborhoods that use them. I find it sad that the KCLS wants to yank the White Center library away from it’s community, because the annexation question has gotten too messy for them, and has now strong armed Burien into a corner. I also find it sad that the Boulevard Park library, where many folks walk to, has gotten tangled in the mess.

    KCLS has waited years to improve these two libraries. A little patience would be a good move on their part.

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