ANALYSIS: Can Burien Afford To Annex The Rest Of North Highline?

Print This Post  Email This Post

Click image to see larger version of the proposed annexation area.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an analysis of the negative side of annexation of so-called Area Y. This analysis is not intended to be a balanced news story. Many stories on The B-Town Blog have already reported on those who support annexation, but less has been written about the negative. This piece is intended to balance the discussion.]

By Jack Mayne

Annexation of the rest of North Highline is a hot topic, but only to a relatively few people in both Burien and the White Center/North Highline area.

Many say that only a few people consider this a major issue, both inside the unincorporated area and in the rest of Burien.

Gov. Chris Gregoire tossed a new impediment into the fray recently when she proposed eliminating the Annexation Sales Tax Credit (read our coverage of that here).

One thing is certain, annexation will not happen for about a year, no matter what the Burien City Council does. The city would have to negotiate with the entities that provide services to the area (library, police, fire, sewer etc.) to work out new cost sharing amounts.

A main potential problem would be that the people of the unincorporated area must vote whether to join with Burien or not, and there are many who will not want to be in Burien and want to join with Seattle. Many of the ethnic groups living in the region will not vote at all because they are not registered, or rely on their own people and not on governments.

We have spent a lot of time reading both the Berk Report, a fiscal analysis of the proposed annexation, and a report written by the staff of Beth Goldberg, director of the Seattle Budget Office.

In short, the Seattle view is that annexation of the area would simply be too expensive, even though some Seattle Council members and others think annexation would be a good idea.

“I still think annexation is a good idea,” said Seattle Council President Richard Conlin, but the city is continuing to cut its own budget to make up for tax shortfalls, so it is not in the cards now – more of that later.

Too expensive?
The analysis of these reports shows there are some serious financial concerns for Burien residents. It just may be too expensive to annex the area.

Gov. Gregoire may have struck the final blow to those who want to take the rest of Highline into the city. She has proposed that the Washington Legislature eliminate the state annexation sales tax credit, which her budget office projects would save $17.8 million.

If it remains the credit would provide Burien with upwards of $50 million over the next 10 years to help pay for the cost of annexation. If the Legislature buys the governor’s request, Burien will not get any of the $50 million.

The Washington Legislature is expected to meet Nov. 28 to make more large cuts in the state budget. The total budget reductions needed are in the range of $2 billion to provide for a minimal reserve fund.

The Legislature can accept or reject the governor’s proposal. But Gregoire noted the tax credit benefits only seven Puget Sound cities including Burien.

Eastern Washington legislators are as solidly Republican as King County is Democratic, so they are usually unsympathetic to the fiscal woes of the Seattle area.

Most Burien City Council members who support annexation have touted the $5 million a year sales tax rebate at the strongest reason to bring the unincorporated area into the city. The Berk Report, a study paid for by the city to assess the financial impact of the annexation supports that reasoning.

“(T)he costs borne from annexation are not covered by the revenues,” says the Berk study.

King County is even more financially stressed than Seattle or Burien so it banded together with various cities adjacent to unincorporated “islands” and got the Legislature to agree to rebate sales tax revenue up to $5 million a year.

That money “would more than cover the city’s incremental cost (new costs directly related to the annexation) of annexation for the 10 years that the credit would be in place,” said Berk.

Burien costs going up
Meanwhile, Berk says that if “the current trends were to continue without intervention, the City of Burien is expected to see costs increasing at approximately 3.6 percent per year and revenues increasing at about 1.8 percent per year, leading to an increasing deficit over time.”

No Washington city may legally operate with a budget deficit.

Click image to download PDF of the Berk Report.

“But the $5 million credit would give the city more income each year until the tax credit expired (estimated to be in 2023).”

Berk says the city would collect 22 percent more in 2013, 29 percent more in 2014 and 28 percent more than needed in 2022, but the surpluses would end in 2023.

Then, Berk projects Burien would suddenly take in 22 percent less money than necessary to operate the city at current income projected 10 years.

If the city annexed the area but did not get the sales tax credit, it would continually bring in less revenue than needed, 21 percent to 24 percent over various years.

Nobody in the city has ever made it clear what city leaders think will happen when the tax rebate ends in 2023. Apparently they believe that Burien leaders a decade away can deal with that problem then.

Otherwise it’s ‘neutral’
There is a glimmer of positive for annexation in the report. Leaving the sales tax credit aside, Berk says the long-term perspective of annexation “would be a fiscally neutral proposition to the current city. Does annexation make it more or less challenging for the city to balance its budget over time?” asks Berk.

“Stated another way, the fiscal impact of annexing the area is defined by the degree that annexation introduces any new service cost or tax revenue challenges not already being addressed by the city. From this perspective, the annexation of the area does not worsen, nor does it substantially improve the city’s ability to balance its budget. In a post annexation world, future city councils will not have to make special choices between higher taxes and reduced levels of service to expressly accommodate the annexation area.

In other words, addressing the current city fiscal challenges also addresses the fiscal challenges of the annexation area.”

So Burien’s fiscal management would be up to city officers and the Burien City Council.

Seattle is not interested in annexation of the North Highline area, at least for now, say both city council members and a January report done by the staff of City Budget Director Beth Goldberg.

“After considering the finding of the attached report, the mayor believes that Seattle is better positioned to provide services to the residents and businesses in the area than is King County,” the report’s transmission letter from Goldberg said. “At the same time, the city’s current and future financial reality . . . make the decision to annex difficult to contemplate at this time. The city simply does not have sufficient resources (and resource growth) to meet existing demands for its services and take on the new demands that the annexation would require.”

Seattle Council President Conlin holds out hope for the area, though.

“If voters (in North Highline Area Y) turn down Burien, there will be a lot of time for Seattle to consider it again. I still think that is would be good to annex the area but the finances are just not there now.”

The Berk Report noted some reasons why Seattle found costs too high, mainly because the way Seattle and Burien do many things is very different.

“The City of Seattle report estimates that annexation area would require expenditure increases of about $19.2 million to $28.7 million annually compared to increases of $7.1 million to $9.8 million annually for the City of Burien,” says Berk.

Problems Seattle saw that aren’t true for Burien are such things as policing. Burien contracts for police service from King County, while Seattle would have to hire more officers to cover the area. Similar problem for fire services because there is a freestanding fire district that collects its own taxes and fees, but Seattle would have to expand the new fire station on 35th Avenue to accommodate up to 29 additional firefighters or provide services to the area out of the fire district’s station on SW 112th Street.

“While each city levies the same four major general fund taxes (e.g. property tax, sales tax, utility taxes, and business and occupation taxes), keen differences exist in the rates applied,” says Berk. “Applying these rates to the existing tax bases (i.e. total assessed value, business income, utility usage) in the area yields greater amounts of tax revenues for Seattle.”

And even that additional revenue was far short of what Seattle would need to handle the annexed area.

Just the wrong time
While some say annexation may be a great idea for Burien, the current financial crisis makes it appear that this a very bad time to take on additional costs, in particular with the potential loss of the state annexation sales tax rebate that helps cover the costs of governmental services.

Some say that the fact there is lax zoning in the unincorporated area, which makes the possibility that blight will be on the very border of Burien, but without the money to tackle those very problems, what would change?

Perhaps, like Seattle, maybe the annexation idea should be put on hold for a few years. Maybe that extra time will spur King County and the Legislature to find ways to make the addition of the area more affordable.

Print This Post  Email This Post


63 Responses to “ANALYSIS: Can Burien Afford To Annex The Rest Of North Highline?”
  1. William Forest says:

    Excellent analysis of the salient negatives on the Annexation of Area Y Jack!

  2. Neil says:

    Great article. Thank You.

  3. TcB says:

    It’s not tabled that the tax money is gone. The area will remain geographically next door and the same people will be there, using services like Highline School District and the same Fire and Water services. The reason Seattle would have to spend so much more is because they’d have to create all their own Fire and Police services for the area. Our costs go up no matter if Seattle or Burien annexes the area. If Burien doesn’t control the area the developers continue to pack in tons of apartments. If Seattle gets it imagine that it becomes a super high density “West Seattle-South” right next door, and all the business will flow into White Center just like it does to Southcenter now. Burien businesses would be hobbled from two sides. Not a pretty future, higher costs no matter if you take it or not, and if you don’t 152nd and 153rd could be kissing cousins.

    • William Forester says:

      The area has been geographically next door for decades. That is nothing new.
      Nothing has changed. The developers are funding pro-annexation so somehow that does not jibe with your picture of the situation.
      I can just Imagine all the business flowing into white center just like south center? I have to ask what bizarro world are you living in that you would come to that off the wall conclusion? If the economy picks up to the fever pitch you envision then business’s on 152nd and 153rd would benefit also and whats wrong with them being kissing cousins (whatever the heck than means?) I would like to see a thriving down town Burien. We should put some of the money set aside for annexation to give incentives for a hotel in Downtown Burien so we can get some of the business that Seatac has a monopoly on right now.
      Higher costs? Why? Certainly the taxpayers of Burien would not be funding the money pit of white center and our crime rate would not include white center and we would not be funding the infrastructure maintenance for area Y. Our taxes would not go up and our current services would be the same as they are now.

      Or we could hope for utopia like John Lennon
      Imagine no possessions
      I wonder if you can
      No need for greed or hunger
      A brotherhood of man
      Imagine all the people Sharing all the world

      You may say that I’m a dreamer
      But I’m not the only one
      I hope someday you’ll join us
      And the world will live as one

      Unfortunately in the real world we live in we are not there yet.

      • TcB says:

        Please try to keep it civil If you disagree fine but don’t say I live in a bizarro world just because I disagree with you. And as for the hotel/motel that would be a huge mistake to start developing 1st avenue for motels. Look at Aurora, prostitution and drugs would be the only thing being developed for the kind of motel that would end up building so far from the airport. When I speak of how things might happen I imagine far into the future not next week. That’s the problem, people don’t plan past next fiscal quarter.

      • I believe the issue of development and developers to be a smoke screen. The area will continue to be developed no matter what. It’s about who controls the area and who gets to set zoning policy.

        Even IF we allow 100% of what King County is allowing (which we won’t) we would generate additional income for the city in the from of permit fees. We would be able to control what goes where. We’d get any addtional sales tax from any business we can attract to the area. An area already underserved. If we control the zoning and can attract the right businesses to North Highline we can get additional sales tax from people to the north of Roxbury coming to North Highline to shop.

        Joey Martinez

  4. kitty lover says:

    Finally some real facts and good sense. Now, convince those “questionable” City Council Members, who appear to have their own, rather than “our” best interests……

  5. William Forester says:

    TcB because I find your vision so off the mark as to be bizarre I find it hard to see as uncivil.
    I agree Aurora and its line of skid row type motels and white center with its drugs and prostitution is not what we want in down town Burien but to say that is what first avenue would become is again imo way off the mark.
    A Marriott or another upscale type motel would be more what I had in mind. I also did not envision it to happen tomorrow or in a vacuum, but as part of a master plan to revitalize downtown Burien. I also concur that this would require forward looking vision and practical business sense something the current majority on the city council is sadly lacking.

    • TcB says:

      I can’t actually see into the future. I don’t know what would happen if annexation happens or doesn’t happen. I sometimes ask questions and probe future possibilites that are “edge cases”because I believe that those conversations are not being made. I trust my own common sense when I post the questions that I do. I don’t think a major hotelier would set up shop in Burien when they’re doing it across the street on International Boulevard, I think that most likely we’d get a private “One Off” not a chain. Then I think of Aurora. That I get from my common sense about business. In order for a chain to set up shop Burien would have to make a considerable tax incentive.
      Also, my common sense begs me to ask the question, why would developers want annexation? Annexation to the developer means higher taxes, higher cost for permits, cost of building, stricter building codes…Is it because that being in a city would bring a slightly greater value to the property? Wouldn’t Burien be more forceful in not allowing them to build as many units and not realize the profits they could realize under King County? Why would developers want annexation? It seems they’d want no annexation. This is from my common sense. Maybe I’m wrong. Tell me what they’d get out of it..

      • Neil says:

        If that is the case, shouldnt the developers than be supporting anti-annexation candidates. There is no market for planned housing communites right now due to the real estate crisis. There is overabundance of commercial space available due to the economic crisis. There is a need though for lower income housing that has a long list of available residents supported by section 8 and other programs. All that is needed is someone to build these and that is why the Builders Association is supporting pro-annexation candidates.

        • There is no need to contribute to an anti-annexation candidate for Burien. They would gain little to nothing in that. They are however contributiing to King county officals who currently control zoning in the area.

          Joey Martinez

        • TcB says:

          But wouldn’t the city, if in control of the area, say NO to the people trying to build section 8 housing since we already have an over percentage of low income housing? If annexed you think that Burien would allow MORE low income housing? And that if not annexed, there would be LESS low income housing? That doesn’t make sense…I just think it fails the common sense test. I think what you’re saying is that there are council members who are getting money from the developers to support more low income housing if annexed? But do the council members set the amount of low income housing in the city or is that anothers job? How does annexation end up making more low income housing?

          • Neil says:

            what we have is the Affordable Housing Assocation thru the Home Builders Association of King County contributing to some of the candidates. You have to ask the question why? They are trying to buy influence thru the City Council. These politicians are speaking from both sides of their mouths but all you have to do is question if the are trying to sell annexation as a means to stop the building of low income housing in white center, than why are they taking money from the Affordable Housing Assocation. What do you think is the Affordable Housing Associations agenda? Once they get their people elected, low income housing is whats going to get built. Like I said before it dosnt make economic sense to build regular homes during a real estate crisis since they are so many forclosed homes on the market. It dosnt make any sense to build commercial properties when they are so many commercial buildings vacant due to the economic crisis. Low income housing is the only thing economically feasible for builders since the state and county plus various charities can fund this. Once we annex white center, the politicians will continue to build low income housing there and we the taxpayers of Burien will get hit with more taxes and less services.

  6. Chris says:

    Unreal. Sal’s Deli–a Burien institution for decades–is closing, and the top stories on the BTB is yet another piece about annexation and a plug for the BTB being the “3rd Best” in the King-5 “Best of Western Washington.”

    C’mon BTB, Sal’s had a massive last day, and was there even the smallest piece about it’s closing? Of course not. In fact, I’m not even sure you ever reported on it’s scheduled closing.

    I love the BTB, but sometimes I wonder about the story selection and what’s news and what isn’t.

    • Sorry Chris due to some familial obligations I was unable to go to Sal’s today, or even leave my house. On weekends this is pretty much a one-man operation and today I have been busy with my kids. Sorry. If someone has a pic or a story they’d like to contribute, we’re always open to it. thanks, scott

  7. This is a very well written article. It points out what the pro-annexation group has said, that annexation really does hinge on the sales tax credit to work for Burien. I do beleive most, if not all candidates have said that from the begining. (I am writing my legislators in the 33rd to urge them to keep the sales tax credit.)

    It also points out that it will save us from having to make difficult choices in lower services/higher taxes for 10 years. Choices that will need to be made year-to-year anyway and will equal that 23% regardless. The issue of income versus expenditures for Burien are a national issue and for the next 5 years are not expected to change. This is an issue we as a city have already compromised on (C.A.R.E.S) and we’re running out of stuff to trim without having to raise taxes. The injection of up to $5 million per year will allow Burien to provide more and better services to Burien/North Highline for the next 10 years. As for what happens year eleven. Regardless of what happens (annexation or no) we need to work together to make Burien a better place to live (higher property values) and a better place to shop (higher sales tax revenue).

    As one example, the current situation with C.A.R.E.S.: The alternative is to pay almost double (or was it more?) for a comparative service from King County. The main benefit of going with the county(for double the cost) would be that we could take our amimals to the Kent facility, if needed. In a cost allocation scenario, assuming I ran the numbers right, a portion of the cost would come out of the Sales tax credit. I’d urge the council to keep “current Burien’s” contribution the same and add the additonal allocation from North Highline into the C.A.R.E.S budget. That would allow for more and fuller services to everyone in a post annexation world. In the right scenario we’d be able to have more staff and/or a location similar to Kent for our animals.

    This is just one (selfish) example of why we should annex North Highline. There are plenty of other reasons to annex North Highline, both selfish and otherwise that I support.

    I’d again like to state that if we do not annex North Highline and do not get extra income soon then as a city we better expect more compromises similar to C.A.R.E.S.. They are a good organization and are a good stop-gap between what we can afford or want to pay and what the County charges.

    No annexation means higher taxeslower services for Burien RIGHT AWAY. That can also be infered from the BERK report.


    Joey Martinez

    • Neil says:

      The Berg report says it will cost over $70 million to fix the infrastructure in white center. Where is that money coming from???

      • To quote Mr Robison (not word for word), “I want/need a new truck but can’t afford it right now, or maybe I can but don’t want to pay for it. I now have an unmet capital expenditure of $70k.” He said something like this a while ago at one of the meetings. It’s very simplistic but it’s a good start.

        I delve down deeper. One of the bigger needs (though not the only) is SWM (Storm water management). I am hopefull that in negotiations (after a potential yes vote on annexation) that we can negotiate to fix a good portion of that need via monies levied by King County for flood control. That is one potential funding source that is available. Other ideas would be to add them up and document them and put them in the queue for eventual fixing. I do hear you and it is a concern. I hope and urge the council to remedy as part of any negotiation and before a final incorporation vote.

        Joey Martinez

        • Neil says:

          King County is strapped for cash right now. Even if they are able to come up with something its not going to be the entire cost of replacement. I think Deb Wagner said its going to cost around $30 million or so to replace it. Where is the rest going to come from plus there is another $40 million in infrastructre cost. Once you annex than the problem becomes Buriens. The analogy that Mr Robison had is pretty lame. He is comparing the cost of buying a pickup versus the cost of absorbing a whole city. The differences are in the millions and it will affect the lives of the residents of this city. We would have to raise tax, delay the needs in our community and borrow money if negotiations with king county for funding don’t work out. All I am saying is what is the rush. Seattle isnt going to make a decsion on annexation till 2015. Times are pretty bad and uncertain right now. The prudent thing to do is slow down and analyze and scrutnize all options.

      • Bobby Leon says:

        Neil When they are talking about 70 million for infrastructure, that is their wish list. If they had unlimited funds than the would fix everything that is wrong with the infrastructure. It’s not that all 70 million worth of repairs need to be made now. Most of it will be done over time. Every town has a wish list for the infrastucture that is way behond the money that cities can afford. Kind of like when you were a kid sitting on Santa’s lap telling him the long list of toys you wanted and then you got a couple of special things and you were overjoyed.
        As far as the decision on annexation on Seattle not being made till late 2015. Wrong. They are going to revisit the issue in February of 2012.
        If you want to see something scarry (since it is Halloween night). Go the the minutes of the North HIghline Unincorporated Area Council and look back for the last couple of years. Group after group has come in telling about all the LOW INCOME HOUSING they want to build in the North Highline Area. KIng County and Seattle love low income housing and if Burien does not annex that area soon, the permits will be issued and hundreds and hundreds of units will be built RIGHT NEXT TO BURIEN. Do you think that will affect property values? All of those kids will go to Highline School. If Burien annexes North Highline, they can deny building permits for low income houseing and put a stop to the nonsense happening in North Highline.
        We are hearing to many factoids about annexation and not enough facts. Do a little reasearch and you will see that every thing I have said is correct. Contact any NHUAC member and they will tell you about the groups they have had presentations from.
        Ask Greg Duff as he was president of NHUAC. He let those groups know straight up that we do not want any more low income housing in North Highline. Even before he declared he was running for Burien City Council he was fighting for the citizens of Burien to put a stop to the tax draining glut of low income housing in North Highline.

        • Neil says:

          Bobby when was the last time a politician delivered any project under budget. We don’t have to go too far for an example. The Ambaum road project that just got completed went over budget by $500,000. Oh, there is more cost coming, the pedestrian ramp at the crossing light by Goody Gumdrops store is non ADA complaint. The ramp dosn’t meet the ADA width requirement for a wheelchair. How long before someone complains and the city gets fined and has to redo the ramp. This is how effecient our city is. By the way the City Manager still gets to keep his job. Please refrain from taking personal shots like the Santa Claus comment. If you want to prove your point, do it in a civil way.

          • Bobby Leon says:

            The Santa Clause comment was not intended in any way to be a personal shot. If you took it that way, I humbly apologize. It was intended to show a point. Cities all have thier wish lists. Most times they differ from reality. The 70 million is a wish list and something that could take years and years to complete.

          • Neil says:

            Apology accepted. My fear on annexation is that we are dealing with millions in new spending. Our city council has less than steller record on improving the tax base in burien. We have an empty town center that still needs tenants. Granted this was in no way the cities fault. But we got to show success in our own backyard before we start accepting new challangers. Also, I am looking at Gordon Shaw’s dealings and I am smelling a rat. Why would he take money from the Affordable Housing Assocation and say that the reason he wants annexation is to stop low income housing from being built in White Center. Now the annexation tax credit is in jeapordy. If we annex and it dosn’t work out financially, we are in deep trouble.

        • TcB says:

          Yes! More proof that we need to put a stop to the anti-annexation crowd and take control of our destiny!

          • William Forest says:

            On the other hand since the annexation crowd is currently in control.. If we want to take back our city we need to vote Shaw and Robison out of office.

    • William Forest says:

      Wrong Joey.. Wrong and wrong again.. You keep playing the same tune over and over and over but its still the same wrong headed pro annexation muzak.

  8. blog reader says:

    I feel, that if we had faith that our city leaders, then annexation of North Highline could make sense. There is business corridor that can be further developed and good people that would benefit from the stability of incorporation. BUT, look what we’ve done with our businesses. Not really thriving. And crime, my vehicles were stolen and broken into in Burien, not White Center.
    I don’t see this round of elections changing the council much. The candidates all seem like solid folks. Annexation is a single issue. Yes, it is a big one, but not the only one. When the next seats become available, that’s when we can really change the make up of the city council.

    • TcB says:

      Not sure what you mean by “look what we’ve done with our businesses”. Do you blame the city of Burien for 153rd and 152nd empty storefronts? Isn’t a business something that works by Demand+Supply? If the business goes under do we blame Burien? Maybe we blame the wrong business type, (No demand for the services) poor management (The owner doesn’t pay any of his taxes), poor economy (not enough business due to economic condition). Why do we say “Look at the city of Burien, they’re responsible”. It doesn’t work that way. The city can only do so much.

  9. blog reader says:

    Sorry about “that”, I meant faith in our city leaders.

  10. Bobby Leon says:

    Neil Affordable housing in the right amount and in the right place is not a bad thing. Everyone needs a place to live. The problem is we have way too much in the North Highline Area. We simply do not need more from any group. I know political groups and they simply want to know if Mr. Shaw supports BUILDING. Affordable Housing Group does represent builders and they want builders to get busy. Burien is going to need builders to get busy if we are going to add new businesses in the North Burien, North Highline Areas.
    Candidate Duff is real advocate for geting new businesses in to those areas. I have seen his energy on several projecst and believe it when he says he will aggressively go aftter new businesses in North HIghline to make sure it is revenue neutral.

    The reality is that the city council may not change much, but we do need a candidate who know the North Highline Area and has a track record of getting done what he says and I believe in my heart that is Greg Duff

    • elizabeth2 says:

      Let us not worry about getting new businesses on North Burien quite yet.

      Why don’t we look to getting the businesses we ALREADY HAVE some support and keep them from leaving or going out of business.

      A drive down 152nd and 153rd shows huge numbers of empty storefronts.

      We do not need builders to build new buildings for businesses in Burien or North Burien when Burien cannot support what is already here.

    • william Forest says:

      I think you have made it abundantly clear as has Mr. Duff ,that if he is elected, his priority will be north high line where he lives.
      Whether that be trying to bring in business , infrastructure maintenance or whatever resources he can bring to his section of Burien.

      I think this is enough on its own (if you don’t live in his part of Burien) to not vote for Mr. Duff.
      Burien has a lot more areas including downtown that need the resources of the city applied to that have been in line for this attention a lot longer.
      Mr. Duff appears to want to cut to the front of the line and apply all his focus to just a portion of Burien instead to the entire city. I find this frankly unacceptable and feel we need someone on the council who is able to put their personal preferences aside for the good of the whole.

    • William Forest says:

      The city council will change A LOT if we elect Bob Edgar and Debbie Wagner give Shaw and Robison the boot. and Re-elect Lucy K. That leaves Jack Block and Brian Bennett as the swing votes neither of whom is gung ho about annexation.
      That would leave in the minority the council members McGilton and Clark who are pushing so hard for annexation. Plus they are not up for re-election until 2013.

      So NOW .. THIS ELECTION is the time to make a Big Change, thats a no brainer.

  11. TcB says:

    I absolutely do not buy the argument that once (if) annexation occurs, MORE low income housing will be made. My common sense tells me that someone who wants more low income housing is making the argument that not annexing will result in less low income housing, and annexing will result in more. My common sense tells me that Burien as a city would stop the public housing explosion, not fan the flames. This seems to me like a bait and switch by those arguing for non annexation. I wonder if they’re connected to the developers. Just things I think, can’t prove it.

    • Shari says:

      I think you’re exactly right. The core issue in this debate seems to be “low income housing.” And both sides seem to be saying that their stance on annexation is the one that will keep it at bay (or, more to the point, the people who live in it, I guess..which I can certainly understand…I mean, Howard Schultz grew up in public housing and my god, who’d want a little Howard Schultz in their classroom or in their neighborhood?). Which approach is the one that will accomplish that seems to depend on the Council and what it does/doesn’t do. It would be great if there was some acknowledging of the fact that a good bit of the housing already in Burien needs some serious attention– a little bit of code compliance/code enforcement would go a long way, especially in the area of holding absentee landlords (who we’re now supposed to refer to as ‘investors’) accountable for not letting their properties deteriorate and in the realm of municipal responsiveness to the tenants who register complaints against the landlords and find that those complaints fall of deaf ears. There are more ways than just official “low income housing” that the rest of the county views Burien as a dumping ground for–I personally know an executive at one of this area’s biggest corporations who openly referred to himself as a ‘slumlord’ because he bought a single family home in the Highline area (far removed from his place of residence), rented it out and ignored it until the tenants moved out…and then he was dismayed at how “it was totally trashed.” I’m sure the neighbors appreciated his lack of concern…and unfortunately, I think that’s happening a lot more in the Burien area and it’s causing a lot more blight than is generally acknowledged. As usual, the debates in the political realm tend to get reduced to a single point of contention that just doesn’t enable the full situation to be addressed.

      • TcB says:

        I’m glad you agree, even if you drifted from topic.

        • william Forest says:

          TcB I read Shari’s post a lot differently, she did not drift from topic, she was broadening it.

          • TcB says:

            Yes well I’d like to broaden this topic by talking about ice cream. “Can Burien afford to annex the rest of north highline?” is the topic. Bringing up slumlords is a little off topic. But you disagreed with me because that’s just your knee jerk reaction, isn’t it?

        • Shari says:

          Sorry if my logic wasn’t clear to you. The question was whether Burien can afford annexation. I’m concerned that the discussion of whether or not we can afford it might be assuming that we’re serving current needs and mitigating current problems sufficiently. And I’m offering an example to indicate that I don’t think we are. Here it is: code enforcement isn’t where it should be in commercial or residential properties. More code enforcement costs money for people and legal process. Not sure we have the money to deal with the needs now and increasing the number of properties and property owners to deal with would cost more money. Not thinking that’s off topic but you’re clearly calling the dialogue shots so I defer to you.

    • william Forest says:


      Talk about Bait and Switch. Now you are suggesting the developers are Against Annexation?? Even though they are contributing funds to the pro-annexation candidates.

      Talk about a bridge too far or should I say a bridge to nowhere?

      • TcB says:

        I said that through a common sense approach I would ASSUME that the developers who are interested in creating lots of low income housing would be against annexation because Burien would stop them. Why are you twisting my words? Why would Burien want more low income housing when said low income housing concentration is the whole reason we are having this debate? The concentration of low income housing is the reason that people feel that the resources will be stretched beyond they breaking point. Burien will have higher permit fees, higher taxes, not let them create as many units, etc. My common sense tells me that developers who want to create concentrations of low income housing would be AGAINST annexation so that King County would continue to allow them to pack em in to the White Center area. IF we don’t annex, that’s what is going to happen.

        • William Forest says:


          Unfortunately for you the facts don’t support your argument.. Maybe that common sense you refer to isn’t so “common” after all?

          • TcB says:

            But you can’t tell me why a developer would want Burien to Annex the rest of White Center so that they could get the go ahead to pack in the low income housing, and that King County is just holding them back, because that scenario doesn’t exist, it’s just the opposite. King County is packing em in and Burien would stop them.

          • William Forest says:

            Burien would stop them ? Right .. Shaw would lay out the red carpet for them. Thats why they have invested so heavily in his campaign.

  12. Bobby Leon says:

    I have a a problem when someone says “commom sense tells me” even though you can check the facts and see that common sense may not prevail when it comes to people building low income housing. Has anybody bothered to go to the NHUAC web site and go through the minutes to see all the groups that will build low income housing in the North Highline Area that DOES NOT PAY TAXES. Problably none of the anti annexation people have checked because it is the one FACT that you cannont refute and it shoots your anti annexation rant down.
    As far as saying Mr. Duff favors only the North Highline Area, you have not listened to him speak at all, or visited his web site. He is one of the few candidates that has mentioned a plan to finish that eyesore we call Town Center. Greg Duff is a candidate for ALL THE PEOPLE

    • william Forest says:

      I have attended ALL the debates and HAVE LISTENED very carefully to Mr. Duffs comments about annexation and how the only voices relevant to approval of it were those of North Highline. To claim otherwise and call me a liar is an act of desperation and verifies for me that you have zero credibility and will say anything to promote Duff and your pro-annexation agenda!
      You are the only one engaging in a nonsensical rant!
      It is obvious to me that common sense is a quality that continues to elude you.

      • Bobby Leon says:

        You seem to go off pretty easy and not answer any of the questions. Have you looked at the minutes of the NHUAC meetings like I challenged you to do? That is where the facts are about the groups that want to build the low income houseing. No one even mentioned the debates until you misquoted what Mr. Duff said. He said that the only people who get to vote on annexation is the people in North Highline. By the way that is state law so you can complain to the state about that.
        Lets talk about the debtes since you brought it up. The first debate – Lucy is a no show. She pulled a Sarah Palin and since she can’t answer the tough questions, she chose not to attend.
        Second Debate – When Duff said that she did not stick up for the North Burien when she claimed conflict of interest and did not vote, she said he was wrong. About half of the people in the room the night of the debate was at the King County Library Board meeting the night she claimed conflict of interest. Rachel Levine of the Library Guild was presenting almost 2000 signatures that were gathered to keep the libraries open. By the way, almost 1100 of those were gathered at Mr. Duff’s and Mr. Robisons booth at the Strawbery Festival. It was not until the issue was brought up to the Burien City Council a week or so later that Lucy finally said no to the library board. Maybe she just forgot she claimed conflict of interest but it is documented in the KCLB minutes so you can’t refute that.
        Debate #3 Was kind a joke because Lucy and Greg only got to answer two questions.
        However Lucy did bring up that she favored the King County Animal Countrol. The one that would cost the citizens of Burien $300,000.00 compared to the $100,000.00 they are spending now. Look at the stats of CARE and they are taking care of more animals at less cost to the citizens. Talk to some Vets like South Seattle Vet Clinic and they will tell you CARE is doing a great job. The city council saved the tax payers $200,000.00 annually on Animal Control. Lucy was the only person who voted against it. I am sure you are going to say she made the right choice in wanting the more expensive program that we can’t afford but most people would disagree.
        Mr. Forrest, you try and try again to bully your way aound this blog but people see through you. You distort facts and when you are challenged to look up the facts and even told where to find the facts, you try to change the subject so you don’t have to address them. I am tired of all the misquotes coming from you and several other people and then claim that others are using scare tactics. I can back up every thing I say with either video or minutes from meetings, Can you?

        • William Forest says:

          Bobby >> Do you live in a permanent state of denial??

          Obviously you are living in world where facts have no relevance to your point of view.
          You choose to misrepresent what the candidates said at the first and second debates.. I would love to see you present video of those debates since none was taken! Its easy to distort reality and make false claims when you have no way to back up your rhetoric.
          Oh and btw.. You are the bully Bobby and if you think you are going to bully me around with your false claims and accusations then you are sadly mistaken. Imo you are full of sound and fury and your comments signify nothing but your distain for reality.

          People see thru YOU Bobby.. You have it upside down and backwards!

    • elizabeth2 says:

      I visited Mr. Duff’s website as Mr. Leon suggests. This is what I read as Mr. Duff talks about his “Building a Better Burien” slogan:

      “the Town Center project, opposed by the incumbent, brought hundreds of jobs and scores of new businesses to Burien. The construction of Burien’s first movie theater, new and expanding businesses, restaurants and affordable housing will also bring families into our downtown core to spend their hard earned dollars while providing a good tax base that allows for further investment in parks, community centers and neighborhood amenities.”

      This is a quote from Mr. Duff’s website. I would like to know what “hundreds of jobs and scores of new businesses” has he (or anyone else) helped produce as a result of the Town Center project? There is about ONE new storefront in the Town Center, a nail shop that employs how many people? In the time that Town Center has been started, many businesses have closed – the Woodworkers furniture and the sales office for the condos to name a few.

      The movie theatre is where? Who has actually submitted a plan or requested permits for that?

      Affordable housing – was he referring to the nearly empty condos that they are now marking down by 35% to try to sell? These range from $130,000 for a 526 square foot “alcove” space to $382,000 for a 2 bedroom – affordable housing for families – how many in a family do you think can be put into a 526 square foot alcove for $130,000?

      “Hard earned dollars” from these families providing a “Tax base for further investment” – we do not see a lot of hard earned dollars being spent in Town Center right now nor anyone providing a tax base there – there is NOTHING THERE!

      Duff’s page knocks his opponent for not voting for the Town Center, but he touts that “He is one of the few candidates that has mentioned a plan to finish that eyesore we call Town Center”? So if it is an eyesore and he has a plan to finish it, why was it wrong for his opponent to suggest that maybe the project was not a sound one in the beginning by voting against it?

      When Mr. Duff states that “Greg believes that vacant land, properly managed, can create jobs”, how does that inspire us to vote for annexation where we would be reponsible for MORE vacant land to be managed just like Town Center?

  13. Bobby Leon says:

    First off, you quoted Mr. Duff saying some things that I said in my last post. The Town Center is a good idea and if the whole project was better managed now with some new ideas, it could be back on track. Look at Renton Landing and Kent Station. Both are the same concept as Town Center and they area doing very well. No one knew the recession was going to hit and that stalled the project.
    As far as a movie theatre, Mike Martin has gone after two so far and almost had it landed but they still need some extra incentives. That is a matter of record on the Burien City Council. The Condos are still overpriced and Greg has said many times (as well as Jerry Robison) that pressure should be put on to drop the prices even lower so they will sell. The “reduced” price is still way too high.
    As far as new business. Why is it when Bothel had vacant land they landed Paul Allen who is going to build Bio-Med and (as the Seattle Times says) change the face of Bothel or Redmond just announced last week that 400 new jobs are coming to a call center that is going ot be built for an East Indian company. Do you mean we cannont bring in new business of are we just not trying hard right now? I believe Mr. Duff when he says he is going to push for new business. I am willing to give hime a term to turn it around and if it does not work than I will vote for someone else. What has Lucy Krakaowiak done except to vote “no” on everything? Town Center is built and we are not going to tear it down. We can either get somebody in there who is going to work to change it or vote back in the same person who has stood in the way of progress and refuses to help with the solution.
    Let’s get our head out of the sand and get real.
    Greg Duff will not do any worse than what has already been done and he has the track record to say that he will do a lot better.

    • William Forest says:

      Bobby ..

      So you and Duff have a Paul Allen on the hook to invest in white center burien? Yeah right.. maybe if wishes were fishes.
      Sorry Bobby that dog just won’t hunt.
      I think you need to get YOUR head out of the sand!

  14. broadside says:

    Damn, This is better than reading ann landers.

  15. broadside says:

    You know, if Burien has all this money to spend maybe they should try something like offering new business` a temporary tax break to move into town square and give them a chance to see if their business can make it.
    You can`t just tear down square.
    I do remember though a day when we were strolling through Burien when the condos were still going up and went inside of the office selling those over priced condos and mentioned it to the gal behind the desk and were told that almost all of them were already sold. I must admit, I was a bit taken back only to find out later it was bullshit.
    Maybe turn a floor or 2 those condos into office space instead of living quarters, the lower part into retail, jeez, I don`t know, I just haven`t looked into it that much but maybe it`s time to.
    I guess the town council, (or city council if you so prefer) is doing their best, even though I don`t see it.
    What about maybe getting something like a union hall in there. That would at least bring in some revenue along with workers passing through that may have a few bucks to spend in the retail shops if there ever is any.
    All I see is places closing down and I don`t think it`s all because of the economy like I keep reading here in various places, many other places elsewhere seem to be doing okay, maybe it`s a smoke screen maybe not, I just don`t know.
    I know Burien has a lot of things to improve on that could really make a difference.
    I have a few ideas but then, what do I know.
    Everybody seems to be diverting all their attention to annexation and CARES when there are so many other things that need focus also. From I have seen, read and experienced first hand, CARES though really need some redirection.
    Pissed off people tend to avoid places that make them unhappy.
    Well, the boss says I need to get to work, so off the soapbox and to the floor.

  16. TcB says:

    Interesting reading about Kirklands problem with the possible removal of the sales tax credit. We also share this problem a little bit with our south/north highline completed annexation but they grabbed considerably more.
    I still say wait and see if the tax is actually pulled from the table.
    If it is then it makes for a hard argument against the opposition.
    But it hasn’t been yet

    • elizabeth2 says:

      Interesting piece in the link above. One thing that jumped out of this article on Kirkland’s land grab is

      “Every elected official knew there was a very real risk that the state might break its promise of annexation funding. Some of them just didn’t want to deal with that inconvenient truth.”


  17. Today at the BEDP I heard that the sales tax credit is not simply something that the Governor can take a red pen to and cancel. It’s embedded in statue and would require specific legislation to remove the tax credit.

    Thank you

    Joey Martinez

    • William Forest says:

      Bobby… Check your facts before you make claims like that. Thats why they are called “law makers” Its their role to legislate.
      Olympia can do just about what it wants with the budget. Thats why the legislature was called into special session.. Try and keep up Joey.

      • William Forest says:

        Sorry.. I meant >>>JOEY not Bobby.. Its easy to get you mixed up because you both play the same pro annexation tune.

  18. Loren Rich says:

    Hey everybody!
    How many of you have had your houses broken into lately?? Holy cow it is an epidemic here in Burien. And the police are underreporting the stats.
    Door to door sleazy carpet cleaning salesmen scoping out your houses, meth heads driving into your driveway and doing the kick the door in method, and on and on.
    Look out people! Burien is not what it appears. Crime is rampant here and the officials are acting like nothing is wrong.
    Sure would be interesting to see what the real extent of the problem is.

    • William Forest says:

      Another reason to change the mix on the City Council and get rid of Shaw and Robison who are apparently more interested in annexation than the safety of the citizens of burien.
      Lets apply some of that wasted money set aside for pushing annexation and hire more more police.

Share Your Opinion

By participating in our online comment system, you are agreeing to abide by the terms of our comment policy.

...and oh, if you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!