Annexation Backed In 2nd Meeting; Board Delays Final Deliberations To 1/23
by Jack Mayne
The second night of testimony to the Boundary Review Board was as much pro-Burien annexation as the first night was anti-annexation, giving a good-sized audience another evening of opinions while again suffering on hard middle school cafeteria seats while straining to hear because of a poor sound system.
The meeting took over three hours again, so the board decided to adjourn to Monday, Jan. 23 at 7 p.m. The meeting place is still unknown.
That meeting will not be for comment by those for or against the northern part of the North Highline Unincorporated Area being annexed by Burien, only for the 10 members of the board (one has recused himself because he lives in the area) to argue between themselves over whether Burien should be allowed to go forward with the second annexation in a bit over two years.
The Monday night group heard the majority of people testify they were opposed to the annexation. Many were Burien residents and most said the city had not made the financial case that the addition of the 3.2 square mile area that is home to about 17,300 people.
Tuesday night most of those testifying lived in or close to Area Y, or the northern half of the former unincorporated area. A rough count showed 20 testifying were for annexation to Burien, and four were opposed.
Time and time again area residents told the board that, in the words of Mercedes Dantona, that White Center “is much better served in Burien; it would add color and interest to Burien.”
Andre Lopez agreed and said he was prompted to come to the second night of hearings because he was told “people of color were not represented at the first meeting and that people of color need social services.”
“If we don’t get annexed by Burien, we will be annexed to Seattle,” he said, adding that he would not like that because government would be far away from area residents.
Some were upset by people Monday night referring to residents of the White Center area as somehow beneath them.
“I kept hearing people who never would set foot in my neighborhood say horrible things about our people,” said Rebecca Lopez, who lives in the proposed annex area.
Person after person talked about how they felt like Burien residents already, how they shop there and pay sales taxes there. Others referred to Seattle government as far away and remote because of distance and because the Seattle City Council met in the daytime when they could not attend meetings, while Burien met at night when they can attend.
“I am afraid if we don’t annex to Burien, we will lose something important,” said Martha Koester, another resident from the area that would be annexed.
Most of the 20 pro-Burien people who testified mentioned not wanting to be a part of Seattle, even a woman who lives north of Roxbury in West Seattle but runs a White Center restaurant. Elizabeth Gordon said Burien would be better and noted that in the past few years, “beautiful things are happening in White Center, people know each other and they are working together” to make a good business area even better.”
A couple of people were definitely in favor of Seattle annexing the area with a woman suggesting needed health care for her family would not be available in Burien.
Burien makes final pitch
City Manager Mike Martin summed up the process of annexation as being “a divisive and emotional issue,” but said the “thoughtful process by the city of Burien was exactly the same as used for the first annexation.”
“During the first annexation, you heard exactly the same arguments against it,” Martin said “and we outperformed those expectations. This was a difficult issue (but) the Council has come to the realization that we can do this.”