Taxes, Police Services Will Both Increase with N. Highline Annexation by Burien
Taxes in North Highline will increase about $140 a year if voters there approve annexation by Burien in the November election – and residents of the now-unincorporated area will see a better police presence.
City Manager Mike Martin also said at the Aug. 23 community open house on the proposed annexation, held at the White Center Food Bank, that current zoning “will largely stay the same, at least for some period of time” if the unincorporated area becomes part of Burien.
Once again, a very small number of North Highline residents – only four – attended the informational meeting for the first time. More Burien residents who oppose annexation turned out.
Asked why so few of the people who would be affected by annexation come to these meetings, Barbara Dobkin, president of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, told The B-Town Blog “a lot of people that I have talked to have already made up their minds.”
Another reason, Dobkin added, is that “a lot of people here are not used to being asked or given information. The county has never made a point of coming out to the community except on big issues that come before NHUAC.”
After more than an hour during which Martin and Police Chief Scott Kimerer fielded questions, Martin summed up the annexation issue at this point: “It does take a big vision,” he said. “It does take a big decision.
“Vote up or down. It’s time to plan. It’s time to do it or not do it. Vote yes or no and let’s decide.”
Boulevard Park resident Butch Henderson, who was annexed in 2010, recalled that he had been opposed to joining Burien and wanted to become part of Seattle.
“I fought very hard not to be here, and I’m here,” Henderson said. “I lost and I’m glad.” Of the three options for North Highline, including going to Seattle or remaining in unincorporated King County, he added, “Burien is the best choice.”
Earlier, Kimerer said the 2010 annexation of the southern unincorporated area of North Highline was “seamless. We changed the decals on our cars. That was about it.”
Not only will the level of police service stay the same, he said “I would say it will be a little better” because Burien, which contracts with the King County Sheriff’s Office for police services, will “have additional resources to draw from” while the county is cutting deputies.
Kimerer added that the White Center storefront sheriff’s office will stay open, and that “essentially six people who work just on gangs” will be available to the community.”
Asked “what’s the point?” he replied that “unincorporated areas were not intended to be urban in character. They were intended to be rural but they grew up.” Responding to the high level of local services they require, the state Growth Management Act required that they be annexed.
After the previous annexation, Martin explained, city zoning codes in the new part of Burien were put in “as close as possible to the [existing] King County zoning codes. We worked with the neighborhoods” to update them.
He said the city “did not make any sudden moves” affecting zoning then, and it will not make any if North Highline joins Burien. “We don’t go looking for violations unless it’s something we see that’s really, really egregious. We respond to code complaints but we’re not intrusive.”
One of the North Highline residents attending for the first time said “we’ve got to think about this and get annexed or they will destroy us … like they have Skyway. We’ve got to do something to save ourselves.”
Burien resident Chestine Edgar, an annexation opponent, challenged Martin, once on his estimate of the tax increase for North Highline residents and then on projected costs of unfunded capital improvements projects. But, Martin said, her claims were “absolutely untrue.”
The city’s next Annexation Informational Session will be at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 13 at Beverly Park Elementary School’s cafeteria, located at 1201 S. 104th Street.