LETTER: ‘As Responsible White Center Business Owners, We Support Annexation’

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As responsible White Center business owners, we support annexation to Burien. Burien does not have a problem with vandalism, open alcohol, drug dealing, or prostitution in its commercial district, and we think that’s a good idea for White Center, too. Burien is in better fiscal shape than 90% of Washington cities and wants to maintain our public library and parks rather than having them closed or fall into disrepair with the county. Burien wants to maintain the uniqueness of White Center and give us an active voice in shaping the future together, including economic development and zoning.

These are real benefits for local families and businesses – not a scheme by a fiscally irresponsible city or the offer of a low bidder as portrayed in a recent Seattle Times Op-Ed piece by Mark Ufkes (read it here), president of the White Center Chamber of Commerce, and Don Malo, president of Independent White Center (IWC) PAC. To quell the concerns of those anxious about the soundness of Burien’s fiscal calculations, our state legislators have even pledged to endorse legislation for a safety net for the annexation if and when one is ever needed. In reality, White Center is not independent now – its services and future are dictated by King County policies and we share one county representative with 200,000 others. With Burien, we will have 7 representatives and much better coordinated services.

As White Center business owners, we also object to the mis-information and mis-representation on the vote for annexation to Burien by Ufkes and the IWC PAC. Most recently, the tone of the opposition may have emboldened some to deface public property and destroy signs posted by people in favor of annexation. In too many public forums, fear tactics and a manipulation of the facts are used to convince people to vote no on annexation and neutral organizations, such as the White Center Chamber of Commerce and the White Center Community Development Association, are dragged into the opposition’s arguments on IWC’s flyers and Ufkes’ interviews. Listening to Ufkes, one would believe that all White Center businesses belong to the Chamber and support his opinions. Nothing could be further from the truth.

How many businesses does Ufkes really represent? Very few. Even business owners belonging to the Chamber disagree with his opinions against annexation and his tactics. The Op-Ed article paints business owners as ill-informed and in need of direction from the Chamber president. Yet, many of the “facts” claimed by Ufkes and the IWC PAC are known to be speculative, outright exaggerations, or quotes taken out of context. All business signs will not be required to come down, property values will not decrease 35%, and taxes will not go up $400. It’s a sign of maturity in community leaders to present information in a balanced manner without undue emotional appeal so that a genuinely thoughtful and informed decision can be made by the individuals in a community for the good of the community.

Burien has never hidden the fact that with annexation property taxes will decrease, utility taxes will increase slightly, and municipal business taxes will be collected and applied locally. (Currently, our taxes are applied throughout King County.) County and state representatives have also let it be known that if Burien annexation fails, King County will push for annexation somewhere else. Seattle will be next in line with business taxes 3 times higher than Burien’s and little tax revenue staying in the neighborhood. No vote of the residents is needed for annexation – an interlocal agreement can be negotiated instead. Even in the unlikely event that Seattle does not step forward, continued unincorporation means continued uncertainty, little voice in government decisions, and declining county services.

Democracy means having a voice and, like it or not, democracy without some taxation fails (Aristotle). Vote yes on annexation to have a voice in the future of your community.

Doug Harrell, Roxbury Lanes
Justin Cline, Full Tilt Ice Cream
Michael & Elizabeth Gordon, Uncle Mike’s Superlicious BBQ

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11 Responses to “LETTER: ‘As Responsible White Center Business Owners, We Support Annexation’”
  1. Mike says:

    Thank you for writing the letter.
    It seems as though you took a page from martin’s pro-annexation speeches.
    Please read the comments on this blog Burien Council member Jack Block Jr wrote in ‘North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Appears to be a PAC’. Very enlightening IMO.
    Please lookup the comments in a letter written by Seattle council member Jean Godden regarding Seattle annexing WC without a vote or anytime soon.
    I’m not going to go into everything I believe is wrong with becoming part of Burien. Many others as well as myself have exhaustively spoke out about it being a bad idea. The information has been out there for a long time and voiced by many others besides Ufkes and Malo.

  2. Jay says:

    You clearly have not spent any time in Burien’s business district. All one has to do is talk with those that have had their cars broken into multiple times at the transit center or witnessed drug deals going down in front of city hall. The library has gotten so bad I will no longer take my 10 year old to check out books after she was threatened by some women who was so wasted she couldn’t stand up. When police were called, no one showed -after waiting for 45 minutes. I’m sure they had more pressing issues in your neighborhood to deal with. The panhandlers are everywhere and I’m tired of being hassled when I’m out on the sidewalks.

    I don’t know what you have been smoking, but property taxes will NOT go down.

    You seem to forget that taxes collected in White Center don’t even begin to cover the costs of running your city. King County supports you, and if annexation goes through, Burien will be supporting you. You have NO tax base, and we all have been covering your tab for years.

    • Chris says:

      You seem to forget that no single neighborhood is self-supporting. Not Shorewood, Gregory Heights, Salmon Creek, Manhattan, Sunnydale, Three Tree Point, Seahurst, Chelsea Park, 5-Corners, Lake Burien, Downtown core, Olde Burien and so on.

      It’s the aggregate of all the neighborhoods and areas that make up a community (or city).

      Rarely is one area self-supporting.

  3. Ghost of Maplewild says:

    Go shopping at Safeway sometime. Talk to the previous owners of Meal Makers. Talk to the current owners of Hans’s about signage issues.

  4. Ghost of Maplewild says:

    Talk to the business owners along first avenues Phase one project. Which is STILL not done after millions in cost overruns, talk to all of us who are paying for the underground fee that was added to our utility bills without being informed of the fee.

  5. John Poitras says:

    Annexation is being pushed by the politicians of Burien and KC with the NHUAC acting as a PAC pushing for annexation by Burien. This is a win win situation for politicians and a lose lose proposal for Burien and Area Y.
    B&O taxes will go up.. Utility Gas Electric and Cable fees will be a lot more even for renters.
    The bureaucrats of Burien and some members of the Burien City Council and former members of the council will benefit but its a government end run which runs the risk of being a total boondoggle for current Burien Residents and potentially future Burien residents. KC is completely off the hook if Burien becomes a failed city whose debt is greater than can be managed. No safety net has been negotiated with King County because that would not be in the best interest of King County or the political pandering going on among Burien politicians.
    Many business owners in Area Y will find that their business’s will have to be brought up to Burien city codes which may be financially punitive especially in this economy. If your business for example is tagged you have 10 days to paint it over or the cities private contractor will paint it for you and you will be billed for it.
    Many residents will find that they will need to bring their property up to Burien city code also. For example all RV’s must be parked on pavement not dirt or gravel.

    Its odd that the posters of this article all of whom have links to the NHUAC pro annexation PAC accuse the other side of fear tactics when in reality fear tactics are exactly what the NHUAC PAC and Burien politicians have been using. Like falsely stating that if you don’t vote for annexation you will be forced by the county to become part of seattle without a vote which is a bunch of hooey.. And that if you don’t annex now your roads will turn to gravel.. (not likely if Dow Constantine wants to remain as county executive.) That your police coverage will decrease if you stay unincorporated another lie as evidenced by the fact that KC has hired 14 new deputies to patrol south king county.
    The pro annexation propaganda is just that propaganda .. These folks cannot be trusted to tell you the truth..

  6. Shari says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this letter and appreciate the maturity of the ideas and the civility of its tone. (I’ve been asking “Is it Wednesday yet?” for several days). I guess I fall into the camp of “supporter of White Center” because some of my favorite businesses–including a couple of those owned by the authors of this post–are there and because I regularly donate time and money to community development work in WC. I’ve been concerned that Burien doesn’t have the capacity or vision required to properly serve WC and that as a result of annexation, the residents there would continue to be a regional afterthought and punchline (simply by residents and leaders of a new municipality). However, both Burien and WC desperately need innovative economic development approaches that will take advantage Seattle’s inevitable growth– approaches that can leverage all of the largely-unrecognized benefits this location can provide to employers and families. The people signing off on this letter include some pretty aggressive and powerful voices and they bring successful track records in actually implementing successful businesses. So if annexation brings their ideas and their strong, modern voices into a civic dialogue about the business and economic development of Burien, I’m hopeful.

  7. Soczette says:

    Vote yes for , thanks for welcoming us Neighbors!!!

  8. shootfirst says:

    shari, you said, “I’ve been concerned that Burien doesn’t have the capacity or vision required to properly serve WC and that as a result of annexation,”
    The only vision Burien has is a fantasy to think the are some kind of city the are not.
    (Kind of like a Bellevue)
    They think that they are going to be the center for cultural arts or some damn thing when I think in reality they think the square miles of a city makes them successful.

  9. Fred says:

    This proannexation campaign has been organized and run by Burien politicans and the very small group call NHUAC. These three business owners are part of that group and really don’t represent what the businesses in White Center want. They don’t even belong to the White Center Chamber of Commerce.

    The reasons given for why these politicans and wanna be politicans are pushing annexation are;
    1. to bail out Burien’s financial problems
    2.to help make some political careers for some wanna be politicans and
    3. to get King County off the hook for taking care of the area-see the article on the B-Town Blog on who is running this campaign.
    It is not about local families and businesses and what is best for them.

    Taxes will increase quite a bit, at least $400 per residence, by joining Burien. White Center/Area Y will get less service then they get from King County. These three business owners wrote this article because they got their panties in a twist because Mark Ufkes and Don Malo got their pro annexation article in the Seattle Times. Both of Mark Ufkes and Don Malo are honorable men and have been part of the White Center business and residential community for quite a few years. It is the policy of the Seattle Times to fact check its editorial op ed articles before they post them. The state legislators have not put in a safety net to protect White Center or Burien, if this whole thing goes sour in the long run.

    The real mis-information that has been put out in this campaign has come from Mike Martin/Burien City Manager, Burien politicans and the members of this People for Burien PAC. These 3 business owners are members of the People For Burien PAC. The NHUAC is supposed to be only a community informational group but strangely they are now a political action group that has failed to file with the State.

    Vote for our services and taxes to stay the same. Vote against annexation.

  10. Full tilt ice cream says:

    Nope. I do not belong to the chamber of commerce for White Center. I belong to the Ballard Chamber, and the Seattle chamber. I own businesses in White Center, Columbia City, Ballard, and the U District.

    The White Center Chamber of commerce has been taken over by Mark Ufkes and his cronies with the intention of making sure that White Center is handed over to Seattle. Mark is a small time developer that stands to make a lot of money if Seattle will change the zoning law on his property. He does not live in White Center. He does not own a business in Wite Center.

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