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Burien Property Values Falling 35 percent Faster, Resident Tells City Council

FDICForeclosedHomes [1]

A portion of the presentation Dick West made to the Burien City Council Monday night, March 18. Click image to view larger version.

by Jack Mayne [2]

The Burien City Council was told Monday night (March 18) that figures from the King County Assessor’s Office show that property values in Burien are falling faster than any of its South King County neighbors.

That’s according to Dick West, a resident in the “Area X” neighborhood that Burien annexed in 2009.

He told Council members during the public comment period that Burien is declining 35 percent faster than SeaTac, 35.1 percent faster than Tukwila, and 34.6 percent faster than Des Moines.

“This trend has been accelerating since 2008,” West said.

He showed photos of some deteriorating and foreclosed houses and said such homes are scattered throughout Burien.

“Each one affects the property values for three square miles and with the city having only 10.1 square miles these houses cannot be allowed to exist without serious financial results for the homeowners of Burien, the businesses of Burien and the City of Burien itself,” West said.

He quoted the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation as saying “each one of these houses cost the city $34,000 per year in lost revenue and the surrounding home values go down by $220,000.”

West said eight houses he showed to the council members “have cost the Burien $589,000 in lost revenue since the Area X annexation. The residents of Burien have lost $208,125,000 in net worth last year above and beyond our surrounding municipalities because the city refuses to take action against these types of houses.

He claimed the Burien policy of “reactively dealing” with code issues produces more declining value homes.

“There are somewhere between 50 and 100 houses like this throughout Burien,” West said. “Some are bank repos and some are owned by slumlords.”

No new ordinances are needed to deal with the problem.

“It would take the city no more than 40 man hours to abate each one of these,” West said. “In one year the city would add $1.7 million dollars to the city coffers and increase homeowners’ net worth in excess of $1 billion by dealing with these houses using the existing Burien Municipal Code.”

Such action would send a “powerful message” to potential homebuyers that Burien will watch and deal effectively with such issues.

“What it does require is the city council to send new marching orders to the city manager to enforce the existing Burien Municipal Code,” West added.

ADDED 9:53 p.m. MONDAY 3/18/13: Council member Lucy Krakowiak brought up West’s comments at the end of Monday night’s council meeting as well as his comments about cleaning up a foreclosed house during a council session in February.

City Manager Mike Martin said his staff would look at the issue.

“We disagree in the main with virtually everything that was said,” Martin commented. “There may be something that we don’t understand, but we’ll come back to you with a report that bears a little more semblance of reality for you.”

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