LETTER TO THE EDITOR: ‘Burien’s Own Coupeville Landslide is on the Horizon’

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The B-Town Blog nor its staff:]

Unfortunately, the landslide that caused widespread destruction near Coupeville may soon be repeated in Burien if the Westmark Emerald Pointe project continues to move forward.

Westmark recently obtained from the City of Burien a permit to clear ALL but 8 significant trees from 9.62 acres of steeply sloped terrain directly above the Highline School District Puget Sound Skills Center, the Environmental Science Center and its fish hatchery and wetlands at the north end of Seahurst Park.

With hundreds of trees removed and less than 1 significant tree per acre, what will be left is sparse unprotected slopes unable to absorb rain water and run off. This land in question is clearly marked as landslide area on the City of Burien’s own Critical Areas map (http://www.burienwa.gov/?nid=717). Every year slides occur on or within close proximity of the land in question. In the recent past there has been the Maplewild Avenue Slide, Cove Point Road Slide, Goat Hill Slide, and multiple Three Tree Point Slides. It is the structural and environmental soundness of the Westmark Emerald Pointe project that continues to concern citizens.

Neighbors of Seahurst Park, an all-volunteer citizens group dedicated to protecting Seahurst Park, has filed a Land Use Petition trying to stop Westmark from clearing these 9.62 beautiful forested acres, which if allowed to proceed will set in motion the potential for landslides like the recent catastrophic Whidbey Island slide.

For more information about what you can do visit http://www.seahurstfriends.org/ or email [email protected].

– Melessa Rogers
Volunteer, Neighbors of Seahurst Park
Phone: 206-617-1742

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22 Responses to “LETTER TO THE EDITOR: ‘Burien’s Own Coupeville Landslide is on the Horizon’”
  1. I have to pick my jaw up off the floor as I contemplate this great ravine denuded! How can this have been approved?

    • May says:

      I keep telling that most that sit on this council are all involved in Real Estate, They are working for their friends the builders and developers, They are not interested in the citizens of Burien. They will do whatever they want,

  2. Randy Johnson says:

    What groups of dumba**es approved this ?

    Oh yeah… City of Burien.
    Yet another decision that is NOT in the best interest of the citizenry of Burien.

    Throw the bums out !

  3. Loren says:

    Hey Melissa,
    Do you already have your nice water view? What is wrong with others who want the same as you and your neighbors.
    This is America!

    • Ghost of Maplewild says:

      I seriously doubt that her view was created by clearing a hillside of much needed vegetation. Are you familliar with the topography of this area Loren? Have you walked the trails in this area? Because if you have you would notice that this ravine is muddy year round . Full of clay and sand. You can hike it in mid Summer and still sink up to your ankles in many areas.

    • Dee says:

      Hey Loren,
      Its not about the view, its about the ground under foot. Its about the slop and the make-up of the soil. Its about science and people over profit. Don’t you think the developer made enough $ by suing the city for 47 million?

  4. Ghost of Maplewild says:

    What is the potential conflict with the upcoming shoreline project between the city and the Army Corp of Engineers and Washington State Fish and Wildlife? I
    Would think runoff might become an issue with his state funded shoreline restoration.

  5. Heather says:

    I haven’t been able to find the reason for the clearing…can someone fill me in? Why are they removing the trees (what’s the reason)?

  6. Mary says:

    Did the city have an environmental impact study done before approving this very questionable permit?
    Or was this just another rubber stamp approval of a Mike Martin land deal by his cronies on the council?
    Inquiring minds would like to know.

    • Elizabeth says:

      I believe this project predates Mike Martin and I also believe the city lost a court case regarding construction on their piece of property quite some time ago. It is a slide area, but the city may be legally stuck because of decisions made with a previous council or manager.

  7. Ralph Nichols says:

    Historical perspective is always helpful – especially when complex issues involve matters that critics either choose not to remember or are unaware of.

    This is not to say there are, or may be, no geological concerns at and below Westmark Development’s proposed 200-unit condominium project above Seahurst Park. But the outcome of an earlier lawsuit constrains the City of Burien from imposing further delays on Westmark’s plans.

    Westmark proposed its Emerald Pointe on the Sound project to King County before Burien became a city. Residents in the Seahurst Park neighborhood protested on environmental grounds and after incorporation the city council and staff responded by stalling the development.

    The company sued, prevailed at trial, and the city appealed. In 2007, the state Court of Appeals upheld the $10.7 million judgment against Burien for blockng Westmark’s development plans.

    After reviewing its legal options, the city decided not to pursue another appeal – having already spent more than $570,000 in attorneys’ fees. Most of the judgment was paid by the Washington Cities Insurance Authority. The court-approved agreement also reimbursed Burien for those costs.

    Westmark subsequently announced that it still planned to build condos on the site above Seahurst Park. I am aware of no legal or regulatory action since then that would change the outcome of this case.

    Perhaps there are other state or federal environmental protection regulations that could be employed by the Westmark development opponents.

    But if Westmark is in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, including city zoning requirements, then the company enjoys federal and state constitutional protections for the intended use of its property.

    Footnote for May: Muddying the water with defamatory statements and baseless charges does nothing to further rational discourse over this or any issue.

    • May says:

      Oh Mr. Ralph Nichols.

      Why are you so interested in me? Got your friends and your goat?
      Where is your investigation on these corrupt people?

      BTW …what does the Library System and Burien Condo Association have in common?
      And who is the Burien Condo Association….can you investigate this? Looks like they have been in business for 3 some years…who are they?
      I guess it must be good since it goes under Mike Martin.

      Principal Name Mike Martin http://www.bizapedia.com/wa/KING-COUNTY-LIBRARY-SYSTEM-AND-CITY-OF-BURIEN-CONDOMINIUM-ASSOCIATION.html

      Company Name: King County Library System And City Of Burien Condominium Association

      Status: Active Filing Date: 07/09/2009

      Entity Type: Non-Profit Corporation File Number: 602937597

      Filing State: Washington (WA) Registered Agent: Ptsge Corp.

      Principal Name: Mike Martin (President)

      Company Name: King County Library System And City Of Burien Condominium Association

      Status: Active Filing Date: 07/09/2009

      Entity Type: Non-Profit Corporation File Number: 602937597

      Filing State: Washington (WA) Registered Agent: Ptsge Corp.

      • PanderBear Jack says:

        Sigh- may that is the group that jointly runs the library and city hall here in Burien.

        An association had to be created to manage shared spaces and the building since both the city and locals own the overall facility.

        • May says:

          Yes, CREATING is that all they do. I think people now see that problems come from all directions that these people are dishing you.

  8. Thanks so much for all the dialogue regarding this issue. First, please note a correction, the phone number should be 206-618-1742.

    There will be a meeting on May 7th at 7:00 pm at the Sound Vista Condominiums Cabana (12th Ave SW & 132nd Lane SW) to discuss the status of the Westmark project and Neighbors of Seahurst Park’s Land Use Petition fighting to prevent the potential damage this project poses to Seahurst Park.

    Please lend any support you can to help protect Seahurst Park.
    Melessa Rogers
    Neighbors of Seahurst Park

  9. Clark S. Jones says:

    Thank you, Ralph Nichols, for putting this issue into proper context. Believe it or not, the Mike Martin and the City are not the bad guys here. It would be foolish and a waste of money, following the past court decisions, for the City to do anything to prevent this development. Enough has already be spent.
    It’s nice to read the facts from a professional like Mr. Nichols for a change and gives the B-Town Blog credibility — too much crap from the naysayers, conspiracy theorists and Mike Martin-blamers. Keep it up Ralph. The voice of a pro like you is sorely needed is these debates

  10. Randy Johnson says:

    Melessa –
    Let’s make sure to invite Hayduke, and the rest of the MonkeyWrench gang to that meeting….

  11. Dee says:

    I am a resident within 500 feet of the project. I was shocked to see that permits were issued to clear the trees. It reminds me of a similar situation in Olalla, wa where I used to live… Prospect Point to be exact.
    A developer decided he was going to build on the top of a hill in our community. The composition of the soils is similar to here. That is sand and clay. He cleared the land just as they are planning to do for the Emerald Pointe on the Sound Project..

    Unfortunately when that soil is saturated with rain it clumps like cement and flows. That is just what it did. The hillside slid and knocked out two houses which was caught on film and featured in many newscasts at the time.

    In the end the developer’s business declared bankruptcy and left all liability up to the homeowners. Begging the question if that happens here, who will ultimately pay?

    • May says:

      Dee thank you…….

      In the end the developer’s business declared bankruptcy and left all liability up to the homeowners. Begging the question if that happens here, who will ultimately pay?

      You are so right. We really have to watch this closely. Who will be the people that will be working on this project?….Will these be the people that will not get paid in the end?.or will some workers get paid (their friends) while others will not?

      I have done alot of searches and found there are connections after connections and really dirty business practices. These people are involved in alot of bankrupcies and forclosures. They are friends of friends.

      The problem is, when people buy and move in they will not see the trouble that the’re up against. But let me tell you one thing…The Builders and Developers wll give excuses and reasons for every question people have. They are very good at that.

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