City Council Again Rejects Low-Density Downzone Around Lake Burien

Print This Post  Email This Post

Panoramic view of Lake Burien by Scott Schaefer. Click image to see larger version.

by Ralph Nichols

For the third time in four years, Burien City Council members have denied a request from Lake Burien homeowners to consider a downzone of their neighborhood to low density.

The 5-2 “no” vote on an amendment by Deputy Mayor Lucy Krakowiak to add the downzone to the city’s 2013 comprehensive plan amendments docket came at the council’s April 1 meeting.

Krakowiak was joined by Councilman Bob Edgar in voting for the motion.

Opposing it were Mayor Brian Bennett and council members Jack Block Jr., Rose Clark, Joan McGilton and Gerald Robison.

The council subsequently adopted the city’s 2012 Comprehensive Plan Text and Map Amendments, which it began discussing last fall, also on a 5-2 vote.

Several Lake Burien neighborhood residents had stated again their oft-repeated arguments for consideration of a downzone during public comments at the start of the meeting.

Later in the meeting, some councilmembers countered with options for limiting growth in the lake community that wouldn’t involve the city.

“I understand the passion behind their proposal and their desire to protect the lake that these homeowners live on,” Block said.

But there is, he continued, “a private solution to this issue … which has nothing to do with the city” – assigning the rights to their property, including attachment of title, to conservancy groups.

Once done, “no one can come in and subdivide your property or lower the lot size. This is a solution to your problem without the city.”

The homeowners can also do this through the use of restrictive covenants, Robison suggested.

He also criticized Lake Burien homeowners for attempting to avoid the cost of a formal application for inclusion on the comprehensive plan amendments docket.

“Some of the wealthiest residents in the city are unwilling to pay the fee and put it on the docket,” Robison said of their request from the floor. “That bugs me a little bit.”

Had council members added the homeowners’ request to the amendments docket at this point in the process, the city – not the homeowners – would have had to pay for necessary studies into a downzone.

Not only that, said McGilton, by considering earlier downzone requests since 2010, council members “have done our civic duty but have come to the same conclusion three times. This is a concern to Lake Burien residents but not a concern to comprehensive plan needs.”

After a land-use proposal is considered for the city’s comprehensive plan and rejected, it is not eligible for placement on the amendments docket again for three years – unless there has been a change in circumstances.

And there has been a change, argued Edgar, since Navos – recently merged with Ruth Dykeman Children’s Center on Lake Burien along SW 152nd St. – has applied for a rezone of the campus from moderate density and single family residential to a special planning area.

At the outset, Robert and Robbie Howell, Linda Plein, Chestine Edgar and Debi Wagner pressed their case for a downzone.

Robert Howell said the Lake Burien neighborhood “currently meets the low density definition,” adding a downzone is necessary “to protect water quality” and critical areas around the lake.

He said they have been trying to get lower residential density since 1996, and in 2010 a petition for this with the signatures of 167 neighborhood residents was submitted to the council.

Robbie Howell claimed city “storm water facilities are not adequate to meet low density land use, must less medium density,” and also cited water quality problems with the lake and Miller Creek.

When she ran against Robison for his city council seat in 2011, Wagner hinted that the earlier council’s denial of their downzone request, although backed by petition signatures, is what prompted her to enter local politics.

Print This Post  Email This Post


15 Responses to “City Council Again Rejects Low-Density Downzone Around Lake Burien”
  1. Heather says:

    …the poor rich people and their private pond.

    • WhatLake says:

      Heather: Amen!

      • look at the myrmidons says:

        Oh yes, amen Heather. Lord forbid someone graduate from medical school and manage to make money. Could you possibly find room in your heart to forgive such a crime?

    • Chelsea says:

      It’s not a private lake actually. It’s public. The land around it is private, which means you would need to trespass to get to the water. You are more than welcome to gaze at it through the chain link fence designed to keep us out, or parachute in from the sky!

  2. ron says:

    It would be nice to have a park on lake Burien.At some point there may be an oportunity for the city obtain some of the land to the east.

    • heather says:

      I agree Ron…the residents are “worried about the water quality”?! From what? Their fellow neighbors sitting on a blanket with a picnic lunch next to the water?!

  3. Debi Wagner says:

    The request for a downzone is really a request for clarification. And the people on the lake did pay for a comprehensive plan amendment last time and it was costly and rejected. The council misinterpreted the request then and is still not understanding the request. The language in the comprehensive plan is for low density but the map shows moderate. There is a discrepancy between the language and the map. One has to rule over the other. When there is a discrepancy the written language prevails. The request for clarification is seeking to update the map to match the language not downzone the area. According to all the criteria, past practice, common sense reasons for protecting sensitive areas of critical importance, the map should be updated to match the language of low density that is already in the comprehensive plan.
    Just to clarify, I ran last time to stop annexation of area Y. The reason I got involved in looking at what the city was doing was because residents around the lake were seeking citizen involvement to protect the area from schemes to build apartments. The council could care less if there is a park, they have their hands in the business of real estate developers.

    • SD says:

      I hope to see your name on the ballot again!

      • Joanne says:

        Need some more sour grapes.

      • Marty says:

        Please run again Debi. I would be more than happy to contribute to your campaign fund.
        I have not given up on Burien yet.
        I think with a council that is much more responsive to the community and if we can hire a more competent city manager that life in Burien could be enhanced immensely.

  4. Angela says:

    Well they’re also allowing 10 acres to be cleared off of 136th To build 179 apartments Trees steep slope and wetlands no matter, no one seems concerned at the damage to the community this could do when Sound Vista condos and others slide down the unprotected hillside. Ridiculous.

  5. liljo says:

    Well, think about it. If you were lucky enough to live on the lake, would your views be different? I think so. It’s a private lake and should stay that way.

    • Burien Lover says:

      Sorry, but that’s incorrect. Lake Burien is owned by the state. That means it’s a public lake, whether you or anyone else likes it or not. The land around it is all privately owned. But the land around the lake is not the lake itself.

  6. Actually Robert and I and the others were asking the council to reconsider changing the comprehensive plan map and text to agree with each other, the result of which could correct the zoning. The city needs to correct the ambiguity.

Share Your Opinion

By participating in our online comment system, you are agreeing to abide by the terms of our comment policy.

...and oh, if you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!