City Council Again Rejects Low-Density Downzone Around Lake Burien
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.