Burien City Council wrestles with new economic development plan


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by Jack Mayne

Developing an “Economic Development Strategic Plan” for Burien turned into a two-plus hour debate Monday night on the best way to reverse the economic stagnation in the city.

A final decision is not expected until June 23 or thereafter.

The City Council had discussed an outline of a plan developed by the new Council at a recent retreat, then, on Monday night (June 9) held a special meeting to debate several proposed wording changes in the draft plan.

During the lengthy discussion, Councilmember Nancy Tosta said “part of the challenge” for the Council is that is does not have “any Council-shared or adopted goals that we’ve discussed as to what we are actually trying to do in terms of economic development that would make it easier to think about” actions to improve the situation.

“What is our vision on what Burien looks like?” she asked. “If we did all of the 29 things in the document we have just reviewed, would we be where we wanted to be because we actually have never said where we want to be.”

Tosta suggested each member give city staff a few suggestions “in 15 minutes” and then have the city staff compile the suggested ideas for consideration at the regular June 23 Council session.

But Councilmember Lauren Berkowitz said it wouldn’t be so easy.

“I have sat through these meetings with us and I guarantee we will not come to an agreement of four or five goals in 15 minutes,” Berkowitz said. “I suggest that as far as our goals, we consider them part of the budget process … I think that would be the more appropriate place to have this discussion.”

Tosta agreed a final list could not be done quickly, but that each councilmember could propose a few items for a list.

Berkowitz said she “already has strong disagreement” with some suggestions which is why the discussion needs to come later “when we have more time.”

“I do support economic development, all seven of us agreed to that, but we have very different ideas on how to get there,” Berkowitz said. “So, if you were to say, ‘just support and nurture existing small businesses is number one’, I have a lot of concerns with that. That tends to mean ‘at all cost’ which often ends up harming employees if not done carefully. And that, in turn, harms the businesses themselves.”

She suggested a goal should be encouragement of a “strong labor force in Burien as well as considering the impact of neighboring cities with minimum wages nearly twice as high as us.” SeaTac voters narrowly approved a $15 an hour minimum wage last November and the Seattle City Council on June 2 unanimously approved a measured move toward $15 an hour over the next several months.

Burien Deputy Mayor Bob Edgar said Monday that a large portion of the city’s economy is with small business, and he proposed “a place to start” is to consider opportunities for that segment.

“There is a question that I, as a councilmember, need to have answers for … if we can have some historical information on the (business) failure rates and why we have lost businesses in the city.”

Edgar said results of the annual city survey showed that in 2008, 51 percent respondents shopped in Burien, but only 50 percent said they shopped in the city in 2010, only 48 say they shopped in the city in 2014.

“There are many cities where the percentage is much higher … why are citizens shopping and spending less of their money in Burien than they are spending elsewhere?”

That answer, he said, would help the Council to figure out what businesses the city should be recruiting.

Councilmember Jerry Robison said proposals so far do not mention some type of businesses, such as providing office space, or research or production laboratories, or international and foreign business offices in the city.

“We should treat the airport as a resource which will help us attract that sort of thing,” Robison said. “I just want us to include that broad reach when we are looking into recruitment of businesses into the city.”

Councilmember Debi Wagner suggested each of the seven members bring a list of five potential goals for economic development to the June 23rd meeting but Mayor Lucy Krakowiak asked each for each councilmember to provide just three ideas to the city staff by this Friday (June 13) and they can be whittled down.

“Then see where we have consensus and agreement and … that way, we can see what we can agree on … and make those a priority,” Wagner said. “Let’s start (a list) and get going on one.”

Berkowitz said the members have already provided lists and of that were distilled down, so it was not necessary to do it again.

“I think it has become a lot, lately, of individual councilmembers and I would like to see us more working together as a team,” she said.

Evaluating the manager
The council also began deliberations on performance evaluation procedure for evaluating Kamuron Gurol, who began as the city’s new city manager on April 16.

Gurol started the presentation Monday of the new procedure by thanking the Council for hiring him.

“This process is really intended to help you to gauge how successful I am in this position,” Gurol told the councilmembers. “In the contract I signed with the city there is a four-month, an eight-month and 12-month evaluation in my first year and then annually thereafter.

“The city does already have an evaluation process for its city manager … but you asked me to take a first shot at some of the specific criteria and measures that would be used to help the Council to evaluate my progress in this job and I took the liberty to take a look at the actual process. I have made proposals for both criteria and measures as well as enhancements to the process.”

Angie Chaufty, the city’s human resources director, said the first review will come on Aug. 15.

She said the goal at the Monday meeting was not to have the councilmembers make a final decision on the proposed process but “just to provide me with feedback on what you are looking for in the four, eight and one year goals.”

Chaufty said the suggested goals for Gurol include developing “relationships with Councilmembers and enhance teamwork and trust with City Council,” to build knowledge, rapport and trust within the organization,” and “implement City Council goals/priorities, work program and budget,” and, fourth, to “enhance public engagement and build relationships with residents, businesses and the region.”

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Comments

21 Responses to “Burien City Council wrestles with new economic development plan”
  1. Name (required) says:

    I’ve been involved in a few successful city economic developments and can say this: “BUILDING LOW INCOME HOUSING IN THE CITY CENTER WILL NOT IMPROVE THE CITY ECONOMY.”

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  2. Carol says:

    Why do we not shop in Burien? That is a good question. Take a look at what businesses there were in Burien 20-30 years ago. What did they carry? We had 4 fabric stores, a craft store, Tony’s market where we could get local fruits and vegetables (ok Yakima). There was a large clothing store. We had shops that weren’t gift shops (old Burien). We had pleasant places to sit down and visit friends over coffee, and order breakfast or lunch. The main reason I shop elsewhere is that the products I need are no longer available in Burien.

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    • jimmy says:

      There is a fruit stand on 8th ave and Glendale way across from the Chevron

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    • Name (required) says:

      Need to mention public safety. Burien could enforce the panhandler ordinances. I stopped going to most of the stores around town because I was tired of being harassed for money every time.

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  3. eric says:

    Part of what I see is that the City lacks focus. It was a very good question to ask, if we meet these goals will we be where we want to be? How can you answer that without know where you want to be?

    I believe if Burien continues to, and adds to, a focus on art, both public and private, it will draw people to fill stores and restaurants. When it comes to businesses, I do not believe, “If you build it they will come.” I do believe that art, both public and private, will draw them, and while here they will shop and set up businesses.

    Key to the development of many a city has been a focus on the arts. The studies are there to prove it: e.g. “Building Creative Economies: The Arts, Entrepreneurship, and Sustainable Development,” Monogragh, March 2003, p.1-15, Special Report.

    I believe Burien should focus on being art friendly and art supportive. Art is an economic engine. Just one example: http://www.americansforthearts.org/by-program/reports-and-data/research-studies-publications/arts-economic-prosperity-iv/national.

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    • Name (required) says:

      Unfortunately, Burien’s idea of art is a bronse statue of a naked woman squatting like she’s taking a BM, lining 1st avenue with painted hubcaps, and giant Rastafarian stick statues in the middle of town square.

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  4. jimmy says:

    Even though your not a city council member (thank you for not running).I have a feeling by your name that you might of had a run in or two with the police,ATF,DEA,FBI,IRS,or homeland security that you feel you where mistreated or a buddy was mistreated you just have not ran for a political office or posted about your thoughts on your sitution online. That political opponents can find and use to bad mouth you with out knowing the whole situation.

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    • Question Authority says:

      You win a gold star for guessing that I am on the run from a international crime fighting strike force for my involvement in a wide range of terrorism related acts, I have hundreds of fake ID’s and plenty about me online, but it is sealed in a secret vault by the government for fear that once the world learned how dangerous I was I could never run for the council.
      And now for my next act, what is your real name Jimmy?” and what about running for the council yourself since you seem to know or speculate for that matter about everything.

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      • Really? says:

        This string of comments has nothing to do with the original subject matter. Please keep from sniping at each other, PLEASE!

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  5. Annie says:

    How about sidewalks in the surrounding neighborhoods so people can safetly and conveniently get to Burien

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  6. Joey Martinez says:

    Despite your negative comments (including sexism and anti-semitism) – if you actually watched the video you would see that the council as a whole agreed with Council Member Berkowitz in the changes made to the Economic plan.

    It’s on video good sir.

    Joey Martinez

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    • Really? says:

      No we’re not allowing this. Stop it. This does not raise the IQ level of this discussion. Get it?

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      • Joey Martinez says:

        I’d first like to apology to both Council Members Krakowiak and Edgar. I merely came up with those names to point out the insults to Council Member Berkowitz. Those names may be “cute” or “funny” (depending on which way you voted) but really don’t belong in a place for genuine discussion. Those names are irresponsible and indeed do nothing to promote a healthy conversation.

        Joey Martinez

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    • TbC says:

      Real Knee slappers, Joey!! Don’t quit your day job. BTW, how come you aren’t at city light anymore? Looks like you missed out on all the big raises. Must be tough having to work in the private sector after riding the gravy train so long. My sympathies…

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      • Joey Martinez says:

        TbC (I’m answering you because we’ve talked and shook hands)

        Let’s just say my new employer made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. Closer to home, set my own hours, and more money….. waaaaay more money.

        TbC, you actually not the first person to mention that either. CoverofNight (we talk on Twitter all the time) was Shocked I tell you Shocked(!!!) that I would leave the public sector. I told him that it just shows that you never really knew me to begin with.

        Joey Martinez

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    • Question Authority says:

      You Joey are walking a very dangerous and legal slander line by calling me an anti-semite. Unless you want to meet my lawyer I will except your public apologee for your insulting and incorrect racism assumption. The clock has begun to count down and my lawyer is very good at destroying people like you for your slanderous and rasist comment. Tic Tok !

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      • Joey Martinez says:

        In print it’s libel…

        My information is public record and easy to find.

        Joey Martinez

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  7. Name (required) says:

    Jerry Robison goes beyond shopping, restaurants and fingernail shops. Burien does need to find ways to attract manufacturing and larger service industries into the city. From what I have seen, whatever land there is available for new development has been squandered on low income housing and parking lots. This type of land usage really does not contribute as much to the tax base of the community as would more profitable businesses.

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  8. Question Authority says:

    See you around sometime, with a printed copy for your records and your lawyer’s. Tic Tok

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    • jimmy says:

      Yes and to confuse you even more when your so called lawyer see’s all of your online activities a I am pretty sure any case will be drop so if you want try threatened to sue over online comment’s then maybe you should watch what you have to say and who you are talking to becuse all your is lonely internet troll with no life you need mental health help now go now get off your butt and go to nearest mental health Hospital
      COMMUNITY ACCESS LINE:
      (206) 248-8226
      Monday- Friday 8:00am to 5:00pm
      MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLNESS CENTER
      1210 SW 136th Street
      Burien WA 98166
      (206) 257-6601

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  9. Really? says:

    And with that, we conclude this highly entertaining bout of mud wrestling. At least no one got hit with any chairs over their heads!

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