LETTER: Small Business Owner seeking others having problems with City

Print This Post  Email This Post

[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:]


Many folks are experiencing difficulty in opening a small LOCAL business in Burien. While CVS and Starbucks open new facilities we continue to hear stories about how hard it is for a small business to open here.

CVS and Starbucks can afford to hire experts to deal with the road blocks related to fire code, retail ratio, and parking. If this trend continues in Burien we will have a CVS and Starbucks on every street corner.

We are seeking information on anyone who has experienced road blocks in opening or expanding a new small local business in Burien. We want to help. What caused the delay or unexpected issues? Whether it was fire code or the retail space ratio or parking we want to hear your story.

Perhaps the cause was something other then these three issues. We want to hear from you.

If you have signed a “Shared Parking Agreement,” we will offer $100 paid to you to listen to your story about why you chose to use this route to obtain a permit.

If you know of a person in Burien who has a story then please let us know.

Here is your chance to tell your story. Let’s hear the good and the bad about starting a new business or expanding an existing business in Burien.

We will interview you and listen to your story and include it in a presentation to the City. Our mission is to help small business succeed in Burien. Let us help you.

Please send an email to:

[email protected]

John White

[Have an opinion or concern you’d like to share with our ~80,000+ monthly Readers? Please send us your Letter to the Editor via email. Include your full name, please remain civil and, pending our review, we’ll consider publishing it.]

Print This Post  Email This Post


71 Responses to “LETTER: Small Business Owner seeking others having problems with City”
  1. John White says:

    First, we would like to thank Scott for posting this letter. This is a great place for those with stories regarding the difficulty of opening a small business in Burien.

    We are not interested in fighting with the City. We are interested in working together to share information in an effort to decrease the number of vacancies in Burien. This will require change. The system is currently lop sided.

    The City works in Silos and it can be very difficult to navigate through the process. Our goal is to develop a way for small business to receive help.

  2. Liz says:

    Why are you only interested in negative experiences?

    • John White says:

      Liz, if you read my letter you can see I asked for both good and bad.


    • John White says:

      Liz, I wanted to follow up on your comment about requesting only bad information. As I pointed out, I did ask for both good and bad. I could have structured the letter more clearly. I had to go back and read it and it took me a second to see it so I understand why anyone would miss it.

      For the record, Joey of Pitt Stop went through a major deal with parking but is actually happy with the results and is somewhat pleased with the way the City worked with her. She too faced the $7000 per stall ordeal but hired a consultant to do a parking study and then gave this Study to the City. The result was a reduced parking requirement by a couple of stalls. She had to add additional parking strips in the back. She is on 153rd. Joey will be the first to tell you her experience with the City went well. However, she did go through an ordeal and it did cost her plenty and she does feel the City should pay her back the $1200 she spent on a parking consultant.

      If the City demands you must pay $7000 per stall and you have 16 stalls then you must pay 112K. Or you can go around town and ask other property owners to deed you their parking. They must sign and notarize a City document called the “Shared Parking Agreement” and in this document, should you sign it, waives your rights to any future complaint with the City. If you lose your stalls you can only go after the property owner that deeded you the stalls. Meanwhile the City can shut you down and you have no legal recourse with them because you signed your life away when you signed that agreement.

      So if you are Danny House of the Tin Room, and you are demanded to have 16 stalls and pay $7000 per stall you have an option. You can go around like a homeless person, begging for stalls, hoping that a property owner will give them to you. But, and here is the catch, let’s say Starbucks buys the property of the owner that deeded you stalls and they cancel the Shared Agreement. Then the City can march into your place of business and demand that you pay $7000 per stall or shut you down until you find some other property owner to deed you stalls.

      Danny gets some parking from the Temple across the street. That parking lot will go up for sale soon. Danny could lose his parking stalls. So he will be faced with going around searching for property owners that are willing to hand out stalls. That agreement was written years ago. Now days everyone wants a lawyer to look at what they sign and it will be more than difficult for any small business owner to get a signature.

      Now if you are a small business owner and speak perfect English you might be able to find the property owner (most Burien property owners do not live here and do not give the businesses they rent to the authority to negotiate parking stalls) and convince the property owner to sign a legal document. But 30% of the business owners in this town do not speak English as a first language and they certainly will have a difficult time negotiating or even locating remote property owners. Even if you do speak perfect English and can articulate to the property owner you will have everyone involved in a legal mess when property changes hands.

      In Seattle there is no parking issue for small business. If you go to Capital Hill you will drive around for a while to find parking….but small business thrives. Here in Burien there really is no situation where you cannot find a place to park. Even the City’s study reports this. The parking shortage “is a myth” according to our City planners and I totally agree with them.

      Quoting Danny House “If I want to open a business and there is no parking then I will either go broke or people will find a way to get to my restaurant” “I have one stall in front of the Tin Room but somehow my place is full with customers” “I want to expand but I face the parking issue and there is no way I can pay $7000 per stall just to add a few more tables”.

      The City Council can change the wording just a bit to help small business owners. We need to hear real stories so we can explain this issue, come up with a solution, and present it to our City Council Members.


      • Joey Hopps says:

        John, for the record, I did not say I think the city should pay me back. I said it sucked I had to pay it. The biggest take away is this, the city I chose to open a business in has a certain set of rules, follow the rules and open your business. If you have time to wait, change the rules, and then open your business.

  3. John White says:

    It amazes me how many folks are afraid to post publicly because of fear of the City. I am reading private stories about how employees of the City have threatened to shut down businesses by hanging the sprinkler fire code over their head.

    You know you have a problem in this town when the citizens are afraid to post their stories due to fear of retaliation from the City. Its real and its got to change.

    • Jimmy says:

      Hmm well unless your running a business of anti flammable products then fire codes should be a good thing. Especially this time of year when it’s dry and hot some people light off fire works even thou there illegal in burien. Also seem interesting that some of people that were for the annexation of white center by burien and run businesses in white center . Where pointing out how much better it would to deal with burien city hall over king county or Seattle.This letter to the Editor was written by you a person that lives in a part of burien that was against the annexation of white center.

      • John White says:

        Jimmy you have a good point. Let’s take the carpet shop on 153rd as an example. That building stands vacant and for sale for many months now. Frank, owner of the 909 and Danny, owner of the Tin Room tried to buy it and convert it into a first class restaurant. Danny wanted to use some of the space to run is sausage business- not exactly a big fire risk. They were told they would have to sell carpets only or add sprinklers if they planned to change the use of the place. This is a 100K expense. Then it was a 80 percent retailed requirement for the space! Are you kidding? Danny does not need to use 80% of a 5000 square foot building to display sausages.

        The breaking point is the parking requirement. No problem if you sell carpets but if convert it to sausage storage and a restaurant then you are faced with 25 stalls and a fee of $7000 per stall. So in my view the “change of use” should be called the “never change anything in Burien use” because all that will go in there is another carpet company and so it sits vacant, waiting for a CVS or a Starbucks to buy it. All of these issues can be addressed. Kent’s sprinkler requirement is 8000 square feet. We have a super expensive fire department just two blocks away.

        We do not need sprinklers if we sell carpet……..highly flammable, but you got to have sprinklers if we serve food and store sausage? No wonder we have so many empty building’s that never change – the change of use is a deal killer. Think of the additional business lost over this issue. Think of how our property values will go up with only some slight changes. I do greatly appreciate your comment and I get what you are saying.


        • jimmy says:

          A restaurant involves cooking that mean stoves running for at least 8 hours a day if not longer pretty good fire risk (no offense to the chef). Carpet does not have a open flame under it for 8 hours a day or more so need for a sprinkler system unless if it remolded it would probably get one anyways. But a sprinkler system in a restaurant is a good idea.I remember a time when the Ivars in south center fry pits started on fire if they did not have a sprinkler system installed there could of been a lot damage. Instead they just pulled the alarm and poof the fire is out. They have a mess of foam or what ever to clean up. Then the parking issue yes parking in burien can be hard is some areas these fees help to pay for the roads and the police the other services.

          Also how did you not know that just about the whole south part of burien is anti-annex. When the annex was even mention on here or other local blogs the south part of burien is were most if not all the bickering was coming from.

          • John White says:

            Jimmy, great points, keep them coming. Forget White Center for now, its not about White Center in this thread.

            Danny and Frank would be required to install a fire system for the ovens and stoves. This is not as expensive as installing sprinklers into an entire building. Go into any restaurant in Burien and take a look at the stoves and you will see this system. So the stoves and ovens would be covered anyway.

            Installing a sprinkler system would be a 100K expense in addition to the requirement to provide a fire system for the stoves.

            Keep them coming, and let’s hear your solutions……..I know you can come up with some solutions because you are taking the time to write. I know others want to write but are fearful. Thanks for posting.


            • jimmy says:

              Yes I know i went little off topic sorry . That’s great that you don’t have those same feelings about white center as some in your neighborhood . Now with that being said. A business as I have herd can take a good 100k to open. Now a expanding business means that the owner has been making enough of a profit to see fit to expand witch means yes it can be expensive (it cost money to make money). But most for these cost’s will be payed back to the owner in the first couple of years (via profit from sales) as long as the business can still function the same with the same quality and services. Also some of the buildings are rather old so a update or remodel can also make the area look a little better. Bring in more money.

            • Joey Hopps says:

              I disagree, White Center is now part of Burien, so yes this is about White Center.

              • Burienite says:

                Wrong. White Center is NOT part of Burien. I respectfully ask that you check your geography. Boulevard Park was annexed into Burien–not White Center.

                • Joey Hopps says:

                  My mistake, thank you for pointing that out. I am going to assume that you weren’t snarling and angry when you typed this, which is how it cI messed across to me.

      • John White says:


        Annexation of white center? – I raised my four boys in my home of 25 years in White Center. Just because I live in Seahurst does not mean I am for or against White Center. I had no idea Seahurst was anti White Center. Thanks for letting me know.


      • Mark Ufkes says:

        Of course, there are business owners in White Center who did not want to annex to Burien, and preferred Seattle instead. And we have one loud White Center business owner who has four or five businesses in Seattle, and one in White Center, and constantly badmouths Seattle. Yet he sure keeps those Seattle businesses running. Go figure. The reality is that there are over 10,000 small businesses in Seattle and growing.

        Regarding the questions asked by the author of the Letter to the Editor, any time a municipal government has or creates an opportunity to hear from real life experiences on how to do it better, it is a good idea, and a great learning experience for everyone. My read of this letter is that it is not about annexation, it is about how to do economic development better in Burien.

        Good letter! Thanks.

        Mark Ufkes

        • jimmy says:

          Yes mark there were some business owners in white center that did want to annex ether. But most were told lies by oh yeah you and that pat guy with his utter B.S videos on youtube. That he will bicker about until hell freezes over or until he is proven wrong then he just shuts up and go’s away.

          • Jimmy still angry that your side lost? Still here, still paying attention, and still willing to fight another annexation attempt. Why, because I have freedoms that you don’t. Talk about B.S., did you know that you have the most hidden comments of anyone on this blog? I guess we all have to have something to aspire too.

            • jimmy says:

              No I am not upset I don’t take sides. I tell the truth and when I find someone that is lying especially in a political matter I try to fix that.When I gave the truth you came back with nonsense then said you did not really care about the situation. But you care enough to make a video edit the video post the video then bicker over the video. Until you were proven wrong.
              As for hidden comments on this blog who really cares do you mean to tell me you took the time to count out how many hidden comment’s I have. This is what you use your time on and you think i am upset man get a life dude. I only reference you in this situation because Mr.ufkes was in some of your videos involving the annexation . So get over your self man. There really no need for you to comment but you do that option so go ahead. I remember a time few months back when you were saying people just come out the wood work when the word annexation is mention and look at this now.

              This also proves how much a adult you really are I have notice every once in awhile some comments getting a thumbs down and was kinda wondering who would do that well i guess i don’t have to wonder any more!

              • Jimmy I think anyone who has been paying attention knows who the real liars are.

                Also glad to see that you have greatly improved your grammar

                • jimmy says:

                  As you can see some else was called a liar and that comment got removed mine did not So I think people may already have clue as who tells the truth and who does not. But this conversation has gotten a little off topic for this letter to the editor. So have a nice day go get some fresh air or something.

  4. Question Authority says:

    You know the City process is troublesome when you adopt the attitude of “It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than it is permission” I personally avoid dealing with the City process. I work on a need to know basis, the less they know, the more work I get done.

  5. Danny House says:

    I feel the City of Burien honestly wants good things for the residents and business owners. The current codes, parking, retail/manufacturing ratio, were all drawn up with the hopes of creating a desirable downtown.
    It wasn’t a bad idea at the time, like many ideas some work and some don’t, the question is what you do when it doesn’t, do you act swiftly to stop the damage or become silent and let it fester? Businesses are not opening because it is too expensive or problematic, parking being the number one issue and the ratio between manufacturing and retail the 2nd.
    I don’t think City Council has any idea the threat this has on our city or the urgency which it needs to be dealt with. I don’t mean this sarcastically and extend an invitation to each council member so I can explain the difficulties I have experienced even when city officials want my project to take place but their hands are tied by the code, as helpful as they have been they can’t change the code.
    Every city is in competition for business we need to be desirable for businesses to want to open in Burien and current business to stay and expand.
    This is a great opportunity to listen to the business community and citizens to start a dialog. If the city council finds the codes mentioned harmful to the economic health of Burien, make a swift change, if you don’t fair enough but please tell us why and educate us on the benefits, please don’t take the attitude of indifference?
    In closing I want to say this is a great city, we have grown much in the last 10 years and with that we have growing pains. We need to continue to expect great things from its citizens, council members, business people and city officials if we are to continue.
    Danny House
    Dan the Sausageman
    Tin Room Bar and Theater

    • Name (required) says:

      Did you really expand your sausage inventory since I was last in your shop in 2007?

    • Chris Reed says:

      Dan, thanks for the info on all of this. This is indeed troubling. Regarding the city code, the codes can be changed (for the better) via council action. It would seem that the changes you seek could be worked on in concert with council members, as well as with city officials.

      Lastly, where is the BEDP in all of this? Do they not exist to act as a representative to Burien businesses?

  6. Burien Human says:

    I think it is hilarious when liberals complain about bureaucracy. You voted them all in!
    You campaigned for the bureaucrats, you gave them money, they are you!

  7. ShellyC says:

    That is a blatant lie.

    • Question Authority says:

      Then I must know a liar, or your uninformed.

      • Joey Martinez says:

        Not an ex-planner, ex-planning commissioner. Planning commissioners have absolutely ZERO voice in the city as evidenced in the city council overriding a unanimous vote from the planning commission to NOT down zone the Lake Burien neighborhood to keep out the rif-raf. It was only something we studied for a year. What’s the council have to say about that? Nothing, most of them said not a word for why they overrode the planning commission’s hard work.

        I was on for 3 years, Krakowiak has been on the council for over a decade, you should consider starting your shaming there with her.

        • Lucy Krakowiak is one of the most honorable people I know of in public office. She has time and time again voted for what is best for the citizens of Burien, not special interests. Frankly I think your little jab is more indicative of the source rather then the target.

    • ShellyC says:

      My comment was in response to Question Authority’s poor attempt at defaming Joey Martinez, which has since been removed by Scott.

      I totally agree with John, applaud Dan for coming forward on this issue, and thank Scott for reigning in the mudslinging.

      • Question Authority says:

        I could have added to any reference of Joey M. by using his acronym “PPP” which stands for (Promoting Public Peeing) In case you forgot he says it’s OK to pee in the Safeway parking lot, how’s that for promoting Burien’s businesses.

  8. John White says:

    Hello, I just read the list of comments and wanted to say thank you. Please let’s not discourage others from writing by name calling. This is a subject that upsets people that are trying to open a small business because their dreams are halted by poorly written or out dated ordinances. Our process here is to talk about it, share stories in a healthy way and not get personal. I am sorry someone was called a liar on this thread. I know its hard sometimes not to respond harshly to something that may seem totally inappropriate……………It took years of therapy for me to be able to take a deep breath and ramp down on my responses so I understand…. but …. This blog is known for getting things done but it is also known to get a bit wild. Scott cannot monitor every word. Everyone that posted is trying to help. Let’s be productive, we all want Burien to be Awesome.

  9. This comment has been removed.

  10. seahurst unit says:

    We wanted to buy a building in Burien to put a manufacturing plant in. nothing but a nightmare. We gave up and bought in Seattle.

    Burien only wants nail parlors, mexican grocers, and tire shops as far as small business goes.

    Good luck on bringing money to burien, start getting a little more business friendly and the city will prosper. Make it hard, and it goes away.

    • Name (required) says:

      You forgot resale shops.

    • John White says:

      I read this comment:

      We wanted to buy a building in Burien to put a manufacturing plant in. nothing but a nightmare. We gave up and bought in Seattle.

      Burien only wants nail parlors, mexican grocers, and tire shops as far as small business goes.

      Good luck on bringing money to burien, start getting a little more business friendly and the city will prosper. Make it hard, and it goes away. End.

      Wow, this seems like a story everyone should hear more about. I too plan to open a manufacturing plant in Burien. I am working with the Port of Seattle as we speak. The Port is about to sell off 23 acres of land for manufacturing and airport support related businesses. This could be super good news for Burien. I would like to hear more about your experience in opening a plant in Burien. You can reach me at [email protected] . I greatly appreciate your feedback. I will say that “Mexican grocery stores and Tire Shops” are fine with me. Its better than vacant buildings and adds to the diverse culture of Burien. If the Change of Use ordinances were re-worked a bit you might see something other than tire stores. No one can afford to change the use with the current regulations. Can you imagine what Starbucks paid to re-open the Skipper’s Fish and Chips? Fish, or coffee, probably no change of use here. Even in this example, its better than a vacant building but do we really need another Starbucks? We are all lucky they did not open a drug store there!



  11. John White says:


    I have a great story for you regarding the “Change of Use” and the fire code.

    The Burien Actor’s Theater caught fire a while back if you recall. The Theater had sprinklers. The City owns that building. They filed for an insurance claim to repair the damage.

    The building was repaired but there are no sprinklers now? Why? Because this was a repair of an existing building and not a “change of use” so there was no requirement to re-install sprinklers. Now does this make sense to you?

    My point is our “change of use” ordinance is killing the ability of Burien to adapt to changes because nothing changes.

    • jimmy says:

      In some ways yes this makes seance since its a theater and not a restaurant. Then the risk of fire is lower.Than say a restaurant think of it this way if you take your family out eat. Say you need to use the restroom witch may be located near the kitchen and your sitting doing what needs to be done. All of a sudden fire breaks out alarms go off then it spread from the kitchen area to main lobby or seating area now your stuck or one your family members is stuck in the restroom. Now if there is a sprinkler system installed in the building then you or that family has a much better chance of surviving. Also less damages to be pay for by the owner or insurance company.

      • Joey Hopps says:

        Sprinkler systems are not just based on what kind of business is in the place, it also has to do with occupancy. If my business were to increase in occupancy to a certain number, by code, I would need a sprinkler system.

      • Burienite says:

        Laughable my friend. Some of the most historic fires in history, and with incredible loss of numerous lives, have ocurred in places of assmbly (like theatres, etc).

        Many of our current fire codes came into existance due to large loss of life in places of assembly. Want proof? Research the following:

        Brooklyn Theatre Fire-300 dead
        Iroquois Theatre Fire-602 DEAD
        Rhoads Opera House Fire-171 dead
        Cocoanut Grove Fire-492 dead
        New London School Fire-300 dead
        Rhythm Club Fire-209 dead
        Hartford Circus Disaster-156 killed, 700 injured
        Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire-165 killed, 200 injured
        Cleveland Clinic Fire-123 killed
        Winecoff Hotel Fire-200 killed
        The Station nightclub fire-100 killed, 230 injured

        I could keep going on.

        My point is, is that proper building and fire codes save lives. Fire sprinklers save lives. I agree that it is unfortunate that Burien didn’t require sprinklers to be put in the BLT theatre after it sustained fire damage. But, that is the current code that is in existance today.

  12. Question Authority definitely has some anger issues. Perhaps someone is looking in the mirror and isn’t happy with their choice of getting drunks off in court? That would definitely explain your obsession with public peeing.

    • Question Authority says:

      Your guess at my career could not be further from reality, I have no obsession with peeing but if you look back on this blog about the homeless discussions you will see a comment from Joey M. where he says he is ok with public urination, specifically at the Safeway complex. I found that belief then, and now to be absolutely ridiculous.

      • Joey Martinez says:

        Please link to my comment you quote. Still waiting on your lawsuit papers by the way…

        • Ghost of Maplewild says:

          Joey Martinez says:

          May 7, 2015 at 11:15 am

          Read the article. Public urination and defecation go down when bathrooms are provided. When people are banned from public facilities and they have no where else to go… well when nature calls it must be answered – even if in a Safeway parking lot.

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 24 Thumb down 30

        • TbC says:

          I think he has got you on this one, Joey!! I even remember another person suggested that you use that in your campaign literature. Always remember- two things that you can never take back. Words and bullets. You gotta think before you use either one.

          • TbC says:

            Joey Martinez says:

            May 7, 2015 at 11:15 am

            Read the article. Public urination and defecation go down when bathrooms are provided. When people are banned from public facilities and they have no where else to go… well when nature calls it must be answered – even if in a Safeway parking lot.

        • Question Authority says:

          Hey “PPP” Talk about having to eat your own words, you might need to skip a dozen meals or so after eating all that crow, looks like your fan club has a better memory than you do.

        • Question Authority says:

          Your dismal record and reputation in this community, and the fan club you have achieved through your actions and words speak louder than any legal action. Why was it you dropped your election campaign? That’s right, the first sentence says it all.

  13. John White says:

    Southend Motorcycles, a motorcycle repair shop and scooter store, was doing a great business on the edge of Burien near Top Hat. The lease ran out and they had to move. They wanted to move into a little shop with a roll up door right around the corner from the strip where everyone goes to get their license renewed. It would have been a perfect place for visitors to come rent a scooter to tour the restaurants. Change of use shut them down. Why? Our Economic Developer says our City does not want a motorcycle shop so close to City Hall. So even now, months later, the building sits vacant. Southend Motorcycles would move in there tomorrow, fix up the place, bring scooters to our City like you see in George Town or in Nice, France. The customers would eat at our restaurants and the employees would pay taxes. What is going to go in that hole-in-the-wall roll up door space? Why send business away with all these vacant buildings? How many examples are there like this we never hear about?

    This was not a motorcycle gang shop, it was a thriving business that would have improved Burien. They repaired Hondas and scooters.


  14. Buck says:

    This is the weirdest Letter to the Editor letter, I have ever seen. First off the letter starts out claiming to be a single business owner seeking information. Then is evolves into a couple of owners seeking information but with really only an interest in parking agreements. That is the only information they are willing to pay for. Perhaps they should have paid for an ad as most businesses do for information.

    When no one immediately responses to the letter, then John White starts writing blog comments to his own letter to get the ball rolling and to lay out his case about why he and Danny House should not have to pay parking fees or follow the fire regulations like the other businesses. If the space they have picked out for their bars, restaurants with an attached sausage making shop doesn’t have enough parking, why don’t they buy the vacant lot that is almost next door for their parking or find another location in the city? Or perhaps they really want the citizens of Burien to pay for their business’ parking at public expense? There is other building available space in the city for their businesses. Instead they are using this blog site to whine about why they shouldn’t have to follow the rules or pay the fees. They have made approximately 33% of the comments on this letter to the editor and have taken up 85% of the word space on their own Letter to the Editor. They appear to be using this media source for their own Bully Pulpit.

    Perhaps the city does need to work with Discover Burien, the Economic Development advisory group, the Planning Department and the council to make changes but the changes should not be made instantly for two whining guys who are trying to avoid paying their fees.
    As to the fire codes, the businesses that most commonly have fires are bars, restaurants, clubs and food processing plants that regularly have open fires going.and present a safety hazard to workers and patrons.

    Lastly, the Planning Commission cancelled 55% of their meetings last year and has cancelled about 50% of their meetings this year already. In recent years, the Planning Commission has never worked on a single topoc item for a year. It might be helpful to the city if they worked on a regular basis.

  15. seahurst unit says:

    Study Bellevue, or other successful cities.

    1. they actually care about public appearance. Such as keeping streets nice, curbs, sidewalks, maintained plantings.
    2. They entice businesses to set up headquarters there, not deter them.
    3. They entice activity that will attract wealthy people. For example, instead of letting a Nimbin Pot Shot (like on 1st Ave) they would give a tax incentive to a coffee roasting plant or a interior design firm or a manufacturer of some kind.

    Long story short: if Burien keeps up its reputation as a low class, ugly anti business area, its going to keep going on the trend its going.

    Heres a perfect example- why is 1st avenue full of car dealerships? Is main street supposed to be a sea of used ugly cars? Get them somewhere east, say in all the vacant land around the airport, and put some decent retail or corporate buildings on 1st avenue.

    Give a reason to a business owner to want to come to Burien. Business brings money, pay taxes etc. Come on its basic economics.

    • John White says:

      Seahurst Unit,

      You bring up some good points. The whole purpose of this thread is to find a way to fill up the empty buildings by helping small local business. Just walk up and down our City of Burien and look at all the “for sale” or “for lease” signs. We are minutes from the airport. We have over 160 places to eat in this town. We should be thriving like West Seattle. There is something wrong. I strongly believe all of us will benefit if we make some slight adjustments to these areas:

      1) Slightly raise the fire code square foot area requirement for sprinklers from its current 5000 square foot area to 8000 square feet.

      2) Change the retail ratio from the current 80/20 percentage. We do not need to require local business owners to use 80 percent of their space for retail.

      3) Change the parking ordinance. $7000 per stall for ghost parking is a deal killer for any small business.

      4) End the “Change of Use” barriers. We should applaud those wishing to invest in our town and change some of the old carpet buildings into something new.

      This list is long of great business opportunities coming to a quick end due to these three issues. This is why we see all these vacant buildings.

      Right now at this moment Burien should be thriving. It’s very sad to see local business struggling when places like West Seattle and Ballard are booming.

      Thanks for posting, any feedback is helpful.


      • Burien voter says:

        If you have 5000 square feet, YOU need to have a sprinkler.

        • John White says:

          This is to “Burien Voter”

          I read your statement that “If you have 5000 square feet you need a sprinkler” as if this is a requirement in Burien. It is not. You only need a sprinkler in a 5000 square foot or above building if you change it from a carpet store to anything other than what it was- even if it was an ICE skating rink. So if you were thinking that a 5000 square foot requirement is smart then please be advised that many buildings in Burien are over 5000 square feet but do not have sprinklers.

          To add to this please note that Kent’s limit is 8,000 square feet, Seattle’s is ten. I think this is the misunderstanding. Many voters are confused about the regulation.


      • Jimmy says:

        The Nibin pot shop is actually part of white center/king county and not burien also they are bringing in alot of tax revenue to the area that burien is missing out on. The border of burien is at 112th and 1st.

      • Burienite says:

        As to point one, we can agree to disagree. Fire protection systems save lives. Period. Especially if the occupancy is a place of assembly, etc.

        I agree wholeheartedly about revising and/or eliminating impediments (like in points 2-4). Have some reasonable codes, but eliminate such stringent requirements.

        I believe the main issue with Burien is a lack of focus. All the eggs were put in the TOD style development which is the Burien Town Square. The economy tanked and the whole thing screeched to a halt. Yes, we’re finally seeing some action with the two large remaining parcals, however some much retail space in Phase-1 still sits vacant (save for a Subway).

        Burien tried to hang on to the Town Square vision, and annexation dominated much of the cities time. In the meantime, there appeared to be no meaningful discussion about how to attract businesses and build a (more) robust and vibrant Burien.

        Fast forward to recent months, where Burien officials waste time debating the merits of a body-odor ordinance and again, continue to seemingly take no meaningful steps to attract businesses.

        Regarding the types of businesses, I agree that most any business in place is better than a vacant storefront, however there’s a limit to this. Twenty years ago, the joke was that you couldn’t swing a dead cat with hitting a dollar store or a nail salon in Burien. Well, we’ve got some great new businesses since then, but if Burien (council and staff) doesn’t start doing their job, the area will never fully realize its potential Without a well thought out plan, that has a clear holistic focus of what Burien wants to become, you can expect more dollar stores and nail salons.

        Call me elitist or whatever. I don’t care. We need more businesses like Elliot Bay, Tin Room, Burien Press, 909, Burien Books, Pit Stop, etc.

        • shari says:

          Totally agree with your last paragraph…and would add that then we need to make a conscious effort to patronize them, not Southcenter or West Seattle or Amazon.

    • jimmy says:

      ok well in just the first few seconds of your video I had to stop it and do some research and found some info on a couple of the business in your video jb carpet owner just retire at the end of march so this location has not been vacant for very long http://b-townblog.com/2015/03/19/interns-view-after-34-years-buriens-jb-factory-carpets-will-be-closing/

      The gas station at 14807 1st ave was a foreclosure so most likely its been tied up in banks issue’s so it can not be resold or reopened until what ever issue’s are token care of.

      I not sure about the location next door lovers or lovers package I believe they have a bigger location in tukwila so that and the online sales the company most likely decided to close the burien location to cut cost.

      Also coming out of a recession that was not to long a go I am betting that might have something to do with the other little shops and places that have closed. You would have to think someone would have said something on here or in the other local media. About this but your letter to the editor is the first I ever herd any thing like this in burien.

      Also to seahurst unit trying to compare burien to bellevue. Burien will never be any thing like bellevue and most don’t want it to be . If you want to have a bellevue style life then move to bellevue. Also I find it odd you mention one voter approved i-502 cannabis retailer as if it a problem. But you fail to mention how many places there are to buy beer or liqueur and how many dui’s and alcohol related deaths there are in the area.

      • seahurst unit says:

        low life potheads buy pot. While many low class people buy alcahol, so do upper class people who enjoy it responsibly.

        A pot shop attracts low life people. end of story.

        • jimmy says:

          For one it’s voter approved if you don’t like it then get out and vote and most pot heads are not low life’s. If your a low life then your going be a low life no matter what you do in your life (pot ,drugs,alcohol,sober). So why blame a plant would blame a tomato plant for making you fat because you like a slice of tomato on your daily double bacon cheese burger. Just because some corporation’s and some people in the government from years ago made up a bunch of lies about a plant to saves there butt’s and company profits (DuPont). That is now 2015 and you still haven’t gotten a clue about it then you need do some research before making dumb comments.

  16. Ray says:

    John White was the President of Discover Burien from 2013-2014. If parking and the fire codes were such a hot issues for businesses then why didn’t John address the issue then? After he left that position in 2014, he still could have come to the Council meetings in 2014 and 2015 when the Council was writing the Economic Development Plan and could have spoken multiple times. I didn’t see him on the TV or having letters in the packet? But now he wants to open a business with his friend and it is an urgent issue, Humm? And he even wants to pay for people’s shared parking agreement?

    I’m not opposed to some good chain restaurant coming to Burien like, Applebees, Outback Steakhouse, the Chessecake Factory or Red Robin. I am tired of too many hole in the wall restaurants that serve med to poor quality food. Burien has 160 restaurants and most of them you can’t take a family to, not enough space or too limited of a menu for everyone to find a favorite on. The only places with a wide menu that have big enough spaces and parking for families are Huckleberry Square, Dennys and Elliots. Not everyone likes ethnic cuisine and tourists want a restaurant they know and trust. We could use a clothing, multi-goods store like Target too. No Walmart please.

    The last thing Burien needs is more bars. Families and their friends don’t want to go to loud, rough bars when they have visitors, their kids or company in town. Yes, we have one movie theater but it doesn’t show family movies and you have to take your kids to a Bar to go to it. Burien needs family entertainment and frankly there is none. Right now you can go to an ethnic restaurant where your kids won’t eat the food you paid for or to a Bar where your kids get to see people who are at times loud and drunk. No real movie theater, no miniature golf, no pinball machines or other game machines, no water park, no good dance clubs and no community activity center. Sorry, long drawn out actors and Plays don’t cut it with kids.

    As to the video-There are vacancies in Burien just like in Des Moines, Kent and Seattle. I could go out and shoot a video like John White’s in those places too. The reason a number of small businesses do not make it in Burien is because they wouldn’t make it any place else either. They have nothing to sell that the average customer wants to buy. More of these kind of businesses start up in Burien because the rents are so much cheaper than in Seattle. A wise business owner checks out the economic level, age mix, family orientation and ethnic mix of the community he or she opens a business in and picks product lines that are affordable for that community’s citizens. Also, a wise business owner checks out predatory, disreputable landlords and doesn’t sign agreement with them. That has killed a number of businesses in Burien.

    If Burien changes any of it businesses ordinances, it needs to be fair to all businesses and follow the process through the Boards and Council and not follow some knee jerk responses by one guy or two guys who promise lots, complain a lot but in the end deliver little to benefit all of the citizens, families and the city.

  17. start your own says:

    Been there, done that and Burien isnt what one would call small business friendly
    which is why I moved mine, Love the city, hate the governing board

    • jimmy says:

      Hmm interesting anonymous name and no name of the business witch you were attempting to run in burien. What makes this even interesting the original writer of the letter has ether gave up on this or is to busy to respond any further his last post was on June 26, 2015 at 6:16 pm where he posted a short video that did not really help his case. It seems as if there are more questions to the motive of this letter to the editor then anything else. On top of the fact this letter has been out for almost a week now and your just now popping up with rather anonymous post.
      Please explain your situation a little more

      • Jimmy says:

        ok so “start your own” I asked you some simple questions on June 28, 2015 at 8:04 pm what was or is the name of your business. What type of business you were trying to run in burien. Here is now July 10th,2015 at 4:05pm and you have failed to answer these simple questions making your post seem rather false.Attempt to make the person that wrote the letter to editor sound better hmm. I wonder who would do that maybe someone that is stuck in a discussion and does want to answer to some question that I have brought up. So instead they try to pick at comments I post and try to bicker with nothing but petty nonsense.

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!