LETTER: Resident challenges everyone to consider ways to improve community


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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:]

Greetings City Council,

I am writing as I was unable to participate in the Monday March 6 public comments at the City Council.

First of all, thank you to council members and community folks who put in the time to make our city better for us all. I too have been unhappy with seeing our community struggle with increasing violence and uncivil behavior. It was good to hear that there are so many citizens doing what they can to make things better, from cleaning up public spaces to engaging with others to try and encourage more civility. No one likes to see or smell garbage. It is also understandable how folks react with fear, especially in the face of real or perceived threats. Unfortunately, more police and enforcement will not resolve the many challenges Burien faces. As Mr. Upthegrove so clearly pointed out, Burien has a limited budget and we can only pay for so much.

With that said, I would challenge everyone, council and citizens alike, to consider other ways we have to improve our community. Burien has folks who make me proud to have moved here 13 years ago from McMicken Heights (SeaTac). I see them quietly, and often without appreciation, doing what they know will help our community. When Town Square development stalled in 2009, unpaid artists and volunteers installed art and gardens on the vacant site in downtown. The alley between 152nd and 153rd has been turned into an open-air art gallery that has helped reduce the gang based graffiti there. For 20 years we had a New Futures operation at the Heights / Alturas. That service was shuttered a few years ago due to lack of funding, but we could bring it back. Those who worked with New Futures, know that their work with children (and their adult family) helped many kids resist the lure of gang and street life. It is a shame that we could not as a community help that work continue at Alturas. There are Para Los Ninos, and other independent groups, that actively try to help our children learn and succeed. We could work with HSD-401 school related programs for youth that are vulnerable, such as the New Start School and the “Shark Garden”. Burien has only one small overnight shelter to serve the homeless. The idea of converting unused publicly owned buildings for social programs has merit, but will require funding. In short, I would say to Mr. Hemp, thanks for getting people to show up. Now, let’s find solutions beyond “More Police”, it won’t be easy.

– Douglas Sykes

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Comments

10 Responses to “LETTER: Resident challenges everyone to consider ways to improve community”
  1. Sam Smith says:

    Um, I have direct experience with gang task forces. They are usually made up of cops with ‘zero’ actual inside gang experience because you cannot become a cop if you have a serious criminal background.

    These cops learn from some book or ‘training’ session they attend. The cops have ZERO idea what is actually happening inside these gangs and these gangs do NOT operate according to a cops booklet.

    Gangs operate according to whatever they decide to do.

    • Ben Smith says:

      Same canned comment from another post. unless you’re in a gang right now you’re just posting opinions. I have cop friends who say otherwise one I met with this week who let me know Gang Task units are more informed and trained than ever before. Also having lived in White Center / Burien as a teen in the 90s in the peak of bloods vs crips era I can assure you today’s “gang activity” pales in comparison

  2. John White says:

    Thank you Doug for noticing the Art Alley between 152nd and 153rd. I have been the primary donator to this project for the last few years and due to launching a new company I cannot donate this year- I hope your letter encourages new donations because you are absolutely correct- those efforts led by Sam Sneke and Shelli Park as well as all members of the B-Town Beat have donated sweat equity that clearly has paid off for Burien- please to all reading this- find a way to donate some funds to the art alley. They need at least 2k to make this happen.

    • Ben Smith says:

      Thanks for sharing about Art Alley work over the years I’ll look to see about learning more to continue that positive project and best of luck on your new venture hopefully it’s in Burien

  3. Peter says:

    First of all, Douglas, Burien is not “struggling with increasing violence and uncivil behavior” – it is struggling with violent crime (gang shootings, hit and runs) and rampant drug activity.

    Mr. Upthegrove wrongly blamed the lack of funding for anti-crime measures on Tim Eyman. When we have the city spending $93,000 on a logo while crime runs rampant seems to me like more a problem of misplaced priorities. Moreover, if you think Burien has a limited budget now, think of how much less money Burien will have if / when businesses close up shop for lack of customers. Or better yet, think of Burien’s lost opportunity due to prospective business owners and entrepreneurs deciding not to open their new businesses in Burien due to the high crime issues. This is actually happening. And as we heard in the testimony at city hall, people are telling their elderly parents to not move to Burien because it is too dangerous.

    And the ones that do move here have to dodge bullets. I would say we have a bigger problem than “incivility.”

    • Ben Smith says:

      I for one will attend city council meetings when budgets are planned cause using that kind of money for branding seems too much and I wasn’t there to voice my feedback. However the limits on budgeting for small cities from Eyman initiatives do impact how much city councils can increase funding. As someone who works in Business Financing and development I can assure you business will keep opening and coming to Burien since it’s location to transit, airport, and downtown seattle plus being the last moderate income neighborhood near Seattle for people to live in will not be deterred immensely by current homeless and crime. This comes from someone who actually dodged bullets here in 90s And still lives and owns a home here.

      • Peter says:

        I don’t agree that businesses will keep coming to Burien regardless of how bad the crime gets. Look at Eric’s comment on the “Upset Burien citizens ‘Rally Against Crime’ at lengthy City Council session” article. He is considering expanding his business into Burien, but is worried about the risks associated with Burien’s serious crime issues.

        As for dodging bullets in the 90’s – I was away from the area during that time but do not remember the crime being nearly as bad then as it is now. There are bullets flying in downtown, heavily pedestrian use areas. And of course in the 90’s you didn’t have to share the library restrooms with druggies shooting up.

        You are correct to point out Burien’s positive attributes such as location, relatively moderate home prices, etc. But think how much better Burien could be doing if we truly addressed the crime problems here – in all aspects.

  4. paul o. says:

    Sorry Scott, this is just more of the same and clearly it is not working. I think everyone knows what needs to be done, it’s just not PC enough for some. Its called tough love. We will never get anywhere without insisting our laws are followed and truly enforced. The council I believe has made their feelings known and they clearly don’t line up with the people paying the tab in Burien.

  5. Lin says:

    I have a suggestion. STOP opening doors as a sanctuary, putting all REAL Americans that live here in Burien…in danger of gang attacks, & forcing the sanctuary peoples life styles of communism on us & our kids. That is SO wrong! Stand up for the REAL Americans, not the foreigners that are purposely out to destroy not only Burien & White Center areas…but they are out to destroy America, & Burien is supporting that by opening her doors to them & forcing Burienites to be put in more danger than we have EVER been forced to put with. It’s wrong!

  6. Bob says:

    Anyone that believes Mr. Upthegrove is out there for you, has you very fooled. He has been a near lifetime politician that pulls in that gravy train from King County. He represents the Democratic party machine, not you the electorate.

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