LETTER: ‘Council Members…every once in awhile you surprise me in a good way’

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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:]

Dear Council Members,

Every once in awhile you surprise me in a good way. Your evolving Council Priorities focus on proactive engagement to make Burien safer and more prosperous. This strategy will change the Council and Burien for the better.


The proposed 2017 – 2018 Council Priorities use proactive Code Enforcement to fund more Police, Sidewalks, Traffic Control, Vision Plan and Youth Leadership. Our City Attorney’s definition of proactive Code Enforcement is ill-suited for Burien’s limited budget. You tube 40 second video:

My proactive Code Enforcement suggestions are self-funding.

Targeting problems with Ordinances costs little. Ordinances provide City Staff the tools to do their job: making Burien safe, desirable and prosperous. I want you to focus Council attention on the three business groups damaging Our City:

  1. Landlords who allow gang and criminal activities at their apartments
  2. Banks who abandon foreclosed properties
  3. Slumlords

1. State Law (Tenant Rights) requires Landlords to keep their properties free of gangs, criminal activities and unhealthy living conditions. Many of Burien’s ~7000 apartment units are in disrepair, attracting gangs that are corroding Burien’s property tax base.

Police dispatches are costly. We should be able to charge Apartment Owners for excessive Police calls to their complexes. Please exempt domestic violence calls if the estranged spouse living at the apartment is being harassed by a non-tenant.

I want you to codify effective remedies; not coddle lazy landlords.

2. Bank abandoned foreclosed properties degrade neighborhoods and contribute to crime. I want the Council to implement and enforce an Ordinance similar to Bellevue’s 9.13.040 which spells out Bank responsibility for maintenance. (Download 9.13.040.PDF here) This Ordinance would clarify Burien Ordinance 561 which fails to specify the Bank’s maintenance responsibilities.

Banks are not beyond the reach of Municipal Code.

3. Slumlords damage Burien by blighting neighborhoods with substandard housing. I believe an efficient way to address this problem is combining Tukwila’s Rental Ordinance with Bellevue’s abandoned property Ordinance.

The Tukwila Rental Ordinance is proactive. (Download PDF: Tukwila Rental Property) Housing units are inspected every four years to assure they meet minimum habitability standards. The Landlord pays $55 per year for these inspections plus a variable annual license fee. Burien will generate in excess of $400,000 annually, enough to hire 4 dedicated Code enforcers to inspect Burien’s aging apartment inventory.

Bellevue’s abandoned property Ordinance 9.13.040 could provide verbiage to govern Burien’s unregulated rental market, that is units with 3 or fewer apartments and single family home rentals. The issues that this Ordinance proscribes coincide with issues found at many slumlord dwellings.

The likelihood that some aging rental properties in Burien will be condemned is real. The Council might examine Tukwila’s approach to this issue. Tukwila requires the property owner to pay for moving expenses if their unit is condemned through landlord neglect.

Owner Responsibility

I want the City to contact the Landlord, not the Tenant, when there are problems: the Landlord is the responsible party. Landlords have more leverage over their tenants than Burien Code Enforcement. The City should be dealing with people who can make quick corrective actions.

Bank’s abandoning foreclosures is a problem in many parts of Burien. Spelling out Bank maintenance responsibilities and penalties will motivate them.

Results Not Excuses

The Mayor and Deputy Mayor’s term expires January 15, 2018.

The Mayor wants to clean up substandard apartments. The Deputy Mayor has shared her beliefs that rundown neighborhoods are a precursor to crime. What has stopped them from actualizing their beliefs? Money.

I want the Council Leadership to direct the new City Manager to promulgate Ordinances similar to Tukwila and Bellevue that are self-funding to eradicate blights and crime.

If Your Leadership doesn’t make this happen by the end of 2017, they should be replaced on January 15, 2018 with more effective leaders.

Burien as an I.S.O. 9001 Quality City

A Quality Assurance system will help you better understand Burien’s housing inventory. Regulating Banks and Rental property owners gives You the data and funding needed to make sound decisions for moving Burien forward.

The Puget Sound economy is booming, except for Burien. Your new Council Priorities are a good first step. The next step is action. I want You to collaborate with City Manager Wilson to proactively minimize crime and blights with self-funding Ordinances.

A safer, cleaner Burien will attract people to live and shop here, fueling a robust and vibrant City we can proudly call home.

– Dick West

[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 cite your sources, remain civil and – pending our careful review – we’ll consider publishing it.]

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2 Responses to “LETTER: ‘Council Members…every once in awhile you surprise me in a good way’”
  1. Captain obvious says:

    Scrolling scrolling ahh yep it’s another one of dick West’s letters to the editor scrolling faster blah blah i.s.o 9001 wait I have seen that some ware else. Oh yeah the company that makes the toner for my printer is i.s.o 9001 and i.s.o 14001 certified. Not sure what this has do with how the city is ran. Or what are cost involved in getting certified are.

    Or why one person in burien is so for this change but won’t make a run for city council.

  2. MichaelJ says:

    Well, at least it’s not all about adding more money for police and arresting and booting out all the homeless and illegals to solve all ills.

    As far as enforcement and funding for this, good luck with that. What it will do, is penalize those who are responsible with their properties as well.

    A simple nusance ordinance applicable to the worst-case scenarios, in addtion to enforcing already existing building, health and safety codes would be a lot simpler, cheaper, and less costly than adding more ordinances wiithout addtional resources tor enforcing them, or via taxes and fees for those who are responsible property owners.

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