Since the 1950’s the Highline area has been in a tug of war over its form of government and what we expect from government. First to incorporate, in the area, was Normandy Park, 1953. Next, Des Moines incorporated in 1959. The people of both cities incorporated because they wanted to control their own futures. Few people know this but long ago Seattle originally had eyes on the area all the way down to about 160th as evidenced by the current boundaries of Seattle City Light in Burien.

Annexation was brought up for Burien (and surrounding areas) in 1954, 1960, and 1984. Each time the vote was shot down because among other reasons the city would have started off as the 3rd largest (at the time). The earliest iterations of “Burien” would have included the areas now known as Burien, North Highline, and large chunks of SeaTac. Interestingly enough, my area of Burien (Manhattan/Woodside) was expected to incorporate into Normandy Park. Instead we incorporated into Burien in 1999.

At the time, Residents were happy with a single representative in the King County council. The impetus for change in the area was the realization that King County had been allowing unchecked high density, the impeding 3rd runway and the need to coordinate efforts against it and the final straw – the proposal to build a bridge between Burien and Vashon Island-Maury Island. It’s hard to imagine what that would have done to our Burien.

The city of SeaTac incorporated in 1989 because they felt they were a cash cow for the County with little of that money staying in the area.

Due to the reasons listed above as well as SeaTac’s early success Burien worked on its own incorporation. North Highline, including the area formerly known as Area X, was considered but left out of the incorporation efforts. Reasons for excluding the North Highline areas were contentious. Critics of the borders charged that the area was left off to exclude low income housing from the tax base. Proponents of the border stated that the area showed little interest in joining the incorporation movement.
Our city-incorporating pioneers filed the requisite paperwork with the Boundary review board and were accepted in 1991. In March of 1992 residents voted for incorporation and February 28th 1993 was set as incorporation day.

In order to know where we’re going it helps to know where we’ve been and how we got there.

– Joey Martinez

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