City Council chooses getting, keeping business as top economic goal for 2015 1by Jack Mayne In one of the shorter meetings of recent past, the Burien City Council decided at Monday’s (Jan. 26) study session that getting and keeping businesses in the city is the most important of five actions to achieve economic goals for the coming year. The Council voted 6 to 1 to accept a list of five actions to reach economic goals, but Lauren Berkowitz objected. She said first putting money into resident’s pockets is necessary to make businesses successful, therefore permanent in the city. From 29 action items Councilmembers each selected their top five Economic Action Goals for the next two years from a long list of 29 action items compiled during many long, long sessions last year. Economic Development Manager Dan Trimble reminded the Council that it adopted the full list of goals and actions in November and set the Monday night session to prioritize the actions to support and accomplish the goals with money in the recently passed biennial city budget to work on the implementation of the top choices. He said the idea was to select the Council’s first top five priorities for this year, then city staff would develop a plan to accomplish these items. During a comment period, resident Chestine Edgar said the Council could help the city’s economy by promoting shopping at businesses in the city. There needs to be ways to assist businesses that have unresponsive landlords that own buildings not up to city sanitation and plumbing codes, Edgar said. She also said the city needed to provide help and support to people starting and maintaining businesses in Burien. A parking study is also needed in the city, Edgar said, adding that a community center is needed because “not everyone can afford to belong to a private club.” Andrea Reay, executive director of Discover Burien, told the Council her organization supports the creation and development of the economic goals and actions. Eric Mathison, secretary of the Burien Arts Association, told the Council of the value of arts to the economic development of the city. Get it and keep it The first of five actions selected by Councilmember votes was to develop a business retention and recruitment program that addressed various goals, including what the city can do to help businesses prosper, what would entice a business to the city, what kind of businesses would the citizens like to see and what kind of enterprises that would draw people from other cities to Burien. The city would track who applies and whether they located an enterprise in Burien and if not, why not. The second action goal was to clear away problems, or as the item said, “assess impediments to development and remove (or) modify as needed.” Third goal okayed is to develop a “Burien brand.” The fourth action goal is to “initiate a parking study identifying current on and off-street parking supply and demand” and look at the potential of an improvement district and “more public parking structures.” The fifth action goal the Councilmembers voted for was to “explore options for attracting hotels” and locating it with “conference, training or performing arts facility.” After Councilmembers listed their top five priorities, City Manager Kamuron Gurol noted that several on the list remained either linked to others on the list or to be followed up later. There are 24 remaining items on the Council list. Four or five? Since the first four actions got five votes, but the item on hotels got less, Gurol said the members could perhaps get an added number of votes or stay with the top four items. Mayor Lucy Krakowiak said she was happy with four items and that the list was a way to give staff direction “on where to emphasize our work.” But Berkowitz was not happy. “I’m not comfortable with the top four,” she said. “I don’t think they are representative of this entire document. I don’t think it balances the needs for different constituencies and stakeholders. I think it does not address the vast number of people we’ve heard asking for better transit, better working conditions and I think that if you go with either the top four or the top five, I will not be supporting these priorities.” She said the parking study does not represent “Burien’s working families which is the vast majority of where economic development comes from. I believe demand creates its own supply and we should be doing a better job of putting money into people’s pockets – until we do that the businesses are never going to be able to keep going …” Berkowitz said she realized the items she supports will still be on the list, but if they are not at the top of the list, they will not be getting money to support them. Councilmember Gerald Robison told her the lists were sort of a “chicken and egg” situation. “It doesn’t make it if we don’t have work for families, so I see it is getting the business side of it going first, building up commerce in Burien, then moving into these other areas.” Councilmember Bob Edgar said the lists “were supportive of the adopted budget we passed.” The top five, including looking for a hotel, is what Robison wanted. “They all kind of work together on the same goal.” Councilmember Steve Armstrong said, “I’m very comfortable going with the top five we’ve identified.” Staff should take a look at the lists and see what can be done with the items and the money available, said Deputy Mayor Nancy Tosta, and see if there is enough money left over in the budget for some of the other tasks. City Manager Gurol said the city staff would like to formulate a work plan “in the next couple of months” and bring it back to the Council.]]>