Give us better transit or else, Burien City Council tells Sound Transit Monday 1by Jack Mayne Representatives of Sound Transit ran into difficulty with the Burien City Council because it doesn’t even put the city on its project map, and has no proposals to better connect Burien with its network. Chelsea Levy, Sound Transit government and community relations officer, told the Council Monday (June 15) that the agency has begun to shape a financing ballot measure. This follows a Puget Sound Regional Council forecast there would be by 2040 “a million new people and a million new jobs” in the King and Pierce counties area. That means that a new tax increase measure could be on the area ballot by 2016. Needs better service A city staff memo proposal that could develop into an official letter to Sound Transit supporting a funding measure that “will build upon the existing mass transit system of light rail, commuter rail and bus services, and identify options.” But, the city memo says the Sound Transit draft of possible increases of service did not do anything to directly help Burien. There were linkages to West Seattle but Burien “is in danger of not being directly served by Sound Transit 3, since it is not yet included in any of the scenarios.” So what should be done? The staff policy position memo said “Burien should articulate our desire to the (Sound Transit) board to include a direct connection to the Link spine alignment at Tukwila” and that “Burien currently enjoys a connection to the spine at Tukwila station via the Metro F-Line,” the Burien staff memo to the Council said. Connect with West Seattle Burien should seek extension of light rail alignment “serving West Seattle from downtown Seattle all the way to Burien,” said the city staff proposal. “Burien’s support for the (transit) package should be conditioned on the inclusion of a viable interim connection such as bus rapid transit.” Several Council members told the Sound Transit representatives that Burien, in the words of Councilmember Gerald Robison, “was just left out” and others noted that Burien was not even on the Sound Transit future development map. Councilmember Lauren Berkowitz said she chose to live where she does in north Burien because of the Sound Transit 560 bus route and the nearby library. “Now we have lost both,” she said, adding that many present and proposed routes ignore Burien; forcing people to take “really long commutes.” Councilmember Bob Edgar suggested a direct connection from West Seattle, White Center, Burien, thence to SeaTac. ‘Left off the map’ “We are one of the highest populated areas in the (South King County) area outside of the major cities, it doesn’t make sense to me that we get left off the map,” said Councilmember Debi Wagner. Levy responded by reminding her that Sound Transit did come to Burien for comments. Wagner had a rejoinder. “I really appreciate you coming here, despite all of our shortcomings, I feel honored to have the presentation and give us an opportunity for input. Thank you.” There were some snickers. Deputy Mayor Nancy Tosta said she wanted to especially push the proposed extension of light rail to West Seattle, thence to White Center and on to Burien and to SeaTac. Berkowitz said that or extend the light rail connection from SeaTac to Burien. “As a bus rider, I don’t care which direction I go as long as it takes me less than an hour and a half to get to downtown Seattle and two hours to get to the U District,” she said, adding that Burien should be considered as distinct as well as part of Sound Transit’s “south King County.” She suggested the city use its “community engagement plan” to get residents to speak up for changes to the plan to benefit Burien. City Manager Kamuron Gurol said the comments from Council give the staff the information it needs to respond to Sound Transit. Trees may be lost Karen McMichael said she and others were trying to save trees, including an 80-year old cherry tree, on Seattle City Light property at SW 144th and Ambaum, and are trying to save the area for possible future purchase by the city. They have launched a Go Fund Me site – http://www.gofundme.com/ne23hs – and have collected written signatures of some nearby residents, she said. The money collected on the website will go to Seattle City Light to help defray costs of cleaning the contamination on the site and this fact caused some problem with increasing donations “since Seattle City Light contaminated the site in the first place.” McMichael said if the city does not purchase the site, City Light might put it up for sale to a developer. A fellow supporter of the tree retention, Alice Goodman, said it seems to her that the “city has no interest or room for citizen participation in putting forth what we feel is an important issue” and wondered why the city had encouraged their fundraising efforts. “The lot will probably be sold to a developer, regardless of our efforts. But what made it all worthwhile for me was last week, on one of those really hot days we had and … I saw a couple under the trees eating lunch in the shade.” Found dogs ignored Burien resident Roger DeLorm told the Council that CARES, the city’s contracted animal control agency, ignored their calls when he and his wife rescued two dogs wandering in his neighborhood over the Memorial Day weekend. Despite calling CARES on Sunday and leaving messages, he received no response until Tuesday morning when Ray Helms, the animal control officer, called. “He was very belligerent, aggressive and said nothing about resolution,” DeLorm said. “All he wanted to know was where the dogs were.” Because of his tone and attitude, DeLorm said. “I hung up on him.” He said a letter in the earlier Council packet gave another view of the incident, and he told Councilmembers he wondered why he was not contacted for his side of the matter. Transportation plan passed Before the Council gave unanimous final approval of the city’s six-year transportation improvement plan after reducing the priority of a project a resident of North Burien had spoken in against. Brian Stapleton said he was opposed to a proposed “road diet” on SW 128th Street at Ambaum, “turning it into one lane in each direction.” “The traffic volume needs two lanes in each direction,” he said. “Examine the traffic volume at rush hour. Putting this street on a road diet will only raise the potential for road rage and hinder commerce. Burien is not getting less dense – I am a regular user of 128th Street.” Councilmember Gerald Robison said the comments by Stapleton were “well taken,” and said he had received identical comments from others. City Public Works Director Maiya Andrews said a paid consultant made the road diet recommendation but since the project was not financed yet, things could be changed. She noted that this project is “not likely to be funded by an outside agency” so money would have to be appropriated by the Council at some time in the future. The Council voted to reduce the priority of the change to medium, making it unlikely to be worked on in the near future.]]>