By Jack Mayne The smell of jet fuel and fallout pollution from Sea-Tac Airport led the Burien Council to approve a resolution asking the Port of Seattle to provide help with the impacts on the city of Burien of rapidly and hugely growing aviation traffic. The resolution – passed by a 5 to 2 vote – seeks “assistance and investments from the Port of Seattle as follows for the impacts that current airport operations have caused and future airport expansion is likely to exacerbate.” In addition, the Monday (May 16) City Council meeting also heard from Police Chief Scott Kimerer that a new four day, 10 hour work schedule is having some effect in lowering crime rates in the city. DebiWagner051616Growing airport worries Councilmembers Debi Wagner and Nancy Tosta were tasked earlier by the Council to come up with a resolution asking the Port of Seattle to work with Burien and not as a lone agent with the problems of environmental health and economic impacts caused by the airport’s planned huge expansion. Wagner said the fact the airport is outlining growth to many more daily flights, the issue has become increasingly important. She noted that many citizens are reporting increased airport noise and smelling “increased fumes like jet fumes in the air” during morning hours. “When I walk out my door, I smell jet fuel and I know kids are walking to school smelling those fumes, and their needs to be an investigation of the health impacts this has on our community.” She said she realized the Port has helped with redevelopment investments and that the airport can bring “good jobs paying high wage jobs for Burien residents and I know we need a partnership with the Port” to pursue the investments. But Wagner said many of these matters have been discussed for the past 20 years, and that the development of the airport has “ created huge losses and crippled the economy of Burien” and inhibited “damaged the ability of our schools to upgrade” and created a “new demographic in our community of lower income population, a minority that has become predominant in these areas where we have as high as an 88 percent free and reduced priced lunch families” with children in schools. Often city ‘harmed’ “In many ways we have been harmed and only in a few ways are we being helped,” Wagner said. She said the resolution does not force the Port to do anything but does make the city’s voice a little louder, and her requested assistance are the same things other agencies have sought from the Port regarding increased airport operations. Those requests “have been stalled off for lack of funding or lack of interest or seeming support” and she wants to “bring that voice back up to be heard again.” Port of Seattle Commission President John Creighton, in a letter to the Council prior to the meeting, said the Port “acknowledges that while the airport is an essential regional asset and powerful economic engine, there are community impacts that must be addressed,” and especially in the Northwest Redevelopment Area, often called the NERA, in Burien. He mentioned the various projects the Port has contributed to sustain and upgrade the area. “As part of the Sustainable Airport Master Plan process, the Port Commission remains committed to working further with Burien on ideas to help address the impacts of the airport,” Creighton told the Council. “In that spirit of cooperation, we will continue to see successful investment and growth in Burien.” Resolution vs. letter That prompted Councilmember Steve Armstrong to say that he felt the Port was already doing what it can. “I’m wondering if this resolution is more of a detriment to the direction I believe we are heading.” Instead of a resolution, Armstrong said perhaps there should be something “a little bit more friendly” and send a letter instead of an official resolution. Councilmember Lauren Berkowitz, again calling in from home by telephone, said she was in favor of the resolution and that she did not believe the Port was doing positive things for the working families of the area and producing jobs with “living wages.” Councilmember Austin Bell agreed with Berkowitz and Wagner. But Deputy Mayor Bob Edgar said that since there is no requirement that the Port do anything requested by the city resolution, he would favor a lower key route of working with the Port. “Something that accentuates on the relationship that we have been working with the Port the last six or nine months … is the way to go,” Edgar said. Mayor Krakowiak agreed with Edgar and said she believed there were some changes in the way the Port works with the surrounding cities, and she suggested a friendlier letter rather than an official resolution. Airport affects economics But Tosta reminded the Council that it asked she and Wagner to come up with a resolution on this issue and that is what they have done, a resolution that reminds all of the problems, environmental and economic, that remain. The property value problems affect the city budget, which, in turn, affect police protection and other problems. Referring to Edgar’s view of a lower key approach, Tosta said other cities “are very interested in our approach” to the problems, noting that the SeaTac City Council has formed a special committee to deal with the airport expansion problems. “I see this as an opening of a dialogue with the Port,” Tosta said. “I agree we have some traction, they have done some things in our community over the recent past. “I think we need more,” she said and said the resolution was the way to go. Councilmember Bell said resolutions were the way Councils communicate. Wagner said cancer and other illness rates are higher for those living near airports and the city was asking the Port to study what the causes and effects are of an airport’s impact on health. In the end, only Mayor Krakowiak and Deputy Mayor Edgar voted against the resolution. Burien Police update Burien Police Chief Scott Kimerer said the department has implemented a new DUI policy, and told of a community survey and the resulting strategic police plan. The plan now has an officer whose job is DUI enforcement and the person chosen was “an expert certified in drug recognition.” The department added resources for evening hours. Kimerer said there were 159 DUI investigations in 2015, “a big number” and a higher count than the much larger city of Bellevue had last year. “What I want to do more than anything else is to publicize ‘do not drive under the influence in the city of Burien,’” the chief said. “We have somebody who’s going to catch you and it is a very expensive proposition and it is a dangerous one. The chief said overall violent crime was down 22 percent in the city last year. Assaults were down 37 percent, robberies down 13 percent and there were no homicides in 2015, noting there were three in 2014 and two already in 2016. Police response times are much better with the new overlapping police officer schedules of four 10-hour shifts vs. the usual five shifts of eight hours length. The overlap is during peak times. The result is that response times are improving, “not where we want them to be but they are lower than what we had before,” Kimerer said, but also calls for service went up with 20,000 calls for service. Each of Burien’s 27 officers now answers about 700 calls each or about 30,000 incidents per year. “There is a lot of work and they are doing an outstanding job,” the chief told the Council. With spring and summer, Kimerer said there would be more bike and foot patrols. The chief said they were beginning to work with Nextdoor.com and work with its defined areas of the city, and which reaches 2,402 households and 2,958 members. There are 2,038 Facebook followers of Burien Police. He noted that a single drug bust post on Facebook got 34,800 views. Kimerer added that a community survey said citizens were very interested in crime reduction and they citizens suggested more police officer. He added that his department is working hard on the problems and was not sure what more they department could do. City Manager Kamuron Gurol said he and the Council were working the county government to figure out way to get more of the Sheriff’s office resources to Burien from downtown Seattle. Gurol said he was considering “early action” on adding more police manpower and said he hoped to bring plans to the Council later in the summer. Overall response Police Explorer program Kimerer told the Council of a new Explorer program where youth are able to work with and learn about how police do their jobs. The program was launched with a $1,000 grant from Aladdin Bail Bonds for seed money for the Explorer program that provided a chance for Burien youth from 14 to 21 years of age to work around, support and learn about police services, the chief said. “There are high expectations put on these kids about their behavior,” he said. “It is a positive influence on kids.” He said the program strives to get youth involved in learning about the police profession and get them interested in it. Those in the program are “a great bunch of kids,” Kimerer said. Updating codes City building official Jan Vogee told the Councilmembers that the state construction codes are updated every three years and in the past, the Burien City Council has adopted the updates. State law requires the city adopt the code updates by July 1 and the Council placed it on the next meeting consent agenda which guarantees its passage. Similarly, David Johanson, city senior planner, presented technical updates to the city’s shoreline master plan and the Council placed them on the next consent agenda.]]>