By Jack Mayne
The Burien Council Monday night (April 15) was one of those meetings where a lot happened, but it was mostly technical filling of committees and boards with new or renominated members, along with a few general overviews and discussions for the future.
The just under three hour meeting high spot may have been when mother Cydney Moore let her children speak to the Council during public comment time.
Annex crime problems
Burien Parks Director Steve Roemer said that city staff has met with tenants and users of the Annex to discuss crime problems brought up at the last Council meeting. Parks staff visit the annex area regularly to clean up and inspect the area for crime and other problems, he said, and will upgrade security lighting in the area. They city is also working to advise users of the area about how to clear debris and how to handle hypodermic needles often found in the area. A â€œhall monitorâ€ would be provided during meal times, Roemer said.
City Attorney Lisa Marshall gave Council a presentation of the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, known as the LEAD Program, which is a â€œpre-booking diversion to community-based care of individuals known to engage in law violations due to substance use abuse, other behavioral health conditions and/or extreme poverty.â€
She said the program was begun because the criminal justice system doesnâ€™t address drug addiction and mental health issues. An example of this problem was a local person who has, since 2014, been booked 25 times, served 43 days in jail, served 167 at the South King County jail (SCORE) and been the subject of 32 police incident reports in Burien. The cost of just the jail time was $48,500, Marshall said.
The crimes eligible for the LEAD program include misdemeanor drug violations, trespass, prostitution, minor theft cases and â€œunlawful bus conduct.â€ Violators of major crimes are not available for the LEAD program, she said. Referrals can come when law enforcement â€œhas reason to believe that the individual is engaged in law violations due to behavioral health issues, involvement in drug activity or extreme poverty.â€
Marshall said the cost is paid for by King County, not the city, except for local police costs.
The Burien Council unanimously voted the third week of May as Affordable Housing Week because it said â€œstudies have found that each $100 increase in median rent results in a 15 percent increase in homelessness in metro areas and a 39 percent increase in homelessness in nearby suburbs and rural areas.â€ Highline School District says â€œthere were 397 students in Burien schools identified as homeless during the 2017-18 school year â€¦ the combined cost burden of housing plus transportation can be substantially reduced by locating affordable housing opportunities in proximity to transit,â€ The proclamation was accepted by Marty Kooistra of the Housing Development Consortium of Seattle-King County.
The city proclamation said â€œeveryone benefits from affordable housing, including the people who reside in these properties, their neighbors, businesses, employers, and the community as a whole.â€
The Council also proclaimed April 22 as Earth Day in Burien.