On Monday afternoon, Dec. 16, 2019, 100 (or so) concerned residents and affected tenants packed the Burien Community Center to participate in a two-hour Roundtable Meeting about the city’s recent announced closing of the Burien Annex.
Sponsored by the Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce along with the City of Burien, the meeting was hosted by chamber CEO Andrea Reay, with City Manager Brian Wilson presenting the city’s findings and taking questions.
The city’s Dec. 9 announcement to close the Annex – evicting seven non-profits on Jan. 31, 2020 – was based on a report by MENG Analysis (download PDF here). A written version of that report was released Monday morning, and included the following key findings:
- Floor tiles, ceiling tiles, adhesives, and window glazing all possible to probable likelihood of containing asbestos. If fibers become airborne and are inhaled, serious health issues can occur.
- Old plumbing and piping with lead and other toxins likely present – drinking fountains labeled as not fit for human consumption. Water for restroom and kitchen functions may also contain lead or toxins.
- Seismic reinforcements on the masonry chimney are failing with one anchor completely detached from the structure. Other anchors’ reliability are suspect. The chimney masonry also exhibits diagonal cracking. The collapse of the chimney in a seismic event could cause personal injury, and would likely destroy the building’s roof, interiors, and boiler, creating other significant safety hazards.
- The majority of the facility does not have fire sprinklers which would help reduce the risk of fire. Additionally, several emergency exits are blocked or locked.
- Multiple areas of excessive stored materials, some of which may contain hazardous substances, kept in areas not intended for storage, both inside and outside the building.
- Extensive water leaks in and condensation in crawlspace may lead to mold growth if not addressed.
- Kitchen vent hood is non-functional.
The following non-profits will have to find new homes by the end of January:
- Burien Actors Theatre
- Hi-Liners Musical Theatre
- Para los Niños
- Burien Cooperative Preschool
- Transform Burien
- Meals on Wheels
- Journey Arts and Crafts
Many tenants remarked that Monday’s Roundtable was the first interaction they’ve had with the city since its Dec. 9 announcement. None appear to have received official eviction notices either.
Every single tenant present at the meeting said that the city’s Jan. 31 eviction date will severely hurt their clients or customers.
Representatives from Burien Coop Preschool and Para Los Niños expressed heartfelt concerns over where their children would go.
Transform Burien representatives wondered “who is going to feed these people?” when they are forced to close their doors to the homeless.
Burien Actors Theatre does not yet know where – or if – it will be able to continue it’s 2019-2020 season without the Annex theater.
Answers to these and other questions were not clearly given by the City Manager.
Resident John White noted during the Q&A section of the meeting that key findings in the MENG report appear to not pose enough of a “serious threat” to any tenants to justify a Jan. 31 eviction, and most could possibly be mitigated to extend leases out later than that date.
“I don’t see anything in there that justifies the 60-day eviction notice,” White said, emphasizing that tiles containing asbestos are easily treated, or that plumbing, chimneys, leaks, water and other repairs could easily be made.
Real estate developer Dan Mathews said he has a client who is willing to purchase the property, repair or rebuild it as needed, and include micro-housing on the location as well as job skills and training. Rent for the small houses would be $1,000 per month in this public/private partnership, Mathews said.
Watch raw video of the 1-hour, 18-minute meeting below: