[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a verified resident. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of The B-Town Blog, nor its staff:]

PROJECT NAME: Rillera single family residence Permit #BLD-19-1718, located in the 2700 block of SW 156th Street near Maplewild SW/Three Tree Point (map below)

APPLICANT: Drew Rillera

I am writing you regarding the clear cut and degradation of a construction site referenced above.

The site is in a landslide hazard/critical area as defined by the City of Burien.

Many neighbors and many community members have been dismayed and concerned about the massive changes going on at this site prior to construction of a single family home.

So by definition, this property should have more oversight, more restrictions on impacts and extraordinary care in all aspects of land preparation prior to building.

I’ll try to describe the site but I urge you all to go and see for yourselves; below are some photos of the site:

The extreme disturbance of the land actually resembles photos we’ve all seen of sites in preparation for a mining operation or a huge commercial development. No matter the square footage of the proposed single family residence and detached garage, it’s impossible to understand the massive scale of work that has already been completed….hundreds of trees gone, land contours altered, natural drainage areas totally blocked and disturbed. The list goes on.

Now comes the rain and on Monday night (Dec. 21, 2020), this site became a lake. Water running in all directions and into neighbors yards and of course downhill.

The forest of hundreds of trees that acted as sponges to drink up water are now gone. Their combined natural ability to hold soil and prevent land slides is gone. It’s understandable to remove trees for a building site but this tree removal has been massive.

A drain that once was there has been covered and others have been blocked.

This specific area has been described as a natural water “swale” and should by definition require extraordinary work to prevent impacts related to drainage. In fact, given the fragile nature of the site, it’s surprising that anything could be built at all.

The degradation of this property with wanton disregard of the sensitive site is appalling. It’s been leveled and mounds of dirt have been moved. Land contours have been completely altered. Heavy machinery has been working there for weeks, changing the landscape, piling mountains of dirt in one place and then another. There is nothing recognizable about this site.

The neglect of oversight by the City of Burien of a critical area with huge environmental impacts on the surrounding environment is impossible to excuse.

The lack of careful planning and monitoring of a critical site like this is NOT TO BE EXCUSED BY COVID. If in fact you cannot be responsible for oversight and planning because of Covid, you should in fact STOP the permitting process except in routine matters. Please don’t hide behind an indefensible fact.

The damage that’s been done cannot be undone.

This project should have a STOP WORK posted on the property right now.

Remediation of the site should begin immediately. Professionals, including civil and other engineers, as appropriate for repairing or stopping the damage, should be hired to make recommendations. Costs for this should be borne by the developer/owner. Full reports must be made to the City of Burien following inspections and findings. Full reports must be made public.

WHERE HAS BURIEN BEEN? WHERE IS THE PLANNING/PERMIT DEPARTMENT? WHERE ARE THE INSPECTORS? WHERE IS THE OVERSIGHT? ALL MISSING.

This is a lawsuit waiting to happen. There are NO excuses for this. If Burien CANNOT do the work required of a public institution then it should STOP all work except work declared as “essential” by the Governor.

– Sally A. Nelson

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