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

I want to publicly add my name to the list of Burien residents who have expressed concern about the Enhanced Service Facility approval process that was conducted by the Burien City Council in June of 2020. It undermines public confidence in our city government to now discover that the proper administrative process was not followed. It continues to illustrate that there seems to be a lack of accountability and transparency currently in city hall.

Burien residents should have confidence that when their City Council adopts zoning or ordinance changes, especially ones like ESF’s that effect every single Burien neighborhood, that they will be done correctly. It should not require involved residents to monitor the council’s actions and point out that something was done incorrectly as was the case here.

Finally, for those individuals who say this is a minor issue as no ESF facility is proposed currently for Burien, so what’s the big deal? First, if this ordinance was enacted in 2019 there would likely be an ESF currently in Seahurst next to St. Francis school. But let me explain further how quickly things can change and why the residents of Burien should care.

The state of Washington and DSHS has mismanaged Western State Hospital to the point they failed inspection and lost $53 million dollars in federal funding in 2018. Washington state must now cover these costs. Also in 2018, Governor Inslee announced his desire for the state of Washington to start the transition of people away from Western State Hospital and into local neighborhoods.

Let me speculate how quickly this could impact our community. As an example, if a federal infrastructure bill passes then billions of dollars could soon be filtering down to state and local governments. The state of Washington will spend that money and undoubtedly some will go to DSHS and the Dept. of Commerce. It would surprise no one if DSHS and the Dept. of Commerce started issuing grants to companies around the state to purchase property and buildings to create ESF’s. As an example, they issued a taxpayer funded grant several years ago to Noble Healthcare for the facility they wanted to place in Seahurst.

The bottom line is there is no way for us to know when an ESF will be proposed again for Burien. What we do know is the residents of Burien should have confidence that the city ordinance governing their placement in our neighborhoods was done correctly. It is unthinkable to me that after all of this, the City Council would not create a review process that allows the residents in an area around a proposed ESF facility to have their voices heard. Public input, accountability, and transparency should be paramount for the Burien City Council.

LINKS:

– Alex Simkus
Burien City Council candidate
Position No. 5

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