[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 make sure the residents of Burien are aware of what occurred at the Burien City Council meeting on Monday, Oct. 18, regarding enhanced services facilities, or ESFs. (Watch the video of the meeting, beginning at approximately the 2-hour-16-minute mark.)

For background, in June of 2020 by a 4-3 vote, the Burien City Council adopted the planning commission recommendation and approved ESFs in all neighborhoods of Burien. Krystal Marx, Jimmy Matta, Cydney Moore and Pedro Olguin voted in favor of the motion. Kevin Schilling, Nancy Tosta and Sofia Aragon voted against it.

At Monday’s meeting, city manager Brian Wilson told the council, “Regarding enhanced service facilities and the review process, from a background perspective, on June 1, 2020, our council voted to allow ESFs in all zones in the city that allow residential uses. Through this process, the council did not specify the review type that would occur if we had a request for an ESF facility in a single family zone.”

Burien Community Development Director Susan McLain further stated, “We brought to you options that did not include allowing ESFs in single-family zones.” She went on to add later, “What you voted on was, you made a motion and voted to allow ESFs in all zones that allowed residential uses. But we had not prepared materials for you that included what the review type would be.”

Burien city staff were clearly not anticipating this motion, having not prepared the proper materials, and it appears to me that the Burien City Council did not follow proper procedure when the ESF ordinance was passed. If they had followed proper procedure, I believe there would be no need to fix the ordinance now. I want to thank those who shined light on this issue and got the city staff to respond.

There are many things that are troubling to me about this process. I find it troubling that important issues seem to continually be brought up in the final minutes of virtual Burien City Council meetings, late at night when few residents seem to be watching. I find it troubling that the ESF ordinance was passed by our council in what appears to be a rushed process, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, while residents were clearly distracted.

But what troubles me most is if an ESF is going to be placed in any residential neighborhood in Burien, the people living in that neighborhood deserve to have transparency and input. They deserve to be part of the review and approval process. And we, the residents of Burien, should demand the city council let our voices be heard when a facility like this could potentially go next to any of our homes.

– Shay McBride
Burien

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