By Mellow DeTray

All Councilmembers were present for Monday night’s (May 16, 2022) meeting, most of them in-person at City Hall Council Chambers for the first time since April, 2020.

One Councilmember attended via Zoom, making this the first-ever “hybrid” council meeting.

PROCLAMATIONS
The first order of business was the honoring of Tony Hayes, owner of Classic Eats, as one of three Citizens of the Year. Hayes kept his place of business going through recent tough years, keeping his staff employed and providing a cherished gathering space for the community. He also hosted fundraisers for local organizations as well as families in need.

The Council also proclaimed May as Mental Health Awareness Month and recognized several local organizations that work tirelessly to improve the mental health of our community. Another Proclamation was that May 15 will be Peace Officers Memorial Day. The proclamation was presented to former Burien Police Officer, Detective Aaron Thompson, brother of Officer Ryan Thompson, who was killed in the line of duty.

The Council also recognized May as Asian & Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Asian & Pacific Islander Americans make up a large part of our population and enhance Burien’s community and culture.

The final proclamation was to recognize May as Older Americans Month. Our older community members contribute their wisdom and experience every day and the City recognizes the need to celebrate and support this growing population.

HIRING UPDATES
Recruitment for the City Manager position closed with a strong 55 candidates. For comparison, another nearby city that is also hiring for the same position received only 14 applications. Final interviews can be viewed by the public via Zoom on June 13.

Another position just opened up as our City Clerk, Megan Gregor, is moving on. The Deputy City Clerk will serve as interim Clerk during the hiring process.

PUBLIC COMMENTS
One commenter was happy with the City’s hire of an Arborist and supported the protection of North Seatac Park from development that would remove 75 acres of trees. They recommended the city use Denver’s Climate Protection plan as a model for our own development.

Another commenter requested that the interim City Clerk be given a higher than planned pay raise, or that the City hire a temporary assistant, otherwise the interim Clerk will be doing both jobs during the next few months while a permanent Clerk is sought.

HAZARD PAY
Holly Chisa, a lobbyist for NW Grocery Association, asked that the city remove the Hazard Pay requirement for grocery workers, citing high vaccination rates and low rates of hospitalization for Covid, as well as a deal worked out with the Union to give all grocery workers a permanent raise of approximately the same amount. The City Attorney, Garmon Newsom, and Paralegal Nathan Hawthorn provided research showing what other cities around us are doing or have done regarding Hazard Pay, concluding that Burien & Seattle are the only cities to continue with this temporary pay increase. The Council has heard nothing from Union representatives or grocery workers themselves about this topic, so they voted to postpone the discussion.

TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM
There was a Public Hearing on the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). One of the changes coming is a roundabout rather than a traffic light at the intersection of S. 160th and SR 509. Other changes will improve street safety and walkability. A new Master Plan is being drafted for the first time since 2012. Light Rail to the city could be part of the plan. This Master Plan will take another full year to finish. No public comments were received on the topic.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
The City wants to hear from as many voices in our community as possible. They are working on several outreach projects to seek information on City development, including recruiting community liaisons and a webpage (connect.burienwa.gov) that will connect the public to all kinds of community projects, plans, videos, and ways to contribute your ideas and feedback. On Thursday, May 26, from Noon – 6 p.m. there will be outreach at the Burien Farmer’s Market.

TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES
Several times throughout the meeting, the sound cut out at Council Chambers, cutting off Councilmembers as they spoke. They are working on sorting out these expected bugs of the new system.

POLICE CHIEF DISCUSSES VIRAL TIKTOK VIDEO
Read our coverage of Burien Police Chief Ted Boe’s statements and council discussion about a viral TikTok video involving police here.

Mellow DeTray is a Seattle native who has spent the last 16 years raising her family in Burien. She has volunteered at many local establishments over the years, including the Burien Library, Burien Actors Theatre, and Hot Feet Fitness. After working for ten years at Burien Community Center, she moved on to teaching fitness classes and work the front desk of a Burien yoga studio. For many years Mellow kept a moderately popular cooking & lifestyle blog, and she had a brief stint in political journalism during a local election. Clear and informative writing has always been a side hobby of Mellow’s and she looks forward to bringing you unbiased coverage of City Council meetings.