By Mellow DeTray
At Monday night’s (Oct. 3, 2022) Burien City Council regular meeting, lawmakers presented proclamations, heard a crime report from outgoing Police Chief Ted Boe, passed a Tree Ordinance and more.
Italian American Heritage Month
Monday night’s meeting began with the Proclamation that October is Italian American Heritage Month. The Proclamation was accepted by members of Casa Italiana, the Italian Cultural Center that opened in 2020 in north Burien.
Outgoing Police Chief Ted Boe (read our previous coverage about his new gig here) presented the Annual Crime Report for 2021. While statewide overall crime dropped 3.7% from the previous year, certain categories of crime have increased. In Burien, there was a rise in assault, domestic violence, and robbery incidents, but there was a decrease in sexual assault, theft, fraud, and drug violations. Chief Boe explained that the reduction in fraud was because of the huge amount of unemployment fraud that occurred in 2020, and the decrease in drug violations was because of a Supreme Court decision that reduced emphasis on drug prosecutions. Statewide, there are 65 crimes per 1000 residents, compared to 84.5 per 1000 residents in Burien.
Chief Boe explained how the police are using crime data to patrol hot spots, as well as using regional partnerships to interrupt violence. Staffing remains a huge challenge for the police department, not just locally but in many regions throughout the country. Burien Police are budgeted for six more officers than they currently have. They are focusing on actively recruiting, hiring, and training new officers.
Youth Green Jobs Training Program
Gabbi Gonzales and Zach Wenman updated the Council on their summer youth internships. Through these programs, economically disadvantaged teens of color received training opportunities in leadership, outdoor skills, the gear needed for their outdoor work, as well as a weekly stipend and lunch. Gabbi mentioned that these teens always showed up hungry, and future programs should plan to provide breakfast as well. These programs have been funded by grants but they hope to receive city money in the future, and to make the programs permanent.
The Tree Ordinance (Ordinance No. 780) passed unanimously on Monday night, with the amendment that there will be an educational period from now until the end of February 2023, when fines for unlawful tree removal will be implemented.
Arts & Culture Grant Recommendations
The Burien Arts Commission received requests for $38,000 in grants for arts in the community, but they currently have just $20,000 available to allot. This amount has not changed since 2010. There is talk among the Council of increasing the arts budget to better represent the city being a place that supports a thriving arts community. The Arts Commission chose the following organizations to fund: the Hi-Liners, Momentum Dance, NW Associated Arts, Burien Actors Theatre, and NW Symphony Orchestra, among others. These recommendations have been moved to the consent agenda of the next Business Meeting.
Affordable Housing Demonstration Project
Many community members came forward to show support for renewing the affordable housing program, saying that the pandemic slowed down development and the program needs more time to see what works for the city. One mentioned that affordable housing should comply with the city’s climate action plan, as well as the new tree ordinance.
This project has not been placed on the consent agenda for the next business meeting, as Council wants to discuss the details and implications of the project further. Discussion will happen before the current Demonstration Project expires in November.
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 to 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.