By Mellow DeTray

At Monday night’s (Nov. 7, 2022) Burien City Council meeting, lawmakers discussed and decided on Transit Oriented Affordable Housing, grants for damages to small businesses, budget, property tax and more.

Burien City Council discusses housing, grants for businesses & more Monday night 1

The meeting began with a proclamation that November is Native American Heritage Month, which is celebrated across the country to honor the culture, history, traditions, and contributions of Native peoples.

Burien City Council discusses housing, grants for businesses & more Monday night 2

Transit Oriented Affordable Housing
Council agreed to send a letter to King County in support of a new affordable housing development on county-owned property adjacent to the Burien Transit Center. There is talk of possibly making the ground floor of the new building into an arts center, which could serve as a home for the Burien Actors Theatre (aka BAT Theatre). Other options for the ground floor could include a daycare center. This project has been in the works for years but was stalled due to funding. The site is ¾ of an acre on the corner of 4th SW and 150th SW.

$1,000 Grants for Damages to Small Businesses
$200,000 in ARPA funds have been allocated to help small businesses whose storefronts have been vandalized. These funds will be available immediately, with any remaining funds in one year to be used for security enhancements.

Public Comments: Renters, Fireworks, and Climate Action
There were several community members who asked Council to reconsider the rental protections that were passed at the last meeting. They said restricting late fees to $10 gives renters no incentive to pay rent, and a property owner said they are still owed $25 thousand dollars from one renter who refused to pay during the eviction moratorium. Developers predicted that Burien will not see the hoped-for increase in affordable housing development with these restrictions in place. There were also comments thanking Council for the protections, and asking for a cap on rent increases as well. One person said his rent was just increased illegally, because the owner hadn’t been informed of the new laws, and asked Council whose job it is to inform the community that these protections are now in place.

Another community member asked Council to consider enacting a modified fireworks ban next year. This modified ban, which the City of Tukwila tried in July of this year, allows ground-based fireworks and continues to ban the noisiest and most dangerous blasts. Tukwila had zero fires, the lowest number of emergency calls, and raised money via the sales of allowable fireworks.

Other commenters asked Council to allocate more money in the budget for their Climate Action Plan, which at this point will get less than 1% of the budget. They also said that the priority should be weatherizing homes and installing efficient heat pumps, rather than EV charging stations. There will be a final public hearing on the Biennial Budget on December 5th.

Burien City Council discusses housing, grants for businesses & more Monday night 3

Preliminary Budget & Capital Improvement Program
Staff presented to Council on many aspects of the proposed budget, including parks, transportation, and surface water management.

Projects that are underway include creating a new Parks & Maintenance Facility, removing the hazardous stairs at Eagle Landing Park, and installation of a retaining wall in a slide area alongside the road in Seahurst Park. In addition, the community center needs work on the brick exterior, and Manhattan Playground & Lakeview Park both will be needing play structure replacements. The city is paying for 20% of the cost of acquiring Lakewood Park as well.

For road maintenance, it is estimated that the city needs to budget $2 – 2.4 million dollars a year for pavement management on Burien’s over 140 miles of roads. This will keep our streets at or above a score of 70. Better sidewalks are needed along many of our roads, and priorities for this include the sidewalks along S 136th St as well as 4th Ave SW. Trees will need to be removed in order to complete the sidewalk projects, and new ones will be planted in more appropriate locations. Some traffic lights will be replaced at 4th and 6th avenues SW, and a new pedestrian crossing light will be installed at 21st SW. A $200,000 federal grant is being sought to create a Road Safety Action Plan, as part of a federal “Safe Streets For All” program. Having a completed Road Safety Action Plan will enable Burien to be eligible for further grants.

Burien City Council discusses housing, grants for businesses & more Monday night 4

Property Tax Levy
The preliminary budget includes a 1% increase in annual property tax. This will mean homeowners whose house is assessed at $546,000 will pay an additional $9.10 annually. This will bring the city approximately $86,000 in revenue, which will go to the City’s general fund.

Watch the full council meeting 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 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.