The Burien City Council meeting on Monday night, June 10, 2024 opened with proclamations recognizing both National Pollinator Month and Juneteenth, highlighting the importance of environmental stewardship and racial justice.

Councilmembers then offered reports on topics including a successful gun safety lockbox giveaway event and the recent Burien Pride celebration.

Public comments addressed concerns about zoning for pallet homes, upcoming changes to meeting schedules, and the prioritization of pedestrian and cyclist safety in transportation plans.

Council also updated the work plan and approved a change to the Affordable Housing Program.

Proclamations For Pollinator Month & Juneteenth

Councilmember Sarah Moore read a proclamation recognizing June as National Pollinator Month. Pollinators are birds, bats, and insects that transfer pollen from plant to plant. They are essential for allowing both wild and cultivated plants to propagate. According to the proclamation, studies estimate that 75% of human food worldwide is dependent on the work of pollinators. Increasing levels of pollutants and pesticides put pollinators at grave risk. Things that can help our natural pollinator species include increasing native plantings. Native plants are available at local plant nurseries, the Shark Garden, and King County Conservation District plant sales.

Councilmember Alex Andrade read a proclamation honoring Juneteenth. While enslaved people were legally declared free on January 1st, 1863 with Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, in the South most were kept enslaved for another two years and six months. On June 19th, 1865, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas to enforce the proclamation and ensure the freedom of those who had been enslaved. Juneteenth has been celebrated by the African American community for 150 years, and the Smithsonian Museum calls it “America’s second Independence Day”. Burien recognises that racial exclusion and discrimination still play a part in many aspects of society, and must actively be corrected.

Council Reports

Councilmember Linda Akey said the recent free gun lockbox giveaway was very well attended. It took place the day after a teen was shot and killed at Garfield High School, so it was a somber event. 

Councilmember Alex Andrade shared that, once again, Pride flags were ripped down by vandals before Burien Pride. Andrade said this serves as a reminder of the bigotry LGBTQ+ people still face, and the importance of continuing to celebrate Pride Month. Councilmember Akey said Burien Pride had a fantastic turnout, and Andrade added that it indeed had a record-setting attendance this year.

Public Comment

Commenters asked Council to prioritize zoning for the pallet homes, especially with the infrequent summer meeting schedule while people wait on this decision. Others said that the impending council meeting time change is a mistake, and will limit public participation. One commenter said that any transportation improvement plan should prioritize safer walking and biking, as Burien drivers are out of control.

Affordable Housing Program Changes

Council gave unanimous approval to update the Affordable Housing Demonstration Program, which will be renewed later this year. The program will expand to include new projects. The current program offers incentives for building housing for renters earning 50% Area Median Income (AMI). Now, new projects will be incentivised to include housing for first-time homeowners who earn up to 80% AMI. 

Under the old restrictions, the city had no recent applicants and this expansion should encourage new affordable housing to be built. Burien has a regional responsibility to increase housing by 7500 units by the year 2044. This item was moved to the consent agenda of the next business meeting.

Work Plan Update

Council did a quarterly review of their work plan, removing items that are currently underway or no longer relevant, and adding new items vital to the community. One thing that was added is a presentation from Seattle City Light. Many residents have complained of service interruptions to their electricity, and it might be helpful to hear from the provider on this issue. 

Another presentation will be from city staff, on the ongoing issues with the Town Square fountain. This fountain has a sensor that sends out an alarm to city staff every time it gets contaminated with pollutants – and it gets contaminated way too often for staff to deal with. There is lots of public interest in this fountain, and people want some kind of solution to be found so children can still play in the summer heat. 

There is also early discussion about possibly moving away from the county limitation on the number of allowable chickens residents can have. Currently, Burien defers to the county code on this but could create its own chicken code.

Meeting Time Change

The council unanimously approved the consent agenda, which means that all future council meetings will begin at 5:30 p.m. The next meeting will take place on July 15th and start at the new time.

Video

Click here to view video of the full council meeting.

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...

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