By Mellow DeTray
There were many public comments at July 18, 2022 regular meeting, as the Council approached their final decision about how to spend the remaining American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, considered changes to parking regulations, and determinds a new method of parking enforcement.
One commenter suggested ARPA funds could be used to assist retrofitting older homes with efficient windows and insulation, to bring them up to the level required of newer homes. Along the same lines, another community member said we should address global warming with these funds by helping low-income families to install energy efficient heat pumps in their homes.
While one commenter reminded us that it is not the domain of the city to be involved in sewer issues, another mentioned that failing septic tanks cause pollution, which is something that the City could intercede in.
Another community member spoke of being priced out of Burien by an $800 rent increase, while another, a landlord, said that on his block 10 residential units were being left empty because owners were afraid of renting to anyone while there is an eviction moratorium.
The proposed distribution of the ARPA funds fall into three categories:
- Economic Development
- Community Needs
The Council overwhelmingly expressed that they were happy with the plan, as it will use the funds to help the community in so many ways, specifically the populations most in need.
Further discussion and a final vote on the staff recommendations will likely take place in late August/early September.
According to the current distribution, there will be grants to help 90 businesses, as well as a revolving legacy loan fund that will initially serve 15-25 businesses but as those loans are paid back, new businesses will be able to use those funds indefinitely. In addition, funds will help develop 25 much needed childcare businesses, and assist over 100 residents with job skills. Finally, over 100 businesses will receive property damage support, providing assistance with graffiti removal or other needs as they arise.
The plan will help 250 at-risk youth, fund mental health counseling for 150 people, and support neighborhood cleanliness while providing jobs for 250 people. It will also provide homelessness intervention for 1000 residents, housing stability for 120 homes, and food access for 1000 people.
The infrastructure needed by the City that this proposal could fund includes a new HVAC system for Moshier Community Art Center, a generator for the City’s cooling center at Burien Community Center, septic-to-sewer conversion for 42 homes, and the design of a new maintenance facility.
Council discussed and voted to place Ordinance 794, regarding zoning code amendments related to parking for Downtown Zones and Accessory Dwelling Units on the consent agenda for the Aug. 1, 2022 meeting.
The next Council meeting will see a vote on whether to continue exempting businesses from the requirement that they provide parking. This exemption has been in effect for years, after a 2016 study showed that parking occupancy averaged just 57% in the downtown core. If approved, businesses will be able to open in Burien without the burden of providing off-street parking.
Another parking issue discussed was whether to require additional parking for construction or conversion of an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU). ADUs are commonly created by the conversion of an existing garage, and by erecting a new dwelling on the property. Since 2019, no additional parking is needed if these units are within ¼ mile of public transportation. ADUs increase supply, diversity, and flexibility of homes in the area, at a reduced cost. A vote will take place next meeting to decide whether to eliminate the required additional parking entirely.
In 2019 chalking tires – the method then used for determining whether a car had overstayed its welcome in a parking spot – was found to be unconstitutional. The new method being proposed to enforce parking restrictions is digital imaging. Wording in the proposed new code allows cars to be ticketed even after moving to a new spot within the restricted parking area. One councilmember proposed an amendment that would make sure this didn’t happen, but the proposal was not seconded.
Watch video of the full 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.