BurienCC040416-500 By Jack Mayne The Burien City Council voted 5 to 2 to pass an ordinance banning junk vehicles stored or abandoned on private property in the city, with Councilmembers Lauren Berkowitz and Austin Bell suggesting such a law would be targeting poor people. But the Council voted at their Tuesday night (April 4) meeting to reject extension of the CARES animal control contract from expiration of Aug. 31 to the end of January 2017 because members wanted additional information about the cost and ability of King County to potentially take over animal control in the city. Removing junk cars State law gives cities the authority to adopt ordinances establishing procedures for the removal of junk vehicles or vehicle parts from private property. But to do that, the city needed to adopt an ordinance outlining what qualifies as a junk vehicle. The new ordinance incorporates state law that provides the costs of the removal of the junk vehicle may be charged to the “last registered owner of the vehicle” or to the owner of the property where it is located. The Burien ordinance says the city “will likely have to front some of the cost of removal, including fees for towing away the vehicle, and it may not be possible to recoup these costs in some cases” and provides $25,000 to do that. There were opponents and supporters of the ordinance amongst public commenters. [caption id="attachment_98249" align="alignleft" width="225"]JoshFerris040416 Josh Farris, from “Planet Earth.”[/caption] Josh Farris, who says he is from “Planet Earth,” and well known in Burien from previous homeless demonstrations as well as being a defeated candidate for Seattle City Council last year, told the Council the proposed ordinance would force police to harass people. “It is an ordinance that targets poor people, and yet you don’t do anything (about what) actually causes poverty,” he said, adding the proposal “is repugnant and unconstitutional.” Homeless person Gabriella Duncan said the law would direct police toward “people who live in their vehicles,” adding that she has seen marked improvement in the mental stability of people who have a car to live in versus living out in the open. She said she was opposed to anything that would target people living in their cars. Earl Conley of Boulevard Park said a neighbor “for years and years has done nothing but collect vehicles and just let them sit there and rot.” Once some of his vehicles were forced away by the King County Sheriff, but the owner just bought more vehicles to put on his property, but never does anything with them, Conley said. He said he understands and supports people living in their vehicles “but I live across the street from a guy that used none of these vehicles … I want to see this bill pass.” Homeless not targeted Pamela Staeheli said the ordinance is not targeting people who live in their cars, and “I have a few who live in my neighborhood – they move, they keep their area clean.” She said she has nearby vehicles on blocks, windows shattered and with blackberry bushes growing over them – “they are not using them. They are an eyesore and attraction for theft and vandalism and graffiti …” “I know for a fact that (the Council is) not trying to steer people out of their cars if that is the only place they have to live,” Staeheli said. “I know that is not your objective. It is not our objective either.” Resident Charles Schaefer said that someone living in a house who can collect several cars “is at least doing at least decently.” He said “you can’t tow the car if someone is living in it … this ordinance would not authorize that.” Former Council candidate Darla Green said junk cars “threaten the character of our neighborhoods” leaving threats of pest and rodents and also chemical spills “that feeds into our waterways” from such junk vehicles. [caption id="attachment_98250" align="alignright" width="225"]HeatherDoesntLikeKids Heather “doesn’t like children.”[/caption] A woman who said her name was Heather, thought abandoned cars in her neighborhood were a hazard for children “and I don’t like children,” drawing laughter from the audience and Councilmembers. “Haul cars away, please haul the cars away,” said Heather. ‘Unconstitutionally vague’ As the Council opened their discussions, Councilmember Lauren Berkowitz said that she was not sure there was a real problem, that the “value of a property is only the amount considering the property surrounding it.” The ordinance is not just about abandoned cars but about any car that is “apparently an inoperative vehicle which is not actually inoperable – maybe one broken window, maybe still runs fine, maybe not up on blocks, has four tires and has all the things, just one broken window.” Berkowitz said the statute does not say who gets to make the decision that the car is inoperable. “It is unconstitutionally vague and that is why this law is unconstitutional,” Berkowitz said. “It is poorly written.” City Attorney Soojin Kim said there was “very low legal risk here for a Constitutional challenge.” Berkowitz said later that to require enclosing the vehicles or covering them would be acceptable, her issue is “taking people’s property from them.” [caption id="attachment_98251" align="alignleft" width="225"]LaurenBerkowitz040416 Coucilmember Lauren Berkowitz.[/caption] “This ordinance has so many holes in it that it is not the solution that community members were speaking in favor of and are looking for,” Berkowitz said. It is inappropriate to target people who can’t afford to fix their cars or property, she said, and not attacking the root cause of poverty, she said. Councilmember Austin Bell said the city should respect the rights of property owners and for that reason he would vote against the measure. Later, he added there were already many laws that would address hazards to water and other problems mentioned by citizens. Junk cars should go Five councilmembers spoke in favor of the ordinance. Councilmember Nancy Tosta said the potential cost to the city to remove the junk vehicles could be mitigated by donating it to groups that take such vehicles for other uses and could help pay to clear them away. Councilmember Debi Wagner said changes could be made later if it is determined the ordinance is not “working in a fair and equitable manner.” “It is disingenuous to say it is not a problem,” said Councilmember Steve Armstrong regarding Berkowitz’s earlier comment. “It is a problem.” He mentioned fluids leaking into the water table, and children playing around such vehicles. Tosta wondered if keeping the vehicle covered with a tarp would prevent it from being forcibly hauled away and City Attorney Soojin Kim said state law said it could but doubted the city would challenge a car covered by a tarp. The fact the city had only one code enforcement employee would likely prevent pushing enforcement of the ordinance if the vehicle were totally covered and not visible to neighbors, said Kim. No CARES extension The Council voted 4 to 3 to not extend the Burien CARES Animal Control contract past August so that the city has time to figure out whether King County Animal Control has the desire or the potential to take over from CARES. Mayor Lucy Krakowiak and Deputy Mayor Bob Edgar along with Councilmembers Berkowitz and Wagner voted not to extend it past Aug. 31. The need to get more information dominated the conversation, but Berkowitz wondered why to extend it “a year and a half.” [caption id="attachment_98253" align="alignright" width="225"]KamuronGurol040416 City Manager Kameron Gurol.[/caption] But City Manager Kamuron Gurol said that was not correct, that the requested extension was for “roughly six months.” He said more information and discussion is slated for the Council at their April 25 study session. Mayor Lucy Krakowiak said she wanted more information as to whether King County can step in in September if necessary. Councilmember Tosta said she favored the short extension because she wanted information beyond the cost of the service and is interested in how the King County has improved its service since it handled Burien before. Wagner said “we don’t have enough information” to make the decision on a contract now and what the county would charge if they took over on Sept. 1, following the conclusion of the CARES contract. Armstrong said he supported the extension and said that the initial problems of CARES seem to have been overcome. “I like the fact they are home-grown, they are a local business,” he said. Resident John Upthegrove told the Council he supports continuation and renewal of the CARES contract because one of the reasons the city incorporated “was to get away from King County.” He suggested the Councilmembers should remember when King County did provide animal control for the city and “remember how lot it took to get King County” to come to take care of a stray dog complaint, and added that Councilmembers should go to the CARES facility and see how they are doing things now. Pamela Staeheli, who handles many feral cat problems in the area, said she has never been a supporter for CARES but that the King County animal control has drastically reduced its kill rate to less than 10 percent for cats – “completely unheard of from anywhere in the United States.”]]>

Since 2007, The B-Town Blog is Burien’s multiple award-winning hyperlocal news/events website dedicated to independent journalism.

37 replies on “Burien Council approves junk car law; opposes extending CARES contract”

    1. I was against C.A.R.E.S. when it 1st open. I been there a few time to check it out. It is very clean and bright, the animals are well taken care of.. Responds time is stellar. You told me to give C.A.R.E.S a chance: I did. Now it’s your turn to keep C.A.R.E.S. Burien need them.

  1. Canceling the CARES contract would be a poor decision. We will lose jobs in the area, and if there was an animal need in the area, it would take King County quite some time to respond. I hope the council addresses this again. Local control is always better and CARES does a good job.

  2. Bezerkoitz and her clone Bell make their relationship quite evident on the junk car issue. Like I said before, need some money to improve your so called poverty issue, sell your collection of junk vehicles littering the neighborhood and do your part to better you and it.
    And a blue $6.00 tarp is now going to be the way to skirt the law, great another brighter eyesore covering the one that should have gone away a long time ago. I also find it quite asinine that somehow the “homeless” find issue with this thinking their car will be seized, were talking about vehicles being located on private property not the street. And just how many people are living in their car in front or back of their own house, a moot point saying you have no home except your vehicle. P.S. I love CARES and so does my cat who found a home there on the way to being adopted by me, and I hate children also.

    1. Too True.. . Its another example of Berkowitz putting a fringe groups interests ahead of the vast majority of the residents interests who elected her.
      Austin Bell by his vote demonstrated he lacks common sense and is more than willing to get led down the garden path (cluttered with junkers) by Berkowitz!

  3. I am confused re: not extending the CARES contract. The 6 month extension is to allow time to gather information and consider options. Why would Council not want to do those things? They owe it to the taxpayers to do their due diligence and thoughtfully look at options, not rush to conclusions. Gather data and citizen input, go to the shelter and see for yourself. Find out what other cities do (i.e., Auburn), who do not use King County. A whole lot of effort has been made over the last five years to establish a community shelter and control program. How wonderful that citizens can access a small shelter right in downtown, and that our control officers are familiar with our city and are readily accessible when we need. them Volunteers of all ages and abilities contribute to our hometown shelter’s success, and local vets provide the medical care. I would be so disappointed to see all of that swept away because of political or personality reasons. Please step back, collaborate, and think this through.

    1. 4.5 months seems like plenty of time to gather information and consider options. Thank you Council!

  4. A couple of comments:
    Considering where Lauren Berkowitz comes from on the ideological spectrum (i.e. from the Kshama Sawant far left) it is interesting to see her opposing the junk car law from the perspective of… protecting private property! Usually leftists see private property as fair game to redistribute by coercion for “the common good” – as defined by them, of course.
    Interesting that the two council members opposed to a common sense ordinance are: Berkowitz and Austin Bell. Looks like Austin (on this issue anyway) is the Berkowitz clone that we were afraid of. What is the length of a council member’s term? How soon can we vote against him again? Better yet, how soon can we replace Berkowitz?

    1. Peter, it is amusing to see a socialist defending private property rights, isn’t it? I do have to disagree with you about Bell though. You’ll remember I worked on Darla’s campaign, however since the election I have spoken with him a few times and he seems like more than just a clone of Berkowitz or a rubber stamp for her agenda, and I’m not the only Darla supporter who feels this way.
      Since you’re interested in the next election cycle, Berkowitz will be up for reelection in fall of 2017 and Bell will be up in fall of 2019, so there is plenty of time for Burien voters to watch his record develop. Hopefully, we will have long forgotten about the junk car issue by then.

      1. Charles: Re: Austin Bell, fair enough – we will give him the benefit of whatever doubt remains. Mostly we should watch how he votes (as opposed to what he says). Hopefully he will be an independent voice, rather than a clone of anyone. We shall see if that proves to be true… as for Berkowitz, that ship left the dock long ago. Hopefully we can find a solid candidate to replace her in 2017.

  5. I would guess that owners of junk cars would have the option of having their “junkers” hauled away and getting paid some residual value before the city took them. However, this would take some initiative on owners part. Right?

    1. I’m glad Josh introduced himself as being from planet Earth. Otherwise I might have assumed he beamed down for the UFO festival.

    2. Make residency a requirement to speak. That idea will go well here on the blog.. Then we can make all the rules against the homeless we want and those most affected can’t even comment. After all the landed gentry are the only citizens our founding fathers really had in mind and we don’t need that radical idea of freedom of speech for everyone.

      1. So Lee from your comment you are against the ordinance to clean up our city’s appearance?
        How many junkers do you have?

        1. So John, where did I even comment about junkers?
          My comment is about how some of the Burien “elite” seem to resent free speech for all.
          If you confuse supporting one’s right to free speech as supporting their point of view, perhaps that explains why you would oppose free speech if they speak against your point of view.

          1. under this ordinance my 2006 Toyota pick up is a junker. And my 2012 Scion as well. Ridiculous.

          2. Only because they were brought to you by who brought us Pearl Harbor. You admit to two junkers in your yard adding to the rest of the eyesore, thanks for being part of the problem.

          3. My mistake Lee sorry . This looney tune compadre of Berkowitz has a right to speak.
            Although i doubt he would be at the meeting if not motivated by Ms Bkz and her personal agenda to turn Burien into a homeless Mecca.

          4. John,
            Even your name calling is a form of free speech although to me it is only a manifestation of a prejudicial mind set.

          5. Lee i suggest u look in the mirror and realize you are the pot calling the kettle black!
            Have u given up on your crusade to pollute Lake Burien?

  6. I was doubtful of CARES at first, but find it a wonderful addition to our community. to have an animal shelter in the neighborhood is wonderful. I am a facebook friend and see rescued animals online daily. they are doing a great service to the pet loving folks in our community.please city council reconsider the options, and keep CARES.

  7. Burien CARES is not the right solution! CARES is only serving dogs in our community and does not serve cats at all which is a growing issue in my neighborhood. If your cat is lost or if there are ferals that you need help with good luck to you. When our cat was lost we had to go to Kent to see if he was turned in by anyone. Kent? Really? What are the odds someone wants to drive a lost cat to Kent. We need a full service solution and one with vastly more experience and accountability than what i have seen and learned of via CARES. Despite intentions etc it is not providing bare minimum services I expect for my tax money and for the benefit of our pets. I urge the council to correct this and change direction. Kari

    1. If we drop CARES and go with the county, Kent would be the shelter we use for dogs and cats. In terms of convenience, a step backwards.

    2. CARES has several cats at the shelter all the time. If you want to get rid of CARES you would have the community served by King County and you would be driving to Kent ALL THE TIME. Not to mention that you would be waiting a very long time for anyone to show up and help you with any issues. Unless there was an animal endangering those around it — like a dog bite, I’m quite sure your call would go unanswered. My kids have volunteered at the shelter and would have discussions about who cleaned the most litter boxes. I have seen them post about cats fairly often. If you are the person advocating for a no kill shelter, you are delusional. Yes, we should make every effort to find them a home, but no kill shelters that warehouse animals and prolong the suffering of sick animals aren’t a solution I would support either. CARES is the best thing Burien has done in quite a while. There were multiple meetings years ago about how overwhelmed county animal control was, and how inadequately funded. We would just be returning to that situation.

    3. I am confused to where the information about not serving cats came from- whether the shelter was over-full or the cat went on walkabout outside Burien. We adopted a cat from CARES- it was a fairly easy and positive experience. A locally based organization allows for more creative volunteer activities within the area. And why not allow for time to have this examined? It seems like a lack of due diligence….

  8. I think C.A.R.E.S. does a great job and especially with finding new homes for abandoned or unclaimed animals. Local is always better. I oppose going to King County for animal control.

  9. I will say that CARES today is a lot better than CARES in the past. A lot of improvements have been made.

  10. Cancelling CARES contract is wrong. KCACS is still a kill shelter. 10% kill rate is mot good. The council is very short sighted in this. CARES cos less than KCACS and gives better service to is community

  11. Carolyn Newman (one of the previous comments on the CARES poll article) is one of the 3 Board members for CARES. While she, Denise Ferguson and Debra George all list Burien addresses on the State filings for CARES, none of them live in Burien. Carloyn’s address is incorrect on the State filing it appears she really lives on Harbor Ave. up in Seattle. Denise hasn’t run the storefront business Fireweed Beads in Burien for at least 3 years. She actually lives and runs her business from Greenwood Ave. in Seattle but is listed as being still on 152nd in Burien. And Debra George, the owner and director of CARES lives on Marine View Dr. in Normandy Park. Debra George is also listing the Mark Restaurant address (Mark iii Corp) on State files as being at the CARES. So why all the smoke and mirrors activity with these addresses? Is it to create the illusion that CARES and its Board members are really Burien residents and owned by Burien Residents?. Check out these State business file nos. for these businesses #603104540 and #603322501
    And is CARES really a Burien Society? It appears to have 3 Board members and perhaps only one owner, Debra George? This appears to be a non profit charity business owned by one person? And why is the Mark Restaurant operating out of the CARES address? And is the Paws and Relax Doggie Day Care a business or part of the CARES Society? How can they be listing incorrect addresses on the State licensing site? I’m baffled.
    And how did a doggie day care and an animal control shelter get permits to be in an area of the city that was not zoned for those kinds of businesses? Then there is that contaminated doggie poop and pee lot at CARES that on any rainy day can be seen to be trickling discharge down the street from the lot and draining into the storm water drains and Miller Creek and the lake. How was that allowed? Was this an agreement to be allowed that Mike Martin made before he left?
    Ray Helms was one of the trained animal control officers that Burien put extra money into the CARES budget to have trained. Is he still at CARES? If not who are the 2 trained officers there now? It isn’t clear who is on staff.
    Just because some nice lady at the grocery store gives you a kitten or puppy out of a box in a grocery store parking lot, it does not make her a person who should be running animal control for a city. That seems to be the level that most of you are recommending staying with CARES on. Like other citizens and the Council, I’d like to have some real facts about CARES. What kind of legal entanglements can the City, we citizens, be on the hook for with this CARES contract? If a stray dog rips another woman’s face open again? Is the City obligated to check State business licenses for accuracy? I support open bidding on the animal control contract.
    At least with King County, there is an animal control shelter that is group owned and managed by multiple cities who share the cost, share the liabilities, has vets on staff and has a long term plan for services into the future. I vote for going back to King County. Thanks, Council members for voting to do more research on this issue.
    And Rob Johnson is part of the CARES organization through the B-Town Dog pages. See their web page and the 3 organizations that are listed that make up CARES. He maintains the web site. So we can understand his prejudice for staying with CARES.

  12. Wow, Jacky
    I’m so sorry you have such a negative view of Cares, Paws and relax and those that run them. I’ve been volunteering there for over three years now and have been so impressed by how they have tried so hard to improve their shelter and their outreach to the community for support. The animals have benefited big time because of that effort. If you want your dog to come home happy, tried and content take them to Paws and Relax. Jennifer and her team are amazing with dogs!
    Children, adults, and the elderly in this community are truly interested in the well being of each and every animal that flows through Cares doors. I’ve experienced it personally volunteering at the Cares booth during the farmers market. Every summer each week they want to know and follow the adoption process of the cats we bring to the market. Many have viewed pictures of our dogs up for adoption, and yep they’ve gone to the shelter and taken home a new best friend!

  13. Keep Cares! I adopted my best friend from them. Who, by the way was picked up as a stray with her puppy! These people do good work, & I am sure the only wealth that they receive, is a good heart. Instead, of picking bones with Cares, why doesn’t anyone work on the homeless sleeping @ BurienUSPS!( & all over the S.end. This is exactly why fly by night rescues, have sprung up all over the Internet. By the way, many are just a disguise for selling puppy mill, stolen, genetic defective animals. Makes me sick!

  14. I volunteer at Burien CARES and am concerned about the City Council’s preliminary decision to close CARES and contract with the King County animal shelter to provide services. I want to address the non-monetary issues; the services that cannot be measured in dollars.
    CARES provides the opportunity for volunteers. Many high school students meet their volunteering obligations by tending to the animals. They walk dogs, clean kennels and litter boxes, and provide the necessary human interaction with the animals. Seniors and not so senior adults also volunteer. I doubt any of these individuals could travel to Kent to volunteer.
    CARES is local and can respond more quickly to reports of loose dogs or cats. This protects the animal that might wander into traffic and protects pets and the public that might be attacked by a scared or vicious animal. The RASKC website states they respond to vicious animal reports but does not show that they readily respond to non-threatening situations. RASKC gives advice on getting tag information and then wants a form completed. They ask you to bring the animal to them and if not possible they will arrange a time to pick up the animal. CARES responds to all loose animals without requiring a form before they respond.
    The RASKC procedures would also make finding a lost pet a little more difficult. People are more likely to just call CARES about a loose animal rather than jump through the RASKC bureaucratic hoops.
    The very popular hot dog stand at the Burien Market is operated for CARES. I doubt RASKC will replace this.
    Having a community based shelter gives Burien residents easy access to animals when they want to adopt a pet. It also gives residents access to affordable pet accessories.
    A switch to RASKC gives away local control over how animals are handled. A large bureaucracy cannot provide the non-monetary benefits now enjoyed by Burien residents.
    To close CARES would be a gross disservice to Burien voters, their families and pets.

  15. Obviously the city council doesn’t read this blog because the online poll shows that 77% of respondents want the CARES contract extended.

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