Here’s our recap of the Burien City Council meeting held on Monday night, June 5, 2023:
June is Pollinators Month
Council read a proclamation that aims to encourage residents to plant pollinator gardens with native species that produce nectar which will attract birds, bees, and butterflies. Burien is home to many different kinds of pollinators, and many residents enjoy planting gardens that welcome them, as well as producing gorgeous flowers and fresh foods.
Approximately 75% of the foods humans eat are grown from pollinated plants, and many pollinators are at risk of extinction due to increased levels of pollution, habitat loss, and climate change.
Burien UFO Festival is Aug. 4
While the majority of speakers during the meeting’s public comments section addressed the issue of the homeless camp, the first speaker let everyone know about an annual event coming to Olde Burien on Aug. 4, 2023: The Burien UFO Festival. The event will include live music and film screenings, as well as vendors and presentations. Alien and Men in Black costumes are encouraged. Organizers will be holding a potluck for interested volunteers, filmmakers and brainstormers this Thursday night, June 8, 2023, starting st 6 p.m. at the historic Forest Ledge mansion – learn more here.
Many of the other commenters either spoke against Planning Commission Chair Charles Schaefer, or in his defense. It seems that Charles Schaefer for a second time acted against council decision by encouraging the homeless to move to Dottie Harper Park when they were being swept from the new dog park location on SW 152nd. Those asking for him to be reprimanded said that he undermined the work of volunteers, who had spent days trying to get many of the homeless into beds and treatment programs. According to their statements, Schaefer encouraged the homeless to simply relocate a few blocks away to the nearby park, where camping is illegal.
Several spoke in his defense, though, saying that the homeless have a right to housing and what he did was correct. Also, one argued that Schaefer has a first amendment right to say what he did to the homeless. Another person reminded council how it has been shown that deaths are increased when homeless encampments are swept.
According to multiple speakers, the encampment that was just cleared had been more dangerous than previously realized, with some claiming unverified allegations of sex trafficking of teenagers (EDITOR’S NOTE: The King County Sheriff’s Office told us that sex trafficking allegations were not true), weapons, as well as rampant drug use. One speaker said it was ridiculous for a transient population of 35 people to have this much sway over the rest of the city. Another neighbor said that multiple times he has had to clean up the area around a dumpster by his home, which is rifled through regularly by the homeless, and left, as he put it, a pigsty. Another neighbor said he watched a homeless man set a dumpster on fire, and stand by laughing at his work. Another speaker asked for empathy towards the homeless, saying that it’s much more dangerous for them than it is for any of us lucky enough to have a home in Burien.
More meetings and educational sessions are in the works on the options for the city’s homeless population. Deputy Mayor Kevin Schilling asked the city attorney and city manager for more ideas on what is allowable within the law, including potentially having no-camping zones. Mayor Sofia Aragon asked for an info session on any shelter proposals that will bring people inside. Councilmember Cydney Moore warned that the city is being watched closely and any wrong action regarding the homeless population could bring potential lawsuits.
Council also agreed to direct the city manager and city attorney to prepare options to partner with King County or Seattle property in Burien to be used for homelessness services.
Councilmember Mora made a motion to schedule a meeting to discuss the removal of Charles Schaefer and censure of Cydney Moore, which passed 4-3.
Food Truck Pilot Program Extended & Potentially Expanded
While staff recommended that the food truck pilot program – which has been going on for two years without much success – be scrapped, council voted unanimously to continue it for another year. Councilmember Sarah Moore specifically hopes that food deserts like Boulevard Park and the Ambaum corridor will attract food trucks.
Councilmember Cydney Moore proposed that the program be expanded to allow for more types of food trucks, increased hours, and essentially to let more applicants qualify. Five of the previous applicants to the program, for example, were turned down for their trucks being too large. Two were rejected for being on trailers, which are not allowed under the current program guidelines. Council voted 5–2 in favor of staff coming back with an expanded definition of what is allowed during this third year of the program.