Here’s our recap of the Burien City Council meeting held on Monday night, Aug. 7, 2023, which at times got a bit tense between Councilmember Cydney Moore and City Manager Adolfo Bailon:


The first proclamation, Dia Del Guatamalteco, honors the nearly 400 residents of Burien who originally came from Guatemala, enriching and strengthening the community. The proclamation was accepted by the Consulate General of Guatemala, who mentioned that former Mayor and current Counscimember Jimmy Matta also hails from Guatemala. The Consulate said that Burien has always been an example of diversity and inclusion to all migrants.

The second proclamation recognises World Breastfeeding Week, from August 1st-7th. Breastfeeding is associated with lower rates of childhood illness and obesity, increased health in mothers, and is the optimal food for infants. A breastfeeding-friendly community encourages families of all races and ethnicities to initiate and continue optimal infant feeding. The proclamation was received by Jazmin Williams, the founding director of BLKBRY, an organization that runs a milk bank to support the health of families of color.

Presentation: Opioid Addiction & Settlement Funds

Overdose deaths in King County are on the rise, disproportionately impacting those on the street as well as people of color and people living in Seattle & South King County. The main drivers of the rise in deaths come from two drugs: Fentanyl and Meth. Fentanyl overdoses in the county went from 109 in 2019 to 712 in 2022, and Meth overdoses went from 194 to 531 in the same period. In 2022, there were 21 confirmed overdose deaths in Burien. 

States are receiving settlement funds from companies that manufacture and distribute opioids, and this money can be used to combat addiction to all drugs. The funds can be used in various ways, including expanding mobile intervention, evidence-based withdrawal management, housing and job training, prevention and early intervention, syringe service programs, and support of pregnant drug users. The money Burien will receive is not substantial, and will likely need to be pooled with neighboring cities to create a synchronized solution.

City Manager’s Overview of Locations & Services Offered to Homeless

City Manager Adolfo Bailon presented a timeline of the homeless situation in Burien since January 2023, including the city’s response and work with agencies and the county. He has presented something very similar before, but seems to feel that everyone needs to be on the same page about what the city has tried to do, and says there is still a lot of misinformation circulating. 

He said it is unknown why the homeless population went from just a few at city hall in January to 40 people in March. As the population increased, crime incidents escalated, including direct harassment of city staff. Finally, the Library/City Hall condo association voted to clear the campers from around the building on March 31.

Throughout this process, city staff were in communication with the county, seeking aid and solutions. Several options would be offered, and then later taken off the table, repeatedly giving hope of a solid solution that would fizzle out. 

On May 15, the city leased the lot on SW 152nd Street where the camp had moved, and on June 1 the campers were cleared again. After again being cleared from the nearby park they had moved to, the majority of the homeless relocated to two locations where many still reside: Ambaum & SW 120th Street, and in front of the Grocery Outlet and Dollar Tree on SW 152nd Street.

City Manager Bailon said throughout this entire process, services were offered to those living homeless. All of the potential locations for a tiny home village have been rejected for one reason or another, including the most recent building in Renton, which was not approved by the host city. Using the city lot currently leased to Toyota seems to be off the table now as well, as the business owner says it would result in the loss of 20 to 30 jobs.

The latest idea Bailon described is using the top two floors of the transit center parking garage (photos above) for an encampment. Currently the parking structure can hold 400 cars, but is used by just 25-30 cars per day, leaving much of the space unused. Metro is concerned for the safety of their drivers, though.

Bailon did not mention NERA in his timeline, but Councilmember Sarah Moore brought it up because this location was the focus of a recent meeting. She was opposed to it from the beginning, as it is known to be contaminated and uninhabitable. Bailon said the contamination is limited to specific areas, and not in the spot that had been considered for the camp. The NERA lot is no longer under consideration, and Dave Kaplan from the Port of Seattle made a public comment reminding the council of this.

Tension Between Moore & Bailon

There was also a bit of a tense back-and-forth between Bailon and Councilmember Cydney Moore, who accused the City Manager of calling her a liar and misusing her words to confuse the community on the issue. She called him out for rehashing all this old information instead of moving forward with viable options, and he appeared to lose his patience with her at least once as well as scolding her:

“…you’re using words very loosely and it’s dangerous … words have meaning. It is important to use the right word(s), because if we don’t use the right words then we are potentially mischaracterizing an issue or misleading people to believe certain facts that are not facts.”

Watch the raw footage of their interchange below, which also includes comments from Councilmember Jimmy Matta and Mayor Sofia Aragon (running time 27-minutes, 42-seconds):

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Councilmember Stephanie Mora said that only six tents remain at the current SW 152nd Street site near Grocery Outlet, with the hope for immediate beds for those remaining homeless, thanks to the work of Kristina Moreland of The More We Love non-profit.

Planning Commission Taking Applications

City Manager Bailon announced that the city is taking applications for positions on the Planning Commission until Aug. 31, with plans to have an operational commission in October. 

One public commenter said that the city should issue an unequivocal guide to which behaviors are restricted to volunteers on the Planning Commission, since the removal of Charles Schaefer from the commission for relocating the homeless to a city park.


Watch full video of this Burien City 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...

4 replies on “City Manager, Councilmember have tense exchange over homelessness issues at Monday night’s Burien City Council meeting”

  1. There are people with some authority who caused this city a lot of extra stress as well as crime and lost business this last year They should reflect on the harm that they caused while looking the other way at drug use, embracing homelessness, as well as refusing to follow the law.

  2. Why are taxpayers paying for drug addicts and people that refuse to work it’s ridiculous! Every single homeless person should be required to work! They can paint out, graffiti and clean up the streets otherwise they get no services.

  3. As a resident of Burien for over 30 years, I am noticing a huge increase in sirens and police activity. Is it a mystery to government, that allowing people to live in squalor on our streets contributes to criminal behavior? Move them out!

  4. Why do people just assume every homeless person in burien or white center is a criminal or a druggie. So did all the thugs and the tweekers other criminals go on vacation.

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