By Jack Mayne

During the recent snow storm, City Manager Brian Wilson told the Monday (Feb. 25) Burien City Council that the city Public Works and Parks staff worked 12 hour shifts on and off during and after the storm on impacts to Burien.

“We applied 130 tons of salt … and 17,000 gallons of brine to city streets,” he said, adding Burien operated three large plows with salt and sand spreaders and three small plows with brine for 24 hours a day during the storm.

“I will say that during the time period, and I will say, based on Council support a year ago to make enhancements to our (vehicle) fleet … that came on line just two weeks before the storm and that made a huge difference for our staff for our staff and our efficiency,” Wilson said.

Community Center stayed open
City Parks staff shoveled snow from walkways, roofs, parking lots, walkways and park facilities, he said, adding the city also assisted some people in neighborhoods “who were stuck and couldn’t get out.” While many city sites were closed, “our community center remained open to the public (and) when the city hall was open – we tried to keep city hall open as much as possible during this event.”

“I really want to recognize the staff who just did a tremendous job providing service to the citizens,” Wilson told the Council.

Another impact of the storm was that temperatures were “extremely dangerous” and “with the leadership of our ecumenical circle of our churches … there was a group through our local church group to organize a severe weather shelter. This was something the city supported” by providing the necessary permits and “a tremendous effort to make this a reality.”

Shelter kept open
Wilson said the winter shelter was open for 13 nights, a day warming shelter for three days, with an average of 33 people in the shelter, with the first night a low of seven people, and the highest number 48 residents.

“We had full meals served each night by volunteers,” Wilson said. “There was a hot breakfast provided each morning by volunteers. Each night there were four to five volunteers staying over night for a 12-hour shift and our ecumenical group hired an overnight staff person provided the last seven nights that worked along with the volunteers.”

He said there were five overnight people who “were directly connected to homeless outreach at Evergreen Treatment Services” and city staff worked to connect people to the services available.

“There was a tremendous outpouring of support by the community with food, with clothing, with volunteer hours, with financial (assistance). There was $11,700 that was contributed to this effort.” Some of the money was used to pay workers, and $6,700 was retained for potential future use in emergency situations.

“I am convinced that the efforts of this group saved some lives in the City of Burien over this severe weather period,” Wilson told the Council.

Airport Committee appointees
The Council conducted interviews for the Burien Airport Committee and approved the four applicants for the committee.

First candidate is the founder of Quiet Skies and a activist on airport noise, Larry Cripe. He noted he was on the previous city airport committee for two years and “found it very rewarding to participate.” He noted that all of the surrounding cities, especially SeaTac and Des Moines, “look to us” for leadership on this subject.

Another candidate was Sharon Parker, who said the committee in the past two years “has made a lot of progress” and hoped this year to do more on sound insulation of area homes which would mitigate “some of that impact.” She said the earlier insulation program was “shoddy.” Parker once was the the noise mitigation officer at King County Airport or Boeing Field.

Former Councilmember Debi Wagner said she would compliment Cripe and Parker because of her interest and background of aviation emissions. “So it all kind of works, together,” she said. The noise level in parts of Burien and the Highline School District area are affecting the ability of children to learn, she said. Noise mitigation over the years cost the Port of Seattle “around $4,500” while the mitigation at Boeing Field cost $60,000. “That gives you an idea of the kind of work we need to,” Wagner said.

A fourth member of the committee applicants appointed was Javier Tordable who was unable to attend the Council session.

Economic Development
The Council considered a plan for the Burien Business and Economic Development Partnership (BEDP), which is a group established to consider economic development and business interests.

City Economic Development Manager Andrea Snyder and Chairperson Robyn Desimone briefed the Council on the partnership activities and sought approval of its work plan for 2019.

Desimone said the BEDP noted several past surveys of property owners and business owners along SW 153rd Street between Ambaum and 1st Ave South to discover what enhancements to 153rd they would find most valuable to their business. In the group’s presentation to the Council it said there was progress in “identifying data needed, building relationships and identifying some marketing techniques other cities have used.”

“We’d like to make more progress on this in 2019,” Desimone said.

Chris Craig, the city’s economic development specialist, said there was a survey of business owners on SW 153rd, the city’s major “downtown” street. The survey shows there are 94 businesses on 153rd, and 13 are owned by minorities. At the same time, there are 48 property owners on the street, and five minority property owners.

Concerns expressed by businesses included parking, homelessness, problems with alleys in general as well as with trash and litter. Another concern of businesses along the street concerned a general lack of foot traffic.

The major improvement listed by business operators was of the general streetscape while property owners cited traffic problems and the need for better sidewalks.

In general, Craig found the city survey found that SW 153rd is visually unappealing and lacks vitality of other areas. The city staff recommends clean and safer streets, improving the streetscape, lack of “curb appeal” and parking management, plus a need to market and promote the street.

Require garbage service?
Desimone owns Iris and Peony Florists on SW 152nd, and said garbage service is not required in downtown Burien. It is up to individual businesses, she said, and some businesses discard litter in public bins. She has a dumpster that is now locked to keep itinerants from sleeping in them. She said she became concerned when an employee found a person sleeping in the bin, then added a locking device.

Deputy Mayor Austin Bell said there are businesses with small cans for trash, but “we don’t know where it goes.” Desimone and her committee are recommending the Council pass an ordinance requiring that SW 152nd businesses have garbage service.

Councilmember Bob Edgar asked whether repaving the alleys, which are public property, would be helpful to upgrading and Desimone said that would “definitely improve” the area. She said she also has a private parking area adjacent to the public alley.

Parking is “getting worse in Burien as we all know,” said Desimone, and the BEDP has recommended a two hour parking zone on all of 153rd, not just parts of it as is now the case. Also considered is closing some of the curb cuts that allow traffic to move in and out of a parking lot. Also considered is making the parking area a bit more pedestrian friendly, perhaps adding flower boxes and trees.

The Council study session approved, unanimously, the Burien Business and Economic Development Partnership future work plan.

For 2019, the plan is to continue making progress on the work plan items started last year and include attention outside of current proposals, as well as implement the 153rd enhancement recommendations. The future plan is to “perform an industry sector analysis to determine a focus for our attraction efforts that will allow us to most effectively use our limited resources.”

Jack Mayne

Senior Reporter Jack Mayne passed away in December, 2021. In his honor we have created the Jack Mayne Journalism Scholarship.