By Nicholas Johnson

City of Burien staff made changes to a letter to Three Tree Point property owners – which addressed “ongoing misinterpretations regarding the public street right-of-way commonly known as SW 172nd Street” – after getting city council approval to send the letter Monday, Aug. 16, but before putting it in the mail Friday, Aug. 20.

City spokesperson Emily Inlow-Hood informed The B-Town Blog of these changes Monday, Aug. 23 – a day after the blog published a story about the content of the city’s draft letter – saying she was unaware on Friday, Aug. 20, that her fellow city staff had already mailed the amended letter.

The edited letter (view/download PDF here) adds a line stating that the “encroachments and obstructions” on the south side of SW 172nd Street, better known as beach cabanas and detached garages, do not constitute “public use for street purposes.”

The edited letter also removes the last sentence in the draft letter, which stated that the city’s Public Works director has authority under city code to order the correction or discontinuance of unpermitted permanent structures on the south side on SW 172nd Street, including removal of those structures.

“We decided not to emphasize that,” Inlow-Hood said Monday, Aug. 23, acknowledging that the nixed sentence is no less an accurate representation of the Public Works director’s authority.

Separately, councilmember Nancy Tosta said in a Monday, Aug. 23, email to The B-Town Blog that she “was not willing to vote for” the draft letter presented to council a week earlier, despite her failing to raise any objections about the letter during that Monday, Aug. 16, meeting.

“This was another one of those topics that [City Manager] Brian [Wilson] put deep into his City Manager report, rather than it actually being a business agenda item,” Tosta wrote in her email. “When he does that, there is no formal discussion or vote – just a ‘thumbs up’ sort of thing.”

Tosta said she has asked that Wilson instead put “issues I know matter to community members” onto the agenda to “to make them formal agenda topics.

“The rest of the Council doesn’t seem to care,” Tosta wrote, “so his practice continues.”

Nicholas Johnson (he/him) is an award-winning writer, editor and photographer who grew up in Boulevard Park, graduated from Highline High School and studied journalism at Western Washington University. Send news tips, story ideas and positive vibes to [email protected].