Here’s our recap of the Burien City Council’s regular meeting held on Monday night, Feb. 6, 2023:
Black History Month
The first Proclamation recognized February as Black History Month, and honors the achievements of Black Americans throughout the country. Black Americans in Burien own small businesses, work as educators, and contribute to all essential activities throughout the community. Burien aims to pursue racial equity and ensure that everyone can benefit equally from services and policies. Additionally, the Burien Police are trained in an industry-leading model of de-escalation to prevent the atrocious racial violence committed by police in other parts of the country against Black Americans.
Burien’s 30th Anniversary
On March 10, 1992, the people of Burien voted to incorporate as a city, and nearly a year later the City was officially incorporated. Burien’s first Mayor, Arun Jhaveri, as well as Kitty Milne, a member of the original City Council who was instrumental in getting support for the vote of incorporation, spoke at the meeting. Milne, who also later served as Mayor of Burien, mentioned that Burien has doubled in population since incorporation, and has been doing a nice job with the growth, particularly in keeping Burien a walkable city.
Community Connectors is a program designed to enhance communication with Burien’s non-English speaking population. The program has six Connectors who speak Spanish, Vietnamese, and Amharic, and are uniquely able to build bridges within their communities to access city services and also to help their communities have a voice in future development.
Shape Your City
Council also heard an update on “Shape Your City,” which has been seeking community involvement in shaping decisions that will affect Burien’s 20-year plan in the areas of Parks & Recreation, Transportation, Development & Land Use, and Housing. This program has received around 1,700 comments through 17 in-person events and 750 online surveys. Feedback shows people generally are interested in public safety including sidewalks & safe road crossings, trees & the environment, maintenance & roads, and parks & trails. Feedback has also asked for more public art in neighborhoods, and more parks throughout the City, with trails that connect the parks.
The Shape Your City plan is looking at how to create several neighborhood nodes or “15-Minute Cities” within Burien. These are areas where people can live and work, and easily walk to things like schools, stores, restaurants, and everything else needed in a thriving community. Community nodes being looked at include Ambaum, Five Corners, Olde Burien, 1st Ave, and Boulevard Park.
Councilmember Stephanie Mora suggested that Little Free Libraries or Seed Exchanges could be incorporated into public parks, and Councilmember Jimmy Matta suggested staff look into plants that could be used on walls to reduce graffiti. He also said that there was a need in the senior community for better transportation through town to things like medical appointments and shops.
Crime & Small Business Issues
Councilmember Jimmy Matta’s business was broken into this week, and the same night a person was stabbed. Matta brought this issue up in a plea for the City to take a more serious look at how criminal behavior is treated. Many small business owners have been asking for help in reducing crime and break-ins in the area.
Public Comments: Arts Approval
Commenters thanked Council for increasing the Arts Fund, which doubled this year, allowing all grant applicants to receive funding. Also, Burien Actors Theatre (BAT) has a space for in-person shows for the first time since Covid. They will be performing at Kennedy Catholic High School through March 5. This season marks 43 years of local performances by BAT.
South King Housing & Homelessness Partners Funds Allocated
Council approved about $140,000 for two housing developments chosen by South King Housing & Homelessness Partners (SKHHP), which is a unified coalition formed by 11 cities to pool funds and increase affordable housing options throughout King County. Both the approved developments, which include Habitat for Humanity and Mercy Housing Northwest, are in Burien, with a third, EcoThrive, likely to be approved this year.
The Habitat for Humanity housing development will include 20 three-bedroom townhouses available for families earning less than 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI). Mercy Housing Northwest will have 89 mixed-income units of 1, 2, and 3 bedrooms, with 20% of the units reserved for people with disabilities, and 40% for people experiencing homelessness.