Here’s our recap of Monday night’s (Jan. 23, 2023) Burien City Council meeting:

Community Response Team Presentation 

Burien Police Chief Ted Boe presented to City Council on the new Community Response Team (CRT), a co-responder model that includes a police officer alongside a mental health professional. The original model approved by Council in 2021 included a firefighter rather than a police officer, but in 2022 King County approved this version of the program, with the officer riding with the mental health professional. Funding for this team comes from King County.

The CRT consists of Detective Scott Mandela and Daisy Espinoza. Mandela has been with Burien Police since 2009. He has advocated for the co-responder model for over 5 years, helping to bring this program to Burien. He is also an original member of the Crime Reduction Unit. Espinoza holds a Masters in Social Work, and her background includes tutoring youth, working with low income families and in foster care, and as a high school outreach coordinator. She is also a native Spanish speaker.

The goal of the program is to work together across disciplines, reducing calls to 911. The team focuses on de-escalation, performs welfare checks, and proactive follow-up. Additionally, the team helps bystanders and survivors process trauma reactions following incidents. The Council will hear back in 6 and 12 months with data on how the CRT is doing in the community.

Public Comments

One community member addressed Council regarding the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) going in at 801 SW 150th Street. He says the business owners he has talked to either hadn’t heard of this development, or were against it, and he worries that the new facility will further stress police and fire response, and won’t increase safety and wellbeing in Burien. 

Eagle Landing Park was also brought up by a couple of neighbors, one who said he is an expert in pilings. He stated that the once-popular park and now-closed stairs could be restored to safe public use by replacing two unstable pier pilings. Later in the meeting, Deputy Mayor Kevin Schilling got support for bringing this matter to a future Council discussion.

Two local business owners plead with Council to address their concerns for safety and vandalism in the community. They stated that running a small business itself is hard enough, without having to deal with things like broken windows. They said that the required steps to get aid from the City were difficult to follow, and that alternative ideas for resolution have not been respected.

Flooding in Boulevard Park was again brought to the attention of Council, as it has still not been addressed and has not been added to the Planning Calendar. Later in the meeting, Deputy Mayor Schilling received Council support for discussing this issue soon.

Other City Business

Burien, which is celebrating 30 years of incorporation this year, does not have a sister city yet. That may soon change. Schilling received support for the goal of choosing a sister city within the year.

Councilmember Stephanie Mora found support on Council for discussing the idea of moving our police force away from King County, and creating a police force within Burien, or combining with another local city.

Mayor Sofia Aragon asked for a presentation on addiction prevention programs that are available from the White House. She said that the drug fentanyl is now the number one killer in the US among ages 18 to 49, and that prevention is one of the three prongs in the fight against addiction. The other two are treatment and harm reduction.

The Advancing Racial Equity Program briefed the Council on their work. The volunteer committee spent several meetings defining terms like race, institutional racism, and diversity. They aim to make sure that the people most impacted by City decisions are involved in the work. They plan to finalize their charter, develop an equity impact tool for all departments, and create a training program for City staff. They are also trying to recruit more members.

Video of meeting

Watch video of the full 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...