Here’s our recap of the Burien City Council meeting held on Monday night, Sept. 11, 2023:

Proclamations

From September 8th-17th, Burien celebrates the many cultures and contributions of the community during Welcoming Week. Burien welcomes people from around the world who put down roots here and make this city their home. The 3rd annual Welcoming Burien event is on September 16th in Town Square Park. This event will feature games, dance & musical performances, and information about community organizations and city programs.

September is Suicide Prevention Month. In 2020, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the state. 988 is now the number to call for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, recently changed from a ten-digit number. You can also follow the link on their site to chat with someone. In one year, Washington’s 988 lifeline answered 65,000 calls, 12,000 texts, and 13,000 chats. This month presents an opportunity to create more awareness around the warning signs of suicide and how to prevent it.

Homeless Encampment Update

Councilmember Stephanie Mora said there was recently a fire near the Ambaum homeless encampment at 1 a.m., which included an explosion. No one was hurt in the fire but it could have ended differently. She reiterated that the encampment is not safe for neighbors or campers and needs to be resolved. Councilmember Cydney Moore said the fire was due to fireworks. She said some of the homeless people have reported hostile individuals throwing fireworks at their tents

During the public comments section, one of the speakers said maybe it was fireworks but the flames were 15 feet high. He also mentioned witnessing sex trafficking of young girls on multiple occasions. He expressed frustration at the police and city not doing anything while people are committing rape, theft, and burglary.

City Manager Adolfo Bailon confirmed that according to crime analysts, crimes do increase in areas with homeless encampments. Wherever the camp has moved throughout the city, crime rates in the neighborhood have jumped. This was in response to information spread recently saying the opposite, that crime does not increase around the encampments.

Mayor Sofia Aragon and Councilmembers Mora and Garcia toured a pallet village in North Seattle run by Catholic Community Services. The 49 pallet homes could accommodate individuals and couples aged 50 and up. The village includes showers as well as a common space where residents can prepare and eat food. Mayor Aragon said the tour was very enlightening, and one of the things they learned is that it cost $1.5 million to run, and that cost does not include medical, behavioral, or addiction services.

City Manager Bailon reported that the city is regularly sending 4 to 5 public works staff to clean up the homeless encampment. It takes them 2 to 3 hours to clean up the large amount of garbage each week, using a backhoe and other equipment. Bailon said it has been projected that the city will spend $75–$80,000 annually on the cleanup of waste at the encampment alone. He also said law enforcement is conducting regular patrols of the encampment, as well as responding to calls.

Vehicle Ordinance Amendment Tabled

An amendment to the city code regarding storing trash in junk vehicles was tabled to give time for Councilmember Cydney Moore to work with staff to make sure the language of the code doesn’t allow for it to be used against people living in their vehicles.

SCORE Presentation

Council heard a brief presentation by the South Correctional Entity (SCORE). The jail opened in 2011 with pooled costs by several participating cities. The idea for SCORE was conceived in 2009 when King County jail was unable to take misdemeanor cases. The facility has independent HVAC units throughout, which was convenient for air quality during the pandemic. When Covid hit, SCORE’s population was reduced by half, and they also cut staff numbers. They are now bringing the numbers back up; all custody positions are full and they hired 55 new Correction Officers this year. 

View full video of the council meeting here.

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Mellow DeTray

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...

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3 Comments

  1. If any of you have common sense, compassion, and know the difference from right and wrong; I ask you to think carefully when you cast your vote for city council in November. Under no circumstances is the situation on Ambaum good for anyone!

  2. Your hard work on the homeless encampment problem is much appreciated. Nevertheless there is still a huge problem and apparently no deadline for taking care of it. Filth and crime have no place in our lovely little town, Burien. Do the rights of the few outweigh the rights of the many? No, of course not, but at present we are experiencing what amounts to a tyranny of a minisculely tiny minority of people here in Burien, by whom I mean the people illegally living in the homeless encampments. While politicians and bureaucrats take meetings and conduct “studies” the rest of us, law abiding, real estate tax paying residents, have lost access to entire parts of our town. We can’t go where we have to take care to step around garbage, puddles of urine, piles of feces and worse, the many used and therefore truly dangerous hypodermic needles associated with these Burien area encampments.

    Yes, of course my heart goes out in human sympathy to the poor and truly pathetic people who are drug and/or alcohol addicts. We need to, we must, realize that where these people belong is not on our streets, parks and grassy areas but, so very desperately, in treatment facilities.

    So I am calling on you, our elected officials and all the many bureaucrats, to do your jobs, which means getting actual measurable results within certain realistic but also vary specific deadlines and if you are not able to meet your goals by those deadlines then frankly you are failing at your job and should respectfully resign.

    Thank you for this opportunity to get my two cents worth in.

  3. I live 2 blocks from the homeless encampment on ambaum Blvd and 120th street.. Almost every night I hear gunshots coming from that area it scares me because it is so close to home. My family has lived here for 35 years and never had a problem with mail theft until now… I drive past the camp all of the time and I’m amazed by how disrespectful some people that live there can be…. they just walk out in front of traffic and slowly walk or just stand in the way for no reason not caring at all. . Most of the people who live there are addicted to fentanyl/blues and either smoking the foil or doing the Seattle slump (sleeping standing up but bent over). The trash piles everywhere is an eye sore as well.. I have been homeless a few times in the past – living out of my car parking at churches or visitor parking at random apartments. I’ve also lived out of a tent for several months with 3 children and never disrespected anybody or was a nusence to any community. I always packed my garbage with me and never left it behind. I just don’t understand even though you are homeless you should have some respect and clean up after yourselves… maybe the community would complain less if you kept your camp tidy and clean. I know 4 people who live there and ,2 are close friends that I’ve known for years.. 1 of those 2 friends is heavily addicted to fentanyl & blues. She has been homeless for a few years because of her addiction. She was offered to put her tent here where she is safe from all of the chaos up at that camp. The gang members there, the teenaged girls there with older men, everybody with guns, bear mace, and any other kind of weapons – the fights, the strip searches and shake downs, the gun shots being fired into and out of the camp… if I was her and was offered a safe place to stay I would have accepted that opportunity in a heartbeat and been packing my stuff like yesterday.. but she chose to stay at the camp because there is always drugs there….. my friend needs help. She will not volunteerily go to rehab.. she needs to be placed in an impatient rehab for 3 to 6 months to get her off that crap so she can get her life together and get housing, get off the streets and be a bigger part of her children’s lives again….. I worry about her so much every day hoping she didnt overdose last night…. or accidently get shot up at that camp…. my friend needs some serious help before it’s too late… I see her high on that crap and I just tear up because she is killing herself with her addiction and her addiction is all she cares about… my gut tells me that if she doesn’t get help someday very soon that I am going to get that dreaded phone call that she overdosed and passed away…. SHE NEEDS HELP (as a majority of the people who live at the encampment do as well). HOPEFULLY SOMEBODY CAN SAVE MY FRIENDS LIFE BEFORE ITS TOO LATE….. PLEASE HELP THOSE WHO ARE ADDICTED AND FORCE THEM TO GET HELP.. IF THEY ARE WILLING TO GO OR NOT MAKE THEM GO – THAT IS HOW WE CAN SAVE SO MANY LIVES…
    I PRAY EVERY SINGLE NIGHT FOR MY FRIEND, AND EVERYBODY AT THAT CAMP, AND ANYBODY AND EVERYBODY ON DRUGS OR FIGHTING ADDICTION! ITS A HORRIBLE DAZIEZE… I’ve been through it – raised by my mother who was an alcoholic, and a drug addict (heroin, cocaine, meth, pills, crosstops, pot) and I also have had addictions as well. I got myself clean off of heroin 3-1/2 years ago without rehab or any kind of treatment. My uncle died of a heroin overdose when I was 8 years old and I knew I would end up just like him if I kept on doing it. So I decided to lock myself in my friends basement away from everyone until I was over it. I was deathly ill for 5 days couldn’t barely get out of bed. But I made myself get up everyday to eat and shower. After the 5th day i wasn’t feeling as sick so I decided to get up out of that basement and show everybody Im alive, i made it through the sickness and I did it all by myself… Today I am proud to say that I am 3 years and 2 months clean and sober from black tar heroin. I thank the Lord for guiding me through all of it…
    My point being – if I can do it ANYBODY CAN… YOU DONT NEED MONEY YOU JUST NEED CONFIDENCE AND WILL POWER!
    Thank you for reading my thoughts, opinions, and my story….
    God Bless All ❤️

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