[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, submitted by a verified resident. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of South King Media, nor its staff:]
As a Burienite, I am concerned about the homeless issue in downtown Burien, as are many residents and business owners.
It is my understanding that King County asked the City of Burien not to consider their parking lot at the Police and Court building as a possible relocation destination for the tents. City Parks are not a destination for tents, and neither is the privately owned condo property at the KCLS Library. Another City lot is currently leased to a business, so it is not available.
I understand that a federal law prevents people from being removed from encampments, “Swept,” unless there are places (beds) for the people being displaced. The City has no shelter. LEAD and Reach, outreach human services organizations working with Burien and King County and City Staff, have looked extensively on behalf of the Burien homeless to find beds and shelter, inside and near Burien.
Many concerned Burien residents have complained about the human feces, a sanitation issue, around the downtown area. While long-term remedies are not possible to solve this immediate sanitation issue, a short-term solution is providing a port-a-potty for the campers in tents at the small grassy area in downtown. This seems like a viable solution to the sanitation issue, while the City comes up with other short-term and long-term plans for addressing the homeless issue.
At last night’s City Council meeting (Monday, April 10, 2023), after people voiced concerns about sanitation, the motion to place a Porta Potty near the tents on the grassy area was voted down by the majority of the councilmembers. Those in support of the motion, councilmembers C. Moore, S. Moore, and Garcia, attempted to address the sanitation issue raised by many of the people during the public comment.
Why would the councilmembers not respond to the appeals and pleads of the residents? No other motion or consideration was allowed about the sanitation issue, so the saga continues as a result of council not taking a tiny step to solving a serious problem. The tents will remain and so will the unhealthy sanitation issue.
I am very disappointed, as are many others.
– Grace Stiller
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I am a Burien resident for over 10 years now. My work schedule used to be very early, so I have not attended a council meeting in person. However, I do read this blog and council reports.
I agree that sanitation services ought to be available. I’d guess that the reason 1 or more porta- potties got voted down is the drug use that could occur in it. Perhaps, staffing this location with a human would help with access to a locked porta-potty? Better yet, the concerned citizens with money could help Burien seek solutions to this forever condition? Better yet, why does the topic of REGULATING rents seldom enter the conversation? This IS the core reason that housing has become a nightmare in this region. Wages rise 50 cents and the rent is raised $100.00.
Capitalism needs to be adjusted and regulated to serve the needs of everyone.
Substance abuse disorder and treatment needs to be mandatory! Mental illness needs mandatory treatment and/or confinement for any resolution. I think folks will and would accept help if offered in most cases. Those that refuse mental health care need to get it anyway. I can’t tell you how many seriously ill folks I have seen wandering around in Seattle and Burien.
I also think many property owners and businesses need to offer help, not derision.
Yes, I watched the videos of the relocation. I’ve gone there to witness it.
I appreciated the kind letter that the Mayor had published.
Thanks for reading and considering my thoughts.
Jane – I respectfully disagree with your comment that regulating rents is the answer. High rents are not the problem of the people in the Burien encampment. As a property manager in Burien I can assure our rents are not displacing tenants. Please investigate the facts of this complex problem of encampments.
About 8 years ago when Burien started to draw the homeless people from other parts of the country by offering everything homeless people highly desired along with a promise of housing eventually. Well they drew a bunch of homeless people here and they don’t have housing still, they that say they care haven’t come anywhere close to being able to take care of mental health problems of these needy people still, there’s a few other services absolutely necessary that we’re not set up first and so here we are.
We started to have a rise in crime and I warned it was only it worse if they keep drawing the people here to Burien. A few people said and I agree downtown Seattle had all the resources we did not have and we were harming those people by bringing them here with inadequate services that harm them and our community.
Look how much revenue has been generated because of the crime and the other expenses incurred by this influx of homeless and mentally ill and Drug dependent individuals. Yes I understand only the criminals are to blame and our inadequate ability to enforce the laws are already on the books to keep Law and Order.
So how many people had to go through the extra expense in Burien to increase their security for their house and car and whatever (fences, alarm systems, extra lighting, Etc) and so whatever taxes are being collected for all of that and all the other taxes to clean up the messes from this huge problem we have now.
In spite of the increase income in taxes in Burien and the cost / damage to the residents of Burien it’s costing more and accomplishing nothing.
Burien has been made aware of other parts of the country that have systems in place with high success rates to deal with this exact problem and Burien has refused to use it.
I personally don’t shop in Burien anymore except for very small purchases when absolutely necessary. I am doing my best not to support feeding this dysfunctional system.
The right way has been figured out and until Burien City Council and the citizens of Burien prove they’re Worthy of sustaining healthy community and the people in it.
I’ve been doing service work for 40 years working with the homeless and mentally ill and I still do it just not in Burien.
I was referring to the rents in the region generally. They’ve been escalating for years now. Regulating rents would and could help many people seeking housing. Nothing is separate in a society that cares more about money than human needs. Witness all the billions going to the Pentagon!
It’s true that some in the encampments have other personal issues. Mental illness and drug use also cannot be separated from the issues facing this larger society. Of course, each situation has different causes. That Burien does not have the resources is obvious. Rents are way higher than incomes with little being done to regulate it. I know folks that have exorbitant rents and increases.
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