[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The B-Town Blog nor its staff:]

I believe Burien’s quality of life started to decline when the Council became obsessed with annexation. It wasn’t just the loss of dollars that caused the problem, rather it was the staff time not being focused on Burien that allowed the City to slip into decline.
The Burien website contains the Seattle Financial Analysis Report of White Center. This report shows the daunting magnitude of what it would take to assimilate White Center, as well as the unmanageable tax revenue shortfall. The City Council was fully aware of the issues in this report, yet still ordered the City Manager to attempt annexation. This caused thousands of man hours to be needlessly expended in Burien’s:

  • Legal Department
  • Finance Department
  • Public Works Department
  • Planning Department

Today we are confronted by the specter of annexation and all of its problems again. In each race for the Council there is one candidate for annexation and one who wants to focus on Burien.
The candidates that are for annexation are:

  • Lauren Berkowitz
  • Rose Clark
  • Joey Martinez
  • Joan McGilton

The candidates that want to focus exclusively on Burien are:

  • Steve Armstrong
  • Jack Block Jr.
  • Nancy Tosta
  • Debi Wagner

I believe that getting Burien back on track is no more difficult than changing the composition of the Council. This change will also positively affect the City Manager search. Specifically, we will have a united Council that has a mandate to work on Burien. High performance City Manager candidates will want to work with a focused Council. With that, our new City Manager would:

  • Make Burien more desirable.
  • Help us improve our home values.
  • Collaborate with the business community, thus creating jobs.
  • Stabilize Burien’s finances.

I am asking you to join me in voting for change, so that we can change the course of our City by staying focused on what counts most, Burien, the city we call home.
– Dick West

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Since 2007, The B-Town Blog is Burien’s multiple award-winning hyperlocal news/events website dedicated to independent journalism.

21 replies on “LETTER: 'Burien…started to decline when Council became obsessed with annexation'”

  1. I think you have it backwards. There are candidates who want to address all the issues and single issue candidates just riding the anti-annexation hysteria. I guess they think it is progress to go with what seems to be the prevailing wind rather than work toward a goal.
    To my knowledge, the council has accepted the vote and is moving on. This is an issue only because it is an easy way to rile up some voters and confuse the issues.

  2. This blog is starting to decline with all the talk of annexation. I don’t care either way. Annex, or don’t annex.

  3. hmm on no annexation gee there goes that word again now we got another letter to editor that just oh no there going add more people to burien on no run run ahh its so bad on no what will ever do if don’t vote for the people that this group wants then burien is going to fall into Puget sound but wait my area was anexx a fews years back now and you guys where saying some of the same stuff but look here we are and are parks are fixed up are streets are clean when we call police they show up and burien is still running fine no matter what you say but of course now that I have said some thing about 10 names are going to pop up say no no no your wrong no no no thats not happing on wait it is happing oh crap but thats just what happens when childish adults try to play politics so if the annex is dead then owell if its a live I hope the people can look thou all the bs and figure out for them selfs what is best to do

  4. How many times do we have to read the same thing, over and over again, from the anti-annexation cult? Annexation could be defeated at the polls ten times, and they’d still be warning us against it. I don’t believe a word they say, any of them.

    1. It’s quite simple, all you have to do is vote for – Steve, Jack, Nancy and Debi and all the talk of annexation will go away because they will squash it from being a topic at any further city council meetings. They are not running for the open positions just to focus upon that topic, but to prevent that waste of effort and money from happening again. I value what each of them can bring to Burien, which is more that who they will replace.
      Now just repeat after me – vote for – Steve, Jack, Nancy and Debi and change will come!

        1. Well if that’s how you really feel about then you can just step up to the front of the line and take your share of blame for all that has gone wrong here with the current city council. So by not voting for those four you must OK with the current “my way or the highway” system?

          1. Actually, all I have to do is read the comment threads on B-Town Blog to know who is on the side to vote for. The only thing I have in common with Mark Ufkes is that neither he nor I want him voting in Burien.

    2. Of course we have to continue to oppose annexation. We have to win every time. The annexation proponents only have to win ONCE. It is a genetic predisposition in bureaucrats to constantly attempt to increase their bailiwick; with concomitant increase in salary, staff and prestige. Its not like THEY’RE paying for it….
      Nobody wants to go to a convention or seminar for municipal managers and have the likes of Auburn kick sand in his face. Ya gotta muscle up, get bigger, show them your in the big leagues now….

  5. Why can’t White Center just become it’s own city called RAT CITY?
    It can fund itself with welfare checks & crack money.
    Burien is going down hill, because it has way too many gov’t. funded apartments, not because of White Center annexation talk.

  6. Dick, you have done some very important work on behalf of Burien with your emphasis on property values and how to build effective city government. You are one of the primary reasons why Mr. Martin moved on; he got tired of your hounding him about his lack of action on dumpy foreclosed homes in Burien. You have always expressed a sincere desire to improve the quality of Burien neighborhoods. Any city would be proud to have you as a resident.
    We have a freedom of information request to King County that will help us identify the Burien city representative who have meet with the King County Executive this year (after the annexation vote) to discuss annexation. The word is that they all decided not to discuss annexation until after the Burien city council election. Sure its a dead issue, until November 7, if this same Burien band is elected.
    For me its all about annexation since I am a White Center resident who does not want to be annexed by Burien. But for Wagner, Armstrong, Block and Tosta, its about getting re-focused back on Burien and your neighborhoods. Burien; invest in yourselves. That is where the smart votes will go.

  7. Dow Constantine and the leaders from all of the cities and areas that he still wants to annexation met at least 2 times after the annexation vote was taken. Mike Martin attended those meetings and they decided at the last meeting they held to wait until after the Nov. 2013 vote was taken to further plan their strategies for further annexations. Don’t kid yourselves, annexation is not dead and Constantine is still intent to get rid of those unincorporated areas from his budget.
    As long as $50 million dollars is sitting out there, Constantine is going to try to force someone to annex ; even if it can’t be sustained into the future.

  8. Well you must give credit where credit is due. According to Dick the Burien City Council caused Burien’s quality of life to drop since 2008.
    By inflection, one can only assume that the Burien City Council caused the Great Recession that hit the United States in 2008. The Burien city Council is truly evil if they can bring the United States to the brink! (sarcasm)
    All this time I thought that the Great Recession is what caused Burien to decline not the other way around. (sarcasm)

    1. ” All this time I thought that the Great Recession is what caused Burien to decline not the other way around. (sarcasm)”
      That’s another real knee slapper there,Panda

  9. The letter to the editors starts out
    “I believe Burien’s quality of life started to decline when the Council became obsessed with annexation.”
    The quality of life in Burien started declining way before then my friend.

    1. That is the most poignant statement that sums up the entire reason why we should not do anything that would delay the recovery of Burien from the unfortunate path it has been on.

      1. Burien’s economic woes are not attributable solely to the city administration. Long before incorporation, trends led to an inexorable decline. When I was a kid in the 1950’s, Burien was a serious competitor with Bellevue for the next big suburb. People used to come up from Des Moines, Standring Lane and Shorewood to shop. Southwest 152nd and 153rd had dozens of shoe stores, clothing outlets, appliance stores and other businesses. South Center opened around 1966 and changed all that. Suddenly we had bigger and better stores a few minutes away. The Burien business community withered in the face of competition.
        Many local businessmen didn’t even try. Long ago, I spoke with a representative of the Bank of California trust that handled rental properties for one of the largest landlords in Burien. He lamented that they hadn’t received permission to fix a roof or remodel a storefront for thirty years. We can’t blame this on Kitty Milne or her successors.
        Economic decline breeds social decline; in the early and mid 1980’s people got shot fairly regularly in Burien. There were shootings at the bus station, at the restaurants across the street, at the convenience stores along First Avenue South and even up the hill east of Manhattan.
        Rock bottom was around 1987. Things began to improve a little in the late 80’s. White Center trended towards law abiding Asians; Burien housing became comparatively affordable, and First South was always a straight shot to downtown. Another aspect was that much of the population lately drawn to Burien itself is very disinclined to criminal behavior, due to unique factors beyond the scope of this message.
        The point is, Burien was and is gradually recovering through a combination of social and market forces. Activist or redistributive policies can only interfere with the process. We don’t need more subsidized housing, and we certainly don’t need to amalgamate with the residual criminal element in White Center.

  10. Isn’t it interesting how all the pro-annexation posters come out of the woodwork throwing up smoke screens and pretending its a dead issue when the reality is they are trying to pull a fast one just like they did before when they pushed annexation down our throats.
    We know how that turned out. .These people don’t get it and they probably never will. Annexation of white center is a BAD IDEA but they just won’t let it go and they even have their candidates that won’t let it die either.

  11. As a small business owner thats been struggling to expand and grow but has been blocked by buriens city council at every turn i’m against annexation. As it is i found some decent commercial affordable property Near by but come to find out that area is now burien as well. Burien city council wants to walk around with their noses up in the air and will only allow uppity eateries at this time. Look at all the empty store fronts its not that business don’t want to be there its that burien wont allow any new “working class” business’s. Im now searching the outskirts to find property that is not in burien. Less taxes for them i guess.

    1. Jason,
      I’ve been trying to address this issue my entire term. At tonight’s council meeting we’re finally having discussions on our new economic development plan, (Like we need another plan, but this is the best the council majority is going to devote to this issue) and business impediments. I hope that you can come to the meeting and talk about the problems you are facing. If not, please take a moment and write the council at council@burienwa.gov The council needs to know what problems you’ve encountered so they can be addressed.
      BTW, My nose is pointed down so I don’t trip. I feel we need a diverse commercial core.

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