[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.
This ‘arguing via letters on the blog’ will likely come to a head at Thursday night’s Community Meeting on Eagle Landing Park, which starts at City Hall at 7 p.m.; there is also a resident-run informational seminar on Wed., May 16.]
I am grateful to the Blog for allowing me to respond to the city manager’s letter about how concerned he is about the law. Many are left wondering what the hell is going on, why all this laundry, why would the city manager send his so-called code enforcement violations through the B-town Blog? Of course there is an answer. Here it is.
The city has not followed the law on their storm drain. Now it may have wiped out a $400K stair case. We exposed this. The city got a faulty geotechnical report that failed to mention a seawall at the beach. It is our belief the storm drain washed it out and caused the stairs to fail.
When we reported the city received a grant to buy Eagle Landing Park but failed to report the bulkhead all hell broke loose. The grant providers are investigating. The truth is about to hit the fan. By law, the city is required to maintain bulkheads. When it started to break we warned the city but no repairs were done.
The city manager speaks about the law but when we try to report a drone swooping on our property we find out he has already called the police chief and asked him to not take the call but instead instruct us to call the city, citing issues are being handled by counsel. But then he openly attacks us on the blog. This process makes everyone wonder what is going on at the police department. Since when can our police chief not investigate a crime? Drones have been used to case out homes for robbery.
Then our city manager posted a photo of our property taken in 2009 as proof we removed vegetation. He did not realize his mistake. Everyone in Seahurst knows the original property owner, Mr. Sprague, died in the house in 1986, leaving it for weeds and invasive ivy to run wild. Every local Real Estate salesperson knows this. What would anyone’s yard look like if you had not maintained it for 30-plus years? The tennis court was completely covered along with the entire property. Is removing the ivy a crime? Well yes, if you go by the critical area map.
The city will not tell the citizens the critical area map is incorrect. It shows the city storm drain as a “seasonal stream with no fish”. This triggers buffer zones. Suddenly the whole property is a landside zone. It’s mislabeled but rather than correct it, the false map forces citizens living near it to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a critical area review. Is this lawful? Why not correct the map? On the other hand, the parks department received funds to pay Earth Corps to install wattles and dams on their “seasonal stream with no fish” without a permit or critical area review. Those funds were for removal of invasive ivy not for building dams.
If our city manager lived here he might take a walk and notice the stream is not a stream at all but instead a pipe pouring 2500 gallons of water a minute, at peak flow, onto the parking lot and park. He would have heard the ten plus years of complaints from Seahurst residents. Think this is out of the ordinary for Burien? Others in our city have had to face the same mislabeled â€˜seasonal stream with no fish’ on critical area maps off of 160th Ave SW near the new CVS. That â€˜seasonal stream’ is also a storm drain with the onus on the citizen to pay unnecessarily for critical area review.
The city manager did not know that a beautiful tennis court sat where he thinks we cleared blackberries, ivy, and Cherry Laurel. Of course he does not know because he does not live in Burien and this could be one great example why we should follow the rules and stick with hiring city managers that live in Burien. We need a local to head that post so these issues to not need tens of thousands of dollars of consultants to give false answers to known facts.
You are not fooling the smart people in this town with snapshot photos of a house overrun with ivy or stories that you were just flying your drone to get a better look at Eagle Landing Park. You know what this is really about. If that drain ends up being the problem our city could face millions in damages. One dye test would prove to all of us where all that water is really going? Any geotech worth his salt would have dyed the storm drain long ago, not to mention concerns about diverting so much water to a slope.
Nope, sorry sir, but you are in a town with a lot of smart folks. How can the city deny that a bulkhead failed at Eagle Landing Park? How can you claim a drone did not fly over our house? Our Ring cameras do not lie. My neighbors saw the drone on their property as well and were very concerned. My daughter not only saw the drone, she flipped it off. She took live video of it passing over our roof. Where is that footage? How many witnesses do you need? That drone operator is standing on our property while running his drone. To us this is creepy. Any citizen would feel violated if a drone operator was standing on their property and flying his drone up to the windows. Why not call us and warn us? Why not warn the neighbors? Drone all you want but please call and let us know. You called the police to warn them of a possible complaint, why not inform the public? The buck stops with you sir.
Please do not give the citizens a story about how you want to protect them. You want to protect city staff mistakes. This is the screwed up culture we have right now. No wonder things are a mess. I fear for any citizen that has to put up with your tactics. Are you going to drone every possible code violation and run it by The B-Town blog? You are scaring folks with these tactics. You have more important things to address. Why send the blog false reports while instructing everyone to pass everything through counsel? Focus on what is really happening please.
Look at some videos of the massive amount of water coming out of the storm drain. Our entire block is full of concerned citizens worried about this storm drain. What law gives the city the right to send nine blocks of water into one 12-inch pipe and dump it on a known saturated slope? If you lived here you would know this same thing happened with Ann Rule. She had to sue the city to get results. I am hoping we do not have to do that.
I would rather shake hands and try to sit down and work on this issue together. We want our stairs back. We want the drain fixed. We want our only other access to the beach. You have the power to change things. The culture is worrisome. When the rains come it’s going to happen again and again.
We need to hire a new geotechnical company that has a reputation of not making mistakes. Shannon and Wilson will not do, they missed the bulkhead. Geo Engineers will not work either because they failed to dye the storm drain and also failed to mention a broken bulkhead and wrongly blamed the slides on Puget Sound. When these errors occur we should stop doing business with them and find a firm more qualified.
Meanwhile, may I please have the name of the drone company and can you please release all the data, not just the data you want us to see?
With regards to events, yes we had events. Governor Inslee wanted to use our home to have a fundraiser. I lean right but Shelli leans left and you know what they say “happy wife, happy life” so I let the Democrats use our home free of charge. Now I lean more left, thanks to Shelli. Yes, we had Austin Bell use the home to raise funds. Yes, when Steppenwolf wanted to use our Historical Organ to record their new song we turned down the payment and asked them to perform for our neighbors. Yes, we hosted silent movies with the Historical Organ Society donating their time to play the organ. So what? Not once did we ask for money. We opened our doors to all our neighbors and not once have we received a complaint. Wait, that is not true, the police did show up to complain that we did not invite them to see Steppenwolf. I am proud to host our Governor; it’s good for Burien, left or right. Helping locals run for office is not a crime either.
I will end by saying that you know full well that Landau and Associates did a full study of our property to determine whether any clearing had anything to do with the slides. The report clearly states that no activity on my property contributed to the slides. You have our Earth Corps Vegetation plan showing that our forest is nearly dead, citing massive overgrowth of ivy and other invasive plants with a warning to remove them to save the remaining trees. There just isn’t enough rainfall on my property to cause such slides. We know where the water is coming from. Let’s stop worrying about the past mistakes and solve this issue. Dye your storm drain. Let’s see where all that water is really going.
I will shake your hand and work with you but if you go down this ugly path I will fight back until you are held accountable for your actions. Meanwhile, we are working with city staff to resolve any and all permit issues. If you want to drone our house in search of violations then call us and let us know in advance. Stop posting that we are the cause of the slides because the evidence is pointing at the city storm drain. My bet is that soon we will hear an announcement that our city will indeed take the drain to the beach and when this announcement happens we can begin to repair our stairs and restore our beach access.
Please read through the attachments provided. Pay special attention to the critical area map. Your claims about removing vegetation rely on this document which is falsely claiming your storm drain as a “seasonal stream with no fish.” Please read the Laudau report (PDF file) which clearly disputes this critical area map.
John White, EMBA
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