[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written and submitted by a verified resident. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of South King Media, nor its staff.]
Thank you for your reporting on the City of Burien’s work through the City Council.
Regarding Monday’s City Council Meeting that will address potential sites for a tiny village, it appears the official materials presented (link here) may be lacking in facts, key relative information, and comparable data points:
- The matrix on the Agenda Bill is quite incomparable between the sites. The Boulevard Park (BP) site does not include any information about the objective financial impact of the leasing cost for the city to lease the property and the loss from the city’s coffers as a result. Nor is there any mention of potential health and economic impacts.
- All that is shown is the “Walkability Score”, of which the BP site is apparently given a 96 for groceries? (Is this reflective of the Dollar Tree and liquor store?)
- What about any of the findings from the Council, Planning Commission and City’s own Ambaum and Boulevard Park Community Plan? Why is there is no mention of the report’s findings on the disparate lower socioeconomic status, lack of services, grocery access, sewer and sidewalks and disproportionately greater chronic health issues and airport related pollution?
- In comparison, the City Lot property makes no mention of the walkability score and “shopping centers” with services that surround the area and, instead, focuses on potential economic consequences – for which the BP site is given no such similar analysis. It is also misleading to mention the lease-specific loss of the revenue for the City Lot and the subjective “potential loss of jobs” while not mentioning that the City leasing from private landowner at the BP site will lead to a decline in the city coffers, nor mention of any economic impact on the adjacent businesses and tax impacts, nor the cost to bring services to the this already-underserved neighborhood.
- There is no mention of the loss of the 121, 122 and 123 bus lines from North Burien to downtown Seattle, as of September 2023, which impacts north Burien significantly more than its downtown counterparts. This means that Stop 47735 is now non-operational. (If you use the King County Metro text for departures feature you’ll see it now says “Stop 47735 does not exist.”) This was the only direct way for people in North Burien/Boulevard Park to get to downtown where there are many more services. Many residents used this stop to get to work downtown and access other services. Now those in North Burien/Boulevard Park have to go south to the Burien TC to have a direct way to downtown.
- It is misleading to state a 5 db difference in the airport noise reduction zone comparisons. Just simply go and stand directly under the flight path to see the volume difference between there and downtown. It’s no surprise that the Port of Seattle has recognized this dramatic difference in so far as to engage in sound mitigation and insulation treatments on properties under the flight path. Furthermore, the Burien Building Code (BMC Chapter 15.12) even has enshrined differing building code requirements for those properties in the Noise Remedy Boundary compared to those that aren’t. The city’s and port’s own institutional recognition of the neighborhood-by-neighborhood difference in airport noise should be noted and recognized on the official “site comparison matrix” on the Agenda Bill.
- I have also included here the Port of Seattle’s PublicVue flight tracker showing an actual flight path that planes are currently utilizing. You’ll see a typical decibel level of 77 found at the Beverly Park station when planes fly over (nearby monitoring station). However, this does not even show the flight path further east which goes directly over the proposed BP site, for which noise levels are even higher still. The vast majority of air traffic that occurs north of the airport over the past years has been inbound/arriving compared to outbound.
- The official meeting materials don’t detail out the direct and indirect costs of operating the tiny village at the BP site relative to the other sites, the full costs associated with leasing the non-city owned land, and the supporting costs required this particular site given the disproportionate lack of services, transportation, and grocery food access for this site compared to the others. (Not to mention health, environmental, and social analyses above and beyond the quantified financials.) Knowing this cost seems like critical data for decision-makers to make fiscally-smart and responsible policy. Potentially, this lack of data is reflective of the significantly reduced amount of community engagement, research, and planning that has been done around this newly proposed BP site, compared to the other sites that were publicly presented back in the Spring.
Providing a disparately and dramatically reduced amount of research, planning, and public comment and engagement opportunities for lower socioeconomic status communities and communities of color is not just antithetical to equity and environmental justice, it is the definition of providing unequal and disadvantaged treatment in governance.
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