[EDITOR’S NOTEThe 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.]

Dear Burien City Councilmembers and Editor of The B-Town Blog:

The purpose of this letter is to request that our public comment rules be changed slightly as follows:

We cannot by law, ban the public from speaking during the public comment period but we, like many cities across the USA, can prioritize the speakers to first allow residents to speak, then non residents – if there is time allowed.

Here is an example from Castle Rock, Colorado:

  • Each speaker is allowed three minutes to address Council.
  • Time will be limited to 30 minutes.
  • If time permits, after all residents have been heard, non residents will be allowed to speak until the 30-minute time limit has been reached.

It would not take much to change our city sign up for public comment to ask if the person is a resident of Burien or a non resident and place residents first.

Our public meetings are constantly being controlled by non residents, signing up en masse to push a topic, forcing the council to reduce speaking time. This is unfair to tax paying, City voting residents wishing to make a comment. Many times the resident comes to speak for two minutes but the council, faced with so many non residents signing up, is forced to cut speaking time to one minute. This last minute unannounced change forces the residents to cut a practiced speech in half, losing the ability to make a point. Non residents are robbing residents the ability to be heard.

Yes, the public is allowed to speak but we Burienites deserve priority and it is perfectly legal to pass an ordinance giving residents first chance to speak.

It’s simple. Change the website sign up sheet so you name whether you are a resident or a non resident- if you are, name the neighborhood you represent. This would raise awareness of our 19 neighborhoods as well.

I am hoping our council can pass such a resolution. Please, can one of you make such a resolution so the decision can be voted on? If you research other cities with this set up you can see they are very productive. This would make your job easier to serve Burien’s residents. If you are a non resident reading this please understand, we are not denying you the ability to comment. However, you are a non resident so please understand priority should go to those paying the taxes in our city just as you should get priority in the city you live in. If you speak, welcome, but state if you are a resident or a non resident and please allow our residents to have time to be heard.

John White

EDITOR’S NOTEDo you have an opinion you’d like to share with our highly engaged local Readers? If so, please email your Letter to the Editor to scott@southkingmedia.com and, pending review and verification that you’re a real human being, we may publish it. Letter writers must use their full names and cite sources – as well as provide an address and phone number (NOT for publication but for verification purposes). Because this is an election year, Letters regarding election issues or candidates will not be published within one week preceding the Aug. 1 Primary. Read our full Letter to the Editor policy here.

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

One reply on “LETTER: Resident wants to change rules for public commenting at Burien City Council meetings”

  1. I watched the Aug 21st Burien City Council Meeting. I agree the 1-minute limit caused many speakers to have rushed and confusing presentations. I agree that the citizens of Burien should be given priority over other speakers from outside the city and would encourage the council to consider such a resolution.

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