[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:]

We read with dismay, a press release from the City of Burien, dated 5/22/23 responding to King County’s letter dated 5/19/23. We did not see a draft version of this response before it was sent, and this letter does not reflect our views. We are concerned about the damage it will do to long-standing relationships Burien city staff have built with our partners in King County. As with any relationship, trust is hard to build and harder to rebuild once it has been destroyed. 

We believe that while police or sheriffs are hired by municipalities, their duty is to uphold the law, not to follow directions that they determine are unlawful. The city attorney & city manager may disagree with the county about how the law is to be interpreted, but ultimately neither city nor county, but the court of law decides such things, and we respect the county’s legal advisor’s belief that trespassing these individuals would not be upheld in the court of law. 

KC’s letter informed Burien that its Sheriff’s office, which serves as Burien’s police department, is unable to trespass the unhoused people living on the City property at SW 152nd Street and 6th Ave SW. Burien’s council voted to lease that property. We were “no” votes, but presumably the majority believed that leasing would relieve the city of the obligations under Martin v Boise. Martin v Boise states that sleeping on public property cannot be treated as a crime if there is no alternate place for someone to sleep. In this case, there have not been alternatives provided. 

The recent press release accuses the King County Sheriff’s Office of failing in its duty to serve the City of Burien. It defends the city against violating Martin v Boise by stating that we do not have a city-wide ordinance against sleeping outdoors. It blames the county for not providing alternate shelter for the people on city property. But Burien has not offered an alternative either. 

While we share the frustration that a secure location has not been found for the individuals on the city property and agree that the current site is in no way suitable, we are deeply concerned by the tone of the response, which we believe lessens the likelihood of cooperation and collaboration with the County to find a suitable solution. We believe that our city should work to find solutions that respect the civil rights of every resident, regardless of how challenging that may be. 

Sarah Moore & Hugo Garcia

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 [email protected] 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).

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B-Town Blog Staff

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

2 replies on “LETTER: Two Burien City Councilmembers share thoughts on City of Burien’s response to King County”

  1. I personally feel that the two of you should be more concerned about the tax paying citizens of Burien and the small business owners. They are who you were elected to represent. Why are you so worried about temporary campers? I have been told by multiple, reputable people that the tent city campers have all been offered a bed, but they would have to go off drugs and booze. Most of them refuse. You are, in my opinion, speaking emotionally and not with common sense. You should both talk to Big Lots, Bartells, and local apartment complexes. They can tell you how this area is being held hostage lately by your buddies.
    Please start listening to the majority of Burien citizens.

  2. This statement in this letter says it all:

    We are concerned about the damage it will do to long-standing relationships Burien city staff have built with our partners in King County

    Since when does Burien City Staff run Burien? Most, if not all, do not live in Burien, do not dine in Burien and do not feel the heartbeat of Burien. Our Economic Developer does not live her. Our Parks Department head does not live here. Our Public Wirks Director does not live here. They draw high salaries and have a fiduciary duty to serve Burien NOT King County. Most need to use Google Maps to navigate Burien. None of them can name more than three Burien neighborhoods.

    Hugo works for King County. He was on the planning commission when the DESC was seeking ways to get around Burien building codes and taxes.

    Hugo greased the DESC pitch, falsely claiming the DESC would help Burien homeless, neglecting to inform our council that all occupants are placed by King County’s “ Coordinated Entry for all Program of King County. Hugo disguised the DESC as an affordable housing model, helping children and families, when in fact, the DESC bans kids and families from their facilities. When this fact was finally disclosed it was after the council had already voted, their vote was based on Hugo’s incomplete presentation, voting yes on the DESC.

    When the truth was discovered, Jimmy Matta had to announce a city public hearing. Then Hugo loaded up the Zoom meeting with calls from DESC King County supporters. . Thanks to council member Kevin Shilling, the DESC was forced to provide 30 beds for Burien homeless but again, no kids, no families- hardly an affordable housing model as Hugo claimed.

    Now we see how bold and misguided our non elected city staff has become. They place King County over Burien. We Burienites should demand that city staff focus on Burien. Start by trying to remember all 18 Burien neighborhoods by name.

    Shorewood, Salmon Creek, Beverly Park, Boulevard Park, Southern Heights, Inglesia, Evansvale, Seahurst, Chelsea Park, Highline, Maplewild, Lake Burien, Sunnydale, Three Tree Point, Gregory Heights, 5 Corners and Manhattan.

    Start practicing!

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