by Scott Schaefer

Here are notes from Monday night’s (July 20, 2009) Burien City Council Study Session (PDF agenda here, streaming video link here):

Both Mayor Joan McGilton and Councilmember Kathy Keene were absent, but with five councilmembers remaining there was enough for a quorum, so Deputy Mayor Sue Blazak ran the meeting.

Roehmer presented a Powerpoint about the new “Urban Forestry Plan” and outlined the Desired Outcomes:

  • Hire consultant for assessment & plan deve. Eagle Landing Park, Seahurst, Salmon Creek
  • Establish & implement an associated invasives removal program
  • Conduct tree plantings
  • Provide for public input and access to resources developed
  • Complete plan by Dec. 2009


  • Involve all stakeholders, including volunteers
  • Facilitate w/proven professionals (has already hired Seattle Urban Nature)
  • Develop management & restoration priorities adaptable to budget & operational realities
  • Inventory of existing habitat types, tree density & % cover by species type
  • Locations of invasive species
  • GIS data layers
  • Vegetative Management Plan & habitat mapping (for Eagle Land Pk & Salmon Creek)0, approx 100 acres being targeted


  • Site location & context
  • Forest assessment methodology
  • Property-wide results & findings, including details inventory of species & habitat types
  • Zone specific results & management recommendations
  • Short & long term by zone & flexible

Most focus appears to be aimed at Eagle Landing Park, and Roehmer said that all details gathered “will be accessible online.”

Councimember Lucy Krakowiak expressed her excitement and thanked him, recommending Dottie Harper Park be included as well.

Vote was 4-1 to approve the Urban Forestry Plan.

Jenn Ramirez Robson, Management Analyst, presented the Transportation Benefit District (TBD) proposal. The TBD would be created solely for improvement of transportation in Burien, and a $25 license fee would be put on the Nov. 3rd ballot.

This tax would apply only to current residents, not annexed ones, for bicycle & pedestrian improvements for two areas of  Burien:

  1. 8th Avenue South (S. 128th Street to S. 136th Street), next to Cedarhurst School; currently no sidewalk there.
  2. SW and S. 136th Street (from Ambaum Boulevard to 1st Ave South and 1st Ave South to Des Moines Memorial Drive): bike lanes on both sides, make sidewalk ADA compliant.

Robson said that in 2004 over 400 residents participated in a process that recommended a Bicycles Facilities Plan, with over 20 high-priority pedestrian and bike projects identified.

According to the 2008 Burien Community Survey, a “majority of respondents” felt there is a need for more sidewalks and bike paths in their neighborhoods.

Aso of July 2008, the state of Washington allows cities to designate a TBD to fund transportation improvements.

The City Council would create a TBD, which would be funded via the $25 fee for 2 years; if not approved Nov. 3rd, said TBD is dissolved.

Timeline would be:

  • Aug. 3rd TBD meeting to place ballot measure on Nov. 3rd ballot for Aug. 11th deadline
  • Nov. 3rd election within current Burien boundaries vote on $25 fee for 2 year TBD program.

At 7:25pm the public hearing was opened for comment; here are some highlights of citizen comments:

Bruce Rambau suggested a “wheels tax” on Burien city employees’ salaries; he then asked how many city employees actually live in Burien;’ “why not make everyone who comes here to work pay for the upkeep of the roads?” “I don’t think it would be that offensive…if you wanna play you gotta pay.”

Don Warren spoke about how he worked on the original bikes & pedestrian plan as well as helped identify areas that Robson presented earlier. He thought that taxing people in cars for benefit of bikes & pedestrians “isn’t the best idea”; other ways would be to tox just those who use it. He supports the two projects, but to have a TBD assessment during “tough times” might not be popular, this is not a “must have” project but “it’d be nice to have.”

Chestine Edgar referenced the 2008 study and said “only 20% identified bike paths as a critical issue.” Edgar frequently challenged the report, saying “or perhaps I read it incorrectly.” She also felt that the information in the agenda was not complete, and proceeded to listed five changes. She also referenced recent cost overruns on construction on First Ave South and SW 152nd. “This city has some really large bills that it has to pay”; “including a $14 million bill to Westmark – how will that be paid?” Spoke about annexation, which will run $3 million in the red, with no cost breakdowns; “I am concerned when I see these proposals come forth, there is no real analysis of the costs and whether we can afford it.”

Roger Dorn agreed with Edgar and spoke of how he has to maintain the sidewalk in front of his house in Sumner. “Why should residents be taxed for this?” “I’m personally tired of being taxed more and more.”

Joe Fitzgibbon spoke in support, thinks $25 fee is reasonable request, works out to less than .7 cents per day per vehicle. Kids will be safe walking to school, families without cars will be safer & people who do have cars may leave them behind to ride their bikes.


  • Visited Water Dist. 20 reservoir which serves the North Highline area.
  • On 7/14 city staff hosted an Annexation Open House; they’re now seeing a “tapering off” of attendees (was 60-70 per forum), not sure how to interpret that (EDITOR’S IDEA: bring back crummy weather dude, it’s summer!). Wed. 7/29 6:30pm is the next forum at city hall mostly “for our own residents.”
  • A couple weeks ago when power was lost in the downtown area, the communication between Burien & City Light was done “poorly”l turns out that Burien wasn’t on a “special list” of agencies that get phone calls from them; Martin also felt that City Light was “unapologetic about it.” “In the future we’ll have a lot better direct communication, but now that we have a low-watt radio station (540AM) which should help get informationout, 85% of our residents could get that communication.” “I’m pleased to report that incrementally we’re improving communication issues…”
  • Vandalism in the new Town Square Park on four pieces of art that were damaged or stolen; the city is still trying to figure out what their response will be to that. “We have a number of issues with the new park and the B/ IAS park also”; “We want to have a lot more public art.”
  • The 4th of July was “the best in the three years I’ve been here” and while there were still illegal fireworks, it wasn’t as bad as previous years; Martin attributes this to getting the word out that fireworks are illegal in city, and that police can give out citations. He also spoke about how the city “strategically irrigated our parks in the evening”; “we were pleased about that and I hope it continues.”
  • Jan Vogee was cited for winning an award for helping develop elecrical code by the Washington Associaciton of Building Officials.

Councilmember Gordon Shaw spoke:

  • He mentioned that the Water Dist. 20 tour would’ve “been nice to visit” but that he wasn’t told about it. “Hopefully sometime later that will be made part of Burien.”
  • With regard to the low watt radio station, Shaw, apparently never having tuned it in, asked “What is on it when there’s no emergency?”; Martin replied that there’s a 20 minute loop of announcements that can be altered via computer.

Rose Clark spoke about:

  • A residents’ letter regarding Port of Seattle 3rd runway noise monitoring. She wants the city council to “write a letter to the Port asking that a noise monitor be placed in this neighborhood.”

Jewett spoke about a zoning map for a subdivision of 8 homes which would remove all buildings on the lot.

5-0 was vote to approve it.

TBD public comments were then discussed:

  • Sally Nelson talked about cost overruns and how they’d be addressed; Marting replied that contingency funds are “built into the TBD estimates”;
  • Shaw thinks some of the funding may come from federal stimulus funding
  • Martin said that’s “very unlikely”
  • Shaw then cited that 21st Ave SW has much less sidewalk than SW 136th and that there may be other places where this money could be used; he then expressed that he’s opposed to the TBD.
  • Blazak then said she supports the idea, was involved in planning process, and this is one of the reasons she wanted to be on the city council.
  • Krakowiak also supports the TBD.

Vote was 4-1 approving the TBD. It appears that the next steps will be:

  • Aug. 3rd TBD meeting to place ballot measure on Nov. 3rd ballot for Aug. 11th deadline.
  • Nov. 3rd election within current Burien boundaries vote on $25 fee for 2 year TBD program.

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