Here’s our recap of the Burien City Council meeting held on Monday night, Oct. 16, 2023:


Mayor Sofia Aragon, Burien’s first Filipino American mayor and councilmember, read a proclamation honoring October as Filipino American Heritage Month. According to the proclamation, Filipinos have lived in this country for over 425 years; the first documented evidence of their presence was in 1587 in Morro Bay, California. Filipinos have also lived and worked in Burien since before it was founded, contributing to its vibrancy and economy.

The second proclamation honors Italian American Heritage Month. Italian Americans were among the first immigrant settlers in what is now Burien. Those early settlers farmed, produced foods, opened restaurants and other businesses, and helped to create a thriving community. In the US, Italian immigrants have faced racial, social, and religious discrimination. Casa Italiana, the Italian American Cultural Center, hosts cultural, social, and historical activities and provides a showcase for contributions made to the world by Italians.

Potential B&O Tax Increase Presentation

This was the third and final presentation by city staff to council on potential ways to raise city revenue, in order to eliminate the predicted deficit in the general fund. Since 2015, the B&O tax on businesses has been 0.1%. State law allows cities to raise this to a max of 0.2% without a vote by the people. According to the presentation, Burien’s business tax rate is nearly the lowest of all area cities, with most being at or near the 0.2% maximum. 

This rate increase would likely bring in an additional $2.2 million in annual revenue for the city. It would cost an additional $1,000 each year for businesses bringing in $1 million in revenue. During the presentation it was stated that businesses earning less than $200 thousand gross are exempt from this tax, but during public comments one speaker said that was misleading. According to the speaker, if all income comes from within Burien, the exemption only applies to those who earn less than $20 thousand annually. The $200K exemption, he said, applies to businesses like Toyota, who earn money both within city limits and outside it. He said he’s been trying to get this changed since it was enacted in 2015, as it unfairly impacts small local businesses.

Mid-Biennium Budget Review

Council heard a presentation from city staff on projects budgeted for throughout the city. There will be an additional public hearing and presentation of Mid-Biennium Budget updates on November 6th.

The community center HVAC system has been updated. This will make it a reliable location to shelter from the weather, either during the summer heat and smoke or the cold of winter storms. The Eagle Landing Park stair removal project received bids last week and should be proceeding soon. The stairs will be removed by barge. Another park project, repairing a landslide along the road to Seahurst Park, also received bids last week and will commence with its first phase soon.

New projects include replacing the shelter roofs at Seahurst Park, repairing or removing park buildings, and asphalt repairs. They said that ADA updates are often made upon request of individuals, helping to make their routes more accommodating. Sidewalks that have been impassable along 136th are being rebuilt. Along 4th SW from 156th to 160th, sidewalks are going in on one side of the street, and bike lanes added to both sides. Unfortunately, trees will need to be removed to make space for the sidewalks along this narrow road. Two intersections along 148th, at 4th & 6th Avenues, will receive crosswalks and traffic light updates.

They also said that the H-Line updates are nearly complete, and ridership of this bus route has been steadily growing. It is currently a top-ten metro bus route. 

Temporary Joint Arts Commission & Parks Advisory Board

Parks Director Casey Stanley asked council to allow the Arts Commission and Parks & Recreation Advisory Board to join forces and meet together once a month. This merger is needed because of both staffing shortages and the fact that the Parks Board is now down to only two members. This doesn’t allow them to have a quorum or take any action. The low membership is caused by multiple factors, including members recently moving away and taking care of growing families. Council approved this with a unanimous vote.

New Planning Commission Bylaws

According to City Attorney Garmin Newsom, updating these bylaws is important now since every member of the Planning Commission is new. There are no senior members to learn the ways of the Planning Commission from. During public comments, one speaker criticized some of these bylaws, saying that the commission should be allowed to continue past 9pm and give public commenters more than two minutes to speak. City Attorney Newsom explained that the 9pm cutoff for starting new business is consistent with the previous Planning Commission bylaws. He added that if two minutes isn’t enough time for public comments during their meetings, the new commission can always vote to increase that time. Newsom said the section on “Conflict of Interest/Appearance of Fairness” is new. Councilmembers Hugo Garcia, Sarah Moore, and Cydney Moore abstained from this vote, and it passed with a vote of four. The full bylaws can be found here.

Tiny Home Village Update

Deputy Mayor Kevin Schilling asked for support in looking into a lot in Boulevard Park owned by the King County Regional Homelessness Authority as a site for a future Tiny Home Village. Councilmember Cydney Moore asked to look into the Seattle City Light owned property for the same purpose. Councilmember Jimmy Matta suggested that both Navos and Mary’s Place have property that could be a fit for this purpose. Councilmember Hugo Garcia asked to look into the city-owned lot on SW 150th Street currently leased to Toyota, again.

City Manager Adolfo Bailon asked that council not make so many requests, particularly revisiting locations that have already been voted on by council. Looking into so many different locations, some of them for the second time, takes a lot of resources from already overworked staff. Councilmember Cydney Moore said that the city manager is intended to serve, not to influence council decisions. Councilmember Sarah Moore said that this time it is a different issue, and worth exploring locations again, since the city has been offered money by the county as well as tiny homes. The locations that received council support for exploring include all of the above except Mary’s Place & Navos.


Watch video of the full meeting here.

Mellow DeTray is a Seattle native who has spent the last 16 years raising her family in Burien. She has volunteered at many local establishments over the years, including the Burien Library, Burien Actors...

One reply on “Possible tax increase, budget review, tiny home village update & more discussed at Monday night’s Burien City Council meeting”

  1. I find it really concerning that the city manager has had many HR complaints filed against him, files false police reports reflecting a blatant misunderstanding of the law (wasting time for our officers and prosecutors) and now complains o council when asked to do his job?? Perhaps we need a new city manager who understands and serves his role for the people of Burien.

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