The Burien City Council meeting on Monday, June 3, 2024 covered gun violence awareness, LGBTQIA+ Pride Month, transitional housing and an update on the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

Council also heard public comment on a variety of concerns, mostly centering around homelessness, and voted to change to the start time of future council meetings.

Gun Violence Awareness Month

Council read a proclamation recognizing June as Gun Violence Awareness Month. According to the proclamation, there were over 470 shooting victims in King County in 2023, with more than 100 people losing their lives to gun homicide. On June 7th, the city will be giving away free lock boxes to gun owners, in order to keep guns stored safely. Details about the community center event can be found by following the above link.

LGBTQIA+ Pride Month

According to the proclamation, in 2004 Burien passed one of the first and most comprehensive anti-discrimination laws in the state. The city is committed to working towards equality and celebrating diversity. This coming weekend (June 7-9, 2024) Burien will host a three-day Pride Festival. See the link for the lineup.

Comprehensive Plan Update

Burien has regional responsibilities to increase housing and jobs by specific numbers. By 2044, Burien needs to change zoning to allow for 7,500 new housing units, 1,393 new emergency beds, and 4,770 new jobs. The Comp Plan will take those needs into account. The plan will be brought to the Planning Commission later this month, and then parts of it brought back to Council in a series of meetings lasting the entire summer. Finally, by Oct. 7 they expect to have a completed Comprehensive Plan for the next 20 years.

Public Comments

Fifteen people signed up to speak, and most of the comments concerned transitional housing for the homeless. One commenter reminded Council that it has been over a year since the county offered $1 million dollars to build a tiny home village in Burien. She said Council needs to have a more efficient process for moving these projects forward, or organizations will be discouraged from building transitional housing here. Another said the council needs to make sure any transitional housing built be required to have a high bar for entry. 

One commenter mentioned that the queer homeless population here is only going to go up as bigotry and intolerance increase in other parts of the country. Another person said he is boycotting the Burien Pride festival because of homeless sweeps. Speakers said that the city cannot call itself inclusive if it doesn’t tolerate the homeless.

Others shared concerns that homeless people from other parts of the county will be moved to the transitional housing Burien builds, rather than housing our own homeless. Another person suggested we tell the county they can reallocate the $1 million dollars to another jurisdiction to make use of.

One speaker complained that homeless people have been throwing rocks at disabled access buses, and one of those buses is now unusable due to the damage. Another said there was a fire in the homeless camp next to the courthouse the previous evening, and asked that Council not allow transitional housing to be built next to a school due to the increased fire danger.

One representative from the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) shared that a tiny home village could permanently solve Burien’s homeless issues. He said LIHI manages many tiny home villages, and a few of those are even right near schools, with no problems. One woman thanked councilmembers who had previously voted yes to bringing in the beautiful new DESC building, which is now housing many formerly homeless people.

On a different topic, one speaker expressed frustration at the unfairness of having a cap of $10 for tenant late fees, while landlords are charged $6,000 now if they are late in getting permitted. He said that the city doesn’t provide housing, landlords do, and property owners shouldn’t be punished so extraordinarily for not getting a permit that was never required in the history of rental housing in the area.

Finally, one speaker briefly mentioned that Boulevard Park is still experiencing drainage issues that have never been dealt with. She simply asked that flooding in Boulevard Park not be forgotten about.

Transitional Housing Zoning Update

Rather than updating the code right away, Council voted unanimously to direct staff to update the ordinance with more consistent language, and also to make sure that it both complies with state law and allows current transitional housing programs, such as Mary’s Place, to continue to operate and potentially expand.

Council agreed to give staff leeway to determine appropriate project size and population density limits. Council also showed unanimous support for trying to make sure these type of projects don’t get clustered in low income areas, but rather have more equitable dispersal throughout the city. There was not support for restricting the location of transitional housing to keep them 500 feet from schools, parks, or libraries, or for removing the current 1- to 2-acre size limit. However, Deputy Mayor Stephanie Mora did get support for restricting “housing absent of permanent foundation” from being within 800 feet of schools, daycares, or parks.

Meetings to have Earlier Start Time

Council has been considering moving to an earlier start time, so that meetings will not go so late into the evening. The proposal was to move the start time an hour earlier, from 7 p.m. to 6 p.m. However, as this discussion commenced, Deputy Mayor Stephanie Mora moved to start meetings even earlier, at 5:30 p.m. Councilmember Sarah Moore argued that a 5:30 p.m. meeting time really means a 4:30 p.m. start time for the council, since they often have executive sessions an hour before the public meeting. She was concerned that this would discourage future members of council who work typical 9-5 jobs.

However, Councilmembers Alex Andrade and Jimmy Matta shared that their jobs require them to rise for work as early as 5 a.m., and the late meetings, often running to 11 p.m. or later, mean they barely have time to sleep. They said they make do, because the work of the council is vital, but no one is thinking optimally at 11 p.m. Councilmember Linda Akey also argued that future councilmembers can adjust the meeting time if they decide to.

Council voted to start future meetings at 5:30 p.m., but it was a split decision with Mayor Kevin Schilling and Councilmembers Hugo Garcia and Sarah Moore opposed. This will be on the next meeting’s consent agenda, and will affect meetings going forward from there, starting July 15.

Video

Watch full video of the 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...

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1 Comment

  1. At the previous meeting a few weeks ago the Council asked for legal review of the decisions they had made regarding Transitional Housing. Yet, at this meeting there was no mention of, or request from them for that pertinent information. Because those answers were not provided the Council has had to step back and rehash the scope, distance, size etc. Positive forward motion was lost that would have been a win by limiting the size to no more than 2 acres and taking the SCL lot of the table. The existing facilities can be Grandfathered in, all potential new ones need to stay as far as possible from the locations shared by the public and previously accepted by the Council majority. P.S. Give back the money and shacks to KC, we’ve done enough.

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