On Thursday morning, April 25, 2024, Burien Mayor Kevin Schilling – backed by three fellow councilmembers and several business owners – slapped back at King County Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall at a press conference.

This is just the latest in the ongoing back-and-forth battle between the City of Burien and King County over an issue that has birthed lawsuits, press conferences, letters, non-payments for police and much more (for some context, read the Sheriff’s letter released on Tuesday, April 23 here).

During the approximately 40-minute event at Burien City Hall (see videos below) hosted by the city’s selected Mayor, Schilling introduced several local business people who shared their concerns about safety due to the King County Sheriff’s Office not enforcing Ordinance 832, a controversial camping law that was passed by the council in March.

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As we previously reported, King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) filed a lawsuit against the City of Burien on Mar. 11, 2024 over its beliefs that this ordinance is “unconstitutional,” and since then the city has filed a countersuit, stopped paying for KCSO’s police services, canceled its contract with REACH, requested to fire and replace Police Chief Ted Boe, and more.

Schilling’s Opening Statement

Below are some excerpts of Schilling’s opening statement:

“Our message is simple today: and it’s that we need to get to the table and find a pathway that meets the needs of the City of Burien that works to get folks off the streets and into shelter and services, because right now the situation is untenable and we are locked in this back and forth with the Sheriff, where we have requested and been denied essentially sitting down with them to figure out a way to bring ourselves in accordance with the collaboration that can work to address the needs of the city and address the needs of the people who are on the street.

“By telling the City of Burien what we can and cannot do, King County (and) the Sheriff’s Office is usurping authority and involving themselves in internal affairs with what we have been elected to decide for the City of Burien. In doing so, there has been breaking of the agreement between our government and the sheriff’s office to ensure enforcement and an action of laws. We are in a place where we need to sit down with the sheriff and the sheriff needs to do that through the processes of the oversight committee, the King County Sheriff’s Office within the interlocal agreement.

“And we need that to happen now.

“Because if we have continuing attempts to try to go around that process and to make it hard for us to reach agreement, we’re gonna continue to see a growth of tense, a growth, an increase of overdose deaths and a lack of services that people are being connected to.

“And that could all stop today if the sheriff works with us to enact and continue to enforce the parts of the ordinance that has been in place from day one that they have enforced for months prior to this moment.”

Business owners shared their experiences that most said made them, their workers and customers feel unsafe in Burien, including dealing with someone armed with a machete and more.

Discover Burien Board President Monty Penney

Here’s part of Monty Penney’s statement:

“It’s time for government … to start working together as adults in the room, solving the homeless issue … and stop wasting taxpayer dollars. It’s not a hard issue, it’s an issue that I’m sure we can all handle if we sit down together and talk.”

Jackie Lomeli of Latino Civic Alliance

Here’s the English translation of the statement by Jackie Lomeli of the Latino Civic Alliance:

“I am Jackie Lomeli, I have been asked to represent the Latino Civic Alliance statewide nonprofit advocacy organization. We want to thank Mayor Schilling and Council members and our city Manager Adolfo Bailon for their leadership addressing public safety concerns downtown Buren and other areas.

“Our headquarters is in on 445 SW 152nd St (Downtown) Burien WA, we offer small Business technical assistance services, workforce development/apprenticeship programing and the Latino Civic & Cultural Center also located on 152nd St and last we offer youth and family wrap around services.

“Unfortunately, today, we stand with other business owners addressing the public safety concern that significantly impacts our local businesses including LCA and the overall well-being of our residents downtown and community. LCA has had to take extreme measures to protect our staff located in our building. We recently had a break in to the gated back patio and found large number of remnants of drug use a self-made outdoor stove with over 50 foils used to heat substances and drug pipes.  This is extremely dangerous and could have caused a fire injuring all the staff and commercial space neighbors in the same building. Also, that people were actually in our enclosed property is scary. We have had to change the times of business and take staff precautions and families have reported to be afraid to come to the civic and cultural center. 

“It is crucial that law enforcement and behavioral health specialists address the complex challenges faced by individuals struggling with mental health and drug addiction and violent behaviors.

“We are asking that county sheriff and county elected officials support the city of Burien and our businesses and act NOW.  Small businesses work very hard but the financial impact due to the public safety concerns are real and we don’t deserve to be ignored.  We are in danger of losing small businesses and are reporting they will need to close their business or move to another city.

“Together, we can create a safer and more prosperous environment for all residents of Burien. Thank you.

Farmers Market Vendor Daniel Sullivan

Burien Farmers Market vendor Daniel Sullivan, shared a story about during setup for a recent market at Burien Town Square, a homeless person died of an overdose (read our previous coverage here). He said how difficult that was for himself and his workers to process this tragedy.

Hector Ramos, Owner of La Costa

Hector Ramos, a longtime resident from the Ramos family (which owns Azteca and other restaurants), shared frustrations over his recent attempts to get several homeless campers to move away from outside his La Costa Restaurant on SW 152nd Street (NOTE: these campers were recently removed with the help of Burien Police).

“I’m usually the ‘welcome to the restaurant, the Margarita and Fajita‘ guy, and now I’ve become somebody I just don’t like anymore,” Ramos said at the conference. “It’s been a couple of months where I’ve become not a happy guy – I haven’t slept well, I haven’t been with my family. I’ve had to try to smile, I haven’t tried to be what usually comes naturally, so I’m a little disappointed in myself because it’s hard dealing with what we have to deal with every day.

“I spent from 6 a.m. to about 2 a.m. studying the situation, understanding what was in front of me. All I saw was drug use, all I saw was defecation, all I saw was continuous (drug) sales – three different drug shifts from 10 to 2 in the morning. It’s just constant, it just got to a point where I just don’t know what to do, and I’ve become this nervous guy trying to put a gate here, put a fence there, light here, and it’s just been crazy.”

Rebecca Zielinski, Co-owner of Sitka Living

Rebecca Zielinski, co-owner of Sitka Living on SW 152nd Street, said:

“While we understand the complexity of balancing the needs of the homeless with the needs of our citizens, we business owners feel ignored when it comes to the safety and security of our customers and businesses while the King County Sheriff’s Office and the Burien City Council have been struggling to compromise.

“As a woman business owner, I have felt threatened several times. I’ve had to ask a man with a machete to leave our business. I had a man lunge at me with a piece of rebar. I’ve had men exposing themselves to me. What is it going to take…?”

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Below is our edited-for-time video (removing pauses between speakers) of the press conference that we were able to record before our battery died during the Q&A:

YouTube player

And here’s raw footage of the full conference, courtesy KING5:

Was There A Quorum?

Some who were present at the event shared concerns that since there were four Burien City Councilmembers present, there was a quorum.

If four or more councilmembers show up at an event together, the City is required to issue a public notice. At this event, in addition to Mayor Schilling, Deputy Mayor Stephanie Mora, Councilmembers Alex Andrade and Linda Akey were all present.

According to the City’s own Burien City Council Meeting Guidelines:

“If more than three (3) Councilmembers have notified the City Manager that they wish to attend a meeting where City Business will be discussed, they will notify the City Clerk’s office and a notice of a Quorum of the Council will be posted, as regulated in RCW 42.30.”

Far as we know, no official notice was published, and when asked about this, Mayor Schilling told The B-Town Blog:

“This was a press conference organized by myself and the businesses, and we didn’t discuss council business. So that was noticed as such. But also once we saw there was 4, one was removed from the room to make sure there wasn’t an issue. Couldn’t control who shows up to something I put out there either.”

This may have also been a violation of the Open Public Meetings Act.

We were notified of this press conference via an email timestamped Thursday, April 25, 2024 at 7:07 a.m.

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Join the Conversation


  1. The speakers who poignantly presented what they see and deal with daily are to be commended and thanked, any activists who have a counter statement should go and pick up some trash, feces and needles as a appropriate rebuttal.

  2. The meeting was a blatant violation of the Open Public Meeting Act when a majority of the council meets and talks about city business, much less about pending litigation and announces a decision on such, without having given appropriate public notice of the meeting.

    1. It’s so disappointing that you find the time to complain about process, but never the time to actually clean up the filth.

    2. Council didn’t meet to discuss city business. It was a platform for business owners to share their stories and to plead for unifying both the sheriff’s dept and city council.

  3. Let’s start calling this what it is: addiction, drug sales, human trafficking, you name it. It used to be illegal to ‘camp’ on public property. Period. This should have been stopped at the onset 10 years ago. Hey, these people have a free ride, no rent and lots of stuff to steal. Unconstitutional? I think not.

  4. Thank you to our courageous mayor and the city council members who have our best interests at heart. I applaud the hard working business owners who have suffered greatly. I also commend those able and disabled who try to travel our dangerous sidewalks and public areas.

    To the so called activists who stand for antisocial behavior, sex trafficking, and drug use; you need to be sent to a place to get deprogrammed. I remember some of your ilk in the 1960s. A lot of them grew up and saw the light. Hopefully, you will follow suit.

  5. For the record, Linda Akey didn’t leave until almost the end. Adolfo stood there watching the whole thing and it was just a few mins before it was over that he told Linda she should leave.

    So, Kevin’s claim about not having a quorum is untrue. Violation of the Open Public Meetings Act for a fact.

    1. If you think that is our biggest problem in Burien right now, let’s go on a walking tour. That is if we can actually walk on the sidewalks. We will probably be called a lot of filthy names, too. Who cares about when people left a meeting with all of this rampant insanity around us?

  6. I’ve been watching this homeless camping situation for a year now the police will not do nothing and the businesses are all suffering the people camping are laughing at us and nothing will be done until an innocent person just going about there business gets killed by these homeless campers then and only then will something be done sad but there it is !!!!!

  7. I really miss walking my dogs downtown Burien. It used to be safe. Why must the 50,000 residents of Burien be held prisoner in our homes so that there can be a 24/7 drug fair in our public places?

    1. I walk my dog in downtown burien weekly. I walk and bike in downtown Burien daily. Nobody has ever accosted me, or my dog. I shop freely at our businesses, dine at night in our restaurants. The 12 tents in front of city hall have never once posed any threat to me enjoying Burien. I’m not sure what reality y’all are living in that you think all of downtown has been taken over. Have you been there? It’s not far.

      1. Congratulations. I’m glad nothing has happened to you. Last week I was with my young kids and witnessed a homeless man swinging a gold club at another homeless man while chasing him down 152nd (stopping traffic). I called 911. If you actually think everything is just fine, you are blind. Don’t believe me? Just ask the three people who have died downtown within the past month. But as as long as you’re feeling good….

  8. Not a single word was mentioned about housing; instead, the focus was entirely on incarceration. We cannot simply incarcerate our citizens to address homelessness. The responsibility lies squarely with Mayor Kevin Shillings and his failed policies. I inquire, when did the homeless crisis escalate to this extent? The past year has been a dire catastrophe, as has his tenure leading our city.

    1. Links to housing are offered on a regular basis by Police and associated service providers, it is continually refused as addiction and mental illness run rampant. Does that refusal allow those to ignore laws and civil order and be free of responsibility? The Mayor inherited an issue brought by the likes of Krystal, Pedro, Sarah, Hugo and last but not least, Cydney and her minions.

  9. Hi Tom T.
    I also am not too concerned because I am a kind of scary looking dude that has a CWP. But my wife, who is a taxpaying resident of Burien, is very concerned as is Becky. Think of someone besides yourself. Drug addicts are extremely unpredictable.

  10. I’m going to be honest. Listening to these people talk, and reading the comments that follow on this page has made be very, very disappointed to live in Burien.

    It makes me not want to patronize any of these Burien businesses for certain, but this is being portrayed as the voice of all Burien businesses, which makes me not want to do business in Burien at all. And it makes me no longer want to volunteer in local events, or participate in community cleanup. It disgusts me. It literally makes me not want to share a community with these people and regret that I ever spoke positively about this city.

    And I regret that because my name is unique and identifiable, that I cannot put my full name down here for fear of retribution.

    1. Are you therefore in support of lawlessness, drug addiction and associated unsanitary and unsafe encampment’s in Burien? Do you feel the business owners of Burien are grandstanding and the issues they brought up, and statements made are untrue? If so your support won’t be missed because you obviously don’t care for the soul of Burien or the businesses and residents who do.

      1. I’m in support of fixing the problem, not the symptom. I’m in support of harm reduction.

        The policies being pushed by the mayor, manager, some council and these business owners is to inflict harm on disadvantaged people in our community.

        I have been close to homelessness myself in the past couple years. You are probably not as far from homelessness as you think. For most people it would only take one bad illness.

        When I listen these words, what I hear is what I can expect from my community if I am ever faced with the challenges of homelessness.

        This community is showing that it doesn’t care about people.

        If the businesses were truly interested in fixing this issue, they would be fighting for Housing First initiatives and sponsoring a charity kitchen/shelter.

        But they are not. They are calling the cops to arrest everyone, and then sueing the cops when the cops refuse.

        The police can and will address each of the individual problems described during the conference. It was all just hate and outrage, nothing that should logically convince anyone to “just arrest everybody”. So yes, I ABSOLUTELY believe these businesses are grandstanding, and they’ve lost my business due to it.

        The behavior being shown in this conference is indefensible.

  11. “all I saw was defecation”, I couldn’t tell if he was talking about the Seahawks’ run defense or the Burien drug crisis

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