Seattle Council president on annexation: You should decide

Tonight at the 34th District Democrats‘ meeting in West Seattle, guests included Seattle City Council president Richard Conlin. During Q&A, Dr. Arun Jhaveri asked Conlin about the status of potential White Center annexation. Here’s exactly how Conlin answered:

“The Council has adopted a Comprehensive Plan policy that says we are open to the annexation of that area. We have not been able to come to agreement with the city of Burien on how that’s going to work, and unfortunately the Legislature has approved a sales tax credit if Burien annexes … it’s structured so that it doesn’t apply to cities over 40,000 population … The problem is, (for Seattle to annex) we would need to have some kind of credit. The important thing from my perspective is that people in that area should have the right to make the decision on where they want to go, Burien or Seattle.”

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66 Responses to “Seattle Council president on annexation: You should decide”

  1. Don’t let Seattle annex White Center. Your taxes will go up and the city will dump all those things they don’t want in the north end on White Center. The new jail is a good example. I’m sure housing for sex offenders and parolees won’t be far behind.

  2. Having not lived in this area very long and being a renter who doesn’t pay property taxes, I’m not sure where I come down on annexation. I’d love to hear what some long-time WC-ers think about this!

  3. I own a house in the area, and I do pay property taxes, and here is what I think. Seattle needs a knew ghetto. They have lost fedral funding for low income house. That is 30 million a year. The really want that money. All of their old ghettos are gone. The CD has half million dollar homes as the low end, Columbia City is a model of gentrification, even lowley old Belltown isn’t the same any more.
    Seattle need a place to warehouse people. Either in jails or projects.

  4. That makes sense. So, Fulltilt, do you think it would be better for WC to become part of Burien or to stay unincorporated?

  5. It is really not possible for WC to maintain its status as unincorporated. Burien offers a larger voice in government, a lack of wanting to turn us into a ghetto, and we already share the same services (fire, police, water, sewer).

    A lot of people are seeing dollar signs thinking that having a seattle zip code is going to make their house prices jump. No one is going to want your house when it is down the street from a jail and a 400 unit Cabrini Green style human warehouse.
    Others are touting all the services that Seattle will bring. Services like they brought SouthPark and Delridge? We all ready have a police station. Seattle has NEVER done a thing for its south end neighborhoods. Columbia City was built up by its residents and small business owners. The CD revitalization was done by residents, not by any efforts on Seattle’s part. Delridge got the gift of a police station. The highest rates of crime are within a block of that building. South Park got a library, but try taking a bus in or out of that neighborhood.

  6. Thanks FullTilt! I think I agree. And Seattle’s weirdly invisible police “presence” doesn’t seem to be much of a bonus anyway.

  7. Conlin wants to annex North Highline because there is buildable land, something that Seattle as basically running out of.

    I was at the Seattle Council meeting on 12-11-06 when they designated North Highline as a potential annexation area. It didn’t make me feel good about the future of North Highline and what Seattle would do to it if they annex the area when Conlin stated that his reason for wanting to annex the area was, “The people [of North Highline]come with land. The fact is that makes it more valuable. We can make more people, but we cannot make more land.” You can hear that for yourself about 1:51 into video of that Council meeting
    http://seattlechannel.org/videos/video.asp?ID=2020650

  8. The Seattle police have no concept of “community policing”. I lived and worked in Pioneer Square for years. Almost never saw the same police officer two days in a row. Seattle police know little about the neighborhoods they patrol, they do not take time to know the people, and they seem to shoot a lot of people. I really don’t want that in my neighborhood. The KC sheriffs on the other hand have been the polar opposite. I know most of them by name, because they live in the area they work, and they make an effort to get to know the community.

  9. I completely disagree with this thread right now. Seattle is the better deal. While Burien is a great little community, it does not have the infrastructure, resources or means to provide our community with what it really needs to prosper and grow. I own my home in White Center and pay taxes and have been a part of this community for years.

    Right now, our infrastructure is split in two. We get a couple amenities from Burien (sewer, schools and police) and the rest from Seattle. To be honest, I have not been all that impressed with the Burien end of the equation, most especially the police force.

    White Center is in desperate need of a gang unit and stepped up patrols during peak crime times and areas. Seattle’s police force is equipped and trained to handle this type of policing and has gang units already in place. Having lived in Seattle for years, prior to moving here, I have to completely disagree with FullTilt in his opinion of Seattle’s tactics in community policing. Pioneer Square is not equivalent to a neighborhood community. Ballard, however, is, and while I lived there, the police were great, responsive, polite, respectful and dedicated to their jobs.

    The King County police are rented by Burien on their behalf and ours. If we are annexed to Seattle, Burien will still have to pay the same amount they are paying now for police service, but with 50% less income to do it. This is also true when it comes to their sewer system. They will have to run their sewers, but with 50% less income to do it.

    The King County police in White Center are a great group, but they are over burdened, there are too few of them, and they have not been given the tools and resources to do their job. That will only get worse going into next year when King County slashes their law enforcement budget to bits. They have no money and have been in the red for years. There might even be a possibility that Burien will have to start supplying its own police force in the near future, something it is ill equipped to do, and with regards to the White Center area, utterly incapable of handling.

    If you want the truth about how Seattle treats its low-income neighborhoods and why there are no more ghettos, check out this article from today’s newspaper: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2008113288_delop14.html

    Seattle has made it a city-wide mission NOT to have a ghettos and to provide all its rebuild and reinvest in all its communities to provide as much opportunity as possible. So far, they have lived up to their word, especially in some of their most depressed areas, which are now vibrant today. I personally view actions more then words, and Burien has talked a good game with a whole lot of fear-mongering, but I haven’t seen little action on their part that has convinced me in any way to vote for them. In fact, I used to support Burien and changed my mind once I did some digging on my own.

    My vote is Seattle.

  10. FullTilt, you are spot on when you mention the library in South Park. Seattle annexed South Park in 1907 and in 1908 the residents of that neighborhood began asking for a branch library…….well, it only took them 99 years to get it!

    The Mayor Nickels and his staff have commented a lot about all the glorious things that they are going to do for North Highline if they annex it. Given the South Park Library situation, it makes me mighty suspicious as to how long it would take to actually see any of this occur and I wonder if they are just empty promises.

  11. You’re right FullTilt, South Park has a library, but it didn’t get it until 100 years after it annexed to Seattle.

    Mr. Conlin also left the impression that Seattle was abused in the legislative process that gave Burien the right to a sales tax rebate and indicated that legislation giving Seattle a sales tax rebate would make the process more fair. That’s an interesting perspective since Seattle didn’t even try to get the benefit of the sales tax rebate when it was first introduced.

    Nonetheless, let’s talk about fairness. Under the current law, Burien can get up to $1,200,000 a year for 10 years to help cover it’s annual annexation costs. The year after Burien’s legislation passed, Seattle pushed for a bill that would have given it $9,000,000 a year for 10 years to help with its annexation costs – up to 90 Million Taxpayer Dollars over 10 years.

    That didn’t work so Seattle tried again earlier this year. It lobbied hard for a revised bill that would have given Seattle twice the sales tax rebate that Burien would get. That didn’t work either. Based on Mr. Conlin’s comments last night, it sounds like Seattle will try again to make it “fair”. Apparently, in Seattle, fairness is a fall back position when all else fails.

    Makes one wonder how fairly we’d be treated as part of Seattle. Fairness involves honest and that seems to be lacking in Seattle’s annexation efforts. Mr. Conlin talked about the people of North Highline being able to decide. I agree, but the decision should be based on facts.

    Council Member Conlin’s December 11, 2006 comments to the Seattle City Council explaining why he felt Seattle should designate North Highline as a potential annexation area were very telling. Mr. Conlin said, “…in this case, the people come with land and…that makes it even more valuable because people we can make more of, but they aren’t making any more land.” Clearly, Seattle’s annexation plan is a land grab and we’re simply the pawns.

  12. Everyone who knows me knows that I favor annexation to Burien. Burien offers the best chance for North Highline (which includes White Center) residents to have meaningful involvement in their municipal government. Seattle’s government is dominated by downtown business interests and the wealthier neighborhoods. NH voters would represent less than 5% of the electorate, so it should not be hard to guess how much attention they can demand. In Burien, NH would represent about half of the electorate. That means a real chance to be heard in city government.

    I happened to come into possession of a copy of Seattle’s sustainable growth plan (a 20 year plan created in the mid-1990′s). At the very back of the document the plan discusses annexation. The highlights are: Seattle should not consider any large annexation; Seattle should consider smaller annexations only if asked by the residents to do so(petition method of seeking annexation); Seattle should help suburban cities when they want to annex areas adjacent to Seattle; SEATTLE WILL NOT CREATE A PAA (potential annexation area, indicating an area the city is considering annexing) IN ANY AREA FOR WHICH A SUBURBAN CITY ALREADY HAS ADOPTED A PAA (Seattle designated NH as a PAA after Burien did); SEATTLE CANNOT PROMISE ANY INCREASE IN SERVICES OVER WHAT THE RESIDENTS IN AN AREA TO BE ANNEXES ALREADY HAVE. Seattle has been ignoring its own sustainable growth policies throughout the annexation debate.

  13. “If you want the truth about how Seattle treats its low-income neighborhoods and why there are no more ghettos, check out this article from today’s newspaper:”

    All the examples quoted in that article are despite Seattle instead of because of Seattle. Columbia City was a DUMP until two woman took a chance and opened restaurants there. The only reason that neighborhood is what is today is the residents and small business owners. If left to Seattle, it would still be one of the worst areas in town. Delridge is no different. The big improvement to that area is Youngstown, and that is the effort of NP and artists.

    To quote the article itself:
    “It also shows that sustainable development must come from the community itself. Columbia City residents banded together to activate their neighbors, create powerful partnerships and leverage outside investment.”

    Seattle has huge plans for White Center. They include a jail, and a 500 unit low income tower similar to what you see in the Bronx or the south end of Chicago. That is not the community I want to live in. Seattle would still have low income areas if they had not sold them off like SOuth Lake Union, Rainier Valley, and the ID.

  14. Unfortunately, King County is pressuring the surrounding cities to annex North Highline. Higher taxes will be coming whether it’s Seattle or Burien.

    Many residents of Burien don’t want us and have formed a group called Burien Residents Against Annexation. Some of them believe that Burien can’t afford to annex North Highline even with a tax break from the Legislature.

    The Burien City Council has earmarks of cronyism, and has shown little interest in listening to its citizens. The primary interest in annexation if to keep the North Highline Fire Department. There is little evidence that they will be able to provide services to the residents of North Highline at the same level as Seattle would.

    If you look at the way the Burien City Council has drawn the annexation map, you can see that it was deliberately sketched to include the North Highline Fire Department, which is on 12th SW, and to exclude the “trouble” parts of White Center.

    If you’ve had the pleasure of being a crime victim in North Highline, you no doubt have experienced the frustration of having a quick response time from the King County Sheriffs.

    As a former, long-time Seattle resident, despite the bureaucratic problems, I’ve always found SPD to be extremely reponsive and professional.

    As opposed to Burien, Seattle has been willing to take the whole North Highline pie. The North Highline residents have expressed a desire that no matter what happens, they don’t want to be split up. I’m about six blocks from Seattle City limits, and my property is on a septic system. I’ve tried to repeatedly get on the nearby sewer system, but have had no success with the local sewer company. Seattle has assured those of us on a septic system that we will be on the sewer system soon after a Seattle annexation. Seattle also has a great Department of Neighborhoods that works with residents as well as schools and businesses to improve neighborhoods. There are matching fund grants available to neighborhoods for tree plantings and other beautification projects. Burien has no such program.

    Below you will find the link to the proposed Burien annexation map. You can see that White Center is completely left out of the equation.

    http://www.ci.burien.wa.us/Annexation/default.htm

  15. Correction to the above posting: I meant to say that King County Sheriffs have a SLOW response time, not quick.

    I also vote for Seattle.

  16. My vote goes to Seattle. Burien, seems not to care too much about us White Center residents. Thanks for the map Valkyrie!

  17. “If you’ve had the pleasure of being a crime victim in North Highline, you no doubt have experienced the frustration of having a quick response time from the King County Sheriffs.”

    Having mostly lived within Seattle city limits, I can attest that Seattle is no better at responding to calls unless you are in a wealthy area. The sheriff dept is contracted out and have more of a responsibility to the populace than a city cop making 90k a year.

  18. Seattle will at least provide a gang unit. I’m not sure how Burien is going to handle all the gangs in White Center.

  19. #
    Eric Says:

    Seattle will at least provide a gang unit. I’m not sure how Burien is going to handle all the gangs in White Center.

    Look at the map at the bottom of this article.http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/374766_gangkids13.html Most of the games are in Seattle and Renton. Seattle has done little to halt the can violence in the area. They would if it happened in Magnolia, but since it is Rainier Valley, it doesn’t count as much. The KC Sheriff’s have a very good anti-gang unit, and it is only getting better.

  20. As a Highline School District teacher, I’ll quit if my school ends up in the Seattle district. I did my training there. The schools are big and racist drop-out factories.

    The work of the Seattle Gang unit is supported by the King County police. If you are up on the latest gang news, you know that the problems in Seattle are very much connected to not only White Center, but Burien, Kent, Renton and other cities in the greater Seattle area. I really can’t give rave reviews to the Seattle gang unit, because I don;t think they are doing much more then arresting kids. The KC gang unit has been working with local youth and focusing more on prevention.

    And: please do not compare your experiences in Seattle that are from higher income, lily white, Starbucks infested neighborhoods. People in these areas have the political influence, time and resources to make a stink if the cops don’t make nice. When Seattle held a meeting down here about the jail, the seats for non-English speakers were empty; Seattle didn’t even try to reach out to a huge part of our community.

    I agree that plenty of folks in Burien don’t want us. But we will have a significantly larger voice in the Burien government, so they cannot dump on us. We have plenty of loud, articulate community leaders that can really have an effect on what goes on.

  21. Growing up in both White Center and Roxbury, I can tell you that Seattle has done much more than KC. I went to Cleveland Highschool and Evergreen Highschool and I can tell you that Seattle Gang Unit has done a far better job in my own personal view. The map doesn’t mean anything and most of the research from the person who wrote that map is from a guy who wished he was a gangster or is obsessed with being one. Check out his myspace page lol. He has nothing but gangster wannabes commenting on his page and threatening other gangster wannabes on it.

  22. Just wanted to drop into the thread to thank you all for commenting. Everyone involved with White Center Now intends to hit the tough issues – with original opinion and reporting – as well as the fun, the events, the day-to-day happenings. So in addition to participating in discussions like this, please let us know at whitecenternow@gmail.com what else you want to hear about/discuss. Thanks! – Tracy

  23. Eric, do you have a link to his Myspace page?

  24. Hey Eric,
    Look at where the kids who have been killed recently went to school-two from Cleveland, some others from the Rainier Valley. I know Evergreen has issues, but I think it is a stretch to say Seattle is doing so much more. And how long ago did you graduate? It is possible KC has stepped things up since then-I have seen a lot of improvement in just the past couple years.

  25. There are two overwhelming reasons for North Highline to reject annexation to Seattle and to vote for annexing to Burien.

    One is the Seattle Business and Occupation Tax. It would be a crippler to family-owned and -operated businesses in White Center and North Highline, many of which are startups or sole proprietorships.

    Social service nonprofits can do only so much for a community and no more. There must be a solid base of locally owned and operated businesses for any community to thrive. The Seattle B&O tax, for those who are not paying it already, is a disincentive to that kind of economic growth, and to having family-wage jobs right in the community. Burien provides a far more business-friendly environment.

    The second reason is sheer numbers. North Highline would comprise 5 percent of Seattle and roughly 50 percent of Burien. The population of Burien would roughly double, to about 65,000. That is not insignificant. With that kind of representational clout, North Highline could elect or unelect a good part of the Burien City Council. Things would happen much more quickly and much more to the advantage of White Center and North Highline as part of Burien.

    Pay no attention to the “Burien doesn’t want us” argument. By law the area will have to be annexed, and if North Highline residents stick together, do not allow the area to be divided, and vote to go to Burien, the law says Burien must annex the entire area.

    A vote to annex to Seattle is a vote for relinquishing all local control over the future of the community. Whatever the pro-Seattle forces try to tell you and sell you, that will be the effect.

  26. I own a home in White Center resident and I really appreciate having this discussion with others in the community. I have read everything that I could get my hands on in regards to the pros and cons of annexing to Seattle or Burien and I still find myself very torn on the subject.

    Eric, are you referring to the guy that does the Northwest Gangs site? I just went to get his myspace link but it’s been set to private since the last time that I looked at it. His site (nwgangs.com) was featured in an article a while back in either the Times or the PI.

  27. Woops, Combined my edited thoughts… I’m of course a resident but meant to edit to “I own a home in White Center and..”

  28. To teach says:
    In response to your statement about Seattle and its lily-white neighborhoods. I think that is an inflammatory statement, and divides people. We are all in this together. Seattle is a very diverse city….much more so than Burien. Look at the demographic statistics.

    We all want safe and clean neighborhoods. I’ve been to many of the community meetings about annexation, and it was surprising to me that most non-white people wanted to annex to Seattle because of the services that Seattle can provide. They have years of experience dealing with race, culture, and poverty. What does Burien have?

    Also, I am a teacher in the Seattle School Distrit, and I can tell you that at my school, whites are in the minority. Seattle has publicly stated that if they annex North Highline, they will continue to let the North Highline School District operate the same schools. They will not become a part of the Seattle School District. And I do agree with you there. Highline School District is doing a much better job of changing the academic culture. The Gates grant that Highline received is amazing, and I think it’s great that businesses and communities are finally realizing that if children are educated at an early age, they have a much better chance of beating the poverty and drop-out cycle.

    What makes you think the Burien City Council will listen to you? The Burien Residents Against Annexation were a pretty vocal group and were ignored. They had very valid financial reasons for opposing a Burien annexation.

  29. Keep Seattle away!!! I chose to buy a home in White Center specifically to be OUTSIDE of Seattle’s insane tax structure. If Seattle gets its grubby, greedy paws on White Center, I’m moving even further away.

    The City of Seattle is a hideous beast with long, outstretched hands, trying to pick our pockets any way they can. Example? Look at their new rule about charging people 20 cents per grocery bag. It’s ridiculous, and I don’t want them anywhere near me or where I spend my money. I’d like my money to stimulate the economy where I live, not in the gigantic sprawl/money pit that is Seattle.

  30. To Jill:
    If you live north of 116th, or in some cases north of 112th, you’re out of luck if you want Burien to annex you. Here it is again, the proposed annexation from the city of Burien.

    http://www.ci.burien.wa.us/Annexation/default.htm

  31. Valkyrie:

    Nothing in the present proposed annexation by Burien stops Burien from annexing the rest of North Highline in the next phase.

    If Burien annexes up to 116th in the first phase, it adds 15,000 or more voices to the call to annex the rest.

    None of this happens with the wave of a magic wand. The process has a little bit of complexity, and it is necessary that everyone understand it.

    White Center Now will be a perfect venue to have this discussion.

  32. It’s great to see this discussion. I actually emailed whitecenternow to see if we could get this type of thing going and here it is. Very cool.

    As a resident of Highland Park I personally think White Center would benefit from Seattle annexation. Simply from the stand point of belonging to one of the greatest cities on earth.

    In the next 5 years WC is going change dramatically. Much like Georgetown, you’re downtown is going to change so much that you won’t even believe it. You may as well join up with Seattle and welcome everyone to your already fine neighborhood. Everything about WC is ripe for “revitalization.” It’s coming whether you annex to Seattle or not. But you’ll be better off if you do.

    Also, please visit some other large cities if you want to know what a real ghetto or “neglected neighborhood” looks like. It looks nothing like Delridge, Southpark or WC. These are nice places. Not to mention that Delridge is one giant townhouse now.

  33. Benski – it just so happened that I was covering the 34th District Democrats’ meeting for West Seattle Blog and the annexation question came up … so I posted here as soon as I could. We’ll be watching for other opportunities to report on it, too. Thanks BTW for e-mailing us!

  34. Hello All.
    I am a West Seattle resident (southend of CA avenue).
    I do not consider myself elitist (FYI, i am also a minority).
    I believe that becoming part of Seattle is in your area’s best interest. There are many of us (Seattle residents) who shop, dine and frequent places of business in your area.
    Seattle would have a public interest if you were annexed to continue what they have been doing in places like High Point. The publicity alone would prevent a city, like Seattle, from ‘wasting’ a good opportunity for neighborhood development. I doubt strongly, that your voices could be as loud in a complaint to Burien.
    Also, I look at Burien’s annexation map and wonder why they cherry-picked the areas on the south end of the annexation area. Have you heard of NIMBYs? Perhaps those newly acquired Burien residents (south High Line) would not be so quick to want to add their northern High Line neighbors after all…it is a possibility and one wonders why annex in phases? What will happen to services, etc in the northern half which will still be unannexed but smaller and less likely to draw attention from KC???
    Please do not react too quickly, this is a complex issue which requires more information and understanding.
    Best of Luck to you all!

  35. I agree with private24. Valkyrie, I am a little concerned you might be jumping to conclusions that may not be valid. The Burien City Council has not said they will never annex the rest of North Highline or have no interest in doing so.

    This isn’t the first time Burien has annexed a area to their city. They annexed the Manhattan/Woodside area (southeast Burien) some years back so they know something about how to annex areas. Could it be that the Burien City Council is just being prudent and fiscally responsible by deciding to annex only part of North Highline now and, after that is completed, will annex the rest? I think so.

    I also agree with private24 when he/she states that Burien is better for small, locally owned businesses. Burien exempts the first $100,000 of a business’ gross receipts from any B&O taxes so that small, locally owned businesses can thrive and the owners make a living wage. In Seattle, not only would North Highline businesses pay more B&O tax, Seattle also has an additional tax for businesses where businesses must pay a tax on the square footage of their business.

    Among the largest employers in North Highline are the bowling alleys in White Center, which pay their employees a living wage. If Seattle annexes White Center, they will be out of business and 250 people will be out of work. The bowling alleys have cardrooms, which they need to survive as it is hard for bowling alleys to make a go of it with just bowling these days, and cardrooms aren’t allowed in Seattle. See this Seattle Weekly article
    http://www.seattleweekly.com/2008-03-19/news/dead-center/
    Cardrooms are allowed in Burien so if Burien ends up annexing White Center too, these businesses will stay in businesses and 250 people, many of whom also live in North Highline, won’t need to look for new employement.

  36. Fulltilt,

    Yes, his page is set to private now but before it wasn’t. I’m not trying to bash the guy, but if he is trying to prevent awareness about gangs then why let little hoodlums comment all over your page and cuss each other out? How about making a difference by helping them out instead of spreading awareness about gangs and giving them more exposure, so they can tell all their fellow gang bangers that they were featured on the PI or Times.

    Back to White Center. I’m just turned off by the fact Burien didn’t include anything north of sw 116th street, which is the rougher area of North Highline. Seems like they want more land for more homes and businesses but they just don’t want to deal the rest of the people North of 116th street. I could be wrong, but that’s what it seems like to me and I am currently Pro Seattle for the time being, since I’ve seen a lot of improvements within the city in my own personal view.

  37. I agree Eric. What’s also interesting about the map, is that it looks like Burien deliberately left out Evergreen High School, but then zigzagged to include the North Highline Fire Department. Then after cutting Evergreen out, it zigzags back to 116th, and then makes another interesting detour to include Glendale Golf Course. Hmmmm.
    Looks like a NIMBY thing to me.

  38. Every map I’ve seen since the beginning from Burien has excluded EHS -> Roxbury. That’s all Burien wants. They’ve been told they have to take all or nothing, but since Seattle can’t/won’t unless they get a tax break, Burien will be stuck with all. I’m guessing they’ll take 128th -> 116th (minus the schools) to start, and forget to get around to annexing the rest. That’s fine by me. I do not EVER want to be a part of Burien (I’m closer to Roxbury). If anyone seems elitist, it’s them.

    A community is what they make of it. White Center has gotten through much worse than some tax increases. My vote is for Seattle.

    I don’t feel we’d get much of a say in anything either way. So why not go with the side that already has the resources to take care of our needs. I don’t see how Burien can financially take on the care and maintenance of our large community.

  39. I can’t speak to the tax issues really. There seems to be so much disinformation floating around its nearly impossible to parse whats true anymore. I will say however that I found it incredibly frustrating not to be able to vote on the monorail plan. I worry that if we’re annexed to Burien we will be left out of other fairly important discussions and votes regarding issues that affect us and the development of the larger community we exist within. Like it or not it seems to me that Seattle is driving things in this region and will continue to for the foreseeable future. I for one would like to participate in the decision-making process regardless of whether my particular neighborhood has the votes to get its way everytime.

  40. I just noticed the zigzag to include Glendale Golf Course (luckily I saved the map to my laptop before the map on the burien website mysteriously went away). Is there a rep. from Burien that can explain why they don’t want to include North Highline in their annexation plan?

  41. Eric, I’m not sure what you are asking by this sentence–”Is there a rep. from Burien that can explain why they don’t want to include North Highline in their annexation plan?” I’m not any “Burien rep.”, but I know that the Burien Council/City Manager has worked closely with the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council and with all the special purpose districts in North Highline such as water, sewer, and fire and has and is meeting with various groups/people in North Highline. If you meant to ask why they aren’t including White Center, see my post on Aug 15 at 4:04 PM. The Burien Council has NOT said they aren’t ever going to annex the rest of North Highline at some point in the future. What they are saying is this is what they want to annex right now.

    If you are wondering why lines don’t go straight–the King County Boundary Review Board must approve any boundaries for any annexation, and the boundaries must be logical. They would take a dim view if, for example, Burien had decided to make the northern boundary on the west side, by taking SW 112th St straight across to the far side of SR 509/the Burien Freeway because that would have cut the Evergreen High School property in two.

    The annexation map still exists on Burien’s web page, they just moved the link to it to their FAQ’s page
    http://www.burienwa.gov/annexation/FAQs/general.htm

  42. Valkyrie, as a long-time Burien resident and close follower of this issue, I disagree with your characterization of the Burien City Council as “unresponsive” to it’s citizens.

    Burien Citizens Against Annexation may be a vocal group but they are not large and they do not represent anything approaching a majority of the citizens of Burien. Their analysis of the financial impact of annexation has been refuted by every independent entity that has looked at it. Many of the most vocal members come from wealthy neighborhoods near the Sound and object to “bad elements” from “Rat City” becoming a part of Burien. Every friend or neighbor I have discussed this with has no problem with annexation of White Center and many wonder why a fringe group like BCAA gets so much attention. Their strength was aptly illustrated last fall when their chosen candidate for City Council pulled barely 10% of the vote, despite a full-court press by the anti-annexation forces. The fact that the Burien City Council doesn’t bend to their whim hardly makes them “unresponsive” to citizens. In fact, the last City Council discussion of this issue drew 2X as many annexation supporters as opponents.

    If anything, the Burien City Council has been too responsive to the minority noise of the anti-annexation crowd. The decision to remove the poorest residential areas from the current annexation proposal was likely a response to pressure from the “keep out the bad elements” crowd. Many on the Council would prefer to annex the whole area and it will certainly be put forward again in the future.

    I would welcome the people of White Center to Burien with open arms and I know many of my neighbors would as well.

  43. This is a quote from the Seattle Times discussing the financial burden placed on Burien were it to annex the entire North Highline area. The article says that Seattle would pay 4.6 million per year if they were to annex all of North Highline, and Burien’s share would be 3.5 million. Seattle is in a much better position to absorb the costs than Burien. Here is the quote from the Burien Mayor:

    For Burien, annexing the entire area would mean doubling the city’s population and taking a big budget hit once the state revenue-sharing ends. Annexation would be a $3.5 million loss on a $15 million budget, says Burien Mayor Joan McGilton. “You do the math,” she grumbles.

  44. Who else can comment on the school situation. Although 10 years or so ago it seems like the majority thought Seattle School District was in slightly better shape than Highline, right now most people think Seattle is on the wrong path and Highline has been much stronger. The Highline Superintendent apparently just got some award as Superintendent of the Year or something. Granted, the edges of the city are having bigger schooling issues now that Central areas (Rainier Beach, Ingraham and the tree issue, West Seattle HS and the 4 period day, and the Denny/Sealth campus issue). If the closer to the border schools w/in Seattle are already having the worst neglect issues, wouldn’t this seem to suggest that it’s better academically (well, for those with kids in schools) that Burien take over WC and keep the Highline SD?

    Legal question – if Seattle annexes, does that necessarily come with the Seattle SD taking over the schools. If not I don’t know that I have as strong or informed an opinion on this issue, but the school issue worries me.

  45. You can count on in-depth coverage here in the weeks and months to come – we will get the answers to all the questions that have been asked, and more. As far as I can tell here in my second week of covering more White Center news than I had done in my main gig as editor of WSB – the annexation issue certainly has been undercovered in other media during recent months and will definitely merit frequent updates until something is resolved (and beyond, too). Any particular questions anyone has, post them in our ongoing threads or e-mail us at whitecenternow@gmail.com, and I will research the answers.

  46. Here is a link to a discussion about what would happen to North Highline schools if Seattle were to annex the area.
    It is several paragraphs down in the article, but the upshot is there is a state law that prohibits the Seattle School Ditrict from taking over the North Highline schools. So no matter what happens, those schools will still be run by the Highline School District. WHEW!!

    seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/272069_highline30.html – 45k -

  47. Valkyrie, the SeattlePI article doesn’t go quite far enough in explaining the school situation. Yes, if Seattle annexes North Highline, the schools will stay in the Highline School District. However, state law allows the Seattle School District to negotiate with the Highline School District to take them over through a legally defined process with the Puget Sound Educational Service District. Please listen to the Seattle City Council Annexation Committee video of 5/26/06
    http://seattlechannel.org/videos/video.asp?ID=2200601
    when Kenny Pittman of the Seattle Mayor’s office explains it to the Committee members.

    The bad news is that if the Seattle School District decides they want the schools in North Highline and gets the Highline School District to agree, there isn’t anything voters of North Highline can do about it as they don’t get to vote as to whether or not they want to be in the Seattle School District or not.

    A HUGE thing that many people don’t know is, if Seattle School District does take over the schools in North Highline, the property owners of North Highline will still have to help pay off the $148 million 20-year construction bond in the Highline School District that passed in 2006. Pittman also explains that to the Councilmembers in the above linked video. Basically, the law requires when bond passes that the property owners of that District pay off those bonds, no matter if their school district changes. I hoping I’m explaining this well enough for people to understand. It boils down to the fact that the property owners in North Highline would be paying taxes to two school districts until 2026 if the Seattle School District takes over the schools.

    It is impossible to tell right now what the Seattle School District might do if Seattle annexes North Highline because they haven’t stated their position. The last time Seattle annexed any area to their city (northend) was in the 1950′s and the Seattle School District negotiated with the Shoreline School District and did take over those schools.
    http://www.historylink.org/essays/output.cfm?file_id=3668

    I completely agree with you that it would be best to keep the North Highline schools in the Highline School District. However, one of the big “unknowns” is what the Seattle School District will do. I asked a Seattle School Board member about it a year or so back and the response was that they need to study it and hadn’t done that yet.

  48. Thanks Alcina.
    For some reason real player wouldn’t allow me to view the
    video. It kept taking me to current videos.

    I think it’s interesting all of the possibilities that could happen. I can’t imagine the Highline School District wanting to relinquish their schools to Seattle, but I guess stranger things have happened.

    Do you remember which Seattle School Board member you talked with? The current school board members don’t have a real stellar reputation for community engagement or follow-through.

  49. Valkyrie,
    Try this link and then scroll down to the link to the 5/26/06 video
    http://www.seattlechannel.org/videos/watchVideos.asp?program=annexationCommittee or
    http://tinyurl.com/2wbc5h
    Maybe that will work.

    Although the Seattle City Council doesn’t currently have an Annexation Committee, there is some info archived from when they did in 2006-07 here
    http://www.seattle.gov/council/committees/committee_annexation.htm including a link to the videos of all their meetings.

  50. As a White Center resident, former four year member of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council (UAC), as current president of the White Center Home Owners Assocation, and with my wonderful wife as recent President of the Highline Citizens for Schools and its recent successful bond vote, past PTA president for two schools, and as a lead parent lobbyiest for our schools, and with the fact that we are acquainted with all the members of the Highline School Board (and know several very well), any one suggesting that Seattle will take over the schools, should they annex, is ushering pure nonsense. And they know it. Not one person within the circle has suggested that the Seattle should take over our schools. It is a complicated process anyway, and must be initiated by the leaders of the school district. Its not going to happen. But if Seattle does annex an area, and that is a big if (because not enough people are involved in this issue right now) then Seattle will allocate resources to the new Seattle families, for any special education levys that have been passed for Seattle schools. Seattle has a progressive history of passing levys to provide special programs for at risk kids for example. Seattle residents in Highline will get those resources too. So stop the speculating, unless you are part of the group who are trying to freighten people about big bad Seattle, who seem to think that is the only way to have any discussion about our future.

    For the past three years, I have been allocating 20 hours per week on annexation. This issue is complex and must not be decided by the “We hate Seattle” crowd spreading inflamatory perspective. There are benefits to either decision, but there are serious considerations as well. Our group has lobbyed in Olympia on this issue, and we got our start by quitting the incestuous North Highline Council (less than 100 people vote in their elections, out of 34,000 residents – more on that group later), when its leadership started working to exclude every annexation option except Burien. The fact is, these people acted as though White Center is a possession. It is a shame really, how they treated other members who had differing ideas. As I said, more about that later.

    What I will do is try to write each week about annexation and what I have experienced over the past three years, the policy considerations that have surfaced, and how the various players dealt with them. I also have spent most of my life working on local government issues, and spent a dozen years in college on similar issues (slow learner) These writings will be informative, but some will also reflect badly on certain institutions around here. If you are interested and find the information valuable as you make your decision, great. If not, I do understand. But unlike some of you, I will end my messages with my name and email, so if you want more information, you can contact me. ANd so you will know who I am.

    So, in review, We have talked to every major and most minor player on this issue. We have read every study that has been completed on this issue. We have attended over one hundred meetings on this issue, here, in Seattle, in Burien, in Olympia. And most important, my wife and I are raising our beautiful children here and love this place. We moved here because it was unincorporated. We got involved in this issue, because Burien was being forced down our throats by a small group with a long history here. The stories will flow, and I do think that some people will enjoy reading them. Anyway, more later.

    Tomorrow is a big day. We are harvesting our White Center Yard Honey (its organic too!), truely the best honey in the world. Trust me on this! WSU researchers showed me that our bees (we call them “the girls”, as they do all the difficult work, much like humans) have dozens of different sources to choose from here. And our girls fly all the way to Seattle and even into northern Burien sometimes. We have four hives and boy are they full this year. Just remember, annexation is a multi generational decision. And more density is coming to White Center, regardless of whether we go to Seattle or Burien. The question is, how do we position ourselves to make the most of it. Sweet dreams. Oh, and we do not sell our honey. Instead we give it away to people who are trying to make White Center a better place. And they always smile, and work harder the next year, so that they will have a chance to get a refill.

    Warm personal regards.

    (c) Mark Ufkes
    markufkes@comcast.net
    Family Motto: Don’t let your children grow up without you!

  51. Having looked in on this string after a couple of weeks I feel compelled to comment on a number of things that have been published here.

    There seems to be a lot of confusion about the roles of the various special districts that serve North Highline (NH). These include the water, sewer, fire and school.

    The water districts are, as the name implies, responsible for water service. Many people in White Center get their water from the City of Seattle due to a decision made about 30 years ago to dissolve Water District 61 and turn its assets over to the Seattle Water Department. The Seattle water department is part of Seattle’s Public Works Department. The remaining residents of NH are served by their local Water District. Each water district is run by a board of commissioner elected by the voters in the district. Annexation to Seattle would mean the end of the the local water districts, as Seattle would take over their assets (water mains, etc.) in the annexed area. Water District 45 would disappear completely. Water District 20 would lose so much of its assets (particularly its reservoirs) that it would no longer be a viable district. Annexation to Seattle would probably also mean slightly higher water rates as rates in Seattle are controlled by the City and raise revenues for more than just the maintenance of a clean and safe water supply. Annexation to Burien would mean no change, as Burien would allow the districts to continue as they are.

    Sewer Districts. NH is served by two sewer districts. As with the water districts, these districts are run by a locally elected board of commissioners. If the area is annexed to Seattle, the city would take over the sewer district assets in the annexed area (mains, pump stations, etc.). In the area served by Southwest Suburban (which has its own sewage treatment plants) the City would probably contract with the District as it did when it annexed the arbor heights area. In the Arbor Heights area (south of Roxbury, west of Seola Beach/30th SW) the City pays the District a flat rate per customer handle the sewage then charges homeowners the same rate homeowners pay elsewhere in the City (which averages about three times the rate the District charges to homeowners). On average, customers in NH could expect to see their sewer bills double or triple (Seattle bases the rate on water usage, the districts charge a flat rate, so some homeowners might see lower rates [if they have a very low rate of water use] most would see rates double or triple [based on average water use] and some [gardeners] would see even larger increases in their rates. Annexation to Burien would have no effect on the sewer districts or rates.

    Fire District. Also controlled by a locally elected board of commissioners. At present the Fire District is supported by local taxes (including payments received under contract from the City of Burien for coverage provided in the part of the District that was included in the original incorporation of Burien). Annexation to Seattle would mean dissolution of the District. Instead of the locally controlled board the District would come under the control of the Seattle City Council. The local property tax levy would disappear into Seattle’s general tax levy. Funding, staffing, equipment, station improvements (or even continued existence) of local fire fighting assets would be controlled by the Seattle Fire Department. The effect of annexation to Burien is harder to say at this time, but it would either continue as it is or merge into Fire District 2 (Burien/Normanday Park), which is also controlled by a locally elected board.

    School District. NH is served entirely by the Highline School District, which is controlled by a school board elected from the entire district. It appears that annexation to Seattle would not result in annexation of the NH area into the Seattle School District, though that is a possibility. The biggest impact annexation would have on the School District would be from the increase in population that would be expected to come with annexation to Seattle (Seattle’s comp plan calls for dramatically increased housing density in the NH area). Doubling or tripling the population of the area in a decade would bring a need for more and larger shcools, which would be funded by tax levies on the entire District.

    The libraries are another issue. Right now the White Center and Boulevard Park libraries are part of the King County Regional Library System. Users in those local libraries have access to materials and resources in the rest of the system (which I believe covers everything in the County outside Seattle). Annexation to Seattle would mean annexation of the libraries into Seattle’s library system, with maintenance or retention of the local libraries dependant on Seattle’s needs as a whole. Annexation to Burien would mean no change in the libraries.

    This is pretty long already, so I will sign off for now even though I have more to say. However, like Mr. Ufkes, I will include my email address for anyone who wants to hear more.
    remjuris@aol.com

  52. Some comments on things raised by other contributors.

    Infrastructure. Seattle’s current infrastructure is falling apart (literally in the case of the viaduct). If you look around the City you see streets that are not maintained (the Mayor is still trying to find some way to pay for streets), parks that people are afraid to use after dark and homeless people sleeping whereever they can find a little shelter (which the City cannot afford to provide). What makes anyone think Seattle would be able to improve anything in NH.

    Police. The biggest problem for years in White Center was that the deputies in White Center would chase the bad guys across Roxbury and the officers in Seattle would chase them back. Cooperation has improved dramatically over the last decade or so, but aside from the random emphasis actions (when the Seattle PD sends a large number of officers into a neighborhood on a short term [one or two days] basis) I have seen no indication anywhere that the Seattle PD would do any better than the Sheriff is doing right now. My own experiences with both the Seattle PD (two separate incidents, residential burglary and car break in, PD would not send an officer, just took the report over the phone) and King County Sheriff’s office (three separate incidents, threats, car theft and car break in, a deputy responded each time), and many conversations with others do not give me any confidence in the Seattle PD.

    Seattle’s handling of low income areas. Traditionally has been one of general, though usually benign, neglect. For decades little was done to reverse the decline of many areas (Columbia City, Rainier Beach, Beacon Hill, Georgetown, South Park, Delridge, White Center, Puget Ridge, Central District, etc.). Some areas were pushed toward industrialization and depopulation (South Park and Georgetown), while others were simply ignored. Gentrification (particularly in the CD) changed the image of what could happen in those areas and brought a change in thinking. High density zoning and new development in neighborhoods where prices have been kept low due to neglect for many years is changing those areas, and raising property values, but not in a way that benefits the long time residents of those areas.

    Sewer extensions. The City of Seattle cannot guarantee that you will get a sewer extension. The best it can do is try to facility an LID to bring a sewer extension. If you are in a sewer district now, all that is needed to get an extension is to convince at least 60% of your neighbors (the people to be served) to help pay for it. The City could I suppose dip into its pot of money to pay for an extension itself, but I have seen no indication that it actually would be willing to do so.

    Non-white people wanting to annex into Seattle. An unfortunate effect of the language and cultural barriers that continue to exist is that people of color generally have not been involved in any public discussions in any manner proportionate to their population. The ones I have seen at various meetings that have shown support for annexaton to Seattle have either been directly associated with social service organizations (some of the most prominent do not even live in or close to the NH area) which seem generally to favor annexation to Seattle. Apparently because they see an opportunity to obtain more funding for their own programs.

    Burien Residents Against Annexation. That name was terribly presumptous (much like the White Center Homeowners Association) as it purports to speak for all the residents of Burien but in fact consists of a small number (probably less than 20) people who appear to all live in the Seahurst-Three Tree Point area. For a time at least, they seemed to have a consistent good turnout at various meetings and hearings (4-8 people at each) but it was always the same people.

    Burien annexation boundary. The present boundary is based on fear among many in Burien city government that the City would not be able to handle annexation of the entire area at one time. It was drawn to make sure the annexation area would include at least 10,000 people, without going over that number by too much. I have no idea why Rainer Golf Club was included by GlenAcres was not. Inclusion of one or both NHFD stations has no effect as (unless the District merges with FD2) the City will need to contract with the District for fire coverage anyway (as it does not for most of the northern part of Burien).

  53. A couple of typos in my last post. The only one of importance is in the last sentence. It should say that NHFD does now contract to provide coverage for the northern parts of Burien.

  54. First of all, Jerry told me once, that he came up with the term “North Highline” and, I think, is a founding member of the North Highline UAC. There is a group associated with the UAC who start each statement with “I have lived here for 20 plus years”, which I have learned is more often a subtle way of saying that “you have not lived in this community as long as I have, so your views are not as important”. I will go into detail about the UAC later Jerry. That will be fun.

    For this blog, lets address Jerry’s claims about water and sewer. Every water user in North Highline (there are what,four water districts?) all get their water from Seattle. In the western areas of White Center for example, we ALREADY get are water directly from Seattle and pay a Seattle water bill. All the other water districts buy their water from Seattle. Why? Because Seattle has some of the cleanest and safest water in the world. Water District 20 is the only entity really worried about Seattle annexation. It appears that the commission wants to become part of Burien.

    Yet what Jerry failed to mention is that Seattle will leave District 20 in place, with just more controls and more oversight. Can Seattle change its approach later, sure. And it can raise fees and eventually take Water District 20 over. Especially if the water district repeats its recent performances where a water commissioner also sits on the Burien City Council AT THE SAME TIME, pushing to go to Burien, as a water commissioner and voting to annex North Highline as a Burien City Council member. It is against state law to sit on two elected positions at the same time Jerry. And even if there is some legal twist to allow it in this case, it looks plain wrong. And smells of small town politics. I note that you did not say anything about this publicly or in your blog comments. Why Jerry? What if the situation was reversed, and the person was a Seattle City Council member pushing for Seattle instead, in two elected postions at the same time. I’ve known of you Jerry for a while now. You would be screaming bloody murder. But since it is about your interest for Burien, you appear to look the other way. Interesting.

    Also, an executive staff person employed by a district got elected to the North Highline fire commission, while at the exact same time, an executive staff person from the fire district was elected to the district board. This could only be true for North Highline. Thus, we had two employees seving on elected boards in positions to possibly influence and set each other’s salaries. So, I am on a commission to set your salary, and you are on a commission to set my salary. Doesn’t that look bad? If this had been Seattle, we would have read about this on the front page of the paper Jerry. But is was North Highline, so it was never discussed. I note that you were silent about this issue too.

    And then there is the Sewer District. The Suburban Sewer District already services Seattle’s Arbor Heights neighborhood. Seattle all along has said that the Suburban Sewer District will stay in place with a modest fee increase. Why, because poop flows down hill Jerry. Seattle will provide more oversight. Will fees go up. Probably. What ever we do on annexation, fees will go up Jerry. That is a sign of the times.

    Why do you think that the Sewer District has raced to put in new lines and buy new trucks over the last two years? To increase their debt load, so with more debt, Seattle will be less likely to take it over.

    One of our White Center Homeowner members attends almost all of these water and sewer district meetings. You know what he reports back, almost every time? No one else ever attends these meetings. But annexation is also about police and fire (more later Jerry) real estate values and development (more later Jerry), governance, tax revenues and government services (again, more later Jerry).

    Jerry, share your last name and offer the readers what you do for a living. And when I get time to write about the UAC, I will respond to your eagerness to discount any other community group who doesn’t agree with you. If I was an attorney, I would consider suing for slander.

    And remember Jerry, when we both sat on a panel discussion before the Shorewood Community Council on annexation. You arrived quite late and missed participating in most of the debate. Any time you want to have another public debate to have a full accounting of the issues, and the history that has occurred, you know where to find me Jerry. I would really enjoy that. Until then, we will use this blog.

    And to folks interested in our honey harvest today. We now have 94 jars of fantastic White Center Yard Honey. Clear and golden and sweet as can be. If the owners of this wonderful blog let me know where to deliver some, a jar will arrive for your enjoyment, once it has been labeled.

    And for everyone, I am sorry to say that I do not have the time every day to do this blogging, as I have a remarkable wife, two wonderful young boys, I am an active Scoutmaster (we helped 10 scouts complete their Eagle in the last two years), I am a founding member of Friends of Hicks Lake/Lakewood Park, President of the White Center Homeowners Association, we have business interests that take me out of town several times each month, and I consult with Indian Tribes, and other groups, on non-gaming, community development issues that also require travel. But be assured, I will enjoy responding to every issue that Jerry is trying to make. It might just take awhile. And again, what do you do for a living Jerry?

    Warm regards

    (c) Mark Ufkes

  55. Oh, it’s illegal to hold two elected positions at the same time? You’d better explain that to Tim Sheldon, who is a state Senator and a Mason County Commissioner.

    I’m sure that once he partakes of your legal wisdom, he’ll throw up his hands in horror, do 100 mea culpas, and give back one of his two salaries — with interest.

    But I’m guessing he won’t — because what he is doing is (hate to break it to you) NOT illegal.

  56. I agree with private24, Mark Ufkes is simply wrong when he says it illegal for one person to hold two elected positions at the same time.

    Further, should Mr. Ufkes or anyone else try to say that it is “illegal” for the Burien Councilmember who is also a Water Commissioner to vote on desisions about annexation, here are the facts. That has already been thoroughly investigated and, yes, she can legally vote on annexation decisions.

    A Burien resident, John Rizzardi, an attorney and who is involved with Burien Residents Against Annexation, raised that issue and tried to claim she legally couldn’t vote on annexation issues on the Burien City Council.

    Please see former WA State Supreme Court Justice Phil Talmadge’s legal opinion on this issue
    http://www.ci.burien.wa.us/Packets2008/051208kathy.pdf where, in part he states, “Quite frankly, Mr. Rizzardi is simply wrong….”

  57. This thread is both enlightening and maddening.

    I am starting to see the helpful information being squeezed out by the need of some to tout their accomplishments, titles, and whatnot. Really, all most of us care about are facts, ideas, and thoughtful discourse. Posturing and one-upping other commenters accomplishes nothing.

    I am torn about the options before me, as a White Center resident. If either side expects to convince me and the many others out there like me, we need keep the issues front-and-center. The schools, support services, and taxation issues are vital points that require a lot more clarification and I would like to see us use WCN -as well as other forums- to make that happen.

  58. I am a lifetime Seattleite, I grew up on Capitol Hill in the ’70s. I can’t afford to live there anymore, I don’t even hardly recognize it anymore. I lived in Ballard for ten years plus, and watched it go from the place no one wanted to be to the hottest thing since sliced bread. In just a few short years. I’m all for improvement and growth, urban density, and all that. But I’m also a fan of my city’s history, sustainability, thoughtful design, and good urban planning principles. All of which have disappeared from the cityscape over the last decade.

    When we moved here [Top Hat], I felt like I was coming home again. A feeling I don’t get anywhere else in Seattle anymore. I love this area, and it’s neighbors (South Park, Georgetown, Burien, West Sea, etc). While there are definitely improvements that can be made and are needed, I simply do NOT trust the City of Seattle to be thoughtful with North Highline. I would rather take my chances with the little guy [Burien] than the current state of Seattle government. It’s a gut instinct from a lifetime resident, nothing more. But I think Burien has a lot more to lose if they fail, and Seattle has a lot more they’d like to lose into the wilds of North Highline, instead of addressing it head on and cleaning up their messes.

  59. Martha Koester Says:

    Can’t figure out why Mr. Ufkes dropped out of NHUAC. It’s pretty difficult to get people interested in participating in an organization that has no actual legislative power. Seems to me that with such a low participation rate, if there were any serious community support for annexation to Seattle, he could do doorbelling and phonebanking to get others who agree with him to get a majority on the council elected. That hasn’t happened yet, which speaks volumes.

  60. I have lived in No. Highline sine “1994″ and provide contract services to Burien since “1999″. I know staff, council and residents. I can assure you that Burien is the best opption. for when ever the subject comes up their primary focus is how to make this area better. Their not looking at land grabbing or extra tax base their asking how much to remove graffiti, how to get the parks safer and greener. The real reason they are side stepping Evergreen HS is the pool. The pool is a HUGE maintance cost and low revenue intake. The pool cannot support itself and the community does not want it to go away. (like KC did with some of our parks) For the small business owners, the B&O gross is twice as high as seattle. As a burien resident I have a better chance of becoming a council member and doing whats best for my neighborhood. If you really like to pay for million dollar porta-potties, monorails or any other bright ideas that Seattle council can come up with and then realize that they took the tax payers money invane, i welcome you to be come a Seattle residence. If you really care go to all public meetings not just the ones that share your views. Though it is a little harder to attend a Pro Seattle meeting if you are a Pro Burien supporter. But I try anyways.

  61. To Mark Ufkes – I am a homeowner in White Center – I have never heard or seen any info about the homeowner’s association. How many members do you have and how does one find out about it. How do you become a member. Please respond.

  62. I have lived in the Burien area almost my entire life–save for three-plus years in the Arbor Heights area of West Seattle. I have to say that the citizens in the WC area (espcially those that live in the PAA that Burien has proposed) have some things to consider regarding annexation.

    First, as citizens living in an unincorporated area, you have NO local control of your area, and the KC council that is responsible for that area has made it very clear that urban/suburban type services will decrease over time.

    The WA State Growth Management Act and the KC Countywide Planning Policies stipulate that areas like the North Highline area are better suited to be a part of a city and be provided city-type services.

    Right now you don’t have that. However, you do have special purpose districts that do provide you with city-level services, such as fire, water, sewer, etc. Additionally, you receive police services from the King County Sheriff’s Office, which pretty-much provide municiple level police services.

    The problem North Highline faces, is that there is no local government for people to address. You all need responsive representitives of YOUR area that will hear you concerns and help to make your community a better place.

    As I mentioned above, I lived in Seattle for 3+ years. My experience with Seattle is not good. The bureaucracy in Seattle’s government is quite astonishing. If you’re looking for a government that is less-responsive, then Seattle is for you.

    In dealing with them for permitting, all I can say is that their permitting process could be a excellent torture mechanism. All of my interactions involved city workers who didn’t even know their own divisions policies, often giving me information about land-use and permitting that contradicted each other. Additionally, I dealt with city employees who seemed to care more about getting off the phone with me rather than actually helping me with a genuine concern.

    On the other hand, Burien’s government is much smaller and their employees are willing to help you and not make you feel bad. And guess what? They’re there to serve your needs and assist you with your project.

    Further, Seattle offers you less government control. Right now most of you in the North Highline area have great representation in your water, sewer and fire districts. Typically three commissioners sit on those districts boards. Now if you choose to go with Seattle, you’ll lose all that representation. Now I know that Seattle has mentioned in the past, that they’ll establish agreements and franchiese with these special purpose districts (water and sewer), however I know–based on inside information–that Seattle will only keep the agreements in place on an interem basis, after which they will likely fully take-over those special districts.

    If you choose Burien, all those districts remain as Burien does not have their own water, sewer and fire departments. Right now some of the special purpose districts span both Burien and part of the NH area.

    If you choose Burien, you’ll get a much more responsive government that will actually LISTEN to your needs. Additionally, you’ll have elected officials who are actually approachable. AND, you yourself could be one of them!

    Make no mistake, Seattle government is huge and overly bloated. I love so many thnings about Seattle, but their government is NOT one of them. Burien is great community with great attributes, as is the North Highline area. Burien and North Highline have much in common, being part of the greater “Highline” community.

    Over three years ago (yes the annexation issue has been going on for almost four years now) a North Highline citizens spoke at a Burien City Council meeting and touted the many services that Seattle provided, and how she wanted Seattle to annex. She displayed large boards with all of the pages out of the phone book that showed the numerous numbers for the various departments and divisions in Seattle. She then showed Burien’s section in the phone book, which was drastically smaller, and I think less than one page. She then spoke that she’ll chooses the government with “all of that,” motioning to all of the Seattle pages.

    She makes my point exactly. Seattle is a huge, overly-bureaucratic government.

    Large=less responsive and unapproachalbe.

    Finally, on September 2nd is a very important meeting where the King County Boundary Review Board will hear whether or not to accept Burien’s plan for annexation. If you want to be a part of Burien, I encourage you to attend and let the board know that you would like them to accept Burien’s plan for annexation. Check the City of Burien’s website for more info on annexation.

  63. Anyone who happens to come back to this thread before seeing our new report at the top of WCN’s home page on the Burien withdrawal – we invite your comments on that post – we just discovered the Burien announcement online a short time ago and it does not appear to have been published anywhere else as of this writing. Thanks again for participating in the discussion; I may be contacting some of you by e-mail (which is only visible to us, as administrators) looking for comment.

  64. I am happy to see so much discussion of the citizens’ role in local government. Right now, NH residents get to vote for fire commissioners, water commissioners (in the areas not served directly by Seattle), and sewer commissioners), but their voice is largely lost when it comes to election of their county council representative.
    NH has been well served by its representatives to the county council over the years, but it is easy to get lost in the crowd. NH has about 1.5% of King County’s voters. It gets a little of help from the County’s district system (giving NH maybe 10% of the votes for “its” councilman) but it is easy for NH’s concerns to get lost in an area that size. In Seattle, NH would represent about 5% of the voters. Not enough to ensure that the concerns of NH residents would be heard. In Burien, NH would represent about half of the voters, more than enough to be heard.

    Seattle knows that NH voters will not support annexation to Seattle. That is why they have refused so far to call for an election on annexation to Seattle. But the Mayor wants NH, so Seattle has been fighting Burien to avoid an election on annexation to Burien and force annexation through an interlocal agreement (RCW 35.13.470-.480), which would allow annexation without the consent of NH residents.

  65. Hi Jerry,
    I was wondering if you could point me to the documentation that shows that Seattle is pursuing an interlocal agreement.

    Thanks.

  66. Valkyrie,
    I don’t have documentation of that, but have come to that conclusion based on the circumstances.
    First, Seattle has never proposed an election for NH annexation.
    Second, Seattle opposed Burien’s proposal to put at least partial annexation on the ballot.
    Third, Seattle has based its opposition to annexation by Burien (both to the just withdrawn proposal and to Burien’s original adoption of the NH PAA [a step Burien took before Seattle adopted its own NH PAA]) on claims that there needs to be an agreement worked out between Seattle and Burien on annexation before any annexation can go ahead. According to Burien (see the letter withdrawing the annexation proposal), Seattle has not negotiated in good faith and for the most part has refused to talk to Burien about the issues.
    Fourth, the term “interlocal agreement” came up in several descriptions of the ‘negotiations’ Seattle claims to be seeking with Burien, and in early descriptions of the need for the Cities to cooperate on annexation.