North Highline Unincorporated Area Council talks annexation(s)

From Thursday night’s meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, held as usual in the North Highline Fire District headquarters on SW 112th – The meeting included discussions of both the impending Burien annexation of North Highline South (NHS), and the possible Seattle-annexation vote in what we suppose we can call North Highline North (NHN).

BURIEN ANNEXATION UPDATE: Burien City Manager Mike Martin took centerstage to provide updates to NHUAC – first, what’ll be happening before the scheduled April 1st date for NHS. During “the last three weeks of March,” Martin said, there’ll be a survey in the area, including door-to-door canvassing, to make sure residents know what’s ahead. City finance managers will be presenting an “annexation budget” soon. Burien leaders plan to “sit down with the community and talk zoning” soon, since obviously moving into a new jurisdiction means different standards and different jurisdictions. Martin also said Burien is pursuing money in the “second round of (federal) stimulus” to repave “most of the streets in the annexation area”; that could cost up to $5 million, he said, but it’s a “shovel-ready” project, so they are hopeful they’ll get the grant: “It would radically change many of the roads up here almost instantly.”

He also said the King County Sheriff’s Office is “doing some reorganization to meet the needs of the annexation,” but overall vowed to keep a promise made during the public forums that preceded the annexation vote – “This is going to be seamless … the level of service up here will be equal to or better than it was before,” with policing services likely featuring “the same people driving the same vehicles, just with new decals on them.”

Not so seamless, he said, is the transition for the parks, following the kerfuffle over Puget Sound Park, plus some transition issues, he said, involving the new county administration. And he noted that for the first time in years, Burien is hiring a fulltime city attorney. (Side note, Martin was not the only Burien leader present at the NHUAC meeting; City Councilmember Kathy Keene was there too.)

SEATTLE ANNEXATION? Martin spoke to this a bit before finishing his NHUAC briefing: “Just buckle up … this is going to be one of those times when rumors fly.” He alluded to being a bit mystified as to how this suddenly emerged on a Seattle front burner, with a move under way to have an election in the north section of North Highline as soon as this November, since his perception from previous conversations was that it “wasn’t really high on Mayor McGinn’s agenda. … But I think the (Seattle) council for whatever reason wants to take a shot at it, and we’ll see where it goes.”

Later in the meeting, NHUAC members discussed the new twist during the “new business” section — a more formal briefing/discussion is planned at the March 4 meeting, when the point person for the Seattle mayor’s office, Kenny Pittman, will attend the North Highline meeting. A considerable amount of semi-heated discussion centered over what NHUAC could officially say/do to remind the Seattle government that it’s on record as recommending the entire North Highline area become part of Burien; the contents of a letter reportedly sent to Seattle a few years back was the topic of intense discussion between members Russell Pritchard and Heidi Johnson, until some research could be finalized, and it was determined that it wouldn’t be a violation of NHUAC’s contract for them to remind Seattle that after community surveying and research, they had recommended the Burien alignment, so a letter to that effect will go out. (While Pritchard wanted to be sure the message was sent in the strongest possible terms, Johnson reminded her fellow councilmembers that they are required to stay away from whatever could be construed as political advocacy.)

ELECTIONS: It was noted along the way that the day the annexation is to take effect, April 1st, is a meeting day for NHUAC; part of its membership, including president Greg Duff, lives in the area to be annexed. The public vote for councilmembers will be coming up in the third week of May, and an official announcement will go out soon.

HICKS LAKE NAME CHANGE? Dick Thurnau from Friends of Hicks Lake briefed NHUAC about efforts to change the lake’s name back to its original name, Hicklins Lake, in honor of Leonard Hicklin and family, who settled in the area in the 1880s. They have a hearing before the Washington State Board on Geographic Names in Olympia on May 21st and Thurnau would like to receive e-mails supporting the name change – you can write to him at:

The sooner the better!

*A few more items were on last night’s agenda – we’ll write about those a bit later.

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28 Responses to “North Highline Unincorporated Area Council talks annexation(s)”

  1. Find it interesting that NHUAC board member and former NHFD Chief would even have the sack to show his face let alone be vocal about opposing Seattle. This is a man who left the cupboards empty at a Fire district he was in charge of. After cutting sweetheart deals with the old water district supt.In a classic case of you scratch my back I will scratch yours. At the expense of the taxpayers. LETS EXPOSE THE REAL GOVT. WASTE

  2. For all you unincorporated people who want to be a part of Burien, have you ever noticed that this very blog is a sister blog to the West Seattle Blog, yet the Burien Blog ignores this blog completely?

    We are an integral part of West Seattle, not Burien and I totally welcome Seattle’s overture to those of us who live very close to the Seattle city limits. I have always considered our home as part of Seattle. However, I do like shopping at the Grocery Outlet and Trader Joe’s in Burien.

  3. When will new North Highline UAC districts be
    formed as a lot of the old area will no longer be
    Hopefully before elections in May.
    The whole NHUAC should be downsized to One person per
    district with Five members at large (for a total of Nine).

  4. Hi Hobo,
    The new districts boundaries will take affect when the Southern Half officially annex’s to Burein City April 1, 2010.

  5. Karen, the B-Town Blog and White Center Blogs are sister blogs. I think both of the blogs in White Center should be posting pertinent information about governance in Burien and Seattle.

    For instance, did you read the article on the front page of today’s Times: “McGinn advisor resigns, admits he lied about Ph.D….Mayor says he knew of senior aide’s felony bank-fraud conviction” Here’s the link:

  6. Rather than wondering which blog-format site is doing what, if you are concerned about coverage, please widen your scrutiny to the other media serving your area as well. Meantime, we know that we should be doing a much better job, and are seeking help to do that. Many more stories to be told in White Center and environs than the few we’ve been able to tell so far. Have a great weekend!

  7. I would just like to inform the public to leave Thursday March 4, 2010 at 7:00pm open. That is the next meeting of the North Highine Unincorporated Area Council. The meeting is held at 1243 SW 112th St. which is the North Highline Fire Station.
    Not only will Kenny Pittman from Seattle be there, but Jan Drago from King County told us today she will be at the meeting. The public will have a chance to question Kenny and Jan.
    It should be a great meeting.

    Thank you
    Greg Duff

  8. I’m very interested to know why NHUAC is so heated about Seattle. These self elected indviduals that claim they speak for the entire area are completely blinded by their emotions and listen to no reason. I completely agree with obvious that for Russ Pritchard to be in a position of influence is criminal. The fact that he is holding a position on NHUAC alone makes me question any recommendations they might have as to the the future of our area. Here are some facts to take into consideration.

    Property Taxes

    Property Tax in North Highline (how we are now)
    Assessed Value = $215000
    Tax = $2896

    Property Tax in Burien
    Assessed Value = $212,000
    Tax = $2883

    Property Tax in Seattle
    Assesed Value = $214000
    Tax = $2138

    These numbers include total tax. Including levys, water, schools etc… You can find them by going to the king county parcel viewer website.

    Fire Protection

    Was not sure how to average this out so I researched what a standard response to a house fire would be in North Highline/Burien and what it would be in Seattle.

    North Highline/Burien

    4 Fire engines, 1 Command Unit and 1 Medic Unit


    5 Fire engines, 2 Ladder trucks, 2 Command units, 1 Medic Unit, 1 Aid Car, 1 Air truck, 1 Deputy chief, 1 Saftey chief, 1 Staff unit and 1 Fire investigator.

    You can find this out by calling each fire department respectively.

    Police Protection

    With Seattle police only covering a 1/3 of what King County Sheriffs office must patrol Seattle has close to twice the amount of sworn officers.

    King County Sheriffs Office has 689 sworn police officers.
    Seattle Police has 1250 sworn police officers.

    NHUAC I would love to see a more open council that takes all these matters into consideration rather than throwing fits like children. I want a council that is unbiased and can reason without being blinded by emotions. I have alot of respect for you have contributed to the community but this anger you have is ugly.


  9. George Do you think Seattle taxes are going to go up in the very near future under McGinn? Who is going to pay for the sea wall or the viaduct or the tunnel option or Brightwater, etc… etc..? Or how about the huge deficit Seattle faces next year? I am sure they would not make North Highline pay for any of that. I am also sure that the 16000 people in the Norh Section of North Highline will have a very powerful voice in Seattle who’s population is approximately 600,000 people. I will love driving to a city council meeting downtown Seattle. Let’s see parking is about $12.00 and should take me no more than half an hour to get there and then another half hour to park and walk up to the council chambers. I have met Mike Martin, Burien City Manager many times and the Burien City Council is readily available. I am sure the Mayor McGinn and the Seattle City Council will someday visit North Highline and maybe they will even learn that North Highline is not just White Center. Maybe they will realize that they don’t need to put all the low income housing in NH. I read in yesterdays paper that the house values in Seattle have risen for the first time in a year. That is great except I don’t plan to sell my home in the near future and I don’t want to pay taxes on an inflated value. I would wish my home was worth only about $100.00 because my taxes would be a whole lot less. As far as the police and fire department in Burien, Police Chief Kimerer runs a great department and will continue to provide great service to North Highline. I have complete confidence that Fire Chief Marr will make sure that the North Highline area is covered. I have many good friends who are Seattle Police and Fireman and I have the utmost respect for them. I also trust my King County Police and Burien/North Highline Fire Department and my life and safety will literally be in their hands. It will be a seamless transition when we go to Burien.
    Lastly, let me tell you about the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council. These volunteers care for the North Highline Area. They educate themselves and the community on what is going on. They take time out of their busy lives to attend meetings. They commuicate with elected officials and fight to make NH a better place to live. George, I have listened to you on other blogs talk about NHUAC and yet you do nothing but talk. Have you attended a meeting or attempted to get involved? Have you contacted any of the NHUAC people to voice your concern?
    Please don’t attack NH Citizens who want to make a difference. I know these people and they are not crooked, or secretive or any other of the things you have accused them of being. I challenge you to come to a NHUAC meeting and sign up to run for a position. Put your feet in action and then maybe more people will believe your words.

  10. I’m not sure what that link Liz provided has to do with anything. I believe it has the opposite effect you want, it just proves what a polarizing group NHUAC is. NHUAC is in no position to lead or make recommendations. I think you should focus your efforts on education. But its ok, you keep researching that stuff and I’ll keep researching things that matter to citizens, like property taxes and public safety.

    And by the way, those fire engines in Seattle have a minimum of 4 people on them. Burien and North Highline have only 3. So once you total it up you are getting a lot more firefighters on scene with Seattle.

    If you can, provide me some facts Liz. Something Burien can offer that Seattle can’t.

    I hope no one provides links to embarrassing fact about people on the NHUAC board. It wouldn’t educate anyone, but it would serve you right. Your right George the attitude is ugly and petty.

  11. Grover NHUAC has a member that was decieftful and robbed a our fire district of money. You expect me to believe on blind faith what they have to say. You say they have become educated, well I have to and I have actually posted my information and where to find it, unlike NHUAC. I’m sure you’ve read it, but I’ll summarize. Way less property tax, better fire protection, close to twice as many sworn police officers. Are you a car salesman trying to talk me into less for more? While your words were eloquent, once again they were the empty words of NHUAC as far as annexation goes. If I became involved with NHUAC they would run me right out of the room because I wouldn’t be as ignorant as they. If you want your house value to be $100, I have $100 in my wallet right now to make it a reality for you, lets make a deal!!

  12. Grover, you truly have have a way with words, but this is what I got out of it;

    Seattle has big projects to pay for.

    It’s easier to park in Burien than downtown Seattle.

    You don’t want your property values to go up.

    You trust police and fire will do a good job.

    NHUAC are good people.

    I think your right about all of it.

    Seattle does have big projects to pay for, they also have more infrastructure which helps to pay for things. As noted earlier, property taxes=lower.

    It is easier to park in Burien. But I don’t think most people have the time to physically go to their city council meetings anyway. Also you can view them online anyway.

    Most people want their property values to go up.

    I believe that Burien will do a go job defending their city, mainly because police and fire will always get the job done. But maybe you should put yourself in their shoes. Show up to a house fire with three people instead of four and have to make some tough decisions.

    I think NHUAC has the best of intentions. The problem is those intentions are to go to Burien. They are committed to one option and aren’t looking at anything else. You have a completely biased group of people supposedly looking after the best interests of the people. They are consumed with being a larger portion of a small city, rather than being a big part of their neighborhood in a big one. Also I’m not sure thats worked for things like the fire department, where even though its local, the meetings are in the morning when most people work, and people are being paid large amounts of money and they don’t seem to be fiscally solvent. I think your heart is in the right place Grover, I just think you should look harder at your options.

  13. I love Burien City and I want to annex there. I can’t wait until my address says BURIEN. The Burien City web site can provide you information regarding annexation. They have an entire section dedicated to it.

    Lets see how many attacks I get for prefering BURIEN.

    These reads are a complete joke.

  14. Hey Mark (sorry, I mean George) You might get your point across better if you did not call people names. I have always believed that when someone does not have a valid point in an argument they will resort to name calling. Not only is it unnecessary, it’s low class.
    Let’s all play nice.

  15. AJ, did you have a problem with Obvious’ comment? It was made with no substantiation. My link was documented and provided as I question the decision-making process in Seattle. The mayor knew that one of his high level appointees had a felony bank fraud conviction. I think that’s important information. If we annex to Seattle, he will be our mayor – his appointees will be our appointees.

    Burien offers us something Seattle can’t – a voice in our future. As part of Seattle, we’ll be 20,000 people in a city of approximately 600,000. If we join our neighbors in Burien, together we’ll be nearly half the city. We’ll have a voice in what happens in our community – from public safety to taxes and everything in between.

    I’m not on NHUAC so whoever told you that was wrong. I was on for a while. I became interested in their work when they were conducting an indepth governance study a few years back. Here’s a link:

    I suggest you go to their web site and then go to Burien’s annexation web site:

    I can’t find a link on Seattle’s web site for annexation. Their comprehensive plan is the best I could do. We’re listed under Urban Village. Look north of Roxbury on Delridge and I think you’ll see what that means…no more trees, no more yards, no more single family homes.

    What that may offer is income for those who have investments in the area – land that is sure to be upzoned in a Seattle Urban Village. Those are the people who will benefit from higher property values.

    For those of us who call this home and intend to stay, higher property values mean more taxes. Don’t be fooled into thinking that they’ll be less in Seattle. It is a city known for its tax levies. In fact, Seattle’s mayor wants to have a special election re: a $241,000,000 (yes, two hundred forty-one million dollars) levy to rebuild the seawall. Here’s another link:

  16. George- Had your research been graded, you would have scored a “D” at best. Your research, if you can call it that, has no supporting evidence since you’ve copied and pasted everything. Sets of generic, unrelated numbers are not the basis for arguments. Some of your facts are possibly even from unreliable sources and the statistics have been interpreted inaccurately. These hasty generalizations have undermined any information that was even remotely close to being true.

  17. Your statement of preference doesn’t seem to take into account the services that the City of Seattle offers. While Burien’s website offers information, it doesn’t account for the many positives that annexation to the north seems to offer.
    Why would someone want less service for more money? That seems like the only joke to me.

  18. Liz I’m not sure that having a louder voice has done much for our citizens. Besides getting us two fire chiefs with out of control wages, higher property taxes and less public saftey. That being said, I’m not so sure that you would have any less of a say if we were to go with Seattle either. I’ve always had prompt replies from Seattle City Council members.


  19. Liz-
    If it’s important to know what one of the mayors EX appointees has done, wasn’t Burien’s City Manager arrested for a DUI? Yep I’m pretty sure he was.

    I guess if it’s important than it’s equally as important to know what some of the current NHUAC board members have done. Seriously? It’s pretty well known the NHFD is in financial turmoil. I believe they’ve lost staff as a result of poor budgetary planning. Is that what you call having a voice in what happens in our community – from public safety to taxes and everything in between.

    I’m not on NHUAC so whoever told you that was wrong. I was on for a while.-Liz. Enough said there, I think.

    Also I believe the information you are looking for is being put together as we speak. Like everything, things have changed, from the area being annexed to the economy. Almost all that information and governance study work has to be updated.

    I believe the area can be best served by a city that has the resources to do it. Your probably already using water and power provided by the City of Seattle, you probably have a Seattle address. I will continue to research and consider Burien, if you and NHUAC will to research and consider Seattle. I won’t hold my breath.

  20. Since property taxes have come up again. Here are the hard numbers again. Not the speculation that Liz provided. I’m just not interested in statments such as “trust me on this one”, or “believe me”, and “Don’t be fooled”. Burien has plenty of their own levies out.

    Property Taxes

    Property Tax in North Highline (how we are now)
    Assessed Value = $215000
    Tax = $2896

    Property Tax in Burien
    Assessed Value = $212,000
    Tax = $2883

    Property Tax in Seattle
    Assesed Value = $214000
    Tax = $2138

  21. George, the link – please.

  22. Liz go to the King County Parcel view website. Go to the parcel viewer map. Find three parcels in the three seperate jurisdictions with the same assesed values, Seattle, Burien and North Highline. Then click on the property tax report for each parcel. It will show you everything you ask for.

  23. As far as other things, I found out a little more information today. For all you people that love Evergreen pool so much. Seattles budget once the area is incorporated included full operation of the pool, right now it is closed :(

    New public saftey info would be that North Highline/Burien Fire Department second alarm response to a house fire is barely equal to that of Seattle Fire Departments intial response.

    Just a few more facts for you to consider.

  24. I have a question for the researchers – what about the libraries? Currently we have two KCLS branches in White Center, which is an incredible and amazing resource for everyone here. What would happen to those if Seattle took over the area? Thanks!

  25. The members discussion at NHUAC last meeting on annexation seem to be council procedure.
    With all the different responses on the blog between Burien and Seattle annexation is there any other alternatives

  26. People talk about the world class neighborhoods in Seattle – yes, there are world class neighborhoods if you happen to live in Laurelhurst, Magnolia, Ravenna – where the $100000+ homes are – not so world class in So. Delrige, Highland Park, South Park – It appears that Seattle does not care too much for the areas with the lower incomes – except that they want to put more lower income people in these areas – and maybe even a jail – remember that!!!

  27. I just finished reading Kathy Keenes letter which was a response to a recent Seattle Times editorial supporting Seattle’s effort to annex North Highline. After reading it I felt compelled to post a detailed response. So I will start from the top and work to the bottom.

    In her letter she speaks to the great benefits provided by small government. What she doesn’t talk about is the effort it will take to become involved. So folks, clear your calendar because you would not only need to attend City Council meetings but you will also need to attend Fire Commissioner meetings and Water District meetings. You will also need to attend King County Council meetings to have a direct influence on your Police and Libraries. King County council meetings are held downtown . However, since you’ll be downtown influencing your government anyways you may as well only go to one Seattle City Council meeting and cover all of the above. This gets better though, if that trip is still to difficult to make, each neighborhood in Seattle is distinct and has it’s own identity. As such, each neighborhood in Seattle has it’s own area council that has direct access to Seattle City leaders. Small government in North Highline has achieved very little besides closed pools, outrageous Fire Chief Salaries and Fire Commissioners that can’t even listen to citizens in regards to such small issues as when they choose to hold their Commissioner meetings. Burien leaders also chose not to listen to it’s current residents when they were strongly opposed to the initial annexation.

    I’m exactly sure why Kathy Keene addresses libraries because there are no libraries in the Seattle proposed annexation area. Enough said.

    Lets address water supplies. Seattle water is currently supplied by Seattle Public Utilities, (SPU), which is owned and operated by the City of Seattle. SPU currently provides a full 2/3’s of King County water. All of this water is supplied from the Cedar and Tolt River Watersheds. The Cedar River Watershed alone is 90,000 acres. The Cedar River Water Shed is a leader in old growth forest and wildlife habitat preservation. I would encourage all of you to visit the Cedar River Watershed visitor centers and see for yourself its remarkable conservation efforts and to also learn where your water comes from. SPU is also a leader in water conservation. SPU’s current usage is equal to that of the 1960’s even with a 35% increase in population. Water Districts 20 current water supply comes from the Cedar River Water Shed which is owned and operated by the City Of Seattle. I find it interesting that Kathy Keene, Water District 20 commissioner would so strongly criticize SPU. In fact North Highline residents would see an immediate drop in their rates if they were annexed by Seattle. This is due to fact that SPU charges higher rates to those not inside city limits. I won’t even address the scandal that Water District 20 and North Highline Fire District were recently involved in with Russ Pritchard. By the Seattle City Light is no less impressive.

    Moving on to public safety. Small government has ran current fire protection into the ground. North Highline Fire District is on the brink of going broke, thanks small government. However, I will still focus on the difference between North Highline being protected by North Highline/Burien Fire Department and how it would be if North Highline were to be annexed by Seattle. I will preface all of this with the fact that firefighters and police officers did the absolute best with the resources made available. You can ask any number of Chiefs and what they would all agree that they can always use more firefighters or police officers. First lets break down what North Highline/Burien Fire Department and Seattle Fire Departments current response is for a simple house fire.

    North Highline/Burien Fire

    4 Fire Engines, 1 Battalion Chief, 1 Medic Unit

    Seattle Fire Department

    5 Fire Engines, 2 Ladder Trucks, 2 Battalion Chiefs, 1 Medic Unit, 1 Aid Car, 1 Air Truck, 1 Deputy Chief, 1 Safety Chief, 1 Staff Car, 1 Fire Investigator

    As you can plainly see, Seattle Fire Department currently provides resources that are head and shoulder above what North Highline/Burien Fire Department can currently provide. In fact North Highline/Burien Fire Department current second alarm response is barely equal to that of Seattle Fire Departments intial response. Police protection is no different. King County Sheriffs Office which currently provide services to North Highline and Burien have 689 sworn police officers as of today. Seattle Police Department which covers 1/3 of what King County covers has 1250 sworn officers, close to twice as many as King County Sheriffs office.

    Moving onto the taxes that Kathy Keene spoke about , which is of course an issue to all of us. Burien is a city that has what is called junior taxing districts,. Those junior taxing districts provide many of the basic services a city needs. For example, fire protection and water supply. These junior taxing district are totally separate from the City of Burien. While Burien may have no debt, I know for a fact their junior taxing districts do such as King County Fire District 2, Libraries etc… By the way I’m not sure how Burien paid for their new Community Center I think that was a bond of some sort. That is why Kathy Keene can claim Burien has no debt, because their junior taxing districts do. Boiling all this down, all residents would actually pay far less for total property tax, including all bonds and levy’s then you would pay currently or if we were to be annexed by Burien.

    To summarize, if Seattle were to annex us we would pay less property tax then if we were to be annexed by Burien. We would also pay less for utilities, have vastly increased fire and police protection and great access to government.

    Stay Educated,

  28. “we the people” of White Center will NEVER vote to join Seattle, NEVER!!!!