Notes from the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s March meeting

From WCN contributor Deanie Schwarz at last night’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting:

Last on the agenda, but top of many minds – NHUAC voted unanimously to immediately draft a letter to each Seattle City Council member reaffirming NHUAC’s previous position to support the annexation of Area Y to the city of Burien.

Mike Martin
, Burien City Manager, usually updates NHUAC at its meetings. Annexation was one of his topics: Martin said that the Burien Council is obligated to honor the Memorandum of Understanding with Seattle and therefore will not be taking a position regarding any Boundary Review Board process that might be triggered if Seattle council members vote in the next month to keep the process going. However, he told NHUAC that there are still internal conversations being held within their city hall and that NHUAC and citizens of “Area Y” should not let Burien’s official silence belie the fact that “we are intensely interested.”

Other highlights: Martin recently returned from a trip to Washington, D.C. regarding the Block Grants for 2011. Martin says that he’s never, in 15 years of such trips to D.C., seen the state of confusion regarding the status of Block Grants, which he says have been put into “an 11th hour” jeopardy. These funds may impact work on Puget Sound Park, he notes. He will update the Council as the outcomes of those grant funds becomes known.

Martin also mentioned that Burien is currently in the midst of a Police Status study to evaluate whether the city will continue to contract with outside law enforcement agencies or begin a process to develop the city’s own police department. The study also includes data collection on the feasibility of a new police station, in the event a new department were to be founded.

There were no solid or significant trends to observe over the past few months; however, the KCSO rep did note that auto thefts have gone down from 29 to 11 after a particularly active period a few months ago.

There also was a bit of good news regarding the staffing numbers for deputies in King County. The recent annexation in the Kirkland/Juanita area may allow for reallocation for some officers to the North Highline area, though such a determination is neither confirmed nor finalized.

The King County Library System (KCLS) Director, Bill Ptacek, and Jennifer Wiseman, Project Manager/Public Services, addressed the gathering with the most extensive presentation and discussion of the evening.

In 2004, King County voters approved a bond to fund library improvements throughout the entire county service area, as well as build new libraries. While Burien’s library was completed in 2009, funds were also allocated for a new White Center library from the same bond. Also, the housing development at Greenbridge in White Center also recently incorporated a new, though smaller, library.

A North Highline Library Needs Assessment Study is currently being conducted via phone; an online questionnaire went live on March 1 at The survey is open to the entire public, does not require a King County Library user number and can be responded to in English or Spanish. The deadline for responses is March 30. The KCLS Board will be considering the results of the survey at its April meeting, when they determine whether to improve the existing libraries or build a new facility.

They also talked about a draft Library Service Area Analysis – you can read the 30-page report online here: The report contains the following Trends & Conclusions of KCLS (page 22):

Key Trends & Conclusions

Usage Trends

Use of the Greenbridge, White Center and Boulevard Park libraries is concentrated to patrons in the immediate neighborhood.
The Burien Library is a destination library that draws people from throughout the area, including South King County and Seattle.
All of the libraries in the area studied, excluding the Kent Library, exceed the System cost per circulated item.
The Southcenter, Burien, Des Moines and Kent libraries are the most effective based on cost per visitor.
The White Center Library draws the greatest number of patrons from Seattle.

Geographic Considerations

There is a high concentration of schools located near the White Center and Burien libraries compared to Boulevard Park Library.
There are three Seattle Public Library (SPL) branches within close proximity to the libraries in the “Highline/Des Moines/SeaTac” FAZ group.
In the event that the remaining unincorporated area is annexed to Seattle, the Seattle Public Library (SPL) has indicated a strong interest in maintaining library services at the Greenbridge Library.
␣ With limited public transportation routes, and only two points at which to cross underneath it, State Route 509 presents a geographical divide in the North Highline community.
␣ Five schools are located in the remaining unincorporated area of North Highline.

Demographic Trends
␣ Growth trends during the past decade are inconsistent with growth projections for the “Highline/Des Moines/SeaTac” FAZ group.
␣ FAZ growth projections of 3.7% to 16.6% in the North Highline area are less significant than King County projections of 19.5% by the year 2020.
␣ The Boulevard Park, White Center and SeaTac FAZs are very similar socio-economically.
␣ The “Highline/Des Moines/SeaTac” FAZ group is considerably more diverse than King County.
␣ There is a significant percentage of population with limited access to vehicles in the area studied.
␣ A significant proportion of the population in the area studied is unemployed.

Library Distribution Conclusions
␣ After accounting for potential growth in the area, the square feet per 1,000 of population in the northern portion of the “Highline/Des Moines/SeaTac” FAZ group is notably higher than the System average, while it is significantly below the System average in the southern portion of the FAZ group.
␣ Determination of the distribution of library facilities and their respective service areas should be made with consideration to topography challenges (including natural and manmade barriers).

Ptacek explained to the gathering, including some members of the White Center Library Guild who together voiced their various concerns regarding the potential combining of the Boulevard Park and White Center libraries, that the goal of the KCLS is to have an equitable distribution of library resources available to the greatest numbers of users.

The KCLS Library Service Area Analysis Policy is described below, taken from their Public Services Manual PDF for the same, dated 2/10:


The King County Library System (KCLS) maintains and operates library facilities in a prudent and fiscally sound manner and is continually looking for ways to meet public needs while effectively managing public resources. This policy outlines the process for analyzing the distribution of library resources within a particular area to ensure that public resources are applied for the best possible public benefit.

Declining funding, population shifts, building obsolescence or other reasons may require the Board of Trustees to consider closing and consolidating library facilities. When considering action to alter the distribution of library services, the following will occur:
· The Library Director will keep the Board of Trustees informed of situations that may warrant an analysis of the library service area.
· KCLS staff will conduct a Library Service Area Analysis on an as needed basis, or as part of a regularly scheduled community study.
· Citizen input will be considered through one or more public meetings and/or other methods of collecting input in advance of a final decision by the Board of Trustees.
· Public notice of no less than thirty (30) calendar days will be given prior to a final decision by the Board of Trustees.


The Library Service Area Analysis process is used to:
· Measure how effectively a redistribution of library resources would meet community need.
· Assess the best configuration of staff and resources to enable the library cluster to provide more programs and services to the community.
· Determine whether operational efficiencies may be gained by consolidating two smaller libraries into a single, comparably sized or larger facility.
· Investigate how the current allocation of library resources compares to the rest of the Library System to ensure an equitable distribution across King County.


During a Library Service Area Analysis, the following data will be collected and analyzed (if available):
· Library usage, including traffic, circulation and computer usage
· Library operational and staffing costs
· Socio-economic demographics
· Per capita measures
· Cross-use with other library jurisdictions
· Address of patrons frequenting the facility or facilities
· Size or scale of service in cluster model
· Local transportation routes, especially transit
· Area traffic patterns
· Population centers and growth forecasts
· Proximity to schools and daycares
· Proximity to senior living facilities
· Development in the area, including types of zoning
· City documentation (from similar area studies)
· Local area needs assessments (conducted by other agencies or jurisdictions)

Desired Outcomes

Based on the results of a Library Service Area Analysis, KCLS staff may recommend redistribution of library resources. Such recommendations will be made after considering the extent to which an alteration achieves the following outcomes:
· Results in increased offerings of library programs and services
· Results in increased library use
· More effectively meets community need for library resources
· Provides the community with more sustainable, lower-cost facilities
· Creates operational efficiencies
· Minimizes duplication between two library institutions in the same geographic area
· Optimizes the regional provision of library services
· Positions KCLS for new service opportunities and a greater role in building community
· Provides equitable distribution of library resources across the Library System

DEFINITIONS (if applicable) ·
Redistribution of Library Resources: May include closing or consolidating a library, adding a facility, developing services outside the facility, or reducing the size of or expanding a library.

NHUAC meets on the first Thursday of the month, 7 pm, North Highline Fire District HQ.

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9 Responses to “Notes from the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s March meeting”

  1. NHUAC would do well to understand that there are many in North Highline that would welcome a Seattle annexation. It should also be well understood that if the council were to continue down a path of annexation it would still take a vote of North Highline citizens to approve it. Don’t let NHUAC take away your chance to decide!!


  2. Seattle annexation means a higher level of fire and police staffing. More patrol officers and a much higher first alarm response by the fire department. These are facts NHUAC can’t ignore. Property taxes lower than Burien or incorporated King County, along with one city council meeting to attend vs. several less that trustworthy jr. taxing districts.

    Don’t let NHUAC take away your vote! Even if this process moves forward you have a chance to vote. Don’t let them take that away. Show your support for the process, and let the residents decide!


  3. I have yet to hear from Seattle what they have to offer us. The only ones I have heard that we will have better services from are the usual Pro- seattle group. They have made no effort to let both side be heard why should NHUAC.I see the North Highline that has already been annexed is getting roads repaired. They are also asked by Burien to be included in discussion about there community. I have to question why people did not choose to live in Seattle if it is so great and has so much to offer, why did they move here and then try to shove Seattle down our throat.

  4. The only ones I have heard that we will have better services from are the usual Pro- seattle group. They have made no effort to let both side be heard why should NHUAC.- A. Lopes

    Exactly. I am personally pro-Seattle. Just like NHUAC is pro-Burien. The difference is they use their title to make recommendations that would stop a process where everyone gets to vote, and have their voice heard.

    I guess if Burien is so great you could move there too.

    In the meantime you should get informed. Anyone can find out what level of service Seattle provides and compare it to Burien. Then you can make an informed decision.

  5. Lived in Seattle for most of my life, moved to get rid of their politics but stay close to work. In Seattle the people with the biggest voices and pockets get to sing, while the little people just get to sit in the background and hum. The only motivation of the people here is regarding the the Zoning Laws and how much they can get for the property they bought here.I know Seattle services, I work for them. May I name a corrupt School district and highly publicized Police Department for a few. That’s where I want my tax dollars to go.

  6. Well don’t worry, I’m sure there are a couple of Jr. Taxing Districts in the unincorporated area that can use your tax dollars in less than ethical ways. Maybe a water or fire district? Maybe they could be each others bosses and give each other raises with your tax dollars.

  7. I would really, really, really like to see a line item comparison of what we have now versus both annexation options. Right now all I’m hearing is “with Seattle we get this” and “with Seattle we get that” and it’s only compared to what we don’t have now. But what does Burien offer us in comparison? What would be helpful would be a spreadsheet or chart showing:

    “Current” — “Seattle” — “Burien”

    *Libraries? If Seattle takes over would we lose our KC libraries, and if so will Seattle be able to replace them?
    *Parks? Can Seattle take on our parks, too, when they’re already overburdened?
    *Burien police (a/k/a KC sheriffs who already know and work our area) versus SPD, who have an abysmal record of working with diverse communities?
    *Tunnel and sea wall? This project is going to be a nightmare and Seattle is on the hook for a lot of it. Plus, it really messes up downtown access for a lot of us.
    *Transit – for a city of the size and scope that it is, the mass transit in Seattle is getting worse and worse. Portland and Denver have it down, and we’re still in the stone age. Will they be able to make improvements that make transit better for this area?
    *New jail? Are they still thinking about sticking one in W.C.?
    *Schools – scandal aside, the schools in Seattle are a mess for myriad other reasons, as well. Will they be able to do right by the kids of this area?

    There’s a lot of questions, and it would be nice to have some objective information available that gave a straight answers to the questions of what each city has to offer us.

  8. Just to add some additional information from the NHUAC meeting and report from Bill Ptacek:

    The main issue that was discussed was the fact that King County Library System will close both the White Center and Boulevard Park libraries if we annex to Seattle. The KC Library system may then do a consolidated library somewhere in King County – not in an area that is in close proximity to the border of Seattle – so the library could be put in Normandy park or some other distant neighborhood, which surely will not serve the residents of either WC or Blvd Park.

    The other big issue discussed was that the bond levy money that the homeowners of these areas have been paying in property tax for seven years now will be pro-rated to reflect the taxes collected from the unincorporated area and will be given to Seattle as a lump sum, which Seattle has stated in their Budget Analysis report, will use to create its own collection at the only remaining library in North Highline, the Greenbridge Library. It appears that this money will also be used to offset the lease payment for the space as the Greenbridge library is in a rented space owned by the YMCA, not the library system. There was also the suggestion that the bond money may be just put into Seattle’s general fund, and not even be used in our area.

    It was also brought out that the Greenbridge Library is a small, limited use library that was put in place at the request of the King County housing authority with the specific purpose to serve the residents of the Greenbridge community and not the community as a whole. It was made clear by Mr. Ptacek that this small facility could not accomodate the needs of the North Highline community – especially given the fact that the White Center Library has over ten thousand users a month – many of them students who are using the computers to complete homework assignments. Other than the space issue, there is an issue of access to this facility, as many of the users of the WC and Blvd Park Libraries have limited access to transportation, and the fact that the library will only be open 30-34 hours per week.

    The bottom line is, this community will lose two very important, vital facilities with an annexation to Seattle, as Seattle has made it clear that they have no plans to replace either of these libraries.

  9. So if the only other option is annexation to Burien, are they promising to fund both libraries?