Annex most of the rest of North Highline? Burien council passes ‘resolution of intent’

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

City staff says they still have multiple chances to turn back – but for now, the Burien City Council has taken the first official step on the road to annexing White Center and most of the rest of unincorporated North Highline, by approving a resolution declaring their intent to annex the area. The resolution was approved 5-2, with Councilmembers Jack Block Jr. and Lucy Krakowiak the “no” votes.

Most of the councilmembers didn’t speak immediately before the vote to explain why they were pro or con – but of those who did, Deputy Mayor Brian Bennett said he’s “optimistic” about North Highline’s future; Block said that while he didn’t think NH residents would want to be part of a city (Seattle) with (potential) $80 car tabs and “Taj Mahal libraries,” he did think there were issues that need to be resolved – such as, through negotiating with the county “for mitigation” – before proceeding.

The meeting began with a public-comment period that lasted almost 45 minutes, with all but one speaker addressing the “to move forward with annexation or not to move forward with annexation” issue. Our tally of the annexation speakers: 12 opponents, 5 supporters. The opponents all described themselves as Burien residents; four of the supporters were residents of the still-unincorporated area.

One of them was Barbara Dobkin, who spoke as a private citizen but also serves as president of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council. “This is good news,” she smiled after the meeting. “Finally, we have something to start with.”

Though some in Burien had repeatedly expressed opposition by saying “what’s the rush?” Dobkin and others – including some councilmembers – noted that all this has been under discussion for years. New fuel was added to Burien’s fire when Seattle, which originally had dibs on this part of the unincorporated area, declared earlier this year that it wasn’t even going to think about a decision till early next year, so if Burien wanted to proceed, Seattle wouldn’t stand in its way.

We will add highlights and summaries of the commenters’ key points later, plus what happens next in the process, as we continue adding to this story in the hours ahead.

ADDED TUESDAY: Here are the 8 steps required before annexation would become official, as laid out in the approved resolution:

1. City Council approves a Resolution calling for annexation by election.
2. City staff files a Notice of Intention with the King County Boundary Review Board (BRB) and invokes jurisdiction by filing a request for review with the Board.
3. The BRB sets a hearing date, holds a hearing and issues a decision. The BRB can accept the proposal, reduce it by no more than 10% or deny the request.
4. The BRB decision begins a 30-day appeal period (appeals go to Superior Court).
5. City Council indicates to the County Auditor its preferred date for the annexation election.
6. County Council sets the election on the date indicated by the City.
7. The election is held.
8. City Council approves an Ordinance providing for the annexation and establishing its effective date.

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26 Responses to “Annex most of the rest of North Highline? Burien council passes ‘resolution of intent’”

  1. Good! Having lived in the North Highline area since 1963 and having watched the transformation of Burien since it incorporated, I was dissapointed when their last annexttion stopped three blocks south of our house. I did not want the City of Seattle to come knocking. I welcome Burien.

  2. I’m excited to explore this possibility – good news!

  3. Oh dear. Wish I’d know this before I bought a house here.

  4. I’ve seen the map of the proposed annexed area. What exactly does Annex MOST of the rest of North Highline mean? Are they leaving out some area(s)??

  5. Eaton B. Verz Says:

    Well folks, Get ready for one of the highest tax rates in the state, less or almost non existant services and little or no representation. Don’t believe me? Check out buriens animal control. Ask how much money will be in the budget for human services. Fire protection will cost you more, etc…… Welcome to Burien

  6. There’s the famous “sliver by the river” in South Park, which Seattle is moving to annex (doesn’t get discussed much).

  7. Ugh… I did not sign up to live in Burien. I have a Seattle address and want it to stay that way. Haven’t you people figured it out – if we’re in Burien, we don’t get to vote on the stuff that affects our commute (namely, the bridge to Ballard that’s being built with no exits downtown). This affects home values more than you think as Seattle has most of the jobs.

    C’mon Seattle – what do I have to do?!?!?

  8. SLC – re: your last question, have you contacted the Seattle City Council? If you are in the unincorporated area, of course, you didn’t/can’t vote on them, but you certainly can express your opinion that they should pursue annexation – contact info

  9. Not exactly sure why we in Burien want White Center. Personally I dont think the voters will approve it but I will need to hear a convincing argument why we would do this.

  10. I have gone to Seattle Council meetings downtown, how many of you can afford to take the afternoon off to voice your opinion and pay 15.00 to park. I go to all the Burien Council meetings which are held at 7pm and you can park for free. You don’t realize how much of voice you don’t have right now, King County sees this as a neighborhood for low income housing with no end in sight and Seattle will just make us another Southend neighborhood it ignores. I will take Burien anyday, I shop there and a good share of my property taxes supports the Highline School District. I look forward to watch the White Center neighborhood bloom as it has been held back to long.

  11. SLC: I feel your pain. Would rather remain unincorporated than be made part of Burien. It’s enough to make me think about foreclosure.

  12. Good News!!

  13. I have my concerns, too. However, with the annexation of both areas “X and Y”, we out-number the population of Burien (prior to annexation). Given that, if we are annexed, let our voice be heard!

  14. No to Burien, Yes to Seattle Says:

    I am unhappy that Burien has now declared their intent to annex us. I live in the north part of White Center that is still unincorporated and I would much prefer that we be annexed by Seattle. I don’t want to loose my Seattle address (property values have already gone down enough), I don’t agree with the more conservative politics of the Burien gov’t, I like that Seattle provides more services to the community than Burien does, and in terms of community feel, northern WC has more of a Seattle culture than the more southern part that Burien already annexed. All I can hope is that Burien decides not to pursue annexation after looking into things further.

  15. @AI

    Do you make it to all the special district meetings too? Water, Sewer, Fire? King county provides police, and manages the libraries….Wait…what does the City of Burien provide? Seems like special service districts do it all….When Burien begins to provide services like a real city your taxes are going to go up.

    In the meantime, you have a lot of meetings to get to…

  16. This is great news! Burien is doing a great job expressing their intent. Haven’t heard anything from Seatlle, guess they have no interest to annex the area.

  17. @AJ

    You know AJ as a matter a fact I do attend those meetings. I
    am also fully aware that very few people attend. I stay very involved in the Community so I am current on the truth, not at what everyone flings out there on the blogs. Nothing I dislike more than second hand information.

  18. I appreciate folks who go to meetings. However, I hope you don’t mean us by “flings out there on the blogs.” We’re professional journalists, reporting the news, from meetings and elsewhere, and if you think you’ve spotted a factual error in our reporting, please let us know.

  19. @Tracy,
    No I didn’t mean the White Center Now, I meant the people who comment. Comments that people put on the Blogs that other people believe. Financial figures I don’t even know
    where they get them and the ones who claim to have this inside with Seattle who have been told White Center will be the “Chosen Neighborhood” and given everything they ask.
    I appreciate your journalism, keep the communication going.
    I am just tired of hearing how “Worthless” this community is how. Given the chance the this little community could blossom.

  20. Burien all the way!! I can’t believe the “Burien” people who say they are against it and that White Center is just bad. I just chuckle at you fools. Either you have forgotten as old timers or you are just too new to Burien to know that once upon a time Burien and White Center were both unincorportated and pretty much just blended together. I grew up here (between White Center & Burien) since the 1960’s and still live here. Burien isn’t Superior to White Center and vise versa. Both really can be looked at as one. And for the ones that say taxes will go up, what do you think will happen if Seattle annexes, that taxes will go down?? No, the instant Seattle annexes, your taxes immediately go up, along with your Sewer, water, and garbage. Your sewer rate alone would almost double and for what? SW suburban is my provider and would remain my provider even if Seattle took over. But why would Seattle double it?
    And for those “Afraid” of losing their “Seattle” address? Not sure what you mean by that, but you can still write Seattle, WA 98xxx. It doesn’t matter which city you put down, you’ll still get your mail.

  21. You can watch any Seattle City Council meeting from the comfort of your living room, they’re live on the Internet and TV.

    Burien has so many special district meetings to attend, that most people, (with the exception of AI) who apparently has lots of time, cannot attend. The idea that it is easier to stay on top of government in Burien is absolutely false. That is fact, not second hand information.

  22. Also I just want to point out Jack Block Jr.’s statement about, “Taj Mahal libraries.”

    Does he want small dark ugly buildings as libraries? Does he abhor the idea of a nice building as the center of community learning? Does Burien or White Center not deserve a Taj Mahal library?

    I understand overspending, but I also understand how long library buildings generally operate…..a long time. Maybe Taj Mahal is the way to go? Thanks for trying to save the area from………really nice libraries. Thank you Jack Block Jr.

  23. Also,… can someone, maybe AI or Klause, explain exactly what services Burien directly provides? As in, has a department, a department head and employees? Because I don’t see many. What does the city of Burien actually do?

    Do these special service districts charge separately? Does that get added to your total tax bill? Has anyone compared that total with tax in Seattle? I would love to see someone do some hard numbers and not just spout what they think they know. I dislike people who think they have an inside line with Burien and think that White Center will be the next “chosen neighborhood.”

  24. All Burien City Council meetings are shown in live streaming video, and all past meetings are archived here:

    So it is as easy to keep up with them as it is for Seattle. Next?

  25. @AJ,
    You seem to be the one with all the answers, would you mind providing all the hard numbers and facts. Then we would all be educated and know the best choice.

  26. I guess we can agree that that Burien has too many special service district meetings for anyone with a job and commitments to attend. Next?

    AI: “You know AJ as a matter a fact I do attend those meetings. I
    am also fully aware that very few people attend. I stay very involved in the Community so I am current on the truth, not at what everyone flings out there on the blogs.”

    Sounds like your up to date on things AI, you should be able to give everyone an update on how their taxes and services would compare…you know, “The Truth.”

    The unfortunate part is that I don’t think it will look good for an average taxpayer. How does less services for more money sound? I would love to see all the taxes, including special service districts, added up and compared to Seattle, for an average homeowner. I don’t think it adds up.

    The sad part is that an annexation by either city is better in the long run than staying unincorporated. It’s just that Seattle would be a better long term solution. But if it’s not on the table, then bring on Burien.

    Just don’t try and sell it as a lower taxes, more services, or better representation. That is a losing argument.

    I await your numbers…