Video: Seattle Council approves ‘placeholder’ resolution regarding White Center (and vicinity) annexation

December 15th, 2014 Tracy Posted in Annexation, White Center news No Comments »

(ADDED: Full Seattle Channel video of this afternoon’s meeting)

2:04 PM: Just before its morning meeting wrapped up today, Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess described the annexation resolution to be discussed this afternoon as a “placeholder” – to keep the state’s tax-credit support from expiring – not necessarily a declaration that they intend to carry it through. The afternoon meeting has just begun; it is starting with council discussion of other matters and then public comment – you can watch live online here.

2:13 PM: First up in the public-comment period is Amanda Kay Helmick from the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council (who also is running for Seattle City Council, though she is speaking in her role as WWRHAH chair rather than as a candidate). She is talking about her work on an updated neighborhood plan for the area and why annexation would make sense so that the planning does not address, for example, one side of Roxbury and not the other. The speaker after her, who said he lives in Burien, opposed annexation, saying Seattle can’t be trusted.

2:31 PM: Lost our connection to the stream but the last speaker was Barbara Dobkin, president of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, which has historically supported annexation by Burien – you’ll recall that Seattle stepped aside to allow Burien to have an annexation election in 2012, but a majority of those who voted rejected the proposal, and after some leadership changes, Burien has so far declined to resume pursuing it. (We’ll be adding video of the hearing as soon as Seattle Channel turns it around.)

2:39 PM: The resolution is up now. Councilmember Burgess again describes it as a “placeholder” and talks about many issues that would have to be resolved before Seattle would wholeheartedly approve it – including financial help via a better state tax credit. He also notes that it’s not clear there’s majority support in the potential annexation area for joining Seattle. “There are multiple offramps on this road going forward,” he elaborates. Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, the only West Seattle resident on the council, says he supports “keeping the option open.” Councilmember Kshama Sawant says she thinks it’s reasonable for the city and county to ask the state to cover the extra cost of services if the area was annexed, but she says, ultimately the area consists of “human beings” with needs they deserve to have filled.

2:45 PM: Burgess clarifies that the annexation proposal would not change the school-district boundaries – this area, if Seattle annexed it, would remain part of Highline Public Schools. And shortly after that, the annexation resolution passed 8-0. Its text says that even if pursued avidly, an election wouldn’t be possible until 2016. We’ll keep close watch on the process as – if – it goes.

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Followup: Seattle Council considers annexation proposal Monday afternoon

December 13th, 2014 Tracy Posted in Annexation, White Center news 3 Comments »

As first reported here a week ago, a proposal to annex White Center and vicinity has suddenly surfaced before the Seattle City Council. This Monday (December 15), they’ll vote on whether to take the first step toward calling for residents of the potential annexation area to vote on the idea. One big caveat, though: As pointed out in the council memo, the main reason this has jumped to the forefront is that Seattle leaders want to make sure the annexation tax credit doesn’t expire – since they plan to ask for even more incentive, because of how much it’ll cost the city to provide services to the area, among other costs. So the resolution that’ll be considered Monday says this is NOT a commitment that they’ll pursue the process to the end:

… the City and King County intend to request additional financial assistance from the state to bridge the financial gap between revenues and the spending needed to serve the North Highline Annexation Area. Although this resolution initiates an annexation election, the City will continue to evaluate the advisability of such annexation pending the state’s decision regarding increased financial assistance.

The council meeting starts at 2 pm in Seattle City Council chambers at City Hall downtown, and traditionally begins with a public-comment period.

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Seattle annexation of White Center? City Council bringing it up again

December 5th, 2014 Tracy Posted in Annexation, White Center news 5 Comments »

Just spotted on the Seattle City Council’s Introduction/Referral Calendar – a proposal to ask White Center and the rest of unincorporated North Highline to vote on annexation. Documents accompanying the resolution say that it’s not likely the vote could be held before 2016, because of the Boundary Review Board process that would have to lead up to it. No date set yet for this to come before the council. Since posting the first short item on our partner site West Seattle Blog, we’ve learned that the discussion started in the council’s Education/Governance Committee two days ago, as detailed in this memo by a council staffer. It is time-sensitive – unless Seattle takes a step like this before the end of the year, the state tax credit that’s been in place several years as an annexation incentive will expire. More to come …

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Followup: Seattle City Council passes resolution to seek South Park annexation vote, continue North Highline ‘potential future annexation … discussions’

February 10th, 2014 Tracy Posted in Annexation, White Center news Comments Off

Following up on our report last week – the Seattle City Council approved the resolution a committee had OK’d last week, seeking to annex two unincorporated areas in South Park, known as the “Sliver by the River” and the “Duwamish Triangle.” They’ll take it to the Boundary Review Board, seeking the go-ahead to put the proposal on a ballot for voter consideration in those areas. The resolution – which you can see here – also says “the City Council and Mayor intend to continue discussions with King County regarding the City’s potential future annexation by election of the North Highline Potential Annexation Area, known as Area Y…” That’s the only mention of Area Y in this resolution, which does not trigger any action regarding North Highline, as clarified in Seattle Council discussion last week. We’ll add video of today’s meeting when it’s available on the Seattle Channel website.

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Video: Annexation discussion at Seattle City Council committee

February 5th, 2014 Tracy Posted in Annexation, White Center news Comments Off

That’s the video of today’s Seattle City Council Education and Governance Committee meeting. The annexation discussion didn’t come up until roughly the last half-hour, and there were some interesting revelations. Last year, it was explained, a variety of meetings led to the county trying to get Seattle to agree to annex all three potential annexation areas – the South Park “Sliver by the River” and Duwamish Triangle, plus North Highline’s Area Y. Seattle did not want to commit to Area Y because of the cost. The county finally agreed, the explanation continued, to let Seattle pursue the South Park areas, if it would commit to continued discussions about Area Y. So what’s happening now is that Seattle wants to hold an election in the two South Park areas. And it is committed to keep talking about Area Y, but nothing more (it was reiterated that if Seattle DID pursue Area Y annexation, it would be by vote of the people, not any other way). The resolution passed unanimously today in the committee now goes to the full council next Monday.

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Seattle City Council to pursue annexation vote for unincorporated areas of South Park; resolution briefly mentions North Highline

January 31st, 2014 Tracy Posted in Annexation, south park, White Center news 4 Comments »

11:09 AM: Of note for those continuing to wonder if Seattle will pursue White Center (and vicinity) annexation in the wake of the Burien rejection – we have just learned that a Seattle City Council committee is going to pursue an annexation vote for the two unincorporated sections of South Park, the “Sliver by the River” and “Duwamish Triangle.” Details are on our partner site The South Park News.

ADDED 11:18 AM: We didn’t catch it on first readthrough but the resolution DOES include a brief mention of North Highline’s “Area Y” – seventh paragraph:

WHEREAS, the City Council and Mayor intend to continue discussions with King County regarding the City’s potential future annexation by election of the North Highline Potential Annexation Area, known as Area Y…

That is mostly mentioned in support of why Seattle believes it should annex the Duwamish areas. But stay tuned!

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Update: Seattle City Council not likely to consider Area Y’s future for months

February 19th, 2013 Tracy Posted in Annexation, Politics, White Center news Comments Off

(UPDATED: Video below is the archived clip from this morning’s meeting)

9:08 AM: Clicking “play” will bring you the live stream of the Seattle Channel, where the Seattle City Council’s weekly briefing meeting is under way. Toward the end of that scheduled two-hour meeting – around 10:40 am – the council will hear an update on potential annexation areas. It’s been focused on the South Park “sliver by the river” and Duwamish Triangle, but we’re told that Area Y will be discussed too. We’ll have toplines during the meeting, too. (If you have any trouble with the video window above, just follow the link in our first line to the Seattle Channel and watch the live stream on their site.)

11:07 AM: We’ll substitute the archived video of this morning’s discussion as soon as it’s available. Meantime, not much was said about North Highline/Area Y – except that Seattle leaders are not likely to take a closer look at it before late this year at the earliest. Here’s our as-it-happened notes on how the entire discussion of possible Seattle annexations went:

The discussion began at 10:43 am. Meg Moorehead from Council Central staff reminds councilmembers there are four possible annexation areas in all. She notes that Council directed them months ago to pursue the two South Park areas and not stand in the way of Burien’s then-attempt to annex Area Y. She reminds that there are four ways to annex: 1. Vote of the people in the annexation area, 2. Petition of property owners with at least 60 percent of property value, 3. Interlocal agreement.

SLIVER ON THE RIVER + DUWAMISH TRIANGLE = ‘SLIVER Q‘: First, she updates the “Sliver on the River” – it will officially be a Seattle potential annexation area as of March 4th when countywide planning policy is complete. Regarding the Duwamish Triangle, they had started discussions – when businesses there took note and submitted a petition for Tukwila to annex them. Since property owners submitted the petition representing at least 60 percent of the assessed value, that kept Seattle from taking further action at the time. Then, on February 14th, the Boundary Review Board officially said no to Tukwila (we had reported the preliminary decision here). Moorehead said the city had wanted to annex both South Park areas because while the sliver is a “revenue drain,” the Triangle is not. But everything is in limbo right now because there is a monthlong period for an appeal to be filed. If there is an appeal, it will take several months; if not, annexation could come back to the council, via interlocal agreement, before year’s end. And if that doesn’t work out, they could pursue a vote of the people. The population is relatively low, there, which is why that’s not being pursued first – about 110 registered voters, city staffers say. The soonest a vote could be pursued would be February 2014.

Regarding the interlocal agreement, Clark says it wouldn’t just be the entities discussing it in a back room so far – she vows there would be a lot of outreach and discussion with the business committee.

AREA ‘Y': Moorehead mentions that studies have shown the cost of annexing Area Y would exceed the revenue brought in, and that’s why the Council had taken a pass in recent years, and let Burien take a shot at it. She notes the Burien rejection does not necessarily mean the area wants Seattle. She says staffers propose that they handle Sliver Q – the South Park areas – before deciding anything about Area Y, with a discussion to follow in late 2013 or early 2014. She mentions there is an incentive to deal with it in 2014 because of the sales-tax credit expiring at the start of 2015.

Moorehead also reminds councilmembers that a small area of about 10 homes near Lake Ridge Park in southeast Seattle is a potential annexation area too and should be dealt with before long. As for West Hill, though, which rejected Renton last November, that is NOT a potential annexation area for Seattle.

So the next step in all this depends on what happens with the possible appeal period for “Sliver Q.”

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Seattle City Council schedules ‘Annexations’ briefing next Tuesday

February 14th, 2013 Tracy Posted in Annexation, North Highline Fire District, south park, White Center news Comments Off

4:44 PM: Does Seattle have renewed interest in the bulk of North Highline, now that voters have said no to Burien? We might get a hint next Tuesday, when the Seattle City Council’s morning briefing – usually scheduled for Mondays, but delayed because of Presidents Day – includes an agenda item titled “Annexations.” The only supporting documents accompanying the agenda right now are two maps of the unincorporated area – this one (which appears oriented toward discussing fire services) and this one – which don’t give a hint as to the prospective discussion’s direction. One of the presenters is Council President Sally Clark, with whom we checked when the Boundary Review Board rejected Tukwila’s proposed annexation of the so-called “Duwamish Triangle” area in southern South Park. Seattle had been interested in pursuing both that area and South Park’s “Sliver by the River,” but when we had checked with Clark, she said there wasn’t yet a plan for what the city planned to do next. Once we get a response to our questions, we’ll add it; in the meantime, the briefing is toward the end of the 9 am Seattle City Council briefing meeting next Tuesday at City Hall.

9 PM: We have heard from Council President Clark, who tells WCN/WSB:

… we scheduled this briefing to bring councilmembers up to speed on both:

1. Area Y (North Highline) after the rejection of Burien by voters in November.
2. Sliver Q – the catchy new name for the Duwamish Triangle and the Sliver by the River together.

We’ll cover what may happen now after the Area Y vote and after the Boundary Review Board’s rejection of Tukwila’s petition.

If you can’t make it to downtown Seattle for the briefing, it’ll be live on the Seattle Channel’s website – seattlechannel.org – as are all the City Council’s proceedings. No votes are taken during “briefing” meetings, but we’ll keep an eye on the agenda to see if any additional documents turn up by Tuesday.

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Another annexation rejected: Tukwila’s Duwamish Triangle bid

January 10th, 2013 Tracy Posted in Annexation, south park, White Center news 4 Comments »

The most recent round of bids to take unincorporated areas off King County’s hands have now gone 0-3: In last November’s election, White Center and vicinity said no to Burien and the West Hill area said no to Renton; tonight, King County’s Boundary Review Board said no to Tukwila’s proposed annexation of the Duwamish Triangle – aka North Highline Area Q – on the south side of South Park. More details on our partner site The South Park News.

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Election 2012: King County Executive reacts to annexation defeat in North Highline

November 8th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Annexation, White Center news Comments Off

We asked the King County Executive’s Office for comment yesterday regarding the vote rejecting Burien annexation of most of the rest of North Highline. The response came just now in a news release, also incorporating comment on the West Hill rejection of Renton annexation. Executive Dow Constantine is quoted as saying:

“We acknowledge the decision of the residents of the North Highline and West Hill communities to remain in unincorporated King County for the immediate future.

“King County will continue to do its best to provide services to these areas within the resources available. The mandate of the state Growth Management Act remains unchanged– that urban areas should be in cities, which are in a better position to provide urban-level services.

“It’s going to be up to the residents of these urban unincorporated areas and their adjacent cities to decide if and when an annexation vote will come up again. It is certainly in the interest of the cities to act before the sales tax relief provided by the state expires in 2015.

“I want to thank the Mayor, the City Council, and the staff of the cities of Renton and Burien for their work and cooperation throughout this lengthy process.

“In the meantime, King County’s Community Service Area staff will continue to provide support and access to unincorporated area residents and organizations.”

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King County’s second vote count out: No change in annexation vote

November 7th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Annexation, Election, White Center news Comments Off

It appears that about 300 more votes were counted for the Burien-annexation proposal today – King County Elections has just released its updated county vote totals, a few hours later than expected because of some equipment proposal. The margin remains the same:

For annexation 1278 35.74%
Against annexation 2298 64.26%

Here’s a text list with all county results, if you’re interested. Renton’s West Hill Annexation proposal is also still on the road to defeat – 45 percent for, 55 percent against.

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Burien annexation or not? ‘No’ leading in first results on Election Night 2012

November 6th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Annexation, Election, White Center news 1 Comment »

(Annexation supporter Gill Loring, left, with Burien City Manager 8:23 PM: Mike Martin at pro-annexation party, pre-results)
King County has just released its first round of results – the only round it will release tonight, with the next update due late tomorrow afternoon. For the annexation measure – should most of what’s left of unincorporated North Highline annex to Burien or not – the early results are 63 percent against annexation, 36 percent for. See them on the county site here.

Other notes of interest – Renton has an annexation measure which also is behind; the King County Sheriff’s Race has John Urquhart ahead of appointed incumbent Steve Strachan.

WCN was at the pro-annexation gathering when the first results came in; supporter Barbara Dobkin, and Christine Waldman (also on NHUAC), will say only so far that it’s a “tough election.”

9:25 PM: Here are the exact numbers, which stand till tomorrow’s count:
Against annexation: 2,085
For annexation: 1,195

In the sheriff’s race: Urquhart 254,600 (57 percent), Strachan 187,491 (42 percent).

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Latest from King County Elections, in case you’re wondering

November 6th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Annexation, Election, White Center news Comments Off

As expected, King County Elections is projecting its first and only count for the evening will be made public around 8:15. Here are a couple other notes just shared in a news release from election HQ:

The first set of general election results are scheduled to be posted to the King County Elections website at about 8:15 p.m. Results will include tabulation of at least 520,000 ballots.

“This is a record-setting election for King County,” said Sherril Huff, Director of Elections. “Not only have we set a new record for number of voters registered this year, we will also have more ballots counted for tonight’s results report than in any previous election, including the 2008 presidential election when we still had polling places.”

There will be only one results report tonight. The Elections Department will update results again tomorrow by 4:30 p.m. and most subsequent weekdays until election certification on Nov. 27. Note that results may not be updated every day if there are not enough ballots to maintain voter privacy.

Voters have up until Nov. 26 to resolve any signature issues before the election is certified.

We’ll post the annexation-measure results from tonight as soon as we get them, in a separate story.

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TO ANNEX OR NOT? YOUR VIEW: From Kathi Wheeler, against Burien annexation

November 6th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Annexation, Election, White Center news Comments Off

EDITOR’S NOTE: Whether you are against or for Burien annexation, you have a few more hours to submit your view – without attacks on the other side. This short note is the sixth we have received since extending that invitation here on Sunday, four from supporters, two from opponents. whitecenternow@gmail.com

By Kathi “George” Wheeler
Special to White Center Now

I guess for anyone who has not sent in their ballot yet and has not decided what to do in this race for to be Burien or not to be Burien…

Please vote against it. I don’t have a lot of time or even energy to go into all the reasons why annexing into Burien scares me so bad or has my stomach in such knots, but it does.

I just told a friend the other day that I think I could stomach Romney for President far better than I could stomach Burien being my city. Enough said. It’s not a good thing for our neighborhood.

Kathi Wheeler
aka. george
Proud and involved community member/resident of Rat City

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TO ANNEX OR NOT? YOUR VIEW: From Eduardo Brambila, against Burien annexation

November 5th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Annexation, Election, White Center news 9 Comments »

EDITOR’S NOTE: On Sunday, we extended an invitation for anyone – organization, business, private citizen, etc. – to submit for publication their pitch for why voters should go their way in the vote on whether Burien should annex most of the rest of North Highline. No negativity about the opposition or why the other view is wrong – just, why you believe your view is right. We have received six essays so far, the first four from Burien-annexation supporters, and the following is the first from someone who opposes it. We’re still accepting essays (that follow the rules) through Tuesday afternoon. Please send to whitecenternow@gmail.com – thank you!

By Eduardo Brambila
Special to White Center Now

Dear undecided voters,

This annexation process has been very difficult to understand at times. As a small business owner here in White Center, I was extremely anxious to find out what all this meant. I have spent MONTHS researching, reading up on what annexation in the area means, asking folks from BOTH sides to describe to me how this WOULD AFFECT ME.

From the anti side, I heard a lot about taxes going up. Now, as a just-starting-out business.. of course extra taxes will make it tighter on my budget. I’m working on improving my shop’s appearance and upgrading equipment to provide better and more efficient services. The pro side mentions better representation at City Hall; that very much interests me.

But after some more thinking, I wanted to see how this would affect our community as a whole. And I must say, our community is filled with diversity, cultures, and very large economic gaps. My background is only part in the graphics business, I’ve actually dedicated quite a few years in public health and community organizing. From working with homeless folks to folks in recovery. Aside from me considering the factors in how it would affect my business, I really care about how it would affect those folks we provided services to.

With all (the) research I’ve done, I cannot see how Burien has the capacity to provide the much needed services White Center needs. It’s just not adding up. Many folks want to “kick out the drunks on the street,” which quite frankly doesn’t just happen overnight. PLUS, you have to consider where some of these folks would be going. If that means jail… you’re GOING to pay for that.

I’m for a stronger, more supportive community, and I just don’t believe being incorporated into Burien will provide that. I am NOT advocating for Seattle, let’s be clear. I’m for us staying as we are on the map, and work together as a community to revitalize this area. If Burien down the line can give us a better plan and MORE services, then hey.. maybe then. But right now it just doesn’t seem plausible. And from what I understand, they cannot force us into annexation (nor Burien – nor Seattle).

I love this area, with its quirks and faults… all in all. I’ve been in the area 10+ years and I want to see it improved, and that’s why I am voting AGAINST ANNEXATION and I urge you to do the same. Together we can we do better.

-Eduardo Brambila
Mago Designs

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Happening now: Last Burien City Council meeting before annexation vote

November 5th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Annexation, White Center news Comments Off

7:06 PM: We’re at Burien City Hall to cover the last council meeting before the “Area Y” annexation vote, just to see what, if anything, is said by the public, and by the council and city manager. 4 people have signed up to speak so far, according to Mayor Brian Bennett. We’ll chronicle this live.

The first speaker is on a topic other than the annexation vote – a proposed zoning change.

Next speaker is Rachael Levine. She says she is here to comment on “some unfortunate news out there in the community that led to a complaint by the Public Disclosure Commission about NHUAC and Barbara Dobkin. When I learned about that, I wrote e-mail to the (commission) itself.” She reads what she wrote to the commission, saying she wanted to be clear about who was responsible about a flyer that was at the NHUAC booth during White Center Jubilee Days. “In the matter of the complaint filed by Chestine Edgar on July 24, I wish to identify myself as the sole provider of the information on the flyer and the payment for the processing of these flyers. No group was in any way involved in this. I brought the flyers to the NHUAC booth at Jubilee Days for dsitribution because I’ve been actively involved in the community efforts to prevent the consolidation of the Boulevard Park and White Center libraries, I provided (this information). I recognize my error, which was made in haste, and not intended to mislead.” She said she has apologized to Dobkin “for my error, which has been used by Ms. Edgar and others to diminish the good name of an organization, NHUAC, which has worked tirelessly for the good of the North Highline community.” She said she is bringing this to the council’s attention to say that “in no way was NHUAC responsible for this piece of information,” though she added, “The information in this flyer is totally true,” based on KCLS information saying that they will not make a decision on the libraries’ fate until after tomorrow’s vote.

7:13 PM: Levine is followed by Elizabeth Gordon, co-owner of Uncle Mike’s Superlicious Barbecue in White Center. “I am here also to dispel any information or rumors that has come up via the op-ed in the Seattle Times by Mark Ufkes and Don Malo or some of the interviews that have been given to TV stations saying that all businesses are against annexation and do not support annexation.” She notes that she and her husband, as well as Doug Harrell of Roxbury Lanes, and Justin Cline of Full Tilt wrote and signed a letter contributed to the Seattle Times as well as other news sources (including here on WCN) regarding their support for annexation and what they feel would be its benefits – you can read that letter here. “The other thing we are concerned about is the divisive nature of the exchange of information .. if the community is going to come together to thrive and grow, we need to know each other and (cooperate).” She said the way some of the information has come out from annexation opponents has been divisive and trust-breaking, and mentioned that a pro-annexation sign put up in front of her business led to vandalism; she went on to discuss sign problems since then. “People want to stir things up,” she said, concluding that there are businesses who do support annexation to Burien.

Following Gordon was Bob Price, a Boulevard Park resident. who said somewhat wryly, “I came down to say that I have been reading all the articles in the paper and the blog and the signs … and I want to compliment people, (because) in several places they have almost told the truth.”

After Price, Barbara Dobkin, speaking as president of NHUAC. “I want to thank the council for the courage, foresight, and vision in pursuing the annexation vote … nothing about this past year has been easy … fearmongering and scare tactics perpertuated by a small roup of people opposed to annexation … The opposition called Independent White Center is mostly supported by a group of Three Tree Point and Lake Burien residents, so I wonder what they are talking about when (they talk about independence) … This has been a difficult year for all of us; the council has come under attack, all unjustified. We doa service to the community; we are now being told we were a PAC and we were violating PDC regulations and a lot of things that aren’t true. We are a nonprofit but not a 501c3 or 4, our status does not prohibit us from entering into campaigning for ballot measures. The council voted that we favor Burien annexation and we have every right to educate the community about hte facts and that’s what we have been doing. Our forum with high-level people was called by the other side a ‘dog and pony show’ … we are trying to bring the facts to the community to educate the community, that is what we do.” When we have in our community the president of the White Center Chamber of Commerce telling small businesses that they will have to pay new taxes and cannot put signs on the windows, that Burien may come in and shut them down …this is irresponsible … Let’s get the facts, let’s have people make up their mind, we can’t tell anyone how to vote but we can educate them. I want to thank the members of the council … Mike Martin … whatever happens tomorrow, we’ll go forward, we’ll live, we’ll still be neighbors, and we’ll still have to get along.”

7:20 PM: Gill Loring of White Center spoke after Dobkin. “I wasn’t going to say anything tonight but … I believe in democracy, I believe in the right to vote …” He noted that he have seen attacks in media sources, and “I think I know all these people, have met them over the years, meetings I’ve gone to, projects I’ve helped with over the years, they want what’s best for the community, that’s what I want to … We have a wonderful diverse community up there and we want to see it become part of Burien.” Loring said somebody stole a pro-annexation sign out of his yard yesterday; a neighbor alerted him and he says he knows who did it, “but the point is – why don’t they just leave the signs be? There are probably 5 times as many ‘no’ signs, but I don’t go take them down … I keep seeing attacks from the other side, and I just don’t understand them. Let’s have a good vote; I appreciate the council letting us vote.”

And that was the end of the public comment. If anything else related to annexation comes up during the meeting, we will add it. The next major item is adoption of the city budget, so that may have some points of interest, given that White Center and vicinity residents are deciding whether or not to become part of this city.

7:44 PM UPDATE: The council is getting ready to vote on the budget; Councilmember Bob Edgar says he will be a no vote because he doesn’t think it should be approved pre-annexation; Councilmember Jerry Robison says it’ll be months, even if annexation is approved, before it takes effect, so he doesn’t think there’s any point in holding off the vote. Councilmember Jack Block, Jr. now says he will be voting no as well, citing two objections; one involved a new organizational chart that shows the citizenry at the top, and a staff member says that change actually has been made and will be reflected soon. Deputy Mayor Rose Clark now voices her support for the budget, even though the only version they’ve seen is preliminary, and there will at some point later be a final version. After her, Councilmember Joan McGilton mentions that the council has discussed the budget “thoroughly” over a number of preceding meetings … and that the council decided not to raise property tax to balance the budget, instead making a one-time general-fund transfer. “Any delay at this point is not in the interest of Burien residents.” The budget passes 4-3.

7:52 PM: Now up – a presentation about zoning in North Burien. It’s a followup to the previous annexation, two years later. Some things have to be done, the council is told – some are things they “want to do.” The area needs “comprehensive plan and zoning designations” to replace the “interim zoning” that has been in place since the area was annexed.

8:12 PM: A copious amount of background is being presented, including a map showing that most of the land is residentially zoned. It’s noted that there was public outreach and that it resulted in some changes to the proposal. There are few changes, the briefer said, but along the Ambaum corridor, there’s one – the west side should resort to high-rise multifamily development, which is the standard to which many pre-existing buildings were built anyway. There are commercial nodes along the way – Ambaum and Boulevard Park among them.

The final vote on this won’t be tonight; the council launches into discussion. Councilmember Robison talks about some pre-existing businesses who could be affected by changes. He says he’s concerned that a lot of properties are involved, many being downzoned without specific notice that “we’re going to downzone your property.” He notes that the message during the annexation campaign two years ago was that Burien zoning would be consistent with what was happening in the unincorporated area, but that did not mean something like this, which could affect businesses, even if they were allowed to keep operating as “nonconforming uses.” He wants to see individual property owners get individualized notices of the specific proposed changes before anything is finalized.

There was extensive discussion, including what constituted Burien’s urban center – which currently includes just the official downtown, staff told the council.

Later in the discussion, there was additional support for Councilmember Robison’s suggestion of individual notices regarding downzones. City Manager Martin said he’ll check with staff to make sure that won’t be too onerous. Mayor Bennett also suggested a public hearing. And it was clarified at the end that there is no rush to finalize this – a suggested December deadline, according to Martin, is not the case after all. The mayor said, “We should plan for significant input from the council and from the public.”

9:22 PM: The City Manager’s report talked about an audit for the new animal-control services; Councilmember Block suggested delaying it because it had only been up and running a short time. Other councilmembers agreed; Block suggests the audit move to February, and that’s how Martin will proceed, provided his preferred auditor is available.

The city attorney discussed the ongoing talks regarding Burien Town Square with Harbor Urban and the attempt to hold off the city’s proposal to take back the project; the deadline will be pushed back up to three months because progress is being made, he said, without giving specifics. He said Harbor Urban is getting close to something relating to Burien’s vision for the project. The motion to push back the deadline passed unanimously.

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TO ANNEX OR NOT? YOUR VIEW: From pro-annexation Burien resident Joey Martinez

November 5th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Annexation, Election, White Center news 1 Comment »

EDITOR’S NOTE: On Sunday, we extended an invitation for anyone – organization, business, private citizen, etc. – to submit for publication their pitch for why voters should go their way in the vote on whether Burien should annex most of the rest of North Highline. No negativity about the opposition or why the other view is wrong – just, why you believe your view is right. We have received four essays so far, all from Burien-annexation supporters, nothing from any opponents (as of 4 pm today). On Sunday, we published one from Barbara Dobkin and one from four White Center businesspeople. Today, #3, from the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council; and here’s #4. We’re still accepting essays (that follow the rules) through Tuesday afternoon. Please send to whitecenternow@gmail.com – thank you!

By Joey Martinez
Special to White Center Now

Since the founding of this great country we, as Americans, have come to learn that by uniting we are stronger. Which is why, as a Burien resident, I have come to support annexation. By re-uniting as a community we can work off of each others strengths and weaknesses to make a more perfect union.

When I originally ran for Burien City Council in 2011 I was opposed to annexation. After many hours of independent research I came to feel that a reunification of our now two communities was in the best interest for me, my family, and my community, as well as you and your family and your community. No one has ever said that annexation will be easy, if it were there would be no opposition. There will be challenges, but by uniting together we can do amazing things.

Our children already attend the same schools, go to the same libraries, play on the same sports teams, and play at the same parks. However, as a volunteer coach for the Burien Bearcats I have come to notice one thing. That though North Highline and Burien kids have much in common, they have much separating them. When setting up communications with the parents I noticed my Burien and SeaTac kids had internet and computer access readily avaible at home. By and large, my North Highline kids did not. This is just a sliver of what I noticed from kids who only live blocks away from each other and goes much deeper than just a computer at home.

For me, annexation became about not denying a fair and equal opportunity for all of our kids in the Highline School district to succeed. Our fates are already tied together. As one community suffers or succeeds, the neighboring community will suffer or succeed.

Burien offers local representation, the ability to direct local policy, and the ability to focus resources in the way North Highline residents have never experienced. Having local control and a voice in how your community is shaped is something not to be taken lightly. Burien has come a long way since 1993. If it weren’t for the worst recession since the Great Depression, where would we be today?

As a part of Burien’s first annexation of Manhattan (1999), I can say that there will be bumps in the road. Change is never easy. It’s like growing up and moving out of your parents house. YOU will have the rights and responsibilities of YOUR future. No longer will YOU be reliant on mom and dad (King County) telling you what’s going to happen in YOUR community. No longer will YOU be powerless. No longer will YOU be voiceless. If YOU don’t like something in YOUR community YOU must do something about it. WIth Burien YOU will have that power and ability.

What do you say, North Highline? Check YES if you like Burien and want control of YOUR future.

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TO ANNEX OR NOT? YOUR VIEW: From North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

November 5th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Annexation, Election, White Center news 4 Comments »

EDITOR’S NOTE: On Sunday, we extended an invitation for anyone – organization, business, private citizen, etc. – to submit for publication their pitch for why voters should go their way in the vote on whether Burien should annex most of the rest of North Highline. No negativity about the opposition or why the other view is wrong – just, why you believe your view is right. We have received four essays so far, all from Burien-annexation supporters, nothing yet from any opponents. On Sunday, we published one from Barbara Dobkin and one from four White Center businesspeople. Here’s the third; the fourth is in queue for later this afternoon, and we’re still accepting essays (that follow the rules) through Tuesday afternoon. Please send to whitecenternow@gmail.com – thank you!

By the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council
Special to White Center Now

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council (NHUAC) urges a YES vote for annexation of “Area Y” to Burien (Proposition 1 at the end of your ballot). Our support is based in large part on the positive impact of Burien’s 2010 annexation of our neighbors to the south. Roads have been paved, long neglected parks have been improved, and the people have been given a voice and a say in their future.

A Burien annexation will ensure that the White Center and Boulevard Park Libraries will not be moved out of the communities they currently serve. Without Burien’s advocacy these essential community resources would have already been lost, but without annexation, according to the King County Library Board, they will be closed.

Staying Unincorporated is not an option. At NHUAC’s October 4 Annexation Forum, State Senator Sharon Nelson and Karen Freeman from King County Executive Dow Constantine‘s office made it clear that the State Growth Management Act and King County Policies, require that we join a city. King County does not have the same taxing authority that cities do to provide continued services to urban unincorporated areas. Under the county, services will continue to be cut and diminish our quality of life.

Our King County Council Representative, Joe McDermott, noted that the county’s new road service plan will eliminate any maintenance or repair to approximately 36 miles of our residential streets. Additionally, he discussed other ways that remaining unincorporated would negatively impact us.

King County Sheriff Steve Strachan, Burien’s Assistant Police Chief Carl Cole, Fire Chief of Burien and Normandy Park and acting Fire Chief of North Highline, Mike Marrs, and Burien City Manager Mike Martin also shared pertinent information and answered questions. We highly recommend if you have any doubts about voting YES for annexation that you view the video of the forum that can be accessed on the NHUAC website northhighlineuac.org.

If we join our neighbors who annexed to Burien in 2010, we will be slightly more than half the population of Burien. Our taxes, which will be invested in our community, will increase approximately $10 a month. A small price to pay for the opportunity to live in a safe healthy community, where we will finally have a say in the issues that directly impact our quality of life.

As the late Deputy Steve Cox, a proponent of our annexation to Burien, often said, “What you see is what you get.”

Vote YES for a brighter future, vote YES for Burien.

-North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

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TO ANNEX OR NOT? YOUR VIEW: From 4 White Center businesspeople who support Burien annexation

November 4th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Annexation, White Center news Comments Off

EDITOR’S NOTE: Earlier today, we extended an invitation for anybody – organization, business, private citizen, etc. – to submit for publication their pitch for why voters should go their way in the vote on whether Burien should annex most of the rest of North Highline. No negativity about the opposition or why the other view is wrong – just, why you believe your view is right. We have received three essays so far, all from Burien annexation supporters, nothing yet from any opponents. We published one from Barbara Dobkin earlier; here’s one from four White Center businesspeople. The third will be published tomorrow morning, and anything else we receive, after that. Please send to whitecenternow@gmail.com – thank you!

By Doug Harrell, Justin Cline, and Michael & Elizabeth Gordon
Special to White Center Now

As White Center business owners, we support annexation to Burien.

Burien does not have a problem with vandalism, open alcohol, drug dealing, or prostitution in its commercial district, and we think that’s a good idea for White Center, too. Burien is in better fiscal shape than 90% of Washington cities and wants to maintain our public library and parks rather than having them closed or fall into disrepair with the county. Burien wants to maintain the uniqueness of White Center and give us an active voice in shaping the future together, including economic development and zoning. A coordinated, sustained effort for community economic development (not piecemeal) is an exciting opportunity for business owners and commercial property owners.

These are real benefits for local families and businesses. The residents of the area annexed in 2009 overwhelmingly prefer Burien and having a voice to being unincorporated. According to Mike Martin, Burien City Manager, the City Council is committed to welcoming all White Center residents and working with the same agencies that are providing services now to the community. The school district will benefit from being supported by a unified community as well. To quell the concerns of those anxious about the soundness of Burien’s fiscal calculations, our state legislators have even pledged to endorse legislation for a safety net for the annexation if and when one is ever needed.

It’s a sign of maturity in community leaders to present information in a balanced manner without undue emotional appeal so that a genuinely thoughtful and informed decision can be made by the individuals in a community for the good of the community. Burien has never hidden the fact that with annexation property taxes will decrease, utility taxes will increase slightly, and municipal business taxes will be collected and applied locally. (Currently, our taxes are applied throughout King County.) At public forums and at Burien city council meetings, Burien city officials have provided a willing ear to listen to concerns and clear explanations of complicated policies.

County and state representatives have let it be known that if Burien annexation fails, King County will push for annexation somewhere else. Seattle will be next in line with business taxes 3 times higher than Burien’s and little tax revenue staying in the neighborhood. No vote of the residents is needed for annexation – an interlocal agreement can be negotiated instead. Even in the unlikely event that Seattle does not step forward, continued unincorporation means continued uncertainty, little voice in government decisions, and declining county services.

Democracy means having a voice and, like it or not, democracy without some taxation fails (Aristotle). Vote yes on annexation to have a voice in the future of your community.

Doug Harrell, Roxbury Lanes
Justin Cline, Full Tilt Ice Cream
Michael & Elizabeth Gordon, Uncle Mike’s Superlicious BBQ

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TO ANNEX OR NOT? YOUR VIEW: From Burien-annexation supporter Barbara Dobkin

November 4th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Annexation, White Center news Comments Off

EDITOR’S NOTE: Earlier today, we extended an invitation for anybody – organization, business, private citizen, etc. – to submit for publication their pitch for why voters should go their way. No negativity about the opposition or why the other view is wrong – just, why you believe your view is right. We are happy to see that responses are starting to come in. First one in is from Barbara Dobkin, who says she is sending this as a private citizen, not in her role with a local community council. **One more important note, before we even start reading more essays – The same language, even if purportedly from different people, is not acceptable either. Cut-and-pasted resubmissions are not in the spirit of “tell us why you believe your position is the one that is best for this area’s future.” Thanks!**

By Barbara Dobkin
Special to White Center Now

Volunteers have been walking their neighborhoods and talking to residents about the benefits of annexation. Factual information about the annexation of North Highline has been provided at several community forums sponsored by the City of Burien, details of which are available on Burien’s website at http://www.burienwa.gov/index.aspx?NID=321.

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council (NHUAC) sponsored an Annexation Information Forum on October 4, which was covered by whitecenternow and can be viewed on this site.

Understandably, questions still persist about what is one of the most important decisions that will impact the North Highline Community.

Why can’t we stay just like we are?
King County does not have the same taxing authority as cities, and is unable to continue to fund services to urban unincorporated areas like North Highline. To maintain adequate services (roads, police, parks, etc) state law and county policies say that urban areas need to join a city. We deserve quality services and local government – King County cannot offer that.

As part of Burien, most things will stay the same; those that do not stay the same will get better – parks, roads, police (see King County Roads website for information about changes to service levels in unincorporated King County)

Taxes:
Property taxes will go down and utility taxes will go up, for a net increase of about $10/month for the average household.

Our taxes will be invested in our community for parks, roads, police and other improvements. Under the county, our tax dollars are not invested directly in our community.

Property Values:
Tax values are set by the county assessor and based on recent sales in the
immediate area. Sale values are set in the same manner. Both tax and sales
values are about location, location, location.

Annexation does not affect home values or insurance costs except that better services may increase sale values.

Land Use/Zoning:
Annexation will cause no immediate changes. Existing county zoning will carry over until the community helps make future policies. Burien supports strong family neighborhoods. Building permits will be obtained through Burien (it is important to note that King County Building Permit Office has moved to Snoqualmie – if we do not annex, you will be driving to this distant office for permits)

Businesses:
Businesses that are legal under the county will continue to be legal in Burien, as long as they obtain and meet licensing, permit, health/safety and other regulations (King County will continue to provide health inspections for restaurants).

Existing businesses will not have to obtain permits or change their signage.

Code Enforcement:
Burien tries to stay out of the private lives of its residents. Enforcement is based on complaints. Many of the problem properties that have plagued the area will be forced to clean up, paint out graffiti, and otherwise maintain the property (eg – the former site of the El Chalan restaurant on 16th Ave). The county has no such regulations.

Animal Control:
Burien contracts with a local nonprofit to provide animal control services. Contrary to what you may have heard from a select group of individuals, many people are satisfied with this service.

Do I have to change to a Burien address?
NO. You can still use Seattle as your mailing address. Mail is delivered based on zip code.

Library Services:
All libraries in Burien are part of the King County Library System (KCLS) and are not under the jurisdiction of Burien. Currently the libraries serving both White Center and Boulevard Park are situated just inside the Burien City limits. These two important community resources are threatened with closure if we do not annex to Burien. The KCLS is concerned that if we do not annex to Burien, we will eventually become part of Seattle, and then the Boulevard Park and White Center Libraries will sit on the border of Seattle. The KCLS has made it clear that it would not be prudent of them to maintain libraries with KCLS dollars that will most likely be serving residents of Seattle.

It is important to realize that we are not independent now, never have been, and never will be. King County dictates policy to our community, and we have virtually no say in land use, in how our tax dollars are spent, in the things that impact our quality of life. We represent 1% of the population of King County, and we share one representative with over 200,000 people.

In Burien we will be over 30% of the population, and have 7 council people representing the needs of our community. Burien City Hall will be no further than 3 ½ miles from any resident in North Highline, and easily accessible meetings are held on Monday evenings.

Our neighbors to the south who voted to join Burien in 2009 are highly satisfied. Parks have been improved, roads have been paved, and they have a say in their growth and government. Something King County could not offer them. Don’t we deserve the same.

Vote YES for Burien!

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EDITOR’S POSTSCRIPT: Again, if you have an essay about why your annex/don’t-annex position is right for this area’s future, please e-mail it to us at whitecenternow@gmail.com – Tracy Record, WCN editor

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