Grocery-store changes: First nearby Albertsons-Haggen conversion date set

February 26th, 2015 Tracy Posted in burien, White Center news Comments Off on Grocery-store changes: First nearby Albertsons-Haggen conversion date set

As announced back in December, the Burien Albertsons grocery stores are being converted to the Haggen brand. And we’ve just received information on the timetable for the conversion of the store that’s closest to White Center – 12725 First Ave. S. – as announced by the company:

6:00 pm, Sunday, March 8 – Burien Albertsons store closes
12:01 am, Monday, March 9- Haggen takes ownership of the store
4:00 pm*, Tuesday, March 10 – Burien store reopens as Haggen (*Opening time is tentative)

The conversion of the southernmost Burien Albertsons, at Five Corners, is expected to happen in late May.

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Update – found! Earlier – Have you seen Luna the dog?

October 20th, 2014 Tracy Posted in burien, Pets, White Center news Comments Off on Update – found! Earlier – Have you seen Luna the dog?

ORIGINAL REPORT: From the inbox:

My name is Rachael and on 10/18/2014 my Siberian Husky, Luna, got out of our yard. We live at the North end of Burien. I am begging everyone to please keep their eye out for her. She has distinctive “snake bite” marks on her muzzle and a dark mask with blue eyes. She is very friendly and was last seen at 10019 Des Moines Memorial Drive, Burien WA 98168. She is federally registered with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities) as a service companion and she is needed and missed. There is a reward for her safe return. Please call Rachael at 775-770-4569 or Cory at 206-683-2112 if she is found or sighted.

THURSDAY UPDATE: King County Sheriff’s Office has this short and sweet update via Twitter:

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Sheriff’s deputies, Seattle Police, others nab Burien bank-robbery suspect, blocks away

February 12th, 2013 Tracy Posted in burien, Crime, White Center news Comments Off on Sheriff’s deputies, Seattle Police, others nab Burien bank-robbery suspect, blocks away

We haven’t turned up any other coverage of this, but we’ve learned there was a bank robbery in northeast Burien yesterday – and a suspect was caught shortly thereafter, so we’re publishing the update here. We heard about it because a reader e-mailed us about a huge multi-agency law-enforcement presence along South 116th and asked us what we knew. KCSO’s White Center Storefront Deputy B.J. Myers looked into it today and tells WCN that “it was a bank robbery at the US Bank at S 120/Des Moines Memorial Drive (City of Burien). The suspect handed a note to the cashier demanding money. The suspect left on foot as Burien Police, KCSO Deputies, Seattle Police, and a Renton PD K9 Officer arrived in the area. The suspect was located a few blocks away and money was recovered. The suspect, a 24 year old male, was booked into King County Jail for Robbery 1st Degree.”

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Update: Multiple-alarm apartment fire in North Burien

January 28th, 2013 Tracy Posted in burien, White Center news 1 Comment »

5:37 PM: Huge fire callout from multiple departments – North Highline and Seattle, SeaTac, Tukwila, Renton, the port – because of an apartment fire in the 12300 block of Ambaum. Traffic is getting through but very slowly so we suggest avoiding the area.

7:35 PM: No injuries reported, and no cause announced so far. The building is actually at 1224 124th, a 24-unit structure that’s almost half a century old, according to county records.

11:11 PM: KIRO TV reports a baseboard-heater problem is blamed for starting the fire.

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‘Empty Bowls’ in Burien today, to help White Center Food Bank (and more)

January 25th, 2013 Tracy Posted in burien, How to Help, White Center Food Bank, White Center news Comments Off on ‘Empty Bowls’ in Burien today, to help White Center Food Bank (and more)

If you’re heading south today, consider lunch and/or dinner at the Empty Bowls benefit in Burien, helping food banks including White Center FBfull details here!

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Taking down the tree? Boy Scout Troop 375 can help with that

January 5th, 2013 Tracy Posted in burien, Environment, White Center news Comments Off on Taking down the tree? Boy Scout Troop 375 can help with that

Bring your tree and a bag – leave without tree, with hot chocolate and/or compost! From Boy Scout Troop 375 Scoutmaster Mark Ufkes:

Boy Scout Troop 375 will host its annual Christmas Tree Recycle (today and tomorrow), January 5 and 6 from 9 am to 4 pm at SW 160th and 1st SW (the Herr lumber site) We ask for a $5 donation per tree. Funds go to our scout camp and other troop activities so that all our 28 boys can go to summer camp regardless of their family economic situation.

Free hot chocolate will be served. And our polite boys will remove your tree from your car and share a smile.

Free bags of our “Good Karma Christmas Tree Compost” are available for the asking. Bring a bag!

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Last North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting before the election

November 2nd, 2012 Tracy Posted in Annexation, burien, North Highline UAC, White Center news 4 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Burien City Manager Mike Martin has spoken countless times at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meetings. Thursday night, however, each word seemed to carry added weight – not just because of additional scrutiny (a TV camera was rolling), but because this was the last NHUAC meeting until voters in the area decide whether to join his city or not.

So here’s how the meeting unfolded:

ANNEXATION VOTE – THE BURIEN VIEW: Martin started with something of a valedictory as the annexation-vote endgame approached – “the good fight is worth fighting for its own reasons regardless of the outcome.” He cited a “task list that would start .. the day after the vote … We’re ready to go, and ready to move swiftly.” He said he “transmitted my strong hope that the county can move as swiftly as Burien can.” (Negotiations on that “move” would happen after the election, Martin said.) If North Highline residents vote to annex, he promised to talk with NHUAC and citizens “a lot … to make sure our plans include everything that needs to get done.” He would hope for implementation around April 1st, saying “it seems fast … but we had an August vote (last time) and were prepared to (finalize it) in February” aside from one last-minute snag that erupted. “I really look forward to having this area as part of Burien,” he said.

Martin also noted that Burien’s finalizing its next budget on November 5th – next Monday -and insisted that his city is in good financial shape, refuting annexation opponents’ claims otherwise, and hoping to reduce the amount of supplementary “fund balance” it’s been using. He recapped the “radical rejiggering of revenue in this state” as a result of the recession and said cities will need 15 years to recover from it, though he contends Burien is “head and shoulders” above most of its counterparts, thanks to “small things” as well as bigger decisions.

What about the library situation? asked NHUAC president Barbara Dobkin. Martin said an “appropriate resolution to the library question” (the future of the White Center and Boulevard Park branches) is on his list too. She also asked Martin about various contentions that opponents have made, and various issues that have been raised. One was, which Burien business-advocacy group would represent the area if voters approve annexation and it takes effect? “It’s not about competing business districts, it’s about the synergy of having two business centers,” Martin noted, while saying the issue of who will advocate for who, on behalf of the city, has yet to be settled.

Elizabeth Gordon of White Center restaurant Uncle Mike’s Superlicious Barbecue rose to ask Martin questions. One was his prediction. He thinks it’s going to be close but “I really don’t know who’s going to win.” She also asked about services such as animal control. “Ours is a heck of a lot better than the county’s. A heck of a lot better,” he declared, with “a much higher level of service and a much lower cost.” NHUAC member Stephen Porter said that he has had his dog in the care of Burien’s service twice now and is happy with it.

Gordon also had asked about services for senior citizens and refugees, and Martin said that the former is “getting more active” while the latter would probably have to grow and evolve; he says the Burien council is “very committed to the diverse communities.” Her final question was about the Roxbury/16th intersection and how it’s affected by the marijuana businesses in the heart of White Center; Martin’s reply veered into whether statewide Initiative 502 would pass and what that would mean for city employees. (Right now, Burien does not allow dispensaries at all.)

Asked about claims that annexation would bring more bureaucracy to simple acts like cutting a tree at a person’s own home, another point annexation opponents have cited, Martin declared it “consummate b******t.”

KING COUNTY ROADS, THE TIERED SYSTEM: Jay Osborne returned to talk about the current situation with the county and how roads will be dealt with in the unincorporated areas. “In the county, we have a dedicated property tax that can only be spent on roads,” he explained. (He had made a presentation to NHUACback in xx.) It’s an “antiquated funding structure,” he declared – to deal with a system the county says would take $39 billion to build in today’s dollars and conditions. Road revenues have dropped about 20 percent in recent years, as the county gets less road tax and less gas tax.

As the county had said in the last briefing, they don’t have the money to care for the entire system, so they expect to close some roads and bridges in the years ahead. Right now, none in White Center are failing, he said – “you guys are lucky.” Some storm damage from previous years has not been repaired yet. They are working right now to look at where they will be able to plow if it snows: “In 2014 we will not plow any category 2 or 3 roadways” and they will only have the resources to plow half of category 1 roadways. (That means roads that are important for safety, he elaborated in response to a question later – saying that “in this area, that may only mean Roxbury and 16th get plowed.”)

“We are in the process of selling off a number of facilities, of properties we own … and we’re reducing service out there to balance the budget as we go forward,” he summarized.

He also said the road budget has lost some money to the King County Sheriff’s Office in the service of traffic enforcement, by decision of the King County Executive and Council. And he noted that the County Council could choose to propose a Transportation Benefit District fee and ask voters to approve it, though even a $20 fee countywide would raise only $4.5 million, while “our hole is $55 million.”

They will be asking the state for help. (But, one person in the audience asked, aren’t they having “the same money problems?” Osborne said the legislature would be mulling an excise tax that might help ease the problem – “if they have the political will.”

Will any roads really be left to revert to gravel? Dobkin asked. Osborne said the first are three roads in a rural area; in the future, “the pothole issue” would help determine a road’s fate.

Osborne says there might be a problem with the South Park Bridge – specifically with a caisson – when asked about its expected completion (fall 2013) – so “conversations” are happening now. In the meantime, he says, demolition of what remains of the old bridge is scheduled to start “soon.”

BOUNDARY REVIEW BOARD: Pat Price attended the recent Boundary Review Board meeting regarding the Duwamish Triangle annexation. She said the board will not deliberate until November 8th, hoping to hear by then how Burien annexation will turn out. She says that meeting will be held at Beverly Park School. It matters among other reasons because North Highline Fire District currently serves that area – which has “a big tax base,” as Dobkin noted.

TRANSPORTATION: The recent Metro bus changes are a concern here too, since White Center has been affected. There’s talk of setting up a focused discussion in the future.

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets first Thursdays, 7 pm, North Highline Fire District HQ.

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Grocery-store employees help catch suspect in restroom attack

September 29th, 2012 Tracy Posted in burien, Crime, White Center news Comments Off on Grocery-store employees help catch suspect in restroom attack

Though the store in this story is in Burien, it’s close enough to White Center that some may shop there, so we’re sharing this report just received from the King County Sheriff’s Office:

A 32 year old man was arrested today after assaulting an 11 year old boy in a grocery store bathroom.

The incident occurred just after noon in the Albertson’s store at 128th and 1 Ave S in Burien. The boy went into the bathroom while his family shopped. The suspect entered the bathroom and grabbed the boy by the neck and told him he would “kill him.”

The boy fought the suspect off and as they struggled, the bathroom stall door was slamming open and shut. An employee in the break room next to the bathroom heard the commotion and went to investigate.

When the employee opened the bathroom door she saw the suspect naked from the waist down holding the boy in a bear hug. The employee grabbed the boy and pulled him out of the bathroom while trying to block the suspect from leaving.

The suspect fled and ran towards the front of the store as the employee and boy yelled for help. A group of store employees caught the suspect before he could leave the store. The employees tackled him and held him down until police arrived.

Police credit the boy for fighting back and the employees for coming to his aid.

“The employees acted very quickly and did the right thing,” said King County Sheriff Steve Strachan. “They stopped what could have been every parent’s nightmare.”

The suspect, who said he was homeless, was booked in the King County Jail. The case will be sent to the King County Prosecutors Office for the filing of charges.

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2 1/2 months till annexation vote; next info session tonight

August 23rd, 2012 Tracy Posted in Annexation, burien, White Center news Comments Off on 2 1/2 months till annexation vote; next info session tonight

Something you want to know about the Burien annexation proposal before you vote? Tonight is your next chance to ask questions and get answers, in person – the traveling presentation/Q&A session comes to the White Center Food Bank (108th and 8th). 6 pm.

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Burien annexation? Info session tonight, and 3 more dates set

July 12th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Annexation, burien, White Center news 4 Comments »

Tonight at 6 pm at Dubsea Coffee in Greenbridge (9910 8th SW), it’s your next chance to find out about annexation, with four months to go till the November vote. And the City of Burien has announced the next three dates/locations. From the city website:

August 23: White Center Food Bank, 10829 8th Ave SW, 6 pm

September 13: Beverly Park Elementary School, cafeteria, 1201 S. 104th Street, 6 pm

October 18: Cascade Middle School, cafeteria, 11212 10th Ave SW, 6 pm

And as noted previously, the city also will have a booth at the Jubilee Days street festival on Saturday, July 21st:

Staff will be there 10 am – 8 pm to answer questions and pass out informational brochures including copies in Spanish, Vietnamese, Cambodian and Somali.

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Followup: SWAT standoff, arrest following armed robbery on 8th SW

June 22nd, 2012 Tracy Posted in burien, Crime Comments Off on Followup: SWAT standoff, arrest following armed robbery on 8th SW

We got a few calls/notes about a SWAT standoff near the Evergreen campus late Wednesday night/early Thursday. Sorry that it’s taken a while to get the details, but we now have them, thanks to King County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Sgt. Cindi West: She says a 47-year-old woman was held up while walking in the 11600 block of 8th SW, headed for a bus stop after leaving a friend’s house. The victim told police a man “pointed a gun at her and told her to give him everything she had,” according to Sgt. West. After she did that, the robber ran off. She walked in the same direction in which he had fled – southbound – and saw him go down SW 117th and up the steps to a house. She still had her cell phone and used it to call 911, which brought deputies, including a K-9 team that tracked the suspect to the house the victim had seen him enter. The suspect didn’t come out voluntarily, but a search warrant was finally obtained, at which time SWAT officers went in and found and arrested him. Sgt. West says he was jailed for investigation of robbery, and it’ll be up to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to decide on charges.

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VIDEO: Will White Center become part of Burien? City leaders come to WC for annexation-info meeting

June 21st, 2012 Tracy Posted in Annexation, burien, White Center news 12 Comments »

If you couldn’t make it to tonight’s first White Center informational session about November’s North Highline vote on Burien annexation – you can watch our video of the entire hour-long meeting, starting with the introduction by Burien city staffer Nhan Nguyen, describing it as a homecoming of sorts, since he worked previously for the WC Community Development Association.

Some toplines:

Most of the basic information was presented by Burien’s city manager Mike Martin, who said that if annexation is approved by a majority of North Highline voters in November, the area could be part of his city by this time next year. What would that mean? He addressed a variety of points – as well as what it would NOT mean. Referring to the sudden appearance of a raised divider down 16th SW in the heart of downtown WC, and a short-lived county proposal to sell Puget Sound Park, he declared, “We don’t do things that way.” He also touted Burien’s permit process as much better than what unincorporated-area residents and businesses have had to deal with through King County.

The first audience question answered by Martin was a pointed one: What would happen to the marijuana dispensaries in the North Highline area if it’s annexed? Burien doesn’t allow them, replied Martin (as he has said at previous community meetings); joining the meeting later, Police Chief Scott Kimerer addressed the topic again, saying that state and federal laws would be enforced – and acknowledging they may change. He also said that White Center would retain its law-enforcement storefront.

Martin sought to reassure White Center/North Highline residents and businesspeople on hand that they respect and appreciate WC’s unique character and don’t want to change it, but instead, just to support it. He also had harsh words for Burien residents who oppose annexing White Center and vicinity, calling them “small-minded and mean-spirited.” One concern that was raised about the annexation plan: Burien resident Chestine Edgar sought to challenge the issue of how much money Burien would get from the state sales-tax credit made available for annexation situations like this.

As first reported here earlier this week, the second informational meeting in White Center is scheduled for July 12th at Dubsea Coffee in Greenbridge … and Nguyen told tonight’s audience that Burien will have a presence at Jubilee Days (July 21-22) to answer questions and provide information.

Meantime, Burien’s info page – including the official FAQ in five languages, among other resources – can be found here. Our archive of WCN annexation coverage, newest to oldest, is here.

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Tonight’s the night: Burien-annexation forum in White Center

June 21st, 2012 Tracy Posted in Annexation, burien, White Center news 1 Comment »

Burien leaders are promising informational forums at least once a month between now and the November North Highline annexation vote, and tonight is the first official public event – 6 pm at 3.14 Bakery in downtown White Center. (For a sneak peek at what it might be like, here’s our coverage of their presentation last month at Glen Acres.)

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Another annexation-information event set: Dubsea Coffee on July 12th

June 18th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Annexation, burien, White Center news Comments Off on Another annexation-information event set: Dubsea Coffee on July 12th

As previously reported, the next annexation-information session presented by the City of Burien is at 6 pm this Thursday (June 21st) at 3.14 Bakery, 9602 16th Ave SW. And now we have a date for the one that will follow it – 6 pm July 12th (also a Thursday) at Dubsea Coffee, 9910 8th Ave SW. This is from the info packet for tonight’s Burien City Council meeting, which also notes:

Informational brochures are being printed and will be available for the June session. All North Highline residents and businesses will receive the June edition of Burien City News, which includes details on the informational sessions. Information about the proposed annexation is available at: or send an email to

Pending final ballot approval by the county, the annexation measure is scheduled to go before voters in November.

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Annexation vote: Burien seeking volunteers for committees that will write pro/con ballot statements

June 14th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Annexation, burien, White Center news Comments Off on Annexation vote: Burien seeking volunteers for committees that will write pro/con ballot statements

Just out of the WCN inbox:

Members are being sought for Pro and Con Committees to prepare statements on the proposed
annexation of North Highline that will be included in the King County Local Voters’ Pamphlet.

At its April 2 meeting, the Burien City Council adopted Resolution No. 330, placing Proposition
1 on the November 6, 2012, General Election ballot. Proposition 1 is the North Highline Area “Y”
Annexation Area proposed annexation to the City of Burien.

This proposition seeks voter approval of the annexation into the City of Burien of an
area commonly known as the North Highline Area “Y” Annexation Area. The area consists of
approximately 2,045 acres and 17,392 residents. The area is generally described as lying north of
the corporate boundaries of the City of Burien, south and east of the corporate boundaries of the
City of Seattle, and west of SR-99 adjacent to the City of Tukwila and the City of Tukwila corporate
boundaries. The area is legally described in Resolution No. 330.

Each committee’s statement must be no more than 200 words in length and must be submitted to
King County Elections no later than 4:30 pm on August 15, 2012. Any rebuttal statements are due by
August 17, 2012. There is a limit of three members per committee, but committees may seek advice
of any person or persons.

Committee member appointments will be made during the open public meeting of the Burien City
Council on July 16, 2012, sometime after 7:00 pm. Candidates need not be present to be appointed.
Persons interested in applying for one of the committee positions should submit their name,
contact information, and a brief statement as to why they would like to serve on one of the
committees. Submittals are due no later than Friday, July 6, 2012, at 4 pm to Monica Lusk, City
Clerk, Burien City Hall, 400 SW 152nd Street, Ste. 300, Burien, 98166, call (206) 248-5517, or email

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Date announced for first annexation-information forum in White Center

May 30th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Annexation, burien, White Center news Comments Off on Date announced for first annexation-information forum in White Center

From Nhan Nguyen at the City of Burien:

The first informational forum on the proposed annexation of North Highline by the City of Burien will be at 3.14 Bakery (9602 16th Ave SW) on June 21 at 6 pm. We plan to hold one forum per month at various locations to answer questions the community may have on the issue. For additional information including the FAQs, please visit our website:

City reps already have held one forum, at the invitation of Glen Acres residents; here’s our coverage.

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North Highline annexation: Burien’s informational roadshow starts at Glen Acres

May 14th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Annexation, boulevard park, burien, White Center news 4 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

The second North Highline annexation-election info campaign has begun, with almost six months to go until the expected November vote.

This wasn’t technically a campaign event, in terms of pushing a particular point of view, but rather, Burien’s first “outreach” event this time around. Glen Acres Country Club played host; the meeting was not widely promoted, as the clubhouse there had only capacity for the with about three dozen people in attendance.

Standing in front of a sweeping wall of glass that ironically had a distant view of downtown Seattle – the city that had dibs on this area but chose not to pursue – Burien city manager Mike Martin (top photo) led the presentation – “You’re the very first public forum that we’ve having,” he told them, promising to offer “high-level remarks” but also focus on questions. Other Burien reps included Police Chief Scott Kimerer and city analyst Nhan Nguyen, who worked for White Center Community Development Association before joining the city last year.

Unveiled tonight was the new official FAQ/fact sheet regarding annexation and what it would be like if it is approved and implemented by the Burien City Council, likely to take effect, city manager Martin said, in spring 2013.

It does not appear to be online as of this writing, but includes these bullet points:
*2,045 acres proposed for annexation
*About 17,400 people (last census; 2010 numbers not crunched yet)
*White Center, Top Hat, Beverly Park, Glendale included, along with parts of Boulevard Park, Riverton Heights, and Shorewood
*Burien would take over North Shorewood, White Center Heights, Lakewood parks, while Steve Cox Memorial Park would stay with the county, as a regional facility

Many things don’t change, he said. So – he acknowledged, one big question – what DOES change?

“A very progressive governance in Burien .. would focus its attention on this area,” is one major thing.

First question:

Would Burien go to the Port of Seattle to have this area designated as a noise-abatement area, given that “planes fly so low through here … my son (a pilot) can pick out my garage door”? asked a woman. (Planes could be heard rumbling overhead now and then throughout the meeting.)

Martin’s answer boiled down to no, although he said some things can be addressed, such as “if they start flying really lousy patterns.”

Burien councilmember Jerry Robison (foreground in photo), who said he hadn’t come intending to speak but did end up answering more than a few questions, chimed in that while the noise situation isn’t under local control, things can be done “to make them be better neighbors.”

Chief Kimerer spoke next. “I hope we’re getting to a point where we have some resolution .. the story hasn’t changed regarding what would change with police services. Regarding what we’ve accomplished with the first annexation, I’ve heard very positive comments. … What we’re hoping, and what our plan is, is providing at least the same level of service provided out here with the Sheriff’s Office. I am going to take most of the people who work out here and they will be in a green uniform one day and a blue uniform the next.”

He said they would look forward to keeping the White Center storefront. But he said “being in a city, as opposed to being in a county,” gives law enforcers “more tools” to deal with problems – such as proposing ordinances. The bigger team he has since the previous annexation, he said, gave Burien PD a “bigger team” for “different strategies,” including a gang unit, undercover enforcement, the “Secret Squirrel stuff” that’s “really cool,” and more. Ultimately, they have a “lot of flexibility” in dealing with emerging trends, he said.

Next question – what about enforcement of “junk cars … in the right of way” and similar nuisances? asked an attendee, wondering if Burien would have more code-enforcement officers. That’s primarily a city staffing issue, the chief noted, while adding that his officers are “very aware” of those issues. Martin added that the city feels it’s “a quality of life issue that we can address.” Councilmember Robison also jumped into the discussion, noting that as a real-estate lawyer, he has been on both sides of such cases. He acknowledged that King County’s code-enforcement officer for this area “also covers Vashon Island, Skyway, and other areas,” while Burien’s officer has a much-smaller area to handle.

Martin then elaborated: “There are two schools of code enforcement … you go out and everything you see, you go after, or, you go after everything that is reported.”

Next question: If annexation is approved, will Burien reassess the property? Robison pointed out that cities don’t control assessments, the county does. “So your tax-assessed value would not change as a result of the annexation.” Martin took the occasion to point out that of your tax dollar, most of the money goes to the school district (currently >Highline Public Schools, which is how it would remain post-annexation), while only a small portion (12 cents) goes to the city. Robison suggested checking your annual property tax bill to see what part of the money goes where.

As noted on the FAQ/fact-sheet, your taxes/fees will go up about $90/year if you have a residence worth $200,000, said Martin. It was clarified in response to another question, that none of the increase results from the school district (one man pointed out that there are no kids at Glen Acres, so “what’s in it (school tax) for me?”) – the area remains in the Highline Public Schools district, annexed or not annexed. Martin took the occasion to counter that there is “something in it” for everyone, parents or not – “human capital.”

One difference: Burien has a business-and-occupation tax, while the county does not. Would the Glen Acres clubhouse pay that? Councilmember Robison pointed out some exceptions, such as, no tax on alcohol sales. Membership fees don’t count either, he said. Martin promised more research on some of the specifics that would apply to Glen Acres.

“Would this change our address from Seattle to Burien?” Martin’s reply: “Yes and no, no and no … you can put Seattle on it and it will still get to you, but your correct city would be Burien.”

Is there an option to stay unincorporated? it was asked. “It is possible …” said Martin. “There is nothing that compels residents to be part of any city … but I’ll tell you something: What you’ve seen in the last couple years is a gradual decline in the amount of money the county is able to put into areas like this … and it’s getting worse and worse. It’s not doom and gloom, it’s just a fact; if the County Executive was standing here with me, he’d agree. … Once that decline starts, it’s very difficult to get on top of. Roads, once they get to a certain lack of maintenance, are (more expensive to fix/restore).”

He said he fears that if it stays unincorporated, “this area right on our border will be neglected … Remaining in unincorporated King County for another five years is not going to be pretty.”

Asked about crime rates, Chief Kimerer said there’s an index which shows 53 per thousand for Burien, 62 per thousand for Seattle – overall, he said, there’s no “vast difference” in crime rates, and overall, Burien crime has been going down; the index used to be 75, he said.

He also was asked about traffic enforcement, and whether the city would ever have a dedicated traffic-enforcement officer. According to the chief, all the officers are trained in radar, and traffic becomes part of many people’s jobs. “Burien PD does write traffic tickets,” affirmed Robison. “Particularly in school zones.” Traffic-calming measures also were mentioned.

Other questions included property values and building codes. Will Burien’s procedures be cheaper/more streamlined? Martin said he believes his city is “head and shoulders over the county” in terms of process.

Counties, he reminded everyone, are not “built” to handle urban services. “I’m not telling you that we’re going to come in and the world is going to change,” he said, but a city is better suited to serve residents’ needs.

How’s the previous annexation going? one attendee then asked.

It’s been more than 2 years now, Martin began his answer – 14,000 residents brought in $550,000 state sales-tax credit. He said Burien didn’t add any more staff, though it did add some police officers. “We went through this whole rancorous process, but when we actually did it, it was like shouting into the Grand Canyon, it was great, and I think people are satisfied and happy,” he said.

Chief Kimerer said for his department, “it was seamless”; they added 13 officers, and the crime rate went down. As he acknowledged, the previous annexation area is residential, no businesses, unlike this one. “It’s been really a deafening silence,” he said. Councilmember Robison said, “I haven’t heard any complaints.”

Martin pointed out that because of a Seattle lobbying effort, this annexation would bring the city 10 times the sales-tax-credit revenue, though he quickly added, “this will be a more complex annexation … we’re going to be adding more staff and planners and code enforcement … it’s going to take about two years for everything to settle down.”

Then came the thorny subject of animal control (as discussed at the last North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting). Martin said he’s proud of his decision to terminate the relationship with King County’s animal control and believes there’s a higher level of service now. He said he doesn’t know the current euthanasia rate; however, he said, animal control “is a discretionary function. He said the newest stats will be available next month in a report, though “if our euthanasia rates are higher than the county, I’m good with that.”

What about coyotes? asked a woman.

Martin said he could relate because, when he lived in Auburn, he lost his dog to a coyote. If there is a problem animal, he said, they get state Fish and Wildlife to come out – “they have people specially trained to trap and shoot them.”

He was asked about urban-renewal projects, and mentioned the Burien plan to move auto dealers over to a particular area north of the third runway, to reclaim commercial land that auto businesses had been using elsewhere, particularly on downtown 1st Avenue.

Robison said that with annexation, Burien would hope to encourage more development beyond the current heart of Burien – Top Hat and White Center, for example – and “build this up so we don’t have vacant tracts and empty buildings sitting around.”

Before rezoning, Martin promised, “we’re going to ask – ‘what’s your vision?’ Then it becomes your obligation to tell people what you want, to participate.”

Resident Bob Price said he considers annexation “a chance to take care of your own destiny.”

“Bob is right,” said Martin. “There’s a choice here.”

And there’s more information – at, or answers to questions if you e-mail Watch for word of the next meeting.

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Video: Burien City Council votes in favor of annexation election – in November

April 2nd, 2012 Tracy Posted in Annexation, burien, White Center news 4 Comments »

(TOPLINE: Burien councilmembers have voted 4-3 in favor of an annexation election for residents of White Center and environs – but after changing the plan so that it would go on the November ballot, not the August ballot.)

(ADDED TUESDAY – WCN video of Burien councilmembers speaking before the vote. Unedited but starts about two sentences into CM McGilton’s remarks)
7:05 PM: We’re in the Burien City Council chambers, where Deputy Mayor Rose Clark is presiding in Mayor Brian Bennett‘s absence as the council starts its regular meeting. We’re here because of one particular item on the agenda – whether to set the date for a vote on annexation of most of the rest of North Highline. The meeting is beginning with a special guest appearance by King County Councilmember Julia Patterson, who says she is “delighted” to have part of Burien back under her wing as the result of the recent redistricting. We’ll be updating as this meeting proceeds – mostly about public commenters speaking about annexation, and then the council agenda item, unless something else inbetween seems to be of White Center interest. More to come!

7:30 PM: The public-comment period is now under way. First person speaking is Goodspaceguy, who does not seem to be speaking about annexation. Roger Delorum speaks next, talking about “fiscally irresponsible” data regarding annexation. “If this annexation happens, someone is going to gain financially, and it’s not going to be the citizens of Burien.” His short remarks were followed by those of Doug Harrell, who says he’s urging the council to move forward with the annexation, saying it would bring “opportunities of scale.” He adds that he believes people in those area will “have a voice in their future as part of Burien, and I have no confidence they would have a voice as a part of Seattle.” Unlike many other local governments, he says, Burien is in good financial shape, and its leaders “would not consider going forward if it were not prudent for the citizenry” – himself included. He was followed by Joey Martinez. He notes that he works for Seattle and it has a lot to offer North Highline, but: “I feel that Burien is the superior option” for annexing what’s left of North Highline. He says he doesn’t mind which election the council decides to use, August or November, but he thinks they should make a decision on one or the other tonight.

7:38 PM: Next speaker, Elizabeth Gordon, who is a White Center business co-owner. She says she and her customers favor being annexed to Burien. She is talking about how businesses, citizens, and organizations in the unincorporated area are “coming together” to work on improving their area, and she thinks that “supportive network” will help bring a good turnout, even in the summertime vote. She is followed by Aaron Garcia. He says he grew up in White Center, went to Cascade Middle School, Evergreen High School, UW, and he is here “in support of the resolution” to send annexation to voters. “No matter where you lie in this, whether you think White Center is a problem or has potential, we need someone to hear our voices, we need someone to advocate for us … I really, really support moving forward for this and I am a huge advocate for this.” After him comes Sandra Hopp, who says she lives in the recently annexed area and wasn’t for it then but is glad to be part of Burien now. After her is Gill Loring, who lives in the unincorporated area, and is talking about his graffiti-fighting activities in conjunction with the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council. He brings up the abandoned, overgrown, graffiti-covered former El Chalan restaurant – “We’re trying to get that taken care of.” He says he did a straw poll in his neighborhood, overwhelmingly in favor of being annexed by Burien.

7:48 PM: Next at the podium, Ed Dacy, who says he’s been coming to meetings about annexation for 10 years. “I’ve kept an open mind, I’ve looked at the studies …” He thinks the potential financial picture for annexation is even brighter than those studies have shown. “I can’t see a reason not to annex – I think we should go ahead with it.” He also noted that “one strong proponent of annexation … was not able to be here tonight,” referring to Liz Giba of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council and North Highline Fire District Board. After him, Chestine Edgar: She counters by saying that some people who speak about the financial studies, in her assessment, “clearly have not read” the reports, and cites some past reports she says forecast financial difficulty for Burien if annexation was pursued. She says annexation “is not an economically sound idea for the city of Burien,” and does not want to see it put before voters. Besides that, she talks about the lack of agreement between fire districts, a lack of a business plan, and the fact the “sliver on a river”‘s fate has not yet been resolved, and she criticizes NHUAC for “pushing annexation,” just as her time runs out.

7:56 PM: NHUAC president Barbara Dobkin is speaking now, noting that “questions continue to be raised” about NHUAC’s identity and purpose. She says annexation is an issue that affects them, “affects our future,” but it’s not “the only thing we are working on.” She says everyone is invited to their meetings – one’s coming up this Thursday, and will take a look at the Technology Access Foundation project under construction in Lakewood Park. She also speaks about NHUAC’s close relationship with the King County Sheriff’s Office. “The Seattle model of policing differs greatly from what would be offered in Burien,” Dobkin observes, and brings up the US Department of Justice investigation of Seattle Police. She says she feels the timing of the election should be left up to the Burien Council. The next speaker is Robbie Howell who says that she feels “the deck has been stacked against the citizens of Burien,” regarding its finances; she believes services have been on the decline and that Burien can’t afford to “acquire an area that has problems also.” Then Tina Holmes speaks, on behalf of Liz Giba, who she says suffered a stroke eight days ago, and is in Riverton Rehabilitation Center. She speaks of many people lost in recent years who were strong supporters of Burien annexation of North Highline. Holmes holds up a T-shirt she says her sister had made years ago – a blue T-shirt with white lettering, “Say No to Seattle.” She is the last speaker, and now the council moves to other business.

8:33 PM: A long presentation about Seattle City Light‘s strategic plan ensued, with SCL superintendent Jorge Carrasco, who deputy mayor Clark noted is the first SCL rep she recalls seeing here in the years she’s been on the council. Councilmember Jack Block Jr. is grilling Carrasco, and now Mayor Brian Bennett has arrived.

8:45 PM: Not to annexation yet; the council agreed to City Manager Mike Martin‘s suggestion to shelve a discussion of the transportation agenda, but is going ahead with what several said they hope would be a “short presentation” by Discover Burien, whose leaders are talking about their increased outreach and programming.

8:51 PM: And now, they’re on to the annexation resolution. Councilmember Block moves to table the motion. A roll-call voice vote is requested. Bennett: No, Clark: No, Block: Yes, Edgar: Yes, Krakowiak: Yes, McGilton: No, Robison: No. So the motion to table fails. Bennett now moves to ask King County to set the date for November.

9:29 PM:
After half an hour of discussion, the council has just voted 4 to 3 to send annexation to the ballot – but in November, not August. Yes votes were Bennett, Clark, McGilton, and Robison no votes were Block, Edgar, and Krakowiak. We have the half-hour of discussion on video and will add it to this story when we are back at HQ and it is processed. The King County Council will have to formally approve the annexation election, which would involve the prospective annexation area, NOT the people who already are residents of Burien.

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Tonight: Will Burien City Council put annexation on the August ballot?

April 2nd, 2012 Tracy Posted in Annexation, burien, White Center news Comments Off on Tonight: Will Burien City Council put annexation on the August ballot?

They can vote tonight … they can vote in two weeks … they can decide to not vote at all … they can decide to vote lots later and try for the November election instead … the possibilities are many; the agenda is here, for tonight’s Burien City Council meeting, 7 pm at council chambers (400 SW 152nd), which COULD result in a decision to put remainder-of-North-Highline annexation on the August 7th ballot. If you can’t be there, the live video feed will be on

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Burien council sets date for considering whether to proceed with North Highline annexation election

March 19th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Annexation, burien, White Center news Comments Off on Burien council sets date for considering whether to proceed with North Highline annexation election

Just in from tonight’s Burien City Council meeting: They’ve set April 2nd, their next meeting, as the date to “consider” whether to proceed with an annexation election. Under a timeline set out by city administration, they would have to decide either then, or April 16th, that they wanted an August 7th election, in order for that to proceed through the system in enough time for that to happen.

Addressing one ongoing concern, City Manager Mike Martin told the council he has sought repeated assurances that the sales-tax credit will remain in the state budget – and so far, it’s still there. Burien says that money is vital to being able to afford the annexation. (At one point, Governor Gregoire had proposed cutting it, but that proposal stalled.) Councilmember Jack Block Jr. wondered what the latest date for a decision would be if they were seeking to put annexation on the November ballot instead of the August ballot.

During the public-comment section at the start of the meeting, 12 of the 15 speakers talked about annexation – seven against, five for. Among the pro-annexation speakers was Vera Johnson, proprietor of Village Green Perennial Nursery:

She said she decided at the last minute to show up and speak; she believes it would be overwhelmingly positive for Burien to annex White Center. We have the entire public-comment period on video, along with the discussion on the annexation item, and will add those clips as soon as they are uploaded following our crew’s return to HQ.

ADDED 11:12 PM: Here’s the video from the public-comment period. It is unedited, starting with the second speaker during that part of the meeting, the first one to address the annexation issue, and continuing through the last speaker, who also talked about annexation:

At about 34 minutes into the video, Barbara Dobkin speaks to the council for, she said, the first time as North Highline Unincorporated Area Council president, recounting the council’s support for annexation, and its accomplishments in recent years, including advocacy on behalf of concerned residents dealing with difficult issues.

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