Seattle council president on Burien annexation withdrawal

As promised when we broke the story last night of Burien announcing it’s withdrawn its North Highline annexation proposal (you can see the formerly proposed map on our White Center Annexation Info page), we are continuing to pursue comment. Burien city manager Mike Martin confirms the annexation info meeting in Boulevard Park tonight is still on; meantime, we asked Seattle City Council President Richard Conlin what he had to say – here’s what he e-mailed back this morning:

What happened was that Burien completely ignored the compromise on handling conflicts over annexation that was painfully put together by the Growth Management Planning Council that required the parties to negotiate before filing any petitions to annex. I don’t understand why they did that, especially since their representative voted for it!

They also proposed to leave the Fire District without a station to serve most of its constituents by drawing the proposed boundary in such a way as to take all of the stations into the City of Burien, which got the Fire District upset as well, even though I think they have been generally favorable to a Burien annexation of the whole area. A very strange message to send to the rest of the area.

So, what will happen next is that there will be negotiation between the two parties, but unless Burien is prepared to make significant changes in its proposal, I do not think that it would be acceptable to Seattle or King County, and would also likely be turned down by the Boundary Board. Not sure where the voters would go!

More to come today as we get it.

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4 Responses to “Seattle council president on Burien annexation withdrawal”

  1. First. Seattle’s idea of negotiation was to tell Burien that it had better go along with whatever Seattle wanted. There was no willingness to compromise from Seattle’s side. There was no progress toward an agreement because Seattle refused to discuss the issues with Burien.

    Second. Burien would have contracted with NHFD to serve the area being annexed, as it did for the area that was inside Burien after incorporation.

    His final paragraph illustrates the quandry that led to the present situation. Seattle insists that negotiations must continue, but will not consider anything that does not give it everything it wants (dooming any negotiation to failure).

    Seattle has not been willing to put annexation up to a vote because it knows that the majority of the voters in NH do want to be annexed to Seattle, so is trying to bully its way into an inter-local agreement (RCW 35.13.470-.480) that would allow it to avoid an election.

  2. I find Richard Conlin’s comments fascinating. The Seattle City Council doesn’t even have an Annexation Committee this year and annexation isn’t even listed as one of the Seattle’s Council’s priorites In the past, the Seattle Council did have annexation committee but it hasn’t met for over a year, actually their last meeting was April 19, 2007.

    It is well known that Richard Conlin personally favors Seattle annexing North Highline, but his comments on this post very likely do reflect that of the entire Council. If the entire or majority of the Seattle Council supported Seattle annexing North Highline, one would have to assume they would be taking steps to make that happen and they are not.

    Tracy, can you ask Richard Conlin to clarify if he was speaking on behalf of the entire Seattle Council (or at least the majority of the Seattle Councilmembers) or just offering his own opinion?

    It has been the Seattle Mayor’s office that has been taking the lead in attempting have Seattle annex North Highline. It was the Seattle Mayor’s office that was supposed to be negotiating with Burien, not the Seattle City Council, per the memorandum of understanding between the involved cities and King County to come to an agreed upon settlement of the future annexation(s) of North Highline. Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels signed that memorandum of understanding in 2006

    Burien City Manager Mike Martin is correct when he said that Burien has tried and tried to get Seattle (the Mayor’s office) to negotiate and the Seattle Mayor’s office has refused to negotiate or meet with Burien for months and months. Because Burien had no other choice, Burien was very wise to move forward and bring this to a head so that will force the Seattle Mayor’s office to come back to the table and start talking again.

  3. That’s pretty good spin. How about some facts?

    Burien filed its petition to annex before the Growth Management Planning Council made any amendments to the process. A process, by the way, that the GMPC is limiting solely to North Highline. If it’s good enough for us, why isn’t it good enough for the rest of the county?

    As for the fire district. There’s plenty of contractual history between our fire district and Burien’s. At least one of the three fire commissioners recognizes that reality and supports Burien’s annexation effort.

    Seattle knows about leaving a neighborhood without adequate fire service. Arbor Heights was annexed by Seattle about 50 years ago and “benefitted” by having its volunteer fire station closed down by Seattle and never replaced. Seattle wants our fire station at 112th – so it will finally meet its responsibilty to provide adequate service instead of a “dead zone” to Arbor Heights.

    Reponsibility for any failure to negotiate also lies at Seattle’s doorstep. Mayor Nickels’ office refused to negotiate with Burien, choosing instead to hide behind King County by using it as a middleman. King County is supposed to be representing us. This manuever put them in the same camp and smells bad.

    As for making changes in it’s proposal, at least Burien has made one. What is Seattle’s proposal? What will NH look like in 10 or 15 years if we become part of Seattle? The plan that looks to put a jail right at our doorway answers that question for me.

  4. Nice comments, what more can I say. The first 3 comments have covered the facts!