North Highline Council report: Annexation, housing, sparks

Sparks flew at Thursday night’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, with hot topics on the agenda from annexation to housing to … stray shopping carts. White Center Now was there; read on for our report:

First, the sparks: A meeting-goer demanded to know why several members of the council were not in attendance at the Burien annexation forum in Shorewood this past Tuesday night; council members replied that they spend plenty of time at meetings and they are not required to account for whether they do or do not attend any given event. (One also noted he had a family medical emergency.)

More on the annexation discussion coming up. First – two county reps gave a presentation about affordable housing. Nori Cataby and Rod Brandon talked about what constitutes “affordable housing,” in the county’s view, and then announced two sites where it’s in the works: 206 112th SW (map) and Puget Sound Park at 1st Ave/SW 126th (map).

The mere mention of Puget Park led council members to interrupt the presentation. Greg Duff said that if the county is committed to preserve park and open space, how can that be accomplished if homes are to be built in five acres of parkland? He also suggested it doesn’t make sense to build anything right now, given the economic trouble, and the county’s budget crisis. Brandon explained these aren’t necessarily projects for the near future, but perhaps five, ten years down the line.

Ray Helms then joined Duff in questioning the county reps, asking about possible problems given that some of the housing land is in a proposed annexation area – how would it work if Burien’s annexation wins voter approval? Cataby and Brandon didn’t have an answer for that, so the board members turned to Burien city manager Mike Martin, who was coming up later on the agenda. He said that would be up to Burien and the county to work out, and it might be possible for the county to maintain control of the site. A majority of board members ultimately voiced support for Duff and Helms’ concerns, particularly regarding the Puget Park site, and Brandon and Cataby acknowledged that the NHUAC isn’t supporting housing development at Puget Park.

After they left, Martin presented an annexation update, recapping the recent agreement (reported first by WCN the night he announced it last month). He said the Burien Council would be taking it up again at its work session next Monday (find out more on the City of Burien website). As first reported here back in November, there’s also one more public open house, February 12th in Boulevard Park.

The council also was briefed on an effort to round up stray shopping carts. Watch your mailbox for a mailer with more on this, and we’ll report details here on WCN too.

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets the first Thursday of each month, 7 pm at North Highline Fire District headquarters.


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5 Responses to “North Highline Council report: Annexation, housing, sparks”

  1. The NHUAC agenda noted that King County plans to sell this property. At the meeting last night, did the people from King County say to whom and for how much? Is King County selling other park property in other areas of the County? Is King County trying to deal with their budget problems by selling park land?

    Tracy, could you find out what King County Councilmember Dow Constantine’s position is on this? Thanks.

  2. Thanks for the blog on the NHUAC meeting. King County is up to its usual tricks. It does not make any sense to sell a 5 acre park in North Highline claiming you are going to build affordable housing and strive for the preservtion and improvements to open spaces and parks. Ron Sims is trying to solve his budget crises by selling off the open spaces in the North Highline Area. The people of North Highline and Burien need to contact Ron Sims and Dow Constantine and let them know that this underhanded attempt to strip the value from the areas in the Proposed Annexation Areas will not be tolerated. King County needs to addopt a moratorium on the sale of public land in any PAA.
    Thank you
    Greg Duff
    NHUAC Member

  3. Hi Alcina.
    KC was asked to whom they plan on selling the properties too – their answer was that they have no paticular entity in mind and that it will be presented to start taking bids possibly later this year. They were asked how much they were selling the properties for and they did not have a selling price and did not know.

  4. Heidi, thanks for the info.

    Greg, I agree with you that there needs to be a moratorium on King County selling park property in any areas of King County that a city is proposing to annex. I am wondering if King County is planning to sell parks in any of the three areas Renton is planning to annex. Would be interesting to know if it is happening there too.

  5. Here is a copy of the letter that I wrote to the Highline Times that appeared this week.

    Park to be sold?

    Monday, January 19, 2009

    Imagine buying a car and just before you take delivery, the seller removes the tires. This is what Ron Sims is trying to do to the City of Burien.

    At the Jan. 8th meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council (NHUAC) Rod Brandon and Nori Catabay from King County made a presentation to the council on Affordable and Workforce Housing in North Highline.

    They did a 20 minute presentation complete with pictures, graphs, and enough mention of firefighters to turn even the hardest hearts into mush. They emphasized how important it is for everyone to be able to afford a house and to live near where they work. It all seemed fine until they started getting in details.

    There are two areas in North Highline that King County wants to sell to developers. One is at 206 SW 112th and the second is Puget Sound Park at 126th and 1st Ave. South.

    Puget Sound Park is a 5-acre park that King County let run down for the last few years and now they want to sell it and build houses. Nori stated that one of the desired results is “preservation and improvements to open space and parks.”

    Does it make sense to take away a 5-acre park to build houses and then save a little tiny pocket park? Nori did not have a good response when that was brought to her attention.

    The council had several questions for the presenters. “Don’t we have enough low income housing in North Highline? Wouldn’t a park be better for kid than cramming more houses into a small area? ”

    The final and most important question was asked: “Isn’t this area part of the proposed annexation area that Burien is going to annex?” They did not have a good response.

    Mike Martin, Burien city manager, was in the audience. Imagine his surprise hearing this for the first time. Here is an area that will probably become Burien and King County wants to sell it off to help the budget deficit.

    Why not let Burien decide what to do with it? When asked how long this would take, Rod and Nori said that it would not be sold before anything was decided with the annexation.

    Mike Martin disagreed. The sale could take place before the citizens have a chance to vote. This is an underhanded attempt by Ron Sims to try and cure a budget deficit that he created.

    What happens when King County finally cures the budget deficit and then we have no more parks–just lots of low-income housing?

    The NHUAC adopted a resolution urging King County to place a moratorium on the sale of public lands in the PAA. I urge the citizens of Burien and North Highline to contact Ron Sims and Dow Constantine and let them know you are opposed to the proposal.

    The North Highline area is either going to belong to Burien or Seattle. Don’t strip away the parks that make this area valuable.

    Greg Duff

    NHUAC member