Letter to the editor: “Just Say No to Annexation”

As noted recently, White Center Now is offering to publish “letters to the editor” for those who would like to share their views on the North Highline South Annexation vote (ballots have been mailed, and must be postmarked by the official primary-election day, August 18th). First one was here (with 17 comments as of right now); this one has come in as a rebuttal:

I would like to refute Mr. Lamphears comments. And also to say, shame on you for lowering the debate with statements about “steamy, smelly pile of bovine fecal matte”, please spare me your potty comments:

Pile #1 — Mr. Ufkes does not live in the voting area – but he does live in Area 2 which Burien makes no secret that it will attempt to annex if they are successful in Area 1

Pile #2 — The Westwood Village and White Center areas are not included in the voting area, In the voting pamphlet there is no reference to Westwood village. But if we are going to try to find relevance this is the point. If you want to do a search for a home in Seattle once Seattle annexes North Highline your home will show up in the search. This will elevate your property value. Also, as Seattle and King County allow greater density homeowners who want to subdivide will have more options. Either way King County or Seattle your home will be worth more without a Burien address

Pile #3 — Mr. Ufkes has been a vocal critic of the North Highline Fire Department. Once again, there is not direct relation between customer satisfaction and response times.

Pile #4 — Burien has no plans to hire more police officers AT THIS TIME because it’s not necessary. As a resident of Area 1 I personally feel underserved and believe we do not have adequate police coverage.

Pile #5 — Burien has no budget deficit — No but Burien does have a looming tax crises. With Auto sales tanking and sales tax revenues down Burien needs a greater tax basis this is really the issue. Burien would like to ‘sell’ annexation as some type of ‘affinity’ issue. It is insulting to think the city council would like to annex North highline out of the goodness of their hearts. Burien is about to have a fiscal crises and they are casting about for an increased tax base. North Highline can live without the higher taxes a future in Burien will assure

Pile #6 — If Burien decides to build a new community center with a tax, the law requires the voters to approve any new taxes. There is no new tax on the horizon. Same as above, Burien wants access to a larger tax base

Pile #7 — There is no such thing as a Burien downtown fire department tax for Town Square. Not having personal knowledge about this I will defer to others to fill this in

Pile #8 — There is no evidence that property values have any relationship to your address. Once again, I do not agree zip code and city matter. Minimum lot size matters. King County 5000sq/ft versus Burien 7800 sq/ft. Do the math.

I urge my fellow residents to vote no annexation, there will be no benefit in being annexed to Burien. Vote for no change, no potential new taxes, and no to the Burien City council who consistently ignores the wishes of its constituents who do not wish to annex North Highline.

David Feinberg

If there’s something you’d like to say, e-mail it to whitecenternow@gmail.com – thanks!


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24 Responses to “Letter to the editor: “Just Say No to Annexation””

  1. Stephen Lamphear Says:

    Again, lots of personal opinion attempting to pass as fact. The dictionary says untruths oft-repeated that become accepted as fact are called factoids.

  2. Marlene Allbright Says:

    I just heard about 20 gunshots on 116th S. and Occidental S.
    I called the King County Sheriff, and they confirmed that it was gunshots. Other than that, I don’t know who fired the shots. They were about a half a block from where I live.

  3. I agree, lots of opinion with no facts to back up any of it. Seattle City web site reflects no such statements as the Pile #’s listed above. Could you call down to Seattle City Hall tomorrow and get some of these in writing by a Seattle City Official who can speak for Seattle. I would feel more comfortable if these pile #’s listed came from the City of Seattle in writing.

  4. Marlene, me too. There is a gun range at the bottom of the hill kinda in the valley, maybe the echos came from there.

  5. I won’t page the media officer at this hour just to ask about possible gunshots but I will check with the KCSO media officer tomorrow to make sure nobody actually GOT shot. We are plugged into decent Seattle info channels from our base here on the other side of the city/county line, but not so much the county info, as unlike Seattle, their fire/medic 911 is not available online. In time, hopefully everything will be! Meantime, we’re writing our summary/ies of tonight’s NHUAC meeting, regarding annexation, Evergreen Pool, and more.

  6. Mr. Lamphear and Heid:

    I would have to say that your statements are also personal opinions, as you are not offering factual evidence. Can we look at each of Mr. Feinburg’s statements, and see if you can show undisputed evidence?

    #1 – Is there documented proof that Burien will not attempt to annex the rest of NH if this annexation passes?

    #2 – Can you offer direct evidence that property value is not affected by being within incorporated city limits?

    #3 – Have any studies been done to indicate that customer satisfaction is or is not directly related to response times?

    #4 – Is there proof that Area 1 does have adequate police protection? Also, is there any direct evidence that Burien will or will not hire additional police officers? Or that there will or will not be a need for additional officers?

    #5 – What evidence do you have that Burien will NOT undergo a financial crisis in the future?

    #6 – Can you show that Burien is not looking for increased tax revenues by expanding its tax base?

    #7 – Please point to where there is evidence that there is or is not a fire department tax for Town Square.

    #8 – This seems to be the same as #3, so I’ll let you off here.

    Each side can say the other person is just spouting personal opinion, because nobody is showing documented evidence. I read Mr. Feinburg’s statements as opinions. I also read your statements as opinions. That’s fine with me – opinions do count, of course. But I would love to see some factual evidence behind any of this!

    In short – my thoughts are that your statement of “…personal opinion being passed as facts” is simply not true. I don’t see anywhere that Mr. Feinburg is stating that these are indisputable facts. They are his opinions. And isn’t it acceptable to be able to state your opinions?

    And Heid, I believe that the pile #’s came directly from Mr. Lamphear’s published comments from a few days ago on this site. I would highly doubt that the City of Seattle would have these listed on their web site.

  7. Well, Facts are presented on each City’s web sites pertaining to your City questions. Police protection facts come from within their departments and are verifiable with stats, all you have to do is pick up the phone and ask them or view their web-site. Of course Seattle wouldn’t have them listed as piles and that is a no brainer. In fact, as stated before, Seattle has old and out dated information on their web site re: Annexation. All the questions you have just asked can be answered with facts located on each entities web-site. As for the property values, you would have to call the King County Assessors office. All the evidence you talk about wanting pertaining to your questions about facts are verifiable and is just a matter of inquiring. I am not one to help do home work for anyone capable of doing it on their own. The evidence is there and it is fact.

  8. Jerry Robison Says:

    Referring to lists given by Feinberg and Lady K.
    #1. It is well known that if the current annexation vote passes, and Burien continues to receive interest from residents of NH wanting to annex into Burien (considering it a far better choice than the only other real alternative, annexation to Seattle), a majority of the City Council favors moving forward on an annexation election for the rest of NH.
    #2. Westwood Village has been inside the Seattle City limits the entire time it has existed. You know that it is essentially impossible to prove a negative. What you don’t have is any proof that merely being inside the Seattle city limits, or having a Seattle address makes any difference at all in property values. The fact is that NH has a Seattle address. Does that make houses in White Center more valuable. Burien, Seatac, parts of Des Moines, most of Tukwila, and all of Shoreline, had Seattle addresses until they incorporated or were annexed, and many people in those cities still use “Seattle” as their mailing address. Do you really think that makes any difference to home buyers? My own experience in the real estate business was that most people cared about the location, not the city, and those who did care about the city cared only because they were concerned about the school district, and most of them wanted to stay out of the Seattle school district.
    #3. If it’s your house burning, or your medical emergency, the only thing you care about is response time.
    #4. My personal experience, and that of most of the people I have talked to, is that Seattle does not have the same level of interest in crime prevention or response, especially in its outlying neighborhoods. I have been the victim of a car theft, and a car prowl in White Center, and each time a deputy responded to the scene. In Seattle, a car prowl got me a case number, and a residential burglary got an appointment for an officer to come by the following week. Seattle PD has been understaffed for years and is just beginning to catch up on pay and recruiting. Gangs are now making a come back in Seattle (not so much in NH or Burien) since Seattle dropped its gang unit. Anyone who thinks they will get better police protection in Seattle should spend some time reading the papers and paying attention to the complaints that come from the neighborhoods, particularly in the poorer areas on the southern edge of the city.
    #5. Seattle is alredy in a crisis. Its budget woes are serious enough that it was mentioned in an article in the Economist within the last couple of months. Seattle already has a huge public debt, and is hurt more than any of its suburban satellites by the current recession. That is without even considering the fact that Boeing (which has kept Seattle afloat) is not so firmly anchored here anymore. Seattle cannot meet all of its current obligations, much less enhance life for anyone else. Do you really want to pay for a tunnel, or whatever, to help northend residents reach their jobs and sports arenas in downtown Seattle and south of downtown?
    6. The sad truth is that providing urban services to primarily residential neighborhoods costs more than is returned in taxes by the neighborhood. That is why Seattle refused to even consider annexation until it got a law passed that would give it an additional $5,000,000 per year in state tax revenues if it annexes an area of at least 10,000 people. Burien only gets about $650,000,under the same law, for the present annexation proposal. You tell me who is trying to enhance their revenues.
    7. Are you among those people still waiting to see Obama’s real birth certificate? If there was such a tax you could find out about it very easily by calling the City of Burien or looking it up on their website.
    8. Lot size matters only if your main interest is in making more money by selling your property for development or developing it yourself. For nearly all improved properties (that is properties that already have a livable house, or other economically valuable structure) minimum lot size makes no difference until lot prices reach the point that it makes sense to demolish good houses to build new ones. What can make a difference is when an area of rental homes, or older homes, is zoned for high density development. When that happens the existing neighborhoods are demolished to make way for new high density development, and the holdouts see their property values drop as the land gains value and the house loses value. If you have accumulated enough land to make it worthwhile, and your goal is to cash in and move on, then annexation to Seattle will make a lot of sense for you. If your goal is to stay in your home and help make your community a good place to live, then you should be more concerned about keeping local control of land use decisions.

  9. First of all, I would like to say that I have not yet decided one way or another on how to vote. Mr. Robinson, while your comments are welcome, my perception is that you believe that I feel that being annexed by Seattle is preferable. I haven’t stated this, so please do not jump to conclusions.

    My comments are in regarding to the responses given by Heid and Mr. Lamphear to the posting made by Mr. Feinburg. On July 31st, Mr. Lamphear posted some statements regarding annexation. On August 6th, Mr. Feinburg posted his statements regarding those comments. The response from both Mr. Lamphear and Heid was, “these are just opinions.” So my earlier post was mainly asking the question about the original statement by Mr. Lamphear – aren’t those opinions as well? And if they are indisputable facts, could you provide some evidence?

    So far, I have not seen any evidence, but rather was told to go find it myself. I’m sure with some diligent searching, I could find evidence for any argument. Heck, if I were to tell you that trees grow on Mars, you might not believe me – but look, here’s some evidence right here! http://www.xtl-ak.com/marstrees.html

    What I’m saying is that I believe that Mr. Lamphear’s and Heid’s response to Mr. Feinburg’s comments are not useful to this discussion. If people are only supposed to state facts, then please do yourselves. There are a lot of opinions being stated here, and I believe that is fine. So I see nothing wrong in Mr. Feinburg’s comments. Mr. Feinburg never represented his statements to be indisputable facts, so why would you assume he was trying to pass them off as such?

    And Mr. Robinson – No, I do not need to see Obama’s birth certificate. How is that relevant to the discussion?

  10. Lady K,

    re: your #2 about property values, I first suggest you talk with local realtors. What they will no doubt tell you is that the value of any given home depends more on the neighborhood it is in rather than the city. For example, if someone tore down a couple of the smaller two bedroom houses along the north side of Roxbury and built a new 7 bedroom, 6 bath mansion, that mansion would have a lower value than if it was built in Magnolia.

    A good example close to White Center as to whether or the neighborhood or the city the house is in is more important is the Seola Beach neighborhood. On west side of Seola Beach Dr. the homes are in the City of Seattle and on the east side of the street the homes are in the City of Burien. If you aren’t familiar with this neighborhood, I suggest you drive through it and look at the homes. After that, then look up the value of all those homes on King County’s parcel viewer
    http://www.kingcounty.gov/operations/GIS/PropResearch/ParcelViewer.aspx What you will find is that houses of similar age, quality, and size have similar values. Mr. Ufkes in his voters pamplet statement claimed, “Our Seattle address adds $43,000 to the value of our home.” If that was true, all the houses on the Seattle side of Seola Beach Drive would each have to be worth $43K more than similar houses on the Burien side and that is not the case.

  11. Lady K, I first want to explain I’m answering in different comments rather than all in one because the way this blog is set up, if a person puts more than one link in a comment it has to be moderated and it may take a while to get the comment released.

    So for your #3 – “Have any studies been done to indicate that customer satisfaction is or is not directly related to response times?” If you go to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service abstract database
    and seach the abstracts for published research articles on response times and satisfaction you will find literally scores of articles. And the finding are kind of all over the map, sometimes there is a strong correlation between greater satisfaction and shorter response times, but sometimes not. What some articles, however, show is that it is often the “response” that matters more than the “response time”. By response I mean that the person felt greater satisfaction if he/she felt that response they got, what the police or fire personnel did after they arrived helped them, that the first responders were caring and respectful, as well as thorough, etc.

  12. To answer #3,

    Taken from Seattle City Police Department web-site it states that Southwest Seattle Police Precinct is posting an increase in Major Crimes for the first four months of 2009 when compared with the same period in 2008. Unlike the other precincts, however, the overall crime rise is being driven more by increases in Property Crimes than by Violent Crimes. Among Property Crimes, both burglaries and larceny/thefts are up, compared to a year ago. Southwest Seattle Police Precinct is also the only precinct posting an increase in vehicle thefts. While Southwest Precinct has relatively fewer Violent Crimes compared to other precincts, increases have been posted in both robberies and aggravated assaults.

    Prepared by: The Research, Planning and Information Services Unit
    of the King County Sheriff’s Office you will find response times documented in the City of Burien Police Services Reports. What you will also find verified in crime statistics is that we are at a low on all crime and in North Highline too. This additionally was verified from KCSO Deputy Jeff Hancock Thursday night at a NHUAC meeting, our crime stats are at a low. Call him for more info., or once again look on the web-sites, the facts are there. To address customer satisfaction, you can also find that on the web-sites, complaints and praises are available statistically too. I’ve been to many Community Meetings over the years that KCSO has held locally in our community at various places with a lot of different topics including building relationships and partnerships with community members, to hear issues of needs to better serve our community, gang seminars held, helping our community to become organized against crime, and the list goes on. If I felt I had a huge concern with KCSO, I would be at one of those meetings addressing it.

  13. #4 is the same game. Look it up – just a few clicks away to facts. The document listed above contains the info or call KCSO (296-3333) they can answer you directly and reiterate again what’s allready on their web site and in their report.

  14. Lady K, now to answer your #1. As Jerry noted, a majority of the Burien City Councilmembers have expressed an interest in annexing the northern portion. However, there are reasons they are not moving in that direction right now, primarily because it would be premature to do so. The obvious one is they want to see how the vote goes in the southern annexation area and, if people vote to annex to Burien, the Burien Councilmembers then have to ensure that the actual annexation is accomplished effectively and effeciently as possible starting this coming spring.

    Also, in the legislative session this year a law was passed, SSB5321, which will provide a sales tax rebate in the amount of $5 million a year for 10 years to the city that annexes the northern part of North Highline to help cover the costs of the annexation.
    This funding does not become available until after July 1, 2011. See page 2, line 25 of the Session Law document so it is wise and fiscally responsible for Burien to wait a year or so.

  15. Alcina, thank you for the excellent responses and resources you have provided! I sincerely appreciate this. You have been more than helpful.

    And honestly, I did agree some of Mr. Lamphear’s points. What I didn’t agree with was the “I’m right and you are wrong and that’s all there is to it” attitude toward Mr. Feinburg’s statements. That does not make for a healthy debate.

  16. Lady K, I’m glad you found the responses helpful. I will be sending more answers later today with links, but probably not until evening. We can all learn from each other and, even when we disagree, I think it is important to remain civil.

  17. If reference to comment made by LadyK, I find everyone’s comments useful to the conversation. Heidi and Stephen both add valuable insight to the opinions made opposing statements made by Mark from the voters pamphlet, after all that’s what conversation is about, communicating even if there are differences. Just because some one disagrees with you or Mark does not make it invalid or not worthy.
    So back to the original issue, Vote YES to a Burien Annexation and do not be deceived by people who do not value open conversation!
    Burien offers easy access to government as their government is smaller, are readily available, listens and works with residents to better the community, does not require you to switch over to sewer if you have septic, offers services and programs to meet the resident’s needs, develops financially responsible plans, allows all conversation to be heard surrounding community issues, has a superb police force along with a great Fire Department, and is very community oriented. After following along with the pro’s and con’s for 10 years, I can definitely say that Voting Yes to a Burien annexation will be in the best interest of our community. I encourage you to “Vote YES” to Burien Annexation.

  18. Lady K, here’s your answer to #7.

    There simply is no “recent $25 million downtown fire department tax for Town Square” as Mr. Ufkes claims in the voters’ pamphlet. There was a Fire District 2 (Burien-Normandy Park Fire Department) $25 million bond issue on the Nov. 2008 general election ballot which passed with 66 percent of the vote. This bond will replace the aging fire stations and equipment throughout the fire district. Here is the precise language of that bond issue.
    As you will note, there is absolutely nothing in this bond measure language about it being for Town Square. In fact, one of the fire stations that will be replaced is the one on Normandy Road which provides fire services to the City of Normandy Park as well as the very south end of Burien such as the Manhattan and Woodside neighborhoods. The other fire station in Dist. 2 is in downtown Burien and has been there for many, many years—they don’t know yet where the new one to replace it will be built, but it will be in downtown core of Burien somewhere. You can read updates on the Burien-Normandy Park FD webpage as to the status and progress. They are currently in the planning phase.

    It is also extremely important to note that, if the voters in North Highline vote to annex to Burien, the property owners in the annexation area will not have to pay for this bond measure at all. State law doesn’t allow them to be taxed for this because they weren’t part of Burien (or Fire Dist. 2) when this bond measure passed. Therefore, I have no idea why Mr. Ufkes made this one of his talking points in the voters’ pamphlet because it just isn’t relevant.

  19. Lady K, you asked- “#5 – What evidence do you have that Burien will NOT undergo a financial crisis in the future?” I guess I don’t quite know what you mean by a financial crisis.

    All cities in King County are facing a loss of revenue because of the tax structure in this state and the current economy. For example, cities are getting less revenue from sales tax, B&O taxes, and gambling tax than in years when the economy was better. Does this constitute a crisis? It primarily just results in some belt-tightening and one beneficial result is that is causes City Councils in all cities to review how they have been spending tax dollars and make decisions as to what services are essential and which ones are not. Cities are actually in better shape financially than counties in our state because cities have different taxing authority. For example, Burien like most other cities, including Seattle, has utility taxes. By law, counties cannot impose utility taxes. King and other counties went to the legislature this year hoping to get a bill passed allowing counties to impose utility taxes, but the bill didn’t pass.

    The City of Burien’s annexation FAQ’s explains this to the voters in North Highline
    The average property owner in North Highline will actually pay less in property taxes when in the City of Burien than they pay now to King County. However, because Burien has utility taxes, they will end up paying about $100 more a year in taxes. A key thing to remember, however, is this little bit extra in taxes that people will pay provides Burien with stronger financial stability than King County has and why Burien isn’t facing the massive cuts in services as is happening in King County.

    You can read Burien’s budgets on their website under Departments and then go to Finance. If you aren’t aware, all cities have two budgets–operating and capital. Capital budgets are sort of a wish list of projects, mostly infrastructure, they hope to do and are usually forecasted out as a 6 year plan and they do these projects as money becomes available. The operating budget is for the day-to-day services a city provides and actually the more critical of the two.

  20. Stephen Lamphear Says:

    Mr. Ufke’s style of debate is of issue. This is how he responded to my rebuttal of his Voters Pamphlet statement:

    “Mr. Lamphear’s anger and false statements do not warrant a response, except to remind voters that Lamphear ran for the Burien City Council, served for eight years, and was soundly beaten, did I say soundly? and thrown out of office based in part because of a factual letter sent out to all Burien residents by a Burien resident who too, was treated by his angry outbursts and personal insults. This letter explained how Mr. Lamphear has lived his life and his continuing hypocracy regarding local politics. It ended his political career in Burien, and we all are better off as a result….And Mr. Lamphear, it is my personal opinion that you need counseling.”

    Was my original posting ‘angry’? While what he says here is a lie and nothing less than unprecedented character assassination, it continues to be his style of debate.

    On the other hand, I know nothing about him personally other than that he has been in my face demanding I stay out of White Center because I live in Burien — that occured while I held elected public office.

    Alcina is a good researcher and obviously more patient than either Heidi or I. I appreciate her making this effort and hope more than just one person takes the time to consider her comments.

  21. Stephen Lamphear Says:

    And back to the real world…

    After several days walking annexation area neighborhoods in North Shorewood and southern White Center to promote “yes on annexation”, I’ve touched about 300 people without a “no” voter. I encountered a number of people from outside the annexation area who were unhappy they were left out.

    The walks also showed me how many people are not registered to vote. They need help to get into the civic/political system so they have a voice. I’m putting that on my “to do” list.

  22. Marlene I was at the Burien police station this morning and I talked to an officer who was responding the the suspected gun shots on August 6 and he said they have concluded that it was actually firewords at about 115th and 1st SW. I saw fireworks the night before around Bernie Boys. Just so you know, there were 5 units from King County and Burien who responded to the calls. I do not believe Seattle Police Department would have sent 5 units.
    I also don’t believe that I could have talked to a Seattle Police Officer at 4:15 in the morning like I did this morning to the Burien Police.

  23. Marlene Allbright Says:

    Hey Greg,
    Great party at your house the other night. You are a great host!

    However, I respectfully disagree with you. As someone who lived her entire life in Seattle until 2005, I must tell you that I’ve always found the SPD to be much more responsive than the King County department.

    I agree with Lady K. David was not simply giving his opinion any more than Stephen was. Burien needs North Highline more than North Highline needs Burien. They will lose millions if they don’t annex area X, and I could find you all sorts of links to substantiate that.

    Burien is not annexing to be altruistic, and THAT is not opinion.

  24. Thank you, Marlene, for coming to my house. I thoroughly enjoyed talking with you. Several of the people who were there want to make a “block watch chart” showing who lives where and how can we get hold of each other. I will be coming around to all the houses in the next week or two to hand out a sheet so people can opt into the plan. It was very nice to meet our neighbors, they are such nice people.