Annexation to Seattle? One city councilmember is still interested

The topic of White Center annexation came up when we covered a brownbag lunch meeting with Seattle City Councilmember Jean Godden at the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce offices today. WS business lawyer Jerome O. Cohen (at left with Godden) opened the subject by nothing that the WS Chamber, where he leads the board of directors, is trying to build stronger ties with White Center. Godden described WC as a “lively area” and mentioned a recent visit to Salvadorean Bakery. She then recalled last year’s vote in which a majority of councilmembers voted not to approve the Memorandum of Understanding that had been worked out by then-Mayor Greg Nickels as well as other parties interested in the area, giving Seattle a certain period for first right of refusal on White Center annexation. “I don’t often brag about the 8-1 votes where I’m the 1 – and there are few,” she said, indicating that one, in which she supported approving the MOU, was different – she believes her fellow councilmembers were trying to send a message, but not the one that she thinks the rest of the world drew from what happened. She says it’s up to new Mayor Mike McGinn, as well as the people of White Center, to indicate they would like to talk about annexation, but notes the legislation is still in effect with the tax changes Seattle wanted and needed for annexation to be possible. One sticking point right now, she indicated, is the South Park Bridge – if Seattle annexed all the unincorporated area to its immediate south, the bridge would become the city’s $110 million problem. But federal help might be on the way, she noted. (She is vice chair of the council’s Transportation Committee, now chaired by West Seattle’s Tom Rasmussen.) Overall, she said, White Center “seems like something that ought to be part of the city” – provided its residents agree.

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14 Responses to “Annexation to Seattle? One city councilmember is still interested”

  1. Thanks for yor insight Council member Godden, but no thanks. I strongly disagree with becoming part of Seattle. Seattle can’t even take care of their own residents little lone us. I would prefer not to be the little fish in your big city of sharks. Your residents have a tough time presenting to your Council and little gets done when they do. Seattle has nothing to offer our community but higher taxes, more government, and I would like to maintain my right to vote for police and fire cheifs. Your traffic is a night mare downtown and your neighborhoods have no yards and little parks.

  2. Ms. Godden should take a look at the polls that have been conducted and she would see that the residence of North Highline (White Center)overwhelmingly want to be annexed by Burien. Seattle offers little to the citizens of White Center. It would be much better to have a voice in government by going to Burien than being told what to by Seattle. How about those sidewalks that Seattle promised to Laurelhurst, Maple Leaf and South Park 50 years ago? White Center cannot believe any promises Seattle makes. Read the minutes from the December 2, 2006 meeting of the Seattle City Council. Referring to White Center it says “these people come with land”. They don’t want us, they just want our land so they can overpopulate it.
    We don’t want our area to look like Seattle with houses stacked on top of each other.
    Let Ms. Godden know that we don’t want her pushing for Seattle annexation of North Highline and White Center.

  3. Jean Gooden, you are fantastic. We would love to have a conversation with Seattle about whether the rest of White Center should become another great Seattle neighborhood. Seattle provides more police officers, much better fire service, higher home values, and the same property taxes as Burien. With Seattle, we get more services for the same price. Seattle has world class neighborhoods, and White Center will have focused attention, at the level of Capital Hil, the International District, and Wedgewood. Seattle works hard to let neighborhoods define their future. That is a good thing. Burien will always focus on its core in the new half completed downtown, not on White Center. So, please Seattle, lets learn more about what you all can do for us, engage our community this year, and then let’s have a vote. Why are some people afraid of a vote? Let the people decide. Are you afraid that we might vote yes, if we like what we hear.

    And the screams of “Seattle wants us for our land” are childish. Burien, more than Seattle, wants us for our tax base to pay for its inferior services. It took 90 days after the August 2009 annexation vote for Burien to propose an increase in it’s taxes. 90 days.

    After attending dozens of meetings in both Seattle and Burien, Burien is way more interested in our real estate.

    Let’s have a conversation Seattle, and then let’s have a vote.

    That is how the system is supposed to work.

  4. I’m definitely in favor of Seattle annexing us (I live in the part of WC that’s still unincorporate). Burien doesn’t have the infrastructure or resources to support us, keeping our seattle addresses helps our property value, etc. As far as polls — depends who’s being polled. I know at one of the community mtgs I went to, the crowd preference was for seattle.

  5. The CDA and Mark Ufkes do not represent the sentiments of Unincorporated White Center – instead they both represent their own interests. The majority of the white center homeowners prefer Burien. It is well known that Mr. Ufkes owns land in White Center that he believes will be worth more money if we annex to Seattle, and the CDA’s agenda is to keep their jobs by keeping their funding for low income housing. They have never reached out to the homeowners – they have no interest in making this community anything other than a low income haven. We need to have balance in this community. Also, of note, Mr. Ufkes claims to be part of “the white center homeowners association” an organization that apparently is closed to everyone but him – he refuses to release any information about members – if this is not true Mr. Ufkes, please correct us.

  6. WOW!!! Ufkes lives! I was wondering how long it would take for Mark to pop up, after this segment was posted.

    Well Mr. Ufkes, I can’t fault you for sticking to your guns on this issue. You want to be annexed by Seattle, and I respect that. What I can’t respect, is your continued misinformation regarding service levels, and your contention that the City of Seattle–based on its size along–somehow provides “better” services. I would contend that Seattle provides “different” services–not better.

    Comparing Seattle to Burien is NOT an apples to apples comparison, and I would suggest that Seattle’s services are WAY more expensive, due largely to an overly-bloated government, and not because they provide some sort of stellar service.

    Further, if the remaining residents opt for Burien, at least there is more elected oversight, with citizens being able to directly address the commissioner boards in the water, sewer and fire districts.

    And regarding your claim of “world class” neighborhoods, this is laughable, considering the neglect that many of Seattle’s neighborhoods have faced. Look no further that our friends in the South Park area. What on earth makes you think that Seattle would focus any time or energy on White Center, when multiple area and neighborhoods in Seattle have had little or no improvements over the years. How about Arbor Heights? Annexed by Seattle in the 60’s, and never received much (if any) improvements (like sidewalks).

    Yes, Jean Godden (and Richard Conlin) may be interested in annexing the remaining area of WC, but they will have serious opposition from many of the Seattle neighborhood associations (like last go-around), as well as from Mayor McGinn, who has already stated that annexation is not only not a priority, but not even something they want to discuss.

  7. You know, I can barely contain my astonishment when I read posts from people who so clearly do not understand the issues pursuant to annexation. The fear, vitriol and personal attacks do nothing to advance the legitimate debate about whether Seattle or Burien can offer better resources and governance for the chronically underserved urban core of North Highline.

    The tax issue (fear of Seattle taxes) is a non-starter. Anyone concerned about taxes should consider what it will mean if Burien doubles its population and tries to provide anything like the necessary services to our residents. Talk about skyrocketing taxes! Burien is justifiably engaged in the building of it’s own downtown core; if White Center goes to Burien it will suffer the same negligence it has endured as an unincorporated area, and we’re tired of that.

    On the other hand, I would appreciate being part of a city that clearly values and develops its neighborhoods, bringing world-class staff, technical assistance, grants and resources to the table. I have worked for many years with all levels of Seattle city government, and it has proved approachable, reasonable and prepared to meet the demands of our highly urbanized community.

    White Center is not Mayberry, folks, and annexation offers an opportunity to make some positive changes in our neighborhood. Let’s engage in a dignified debate about what each city offers, and leave the insults and misinformation at the door.

  8. As of Monday on public record, the City of Seattle sent the City of Burien a letter regarding intent of putting out a vote for people regarding annexation on the Nov. 2010 election.

    On the City of Seattle website is says nothing re: annexation. On the same site under their annexation committee it also states nothing and no meetings or conversations have been held with the community since 2006.

    I find it interesting that you present Seattle as open and you would appreciate being part of a city that clearly values and develops its neighborhoods. There was no engagement there by sending Burien a letter and not North Highline, after all we are the ones who will vote.

    This goes to show me that the City of Seattle hasn’t changed, can not present factual documentation of service levels, and does not, or hasn’t engaged our community in conversation just like in 2006. If Seattle notifies other entities of intent regarding our community and not us, imagine what type of letters you might get in the mail with intent of god only knows what.

    Do not believe the mouths filled with honey, look at the fatcs for yourself and make sure Seattle puts it in writing! Good Luck

  9. I’ll be checking on this letter – Tracy

    [later add: Turns out we were sent a copy, and have since confirmed it, and published a story, as we will be adding to]

  10. Seattle Resident Says:

    “Seattle has world class neighborhoods, and White Center will have focused attention, at the level of Capital Hill, the International District, and Wedgewood. Seattle works hard to let neighborhoods define their future.”

    That statement is complete and utter bullshit.

  11. Those of you who want to go to Seattle, should really drive around all the various “world class” neighborhoods and take a gander at how they’ve been developed over the years.

    A family member of mine lives in Crown Hill, and I was astonished a the housing density that is taking place. 80-100 year-old Craftsman style charmers being torn down for disgusting looking multi-family apartments, which are crammed next to each other.

    Remember WHY the City of Burien incorporated in the mid-nineties? Because King County was letting most of their unincorporated areas become a dumping ground for numerous multi-family housing.

    If Seattle annexes, look for major rezoning to high density multi-family.

  12. What are the boundaries of the current area in question? Can you please post a map?

  13. Mark and Peggy, why don’t you give sa a link to the map on Seattle’s web site?

  14. Seattle has world class neighborhoods? WOW, I noticed South Park and Delridge wasn’t mentioned in your blurb which borders our neighborhood.

    Well folks, take a good look over that border in the Delridge and South Park neighbor “hoods” and VOTE NO to annex to Seattle.

    Better yet, also watch the program called Gangland. The graffiti says it all and litteraly is the writing on the wall.