To annex or not to annex? Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn visits White Center

(Photo by Deanie Schwarz for WCN)
With the issue of White Center (etc.) annexation before the Seattle City Council right now – a committee takes it up on Tuesday – Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn visited downtown WC this afternoon. With him in this photo, taken in front of Proletariat Pizza, are White Center Chamber of Commerce president Mark Ufkes and White Center Community Development Association executive director Aileen Balahadia; in the background, mayor’s office rep Kenny Pittman, who has long been a point person on the annexation issue. Most recently, as we have reported, McGinn’s stance has been “we can’t afford it”; WCN contributor Deanie Schwarz reports his main comment today was, “Seattle has some big decisions to make.”

Here’s the agenda for Tuesday afternoon’s Seattle Council committee meeting; here’s the briefing document (PDF) which lays out the potential timeline for a council decision on an annexation vote, as well as the potential range of financial effects if Seattle annexed the area.

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14 Responses to “To annex or not to annex? Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn visits White Center”

  1. Great to see him looking around! Love the support. Also loved to see the sketch in the Seattle Times today…

  2. Would have been nice if he could have met other
    than those who are pro-Seattle. Seems rather one
    sided to me.

  3. Andre – one thing I do want to note, to your point, is that there was no advance public or media notice of this – Deanie just happened to spot the entourage in the business district (and couldn’t stay for the entire event, either, as she was on the way to a different assignment). I don’t know who *did* get word of it, but wanted to mention that just in case you were wondering.

  4. I have two different sides to this Seattle annexation issue, both as a business owner and as a resident.

    As a business owner, I really hope that Seattle keeps its hands off White Center. From a pure taxation stand point, business owners would be looking at much high taxes. B&O, employee tax, square foot tax, signage tax ( all of the awnings or signs that are over sidewalks have to pay a fairly decent sized tax to exist.), and for some a higher sales tax. Also, from first opening a business in King County, and then three more in Seattle, dealing with the building department was a nightmare in Seattle. King county took 1 month, Seattle took 5. We had one building inspector that demanded a check for $300 for an electrical “inspection” even though we had done no electrical work. There is a reason that the people leading the Mayor through the neighborhood only took him to some business. They were the businesses that did not have “NO SEATTLE ANNEXATION” signs in their windows.

    As a resident of White Center, I do not want the problems that Seattle seems to create. Seattle is not good with their south end, or minority neighborhoods. Take a look at South Park, South Delridge, South Rainier. Take a tour of the International District after dark. I do not want to see that kind of police “work” happening in White Center. There are people that think that Seattle annexing White Center is a good thing. It is people, mostly non residents, that stand to profit from it. People that own a large chunks of property feel that once the zoning laws are changed they are going to profit when they let developers put in high density apartments where currently only single family homes are allowed. Leaders of some non profit groups think that they can get more money out of Seattle. This does not make it better for the community as a whole. The White Center business district is very fragile right now, and letting Seattle in to pillage it for tax money is going to destroy it.
    Also, and I know this is a cheap shot, but the Seattle police have a horrible reputation right now with minorities. Many of the Sheriffs that work in this area, live in this area. I can not pull out of my memory the last time a KC Sheriff threatened to “beat the Mexican piss” out of some one, or shot them for being a Native wood carver.

  5. Thanks Tracy, the problem being is the whole community is not being represented by those who are giving the tour. As I see it they have there own hidden agenda that benefits them and not the community. JW’s comment seem to show the true feeling of those who just want to live and and make a living here.

  6. JW – Perhaps you should send your opinions to the mayor and city council. They need to hear from the other side – and the people that actually live in this community, as opposed to certain people that were touring with the mayor who do not even live in White Center. If this was not reported on the blog, no one would have known that the mayor was here. I also have heard Eileen repeatedly state that the CDA was not involved in the annexation discussion – so much for that.

  7. Naturally it’s not surprising to see Ufkes and the CDA director out on a stroll with Mayor McScwinn.

    And regarding the CDA NOT being involved with annexation discussions, that is laughable. Sinced the annexation saga began (what, 8 years ago now?), some CDA operatives had whole-heartedly supported annexation by Seattle.

    That’s fine and dandy, but they shouldn’t pretend to “not care” about annexation, when they really do.

    Just come out and say it. You want the remaining area of the NHUA to annex to Seattle.

  8. The focus that Mr. Ufkes and Ms. Balahadia insist on putting White Center is not honest. The annexation issue is about North Highline. That means Top Hat, Boulevard Park, Beverly Park, the unincorporated area near South Park and points inbetween. After reading the Mayor’s analysis, how can either of them argue that annexation to Seattle would be a good thing for North Highline or Seattle?

  9. The Mayor had never been to White Center and wanted to look around and learn more about the community and the issues that we face here, both on the Seattle side of White Center and on the unincorporated side. Some of the claims above are unfair, but they appear to be the same folks who say the same things over and over again. I do wish folks would use their full names so we know who is making the claims they are making. This follows with my theory that if we had our names on our car license plates, we would be more friendly drivers.

    The Mayor met with five White Center business owners including Mike at Mikes BBQ (they have a no annexation sign in their window), he met briefly with a group of Cambodian White Center residents and business owners as well, visited three other businesses, walked (we had hoped to bike, but his bike had been stolen) throughout the business district and to Greenbridge. He visited with two different youth groups who are doing amazing community work through the Yes Foundation, and asked lots and lots of smart questions about our community, Greenbridge, and a variety of other issues including bike paths and our parks. And then we took a driving tour through several nieghborhoods.

    The claims by some above about people not living here who push for Seattle annexation is unfair, and most who make these claims know it. But they still make these claims over and over again. Ifa lie is repeated often enough, it can become perceived as a truth. For example, I have my home here, and am raising my family here. My wife was president of the recent successful Highline School district levy. But if I respond to these constant complaints that I do live here, then the response will be by this same group “you haven’t lived here as long as I have”, inferring that if you have not lived here 30 years, your perceptions are not as valid. So, such silly claims never end and actually are based on other issues.

    Regarding the CDA, anyone who suggests that the CDA has not done remarkable work for our community over the years, is either ignorant or motivated by some other negative energies. Aileen is an expert on the community history and has poured a considerable amount of her life energy towards improving our community. She, and the CDA have helped us do remarkable work for ourselves. And to suggest that the hundreds of volunteers and employees who have been involved in CDA acitivities over the years are not White Center residents is silly.

    Revitalizing the White Center business district in critical to the safety and quality of all of our neighborhoods. That was part of our discussion with the Mayor, and it mostly focused on the important work that so many of us (including everyone here who has given of their time) have already done for our business district and for our neighborhoods. We have a wonderful community here, filled with a whole lot of talented, hard working people who give generously for our neighborhoods. Some residents prefer Seattle annexation for our future and some do not. We will be annexed someday by either Seattle or Burien. I just wish the discussion would stay on the facts; which city, Seattle or Burien has the resources we can most benefit from.

    Warm regards

    Mark Ufkes, President
    White Center Chamber of Commerce

  10. So Mark, when does the Mayor of Burien get her tour and discussion on the businesses in White Center. Next tour should include the businesses and neighborhood of all of North Highline not just White Center. Remember we want to be fair.

  11. If the mayor is on official business he should lose the baseball cap. It looks unprofessional. He was here as the mayor not as a citizen. The entire look is unproffesional. He is the mayor of a major city, not a small rural town.

  12. Dick Thurnau Says:

    It might be understandable Seattle Mayor did not want a large audience on his inspection tour of White Center/ North highline. However a reresenative from our other local organizations should have been invited. So they could pass on the information to there members.There is just to much involement for the community on annexation for them not to be made aware of happenings.

  13. The mayor was there to see how he can screw up traffic and parking with bike lanes once it becomes part of seattle.

  14. Michael Gordon Says:

    FYI – It was a surprise to see the Mayor, his adviser, Kenny Pittman, Deanie, Mark, Aileen, etc., at Uncle Mike’s Barbecue, but a pleasure to welcome everyone. The Mayor stopped in only after Mr. Pittman had eaten lunch with us earlier & I suggested it. It was a fun photo op – but no one raised the purpose of the Mayor’s visit to White Center & no one discussed the issue of annexation – not even to comment on my “No Seattle Annexation” sign. Exciting things are happening in White Center — I think folks from all the neighboring communities should come check out the businesses in White Center . . . and say “hi” to Uncle Mike!