From Thursday night’s meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, held as usual in the North Highline Fire District headquarters on SW 112th – The meeting included discussions of both the impending Burien annexation of North Highline South (NHS), and the possible Seattle-annexation vote in what we suppose we can call North Highline North (NHN).
BURIEN ANNEXATION UPDATE: Burien City Manager Mike Martin took centerstage to provide updates to NHUAC – first, what’ll be happening before the scheduled April 1st date for NHS. During “the last three weeks of March,” Martin said, there’ll be a survey in the area, including door-to-door canvassing, to make sure residents know what’s ahead. City finance managers will be presenting an “annexation budget” soon. Burien leaders plan to “sit down with the community and talk zoning” soon, since obviously moving into a new jurisdiction means different standards and different jurisdictions. Martin also said Burien is pursuing money in the “second round of (federal) stimulus” to repave “most of the streets in the annexation area”; that could cost up to $5 million, he said, but it’s a “shovel-ready” project, so they are hopeful they’ll get the grant: “It would radically change many of the roads up here almost instantly.”
He also said the King County Sheriff’s Office is “doing some reorganization to meet the needs of the annexation,” but overall vowed to keep a promise made during the public forums that preceded the annexation vote – “This is going to be seamless … the level of service up here will be equal to or better than it was before,” with policing services likely featuring “the same people driving the same vehicles, just with new decals on them.”
Not so seamless, he said, is the transition for the parks, following the kerfuffle over Puget Sound Park, plus some transition issues, he said, involving the new county administration. And he noted that for the first time in years, Burien is hiring a fulltime city attorney. (Side note, Martin was not the only Burien leader present at the NHUAC meeting; City Councilmember Kathy Keene was there too.)
SEATTLE ANNEXATION? Martin spoke to this a bit before finishing his NHUAC briefing: “Just buckle up … this is going to be one of those times when rumors fly.” He alluded to being a bit mystified as to how this suddenly emerged on a Seattle front burner, with a move under way to have an election in the north section of North Highline as soon as this November, since his perception from previous conversations was that it “wasn’t really high on Mayor McGinn’s agenda. … But I think the (Seattle) council for whatever reason wants to take a shot at it, and we’ll see where it goes.”
Later in the meeting, NHUAC members discussed the new twist during the “new business” section — a more formal briefing/discussion is planned at the March 4 meeting, when the point person for the Seattle mayor’s office, Kenny Pittman, will attend the North Highline meeting. A considerable amount of semi-heated discussion centered over what NHUAC could officially say/do to remind the Seattle government that it’s on record as recommending the entire North Highline area become part of Burien; the contents of a letter reportedly sent to Seattle a few years back was the topic of intense discussion between members Russell Pritchard and Heidi Johnson, until some research could be finalized, and it was determined that it wouldn’t be a violation of NHUAC’s contract for them to remind Seattle that after community surveying and research, they had recommended the Burien alignment, so a letter to that effect will go out. (While Pritchard wanted to be sure the message was sent in the strongest possible terms, Johnson reminded her fellow councilmembers that they are required to stay away from whatever could be construed as political advocacy.)
ELECTIONS: It was noted along the way that the day the annexation is to take effect, April 1st, is a meeting day for NHUAC; part of its membership, including president Greg Duff, lives in the area to be annexed. The public vote for councilmembers will be coming up in the third week of May, and an official announcement will go out soon.
HICKS LAKE NAME CHANGE? Dick Thurnau from Friends of Hicks Lake briefed NHUAC about efforts to change the lake’s name back to its original name, Hicklins Lake, in honor of Leonard Hicklin and family, who settled in the area in the 1880s. They have a hearing before the Washington State Board on Geographic Names in Olympia on May 21st and Thurnau would like to receive e-mails supporting the name change – you can write to him at:
The sooner the better!
*A few more items were on last night’s agenda – we’ll write about those a bit later.