Burien is a young city built from a 100-year-old waterfront community on the Puget Sound. With six miles of shoreline and expansive mountain views, residents take pride in their neighborhoods, actively preserve the marine biodiversity of the area, and protect their public spaces. Housing ranges from starter homes to high-end homes, condominiums and apartments of all sizes, including senior living.
Residents and business people alike love the convenience of Burien’s hub location and great connections. You can drive north to Seattle in about 12 minutes, east to Sea-Tac Airport in five minutes, and south to Tacoma or east to Bellevue in 30 minutes. The central location means that jobs and entertainment are convenient, the parking problems are elsewhere and a slower pace prevails in residential neighborhoods.
Burien has been busy rebuilding and reinventing itself. Downtown’s major arterial received a makeover with widened sidewalks, benches, landscaping and old-fashioned lampposts. In 2009, Burien Town Square opened its first buildings, a joint King County Regional Library and Burien City Hall, in a multi-story condominium/retail building. During the same time, Town Square Park was completed at the center of the development. Town Square has reshaped the downtown area into a central gathering point for the community. Currently, construction is underway for the final two phases of the Town Square development: a four-story Merrill Gardens senior housing complex and a six-story market-rate apartment complex.
Burien’s downtown serves a large segment of the South King County population. Burien is noted for boutique retail, professional personal services and a large number of ethnic restaurants attracting dinners from near and far. Burien’s unique cuisine originates in Australia, China, El Salvador, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Mediterranean, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Thailand and Vietnam. Burien’s inviting downtown features the oldest and one of the best-attended July 4th parades in the region, in addition to a summer Farmers Market, monthly art walks, excellent local theater, and seasonal festivals generating year-round activity and excitement. Olde Burien, the historic town center, is bustling with new boutiques, businesses and restaurants serving 150,000 residents of the greater Highline area.
Burien is also known for its thriving health care community. Per capita, Burien has a large number of health care providers, including hospitals, health centers, clinics, private practice doctors, dentists and various wellness specialists.
The Puget Sound Regional Council designated Burien as one of the 25 Regional Growth Centers that will experience focused urban growth in the decades ahead. The community is embracing new approaches and technology in education, health care, development, and recreation. The City of Burien parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department remodeled its Community Center for children, teenagers, and adults to enjoy, as well as growing its cultural arts programs. For many years, volunteers have supported an orchestra, live theater, dance groups, art galleries, a pottery studio, and the 800-seat Highline Performing Arts Center.
The Highline School District, based in Burien, enjoys strong public support and has rebuilt several new schools over the past decade. Educators are proud of the Microsoft certification class, a marine technology lab and the Puget Sound Skills Center. Nearby Highline Community College offers a wide variety of educational and technical programs.
Burien is a diverse community with around 40 percent of the total population identifying as non-white, according to the 2010 census. Individuals who identify as Hispanic make up Burien’s largest ethnic group at nearly a quarter of the total population. Another 10 percent identify as Asian, and according to the Highline School District, more than 50 different languages are spoken in the homes of Burien area students.
The City of Burien has a Council-Manager form of government. The seven members of the City Council are elected to serve four-year terms. The Mayor is elected by the Council for a two-year term. The City provides a range of services to its citizens with departments including the City manager’s office, City Clerk, City Attorney, Community Development, Finance, Administration Services, Public Works, and Economic Development. The City contracts with the King County Sheriff’s Office for police services, fire services are provided by Fire District 2 and North Highline Fire District. Water, sewer, and power are provided by outside public and private entities.