Council Roundup: April 1, 2019

Police Services Annual Report, General Fund Forecasts, Proclamations, and Comprehensive Plan
Posted on 04/03/2019
Cynthia Upthegrove and Mayor Jimmy Matta.

Council approved updates to the Shoreline Master Program, discussed forecasts for the General Fund, heard presentation on the 2018 Police Services Annual Report, and discussed proposed Comprehensive Plan amendments.

Citizen of the Year

Cyndi Upthegrove was honored as the 2018 Citizen of the Year for her work in establishing the Highline Heritage Museum in Burien. Mayor Matta presented her a proclamation and she was celebrated with a reception.


Councilmember Tosta sponsored a proclamation declaring April 2019 as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Rebecca Drew from the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center received the proclamation.

Mayor Matta sponsored a proclamation naming April 19, 2019 as the City of Burien’s Arbor Day. Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Steve Roemer received the proclamation. A celebration of Arbor Day is scheduled for April 19 at Arbor Lake Park. Arbor Day is holiday where individuals or communities are encouraged to plant trees. Learn more about efforts the City is making to protect Burien’s urban forest at

Memorial Wall at the Sunnydale School Memorial Plaza

Council passed a motion to provide a letter of support for a new monument at the Sunnydale School Memorial Plaza.

Rose Clark, former Burien mayor and president of the Des Moines Memorial Drive Preservation Association presented information about plans to improve a memorial wall recognizing World War I fallen soldiers from Washington state at the Sunnydale School Memorial Plaza.

2018 Police Services Annual Report

Chief Theodore Boe presented the annual report on Burien crime statistics. The data in this report is produced, analyzed, and distributed to all partner cities within the King County Sheriff’s Office. The data has been consistently collected over time in order to enable longitudinal comparisons.

The 2018 data shows crime is trending downward in most areas.

General Fund Forecasts

Council continued a discussion on closing the forecasted gap between revenues and expenditures. Council also discussed how to fund an enhancement of services deemed high priority by both the Council and from feedback received during community engagement efforts. Top priorities include adding more officers to the police force, a new community center, and more funding for youth services. Council will continue the discussion about ways to fund these priorities at future meetings.

Comprehensive Plan Amendment Docket

Council heard a presentation on the 2019 Comprehensive Plan Amendment Docket. The Comprehensive Plan is a long-term plan that guides Burien’s development and quality of life. The City amends it annually through a proscribed public process. Council will vote whether to approve the proposed 2019 docket on April 15, 2019.

The proposed amendments include:

  • One map amendment request from Enzo Morella to change designation of a parcel from Community Commercial to High Density Multifamily.
  • Add subarea plans for Ambaum Corridor and Boulevard Park.
  • Adoption of an urban centers subarea plan once completed.
  • Several updates that are required by the Puget Sound Regional Council including updating housing and employment targets, updates to the housing element, and more.

Boards and Commissions Selection Process

Council approved improvements to the selection process for advisory boards and commissions. Among the changes approved: holding public interviews in a smaller meeting space to reduce intimidation and stress among the applicants, enhancing the recognition of the volunteers who serve on the boards and commissions, and improvements to the application questions and selection process.

Emerging Issues –Encampments in Parks

City Manager Wilson discussed efforts the City is taking to address encampments in City parks, and in particular encampments that have arisen in the Annex Park. This included:

  • Staff are pursuing projects to make it less comfortable for illegal activities to take place in parks. For example at the Annex Park, staff are:
    • Upgrading the existing security lights at the Annex Park to provide better coverage.
    • Moving the Porta Potty restroom to a more visible location and make it more accessible to active spaces in the park such as the skate park and basketball court. The portable toilet is intended to serve as a bathroom for users of the park.
    • Making repairs on the house in the community garden (the “green house”) to repair vandalism and eliminate any attractive nuisances.
  • Staff are also in conversations with Transform Burien, Community Court, and others to establish volunteer clean-up crews staffed by individuals experiencing homelessness and trained by City staff.
  • The City and Burien Police have increased monitoring and cleaning of the parks.
  • This past year, the City established a navigation team comprised of Burien Police officers, behavioral health outreach workers, and the City human services manager. The Navigation Team enters encampments and tries to connect people to services. Campers are then informed that they cannot be on the property, and City staff and/or the Navigation Team posts signs giving 48- to 72-hours’ notice for them to remove their belongings. Once that time period has passed, the staff then go in and clean up the park or other public property where the encampment was located.
  • The City is also working on two new public safety programs, Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) and Community Court, which will provide more proactive case management and service outreach. Community Court launched in late February and LEAD will launch this summer.
  • Staff are working with neighbors and Annex tenants to make sure they are reporting issues to police in real time.
  • Camp cleanups continue throughout our park system.

Trespassing is one of the most frequent calls for service Burien Police officers receive. It can be a challenging issue for both police and the community because the laws are different for public and private property.

In September 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals made a decision (Martin vs. Boise) that made it unconstitutional to give someone a citation for simply being on public property, including city parks, if the person did not have another place to go, such as an open bed in a shelter.

In April 2018, the Burien City Council repealed the City’s public property trespassing ordinance, meaning that simply being in a City park or other City-owned space, even after being asked to leave, is no longer a crime. If Council decided to re-instate the public property trespass ordinance, it would likely by challenged by a lawsuit, which would be costly to defend, further reducing funds for services.

Being homeless is not a crime, but Burien Police can and still do enforce laws regarding other criminal behaviors on public property.

Staff highly encourage anyone who sees suspicious activity in the parks or open spaces to report it to the police by calling 911.