Council Roundup: May 4, 2020

Business Licensing, COVID-19, Community Center Services
Posted on 05/06/2020
Colorful mural in Burien reading "We're All in This Together"

Council discussed business license code update, public safety, economic impacts of COVID-19, details of the state’s Safe Start plan, the plan for re-opening City facilities to the public, and a process for asking the community about their recreation, cultural arts, and social services needs in Burien.

Person writing.

Business license code streamlined to offer more convenience for business owners

Council approved updates to Burien’s business license code in order to align it with processes Washington State's Business Licensing Service (BLS) processes. Key changes include creating one tiered annual business license fee schedule and establishing rental housing business license fees. Rental housing business license fees will be established in the fourth quarter. The approved business license fee schedule is:

  • Home occupation based in Burien - $35.00 per year ($30.00)
  • Business based outside Burien - $90.00 per year ($75.00)
  • Any business, which has zero to 39 employees, other than a home occupation based in Burien - $90.00 per year ($75.00)
  • Any business, which has 40 or more employees, other than a home occupation based in Burien - $175.00 per year ($150.00)

Chart showing domestic violence.

COVID-19 update: Public safety

Chief Boe presented information on crime trends in Burien during the COVID-19 pandemic. He stated that overall crime is trending near the same as past levels, with some exceptions, and that some of the social media conversation about crime being significantly up is not accurate.

  • Domestic violence incidence is up.
  • Commercial burglaries are up.
  • Residential burglaries are down.
  • Vehicle theft and robbery have not changed much over time.
  • Aggravated assault (felony) has increased.

He also announced that a suspect in the murder of a 16-year-old victim at who was killed at Southern Heights Park and a suspect in the murder of a 35-year-old victim killed near Highline Performing Arts Center are now both in custody. He also announced that an arrest was made in a major mail theft operation and another arrest was made in a commercial burglary case. Police continue to work with partners to find temporary supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness.

Safe Start Washington.

COVID-19 update: What is allowed under the Safe Start plan?

City Attorney Garmon Newsom II provided a summary of Phase 1 of the Governor’s four-phase Safe Start plan, emphasizing that each industry will have specific safety guidelines it needs to follow. He focused on a few key areas:


As of April 24, existing low-risk construction projects may resume work activities that do not require workers to be closer than six feet together. If a work activity requires workers to be closer than six feet, it is not considered low risk and is not authorized. Adherence to the physical distancing requirement and the health and safety points below will be strictly enforced.

  • High-touch surfaces must be frequently cleaned and disinfected on job sites and in offices. This includes, but is not limited to, shared tools, machines, vehicles and other equipment, handrails, doorknobs, and portable toilets. If these areas cannot be cleaned and disinfected frequently, the job site will be shut down until such measures can be achieved and maintained.
  • When the work site is an occupied home, workers should sanitize work areas upon arrival, throughout the workday and immediately before they leave. Occupants should keep a personal distance of at least 10 feet.
  • The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries’ Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) is responsible for workplace safety and health, including inspections and enforcement. Workplace safety and health complaints may be submitted to the L&I via paper form or by phone. Businesses in violation of the Governor’s Stay Home-Stay Healthy order may be reported via online form.


As of April 27, the governor has allowed more recreation activities to resume, but they must be done with appropriate social distancing and precautions taken to ensure safety and security of participants and the people who work in outdoor recreation. This includes:

  • As of April 27, employees that operate and maintain day-use activities and trails in public parks and public lands are authorized, but not required, to return to work.
  • As of May 5, some outdoor recreation will be allowed with appropriate safety precautions including: fishing, hunting, playing golf, day use at state parks, state public lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources, and at state fish and wildlife areas.

Public Gatherings

As of April 27, all public gatherings are still prohibited. This includes public and private gatherings and multi-person activities for social, spiritual and recreational purposes, regardless of the number of people involved.

  • This includes all community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based, or sporting events, parades, concerts, festivals, conventions, fundraisers, team sports activities, and similar activities that involve a gathering of people other than a household unit. This prohibition continues to apply to planned wedding and funeral events.
  • This order does not prevent local governments from closing parks and trails based on local public health needs.

Safe Start Plan

Washington's Phased Approach.

The State of Washington will issue industry-specific guidance and safety criteria by May 15 for businesses listed in each phase of the plan to ensure workplace safety and public health are maintained. Those business activities are not authorized to open until the industry-specific guidance and safety criteria are issued. Additional plans for a phased restarting of health care and educational activities are under development.

Municipalities do not have the legal authority to make different decisions about re-opening certain sectors of the economy. Enforcement and compliance is handled by State of Washington offices, including: the governor’s office, the attorney general’s office, and Washington State Labor & Industries.

Each phase will be at least three weeks long so that Washington has time to collect and review the data to make sure we are not seeing an increase in the number of people impacted by the disease as we modify the restrictions. The three-week period is a minimum, not a guarantee. The decision to move to the next phase will be based on the evaluation of many data sources, including the number of people getting sick, the number that need to be hospitalized, and how many are dying of COVID-19. High-risk populations should remain home until Phase 4.  If the COVID-19 curve begins to rise, the Governor may extend the current phase or move the state back to a previous phase.

COVID-19 update: Burien’s economy

Chris Craig, economic development manager, provided an update on the impact of COVID-19 on Burien’s economy and where Burien is currently placed in the five-phase model of economic recovery.

5-phase economic recovery model.

As the economy re-opens, business owners, employees, customers, and the City will need to continue to be flexible and adapt. Ensuring both employee and customer safety is key to inspiring consumer confidence.

The City’s economic development team has been focused on frequent communications with the business community and that will continue. They will continue to offer technical assistance to businesses that are applying for funding as well as helping businesses with support in adapting to a new reality. The City of Burien may also need to change existing regulations such as restrictions on outdoor seating, co-location of businesses, and other regulations that may support re-opening under new public health guidance.

There is also an opportunity to see what niche Burien can fill as the region adjusts to new ways of working. As more businesses see how productive their staff can be working from home, communities such as Burien that have a bit more room than downtown Seattle, may benefit from this new trend. Once restaurants do re-open, there is a hope that people who are working from home will eat out for lunch in Burien restaurants. There is also opportunity with the West Seattle Bridge closure. West Seattle residents who would normally go to downtown areas for shopping may choose to do some of their shopping in Burien instead. 

The City will continue to encourage the community to support each other and our local businesses [link to Discover Burien video].

Internal team plans for re-opening public facilities and services

Maiya Andrews, public works director, and Carolyn Hope, parks, recreation and cultural services director, presented the City of Burien’s plan to re-open City facilities and resume City services. According to the Governor’s Safe Start plan, customer-facing government services are not allowed to re-open until Phase 3. 

In preparation for Phase 3, an internal team is working on how to create a safe environment for both employees and visitors, and how to support a longer-term commitment to telecommuting. There was also a discussion about how the increase in telecommuting is helping the City reach environmental goals.

Process proposed to gather feedback on community need for recreation opportunities and services

Council discussed a proposed approach to community engagement for a broad spectrum of recreation, cultural arts and social services in Burien. PaRCS Director Carolyn Hope presented an approach that would evaluate both resident and local nonprofit needs and would engage a large amount of residents and stakeholders, including current and past nonprofit tenants of the Burien Annex, community leaders, local schools, local health and social service providers, and more. The findings will be used to evaluate gaps in city services and facilities and how best to fulfill them.