Council Roundup: August 16, 2021

Welcoming Week, Annual Crime Report, Ambaum and Boulevard Park Community Plan, Solid Waste Services for Businesses, Housing Action Plan, Ambaum Zoning Code, Rental Housing Policy, Vaccine Mandate
Posted on 08/24/2021
Booth at block party.

The City Council issued a proclamation in support of Welcoming Week, discussed the annual crime report, heard an update on the Ambaum and Boulevard Park Community Plan, and discussed interim zoning changes for Ambaum Blvd SW, solid waste requirements for businesses, Burien’s rental housing policy, and a vaccine mandate for City of Burien staff. 

Welcoming Week Proclamation

The City Council issued a proclamation declaring September 10–19 as Welcoming Week in Burien. The week will end with Burien’s first Welcoming Burien celebration in Town Square Park on September 18, 2021.

Rosie del Cid, Marketing and Communications Manager for Para los Niños, accepted the proclamation, saying “Thank you for letting us be part of this historic moment for Burien. Without all of us standing united, this would not have been possible.”

Para los Niños was nominated for Burien Citizen of the Year in 2019.

Resolution to Welcome Afghan Refugees

The City Council directed the City Manager to gather information that would inform a resolution to welcome refugees from Afghanistan. The draft resolution will be discussed at the September 21, 2021 meeting.

2020 Crime Report Reveals Pandemic Impacts

Burien Police Chief Ted Boe delivered the 2020 annual report on crime statistics. Boe described several caveats when looking at this data compared to data from prior years because King County Sheriff’s Office transitioned in 2019 to a new reporting system, National Incident Base Reporting System (NIBRS). He also cautioned against comparing Burien to cities with large retail operations, like Federal Way and Tukwila, because those cities saw a drop in property crimes because retailers were shut down to protect public health. The pandemic affected community policing programs by limiting the type of face-to-face interactions police personnel could have with the community. Overall, crime was up in Burien compared to 2019.

Boe also described what’s next for the King County Sheriff’s Office, and how that affects the Burien Police Department. New state and county legislation and policy changes will have an impact on operations. Recruitment of new officers remains a challenge in King County and mirrors challenges police departments face across the country.

Ambaum and Boulevard Park Community Plan Makes Progress

Alex Hunt, city planner, delivered an update on the Ambaum and Boulevard Park Community Plan project. Community members are encouraged to share their ideas and feedback on the online interactive map.

Community engagement so far has included a presence at the Boulevard Park Block Party, informal conversations with business owners, residents, and nonprofit leaders who work in the neighborhoods, and the creation of a project website and online interactive map. An advisory group is being formed to include people with lived experience in the communities and relevant expertise. Their first meeting is scheduled for August 31, 2021. In the winter, there will be a public workshop for community members. Staff are working with a local community engagement expert to host focused community meetings for people who may be less likely to come to a City Council meeting to ensure their voices and concerns are heard. The City is also hosting a developers forum so building developers can weigh in on the feasibility of the plan’s recommendations.

Drafts of the community plan will be presented to the Planning Commission and City Council during public meetings.

Discussion of Solid Waste Requirements for Business

In 2020, the Business and Economic Development Partnership (BEDP) recommended to the City Council that brick and mortar businesses in Burien be required to have and maintain solid waste collection services, and also that downtown businesses be required to lock their solid waste containers outside of business operating hours. The goals of the proposed requirements were to promote cleanliness, reduce litter, decrease illegal accessing of dumpsters, and minimize rodents, pests and other public health concerns. The City Council subsequently directed staff, in partnership with the BEDP, to develop legislation for the City Council to consider. City staff are collaborating with Recology to work through any operational challenges that new services could create before bringing the proposed new legislation to the City Council.

City Bonds Get Extra Layer of Protection

The City Council adopted a minor amendment to the ordinance they adopted in July that allows the City to refinance bonds issued in 2010 and 2011 in order to take advantage of today’s lower interest rates. Moody Investor Services’ notified the City of Burien this week that their bond rating has been upgraded from Aa2 to Aa1.

New Members Selected to Serve on the Burien Arts Commission

Marco Mazzoni was selected to serve on the Burien Arts Commission and Molly Lyman was selected as an alternate.

Housing Action Plan Provides Blueprint for Meeting Housing Needs Between Now and 2044

The City Council placed the Burien Housing Action Plan on the consent agenda for the September 21, 2021 council meeting. The Housing Action Plan identifies Burien’s current housing and community needs, details how much housing is needed between now and 2044, and identifies ways for the City to support the growth of housing in Burien in a way that meets the needs of the community.

After the housing action plan is adopted, city planners will recommend zoning changes and conduct more specific studies in support of the plan. For example, the multifamily tax exemption (MFTE) policy may need to be studied. Current community planning efforts (subarea plans) will incorporate elements from the Housing Action Plan.

Interim Zoning Code Amendments on Ambaum Support Transit-oriented Development

The City Council placed on the consent agenda approval of interim zoning changes for sections of Ambaum Blvd SW. City planners are currently developing a community plan for the street corridor and inviting public input to determine the 20-year vision of the neighborhood. These interim zoning changes replace a moratorium on development that was originally set to limit new development before the new community plan (subarea plan) had been completed.

The interim zoning standards support development that creates more compact and walkable neighborhoods that are oriented around public transit. It only applies to properties within 300 feet of future RapidRide H Line stations.

City of Burien Employee Vaccine Mandate

The City Council discussed a vaccine mandate for City employees. They also stated that all councilmembers will be required to get vaccinated as part of the mandate, once approved. The City Council will discuss the mandate again during their September 20, 2021 meeting.

Rental Housing Policies Discussed

The City Council discussed whether to eliminate Burien’s rental housing policies because portions of the code conflict with new state tenant protection legislation. City staff were directed to bring back more information for future discussions.

172nd St Property Owners Notified of Public Street Right-of-Way

The City Council approved a letter be sent to residents on 172nd St providing notice that the residents cannot restrict, obstruct, or limit access to the public street right-of-way on 172nd St. without a permit.