Council Roundup: July 19, 2021

Downtown Public Safety, American Rescue Plan Act, Airport Committee and StART, Hazard Pay, Emergency Preparedness
Posted on 07/27/2021
Police officers walking bicycles through farmers market .

Council proclaimed July as Park and Recreation Month, approved re-financing of bonds, approved new investments in public safety, appointed new members to airport committees, discussed hazard pay for essential workers as well as eviction moratorium, and approved more time to develop an interlocal agreement for DESC Burien supportive housing development.

July is Parks and Recreation Month

Council joined the U.S. House of Representatives, and cities and counties across the country, in proclaiming July as Parks and Recreation Month. Burien’s proclamation focuses on the environmental, economic, and health benefits of parks and recreation programs. Shelly Cain and her son Brandon Garrison accepted the proclamation. Brandon Garrison is a long-time participant in Burien’s specialized recreation programs that serve people with disabilities or who are neurodiverse.

Refinancing Bonds Will Save $1.1 Million

Council placed on the consent agenda of the next council meeting an ordinance that would allow the City to refinance bonds issued in 2010 and 2011 to take advantage of today’s lower interest rates. The 2010 bonds were originally issued to fund a major street overlay project. The 2011 bonds were issued to refund outstanding debt and a major street project. The City’s current bond rating is Aa2. Refinancing the bonds now will save approximately $1.1 million in interest paid over the life of the bond.

City Receives Funding from American Rescue Plan Act

The City of Burien will be receiving $10.8 million from the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds through the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The first distribution of $5.4 million has already been received. The second distribution will be in 2022. Funding must be obligated by the end of 2024. Work and reporting must be completed by 2026. Staff is in the process of identifying uses of the funds. Community input will be considered. City staff will potentially be hiring a consultant to help facilitate project selection process and assist with monitoring and reporting requirements. Staff is identifying projects and programs for funding and will present those options to the Council later this year.

New Investments in Public Safety

Burien City Council approved a $450,000 boost to Burien’s collaborative approach to public safety. The new funding pays for a business improvement area (BIA) outreach care coordinator, a storefront resource center in downtown Burien, and community response team.

BIA Outreach Care Coordinator: The BIA outreach care coordinator will be a social worker who will focus on helping connect community members with mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, and housing. The BIA outreach care coordinator will work with other service providers, businesses, first responders, and city staff and will focus on downtown Burien.

Storefront Resource Center: Discover Burien, a local nonprofit that supports the Burien’s business community, is donating a portion of their office space on 152nd St to host a storefront resource center staffed by a community-focused police officer. The resource center will be place where businesses and community members can ask questions and get in touch easily with police officers when problems arise. Storefront resource centers are based on a community policing model which has resulted in both real and perceived increases in community safety in neighborhoods where they’ve been built. This investment pays for a full-time storefront resource officer.

Community Response Team: King County Fire District #2 and the City are forming a Community Response Team, comprised of a designated crisis responder with behavioral health expertise who can accompany emergency medical responders (EMS) to help people experiencing a crisis. This new team is based on a “co-responder” model, which has shown promising results in other communities by improving how first responders engage with people who may be experiencing a behavioral health crisis or who have other concerns that pose potential risk to themselves or others. In communities where a co-responder model is in place, it has helped reduce the total number of emergency calls. This team will work out of Burien station with supervision from a mental health facility.

These new programs complement the City’s existing partnerships, including outreach and service programs, which take a case management approach to helping people find housing and other essential services.

Community Members Appointed to Burien Airport Committee and StART

Council selected Karen Veloria to serve on the Burien Airport Committee. The Burien Airport Committee advises Burien City Council on issues related to airport impacts in Burien. Diana Smith and Jeff Harbaugh were selected to serve on the SEA Stakeholder Advisory Roundtable (StART). StART is hosted and facilitated by Port of Seattle and involves community members from all communities neighboring Sea-Tac International Airport.

New Handbook for Volunteer Commissioners and Board Members

Council placed on the consent agenda of the next meeting approval of revised code that governs community advisory boards and commissions. They also placed on the consent agenda a new handbook for volunteer commissioners and board members.

The changes consolidate several chapters of the code into one chapter. The updated handbook reflects current policies and operations.  

Hazard Pay for Essential Workers Discussed

Council discussed hazard pay for essential workers and directed city staff to study hazard pay for essential workers during future states of emergency.

City’s Emergency Preparedness Plans in Focus

Council discussed the need for more emergency preparedness planning, with a focus on shelters for extreme weather events. Staff is currently working on developing a plan for opening extreme weather shelters in city facilities and will bring information back to Council at a future date.

Eviction Moratorium Remains in Place

Council discussed repealing Burien’s eviction moratorium, but a tie vote resulted in no action being taken. The Burien eviction moratorium was passed to protect renters during the public health state of emergency. Governor Inslee extended the end date of a statewide eviction moratorium to September 30 so federal rental assistance funding can be fully distributed, keeping the people who are facing pandemic-related financial hardship housed.  

Staff Given More Time to Draft Interlocal Agreement Prioritizing Burien Community Members at DESC’s Supportive Housing Development

Council approved giving staff more time to draft an interlocal agreement (ILA) that would ensure at least 30 percent of the units in the new DESC Burien supportive housing development were set aside for Burien community members. The crafting an ILA was part of the agreement Council made when they approved DESC’s application into the Affordable Housing Demonstration program.

King County Regional Homelessness Authority director and DESC’s executive director have both sent letters in support of prioritizing at least 30 percent of units for people identified living in Burien when the building opens. 

Next steps in the permitting process for the DESC project includes a second community meeting and the conclusion of the City’s design review process, both of which will occur later this summer. 

New Staff Introduced

Council was introduced to six staff who are filling positions vacated by people who have either retired or moved on to another organization. Three promotions were also announced.

Council also approved adding another parks and facilities maintenance position to help keep up with increased usage of our parks and facilities.