Council Roundup: September 27, 2021

Eviction Moratorium, City Bonds, Fee Study, Ambaum and Boulevard Park Community Plans, Proclamations
Posted on 10/01/2021

The City Council held a study session to discuss extension of Burien’s eviction moratorium, City bonds refinancing, a new fee study, community feedback gathered for the Ambaum and Boulevard Park Community Plans project, and a list of proclamations for 2022.

Burien Eviction Moratorium Extended through January 15, 2022

The City Council adopted Ordinance 783, extending Burien’s local eviction moratorium through January 15, 2022. The January date was chosen so that the City Council could re-evaluate it during their first regular meeting in 2022.

Bonds Refinanced to Take Advantage of Lower Interest Rates, Higher Bond Rating

Staff shared progress on refinancing the City’s Limited Tax Obligation Refunding Bonds issued in 2010 and 2011 to take advantage of today’s lower interest rates. The 2010 series B bonds were issued with interest rates 5.13–6.13% to pay for a major street overlay project. The 2011 bonds were issued with an interest rate of 4% to pay for street improvements as well as to refinance existing bonds. The refinanced bonds will carry a substantially lower interest rate of 0.91%, delivering interest cost savings of $1,277,754 over the bonds’ ten-year term.

The City’s bond rating was upgraded to its highest level yet, from “Aa2” to “Aa1”, after a credit opinion issued on August 24, 2021 by Moody’s Investor Services.

Potential New Fees for Permits, Park Facility Rentals, and Recreation Programs Discussed

The City Council discussed a new study that examines the fee structure for building, land use, and public works permits and 39 parks and recreation programs and services. The study found that permit services recovered 133 percent of costs in 2019, but actual cost recovery levels fluctuate with development activity. Parks and recreation fees recovered 25 percent of program and service costs in 2019, while the overall cost recovery target was only 16 percent.

The study looked at cost recovery, competitiveness with neighboring jurisdictions, and equity and accessibility to determine recommendations for a new fee structure.

Key recommendations include:

  • Adjust permit fees to generate $65,000 more in annual revenue
  • Maintain existing fees for youth and day camp programs
  • Consider expanding scholarships for some youth programs
  • Increase costs for Moshier Art Center programs
  • Eliminate concession fee on sales at rental facilities

The City Council will discuss the proposed new fee structures again at a future City Council meeting.

Initial Community Feedback on Ambaum and Boulevard Park Community Plans Discussed

Staff presented an update on the Ambaum and Boulevard Park Community Plans project summarizing feedback received to date. This feedback was gathered through interviews, public tabling events, advisory group meetings, and an online interactive map and survey.

Key themes that have emerged for the Ambaum Blvd SW corridor include:

  • Current street infrastructure is hostile to pedestrians and cyclists.
  • People love the businesses that are currently there.
  • There are wonderful community assets nearby (Chelsea Park, Seahurst Park, Salmon Creek) but they feel disconnected to Ambaum Blvd SW. There is an opportunity to better link these assets to the corridor.
  • Vacant and unused parcels should be used for community benefit (housing, commercial, and mixed-use designed with pedestrians in mind)
  • Need to address potential displacement of existing communities and businesses.

Key themes that have emerged for Boulevard Park include:

  • People support the central business district, and there is much potential there.    
  • There is a lack of food access.
  • More community gathering spaces and improvements of existing parks are needed.
  • There is a lack of pedestrian infrastructure in some areas. 
  • There are concerns about public safety.
  • There are mixed opinions on new housing types.
  • There are stormwater and sewer infrastructure issues.

More public meetings are scheduled for later this fall.

“Celebrate Burien” Campaign Will Honor Burien’s Diverse Communities

The City Council discussed a list of observances they would like to acknowledge in 2022 as part of a “Celebrate Burien” campaign. They also discussed Indigenous Peoples Day, Columbus Day, and the naming of Hispanic Heritage Month. The City Council will resume the discussion during a future study session.