Council Roundup: August 21, 2023

State Crime Report, Burien 2044, Utility Taxes, Community Development Block Grant, Temporary Housing Site, Unlawful Camping Ban
Posted on 08/25/2023
Community feedback about housing issues is illustrated in marker on a sketchpad alongside a map of Burien.

The Burien City Council discussed an Unlawful Camping ordinance. They adopted recommendations to allocate Community Development Block Grant funds. They also heard presentations on state crime data, progress on Burien 2044 Comprehensive Plan update, and information about a possible utility tax increase. The city manager provided an update on a possible site, owned by a private property owner, for temporary shelter.

City Council Discusses Draft Ordinance Prohibiting Public Camping

The Burien City Council discussed an ordinance that would prohibit Unlawful Camping on public property. The ordinance is modeled on City of Bellevue ordinance 10.06.110.

The City Council directed staff to gather and present information defining reasonable shelter with distance and allowable exemptions. The City Manager explained that reasonable shelter may depend on the circumstances and the distance may depend on what is available to the person in need. Examples of potential exemptions included shelters that don’t support gender identity, religious belief, don’t accept pets, or don’t meet mental or other health needs of individual.

The City Council also asked staff to gather and present information about other jurisdictions that have been sued and the result of those lawsuits.

Washington State Crime Report Showcases 2022 Crime Trends

Burien Police Chief Ted Boe presented a summary of the Washington State Annual Crime Report published by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. The report showcases both state and county-level data from 2022, comparing it to 2021 data. Chief Boe also presented a snapshot of data from the first six months of 2023.

Key points included that Burien continues to receive high calls for service with the lowest number of officers per resident in South King County. Overall crime rate has gone down between 2021-2022, with some crimes seeing a significant decrease and others increase.

Chief Boe also shared information about current public safety programs including increased foot patrol in downtown core, emphasis on seizing narcotics and guns, business partnerships, focused deterrence efforts like the Hot Blocks program, the new co-response team that pairs a mental health professional with a specially trained police officer, and regional and grant-funded efforts to interrupt and prevent violence.

Major Update to Comprehensive Plan Envisions Burien in 2044

City planning staff presented on progress being made to the major update to Burien’s Comprehensive Plan, a blueprint for how to accommodate Burien’s growth. This fall, the City will be sharing draft planning documents, inviting community members to provide feedback. After the update, the City Council will consider zoning changes to meet the policy changes detailed in the updated Comprehensive Plan.

Staff also presented the results of two studies on housing policy and climate vulnerability. The studies were funded through grants offered by the Washington State Department of Commerce to help us meet new state planning requirements designed to address housing affordability, displacement, and climate change.

New growth management state regulations require the Comprehensive Plan go through a major update every 10 years.

Potential Water and Sewer Utility Tax Increase Discussed

Staff presented revenue options for possible council action including a potential water and sewer utility tax increase. Read the presentation online.

Community Development Block Grant to Fund Human Services and Parks Investments

The City Council discussed a recommended allocation of the 2024 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). Approximately $275,000 was recommended to use for the following:

  • $44,000 for planning and administration to pay for salaries to administer program.
  • $46,000 for Southwest Youth and Family Services New Futures Program. Human Services Commission approved recommendation.
  • $183,000 for play equipment at Lakeview Park. In 2023, CBDG funds were allocated for the purchase of the park property from Highline Public Schools. The 2024 funding will pay for the replacement of 23-year-old play structure. Selection of new equipment will be presented to community to vote on design options. The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board approved recommendation.

The City Council expressed support for the recommendations and voted to schedule a public hearing on September 18, 2023.

Council Reports and City Manager Report

The City Manager provided an update on the search for a site for temporary housing for people experiencing homelessness. The owner of a privately owned vacant lot in Burien has expressed an interest in working with the City to establish a temporary site for housing. Before proceeding, City personnel need to perform due diligence to determine viability of location. This could include research into suitability for temporary housing such as the Pallet shelters offered by King County, 24/7 security and other services, and communication with neighboring property owners. King County Regional Homelessness Authority would lead community engagement on any siting process.

Additional information is needed from both KCRHA and the City’s insurance provider, Washington Cities Insurance Association (WCIA), as part of the due diligence process. The City Council will likely need to rezone any property to allow siting of temporary housing.

King County’s offer of $1 million plus 35 Pallet homes remains on the table. The City’s responsibility is to find a suitable location. The City Manager will present more information in future meetings of Council. It will be on a business agenda in the future.

The City Manager also shared that City staff have met with The More We Love organization and investigation into the suitability of a contract is proceeding.

The City continues to seek candidates for the Planning Commission and councilmembers were asked to share opportunity with their networks. The City Manager presented other updates including high attendance rates at the City’s Music in the Park event series, progress being made on an affordable housing project run by Mary’s Place and Mercy House, the current status of our annual financial audit, and the retirement of Mike Doubleday, the City’s federal lobbyist who has served Burien for many years and has helped secure millions in federal funding for Burien.

Councilmembers shared information about events they had attended, including the Solar Punk Festival at the Burien Shark Garden and a federal legislative visit to Seahurst Park to learn about how collaboration between different levels of government went into the restoration of the shoreline. Deputy Mayor Schilling shared that he attended one of our state audit meetings and Mayor Aragon shared that it was National Fentanyl Prevention and Awareness Day. 

Consent Agenda

The City Council authorized the city manager to execute an agreement to purchase Lakeview Park from Highline Public Schools. Funding for the purchase comes from 2023 CBDG funding.