Council Roundup: October 23, 2023

Minimum Wage, Urban Forest Work Program, Comcast Franchise Agreement, Office Zoning
Posted on 10/30/2023
Trees along a path displaying fall colors.

The Burien City Council discussed establishing a minimum wage and received an update on the urban forest work program. They placed on the consent agenda of their next meeting approval of a franchise agreement with Comcast and an interlocal agreement with King County Fire District 2.

Urban Forest Work Program Reaches One Year Anniversary

City staff presented an overview of the results of new tree regulations resulting from updates to code adopted last October.  

Since the new regulations went into effect, 18 minor tree permits, 18 major tree permits, and 24 critical area tree permits have been issued. Staff have conducted outreach and education through the City’s communication channels, tabling at community events, and signs and flyers posted throughout the community.

Staff also presented information about efforts to create Burien’s first tree inventory, using Geographic Information System (GIS) software to map trees and their condition across the city. Approximately 1,500 trees have been mapped to date, with 920 street trees growing on public land. The tree inventory will help the city make data-informed decisions.

Urban trees face a number of challenges, which include the existing built environment, new development, drought and climate change, and the emerald ash borer. The City Council discussed strategies to mitigate those risks.

Information was also shared about the Burien Neighborhood Grant Program and Green Burien Partnership as two programs that encourage new tree plantings and protection of existing trees.

Discussion of Establishing a Minimum Wage in Burien

The City Council began discussion of establishing a minimum wage in Burien. City staff presented results of preliminary research on minimum wages in other cities and community engagement including feedback received from a business and labor roundtable, limited individual stakeholder interviews, and the Business and Economic Development Partnership.

Staff presented an overview of relevant research including local worker and business demographics and recent studies on neighboring cities that have implemented a minimum wage.

City staff asked for direction on policy questions and presented options for continued community engagement. After extensive discussion, they voted on a motion, which failed. The City Council requested it be brought back for discussion during a future meeting.

Public Hearing and Discussion of Interim Zoning Code for Office Zone

The City Council held a public hearing and then adopted “findings of fact” for an interim zoning ordinance that changes regulations in the office zone citywide to allow new developments that meet the definition of “affordable housing” or “emergency housing.” This “findings of fact” described the ordinance’s characteristics, how it aligns with the City’s goals, and how it would benefit the community.

Public Hearing and Discussion of Property Condemnation for SW 148th St Intersection Improvements Project

The City Council held a public hearing and placed on their next meeting’s agenda approval of an ordinance to condemn a portion of property needed to construct the SW 148th St Intersection Improvements Project.

The project has received state funding to make improvements the intersections between SW 148th St and 4th Ave SW and 6th Ave SW. The project includes adding a northbound right-turn lane on 4th Ave SW approaching SW 148th St, reconstructing the traffic signal at 4th Ave SW/SW 148th St, constructing a new traffic signal at 6th Ave SW/SW 148th St, providing pedestrian level lighting between 6th Ave SW and the Transit Center, and other related improvements.

Comcast Cable Franchise Agreement Renewed

The City Council held a public hearing and placed on their next meeting’s consent agenda approval of a new franchise agreement with Comcast to allow the company to install and operate their cable facilities in the City’s right-of-way. The new franchise agreement replaces one that expired in 2019 and delivers a number of benefits for the City including:

  • Free government access television channel (Channel 21)
  • Franchise and access fee revenues fees that can be used to fund capital projects such as the upgraded technology in Council Chambers
  • Provision (for a fee) of the I-Net (Institutional Network) service (see below)

The agreement also ensures the City the right to oversee the rights-of-way among other regulatory activities. Read the full agreement.

I-Net Agreement with King County Fire District No. 2 to be Adopted

The City Council discussed (placed approval on their next meeting’s consent agenda) an interlocal agreement between King County Fire District 2 and the City of Burien.

Comcast provides I-Net service for fiber for the non-commercial data transfer between City of Burien government and King County Fire District 2 facilities. Under the previous agreement, this service was provided for free. Under new FCC guidance, Comcast is entitled to charge for that service.

The Fire District would like to continue receiving its service through this franchise and has agreed to reimburse the City for the service via an interlocal agreement. The negotiated cost for the service is $700 per mile, plus an annual increase to account for inflation. The Fire District will be responsible for the cost of 10.31 miles.

Council Reports

During their Council Reports portion of the meeting, councilmembers shared the following:

  • Deputy Mayor Kevin Schilling shared that he attended a Multifamily Housing Association event and heard suggestions for ways to encourage more housing development.
  • Mayor Sofia Aragon shared that she was joined by City’s human services staff for a meeting with Highline Public Schools to talk about opioid use prevention in youth.

City Manager Report

The City Manager shared that he is in communication with the City of Seattle regarding the Seattle City Light-owned property that could be used as possible site for temporary housing for people experiencing homelessness. He also shared that communication is continuing with the King County Executive staff and King County Regional Homelessness Authority regarding the $1 million offer of funding and 35 Pallet shelters.

City Council gave him approval to complete a King County questionnaire regarding possible interest in hosting a crisis care center in Burien. King County is asking cities to provide information about their interest in exploring being the location of one of the five new, voter-approved crisis care centers scheduled to be established over the next several years.

The City Manager also shared that conversations continue about the impact to Burien of cuts to King County’s budget, scheduled to go into effect as early as 2024.

He also encouraged community to attend the annual Día de los Muertos event on November 3 and announced that Jason Gay has been selected to be the new chief of King County Fire District 2.

Consent Agenda

The City Council approved on their consent agenda the 2023-2028 Strategic Plan and approval of a temporary joining of the Arts Commission and Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.