Council Roundup: September 16, 2019

Rental Housing Inspection Program, Gangs, Micro-businesses, Affordable Housing Funds, Navigation Team
Posted on 09/18/2019
Burien micro--enterprise

Council approved a rental housing inspection program, declared October 2019 as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, discussed gang activity in Burien, approved funds for human services and community center projects, discussed ways to support micro-businesses in Burien, and directed staff to continue Navigation Team’s efforts to connect people living outside to services.

October 2019 is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Council declared October 2019 as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Angela Dannenbring, executive director of the Domestic Abuse Women's Network (DAWN), accepted the proclamation.

Update on the Coordinated Response to Gang Activity in Burien

Burien Police Chief Theodore Boe provided information about gang activity in Burien. Approximately 264 youth are involved in a gang in Burien, representing .5 percent of the Burien population. This compares to .66% in King County. Chief Boe described how the police are working with other agencies and organizations in order to suppress criminal activity, prevent gang recruitment, and help gang-involved youth.

The Youth and Family Services Section is a new unit within the King County Sheriff’s Office and will be based in Des Moines, paid for by the King County Council. The unit will focus on community problem solving, education, as well as investigations into gang activity. The unit started on August 16, 2019.

Chief Boe also shared actions the public could take to help including: report tagging and include photographs, remove graffiti immediately from private property (see free graffiti removal program), and mentor youth.

Future plans include continuing to expand outreach efforts, addressing criminal behavior through emphasis and patrol, and introducing the Homebody Industries model. Some of the challenges that face successful implementation include finding stable funding sources for partners and police staffing levels. 

Respect Washington v. Burien Communities for Inclusion

City Attorney Lisa Marshall provided an update on Respect Washington v. Burien Communities for Inclusion. The court case involved a petition distributed by Respect Washington that sought to place on the ballot a measure to overturn Burien’s Ordinance 651, directing law enforcement and City staff to not ask or collect information about immigration status or religious affiliation. In September, 2017, Burien Communities for Inclusion, representing a group of Burien community members who supported Ordinance 651, obtained an injunction from the King County Superior Court to prevent the measure from being placed on the November 2017 ballot. On September 9, 2019, the Court of Appeals, Division I upheld the King County Superior Court’s ruling.

2020 Community Development Block Grant Funds

Council approved 2020 Community Development Block Grant funds, which must serve low to moderate income residents, and be used for the following:

  • King County Housing Repair Program 
  • King County Housing Stability Program 
  • Partial funding of salaries for City of Burien staff tasked with administering the program
  • New Futures program at the Alcove at Seahurst Apartments, administered by Southwest Youth and Family Services.
  • Micro-enterprise support program to provide business development assistance to low to moderate-income Burien residents or businesses owners.
  • Capital investments in the Burien Community Center to replace the oldest of two HVAC systems, which has exceeded its life expectancy.

Micro-businesses in Burien

Chris Craig, economic development manager, provided an overview of ongoing efforts to support micro-businesses, planned efforts to enhance the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Burien, and ways the City can help micro-businesses reach new customers.

Currently, the City offers site location assistance, help with making connections and technical assistance referrals, counter assistance, and the opportunity to sell goods at the Burien Farmer’s Market. The City also provides funds to StartZone and Ventures, two organizations that provide technical assistance, training, and connections to investors for small and micro-businesses. Some of the future opportunities being planned include a winter pop-up retail experience, maker space, and additional pop-up retail or makers market options.

Rental Housing Inspection Program Approved

The Burien City Council approved on Monday, September 16, 2019 Burien’s first rental housing inspection program. The new program will be designed to help the City of Burien proactively monitor housing conditions in rental units, and help prevent habitability issues that have occurred in housing in the past.

Council Approves Sales Tax Credit to Support Affordable Housing

Council approved the City’s participation in a new sales tax revenue sharing program that was put into place by the Washington State Legislature. Consumers will not pay additional sales tax. Instead, it allows the City of Burien to keep a bigger portion of the sales tax revenue and use it to support affordable housing.

The revenue sharing program, enacted by the Washington State Legislature under SHB 1406, is designed to encourage investments in affordable or supportive housing. Cities are able to retain a small portion of the sales tax in order to support new affordable housing or provide rental assistance to low-income residents. This ordinance is the first in a multi-step legislative process to secure funds for Burien. The City is also discussing pooling funds with the South King Housing and Homelessness Partnership (SKHHP) in order to provide better opportunities for affordable housing investments.

Update on Effort to Leading with Services/ Parks and Open Spaces Pilot Program

City Manager Brian J. Wilson summarized results from the City’s pilot program to lead with services and address the condition and accessibility of Burien’s parks and open spaces. Council directed staff to make the lead with services program permanent.

The program, first presented at the May 6, 2019 Council meeting, aligns the provision of local and regional services in a collaborative way to address the camping and criminal behavior taking place in Burien’s parks and open spaces. Burien police and fire departments, service providers, City staff, Transform Burien, Para Los Niños, Burien Cooperative Preschool, neighbor groups, park users, business community representatives, direct service providers, regional partners, and elected officials all provided significant input. The program featured a compassionate, collaborative, and legal approach to building relationships with those in need of services and the offer of services and shelter alternatives.

Specific elements of the program included the following:

  • Coordination, alignment, and provision of services on a local and regional basis.
  • Establishment of clear direction to police officers and service providers to build relationships and lead with services.
  • Identification of shelter alternatives as part of the local and regional system that are available on a daily basis.
  • Provision of transportation to services and shelter alternatives.
  • Use of the Navigation Team program, Community Court, LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion), and other local and regional service provider partners.
  • Enhanced coordination and alignment of local and regional service providers including mental health services and shelter alternatives.
  • Application of existing ordinances, rules, and regulations to maintain the access, usability, and safety of our parks and open spaces.
  • Assurance that the plan complied with local, state, and federal law.

While many individuals were successfully connected to shelter and other services, there have been individuals that have not accepted services and have moved out of City parks and open spaces to other locations. The City cannot compel individuals to accept services and shelter.

This program is a small part of a larger effort to address needed housing and services on a local and regional basis. Staff are working on other ways to connect people to housing, including: exploring shelter and transitional housing alternatives in Burien through partnerships, and establishing a severe weather shelter and services for the coming winter months. The Council will be reviewing a proposal for affordable housing demonstration projects and staff are working to attract affordable transit oriented development. The City and Council also support Burien’s participation in local and regional housing initiatives, including SKHHP (South King Housing and Homelessness Partnership). 

Get Involved

The Council encourages Burien residents to understand the business of the City as well as discussions on specific topics that are brought before the City Council. There are several ways to follow the workings of the Council:

  • Attend the Monday night City Council meetings-in person, on Channel 21, or streamed online. See schedule of meetings (burienwa.gov/calendar)
  • Watch for scheduled public meetings or public hearings on specific projects and topics (burienwa.gov/calendar)

The Council is interested in hearing from residents and businesses. Ways to provide meaningful input include:

  • Send emails to the City Council at council@burienwa.gov or to each individual Councilmembers’ email address, which can be found listed at: burienwa.gov/councilcontact.
  • Contact Councilmembers at their City phone number, which can be found listed at: burienwa.gov/councilcontact.
  • Attend a City Council meeting and speak to the Council for up to two minutes during public comment.