Burien council votes to reject shoreline plan changes
As expected, Burien lawmakers approved May 23 sending a letter to the state Department of Ecology (DOE) rejecting several major changes to the city’s Shoreline Master Plan.
Police Chief Scott Kimerer also told council members that although Burien’s population increased by 44 percent through annexation, crime on a per capita basis went down.
Lawmakers also removed special restrictions they placed on City Manager Mike Martin’s contract two years ago following Martin’s arrest on suspicion of driving while under the influence of alcohol.
The council members rejected several changes required by DOE.
The state agency increased the city’s marine vegetation buffer from 20 feet to 50 feet and increased the building setback from the buffer from 0 feet to 15 feet.
The DOE also would require a destroyed home to be relocated and designed to prevent the need for shoreline stabilization and structural flood hazard measures. Lawmakers rejected this change.
The city’s plan would prohibit the launching of watercraft from any future public access point on Lake Burien. The DOE wants to allow boats owned by non-lake residents on the lake if public access is allowed in the future.
Councilman Gordon Shaw predicted that decisions on shoreline master plans will ultimately be decided by the Legislature or the courts.
Currently, shoreline plans must be approved by the DOE for them to be put into effect.
“This has to be changed on a state-wide basis,” Shaw declared. “Now it has nothing to do with democracy.”
Shaw noted that he had favored a less restrictive master plan while Mayor Joan McGilton supported stricter regulations. However they both had compromised, Shaw added.
In other business, City Manager Martin said Police Chief Kimerer’s crime statistics demonstrate “the perception of crime in Burien is untrue.”
“I really like these cops,” Martin declared.
Burien staff members have been studying whether the city should form its own police department or continue to contract with King County for police services. Martin indicated initial data shows that the county contract is cost effective.
Although the total number of police calls and crimes are up over the pre-annexations days, crimes per 1,000 residents are down, according to Kimerer.
Part 1 (serious crimes) are down 5 percent per capita over 2009, the last time Kimerer gave the council a crime statistics report.
He said Burien’s Part 1 crime level is in the midrange of neighboring cities.
Part 2 (nonviolent) crimes are down 12 percent, Kimerer reported.
Because of the 44 percent increase in population, the number of police officers per 1,000 residents is down 27 percent.
Kimerer did note an overall rise in domestic violence cases.
Annexation opponents cited fear of increased crime along with budget issues for their opposition to adding North Highline to Burien.
Reacting to Kimerer’s report, Councilwoman Rose Clark joked, “I’m glad to hear the sky is not falling.”
The council is expected to discuss this summer the possible annexation of White Center and the remaining unincorporated North Highline area.
Without comment, lawmakers also removed the special restrictions on Martin’s contract. On May 11, 2009, Martin and the council amended the contract follwing Martin’s April 2009 arrest. It was Martin’s second alcohol-related traffic incident. Martin was later given deferred prosecution.
The amended council’s amended contract included a re-evaluation period after two years.
Under the amended contract, Martin agreed to random alcohol testing and to undergo an alcohol assessment program.
He was also required to install an ignition interlock device on vehicles he drove while on duty as city manager.
In the new contract approved May 23, lawmakers also gave Martin a 2 percent merit increase plus a 1 percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) The increase takes effect Nov. 29.
The vote on the new contract was 5-1 with Councilwoman Lucy Krakowiak voting against. Deputy Mayor Brian Bennett was absent.