Even though we’ve had to meet via Zoom for the past year, we’ve continued working hard to serve you and our city. Since last November, we’ve made policy decisions that will help Burien navigate a tough economic climate and help our community recover.
In December, we approved a balanced budget for the next two years. Even before the pandemic, revenues were projected to be lower this biennium due to the loss of the sales tax annexation credit. The economic downturn means the city has even less revenue to support city services, which means we have had to make hard choices. Despite a more limited budget, however, we have passed new laws and approved city work programs that will benefit Burien now and in the future.
As a region, we are facing an affordable housing crisis and increased housing and food insecurity. We approved approximately $330,000 in funding to human services agencies addressing housing, family violence, health, living wage jobs, early childhood education, and youth success. We are discussing a Housing Action Plan that will determine zoning code changes and other investments to support the next twenty years of housing needs. In 2021, we will be setting the stage for significant updates to our Comprehensive Plan, including the establishment of employment and housing targets through 2044.
The effects of climate change are being felt today, with more frequent and severe winter storms and drier summers. Council approved the Green Burien Partnership Urban Forest Stewardship Plan, which sets an ambitious goal of gaining 40 percent tree cover by 2038. We will be tackling our tree regulations to ensure we protect our existing tree canopy. We will also be engaging with staff on their progress on the Burien Climate Action Plan and encourage residents to get involved with that planning process.
Councilmembers, in partnership with the Burien Airport Committee, have made significant progress in advocating for more protection for Burien residents from the negative impacts of our proximity to Sea-Tac Airport. This includes contributing funding to a University of Washington study of HVAC systems that may improve indoor air quality in Burien schools, participating in Seattle-Tacoma Airport Stakeholder Advisory Round Table (StART), and advocating with our federal legislators to pass legislation that protects the Burien community.
We also are adopting policies that ensure government services lead with equity, including the development of a Native land acknowledgment, requesting more inclusive language be used in official documents, and for the first time in Burien’s history, formally acknowledging cultural heritage months such as Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month.
We will continue to strongly advocate for pandemic relief at the state and national level and will support the distribution of relief funds as they become available. We are encouraging staff to work with partners to ensure the vaccine is distributed to Burien residents in a timely and equitable manner. When it’s our turn, we will all be getting vaccinated, without hesitation.
2021 will be the year we advance many long-standing policies that have been of top concern to our residents. Public safety conversations will continue, but for now we are waiting to see what emerges out of state and county efforts to increase police transparency and accountability.
We want to hear from you as we wrestle with these difficult and complex issues. We have hope that by working together, we can build a brighter future for Burien.
While the pandemic has made it harder for us to meet in person, there are still ways to stay involved. Find information on how to contact us, attend council meetings, read summaries of past council meetings, and more.
Ordinances, Resolutions, and Proclamations
Burien City Council passed the following ordinances, resolutions, and proclamations between October and March.
Ordinances: Council passed Ordinance Nos. 747–757. The ordinances covered many topics including approval of the 2021–22 biennial budget, zoning code amendments to allow legacy storefronts in residential neighborhoods, Comprehensive Plan amendments, and grocery worker pandemic hazard pay.
Resolutions: Council passed Resolution Nos. 436–451. The resolutions covered many topics including sale of municipal property for a multi-housing development in downtown Burien, pandemic-related amendments to the plastic bag ban and compostable serviceware ordinance, support for federal and state initiatives to allow remitters that transfer funds to “high-risk” countries be allowed to hold bank accounts in Washington state, new business license and rental housing license fees, approval of a Habitat for Humanity affordable housing development, and approval of the Green Burien Partnership Urban Forest Stewardship Plan.
Proclamations: Council issued six proclamations on a wide range of topics including citizens of the year, Affordable Housing Week, Human Trafficking Awareness Month, Black History Month, and Women’s History Month.
Burien City Council
As the City's governing body, Burien's seven elected City Councilmembers establish City policies and laws, adopt an annual budget, approve appropriations, contract for services, and grant franchises. City Councilmembers serve staggered four-year terms; roughly half the Council is up for election every two years. All Councilmembers are "at-large" meaning that they serve the City as a whole as opposed to a specific district.
The City Council chooses a Mayor and Deputy Mayor from among its members at the first meeting of the new year following an election. The Mayor presides at Council meetings and represents the City at ceremonial functions and inter-governmental meetings. The Deputy Mayor presides in the Mayor's absence.