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Burien City Council at odds over potential homeless shelter locations

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(The Center Square) – The Burien City Council continues to struggle to agree on solutions for its homelessness issue as four potential shelter locations are to being evaluated.

Three of the proposed sites are located within Burien’s city limits and one is located immediately north of the city’s northern border.

The first proposed location is the Northeast Redevelopment Area, which is owned by the Port of Seattle. Burien City Councilmember Cydney Moore said the location would be uninhabitable because of the noise caused by the adjacent Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

A city-owned lot on SW 150th Street is also being considered, however it is already being leased to Burien Toyota. The lease is currently on a month-to-month basis and would cease if the location is chosen for a potential shelter.

The owner of Burien Toyota told councilmembers that the loss of the lot would be detrimental to the business, as it may lead to a loss of 20 to 30 jobs and a “considerable loss in tax revenue to City of Burien,” according to city documents.

The closed down Beverly Park School is owned by the Highline School District. A potential shelter at this location would be approximately 30 feet outside of Burien city limits. King County has expressed interest in supporting Burien’s use of this location.

The Beverly Park School location is the only one out of the four proposed zones that allows tiny home villages and sanctioned camps to be established.

The last proposed location is a lot on South 136th St. and 3rd Ave South. This property is owned by Seattle City Light.

A motion directing Burien City Manager Adolfo Bailon to investigate the sites for potential use as a temporary site for short-term housing was passed 4-3 by the council on July 17.

Bailon will also be tasked with ways to utilize $1 million being provided by the King County Regional Homelessness Authority for homeless initiatives. However, Burien City Councilmember Jimmy Matta said the funding may not be enough to support the city’s homelessness solutions.

“So if we go over the budget with the $1 million that the county has offered, who’s on the hook with this,” Matta asked in a Burien City Council meeting. “We don’t have the funding.”

A motion was also passed 4-3 by the council directing Bailon to draft a no camping on public property ordinance that is modeled after the City of Bellevue. Homeless people in Bellevue must be offered shelter before being removed from city-owned property. If none is available, then they can not be removed from their current location.

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