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Burien receives flak for lack of public consultation over new pallet shelters

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(The Center Square) – Kennedy Catholic High School in Burien is calling out the city council for failing to consult with the community over a recently approved pallet shelter near the school.

On Nov. 27, the Burien City Council approved $1 million from King County to construct and operate 35 pallet shelters.

The pallet shelters will operate for up to one year, or whenever the $1 million from King County runs out. According to the legislation, the estimated grand total for setting up and operating the 35 pallet shelters for one year ranges between $900,000 and $1.2 million.

In a statement sent to The Center Square, Kennedy Catholic High School said it has been “extremely disappointing” that the community was not consulted despite the numerous outreach efforts. The pallet shelter is located on the same block as the school.

“I reached out multiple times to the Burien City Council to communicate the specific concerns of the Kennedy Catholic Community and our willingness to find a suitable solution,” Kennedy Catholic High School Principal Matthew Mohs said in a statement. “I am tremendously disappointed to have received no response.

Mohs added that if the pallet shelter project moves forward, the school will work to ensure the project addresses both the needs of the Lancer community as well as that of the homeless people in need of shelter.

Pallet shelters are rapid-response temporary shelter units. Many call these units “tiny house villages.” The increased number of available beds for homeless people comes following a ban on camping on public property that the city recently approved. That ban went into effect on Dec. 1.

“We recognize the significant challenges the city faces in meeting the needs of those experiencing homelessness, but we have a fundamental responsibility to ensure that our concerns are addressed,” the statement from the school said.

Burien Communications and Public Engagement Manager Emily Inlow-Hood confirmed that the city did not host any public feedback sessions on any of the proposed sites as staff waited for the city council’s direction before proceeding.

“Now that the city council has selected a site, we are working on a plan to engage neighbors and other stakeholders,” Inlow-Hood said to The Center Square in an email.

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