The proposed site of a tiny cottage village in the Burien neighborhood is facing opposition and frustration with the city’s efforts

By Lauren Bray

Members of a Burien neighborhood expressed concerns, concerns and frustration on Sunday, November 5, regarding the proposed location of a tiny home village (THV) for homeless residents on a vacant lot next to Library Boulevard Park.

About 40 residents of Burien’s Boulevard Park neighborhood gathered at the Burien Library for a city hall meeting to discuss the possibility of building a THV on the vacant lot adjacent to the Boulevard Park Library.

The meeting lasted about 50 minutes and addressed several community members’ concerns, including the library’s proximity to a liquor store; Lack of grocery store and social services in the area; The site is located just 900 feet below the flight path of the nearby airport.

“We live under the flight path. Most of us have lower incomes than people who live on the water. I feel like a lot of us are brown and black. I feel like people just want to sweep it under the rug (to preserve) our beautiful downtown. They (are) “They want to put them somewhere where others can’t see them.”

The decision to place THV in Boulevard Park came after a homeless encampment was evicted from the downtown Burien Library parking lot due to safety concerns from nearby residents and staff.

Now, the city of Burien has until Nov. 27 to find a “suitable” location for THV, or risk losing King County’s offer of $1 million and 35 shelters.

Sunday’s meeting was moderated by Crystal Marks, who lived in Boulevard Park until the house where she lived was sold. Although she is running in the Nov. 7 election for a seat on the Burien City Council, Marks made clear that she does not represent the Burien City Council. As of Nov. 9, Marks was trailing Alex Andrade, 42% to 58%, in the Burien City Council 6th Place race.

Most community members who spoke at the meeting expressed concerns about the presence of THV in Boulevard Park, stating that it could do more harm than good not only to the broader community but also to the people who would live there.

“What worries me is that we don’t have the resources there,” a local community member said. “There’s no grocery store. We’re a food desert. There’s no transportation. The 132 and 128 bus lines go through once an hour, and that’s it. So, if we put people there, how are they going to get to the services they need? Or have people come to them? People don’t.” They even know what Boulevard Park is.

The Boulevard Park library, liquor store and laundromat are located in close proximity to the planned site. There’s also a Mexican restaurant called Authenticity Mexican Food, and in the nearby plaza, Pho Teriyaki Wok, a teriyaki restaurant. In the same plaza are Dollar Tree, Flight Path bar and restaurant, and another Mexican restaurant called La Rielera. Across the street is a corner store.

Another concern for a few community members is the location of the site below the flight path.

“I looked at where the proposed location would be and what the aircraft altitudes were, and it was only 900 feet above that location,” one person commented.

“I imagine these tiny houses wouldn’t have proper ventilation or anything, and my concern is that it would potentially open up another lawsuit,” another resident said. “This is a community that has nothing to lose, and it is not difficult to start a class action lawsuit.”

In addition to members of the Boulevard Park community who attended to voice their concerns about the upcoming project, Burien City Councilwoman Sarah Moore (who also lives in Boulevard Park) was in attendance, as well as Councilwoman Stephanie Mora and Burien City Manager Adolfo Bailon.

Bailon, who said he was “mostly here to listen,” explained that once a site is chosen, funding is placed under the control of the Regional Homelessness Authority.

“Once a site is selected, this becomes a Regional Homelessness Authority project – there is no city money unless there is not enough,” Bailon explained. “If $1 million is not enough to cover the project, additional money will have to come from someone.”

Many were curious about other possible locations for several reasons. One is that since the parcel of land is privately owned, the City of Burien would have to pay rent to lease the land as well as cover the costs to actually develop the THV. If the THV is built on land the city already owns, the money saved can be used for other things, such as improving the quality of life for village residents.

“The city doesn’t own this property, it will be renting it, so it will come out of your (taxpayers’) pockets,” explained Vicki Hartley, one of the organizers of the city council meeting.

Another common concern for residents regarding the Boulevard Park location is the liquor store next to the library, which may help people with substance abuse issues.

“Unfortunately, drug abuse is rampant in the community, and we need to address that as well,” a community member said. “We need to take care of her physically in this setting with some type of health care.”

Several people expressed interest in discussing other options for the THV location.

“I’m interested in hearing about some other locating sites because everyone needs a place to live,” one community member said. “Humans are out there and they need toilets — they need access to water — so I’m really interested in other alternatives.”

Bailon was reluctant to discuss alternative locations, and Marks urged attendees to focus on the amenities they feel are essential to THV’s success at Boulevard Park.

Everyone seems to find equal ground on the fact that a million dollars is not enough for a project like this. Nearly all attendees suggested that providing additional services such as sanitation, workforce education, access to medical resources, drug testing, or security would be necessary for the THV project to operate at Boulevard Park.

“There should be mandatory drug testing to be eligible to go into this community. “There should be requirements that you have to look for work, requirements that say if they’re mentally ill they have to take their medication, and there have to be armed guards,” one community member said as the room erupted in applause.

Following the meeting, Hartley urged community members to expect the City of Burien to continue with the project.

“When the city manager said we should focus on our ‘franchises,’ I think that’s evidence that the city (will) move forward with a little home village on the vacant lot next to Library Boulevard Park,” Hartley said.

Hartley also mentioned in her email that Bellone received the offer on October 27 and responded the same day, linking to an article from Publicola Which contains snapshots of the correspondence.

Hartley says the mayor’s office and city manager’s office waited until the last minute to try to locate the THV despite knowing the proposal had a 30-day deadline and there would be only two council meetings during that period to discuss.

“The board has been struggling to come up with a solution for nearly eight months and these two left one meeting to figure it out,” read Hartley’s email. “I’m angry and you should be too.”

Following the meeting, the bus stop opposite Library Boulevard Park was vandalized. Written in black Sharpie, the warning reads, “FENT ADDICTS GO AWAY – IF I Catch You, Baseball Bat First, You’re In Trouble!!!”

The bus stop across from Library Boulevard Park was vandalized with a black warning that read, “Go away drug addicts – if I catch you, it’s a baseball bat first, you’re in trouble!!!”

Meanwhile, the Burin Overseas Solidarity Project (BOSP) is holding a “gathering in the dark and the cold in solidarity with our unprotected neighbors targeted by the cruel, senseless and ignorant actions of the City of Burin.”

The group, made up of Burien and King County residents, will meet at 7 p.m. on Saturday, November 11 at Town Square Park in Burien to call for the repeal of City Ordinance 818, legislation that would make camping on public property prohibited. misdemeanor.

“We welcome and encourage anyone who is angry about this law to come and show support, whether for a short visit or staying overnight,” their press release said. “The rising cost of housing affects everyone. We are all in this together. Let’s stop the cruelty and start working on solutions for all of us. A better world is possible.”

Lauren Bray Writer and reporter for the South Seattle Emerald. She earned a degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing from CUNY Hunter College. She is from Sacramento, California, and has lived in King County since June 2022.

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