The Issues

July 1st, 2013


A couple weeks ago the King County assessor's office published the latest property values for Burien. We lost almost 10% in property value compared to last year. That means each homeowner lost $20K in net worth. That is $400 a week per home in losses. This shouldn't have happened. The City Manager requested Ordinance 561 to deal with the abandoned bank repo problems in April 2012, and did nothing to enforce it for over a year until pressured by the public. Of course, as property values declined, so did revenues to the city.

When the City needed an extra $93,000 late last year due to revenue shortfalls, the City Manager proposed doubling our electrical tax. This was the same time frame that the Council did the reviews of the City Manager. The members that gave glowing reviews were the same members who voted to tax us because the City Manager did not provide the City employees with the directive to use their camera phones to report these houses to Code Enforcement.

As long as this Council cannot agree on such a basic thing as what the City Manager's job description is, we will continue to get poor performance from the City Manager, and a general decline in the value of Burien as a whole.

I have attached a copy of an audit request for the City Manager's office to the City Clerk's copy. This information will help us determine what is necessary to make this City proactive in Code Enforcement, Finance, Planning, and Public Works.

Tacoma, many years ago publicly declared war on slumlords, and took action. Today, the City of Destiny is turning around, and so can we, by taking action.


I propose:

  • The Council audit the departments that report to the City Manager.
    1. This will help determine what resources these departments need to proactively enforce the ordinances and mandates the Council passes.
    2. This will put all departments on a proactive approach, not just Code Compliance.

  • Establish a concise job description that uses Washington State Law and ordinance enforcement as a starting point for defining the City Manager's responsibilities.
    1. Having a unified Council will make the selection of a new City Manager easier.
    2. Evaluations will be easier. The City Manager is either doing the job or not.

  • Define good faith effort in Code Compliance with these bank repos and slumlords as “If a problem can be seen at the posted speed limit, it needs to be dealt with”.

The implementation of these proposals will allow the public to see and have confidence that our tax monies are being spent wisely.

I believe that if the Council publicly announces an adoption of a proactive approach to governance, the City will attract more newcomers to Burien.

  • Unoccupied foreclosed homes that are an eyesore will now contribute to the livability of the neighborhoods by being cleaned up by the Banks.
  • Home prices will increase.
  • Homes that are sitting empty and draining the City coffers will find new owners.
  • These new homeowners will bring tens of millions of dollars in new income into our City. This will help ignite the business comeback in Burien. Job creation will start to happen here in Burien, and the City will flourish.


RCW 35A.13.080

City manager Powers and duties.

The powers and duties of the city manager shall be:

  1. To have general supervision over the administrative affairs of the code city;

  2. To appoint and remove at any time all department heads, officers, and employees of the code city, except members of the council, and subject to the provisions of any applicable law, rule, or regulation relating to civil service: PROVIDED, That the council may provide for the appointment by the mayor, subject to confirmation by the council, of a city planning commission, and other advisory citizens' committees, commissions, and boards advisory to the city council: PROVIDED FURTHER, That if the municipal judge of the code city is appointed, such appointment shall be made by the city manager subject to confirmation by the council, for a four year term. The council may cause an audit to be made of any department or office of the code city government and may select the persons to make it, without the advice or consent of the city manager;

  3. To attend all meetings of the council at which his or her attendance may be required by that body;

  4. To see that all laws and ordinances are faithfully executed, subject to the authority which the council may grant the mayor to maintain law and order in times of emergency;

  5. To recommend for adoption by the council such measures as he or she may deem necessary or expedient;

  6. To prepare and submit to the council such reports as may be required by that body or as he or she may deem it advisable to submit;

  7. To keep the council fully advised of the financial condition of the code city and its future needs;

  8. To prepare and submit to the council a proposed budget for the fiscal year, as required by chapter 35A.33 RCW, and to be responsible for its administration upon adoption;
  9. To perform such other duties as the council may determine by ordinance or resolution.
  10. [2009 c 549 § 3025; 1987 c 3 § 17; 1967 ex.s. c 119 § 35A.13.080.]


     Severability -- 1987 c 3: See note following RCW 3.70.010.