Burien City Council Cannot Pass Motion to Aid Fox Cove Residents

A Highline High School student wrote the following article. The views expressed here do not reflect the views of Highline Public Schools or Highline High School. 

Burien City Council Cannot Pass Motion to Aid Fox Cove Residents
Raymond Mercado

On October 1 2018, Burien City council members had a meeting at Burien City Hall about the city budget and approval of motions for allocations within the budget. But during the agenda confirmation, there was a motion, suggested by councilwoman Krystal Marx, to require 90 days for the landlord to evict a tenant. The meeting was to discuss the evictions at Fox Cove Apartments that seemed unfair to the tenants of Fox Cove. As councilwoman Marx had said earlier, she wanted a 90 days notice given to the tenant before getting evicted to give time to people to save up money and look for a new home. She wanted this motion to be put into effect immediately to help the tenants of Fox Cove have more time to relocate and prevent homelessness for the families. No one seconded the motion and Pedro Olguin took that opportunity to speak against the motion, saying that he would rather focus on a slew of rights than just an extension of time for the tenants.

During a normal meeting, public comment is usually twenty minutes. This time however, people wanted their two minutes to speak. There was at least 35 people on the list wanting to speak their opinion. Most of these comments came from the tenants of Fox Cove. The council began to talk about whether to give each person two minutes or not to stay within the time limits of the meeting. Nancy Tosta stated that there was more business to attend to than just the problem of the Fox Cove evictions. This sparked an uproar from tenants of Fox Cove, causing all members to eventually agree on giving the tenants their two minutes to speak.

The first to speak was a care provider speaking for Rebecca, a tenant at Fox Cove. She says that she’s on oxygen  and various physical ailments that are serious. Rebecca has been living there for 10 years, and for 3 of those years she has lived with black mold. The owner of the apartments wouldn’t do anything about it. She asked to have more time to find somewhere else to live and that she fears that she’ll have to live on the streets.

Another speaker was Steven Whitney, another tenant from Fox Cove. He has lived there for almost 3 years with his family consisting of two adults, two 9 year olds, a recently adopted 15 year old, and a 2 year old disabled child brought to them. He says that the previous owner neglected what the tenants said to him regarding the sale of the property and his requests of repair to his home were neglected.

            He goes on to say that any attempt made by the tenants to contact the property management has been unsuccessful because “ apparently what we’re told is that the new property owner is on vacation.” Everyone in the complex is low-income and “even though what they are doing is legal it doesn’t make it right.” After that, several people from the apartment complex went up to the podium and spoke about their living situation at Fox Cove. Everyone said that they needed more time or help to find somewhere else to live because so many of the tenants live paycheck to paycheck.

 Lashana Coe said that she would be lucky to find another two bedroom apartment for fifteen-hundred dollars by the end of the month. She would have to save up to pay for first month’s rent, last month's rent, and deposit. In order to get an apartment, she would need a total of forty-five hundred dollars. Coe goes on to say that  “everyone has five main problems: plumbing, electricity, mold, pests and structural safety.” She continues to list several units and their problems, varying from fridges not working to floors deteriorating because of leakage.

Evaya McAfee-Coe, a junior at Highline High School was the next person to speak. She stated that gangs are a problem in Burien, especially when there is only .1 percent of the city budget is going to human resources. If the city isn’t helping them, then of course they are going to be people that are going to do bad things, she continues. McAfee-Coe knows multiple students at Highline High School that are in gangs (she did not specify who.) She then goes on to talk about how “as long as they [guns] can kill people, they are a problem.” Evaya finishes off by commenting how the problems in Burien (i.e.homelessness, rape, drug abuse, etc,) can be helped if they had the human resources that they need. “We are all human beings and deserve more than .1 percent of a budget.”

Afterwards, several more people went to talk about other issues that they had with high density housing and moving into their neighborhood. Namely having an issue with the placement of Mary’s Place and Fox Cove evictions. After public comment, the council had a 10 minute recess. They then decided to talk about how to move forward on the Fox Cove issue and councilman Olguin made a motion to add on to the 90 days; suggesting a sort of emergency relief fund to help the tenants with their evictions. The Council suspended the rules to have a more in depth discussion about the 90 day requirement for the landlords.