City of Burien Tenants Protection Meeting

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. 

City of Burien Tenants Protection Meeting
Andrea Talamantes

On March 5 the second meeting regarding Proposed Tenant Protections was held at the Burien Library. There had already been a meeting before this one the week before that was structured the same and talking about the same topics. I arrived and quickly noticed that the ratio of people of color to white was completely disproportionate to the population in Burien. I went and sat down in one of the five circles that were set up with chairs.

The meeting started with the City Manager, Brian Wilson introducing the objective of the meeting which was to receive feedback and input on the proposed tenant protections from both tenants and landlords. He then passed the microphone to Colleen Brandt-Schluter, Human Services Manager, who was the facilitator of the meeting. She began by giving the people first the question “What does the city need to change or improve for the vision to be a reality?” to talk about within their groups.

The people in my group talked about a variety of topics ranging from code enforcement to housing programs for the homeless in Burien. One of the ladies in the group mentioned the issue there is with regulations and the different effects they have on small landowners with 1-5 units compared to a landowner with 30 units. Depending on the regulations there are on all landowners the effects they have on bigger landowners may be more positive and beneficial than those who are smaller. Then the facilitator mentioned the lack of housing opportunities that Burien has for the homeless compared to the opportunities there are in Philadelphia. According to him there are about 15,000 units for the people who cannot afford to live on their own while King County has 0. He also mentioned how Burien spent $12 million on making Ambaum into two lanes instead of using that money for the homeless crisis that is currently going on.

After each group shared the key points of their conversation the Burien City Manager, Brian Wilson, began his presentation on the Proposed Tenant Protections. There were nine proposed protections, the Rental Housing and Inspection Program (RHIP), Tenant Information Packet, Just Cause Eviction (JCE), Notice of Sale Ordinance, Actions Considered to be Harassment or Retaliation, Rent Increases, Written Rental Agreement for Security Deposits, Installment Payments for Move-In Fees, and Notices to Vacate. After his presentation he asked the audience if they had any questions but when people asked questions he brushed them off and told them to talk about it within their groups. My group in particular was irritated because he ignored the fact that they want to add more units as the city is growing larger but wont use those units to help the rapid growing population of homeless people. After the groups talked they shared their concerns about the Proposed Tenant Protections. The facilitator of the meeting, Colleen ended the meeting by thanking everyone for their input.

Overall, the meeting was geared more towards making people feel like they were listened to even if their inputs were brushed to the side. The majority of the people at the meeting were white landowners, I did not encounter any tenants whatsoever. All the ideas that were being said throughout this meeting were coming from a landowners perspective, there were tenant points of view.