We will update this page/site with new information as it becomes available, so please check back frequently. The latest news is posted at the top.
December 11, 2013
Greetings Friends of Seahurst Park,
We wanted to give supporters of Neighbors of Seahurst Part (NOSP) a year-end summary of our accomplishments in 2013. It has been a very eventful year. In the spring we learned that Westmark obtained a clearing permit from the City of Burien (COB) that would allow clearing all but 8 significant trees from the 9.67 acre Emerald Pointe, Westmark's development project bordering the northeast edge of Seahurst Park. NOSP filed an appeal of the permit with the COB Hearing Examiner.
On September 13, 2013, following some intense negotiations, NOSP and Westmark Development signed an appeal settlement agreement which was approved by Burien's Hearing Examiner. The settlement agreement protects Seahurst Park and ends the long-time contention over Emerald Pointe. Planning for the Emerald Pointe project at 136th and Ambaum was started over 23 years ago but had not been able to move forward for a number of reasons including legal issues over the potential environmental impacts to the steep slopes, wetlands, and Seahurst Park.Westmark agreed to voluntary mitigation on the development by:
- Reducing the number of buildings in the Emerald Pointe development and eliminating the outdoor pool,
- Retaining more significant trees on Westmark's property near the wetlands
- Increasing the protective buffer for the wetland to over 100 feet
- Removing invasive plants, planting native species on the developed portion of the site and monitoring natives for 5 years
- Installing rain gardens to reduce storm water runoff from the roofs into the wetland
- Trail Development to lessen disturbance of the wetlands and installing a bench and interpretive signs along the trail
- Improvement of the original storm water system to further reduce impact on the wetlands
- All aspects of the agreement are tied permanently to the property even if there is a change in ownership
Seahurst Park is the "crown jewel" of Burien's park system. We appreciate the greatly undisturbed ecosystem within its borders, the forest, wetlands, streams, fish, park trails and sparkling beach. What happens to Seahurst Park is important to the ecological health of Puget Sound and our entire region.
For both sides the settlement is not perfect, but it puts in place protections for the park as the Emerald Pointe project moves forward, which is NOSP's ultimate goal. NOSP could not have achieved this agreement without the support and contributions of countless Burien citizens committed to protecting Seahurst Park. Thanks to everyone for being engaged and involved with our mission and our community for 23 long years.
We incurred substantial bills this past year as we appealed the Westmark permit, including attorney fees and the services of outstanding expert witnesses. Though Westmark agreed to provide some financial compensation to NOSP, we still need to raise funds to finish paying our debts. We are planning a fundraising house party for February or March 2014. Details will be sent out early next year and will be posted on the NOSP website. Please let us know if you have any questions or ideas for how we can raise funds and continue to protect the Park. Also, to make a donation please visit our website (www.seahurstfriends.org) to find out how.
We hope you have wonderful Holidays and wish you a very Happy New Year!
Neighbors of Seahurst Park
13229 12th Ave, #212
Burien, WA 98146
December 15, 2013: Download the 2013 Year End letter to supporters. (58 KB PDF file).
September 16, 2013 (updated September 17): Please see the Settlement Press Release (37KB PDF file).
To see how much of an improvement the new plan is, compare the original Tree Retention Plan Exhibit B (2,269 KB PDF file) dated December 19, 2011 to the negotiated final plan, Tree Retention Plan Alt 3 (2,276 KB) that will be used for the development.
The outdoor pool and original buildings A and G have been eliminated along with their parking lots, and the clubhouse has been moved up the hill. In addition to preserving far more "significant" trees (greater than 26 inch DBH) there are a large number of smaller trees that are not marked but are also preserved due to the larger buffer. The benefits to Seahurst Park, the wetlands and eventually Puget Sound really are a major improvement.
August 25, 2013. The parties are continuing to work on reaching an acceptable agreement that will protect Seahurst Park and Puget Sound. The latest revisions of the proposal are from August 12, 2013. NoSP members and our experts have been reviewing them and are preparing what may be the final set of comments and requests. You can download the PDF versions:
July 16, 2013: We and our experts will be reviewing the documents received on July 15, 2013, but we'd also appreciate feedback from others affected by the proposal. If you'd like to comment, please contact us by email at <email@example.com> or call (206) 618-1742. You may download PDF versions of the new documents:
July 12, 2013: Westmark has offered a possible settlement that could significantly improve the protection for the Park and the wetlands.
The Hearing on the NoSP appeal of the clearing permit for Emerald Pointe/Westmark started on July 8, 2013. After a day of testimony focused on NoSP expert witnesses, the second day focused on Westmark witnesses. At the very end of the second day an unexpected offer was made by Westmark to significantly reduce the scope of the Emerald Pointe Development. The two residential buildings closest to the Park and Wetlands would be eliminated. The clubhouse between them, and a nearby garbage dumpster pad would be relocated uphill, and the associated swimming pool would be eliminated. This would greatly increase the buffer between Emerald Pointe and the wetlands. To compensate for the loss of the units in these two buildings the rest of the buildings would be redesigned to consist of studios and 1 and 2 bedroom units and eliminate all 3 bedroom units. Total number of units would remain at 178, but they would be smaller with fewer common amenities.
The Examiner directed Westmark to provide a written description of the changes by the close of business on July 15, 2013. The city and NoSP are to respond by July 22, 2013. The dates next week which had been reserved for continuation of the evidentiary hearing were stricken. If the revisions do not render the appeal moot, the plan is to resume the evidentiary hearing by August 15, 2013.
In spite of years of efforts by NoSP and others to convince the City of Burien to properly study and delineate those wetlands, the City consistently refused. The cost would have been only a few thousand dollars, almost certainly far less than they spent hiring an outside attorney to back up Westmark's very capable attorneys at the Hearing. Incidentally the Law Firm the City hired to help defend Westmark's position was the same firm they hired several years ago to to argue against this very same development. In that case the City lost and ended up paying over ten million dollars to Westmark.
Our Wetlands Expert (Dr. Sarah Spear Cooke) has determined that the threatened wetlands is a "mosaic wetland" covering approximately 26 acres stretching from the toe of the slope that Emerald Pointe would be built on all the way down to the developed area of Seahurst Park along the shoreline. This is an incredible and rare stretch of undisturbed wetlands affecting the quality of the seepage and the stream water coming from that basin (used by the Highline School District Marine Science Center and Salmon Hatchery), the shoreline, and the water in Puget Sound, all critical aspects of Salmon Habitat in the area. The Westmark property is a significant source of water for the wetlands and the stream, as rain falling on that slope filters through the soil and comes up in the wetlands. The proposed modifications may help with that aspect. According to NoSP volunteer Janis Freudenthal: "We will evaluate the proposal carefully with the help of our experts. There now are a whole new set of questions that need to be answered. The adequacy of the Environmental Impact Statement is the heart of our case. Despite the revisions, the project is still in landslide hazard and wetlands critical areas. We will not be rushed in to a decision."
Please see the PDF version of the July 12, 2013 NoSP Press release (55KB) for more details.
The Burien Hearing Examiner session is set for July 8, 2013 - 9:30AM at the ERAC Center, the Highline School District Offices at 15675 Ambaum Boulevard Southwest. A decision will be made as a result of this hearing, it is not just a meeting. Please attend if you can.
On Saturday, June 8th NoSP will have its annual Yard Sale (in conjunction with the annual Shorewood Community Yard Sale day). We are asking for donated items for the sale. If you can help please call (206) 618-1742 or contact us by email at <firstname.lastname@example.org>
LETTER: Neighborhood group suing City of Burien over Westmark development. B-Town Blog, May 9, 2013.
There will be a 'Neighbors of Seahurst Park' community meeting on Tuesday, May 7, starting at 7 p.m. at the Sound Vista Condominiums Cabana, located at the corner of 12th Ave SW and 132nd Lane SW. Read more in the B-Town Blog.
Walk-n-Talk your way through Burien's Seahurst Park this Sunday (May 5, 2013), read more about it on the B-Town Blog.
Westmark's Emerald Pointe apts. permitted by City of Burien, but what about those mudslides? Highline Times, April 15, 2013.
Letter--Whidbey Island slide could happen in Burien. Highline Times, April 4, 2013.
On April 1, 2013 Neighbors of Seahurst Park filed a Land Use Petition trying to stop Westmark from clearing the land.
Posted March 29, 2013: On March 11, 2013 the City of Burien issued the first permit for construction on the Emerald Pointe on the Sound Project. Your Volunteers at Neighbors of Seahurst Park along with our legal team have been working together to determine our best course of action.
This permit is only for the initial clearing of the site. It includes the removal of 78 significant trees, while protecting and preserving only 8 (eight!) significant trees on this 9.8 acre site. They can also remove smaller trees and brush as needed. No other permits (fire, sewer, stormwater, etc.) have been applied for or approved at this time, but the applicant (Westmark) has plans to clear the site regardless. Once the site is cleared there is no guarantee that they will be able to meet the conditions of additional permits, but the damage to the area, the slope and Seahurst Park will be irreversible.
Access in and out of the site is still at the most westward point of 136th Street, between the Heights at Burien apartments and the new NAVOS medical building. Those familiar with the area know that this very narrow access is at the top of the Seahurst Park North Creek basin and across a very steep slope. The plans call for the installation of 2 stormwater vaults near the bottom of this parcel. Stormwater vaults are not stormwater treatment and are no substitute for the filtering and flow control produced by rain water percolating though the ground on the slope on it's way to the wetlands directly below. From there the water flows down the basin to Puget Sound.
Only resident neighbors within 500 feet of this project and parties of record before 1996 were advised of the permit by mail. Also of interest is that the project has changed from "market grade Condominiums" to "apartments".
We encourage you to watch this site often for updates and BREAKING NEWS!
We had a second fundraiser Friday November 27, 2009 at the E.B. Foote Winery at 127-B SW 153rd Street in Burien. It was a chance to taste some award winning, locally produced wine, learn about the winery, and to hear a talk by a guest speaker. Our speaker was Greg Wingard one of the founding members of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition. Their organization participated in the making of the award winning
Poisoned Waters video recently aired on PBS. His talk focused on the effectiveness and power of grassroots movements. Ticket were $10 per person, $5 of which goes to the legal fund, $5 pays for the wine. Additional donations are always welcome of course.
Our Saturday June 13, 2009 sale at the Shorewood Streets of Yard Sales event was a huge success. We were set up on 16th Ave SW just off of SW 130th St, near the north end of Seahurst Park. Friends and supporters of Seahurst Park donated lots of great items for the sale, and we raised a significant amount of money. Thank you to all the donors and buyers. Watch for us again next year. And if you're cleaning out your garage, please keep us in mind.
As of October 2008 two pages with information about the Wetlands and the potential impact of the development are now hosted on this site. They have not been updated, but the information is still relevant. There's a Seahurst Park Wetlands information page, and an analysis of the impact of the development based on the Critical Areas ordinances.
This Google Map shows the approximate boundary [in red] of the Project property and the adjoining area of the Park, including an estimated boundary for the wetlands. You may need to zoom out to see the whole area.
50 people turned out for the wine tasting, and were very generous. R. L. Streater put on a great show and everyone had a wonderful time. The original announcement is below.
Join us at 7:30 PM on November 28, 2008 at the E.B. Foote Winery at 127-B SW 153rd Street in Burien. This will be a chance to taste some award winning, locally produced wine, learn about the winery, and to hear a talk by R. L. Streater, a conservationist, author, humorist and fisherman. Richard is the author of "The Fishing Lure Collector's Bible" and will be giving a humorous talk on little known fishing inventions that never quite worked, including showing some of his collection. He is also a member of the Western Bass Club, B.A.S.S. (Bass Anglers Sportsman Society), Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, N.F.L.C.C. (National Fishing Lure Collector's Club), Puget Sound Anglers, NOWA (Northwest Outdoor Writers Assoc.) and the Alumni Assoc. for the University of Minnesota. He is willing to look at old tackle and lures for people who would like to know more about what they have.
Dress warmly and comfortably, the winery is chilly. Tickets are $8 [$3 of which benefits the NoSP legal fund and is tax deductible] and space is limited, so for guaranteed admittance, please <RSVP> by email or call (206) 618-1742 and we can hold a ticket at the door for you. Ticket purchases [and any additional donations] will need to be by cash or check, please pay at the door. Receipts are available on request. Guests for the wine tasting must be 21 or older. Coffee, cider, tea and cocoa will be available for those who don't drink wine.
Parking is available in the lot on SW 153rd St. then use the well marked stairs to get down to the winery. There is limited winery level parking in the alley on the south side of the building for those who can't use the stairs.
E.B. Foote Winery was founded in 1978, bought by the current owners in 1991, and moved to Burien in 1999. They started winning awards with their second vintage, and haven't stopped since. They produce about 2,200 cases of wine each year. The wine tasting will offer 6 wines, coffee, tea and hot chocolate. The six wines (in order) will be 2006 Syrah, Rainy Day Red IV, 2004 Merlot, 2004 Cab-Merlot, 2005 Cabernet and 2005 Perfect à Trois. All of the wines including the winery's other vintages will also be available for purchase by the glass (with a couple of exceptions), bottle and/or case. Mixed cases are available. Wine purchases by the glass are cash only, other purchases can be by cash, check or credit card. See the Price List for details. The winery also has a Gift Shop. More information about the winery including directions and a map are available on the E.B. Foote Winery web site.
The event was a great success with over 50 people showing up to pitch in. The group pulled ivy off of the old caretaker's house and a couple of nearby trees, removed several large holly trees, including one that was going to seed, and cleared blackberries and other invasives from two areas near the North Shelter. In one area some ferns were planted to replace them. See SeahurstPark.org for details.
September 10, 2008: Some time ago Westmark Development asked the Highline School District to allow them an easement or the right to purchase some surplus School property so that they could use it for easier access to the proposed Emerald Pointe Condominiums. The School Board has been considering the request and listened to the concerns of the citizens who signed petitions asking them to turn down the request. They spent time and money looking at all the factors involved and were ready to vote on it on September 10, 2008.
In a letter dated September 3, 2008 Westmark asked the Highline School District to postpone a decision on their request until the first part of 2009, and if that was not possible, that they be allowed to withdraw their bid. Because of the last minute notice [after well over a year of discussion] there were several changes to the Meeting Agenda in the few days prior to the meeting. In the end the Board had a Consent Agenda item to vote on the withdrawal and not the postponement. Prior to voting the Board pulled the item from the Consent Agenda so that they could discuss it. The Board members all stated that they would have voted against granting the easement under the current conditions. They made some strong statements about integrity, the need to listen to citizens, the value of the natural environment and their duties as Stewards of the Public Trust. After expressing their serious concerns about the potential environmental damage that the Emerald Pointe Project might cause, they returned the proposal to withdraw the request to the Consent Agenda and voted to allow the withdrawal.
We want to thank the Staff and Board of the Highline School District for their careful and detailed consideration of all aspects of the proposal. It is a real pleasure to see elected officials that really listen and respond to the concerns of the public. This Highline Times article has more information on the statements made by the School Board.
Posted September 9, 2008: The Westmark property is back on the School Board Agenda as of Tuesday morning. This is a change since yesterday. They will be voting on something related to the Westmark request for access, but we don't know what yet. We'll post more details as they become available. Please try to attend the meeting. We will post the supplemental agenda as soon as we can, and hope that it will have more details.
Posted September 5, 2008: The School Board will NOT be voting on the Westmark easement at the meeting on September 10. The Agenda has just been released and there is 10 minutes set aside for a
SUPERINTENDENT'S REPORT: Westmark — Emerald Point Project but no vote. I called and confirmed that they will not be voting on the issue at this meeting. At this time we don't know when the vote will take place, hopefully more information will be available in the Superintendent's report. Whatever we find out will be posted here as soon as possible. If you can do it, it would still be good for people to show up for this meeting and demonstrate that they are concerned about the impact that the Development could have on the Park. The agenda hasn't shown up on the School District site yet, until it does, you can check this copy. Update September 8,: The agenda is now posted on the School Districts page.
Posted August 28, 2008: The Highline School District is getting close to a decision about whether or not to allow Westmark Development to access the Emerald Pointe Condos using the back part of School District property on SW 136th near Ambaum Blvd. Their choices are to deny the request, grant Westmark an Easement for the strip of land, or sell it to them outright. The Board met in Executive Session at their August 27, 2008 meeting to discuss the subject, and assuming there are no unresolved issues, the decision will probably be made during the next Public Meeting.
Posted July 31, 2008: On July 9, 2008 the City of Burien's appeal to the State Supreme Court was declined without comment. The current amount owed to Westmark Development by the City of Burien when interest is included is just over $12 million. Also on July 28, 2008, and with the agreement of all parties involved. our appeal of the FEIS was dismissed due to not being the appropriate means of appeal. Our appeal was filed due to conflicting statements in the Burien Municipal Code, and the other avenues of appeal listed in the Code are still available to us. We are continuing to build our legal fund which will used to pay for legal expenses and to hire required Technical Experts.
Posted July 24, 2008: We have completed our registration as a non-profit corporation with the State of Washington. We have also opened our account at Key Bank, so donations may now be made by walking into any branch of Key Bank and making a deposit to the Neighbors of Seahurst Park. Thank you for your support.
Posted July 18, 2008: An Ambassadors for Seahurst Park: Education & Action Meeting is being held by Neighbors of Seahurst Park, a grass roots group of Burien citizens concerned about the proposed Westmark Emerald Pointe Project's impact on Seahurst Park. The meeting is Wednesday, August 6th from 7:00-8:45 PM at the Burien Library, 14700 6th Ave SW. We will report on the status of the project and concrete steps each person can do to protect Seahurst Park as this project moves forward. All concerned citizens are cordially invited to attend.
June 20, 2008: Neighbors of Seahurst Park were unable to determine which appeal process applies to the EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) because of inaccurate and conflicting information provided by the City of Burien, and conflicting information on City forms and in the Burien Municipal Codes. Under state law, the City has the responsibility of providing correct EIS appeal information for those requesting it.
Because of a potential appeal filing deadline and, in order to protect the Park Neighbors of Seahurst Park filed an appeal of the Final Environmental Impact Statement with the City of Burien. The status of that appeal is pending.
June 10, 2008: The City of Burien released the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Westmark Development Project; Emerald Pointe on the Sound. It can be downloaded from the City of Burien as either one large file, or individual sections. It can also viewed at City Hall and the Burien branch of the library. Hard copies or a CD version can be purchased from Roadrunner Print and Copy, 120 SW 153rd St, Burien, WA 98166. (206) 242-4042.
It is our opinion that the FEIS does not provide adequate protection for the wetlands, the Park and Puget Sound. The developer has proposed a voluntary 50 foot buffer and 15 foot setback for the section of wetlands on the corporation's property, but nothing for the wetland on the Park property. There is also inadequate analysis of planned grading and filling on very steep slopes, with no consideration given to current landslide and seismic hazard maps.
Neighbors of Seahurst Park is still collecting donations to pay final bills for things like attorney costs, court fees for filing appeals, and technical consultants to contest the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Westmark Project. All contributions are sincerely appreciated.
Neighbors of Seahurst Park are registered with the State of Washington as a Non-Profit Corporation. The IRS has approved out tax exempt status as a 501(c)3 entity. All donations made to NoSP after July 16, 2008 are tax deductible.
Neighbors of Seahurst Park
13229 12th Ave. SW #212
Burien, WA 98146