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Burien, Washington
—  City  —

Location of Burien, Washington
Coordinates: 47°28′6″N 122°20′44″W / 47.46833°N 122.34556°W / 47.46833; -122.34556
Country United States
State Washington
County King
 - Type Council-manager form
 - Mayor Joan McGilton (Ceremonial)
 - City Council Seven at large members (four year terms): Joan McGilton, Rose Clark, Sue Blazak, Kathy Keene, Lucy Krakowiac, Sally Nelson, Gordon Shaw
 - City Manager Mike Martin[1].
 - Total 13.2 sq mi (34.3 km2)
 - Land 7.4 sq mi (19.3 km2)
 - Water 5.8 sq mi (15.0 km2)
Elevation 377 ft (115 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 31,881
 - Density 4,287.0/sq mi (1,655.2/km2)
Time zone Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
 - Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP codes 98146, 98148, 98166, 98168
Area code(s) 206
FIPS code 53-08850[1]
GNIS feature ID 1534570[2]
Three Tree Point in Burien at sunset.
SW 152 Street in Olde Burien.

Burien is a city in King County, Washington, United States, just south of Seattle. The population was 31,881 in the 2000 census.



European settlement in the Burien area dates to 1870, when Mike Kelly walked up a hill from the Seattle, South Seattle area. When he emerged from the trees he said, "This is truly a sunny dale." Still today, the Burien area is called Sunnydale. He claimed a 160-acre (0.6 km2) plot of land and built a house and a farm.

Ten years later, Gottlieb Von Boorian, a German immigrant, arrived in Sunnydale. At this point, the community was only trails and small houses. There were no roads or non-residential buildings. Von Boorian built a cabin on the southeast corner of Lake Burien and also was said to have formed the community into a town bearing his name. (It has been misspelled over the years.) A real estate office was built and soon more people began pouring in to Burien.

In the early 1900s, people of Seattle came by the Mosquito Fleet to Three Tree Point, just west of town to sunbathe and swim.

In 1915, the Burien railroad was completed. It ran on what is today Ambaum Boulevard from Burien to White Center to Seattle. A small passenger train ran the tracks and was affectionately named by the residents, The Toonerville Trolley. However in the summer, squished caterpillars made the track slippery, and in the winter, the tracks iced over. Soon the Toonerville Trolley was removed.



Burien was an unincorporated portion of King County prior to February 28, 1993, when it incorporated as a city. There had been previous attempts to incorporate the greater Burien area, but those efforts failed. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, citizens felt they needed a more responsive government to help address the looming threat of the Port of Seattle's runway expansion to the west (known as the "Third Runway"), so an effort was again made to incorporate as a city.

Citizens also felt that multi-family apartments and dwellings had proliferated out of control in Burien and other unincorporated areas of King County, and that they had no local voice in government (other than the King County Council) that would hear their concerns. The residents of the area desired a government who could help curb the rapid development of mulit-family apartment buildings, which some felt had gone un-checked under King County's government.


Late in 2004, the City was assessing the possibility of annexing North Highline (which includes White Center and Boulevard Park), "one of the largest urban unincorporated areas of King County," which would double the size of Burien. Many citizens have spoken against the annexation and have created picket signs and petitions to protest against it. Other citizens welcome the expansion, as they feel parts of the so-called "North Highline" area should have been part of the original Burien incorporation, and the area in question is part of the larger "Highline" area. The Highline area includes the cities of Burien, Seatac, Des Moines, Federal Way and the unincorporated area called "North Highline."

In May 2008, the Burien City Council proposed an annexation of the southern portion of North Highline, comprising 14,000 residents. In late summer of 2008, the City of Burien prepared to submit their annexation proposal to King County's Boundary Review Board. However after the City of Seattle protested Burien's proposal, Burien opted to withdraw their annexation plan, and then re-submit it to the Boundary Review Board after new countywide planning policies went into effect.

In October 2008, the Burien City Council voted to re-submit their annexation plan to the county Boundary Review Board. However, the cities of Burien and Seatle, along with King County and other stakeholders, have participated and completed mediation to ensure the interests of all parties involved are met. Affected stakeholders had preliminarily agreed to an annexation framework that would've stipulated how annexation would play-out between the cities of Burien and Seattle and with King County, however the Seattle City Council voted against the agreement in February. The City of Seattle—largely driven by the executive side—had intended to annex the northern portion of the North Highline Area. It is not known if Seattle has any future plans for annexation of any part of the North Highline area.

On April 16, 2009, the Boundary Review Board of King County approved Burien's proposal for annexation of the southern portion of the North Highline area.

In early May 2009, both King County and the City of Burien passed resolutions to place an annexation vote on the August 18th primary election. The annexation area being voted on has an area that is around 1600 acres and approximately 14,000 citizens. The vote needs only a simple majority to pass.

Current Burien

Burien's downtown area is currently undergoing several renovations scheduled for completion in 2009. In addition, a new towncenter is under construction that will include 70,000 square feet (7,000 m2) of retail space, more than 400 condominiums with a plaza/park area in the middle plus underground parking.

The city is served by the Highline Times (est.1945), a community weekly newspaper owned by Robinson Newspapers. It is a subscriber-based publication with limited free distribution.


Burien contracts with the King County Sheriff's Office for police services. Deputies assigned to Burien wear city uniforms and drive patrol cars marked with the city logo. There are currently 41 patrol officers, detectives, support personnel and a chief assigned full time to the city.

Government and infrastructure

The United States Postal Service operates the Burien Post Office and the Seahurst Post Office.[3][4]


Primary and secondary schools

Burien is served by the Highline School District and is home to Highline High School and Sylvester Middle School in addition to several elementary schools.

It is also the home of many Catholic schools, including John F. Kennedy Memorial High School, St. Francis of Assisi Elementary School, and St. Bernadette Elementary School.

Public libraries

Old Burien Library

King County Library System operates the Burien Library.[5] The current 32,000 square foot facility opened on Saturday June 13, 2009.[6]


Aerial view of Burien, with Three Tree Point and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Burien is located at 47°28′6″N 122°20′44″W / 47.46833°N 122.34556°W / 47.46833; -122.34556 (47.468221, -122.345491)[7].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 13.2 square miles (34.2 km²), of which, 7.4 square miles (19.3 km²) of it is land and 5.8 square miles (15.0 km²) of it (43.80%) is water.


Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1940 1,537
1990 25,089
2000 31,881 27.1%
Est. 2008 31,316 −1.8%

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 31,881 people, 13,399 households, and 8,066 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,287.0 people per square mile (1,654.5/km²). There were 13,898 housing units at an average density of 1,868.9/sq mi (721.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 75.74% White, 5.14% African American, 1.29% Native American, 7.00% Asian, 1.16% Pacific Islander, 5.40% from other races, and 4.28% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.66% of the population.

There were 13,399 households out of which 27.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.5% were married couples living together, 11.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.8% were non-families. 32.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 2.98.

In the city the population was spread out with 22.8% under the age of 18, 8.0% from 18 to 24, 30.8% from 25 to 44, 24.7% from 45 to 64, and 13.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 96.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $41,577, and the median income for a family was $53,814. Males had a median income of $39,248 versus $29,694 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,737. About 6.9% of families and 9.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.1% of those under age 18 and 6.1% of those age 65 or over.

In the 2004 US presidential election, Burien cast 63.07% of its vote for Democrat John Kerry[2].


Burien Transit Center

King County Metro operates public transportation services. The Burien Transit Center began construction in July 2008 and finished in June 2009.[8]


External links


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