Burien wasn’t incorporated until 1993, when voters finally approved incorporation on the 28th of February. Since it had remained an unincorporated area of King County for so long, a lot of people in the region have questioned the need to incorporate.
Burien dates back to the mid-1860s, when a French-Canadian purchased some land directly from the Federal Land Office. At that time, the city was known as Sunnydale (many long-time residents still call the city Sunnydale). As time went on and King County grew, residents in the area began to feel underrepresented in a number of matters ranging from housing issues to commercial property disputes. Unsatisfied with the level of oversight the King County Council offered, locals began petitioning for a local government in the late 1980s.
When it was first incorporated, Burien had a much smaller population. Then, in 2010, it was decided that North Highline should become a part of the city of Burien. North Highline was previously an unincorporated area of King County. With that annexation came 14,000 new residents to the city of Burien practically overnight. To be clear, the entire Highline area includes the cities of Des Moines, Burien, SeaTac, Federal Way, and North Highline. Only North Highline was annexed to Burien in 2010.
To keep up with steady growth and in an effort to stimulate the local economy, Burien invested in a multi-million dollar project to renovate the city back in 2009. A 70,000 square foot towncenter was built, along with 400 condominiums, a park area, and underground parking. It isn’t clear whether the new towncenter has stimulated the local economy. The City Council in Burien continues to search for opportunities for economic growth but no large projects are currently on the table for the near future. With the annexation of North Highline into Burien, though, it’s likely that the City Council will have a few plans in place for improved conditions throughout the entire city.
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