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Infrastructure

The City of Burien is re-imagining the long-term future of our city through a coordinated planning effort combining major updates to the Comprehensive Plan, a new Transportation Master Plan, and an update to the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan.

Specifically, this planning process focuses on land use, economic development, human services, environmental protection, infrastructure, transportation, parks and open spaces, recreation programs, public art, and cultural services.

Results of this planning effort will guide policymaking, operational plans, and budgets for the next twenty years. It’s vital that community voice guides these important planning processes.


Comprehensive Plan

The City of Burien is embarking on a major update to its Comprehensive Plan. This effort will help Burien plan and build for the next few decades. Planning for this growth helps us build a city with an equitable, sustainable, and healthy future.    

Transportation Master Plan

The Transportation Master Plan helps determine our community’s current and future transportation needs, guiding how we invest in transportation over the next 20 years.

Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan

The Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan is a six-year strategic plan for the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department. The plan will look at the existing conditions, identify gaps in facilities and programs, and offer strategies, projects, and programs to address those gaps.

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Project Contact

Susan McLain, Community Development Director, Comprehensive Plan

Maiya Andrews, Public Works Director, Transportation Master Plan

Carolyn Hope, PaRCS Director, Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan

SYC@burienwa.gov

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Project Timeline

August-November 2022

Community Visioning

Develop a shared vision to guide planning and policy development.

November 2022-March 2023

Draft Strategies and Projects

Staff will communicate what we have heard to date and present draft strategies and projects for feedback.

May 2023-November 2023

Plan Development

Community will provide feedback on draft plans.

November 2023-March 2024

Legislative Process

Plans go before Burien City Council for review and approval. Public comment accepted.

March 2024

Plans Adopted

PROS Plan and TMP Plan adopted and incorporated into other updates to the Comprehensive Plan.

The City of Burien is developing a Stormwater Management Action Plan (SMAP) to improve water conditions for fish and wildlife in Miller Creek. The SMAP will identify steps the City can take to reduce the harmful effects of stormwater runoff.

After assessing the conditions of all the streams in Burien and asking the community to help staff and environmental experts prioritize one stream that could benefit most by reducing the harmful effects of stormwater runoff, our focus turned to the Downtown catchment of Miller Creek. Once the community helped to narrow down solutions to improve water quality there, we developed specific solutions and an implementation plan for review.

The draft SMAP will be available for review and comment in February 2023.

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There are several ways you can get involved with this project:


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Project Contact

Dan O’Brien, Stormwater Engineer

publicworks@burienwa.gov

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Background Information

Burien’s Salmon Creek, Walker Creek, and Miller Creek were once abundant with salmon and trout. Decades of development have led to worsening conditions for fish and wildlife. Environmental conditions in Burien are significantly different today compared to historic conditions that supported large and healthy fish populations.

Historically, forests soaked up rain where it fell. As more people moved to the area, forests were cleared for homes, businesses, and roads. In the past, development worsened water quality due to a lack of stormwater management. Current regulations require development to follow strict stormwater design standards to mimic pre-developed (forested) conditions to manage stormwater runoff.

The Stormwater Management Action Plan (SMAP) will provide a way to prioritize projects and be intentional about which streams are prioritized for protection and restoration. The projects and other improvements developed in this plan will go a long way to restore the water quality and habitat lost from decades of past development.

Developing a stormwater action plan is a new state requirement from the Washington State Department of Ecology for the City to maintain its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Municipal Stormwater Permit.  

Miller Creek Key Facts

It’s estimated between 1,000 and 2,000 salmon and cutthroat trout could have spawned each year under historic conditions in Miller and Walker Creeks. Today there are several fish barriers that prevent salmon and trout from reaching the upper portions of Miller Creek. Since spawning salmon monitoring began in 2010, the number of salmon in Miller Creek has dramatically declined from a high of 420 in 2011 to only 32 in 2021.

Key facts:

  • 5.1 square miles, or 69%, of the total watershed is within Burien city limits.
  • The lower portions of Miller Creek are considered moderately important for fish, and the upper portions are designated as low importance as compared to other streams in the Puget Sound region, according to a regional study called the Puget Sound Watershed Characterization.
  • Compared to the other watersheds in Burien, the Miller Creek watershed is not as well served by stormwater management facilities.
  • There are many roads considered to be highly polluting including Ambaum Blvd SW, SW 152nd St, SW 148th St, SW 128th St, 1st Ave S, and SR 509.
  • In the Miller Creek watershed, the Downtown, Evansville, and Sunnydale neighborhoods have fewer parks, fewer trees, and more people who are from communities that have historically been left out of or harmed by urban planning processes, and therefore experience disproportionate environmental harms and risks.
  • Learn more by downloading the receiving water conditions assessment and receiving water prioritization report.
Watershed Map

The SMAP is being developed for the Downtown catchment of the Miller Creek basin, seen below in orange.

Proposed SMAP Solutions for Downtown Burien

The SMAP will guide solutions in Downtown Burien to improve water quality in Miller Creek. In August 2022 the community was asked to provide feedback on the types of solutions proposed for the Downtown catchment. Based on the community feedback and discussions with other City departments seven solutions were developed. Each of the solutions is supported by numerous regional studies and City-wide plans.

Three of the proposed SMAP solutions are stormwater projects, as seen in the map below. These projects either upgrade existing stormwater facilities or add new facilities to manage existing development.

  1. The first project will upgrade Ambaum Regional Pond, which currently holds stagnant and milky water that discharges into Miller Creek (labeled on the map as CIP-1). Nearly all stormwater in the Downtown catchment flows through Ambaum Regional Pond in the southern portion of the catchment. The project will provide enhanced water quality treatment for the polluted runoff from the Downtown catchment and allow the pond to drain more frequently.
  2. The second project will construct a new in-ground planter (bioretention facility) at Dottie Harper Park (CIP-2). This facility will provide water quality treatment and restore flows for stormwater runoff from two roads.
  3. The third project will add small dispersed water quality treatment facilities in the alley between SW 152nd Street and SW 153rd Street (CIP-3). These facilities will provide water quality treatment for stormwater runoff from roadways and commercial parking lots.

Two of the proposed SMAP solutions are land management programs. Both land management programs would be voluntarily implemented on private property. The first program, the Green Stormwater Infrastructure Program, would incentivize private property owners to replace impervious surfaces (such as parking stalls), planters, and other features with bioretention facilities, tree planters, or other vegetated stormwater facilities. The second land management program, the Impervious Surface Reduction Program, builds on an existing City program that incentivizes development and redevelopment projects to include public benefits. If the program were to be implemented, development and redevelopment projects would be incentivized to reduce the amount of impervious surface on their site by allowing additional building height. 

An improved approach to stormwater facility maintenance will be outlined in the SMAP for the City’s stormwater program based on asset management principles. Improved data management will help prioritize stormwater facilities that need the most maintenance. Updating maintenance criteria and levels of service by type of stormwater management facility will streamline maintenance.

The final proposed SMAP solution is a water quality monitoring program. The monitoring program would install a permanent water quality monitoring site in the Downtown catchment which would gather continuous data. City staff, or volunteers, would also collect regular samples throughout the year. This program would allow the City to track progress in the Downtown Tributary, ensure the City is maximizing its investments, and would inform adaptive management of Miller Creek.

The SMAP includes an implementation plan for these solutions and more. The implementation plan is divided into short-term actions (years 1-6) and long-term actions (years 7-20). The short-term recommendations are the seven preferred solutions. The long-term recommendations would be implemented as Burien’s urban center redevelops and as opportunities to partner with transportation projects, parks projects, and private landowners arise. Long-term SMAP actions would be guided by water quality monitoring and adaptive management. Adaptive management would allow the City to use resources efficiently in response to new information. Some long-term project locations have been identified and can be seen on the map below.

To learn more about the SMAP, you can review the map and video below. You can also review the results from the community survey.

The draft SMAP for Downtown Burien will be available for review and comment in February 2023.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is stormwater?

Stormwater runoff is generated from rain and snowmelt events that flow over land or impervious surfaces, such as paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops, and does not soak into the ground. The runoff picks up pollutants like trash, chemicals, oils, and dirt/sediment that can harm our rivers, streams, lakes, and coastal waters (also known as receiving waters).

What is a watershed?

A watershed is an area of land where all rainfall and snow melt drains to a common stream or waterbody, such as a lake or Puget Sound.

What is a catchment (also called subbasin)?

For our purposes, a catchment is a portion of a watershed and is between approximately 400 and 600 acres.    

What is stormwater management?

Stormwater management is the process of controlling stormwater runoff with the goal of detaining stormwater and removing pollutants.

What is a stormwater project?

Stormwater projects reduce stormwater runoff and prevent harmful chemicals, toxins, and wastes from coming into contact with our local bodies of water.

What is stormwater management influence?

How much of an improvement within a specific area the City can make to water quality through the projects and actions developed in this plan. For example, an area with many stormwater treatment facilities and detention ponds would have a LOWER stormwater management influence score than an area without these, since much of the stormwater is already being treated.

What is the Stormwater Management Action Plan?

SMAP is a comprehensive stormwater planning process required by the Washington State Department of Ecology. The SMAP process prioritizes stormwater investments and actions in a selected catchment to accommodate future growth in a way that minimizes impacts on receiving waters. A catchment is typically between 400 and 600 acres.

Why is the City only focusing on one stream?

The goal of this process is to identify several smaller areas (catchments) within one stream basin that would benefit most from the new stormwater management projects and activities. This will help focus our limited budget and staffing to make the best improvements possible. This will not prevent the City from completing projects in other parts of Burien, but it will allow staff to better compare the benefits of one project over another.

How did the City come up with the values and environmental goals for the projects?

The City’s Climate Action Plan, the Green Burien Urban Forest Stewardship Plan, the Comprehensive Plan, the Urban Center Plan, responses to the 2022 Community Assessment Survey, and technical information were reviewed to come up with values and environmental goals for project types that are feasible in the Downtown catchment.

Project Timeline

The stormwater management action plan will be developed through the following steps:

January-March 2022

Phase 1: Assess Streams

Each stream in Burien was assessed to understand fish presence, water quality, and areas where there are opportunities for the City to install water quality improvement projects.

May-June 2022

Phase 2: Prioritize a Stream

With your help, we prioritized the downtown catchment of Miller Creek for protection and restoration.

July-October 2022

Phase 3: Prioritize Projects

The community is being asked what types of stormwater projects and programs they’d like to see in the Downtown neighborhood. Feedback from the community and discussions with other City departments were used to develop projects and programs.

October 2022-March 2023

Phase 4: Develop the Plan

The City is developing the Stormwater Management Action Plan which will help guide investments and actions to water quality in Miller Creek.

March 2023

Scheduled Completion Date

The City of Burien is embarking on a major update to it Comprehensive Plan. This effort will help Burien plan and build for the next few decades. Planning for this growth helps us build a City with an equitable, sustainable, and healthy future. The Comprehensive Plan covers many topics including land use and zoning, economic development, public services, environmental protection, and infrastructure, meeting the community’s needs and reflecting the community’s vision.   

Get Involved

There are several ways you can get involved:

  • Mark your calendars for one of our upcoming events.
  • Subscribe to email updates using the form on this page.
  • Send your thoughts to the Planning Commission via email.

Upcoming Events

Subscribe to Updates

Project Contact

Susan McLain, Community Development Director

SYC@burienwa.gov

Latest News

Background Information

The Comprehensive Plan update will:

  • Identify and implement the community’s vision and priorities
  • Extend Burien’s planning horizon to 2044
  • Comply with the State’s Growth Management Act and regional planning requirements
  • Incorporate updates from Transportation Master Plan and Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan, which set infrastructure priorities for the next 6–20 years

Comprehensive Plan Focus Areas

The Comprehensive Plan update will focus on the following:

  • Integration of equity into the planning and engagement process and policy development
  • Housing to meet state requirements and local household needs for affordable ownership and rental housing, especially “missing middle” housing
  • Employment opportunities and jobs capacity to meet growth targets and improve jobs-housing balance
  • Regulations and incentives to realize Burien’s vision for mixed uses, gathering spaces, affordable housing, and job opportunities in Downtown, 1st Ave, Five Corners
  • Avoiding and addressing displacement risks for housing and jobs
  • Equitable access to parks, recreation, and services
  • Supporting transportation by all modes including active transportation like pedestrian and bike facilities, long-term maintenance, and capital investments
  • Airport policies and compatibility
  • Healthy communities promoting clean air and water, trees, and noise management
  • Climate resilience to adapt and protect our places and people from extreme heat, flooding or sea level rise
  • Critical areas (streams, wetlands) restoration and green infrastructure (like rain gardens)
  • Human services and meeting people’s needs
  • Creating effective, streamlined, and implementable plans that guide and direct development and investment
Frequently Asked Questions
  • What is a Comprehensive Plan?
    A Comprehensive Plan guides Burien’s physical development over 20 or more years including desires for housing and job growth, community character, capital investments in infrastructure and services, and policies and regulations. The Plan is informed by and addresses community values and needs.
  • How will this affect me?
    An updated Comprehensive Plan can impact housing choices, the location of jobs, walking/biking/car mobility, parks and recreation opportunities, and overall public services. The Comprehensive Plan and updated policies can help all of Burien.
  • Why do we have to accept growth?
    In Washington State laws and policies determine that growth be directed to some areas and away from others. Burien is in an urban area that will always have growth directed to it, and we’re required to accommodate the growth distributed to our city while protecting critical areas and providing for parks and open space.  Growing “up not out” helps protect regional natural resources like farmlands and forests.
  • Why are we updating the Plan now? Why not wait?
    The GMA requires Comprehensive Plans to be updated periodically. The State deadline is December 31, 2024. Also, updating housing, transportation, economic development and other elements can meet critical community needs.
  • When will there be community engagement for the Comprehensive Plan?
    Burien has developed multiple ways for the community to be involved in this update. We are trying to make sure we are reaching people where they are at and making it easy to participate in this process. 
Environmental Impact Statement

The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is an environmental review of growth alternatives to help guide community discussion on growth options and priorities. The Environmental review for the Comprehensive Plan update will meet the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) requirements and will consist of a number of natural and built environment elements.

The environmental review will be shared with the community in draft and final stages of the Comprehensive Plan.

Project Timeline

Fall 2022

Community Visioning

Winter 2023

Preliminary Plan Development and Environmental Impact Statement

Spring 2023

Preliminary Urban Center Code Development

Summer 2023

Draft Plan and Environmental Impact Statement Comment Period

Winter/Spring 2024

Preferred Alternative and Environmental Impact Statement

Summer/Fall 2024

Final Plan Development and Adoption

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