By Erica C. Barnett
Editor’s note: This post has been updated and re-published as an individual post due to length.
UPDATE: Although Burien City Manager Adolfo Bailon told City Council members that it took him a week to notice an email from King County imposing a November 27 deadline for $1 million in homelessness funding, emails provided by King County reveal that this claim was not true.
As we reported Friday, Bailon claimed that he failed to notice an email from Deputy County Executive Shannon Braddock sent at 11:56 am on Friday, October 27, because of 150 subsequent emails about a church-based sanctioned encampment proposed the following Sunday. The nonprofit that proposed the encampment is associated with Councilmember Cydney Moore, who has opposed encampment sweeps and voted against the city’s recently-passed “camping ban.”
The email exchange shows that Bailon responded to Braddock shortly after receiving the email last month, confirming receipt of her letter about the new November 27 deadline and saying he would speak to Mayor Sofia Aragon and council members “about the timeline set for selecting a location, and deadlines established by the federal government regarding the commitment and use of ARPA funds,” and “hope[d] to have more news to share with you soon.”
Aragon (a city council member serving as mayor) was included on the email, so was presumably aware of Bailon’s response by last week. It’s unclear whether Bailon let other allies on the council know about the $1 million deadline before claiming the email was “unopened” and “lost” one week after he opened and responded to it.
This email chain directly contradicts Bailon’s claim, made in an email to the entire council and Burien’s city attorney on November 3, that “the email from Shannon Braddock went unopened and became lost until today due to the more than 150 email messages that I have received since Sunday regarding the proposed encampment at Oasis Church. I have since reviewed all unopened email message.”
Bailon, in short, opened Braddock’s message and responded to it but did not inform the full council until a full week later, then claimed he hadn’t seen the email because his inbox was jammed with messages about a proposal from a council member with whom he has frequently clashed.
We have contacted the city’s spokesperson for a response to the new information.
King County has given the city of Burien a deadline of November 27 to use or lose the $1 million the county offered to build a shelter in the city back in early June.
The initial offer included 35 Pallet shelters, which can accommodate up to two people each, along with a land swap in which the county would provide garage space to a Toyota dealer who is currently renting a city-owned parking lot to store his excess inventory, and in exchange Burien would host the shelter at that site. The Burien City Council voted down that offer in July, and since then has proposed and rejected several other sites, including a spot at the end of a SeaTac airport runway that the Port of Seattle said was “not an option for any sort of residential or housing use.”
In an email to Burien councilmembers on Friday, Burien City Manager Adolfo Bailon blamed his failure to open the Deputy County Executive’s message about the $1 million until today—a full week after he received it last Friday—on “the more than 150 emails I have received since Sunday regarding the proposed encampment at Oasis Church.” It’s unclear why constituent emails that started coming in on Sunday would make it impossible to open an email sent the previous Friday.
In a letter dated October 27, Deputy King County Executive Shannon Braddock told City Manager Adolfo Bailon and Mayor Sofia Aragon that while the county “appreciate[s] the City’s work to find a suitable location,” the source of the $1 million is time-limited federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that need to be used before they expires. “[I]f the City of Burien has not identified a suitable location by November 27, 2023, we will choose to allocate this money to support homelessness response through a different process and withdraw the current offer. The new process will still allow Burien to potentially receive the funding, but is not a guarantee of funding.”
In an email to Burien councilmembers on Friday, Bailon characterized the letter as “a 30-day notice of intent to withdraw its offer.”
He also blamed his failure to open the Deputy County Executive’s message about the $1 million until today—a full week after he received it last Friday—on “the more than 150 emails I have received since Sunday regarding the proposed encampment at Oasis Church.” It’s unclear why constituent emails sent over the course of a week beginning last Sunday would make it impossible to open an email about a $1 million contribution from the county since the previous Friday.
As we reported yesterday, a nonprofit run by Burien City Councilmember Cydney Moore reached an agreement with the church to open a temporary clean and sober encampment at the church.
The city has shown that it will fast-track funding for projects that have the support of the council majority and the city manager. On Monday, as I reported this morning, Bailon signed a no-bid, contract with Discover Burien, a business group that is expected to subcontract with The More We Love—a controversial nonprofit run by a Kirkland real estate broker named Kristine Moreland—to respond to encampments in the city and “serve as [the Burien Police Department’s] primary de-escalation effort.”