Sep

13

If you would like to learn more about your waterfront “front yard”, check out some of these upcoming events at the Environmental Science Center in Seahurst Park, Burien:

Tuesday, September 16th @ 6:30 pm
Seahurst Park Ecosystem Restoration Project
Presentation at ESC by Peter Hummel, Landscape Architect

Sunday, September 21st @ 10 am
Coastal Geology Guided Tour
Site walk starting at ESC led by Jim Johannessen, Engineer Geologist

Tuesday, September 23rd @ 6:30 pm
Exploring Nearshore Habitat
Presentation at ESC by Paul Schlenger , Principal Fisheries Biologist

Tuesday, September 30th @ 6:30 pm
Restoring the Ecosystems Where Land Meets Water
Presentation at ESC by John Small, Landscape Architect

Saturday, October 4th @ 10 am
Hillside Geology Guided Tour
Site walk starting at ESC led by Bill Laprade, Engineer Geologist

Register by following links at the ESC Events page.

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Mar

10

A free workshop offered by the Environmental Science Center gives Seattle area residents a chance to learn more about the design principles that can improve water quality in nearby creeks, lakes, and Puget Sound. Everything from how storm water flows through your waterfront property to the products you use to maintain your yard can directly influence the health of the recreational areas and wildlife habitat that make up the local waterfront.

A Lifetime Impact from Two Hours of Learning

On Saturday, March 29, the Environmental Science Center, SvR Design Company, and Sustainable Burien are offering a free workshop from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. in the Burien Community Center. Registration is required for the session, which will be led by SvR Design Company principal Peg Staeheli, PLA, LEED AP. She will explain what is meant by low-impact design and how adopting these principles can lessen your carbon footprint as well as help the overall health of local waterfront environments. What you learn at this session can have a lifelong impact on how you see your role in the local watershed.

Why You Should Be “Stepping Lightly” on Puget Sound

Workshop organizers use the phrase “stepping lightly” as a reference to leaving a smaller carbon footprint, or environmental impact, on the world around you. For those with waterfront property, having clean water and healthy wildlife nearby enhances the pleasure of living so close to a lake or Puget Sound, but even those who don’t have a daily front-row seat from their waterfront homes will surely appreciate the availability of clean drinking water and abundant salmon and other seafood. Making environmentally friendly choices, like using natural pesticides and organic fertilizer and using native plants in your landscaping, can minimize the footprint you make and reduce the pollution and toxic chemicals in the local watershed.

Being Green Can Save You Greenbacks

Learning about and following low-impact principles can save you money. Chemical fertilizers are easy to come by, and the Center for Watershed Protection says that while 50% of homeowners use them as a routine part of lawn care, only 10-20% of homeowners actually test their soil to see if fertilizers are needed. The rest are pouring money along with toxic chemicals down the drainage pipe! When putting in landscaping around your home, pick plants that are native to the Seattle area which will not only be less costly than more exotic options, they also won’t require as much watering and caretaking to flourish. Carefully designing your landscape to manage and collect rainwater can also reduce your utility bills, either through creating rain gardens that allow water to more thoroughly seep into your soil or by collecting water in rain barrels to water your garden at a later date.

Waterfront Residents Benefit from Low-Impact Design

As you can see, there are financial and environmental reasons to incorporate low-impact design into your waterfront property. The free workshop on March 29 is a great opportunity to learn more about the principles that can help you save money and ensure the long-term health of the local watershed.

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Jan

21

An organization for the waterfront neighborhood of Lake Burien filed an appeal this week against Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE) and city of Burien. For years, DOE and Burien worked on negotiations that would update the city’s shoreline. While work began in 2008, disagreements kept it from moving forward. It was not until 2012, when the Burien Working Shoreline Group mediated, that DOE and Burien reached and approved an agreement in 2013.

The Shoreline Master Program

In 1971, Washington enacted the Shoreline Management Act. This required cities and counties with waterfront property to instate rules about the lakes, rivers, and other water bodies. Each city has a unique Shoreline Master Program that fulfills this. Due to old regulations, Washington and DOE asked the cities to update their program to meet today’s more modern needs. This updating is to be completed in a number of steps including:
• Shoreline and land use inventory such as transportation and public use sites
• Shoreline function identification
• Policy and regulation development
• Ecological shoreline analyzed with restoration ideas
• Shoreline Master Programs for each county and city with junctions working together
• Updates submitted to DOE for approval

Proposed Changes to Burien’s Shoreline Master Program

There are five and a half miles of waterfront land in the city of Burien. The last time Burien’s Shoreline Master Program was altered was in 1993 when it became incorporated. Burien first approved a proposed update that had followed a long local review. The city took inventory of land and collaborated with waterfront property owners, environmental agencies, and tribes among many other groups. This all occurred in 2010 and DOE did not approve of all the changes. Four issues became the prime point of interest:
• Regulations to manage Ordinary High Water Mark in new developments
• New renovations and maintenance of existing homes
• Changes to Shoreline Permit Matrix
• Water quality and Nonpoint Pollution

Burien Working Shoreline Group

After lengthy negotiations between DOE and the city of Burien showed no results, the Burien Working Shoreline Group formed. This group is comprised of local residents. It researched the issues and came up with a recommendation based on findings. Both the city and DOE agreed with the recommendation and the Burien Working Shoreline Group re-wrote the proposal to reflect this. The Shoreline Master Program was then approved in October of 2013.

Burien Shoreline Master Program Appeal

Details of the appeal have yet to be released, however, it is one of Lake Burien’s neighborhood groups that filed along with specific individuals. If past issues are taken into consideration, some of the points in the appeal may be:
• Public access concerns of existing waterfront home owners to privately enclosed Lake Burien
• Perhaps Puget Sound access relative to private property
• Incentives and/or condition to provide access

The Growth Management Hearings board will hear the appeal in May 2014. Until then, the project is again on hold. DOE, the city of Burien, and waterfront owners are hopeful the Shoreline Master Program issues will resolve and become enacted soon.

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Nov

4

It’s clear that Seattle has a lot of wonderful features that are unique to it. The greater metropolitan area can claim the Space Needle, an assortment of parks and gardens, incredible restaurants and shops, and of course, many views of gorgeous lakes and ocean. From Lake Washington to Puget Sound, there’s nothing like being situated on the waterfront, especially if you’re a home owner. Now you can add one more unique feature to being in Seattle’s waterfront community, and that is the tram. There’s something particularly special about trams.

Origin of the Trams

Before you admire the trams themselves, it helps to take a step back and consider how they’re possible today. Take a look back at the history of the area and you’ll uncover the role glaciers played in Seattle’s modern waterfront and topography. Those glaciers painstakingly carved the steep slopes that Seattle’s waterfront is known for today. The hilly terrain is a picturesque feature of some waterfront property, allowing home owners to see far out into the water from a high vantage point. For some waterfront property residents, the tram was a natural next step for both convenience and enjoyment. It allowed them to position their home lower on a hillside or bluff while still having relatively easy access from their car above.

Using Trams in the Waterfront Community

Imagine your home is situated on a bluff and there’s a beach below. As the owner of a tram access property, you can travel by tram from your home to the beach on a direct path, rather than resorting to a steep switchback trail. Or you can do the reverse: have your home at the low bank water’s edge, below where cars can readily access the area above. Using the tram might be an extra leg in your journey, but that doesn’t mean you can’t thoroughly enjoy the experience. Many waterfront home owners opted for a property on the lake or Sound because they sought the privacy and solitude. With a tram, you are literally above or below it all, and it can be an incredibly peaceful and relaxing experience. Best of all, trams have started incorporating a number of highly effective and approved safety devices, so all you have to worry about is where you’re headed next.

Grand Ralph Anderson Designed Haven

If you like the idea of a tram access property, a grand Ralph Anderson designed WaterHaven currently available might be a good choice for you. This is a house that captures the spirit of the Great Northwest and provides the owner with 76 beautiful feet of sandy low bank waterfront. It looks out across Puget Sound and frequently bears witness to an astonishing array of colors at sunrise and sunset. If you’re looking to enjoy waterfront property and tram access, this is a home that showcases what’s great about being on the water in Seattle. Couple that with the quiet community, and you can start to see the appeal Seattle’s waterfront houses.

Puget Sound view from private and peaceful tram access home

Puget Sound view from private and peaceful tram access home

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Sep

25

There’s no doubt that people come to the Seattle area because they love the sights. For a city with such dense urban development, as well as luxury waterfront real estate, the greater Seattle metropolitan area features a staggering variety of natural sights and wonders that locals and tourists alike can enjoy. From boat tours on one of the community’s many bodies of water to peeks at exotic plants in the botanical gardens, celebration of nature is a fixture of Seattle culture. One of the enduring and historically significant sites in the Seattle area is Burien’s Three Tree Point Indian Trail. Here’s what makes this such a memorable feature.

Historical Three Tree Point Community

If you want a sense of how majestic waterfront land in Seattle can be, start by visiting the Burien Indian Trail in the Three Tree Point luxury waterfront community. This secluded and quaint waterfront community lies on the west-facing shores of gorgeous Puget Sound, located in Burien. Historically, the trail hearkens back to an era before there were roads, when there were just narrow public walkways between homes. Summer home vacationers would visit the community, arriving at a long-gone dock by the tip of Three Tree Point on Seattle’s Mosquito Fleet boats. This path was reportedly once approximately followed by Native Americans as a shoreline passage around the point too, though accounts of that vary. People have unearthed artifacts in this area during construction projects, marking the Burien Indian Trail as a natural historical marker for Seattle’s past.

The View from Burien Indian Trail

History buffs might enjoy the trail for its association with the history of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, but nature lovers will have plenty to appreciate as well. As you pass by each waterfront home in this neighborhood, with some above the trail and others below it, you’ll spy Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountain range. You’ll also see an incredible view of the beach on the south side trail, as well as a more tree-filtered view on the longer north side. Perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of the trail is that you could have a completely different experience on the way back during a round trip journey. It’s always a unique adventure traversing this trail.

The Real Estate Around Burien Indian Trail

For those who like to witness luxury, there’s nothing quite like the waterfront property in this community that lies nestled against Puget Sound. There are lower waterfront lots and upper water view lots lining the six-foot wide public trail, including some Puget Sound homes that can be accessed from the road above to the personal solitude at the water’s edge by walking the trail or by using stairs and trams. Some homes are lavish beach houses perched a short distance from the water. This is an affluent and friendly community that’s sure to capture your imagination. For those enjoying life in Three Tree Point, they can walk the beach at low tide and walk the forested trail at high tide. So many options to stroll, visit neighbors, exercise, and show guests around.

Clearly, the view and access you get from the Burien Indian Trail is something entirely unique to the area. Few places can combine history, nature, and luxury into such a comprehensive Seattle experience. Whether you’re just visiting or you’ve lived here for a while and haven’t had a chance to walk the Burien Indian Trail yourself, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. It’s a refreshing experience unlike any other.

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May

20

Beautiful waterfront home for sale with scenic views.

New Burien Three Tree Point WaterHavens listing

Just a few months ago, there was an online auction house for a 1927-vintage fireboat “Alki.” This special boat was the senior member of four boats that comprised the Seattle Fire Department’s Marine Emergency Response Team. This boat had served the Seattle community well, but it had reached the point where it couldn’t keep up with the demands of modern technology and became an icon for a bygone era instead. While it was a bittersweet time for Seattleites to see a boat with an 86-year history go, it’s just one more reminder of what makes waterfront real estate in Seattle such a special feature of the Washington metropolis. How many other places can boast water-based traffic like water taxis and fireboats?

Retiring the Fireboat “Alki”
The retirement of “Alki” coincided with the recent acquisition of some new boats. “Engine One” was added to the fleet in 2006, and “Leschi” was built in 2007. In addition, the “Chief Seattle” was renovated and given an additional twenty years, making it possible to auction off one of the most enduring pieces of Seattle history. Like most things above 80 years of age, the fireboat could boast plenty of interesting stories, such as the time it was able to help save a commercial sea captain’s home below Magnolia Bluff. The most important part of the story was that the “Alki” was able to get the job done when firefighters on land weren’t able to reach the flames. With plenty of stories like that all along the coast, it was like the waterfront community had to say goodbye to an old friend.

Fireboats for West Seattle Waterfront Real Estate
Along the waterfront coastline is a thriving community full of condos, homes, public parks, shops, and restaurants. Because land traffic can only come from the other direction, water-based firefighters are a staple of various Seattle communities that border Lake Washington and the Puget Sound. These fireboats are even more important for waterfront homeowners with properties that don’t have direct drive-up access. For example, some waterfront houses are walk-down or tram-accessed properties, both of which are difficult to reach quickly from land in the case of an emergency.

The Future of Fireboats
Because of the two new boats and the retrofitted “Chief Seattle,” even more security is now provided for Seattle area waterfront property. Unlike the “Alki,” which was still using decades-old technology for firefighting, the new fireboats are a major step forward in speed and power, as well as the major upgrades to the “Chief Seattle.” For fires, speed and power are often the deciding factor in how much damage can be avoided, and fortunately, the “Leschi” doesn’t disappoint. Stationed in Fire Station 5 on Elliott Bay, this primary firefighting vessel can travel at 14 knots and fight fires with 22,000 gallons of water per minute. While the “Marine One” is about half as long as the “Leschi,” it can actually travel more than twice as fast, making it a fast attack option. With new technology on the fireboats, it can only be even safer now for waterfront real estate owners.

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May

3

The Environmental Science Center, located on the waterfront at Seahurst Park in Burien, has many fun summer programs oriented to living around the water and Puget Sound:

SEAHURST SUMMER SATURDAYS
10am – Noon (except June 8th)

May 18 Animal Detectives
Practice moving like different animals and make up your own track stories. Then hit the trail looking for animal signs (nests, homes, tracks, scat). Each participant will take home their own plaster track.

May 25 Stormwater Adventure!
Play games, explore tools, tell stories, and dance to learn more about the water all around us!

June 1 Science in Action! Fishery Observers
Place yourself in the shoes of a fisheries observer and conduct your own “fish population survey”! Learn about fish from different places and how to count and identify them. Recommended ages: 10 and up.

June 8 Bats, bats, bats! NIGHT PROGRAM 7-9pm
Visit Seahurst Park at night to learn about the bats of the Pacific Northwest. Spend time outside with an expert “bat lady” looking for signs of bats. Don’t forget your flashlight and hiking shoes!

June 15 & 16 Visit ESC at the Burien Wild Strawberry Festival!

June 22 Dog-Eat-Dog World: Food Chains at Seahurst Beach
It’s a rough life in the wild when everyone wants to eat you. Play games and examine marine plankton to look for earth’s most terrifying PREDATORS!! Also, spend time on the beach with naturalists.

June 29 Nature Scavenger Hunt
Explore Seahurst Park with all of your senses! Learn about the diverse life right here in the park and then explore with a fun and educational nature hike.

July 6 Insect Safari
This is your chance to view thousands of insects from all around the world! Then take a short walk around Seahurst Park to learn how to collect and sample for insects.

July 13 Scatology – Odd Digestion
in the Animal Kingdom
Compare human digestion to other animals then look for scat and food sources of animals at Seahurst. Upon returning to the center, learn about digestion in birds of prey by dissecting a real owl pellet!

July 20 Beach Exploration
Your little ones will love learning about what lives at Seahurst Beach through puppets, art, and hands-on exploration! Also, spend time on the beach with a trained naturalist. Recommended ages: 2-6 years, older siblings can join, too.

Burien Three Tree Point Puget Sound Olympic Mountains water view real estate for sale

New Burien Three Tree Point Puget Sound water view WaterHavens listing for sale

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Apr

23

It’s common knowledge that major bodies of water are public property. This was established long ago so that no one person could monopolize crucial water sources. What happens though, when a public lake is completely surrounded by private property? That’s exactly the topic of debate for homeowners and public residents who want access to Lake Burien.

Lake Burien, which is a 44-acre lake in King County, Washington located at the old town center of Burien, is entirely surrounded by private waterfront property owners, creating a serene oasis for them to enjoy. Because their homes surround the lake, they have exclusive access compared to the rest of the town. However, since the lake is considered a public resource, this exclusive access has been a point of contention for a now.

Every now and then, public residents who don’t own the waterfront real estate in Burien request that public access to the lake be created. However, the private owners are concerned about what this could do to the environment. To research the matter, several lakeside property owners hired a team of environmental consultants who did in fact conclude that public access to the lake would “entail significant risk of degradation” and that opening up public access would be “ill-advised.” Some of the reasoning behind this is that the lake is too shallow for increased use. At only 29 feet at its deepest and an average depth of just 13 feet, a large increase in boat, pet, and human traffic would definitely have a big impact on the ecosystem of the lake. Of course, while homeowners understand why the public wants access, the idea of destroying an ecosystem and losing their peace and quiet has caused some concern. Their hope is that the environmental recommendation would prevent any potentially-damaging public access even if lakefront property were to be transitioned into a park.

The Burien waterfront home owners say it’s fine for people to want to come and look at the lake, but it’s the access to the water itself that could be detrimental. In other words, they want to keep boats and other water-born activities limited to the few home owners. This is in an attempt to save its environmental state, since increased access to thousands of people could “irreversibly damage” the lake.

The public has also raised some valid points though, saying opening up a park and perhaps some city-owned lots could bring revenue to the town. A proposal to rezone the area was suggested. There is also a children’s center nearby that had hopes of buying and selling adjacent lake lots in order to improve their own financial situation. These ideas have not yet been approved though.

Obviously, this kind of private control of such a tranquil body of water greatly improves home values in the area, and waterfront land owners of Burien are guaranteed to enjoy peace, quiet, and a beautiful view as well as some very exclusive lakeside access. With approximately 48,000 people residing in the city though, the odds of buying one of these homes to take advantage of those benefits are not great. It is possible that an agreement could be created in the near future. Such a compromise would need to take into account the environmental integrity of the lake as well as the overall good of the community.

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Sep

17

The five member citizens committee Burien Shoreline Working Group has been negotiating with the Department of Ecology for a couple years now as Burien updates the Burien Shoreline Master Program (SMP). The primary disconnect has regarded setbacks for construction. Many developed communities in Burien have homes fairly close to their bulkheads, and the DOE requirements of 50 feet + 15 foot buffer would have made many lots totally unbuildable.

The group’s proposal is for developed areas along Puget Sound to be split up into zones. In well developed areas along the Sound shoreline, any development within 20 feet of the Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM) would be significantly limited. Then development within 20-35 feet would be allowed if offsetting benefits were created within the first 20 feet (vegetation, limiting permeable surfaces, etc.). For less developed areas, the same zone restrictions would be moved back to 30 feet and 30-45 feet, respectively.

Existing structures can still be remodeled or even rebuilt on their existing footprints wherever they may be located, and are grandfathered in as “nonconforming”.

The working group said that initial indicators from DOE were amenable to these compromises. It will be interesting to see where this ends up, since it could set precedents for other Sound waterfront communities and their SMPs.

Seattle Burien Three Tree Point waterfront home with Puget Sound view decks

Example of Burien home (WaterHavens listing) with existing near shore footprint enabling expansive and close-up waterfront views

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Jul

2

Burien’s waterfront property owners vociferously expressed concerns about the Department of Ecology’s Shoreline Master Program (SMP), and the Burien City Council correspondingly rejected the Program and sent it back to DOE. The Council said it could agree to most of DOE’s requests, but did not agree with four provisions:

  • Buffers and Setbacks: For new construction or building upgrades, the new 50 foot buffer + 15 foot setback would have made development in many Burien waterfront lots unattainable. Burien responded with their plan to keep the existing 20 foot buffer with no additional setback.
  • Watercraft on Lake Burien: Burien wanted to maintain the ban on watercraft access on Lake Burien from any future public access areas.
  • Rebuilding: DOE wanted to make rebuilding a destroyed waterfront home more restrictive, which Burien disagreed with.
  • Shoreline Variances: DOE wanted to enforce a need for shoreline variances to reduce critical area buffers in geologically hazardous areas and wetlands, which Burien disagreed with.
  • This will be interesting to see how it plays out, since Burien and DOE will now each have to give and take to meet the state mandated requirements of having an update Shoreline Master Program.

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    Dec

    29

    The Environmental Science Center is hosting its second Moonlight Beach Walk for this winter season. Here’s the scoop:

    “Join us on New Year’s Day! Moonlight Beach Walk this Saturday, January 1st, from 7:30-9:30pm at Seahurst Beach in Burien.

    Imagine you are on the shoreline at a lovely low tide. Rocks that are covered all year lie exposed to view while the sea denizens remain happily cold and wet in the dark. All around you, people waving flashlights are intently studying the amazing and abundant sea life as local naturalists help you discover the wonders of your Puget Sound shoreline.

    Bundle up against the weather and be sure to bring flashlight with good batteries, warm hat and dry gloves, and wading boots (you’ll be in ankle deep water).

    For more information, contact Programs@EnvScienceCenter.org or call 206-248-4266.”

    Enjoy it if you go. They are always fascinating and will definitely educate you about your own “front yard” if you live on the Sound.

    Environmental Science Center logo

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    Dec

    1

    The Environmental Science Center is a deserving local shoreline education organization (I was previously on its Board of Directors), and they are having more of their popular Moonlight Beach Walks this winter. They are fun, entertaining, and unique. Here’s the scoop from ESC:

    Don’t miss the Environmental Science Center’s Moonlight Beach Walk this Saturday, December 4th, from 7:30-9:30pm at Seahurst Beach in Burien.

    Imagine you are on the shoreline at a lovely low tide. Rocks that are covered all year lie exposed to view while the sea denizens remain happily cold and wet in the dark. All around you, people waving flashlights are intently studying the amazing and abundant sea life as local naturalists help you discover the wonders of your Puget Sound shoreline.

    BUNDLE UP AGAINST THE WEATHER AND BE SURE TO BRING: Bright flashlight with good batteries, warm hat and dry gloves, and wading boots (you’ll be in ankle deep water).

    For more information, contact Programs@EnvScienceCenter.org or call 206-248-4266.

    Environmental Science Center logo

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    Oct

    17

    The sellers of a waterfront home in Burien’s Shorewood on the Sound took these pictures from their deck. Amazing what we can see everyday from our Puget Sound waterfront properties here, isn’t it?

    Shorewood Burien Seattle waterfront house for sale Puget Sound Olympic Mountains storm clouds

    Clouds over Puget Sound



    Shorewood Burien Seattle waterfront house for sale Puget Sound Olympic Mountains sunset

    Sunset over Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound



    Sea star on beach at Shorewood Burien Seattle waterfront house for sale Puget Sound Olympic Mountains

    Sea star on beach



    Sunset clouds over Puget Sound from Shorewood Burien Seattle waterfront home for sale

    Colorful waterfront living



    Seattle Burien Shorewood on the Sound waterfront home for sale, view from water

    Click here to see the home with these views


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