The Des Moines City Council meeting on Thursday night, May 9, 2024, saw a passionate outpouring of concern over the fate of the Masonic Home, a historic building slated for demolition.

Councilmember JC Harris addressed the importance of reporting stormwater issues, while Mayor Buxton provided updates on a recent crime resolution, senior center reopening, and an upcoming community event.

Additionally, the council unanimously approved an update to the city’s animal code, aiming to increase clarity and enforceability around dangerous pets and noise disturbances.

Public Comments

Many members of the public came to speak about the former Masonic Retirement Home, currently slated for demolition. They wore green shirts to show solidarity, and shared concerns about losing a historic landmark. Some also warned about the planned removal of the retaining wall, which  they said could open the city up to lawsuits in the event of a landslide, and possibly even endanger residents. The forest that makes up a portion of the property was also mentioned. They said the city needs to protect its remaining tree cover and not lose trees to development. 

For the most part, people argued that the building should be made a national historic landmark. They spoke about it being precious, stunning, and built in a way that cannot be replicated today. They said making it a historic landmark would put Des Moines on the map. One woman said she was able to have her wedding at the Masonic Home in 2011, and that the building is irreplaceable.

Councilmember Reports

Councilmember JC Harris shared how vital it is to report stormwater issues promptly. He said to use the Fix-It Form on the city website to let staff know of problems affecting stormwater.

Mayor Traci Buxton reported that a triple-homicide which occurred a few years ago has been resolved, with convictions made.

Mayor Buxton shared that the Senior Activity Center is open for business again after being closed for extensive repairs and cleaning due to a burst water pipe last winter. Buxton said there is a free lunch available every Monday through Thursday for qualifying seniors. Here is a link to the monthly lunch menu, which has a $4.50 suggested donation.

If you would like to join Mayor Traci Buxton in a Chat With The Mayor, she will be at the Woodmont Library on Tuesday, May 14, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Proclamation For LGBTQIA+ Pride Month

Des Moines celebrates the diversity of its residents and the strength they bring to the city. The city proactively ensures that acts of discrimination will not be tolerated against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA+) people. According to the proclamation, Washington State continues to lead the nation in affirming the lives and values of LGBTQIA+ individuals.

City’s Animal Code Amended 

Council voted unanimously to update the Des Moines code as it pertains to dangerous pets. The changes are intended to clarify and help with enforcement. It was explained that in the past, defense lawyers could argue that their clients’ dogs were provoked into acting aggressively, so the definition of what counts as provocation needed to be clarified. 

Councilmember Harris shared that his own dog was killed by a neighbor’s dog who left his own yard, crossed the street, and delivered a deadly bite to the councilmember’s dog. Harris said the neighbor had already received several warnings from the city about keeping their dog off the street. Interim City Manager Tim George said dog owners will be cited for not having their dog properly enclosed or letting them run free without a responsible person holding their leash.

In addition, animals making noises loud enough to disturb their neighbors for longer than 15 minutes after dark will be in violation of the new code.

Interim City Manager George said amending the code is a top priority since the current code is unenforceable as written. These updates and clarifications aim to improve public safety as well as make sure the law is enforceable. This new code will go into effect in 30 days.

Mellow DeTray is a Seattle native who has spent the last 16 years raising her family in Burien. She has volunteered at many local establishments over the years, including the Burien Library, Burien Actors Theatre, and Hot Feet Fitness. After working for 10 years at Burien Community Center, she moved on to teaching fitness classes and to work the front desk of a Burien yoga studio. For many years Mellow kept a moderately popular cooking & lifestyle blog, and she had a brief stint in political journalism during a local election. Clear and informative writing has always been a side hobby of Mellow’s and she looks forward to bringing you unbiased coverage of City Council meetings.

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