Home Letter To The Editor A Message to the City Council Regarding the Eagle Landing Stairs

A Message to the City Council Regarding the Eagle Landing Stairs

Below is a message that was written to the City Council, and shared at the meeting on 2/21/23:

Honorable Council Members, City Staff and City Manager,

Thank you for putting the Eagle Landing stairs and beach access on the Council’s Agenda. I stand before you now not as a private citizen advancing a personal cause but as a voice of the community and an advocate for the stairs.

We can all agree that we are united in wanting to keep the Eagle Landing stairs. The question is, “are they safe or should they be removed due to safety concerns?”. I hope we can all agree, if there is a cost effective and safe alternative to removal, we should take steps to keep the stairs and beach access.

I understand there has been a huge commitment of time by the Parks Commission, city staff and City Council to bring us to where we are today. Thank you for your dedication and hard work. Please forgive my sometimes-overwhelming passion to reopen the stairs.

Without going into the history and all the decisions that have brought us here. I believe, based on extensive research, professional experience and personal observation that the stairs are safe, can be returned to service and access to the beach can be restored. Yet we need more than my opinion.

Prior to the dismantling of the Eagle Landing stairs. My request is for the city to perform a professional review to determine if these beautiful stairs that benefit the community can be safely reopened.

I do understand the city needs to follow its official process and cannot make this decision based on my word. In the interest of finding a low cost but expert path forward, I have reached out to the two engineering firms, one that provided the original design work, which can cover the structural concerns and a leading Seattle based geotechnical firm that is fully capable of handling the geotechnical assessment.

Michael Leonard P.E, S.E, the stairs original designer and now CEO of MLA Engineering LLC,  https://www.mlaengineering.com/michael-leonard is available to reassess the stairs and foundations and to provide a report on their current condition. Landau and Associates, https://www.landauinc.com/, a geotechnical company based in Seattle would be able to provide an independent analysis of the condition of the slope.

Therefore, I recommend the following action. Contract with MLA for the structural work.  MLA can then sub out the geotechnical work to Landau & Associates. Scope of work is as follows:

Here is MLA’s response and proposal:


The scope of work MLA can offer and appears appropriate is:

  • Site observations of the existing conditions
  • Review of the original design criteria and the pile load demand vs. capacity
  • Review of the pile testing to confirm the existing capacity exceeds the demand requirements
  • Provide a brief draft letter report summarizing the above study and providing findings and conclusions
  • Follow-up discussion with the City of Burien
  • Finalize and stamp our letter report

Fixed sum fee for the above scope is $6,200. Inclusive of expenses and all costs

Please note that from my recent review of the letter MLA provided to the City of Burien at the outset of design, the piles are designed only to resist settlement and limit differential movement due to static earth pressure and seismic acceleration of the stair and concrete pile cap weight. The foundation system for the stairs is not intended nor required to stabilize the hillside against slides or prevent erosion. Any safety concerns the City may have due to instability or landslides on the hillside, or due to tree instability, would be outside of what MLA’s work would address.  For this work we would hire a Geotechnical firm.


I am recommending Landau & Associates as the geotechnical firm.  They would work under MLA.

Landau & Associates Scope of Work:

Access safety concerns the City may have due to instability or landslides on the hillside, or due to tree instability, Plus the following:

1)    Access the stability of the slope

2)    Access the upper 8 stair piers from a geotechnical view-

3)    what it would take to retrofit Pier 8 & 9

4)    Inspect path and boardwalk to the beach that was constructed in 2013 and determine what it would take to restore beach access

Please review the attached proposals. For approximately $16,000 the city can commission a professional reassessment of the stairs and hillside. I respectfully request the city invest the resources to do this review before we remove the stairs and community beach access after went to such great effort in the first place to create this unique park.

In closing, please accept my passion and persistence in the spirit that it is offered, if you have any questions, I am here to serve.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

John White

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