Enhanced Services Facilities

Updated February 24, 2020 

The City of Burien is introducing legislation that will establish zoning regulations for the location of enhanced services facilities. Enhanced services facilities are defined, funded, and regulated by the State of Washington to assist people with behavioral health issues by providing daily care and oversight in a community setting.

No enhanced services facilities are proposed to be located in the city at this time. Proposed regulations would apply to future permit applications for an enhanced service facility.

On February 3, 2020, Council decided to renew the existing moratorium for a few months to understand any changes to State regulations during the 2019–2020 legislative session. At that same meeting, Council directed staff to evaluate zoning options that would include multifamily and commercial zones and not single-family zones.

On February 24, 2020, Council will host a public hearing on the potential temporary moratorium renewal. In late spring of 2020, the Council will likely discuss next steps relative to permanent Zoning Code amendments that apply to ESF uses.

Meanwhile, the City is watching the progress of Substitute House Bill 2448 in the Washington State Legislature. The House of Representatives unanimously voted to approve the bill which:

  • Modifies admissions standards for enhanced services facilities to require that the person be medically and physically stable and updates the behavior- and history-related factors that must be considered when determining eligibility for admission.
  • Changes the scope of care provided by enhanced services facilities from a focus on treatment to support and services.

The Washington State Senate is currently deliberating about the bill.

More Information 

  • Visit the Planning Commission website for information on the Commission’s discussion about ESFs. 
  • Find information from the State of Washington on ESFs. (Note that the State of Washington Legislature is considering a bill (SHB 2448) to amend regulations of ESFs).  
  • The State of Washington Joint Legislative Executive Committee on Planning for Aging & Disability Issues held a working session on January 9, 2020. Find video of their discussion about ESFs beginning at 18:28.
  • The House Health Care and Wellness Committee held a public hearing on January 28, 2020. Watch a video of their discussion.
  • The Senate Behavioral Health Subcommittee held a public hearing on February 21, 2020. Watch a video of their discussion about amendments beginning at 24:40
Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Enhanced Services Facility?

The State of Washington established funding in the 2013–2015 State operating budget to develop a new category of licensed residential facility. The new category of facility would provide a community placement option for people who have complicated personal care needs, but who do not need the level of care provided by an institution. This may include adults with mental health or behavioral challenges, people with brain injuries, and people with complex medical needs that benefit from daily living assistance. Daily living support is provided by on-site staff and can include assistance with medication, and help with routine activities such housework, meal preparation, using the telephone, or transportation.

The State of Washington requires ESFs to maintain at least one staff for every four residents present in each facility. ESFs are required to provide a nurse on-site along with mental health care professionals and other supports. The State of Washington has specific requirements for the design of ESF facilities. The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) licenses and monitors the facilities for compliance with State law.

Fact sheets from the Washington State Department of Health and Human Services:

How many Enhanced Services Facilities currently exist?

There are four ESFs in the state of Washington. The City of Burien does not have any current proposals to site an ESF in Burien.

History of ESFs in Burien

In early 2019, Noble Healthcare proposed to locate an ESF in the Seahurst neighborhood. At that time, many people from the neighborhood opposed the proposal. The Burien City Council subsequently approved a development moratorium to temporarily ban new permits for ESFs in Burien to provide time for the City to evaluate zoning options. That moratorium was renewed in August, 2019, and will expire in late February, 2020 unless the City Council votes to renew the moratorium.

Beginning in late 2019, the Burien Planning Commission began to discuss zoning options for ESFs. They heard from many members of the community at a public hearing held on December 11, 2019, and people provided commentary at a Commission meeting held on January 8, 2020. Many people said that they support allowing ESFs throughout the City because there is a great need to serve people who need community-based residential care—both in Burien and throughout the region. Other people said they do not want ESFs to be located in Burien, or in certain areas of Burien. Representatives of DSHS also provided information to the Planning Commission. The Commission voted on January 8, 2020 to recommend allowing ESFs throughout the city.

Is Burien required to permit Enhanced Services Facilities?

The City of Burien must allow ESFs in the city. However, the City has the authority to identify where ESFs may be permitted through the Burien Zoning Code. The Burien Zoning Code regulates where other “uses,” activities, and building types are allowed, and under which conditions.