The Cactus Speaks: SeaTac Council on Pot

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This column by Earl Gipson is a view of SeaTac city government. It does not necessarily reflect the views of The SeaTac Blog nor its staff. We are seeking additional regular columnists to reflect opinions and views of SeaTac residents. Those interested can e-mail us at [email protected].]

by Earl Gipson

Hi there fellow SeaTacians. Been a while since we talked.

In Tuesday’s Council Meeting Recreational Marijuana PRODUCERS have requested that our City get a move’on in their applications to permit their businesses. They have already committed finances, leased space, and complied with state requirements.

The Council could not seem to wrap their heads around the issues (Did they try some recreational pot before the meeting?). Recreational marijuana is not regulated like medicinal marijuana and that was not the issue. The amount of Recreational Marijuana Retailers is limited to one for the City. That was not the issue either. The issue was that we have three Recreational Marijuana PRODUCERS (two of which have made application) and are not limited in quantity in the City but by square footage of each operation individually by the state. The issue was the producers have already leased space and need a zoning code change in that area since no such business has been mentioned in our code.

Meanwhile the three companies/applicants are hemorrhaging money while they wait for our Council to remove their heads from a warm place (we all know what I’m talking about). The Council decided they wanted a Work Group (ad hoc committee, whatever) made of Council members. Then they hemmed and hawed whether it should have 3 members or 4 with four being a quorum and qualifying as a Special Council Meeting versus a Work Group. Then they worried over whether the Feds change their mind, the state changes the law, blah, blah, blah. Who cares?! City employees/Council members are indemnified, the City is insured, and the legal/financial risks are TOTALLY on the producers. We stand to lose 2 million in City annual revenue from NEW legal businesses when we are running the ones we have out of town with mandatory wage and benefits garbage (Prop #1).

Speaking of revenue, in Council Meeting presentations, the representative from Somali Youth and Family Club thanked the City for their support and then stated that most refugees arrive in our area with an average of 8 children, most under 5 years old. Even Council Member Ladenburg was taken aback and questioned the number, which the speaker affirmed. Of course the group wanted more money from the City (who doesn’t?) and said they needed more Muslim housing. Huh? Is there a type just for one religious group? Didn’t know that. I’ve always appreciated a roof over my head whether it was one or two story. Anyway with that many needy mouths coming to our area we better get a move’on with getting some revenue (possibly some family planning too) into this City, Pot Producers or not.

By the way, the Council also approved a 5 day $300 per night hotel expense for the National League of Cities conference in Washington DC for Council Member Campbell. More than double anyone else. Oh well. It’s only our money.


6 Responses to “The Cactus Speaks: SeaTac Council on Pot”
  1. Seatac Voter says:

    Since I voted for I-502 and expected it to be fully implemented, I was surprised to learn that the city has banned implementation of legal, recreational marijuana. Here is a link I found to changes made in January of 2013 (shortly after I-502 was approved) to the Seatac municipal code that effectively bans all legal marijuana businesses, by craftily adding the “federal” designation.

    I will be watching the city council meetings closely to find out what happens and who votes for any changes to be made, and rest assured I will not be voting for any Seatac legislator who votes to ban something that I voted for that is legal, being regulated and moving forward under the laws of this state. My government is ignoring my wishes out of their own cowardice. It’s shameful!

  2. Janice Taylor says:

    I caught part of the marijuana producers’ concern and I, personally, thought they were putting the cart before the horse in leasing their space before the city “saw the light”. (You know, heads removed…) That said, our Council, for the most part, is really stupid about money. They seem to think revenue just appears, or they can continue to suck it out of the existing residential tax payer base. (Sadly being out paced by the residential service-sucking base, as insinuated by the Somali Youth and Family Club.)

    Having confronted the Council on the medicinal marijuana issue a few years ago, I know too well how out of touch they are with the ins and outs of pot. (Where were they in the 60’s and 70’s?) It’s ludicrous for them to fill their “work group” with their own–people who obviously know NOTHING about the law. Heaven forbid they approach other cities for examples of how those places handled the zoning. Accommodating legalized marijuana production is not the Seatac show, it’s a statewide effort to prove to the Federal Government that legalized pot is good for the economy, helps decrease crime, and is being handled using sound business models. (Maybe that’s the council’s mental dead zone–business models!) Both Washington and, more so, Colorado are federal test cases, and you can be sure the producers are doing their utmost to grow the industry properly (pun intended.) And I find it ironic that the Council is so concerned about legal ramifications considering the blinders they wear about Prop 1.

    I went to Council to speak about another issue, but was late due to traffic issues. I plan to go next meeting, and will find a way to address both my issue and that of legal marijuana production. All through the Prop 1 effort, I urged the fostering of non-airport-related businesses in the city. Allowing marijuana production falls right in line with that.

  3. Monica Johansen says:

    We better get revenue wherever we can if we are going to continue to support all of those refugee families with 8 children or more … most under 5 years old! Heck! We can pay the employees working in the marijuana fields $15 per hour! The City of SeaTac appears to have a bottomless pit of money!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Michael T Kovacs says:


    Is there any help/support you can provide to get the City of SeaTac, Washington move ahead to change the zoning and laws to allow three producers and one retail shop to operate in the city? We are being stone walled by the city council and other government officials by not meeting the will of the citizens who live in SeaTac to move forward with our voter approval to produce and sell Marijuana.

    Please let me know if there is any help.

    Thank you,

    Michael T Kovacs

    Citizen of SeaTac, Washington

    P.S. Citizens of SeaTac please contact and voice your concern about the city stone walling us on their unknown reason to hold up real progress on marijuana production and sales.

  5. Vicki Lockwood says:

    After having attended the Council Meeting where the jaw-dropping information that the average immigrant family arrives here with 8 children and after reading Earl’s article, I began to wonder what will it take for this average immigrant family to become independent and self-sufficient. Many assistance programs use the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to determine eligibility, while others use the Area Medium Income (AMI). Both figures are adjusted for the size of the family. For a family of 10, the FPL is $48,210/year while the AMI is $118,190/year.

    I could not find any assistance programs that use less than 133% of the FPL as their eligibility threshold, and some go up to 400% of the FPL. This is $64,114/year and $192,840/year respectively for our hypothetical family of 10. That, folks means that this family would have to make $30.80/hr. working a full-time job before they lost one single “freebie”, and would continue to qualify for at least some freebies until they earned $92.70/hr on that job. Obviously, these folks are going to be here at our expense for a long time.

    I found that they could potentially qualify for at least 30 federal programs, including medical, schooling, nutrition, legal, etc. Just a few are Head Start, Energy Assistance, higher education scholarships, special job opportunities, SNAP (formerly food stamps), WIC (women, infant, children) nutrition allotments, free school lunches and breakfasts, legal and interpreter services, etc. Obama Care subsidizes premiums for those earning less than 400% of the FPL, and reduces the deductibles, co-payments and lowers the annual out-of-pocket costs if income is less than 250% of the FPL.
    In addition to the federal programs, there are a multitude of programs provided by both Washington State and King County. Some are in conjunction with federal programs, some are stand alone programs. These include housing, welfare, free phone and monthly plans for 250 free minutes plus 250 free text messages per month, and on and on and on. King County Housing Authority (KCHA) bases their eligibility on the AMI. A person must have 80% or less of the AMI to qualify. For our hypothetical family, this is $94,550/yr. KCHA proudly states that most people pay no more than 30% of their monthly income for rent and utilities. For our state, SNAP eligibility is based on income less than 133% of the FPL. For our family of 10, this is $64,114. At this level, this family would receive $1,250/mo. for food. This is in addition to their WIC money, the free breakfasts and free lunches provided at school, the food backpacks sent home from school with the children for the weekend, and the food banks (which have no eligibility requirements). I was unable to determine any solid numbers for the amount of cash these folks are eligible for via our Welfare Program. As best as I could tell, an application must be completed to determine this, but we know that there is some cash available to these families in addition to all of the free programs.

    Also, there are special freebies unique to the refugees who arrive here with little or no money. Just imagine how much one of these families will cost the taxpayers in their lifetime! We might need these marijuana taxes to help pay the debt we’re incurring daily.

  6. Fuzz Hill says:

    I will admit that I have no interest in legal marijuana – however, I am also not against the will of the people as the majority voice has been recorded and must be supported. With that said, I have not been following the ‘marijuana issues’ in SeaTac or Washington State that closely – but when I do see reports of such “significant” items as the first license issued a year and a half AFTER the original vote! – I wonder why it is Colorado is already fully operational – why is Washington State so far behind? Why must Washington State treat this as something new and not simply use Colorado as the model (why reinvent the wheel?)… I see this all too frequently in many things this city does – treats common issues and interests as NEW situations and opportunities and manufactured ‘unique’ needs…