The Cactus Speaks: Just City Stuff

[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

Nothing much to be a wise acre about this time …(well maybe a little) but not to worry the SeaTac Council always comes thru for us. Here now is the news (from Tuesday’s Study Session and Council meeting).

The City-owned lakefront property (commonly known as the Hughes Property) has received a Purchase and Sale Agreement from TMI Marriott. This was an unsolicited offer for ~ 5.5 million for ~ 2/3 of the property. The City retains the 1/3 on the waterfront with a connecting easement to Angle Lake Park. A 140 room “extended stay” hotel will be built on the front (west) two-thirds. The City has owned the property since 1997 (purchased for 2.8 million) so this represents an approximate Return on Investment of 4 percent plus the perks such as the majority of the property returning to the tax rolls, the retention of the waterfront and additional revenue from construction tax, Hotel/Motel tax (when operational). So far, so good.

The question will arise as I am bringing it up now is where the 5.5 million in proceeds will go.  Since this was a capital investment it SHOULD go into Capital Funds, infrastructure, etc and not the General Fund for recurring costs. This allows the City to make needed improvements throughout the City, increasing value and producing yet more revenue. Putting all of it into the General Funding would be just flushing it (like we are with the lease revenue from SeaTac Center where we took from the Port ILA funds, meant for capital, and are not repaying it).  This is my opinion based on experience and I would humbly ask for yours in the comments to this article or at a Council meeting.

On a less than “high” note the Council was cited for dragging their feet on the marijuana producers/processors ordinance (speakers-Goddess Foods and Citizen Janice Taylor).  It was stated the other Cities took 3 weeks to 3 months to make a decision. We are scheduled to take 6 months before it is even considered. How is this business friendly? The revenue (~ 2 million annually from the proposals) will just go to other jurisdiction/s that have figured out that pot is now legal and there are tax dollars to be had. At the rate our Council is proceeding, we will have missed the boat, the train, the flight, and be sitting in the waiting rooms wondering how to buy a ticket when it is being waved in our Council’s faces.

Finally, in the Study Session the new Community Building Committee gave an update for their year’s worth of work. They got their mission statement done, communication guidelines established, and a contact list of Community organizations that have already been created. So basically nothing that couldn’t have been done in a week, and their “products” seem redundant to the Human Services Advisory Committee.  As many Citizens already said, we told you so. Lots of stating the obvious, lots of meetings, and lots of nothing.


5 Responses to “The Cactus Speaks: Just City Stuff”
  1. Vicki Lockwood says:

    I agree with Earl’s evaluation of the sale of the Hughe’s property. It’s time that we get this valuable piece of property back on our tax roles. Something built here that creates jobs and additional benefits for our City is a good thing. And what a bonus for our citizens to hang on to the waterfront portion of this property! The easements between our Angle Lake Park and this property did not happen without some creativity by our Staff, and I appreciate their efforts and applaud their success.

    Earl didn’t mention the dialogue that occurred during the Study Session regarding creating a walking path around Tubb Lake. I have never been to Tubb Lake, but I saw the pictures of it and heard about some of the birds, plants and natural beauty of this currently neglected inaccessible area during this Study Session. (You can see the presentation and discussion by going to and viewing the 4/22/14 meeting on your computer.) This appears to be an absolute gem within our City that we currently cannot enjoy. Council Member Fernald and Parks Director Ledbetter both shared their strong desire to create safe public access to this unique area, using money we already have that can only be used for trails within our City. But Mr. Anderson and Ms. Gregerson just couldn’t stand to see this project come to fruition without trying to throw their perceived self-importance in the way. Mr. Anderson asked several times if there isn’t anywhere else that we could legally spend this money instead of at Tubb Lake. He and Ms. Gregerson both suggested a trail between the Angle Lake Light Rail Station and Des Moines. Certainly they would rather spend the money in their end of town than to do something to enhance our North SeaTac neighborhood. I believe these two would rather have us flush the available money down the toilet than to spend the money outside of their own cozy little neighborhood. Why should we build a trail to Des Moines? Our solid citizens are fleeing from SeaTac fast enough as it is. If Des Moines wants or needs a trail from the new rail station to their city, let them build it! Tubb Lake is in our City.

    As for the marijuana issue, I am not frustrated with the pace that our Council is taking on this issue. There is a very high price to pay for being “on the cutting edge” of anything. Initially this newly legalized product will be very expensive to administer from a legal and law enforcement aspect. The rules will be dynamic, resulting in “fuzzy” enforcement … what was ok yesterday might not be ok today, what is not ok today might be ok tomorrow, etc. Fuzzy enforcement will result in excessive legal battles and court appearances. Despite the projected windfall tax bonuses projected from legal marijuana, I do not think they will pay the additional City overhead in the beginning. Once this industry matures as a legal product, the rules will become more stable and the taxes generated may break even with the cost to be a “host city” of these activities. In my opinion, let some other city be the laboratory for this product … R & D is very expensive. I have no problem with our City sitting on the sidelines for a while. Remember those who couldn’t wait to have private liquor stores in our state? That projected profit for the businesses hasn’t been realized and the liquor tax revenues have decreased dramatically.

  2. Janice Taylor says:

    Regarding Tub Lake: Of course the angle Lake Country Clubbers are going to be against it. They only want money spent on “their” lake. Why would they care about an area they never visit and never see? Here’s how it seems to work at North SeaTac Park—A group of people, be it disc golfers, RCV enthusiasts, rugby players, etc., approach the City with a request to make use of some space within the boundaries of the park. They then put in lots of their money and man hours to make it happen and to maintain the areas. Yes, the parks department helps, and they are wonderful, but basically we have citizens and interested parties making the improvements. Let’s not forget the many years Neighbors Without Borders has been hosting clean-up. Right now, Tub Lake’s use is mostly as a homeless camp, with local walkers and interested parties looking after it. The ALCC’ers decide something would be cool at their park, and the City does all the work. Just look at the City budget to see all the Angle Lake improvements slated. Heck, the ALCC’ers even jumped on NWB’s coattails for this Earth Day’s annual clean-up!

    Regarding marijuana, I am frustrated with the way the City handles the issue. They dragged their feet about medicinal marijuana, losing revenue to Seattle and Burien. Same thing now. As for legal and law enforcement costs, I-502 included percentages of tax revenue going back into those areas, in a sense paying for it. I applied to Seattle Police back in the early 1990’s. Even at that time, the police felt they had bigger fish to fry than pot smokers. Legal costs are saved by not having to arrest and prosecute smokers. As for revenues, one just has to look at Colorado to see how profitable for the state pot can be. The City of SeaTac is more concerned about the Feds than their costs, and as I said in my comments, SeaTac isn’t big enough or important enough for the Feds to go after when Denver, Boulder and Seattle are higher profile. We The People of the State of Washington voted to allow legalized production and sales of marijuana, and I-509 was well-written. SeaTac is not a test case doing any R&D, that was done beforehand by people vested in making it work. Yippee skippee, SeaTac is getting yet another airport hotel, but I’ve always felt this city depends on the airport entirely too much. That all eggs in one basket thing. I don’t see many types of businesses clamoring to make SeaTac home, and I think the city is missing great revenue opportunities in dragging its heals.

  3. Pam F. says:

    “… the ALCC’ers even jumped on NWB’s coattails for this Earth Day’s annual clean-up!”

    Just wanted to clarify that NWOBAC has been doing organized Earth Day park clean ups in the North SeaTac Park area, assisted by parks maintenance staffed trucks and city supplied grabbers and bags, for 7 years now. We have lots of fun!

    Angle Lake has been doing clean ups around the lake for a long time as far as I know.

    I believe this is the 2nd year the city has conducted a city wide Earth Day clean up..

  4. Dan Decker says:

    A thief by any other name would be a skunk.

  5. Dan Decker says:

    Kathie Brave I believe city hall can get beat. They just pretend not to notice. Any time we take one minuet or one penny from them, “We Win”. If a person wants to beat city hall just go to meetings and speak, do one public disclosure per week, write an Initiative or Referendum, make complaint when you see a wrong happen just move forward and do not care what your government thinks about you. Just do it for the good of Truth, Justice and the American Way. Fear not and win