The Cactus Speaks: Phony stakeholder meetings short on stakeholders

[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 different opinions and views of SeaTac residents. Those interested can e-mail us at [email protected].]

by Earl Gipson

Phony stakeholder meetings short on stakeholders

If you were going to lose thousands in equity in your property because of regulatory changes would you start changing those regulations? Of course you would, but some City of SeaTac staffers don’t think so.

Calm down. Not ragging on the staff in general. I will name the proper names.

Don Robinett is SeaTac’s Storm Water Compliance Manager and Low Impact Development (LID) a Subset of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES).

Mr. Robinett chose to invite contractors and suppliers who would profit from LID to a stakeholders meeting and exclude those stakeholders who would have to pay for it. Anyone having a property of 14,400 Sq Ft or more (dividable and developable property), the costs of tests, monitoring, and inspections will come right off the top of your equity regardless if you sell it to another developer or not. These are the real stakeholders and could cost them/you $10,000 and up of value (I’m being very conservative).

Do we even need a Strom Water Compliance Manager (with two subordinates)? Unless they are inserted into our drainage systems during a storm to divert water, I would say not.

Tree retention was also included in the LID proposal by Mr. Robinett (which took a two-year Herculean effort for the Citizens to defeat in 2008. Private Citizens had to organize/contact stakeholders to allow us to grow, maintain, and cultivate trees on our own private property. Some of those honored citizens now sit on our Council. Again this was one “Richard Head” (French for Steve Butler-former SeaTac Director of Planning) staff member making his own fiefdom and grinding the Citizens and businesses under his heal. This is a story in itself and is extremely germane to the current $18.3 million judgment against the city. Mr. Butler has escaped justice thus far. That story will have to wait. Let’s continue.

LID forces property owners/developers to use methods of construction and materials in storm water control that are known to fail, known for high maintenance, and yet they must be warranted by the builders/property owners. The peddlers of this stuff/crap were the ones invited to the “stakeholders” meeting.

Will Appleton, SeaTac Public Works Director-Robinett’s boss and Traffic Impact Fees (TIF).
Should anyone subdivide (properties (14,400 Sq Ft) you will find your TIF tripled for peak trip hours. Mr. Appleton drove this effort. He had a stakeholders meeting AFTER the Planning Commission made their recommendation and one day before the Council meeting where action was to be taken. Again the same affected property owners were not invited to this designed to be useless stakeholders meeting.

Systemic/intentional exclusion and limitation to property owners/stakeholders input
Some members of staff (both past and present) and previous councilmembers have vigorously fought attempts by the citizens and businesses of this city to be informed of changes that directly affect the use/rights of their property, the costs, and loss of equity as a result. Mr. Robinette and Mr. Appleton of the present staff (coincidently or not, both coming from the City of Federal Way), by their recent actions are of this ilk and need to resign/move on or change. If you are a property owner in SeaTac, they are currently not your friends and the rules don’t apply to them (kind of like Congress).

Property owners/businesses have become Enemies of the State and a cash cow for expanding bureaucratic fiefdoms. Our SeaTac Citizens and businesses have fought hard to maintain our property rights but it has become Whack-a-Mole and a full time job to monitor the “Richard Heads” as they plan the past, present, and future rape of your wallet, rights, and any equity you may have built. The will even steal your property (Kingen V SeaTac). I have just identified the two most recent moles on our staff that need whacking.

Honorable mole mention goes to SeaTac Senior City Planner Mike Scarey who is retiring after giving us his parting gift of the Critical Area Ordinance (which is also being rammed down our throats by the self-serving, self-approving Department of Ecology). His ability not to answer questions, but talking in circles (hours putting you to sleep) is something you had to witness over the years. Happy retirement Mike and we hope you get/have everything that’s coming to you.

Low Impact Development is just another way to shove regulations up your private parts, relieve you of your equity, and to make sure housing remains unaffordable so politicians and City staffs can cry for more money to counteract their own stupidity and lack of economic sense. Defending our property rights is a constant battle as government entities wrest them away from you at every opportunity.

Will get to you….
I am sorry Councilmember “no, the City did nothing wrong” Tony Anderson. I promised I would write about you but more important things keep cropping up. Be patient. You can always step down in the meantime and save me the effort and listening to your B.S. and your ability to tear up on demand (I throw up in my mouth a little when you do that). I know what your response will be. Golly!

Of course the Cactus song selection
I was a fern in a past life.

The Highwayman (Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson)- 1985



4 Responses to “The Cactus Speaks: Phony stakeholder meetings short on stakeholders”
  1. Earl Gipson says:

    It to late for the Traffic Impact Fees (TIF) issue and most likely the Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO) but the City has changed its tune on Low Impact Development (LID).Received the following:
    Good Morning

    I am writing to you because you or your organization has submitted a Site Engineering application to the City of SeaTac in the last three years and as a result may have a vested interest in the City’s engineering standards for stormwater and roads. As you may be aware, the City of SeaTac is one of more than 80 cities and counties in Western Washington required to update its engineering standards by January 1, 2017, pursuant to the Western Washington Phase II Municipal Stormwater Permit. City staff have been working diligently over the last seven months developing proposed changes to the City’s stormwater and road design and construction standards to meet new state and federal regulations. As part of this process, the City is gathering feedback from property owners and members of the development community.

    Therefore, the City is extending an invitation to participate to all interested who wish to provide feedback on these proposed changes to our engineering standards. Meetings will be held during regular business hours at SeaTac City Hall during the months of September and October of this year, as the state requires adoption of new standards by January 1, 2017.

    If you are interested in participating in the Development Stakeholder Group, please email Don Robinett, Stormwater Manager at [email protected] and you will be added to the Development Stakeholder email distribution list. Once the specific date, time and location of these meetings have been determined, you will receive email notifications of these meetings.

    Please Note: The proposed new engineering design and construction standards include the state and federal mandate to require low impact development (LID) techniques where feasible. LID is a set of structural and non-structural development practices, which focus on mimicking natural processes by infiltrating stormwater into soils onsite. LID techniques include, but are not limited to, bioretention/rain gardens and pervious paving.


    Don Robinett, MRP, CPESC
    Stormwater Manager
    City of SeaTac
    Public Works
    (206) 973-4722

  2. D Tapio says:

    The new council is tragically falling into the same trap that previous councils have. They are basing their decisions on one-sided presentations from the staff and biased government consultants. The traffic impact fee discussion was painful to listen to as it had nobody representing or standing up for the property owners. The Critical Area Ordinance is a blatant transfer of rights from the property owner to the city and nobody is providing an effective defense for the property owners. It appears the city is expanding the search for stakeholders for low impact development (LID) stormwater/road standards but it is not likely that any input will make any significant impact on the proposed regulations. The city staff and council expect citizens and volunteers to review the thousands of pages of regulations and mark up the code while the highly paid staff and consultants represent the Dept of Ecology and take away property rights, add requirements, increase the cost of housing, and add obstacles to development. All we can expect is a shallow discussion followed by the city staff explaining the financial threats from state government and then passage of the agenda bills. Very disappointed in the city manager and leadership on these issues, or the lack of leadership. Property owners will suffer for years or decades as a result of these decisions.

  3. Vicki Lockwood says:

    I cannot see the relationship between the Traffic Impact Fees (TIF) and the Critical Area Ordinance, Mr. Tapio. It’s my understanding that the new TIF fee will finally charge a developer (like you) for the impact of their development on local traffic. The citizens of SeaTac have been subsidizing this cost for 25+ years. It’s time that the developers pay an equitable fee for their projects. I cannot understand why you would oppose paying for impacts that you or other developers create. You are not being asked to reimburse us ‘non-developers’ for the subsidy we’ve been providing to you for over 25 years. You should be thanking us for paying the lion’s portion of the real cost of these impacts in the past and gracefully accept your financial responsibility for this in the future. You complain about ‘biased government consultants’ … it appears that you are equally biased for anything that benefits you personally.

  4. D Tapio says:

    The increased traffic fee, critical area ordinance, and stormwater/LID regulations all increase the cost of housing and are obstacles to development, especially the cumulative impact.

    I have volunteered hundreds of hours at many cities advocating for property owners’ interests. It’s quite a stretch to state that I work purely for self interest.

    The traffic fee was calculated based on an arbitrary list of road projects. Based on that logic the people doing the calculating could have the fee amount come out to whatever they wanted. Raising it directly increased the cost for a SeaTac property owner to build a house by $2500, making housing less affordable. The total fees collected for all new single family houses in the city will not about to very much and won’t build any roads. New construction in a low income area brings up the value of all houses and improves the neighborhood and schools so many people benefit from new houses. The fee could have been phased in over a year or two and I think that would have been a better approach.