Tree removal near Sea-Tac Airport being required by the Feds, not the Port


By Jack Mayne

The proposed cutting down of “the draconian 2,270 trees” in the flight path corridors at Sea-Tac Airport was highlighted at the SeaTac City Council session Tuesday night (Sept. 13), with the Port of Seattle plan being opposed by the administrator of the South King County Cultural Association.

Councilmembers, however, were told that the Port was only carrying out the mandate of the Federal Aviation Administration. Not to do what the FAA requires could have drastic implications, even to curtailing the number or type of flights, or possibly even losing federal grants to help finance the airport and the area.

Barbara McMichael, the administrator of the cultural association, said “one of the things that has come up increasingly (from her members) is about trees,” and the fact that the “wholesale removal of so many trees from our community is becoming of increasing concern for our members … and the Port of Seattle’s plan to remove anywhere from 1,600 to 2,270 trees.”

She said that not all of the trees can be saved, but perhaps most not would have to go.

Don’t blame Port
The Port of Seattle is not the instigator of the tree removal program, as it is mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration that controls all planes when they are taking off, landing or are in flight.

Plus, Port officials in charge of the program say the removal of trees on private property will not begin until 2018, and after a thorough research of each situation.

All federally charged airports are required each five years to survey landing and takeoff zones by the FAA, and it requires removal of anything over a set height. The official name of the program is the “Flight Safety Corridor Program.”

Unlike some cities in the nation, at Sea-Tac Airport there are no buildings that have to be removed. In one city a tall apartment had to be torn down.

Here, the Port of Seattle plans to replace the removed trees with 4,000 native species trees to replace 2,270 trees taken down. The replaced trees are of a type that will not grow high enough to be problems in the future, Port officials told The SeaTac Blog on Thursday.

Here are some graphics provided by the Port; click images to see larger versions/slideshow:


A larger (27MB) PDF version of this graphic can be downloaded here.



Since the phase of removing trees from private property will not begin until 2018, there is time for individuals to work with Port officials on individual solutions. Residents with tall trees on their property can call a phone number on the Port website to have someone come to their property to see potential problems and advise people individually. Or they can email to [email protected].

For more information on this project, visit

Parking tax hike?
Acting City Manager Joe Scorcio presented a resolution that states the Council’s “intent to amend the Municipal Code related to parking and the commercial parking tax.” This is an issue that has been raised many times in the recent past and includes whether to increase the short term parking tax, whether to increase the tax periodically and whether a parking permit system should be adopted to “mitigate the impacts” of the airport and Sound Transit light rail stations “on the city’s streets, especially in residential neighborhoods.”

The current system was approved in 2005.

But the resolution notes that it “does not bind the City Council to any decisions regarding” changes in the tax amounts

Mayor Michael Siefkes asked Scorcio if the Port met the performance standards in the current parking law.

“They have not. The agreement provides for adjustment of the rates if the parking tax revenue does not achieve 90 percent of the estimate” but the tax only raised 76 percent of the tax income estimate – “well below the estimated we perceived.”

Alcohol in the park?
Rick Harwood, representing Duwamish Southside Rotary Club, said the group and others want have the city waive or change its ban on alcoholic beverages in SeaTac city parks so a fundraising event can take place next June at the Highline Botanical Garden that would include wine and beer tasting. He said the event would be private and an entrance ticket would be required, and that normally the Rotary club supported the ban on beer and wine in parks except for special occasions, as this one would be.

Harwood said the fundraiser would be to support Rotary giving to various local school and community needs.

New employees
Acting City Manager Joseph Scorcio introduced newly promoted Cultural Service Manager Brian Tomisser and new city employees including GIS analyst Anna Yost, recently promoted Recreation and Community Service Officer Sana Toutai-Wight, Associate Planner Brianna Burroughs, and Judicial Support Specialist Nelda Medina.

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