Port Commissioners delay vote on funding for Flight Corridor Safety program


Jim Langston, Debi Wagner, and Walter Bala were among those who testified against the proposed Flight Corridor Safety Program’s tree-cutting plans at the Oct. 25 Port of Seattle Commission meeting.

For the second time in a month, Port of Seattle Commissioners have delayed a vote on approving additional funding for the Port’s proposed Flight Corridor Safety Program, a three-phase plan that would remove over 2700 tall trees from both public and private property around Sea-Tac Airport over the next three years.

At their Tuesday (Oct. 25) meeting, after hearing testimony from residents in Burien and Des Moines who questioned the Port’s need to remove that many trees, Port Commissioners decided to postpone voting on a request to dedicate an additional half million dollars to a project that already has been approved to the tune of $2,731,000.

Commissioner Stephanie Bowman noted that previous tree removal campaigns, which have been conducted to comply with Federal Aviation Administration standards for safe airspace, have targeted only 50-100 trees at a time. In those situations, the FAA was the agency that identified which trees needed to be removed. This is the first time that the Port of Seattle has conducted its own analysis of trees that could potentially obstruct safe flight operations. Bowman was concerned about the disparity between the scope of previous tree removal operations and the one currently proposed by Port staff.

This past summer, the Port of Seattle conducted a SEPA review on Phase One of the project, which would bring down 1200 trees, and determined that an Environmental Impact Study/Statement was not necessary. The City of SeaTac has filed an appeal in King County Superior Court, arguing that the SEPA review should have been for the total project, not just Phase One, and that automatically would have triggered the need for an EIS.

Commission President John Creighton brought up the City of SeaTac’s concerns.

“That really makes me want to pause,” Creighton said, and noted that he hoped to work with the City to resolve some of those issues before moving forward with the tree-cutting plan.

Echoing the concerns of other commissioners that the Port had not done enough to listen to community input, Commissioner Fred Felleman noted that the Port had scheduled a Nov. 1 community open house on the SeaTac Airport Flight Safety Program.

“The idea of taking this vote prior to a public meeting really sticks in my craw,” Felleman said.

The open house/community meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 1, from 6-8:30 p.m. at Bow Lake Elementary School, 18237 42nd Avenue S in SeaTac. The public is encouraged to attend and give feedback. Program details are at http://www.portseattle.org/safecorridor

Translators are available so that non-English speaking residents can participate. To arrange for a translator, call the Port’s language help line at 206-787-3797 and press the following extensions for help with:

  • Spanish – ext. 1
  • Vietnamese – ext. 2
  • Somali – ext. 3
  • Cambodian – ext. 4
  • For all other languages, press ext. 5.


2 Responses to “Port Commissioners delay vote on funding for Flight Corridor Safety program”
  1. Vicki Lockwood says:

    Thank you for reporting so promptly on this meeting. Hoping that we can begin a convesation with the Port that results in positive solutions for the survival of our neighborhoods as well as their need to make changes. We know they’re in our backyard, and hopefully they’ll begin to recognize us as partners as they make decisions. We can enhance travellers’ “SeaTac Experience” if we have an inviting neighborhood to great those visitors who venture outside the airport. Wouldn’t it be great to see a clearly marked safe pedestrian from the airport to Highway 99 where folks could be entertained or shop or dine in our City and not be confined to the airport grounds during a layover, etc.? We could be an airport where people actually built in an intentional layover (many are already

  2. Vicki Lockwood says:

    Sorry for the unfinished comment above. I was in the midst of composing it when it just disappeared from site, so I thought it was lost in cyberspace. Since I cannot delete or edit that truncated post above, I am posting a second comment below that may make more sense.

    Thanks for posting this article. I hope many of us living near the airport attend the Nov. 1st Open House. We can change the interaction between us and the Port if we all work together with positive energy to arrive at solutions for both the Port and for us, their neighbors. We could be a great asset for the travelers’ “SeaTac Experience.”

    There are already many travelers who are intentionally routing themselves to their final destination via a stop at SeaTac. Amazing as it may sound to us, these folks are building in a 4-5 hr. layover at our airport to buy some legal Marijuana, knowing that they won’t get ‘busted’ at the airport when re-boarding. We could build on this mentality and expand our audience by giving all of the travelers a reason to experience our businesses immediately outside the airport. What if they had a well-marked easy pedestrian pathway to Highway 99 where they’d find a walkable street featuring some small retail shops, unique restaurants, cultural and entertainment venues? What about a picnic at Angle Lake where food vendors abounded and Council Member Fernald’s dream Ferris Wheel was strategically located so that people would have a view of Mt. Rainier. Where else could you fish or swim within walking distance of an international airport? Let’s make our airport the “Jewel” layover airport of the world!

    I’m certain you all have much better visions of what we could offer the airport’s customers. Please attend this Bow Lake Open House and begin our positive conversation with the Port!