The Cactus Speaks: City/Airport Interlocal Agreement: Loaded with Air and Water

[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 always seeking additional regular columnists to reflect different opinions and views of SeaTac residents. Those interested can e-mail us at [email protected].]

City/Airport Interlocal Agreement: Loaded with Air and Water

By Earl Gipson

A different Cactus Column. These are just my Public Comments regarding the proposed Interlocal Agreement to be voted on 12/12/17. Pretty long and thank you for your patience…

December 5, 2017

Dear Port of Seattle Commission and SeaTac City Council,

My name is Earl Gipson. I have been in aviation for over 40 years, and my company is Gipson Technical Services (since 1996). Still debating whether I am retired or not. My home and office are located in the City of SeaTac at 17050 51st Ave South. My company’s primary function is writing/generating compliance documents/processes under Title 14 of the Code of Federation Regulations-Aeronautics and Space. Title 14 is also commonly know as the FAR’s (Federal Aviation Regulations).

The City of SeaTac and the Port have Seattle chosen to enter into an Interlocal Agreement and provided materials and the proposed agreement for Public Comments on line. Herein lies mine, starting with the Executive Summary.

Comments-Executive summary

Found at:

Page 1 Second Paragraph under Paragraph 2

“As stated in the Guiding Principles established by the JAC before commencing negotiations, the focus of this Agreement is about the City and the Port‘s unique relationship and a shared goal of ‘moving forward together’ rather than focusing on the past.”

This needs to be deleted. There is no reason the City should forget the port Guiding Principles hooey and this paragraph just reminds SeaTac Citizens just how the port has ripped us in the past. The ~ 24 million in parking taxes comes to mind right off the bat. Best not mention it all. Ignoring and manipulating the City’s regulations/requirements has been a pattern. Food trucks/cell phone lot just a recent example. See final comments.

Comments-Permitting and Inspections

According to promises and discussions throughout the past two years, permitting was supposed to revert to the City of SeaTac (where it should be). The reasoning that the port has 75 projects going at the same time, all need a quick turnaround, and the port has unique expertise is a hollow argument. The jurisdiction/responsibility lies with the City and using the port as an agent is the fox guarding the hen house.

Case in point is the airport freeway design. Crossing of three lanes of traffic in 1000 ft to take an exit coming from departures is insane and is reflected in how people drive on it. Departing from airport parking to get to a local hotel/motel with no exit till SR518/I-405? The double fuel increase for the vans, taxies, and ride shares since this freeway opened tells us the port has no more expertise than any other incompetent highway engineers and/or planners.

Permitting is a methodological approach to compliance to a set of rules, inspections requirements, and milestones. Nothing more than project management. Gearing up the staff of the City beats letting the port do pretty much as it pleases (like the past doesn’t matter). The City of SeaTac is/should be the check and balance on the port for the benefit of all the Cities that abut the airport.

While the new ILA requires the port to enter into the SeaTac system all permits issued (to themselves) any non-compliance should be met with immediate withdrawal of their status as permit agent/delegate.

Comments-Surface Water Management

The discounts to the port are excessive. Considering the fact there are over 3 square miles of impervious surfaces (most of it contiguous) the rate should even be higher rather than discounted in excess of the SeaTac Municipal Code. Commercial businesses in our City get a set discount for surface water actions and private residents get none no matter their actions to contain/control it on their own properties.

Yes, per paragraph 6.3 (B) of the ILA, the airport is unique but not in the way of discounts but in fees that should be greater than routine commercial properties. Paragraph 6.3(B)1 provides for over a 50 percent discount to the port for Surface Water Management (SWM) to the tune of $1.2 million annually. A single small SWM project in our City easily exceeds that cost and these are shared funds across the entire City. The port/airport continues not to pay its fair share to the City Of SeaTac in this agreement.


The Port has already been challenged on their Determinations of Non-Significance issued on a number of occasions and these challenges, because of their complexity almost always come from someone with lots of attorneys. The City of SeaTac can review the SEPA documents but cannot release them until the Port gets to change them. Reading between the lines. See Paragraph 6.1 (B)(b)(i). How convenient.

If you wish to view the Port’s SEPA appeal process see Section 21 of:

All I have time for on this subject. Clock is ticking.

Comments-Public Safety and General Services

Referring to Paragraph 7.6. 1 Community Relief I do not believe the $1.4 million is adequate for impacts related to airport operations. $2.0 million sound much better with a clause that allows increases based on metrics.

The wording of Paragraph 7.6.1 limits the City from asking for more during the term of the agreement and 7.6.2 allows the Port to withhold payment should the City need to sue them when Dispute Resolution fails under Paragraph 2.4. How is this good for the City of SeaTac?

Further, it was stated by the port that the FAA does not allow “Revenue Diversion” and Community Relief cannot be paid from airport revenues and come from other sources. I assume they are talking about this document:

See page 7704, third column, under “final policy” where the FAA provides for some flexibility depending on how the request is worded, related, and otherwise proven. That’s an attorney question, however whether this conversation even took place with the FAA is where I have some doubts. I have the assurances of port and City officials that it did but I require documentation to truly believe that.


You will get nowhere with me talking badly about the FAA. The FAA is one, if not the most successful agencies/bureaucracies of the Federal Government, The FAA’s mandate when they were created on August 23,1958 was to promote airline travel AND safety. They have accomplished both in fantastic fashion in the 60 years of their existence. The 10’s of thousands of huge and complex flying machines now traverse our skies daily mostly without a thought. When a rare something goes terribly wrong there is unfortunately few survivors and headlines for weeks.

I have worked with the FAA for decades. Never did they lie to me or refuse to discuss issues relating to safety, aircraft, and/or my client’s concerns. Of course we had disagreements (mostly with me being the more anal) but we always worked them out. They will always have my respect for the work they do and what they have accomplished.

I hope someone really did talk with the FAA and can provide some proof.


Request for Public Hearing: Denied

Request for extension of approval/vote to early 2018: Denied (Current agreement does not expire till mid-February)

Request for Public Records of 3rd party review prior to vote: Denied. Attorney/Client privilege was cited as the reason those records are withheld till 12/28/17 (after the vote). Who knows what I’ll get.

Does anyone see a pattern here? It was stated by SeaTac Mayor Siefkes in the Airport Committee that without a 12/12/17 vote/decision there would be no ILA and the port would balk. I pray that our hostages held by the port are released safely.

Has the zebra/port changed its stripes? Just recently this year a pilot program was initiated regarding Food Trucks at the airport cell phone lot by the port. The City was not consulted and it was clearly a violation of our current code and a complete disregard for our jurisdiction/prohibition of these businesses (thus far). I have nothing against food trucks as long as they pay our sales taxes but the port acted unilaterally (again) until they were caught.

It is a shame I have to rush these comments (today is the deadline) and could not go paragraph by paragraph. There is at least 10 pages of “air” in this 76 page legal document that serve no purpose but only to sell us this thing and tell us how great the negotiators are/were and a kum bah yah singing is forthcoming/inevitable by both parties. I am far more cynical and do study the past.

Time will tell on that note but there is yet a larger one coming. The airport is out of room/land for projected operations/passengers. Unless we learn how to stack commercial aircraft the projected operations will not fit. A hush house, hangers, and a new second terminal all in the existing 2500 acres? This will make us the densest airport in the nation and it has never been done before nor should it be.

The reality is that we will inevitably need another international airport somewhere. This will take 4 square miles of contiguous space somewhere either obtained by eminent domain or other method of land acquisition. Any ideas?

Well folks that’s all I have time for or my homework will be tardy (due 12/05/17) and be dismissed.

Cactus Song Selection
Something just brought this to mind. Didn’t pay much attention to the video.

Won’t Get Fooled Again-Rolling Stones-1971:



One Response to “The Cactus Speaks: City/Airport Interlocal Agreement: Loaded with Air and Water”
  1. Earl Gipson says:

    Additional note: The Port Commission will be voting on the ILA at their meeting at Pier 69, Seattle sometime after 1:00 PM Tuesday (12/12/17). The meeting is open to Public Comment. see:

    The City of SeaTac will be voting on the ILA at their Special Council Meeting at City Hall sometime after 6:00 PM also Tuesday. Public Comment also accepted. see:

    The heck if I’m driving to Seattle. See you at SeaTac City Hall.