SeaTac Council on new sidewalks and state legislation on airport, Firs

By Jack Mayne

Whether new sidewalks should be discussed with residents before being made city projects was debated by the SeaTac City Council during its regular session Tuesday night (April 10).

While the mayor and other members of the Council were stressing undergrounding of utilities as sidewalks are built, a neighboring city finds that may be a problem because of low power cellular networks.

The Council also heard from their legislative consultant on how the city did with its requests for state help, and were rewarded with a study of health problems with the proposed increase of the size of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and a new 509 interchange.

Sidewalks, Undergrounding?
The Sidewalk Advisory Committee selected two projects for the next year. One is 34th Ave South, between South 160th St. and South 164th St., and later to extend the sidewalks all the way to 166th. The other project is South 200th St. between Des Moines Creek Trailhead and Des Moines Memorial Drive, said Public Works Director Will Appleton. He said grants are possible for both projects, in the order of $1 million for each.

Mayor Michael Siefkes asked if people know they may have sidewalks constructed in front of the homes and Appleton said that has not yet been done but is part of the city’s process. Citizen notification takes place during the design of a project, then again just before construction is to commence. Appleton said the city is taking “a much harder look at” undergrounding utility wires.

Although the neighboring city of Des Moines has had concerns of undergrounding, because of new demands for low-powered cellular networks that will provide cellular and data coverage to smaller geographic areas and that supplement the larger cell network. Those services require line-of-sight connections from poles and some areas of that city may be reinstalling poles removed due to undergrounding in the past.

“You can imagine that if you are in a neighborhood that paid for an LID (local improvement district) to underground and now you find the poles are going right back up to put another device in the air and limiting the impacts will be important,” said Des Moines consultant Scott Snyder, a lawyer in the Seattle office of the law firm Ogden, Murphy, Wallace.

Siefkes said he would prefer having the decision made at the next regular Council meeting in two weeks now that there is not a study session before each meeting. Councilmember Joel Wachtel suggested The SeaTac Blog could be enlisted to inform residents of the potential of a sidewalk in front of their homes. Siefkes suggested that some people object to sidewalks in front of their homes.

City Manager Joe Scorcio said in the past the decisions on sidewalks were made on the basis of how much money was available, “and that is not the best way to design — you set a standard, you achieve the standard, otherwise you never have time or money to go back in and underground them.”

At the Legislature
Briahna Murray of city consultants Gordon, Thomas Honeywell Government Affairs gave the Council an overview of actions – or not – by the recently completed session that was controlled by the Democrats for the first time since 2013.

Murray said the Legislature approved $300,000 for an airport impact study, but local cities must match any amount taken from the state funds. The study will include beneficial or negative impacts of Sea-Tac Airport actitivies including air traffic noise, public health effects and traffic affects on congestion and parking in residential areas, amongst other issues.

SeaTac will be expected to contribute $2 million to get an interchange from 188th to the freeway, Murray said.

The Firs
Because of the events surrounding the potential closure of the Firs mobile home park, Rep. Tina Orwall led efforts, said Murray, there will be increased “cost recovery and collaboration with financial institutions if a home is either abandoned, foreclosed or a nuisance.” If a financial institution does not abate the property — fix or demolish it — the city can do that and “recover its costs” from the owner by placing an unlimited … lien on the property.”

Murray brought up mobile home park legislation at the legislative session noting a bill by state Rep. Cindy Ryu of Shoreline, supported at hearings by Councilmember Peter Kwon, that would have allowed tenants to “receive additional relocation assistance.”

“Unfortunately, the bill died in the final step of the process,” Murray told Councilmembers, seemingly because of legislative time constraints — legislators didn’t want to take time to finish the process.

The state Department of Commerce has allocated $2.5 million to purchase the Firs, available until mid-2019, Murray said. There is a question as to whether the money is available to other mobile home parks, not just for the Firs.

Other actions
City Clerk Kristina Gregg said the Councilmembers and mayor have made changes in its committee structure, including removing the subject of human services allocations from the Administrative and Finance committee and realigning other committees and creation of a parks and recreation committee.

The new Council committee lineup, including some name changes, is on the city’s website.

Resident Bob Simmons, representing Angle Lake Manor Community Club, told the regular Council meeting during public comment period he and the north shore Angle Lake residents want a reduction in the fees of some right-of-way permits for its annual neighborhood parade and resident singalong. Simmons said he was “shocked” at an increase of the right of way permit this year. It increased from $126 last year to $410 this year, and he asked for consideration to lower the amount.

Mayor Michael Siefkes proclaimed Sikh Heritage day on April 14 and presented a proclamation to Kent City Councilmember Satwinder Kaur. The proclamation said Sikhism “is a religion founded in the Punjab region in India and was introduced to the United States in the 19th century,” and now has about 25 million adherents from “diverse backgrounds throughout the world, including 500,000 in the United States.”

Stanley Tomb was re-appointed for a full term on the SeaTac Planning Commission.


One Response to “SeaTac Council on new sidewalks and state legislation on airport, Firs”
  1. Earl Gipson says:

    The $2.5 million allocated to the Firs may in fact be illegal and would probably be challenged in court. See the following discussion from the Municipal Reearch and Service Center.