Minor disturbance at SeaTac Council, good wishes for departing Jeff Robinson

By Jack Mayne

It was a minor affair, but a group of Somali business operators in the International Boulevard area wanted to protest plans by the city to let the area be developed for major new businesses, and attempted to speak after the public presentation time had passed.

Council also approved a series of small cellular antennas and gave departing a key to the city to Community and Economic Development Director Jeff Robinson, who is leaving SeaTac to become Tacoma’s Community and Economics Director.

Demand to speak rejected
At the opening of the SeaTac City Council session, Mayor Michael Siefkes called the names of two Somali citizens who had signed up to speak during the normal public comment period at the opening of regular Council session. Neither of the people who were signed up where apparently in the council chambers at the time, so the mayor moved on to others.

People identified as Somali business operators in the International Boulevard business area the city wants to get redeveloped, then demanded to be heard out of turn, adding he was going to disrupt the meeting.

“No, you are not, no you are not,” said Siefkes.

A female asked if they would be arrested, Siefkes said “you are out of order” and called upon Police Chief Carl Cole to “take care of this.” The matter moved to the building lobby where Cole reportedly had to ask additional officers to come to eventually clear the City Hall.

There had voices of a conversation in other parts of the City Council chamber while Councilmember Peter Kwon made telephone comments but noise of voices elsewhere in the chamber were growing louder. Kwon finished his committee report and was followed by Councilmember Joel Wachtel, also on the telephone. Bother were attending a meeting elsewhere.

Councilmember Pam Fernald was giving a report on her committee assignments when she commented that noise in the back of the Council chambers were disturbing her.

Apparently the minor disruption was caused by some of the many small businesses have sprung up in the four-acre parcel and commercial structure located at 15247 International Blvd. The property is located directly across International Boulevard from the Tukwila International Boulevard light rail station.

Robinson will be ‘missed’; Pilcher named
City Manager Joe Scorcio has named Steve Pilcher, the city planning director, as Robinson’s successor as community and economic Development director, effective July 8.

Scorcio said Robinson and Pilcher have been “a good economics team.”

“I am going to seriously miss Jeff every day in the work that he has done,” Scorcio told the Council. “Jeff has been a great asset to the city – his loss will be noted in the city and not necessarily for the things you see here in front of the Council … but for the thousands of things he does every day to make our organization better and work more effectively.

“The leadership team will certainly miss his input and judgement,” Scorcio said.

Mayor Siefkes said Robinson knew how to unlock doors “I didn’t even know existed” and he would miss his work that includes “over a billion (dollars) in investment in a city of 29,000 people.”

Other Councilmembers also lauded the departing Robinson for his service to the city before the Council recessed for cake and conversation.

Pilcher has worked with Robinson, said Scorcio, and has been involved with the dealings with the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and continuity is important for the development director’s position. He will take on the job officially when Robinson leaves on July 9.

“Steve is deeply imbedded in all of the major issues that we are facing right now,” said Scorcio. “His ability to move into this position and to maintain the momentum and all of the positive changes that have been going on … is the reason Steve is the right guy at the right time, in the right place.” He added that he originally hired Pilcher as the planning manager and “his credentials in the planning area are absolutely solid. His credentials in the management area are equally as solid, and I want your support … in Steve’s new task.”

Small Cell wireless
The Council considered and approved unanimously three franchise agreements for small cellular phone and data services with Verizon, Mobilitie, and New Cingular (AT&T). The services are seeking arrangements with all cities and counties in the Northwest.

The staff prepared Council packet says “this service deploys smaller cellular antennae for installation, typically on existing pole structures, (for example) street light poles, utility poles) in the right-of-way. These small cells contain radios and antennas (often multiple) as well as power and fiber optic wires to transmit cellular phone and data signals. This infrastructure augments capacity for data traffic in dense areas, “dead zones,” and downtown cores and residential neighborhoods.”

The small antennas must be above ground because they are communicate antenna to antenna line of sight.

Council also approved a contract with Lockridge Grindal Nauen “to provide environmental consulting services for review of environmental documents issued by the Port of Seattle in regards to the Sea-Tac International Airport Sustainable Airport Master Plan and particularly concerning airport noise. Costs will be shared by all four cities with SeaTac’s share $43,000, said Planning Director Steve Pilcher. He said The Inter local Agreement with the Port of Seattle specifies SeaTac will be the contract administrator and Burien will be responsible for fiscal management.

The Council also unanimously approved a development agreement with Alaska Air Group Real Property to allow the development of the Copper River Project on property located between International Boulevard and 28th Avenue South at South 192nd Street.

In other business
The City Manager introduced two new, accounting technician Tracy Hansen and legal assistant Brenda Cruz. The Council confirmed mayoral appointment of Richard Whaley to the cities’ Hotel/Motel Tax Advisory Committee.


3 Responses to “Minor disturbance at SeaTac Council, good wishes for departing Jeff Robinson”
  1. Lonnie Lopez says:

    The Seatac City Council considers people trying to petition their government to be a “minor disturbance.” The Council SHOULD have seen that these folks were speaking on the same issue and let them speak. Be a LOT more accommodating to those folks (most of us) don’t know Robert’s Rules of Order. You serve the PEOPLE. What kind of right wing sh-t show do you folks having going on down there?

    • Earl Gipson says:

      Had nothing to do with right wing anything. Showing up on time, reading the posted agenda, and everybody would have been able to speak. You don’t have to know Robert’s Rules to figure that out.

    • seatac says:

      public comment during council meetings is a privilege, not a right. perhaps if everyone understood this and is respectful of this privilege, there would be no problems.

      here’s what washington state law says regarding public comments at council meetings:

      F. Right to Speak at Meetings
      The OPMA does not require a governing body to allow public comment at a public meeting. If a governing body does allow public comment, it has authority to limit the time of speakers to a uniform amount (such as three minutes) and the topics speakers may address.