By Jack Mayne
The SeaTac City Council has unanimously approved a staff request to retain a consultant to develop a strategic property acquisition and use plan for potential acquisition and development of properties around the city.
The action came during the Council’s regular session on Tuesday, April 13, 2021.
Earlier Council had authorized the city manager to acquire two surplus properties near the Angle Lake Sound Transit station and authorized money for the purchase of the property, but Sound Transit declined to enter into direct negotiation with the city.
Evan Maxim, SeaTac’s economic development director, said he was asking the Council to allow the city staff to work on the acquisition.
Deputy Mayor Peter Kwon said he was surprised and disappointed at Sound Transit in this matter. He said the transit agency now has set out a 30 day time period, “immediate timeline” while past Sound Transit projects had been on a delayed basis.
“Because of the speed they were moving, the intent was to basically shut out the city,” Kwon said. He recalled that when Sound Transit built the project there was “more than 10 years delay” and other projects were similar delays, but now “it’s been shorted to a 30-day time period” to “basically shut out the city, that is what it appears to be.”
“Why is SeaTac being treated differently?” Kwon asked. “I’m very disappointed at that, very suspicious.”
Not enough time
Councilmember Stanley Tombs noted the city has had issues with Sound Transit in the past and probably will again and agreed there is little chance the city can “get what we want to achieve in the time limits they’ve put on it,” referring to Sound Transit’s 30 day suggested time limit.
Councilmember Clyde Hill said it would be “a great value to have a public amenity down there serving the southern residents and I agree this looks like a rush job” from Sound Transit because it took a number of years to get them to work on this property and suddenly there is full speed ahead. It is disappointing, but it is what it is.”
Councilmember Takele Gobena said he has believed the city should not be in the real estate business and should not take up city staff time, and “is happy with this accommodation.”
Councilmember Pam Fernald wondered if the property could be used for a smaller version of the downtown Seattle Great Wheel and was told by staff it is “unlikely” that either of the two properties under consideration “would be suitable for a great wheel” because of height limitations around the airport.
Mayor Erin Sitterley the Angle Lake property would be “an outstanding opportunity” for the city to go ahead, and get some affordable housing near the transit amenities.
The Council last November passed an ordinance for an interim moratorium on the application for permits to permanently establish overnight shelters in the city and proposed extending the interim for another 6 months. The current ordinance prohibits the permanent establishment of overnight shelters.
Council was told the current session of the Washington Legislature is taking the issue and recommended postponing action for six months.
The extension of the matter was approved 5 to 2, with Councilmembers Senayet Negusse and Takele Gobena voting not to extend.