The Port of Seattle proposed in its Sustainable Airport Master Plan (SAMP) to develop 11 acres within North SeaTac Park (NSTP). These acres contain mature forest, natural waterways, and the community's much-loved mountain bike trails.
Between May 24 and Aug 25, 2021, nearly 2,400 people signed a petition calling on the Port to withdraw this plan. It was described in the petition as proposing a single new facility on the site: Lot L06, a 1,500-space employee parking lot. Public signatures and comments can be seen HERE.
In an August 25, 2021 press release the Port announced that it had removed the proposal for Lot L06 from the SAMP. That was a welcome announcement. It was no guarantee that the park will remain whole, but seemed to indicate that, for the immediate future, the previously at-risk 11 acres were safe.
An additional welcome announcement came in a September 21, 2021 press release. The Port would inventory the environmental, community, and recreational attributes of 55 acres of land in the southern portion of the park - and would do no planning for that property until after the inventory was delivered. Those 55 acres contain the site where Lot L06 had been proposed. The Port can require the City of SeaTac to vacate them “at any time”.
This inventory doesn’t guarantee that the park will remain whole, either. But, it is an important step that may make it possible to preserve this park in the long-term.
In addition, the City of SeaTac is currently considering a proposal by Deputy Mayor Peter Kwon that the City consider taking ownership of the land the park is sited on in order to preserve it as a park in perpetuity. This proposal envisions the park as both a local amenity and a tourist attraction similar to New York City’s Central Park.
However, a key question remains. Neither the petition nor the Port’s announcement on Lot L06 contain mention of a 7.8-acre cargo and warehouse facility for that area of North SeaTac Park in the SAMP.
Based on two sources, such a proposal still exists. The first source is the map on page 4-50 of the 2016 SAMP Technical Memorandum 6 showing the proposal as item #1. Though the map doesn't clearly show where the facility is proposed, it appears to be within the park.
The second source is a videotape of a recent Port meeting** in which a Port official made comments that seem to indicate that the facility would indeed be within the boundaries of the park and that he supports it.
A different source, however, seems to indicate that all proposals for the park are off the table. This is a statement in the Port’s 9/21/21 press release that “the Federal Aviation Administration (…) removed North SeaTac Park as a consideration from planning documents.
No conclusions can be made until the Port or the FAA clarifies in writing what proposal or proposals are currently active within the park - and their exact locations. More information is being sought from both agencies.
Grateful thanks to City of SeaTac officials, Port Commissioners and staff, FAA personnel, elected officials from 6 different jurisdictions, candidates, nonprofit organizations, and many others who stepped up to defend North SeaTac Park. Their support is responsible for the Port’s decision to withdraw plans for Lot - and make a timely announcement that it had done so.
The Port’s decision does not secure the long-term safety or even survival of this park, which faces continuing threats of potential future development and invasive plants. But it is a key step toward protecting all of NSTP’s 200+ acres.
Special thanks and recognition go to SeaTac Deputy Mayor Peter Kwon for his tenacious and effective leadership in opposing lot L06 and for his continuing work to protect the park into the future. Thanks go to all of the City of SeaTac’s leadership for its actions to improve this park over the years and to oppose this lot. SeaTac Councilmembers Senayet Negusse, Clyde “Fuzz” Hill, and Pam Fernald are among those known to deserve special recognition. But years of untold work, talent, and dedication from this city's leadership and staff, including from those in the Parks and Recreation Department, have led to substantial improvements in the condition and public safety of this park, transforming it into a local and regional destination.
Grateful thanks to all Port of Seattle Commissioners for acting to protect this park, especially to Port Commission President Fred Felleman and Commissioners Stephanie Bowman and Peter Steinbrueck for hearing our community’s concerns, touring the at-risk area of the park, recognizing the park’s ecological, public health, and recreational values, working with Port staff and City of SeaTac officials, dialoguing with community members, and pursuing avenues for protection of this park in the future. Grateful thanks to Port staff for their visits to the park, for recommending the removal of Lot L06 from the SAMP, and for supporting an early announcement of the withdrawal of this proposal.
Thanks to elected officials and Port Commission candidates who signed the petition opposing Lot L06 and lent influential support in other important ways. They include:
• King County Council Vice Chair Joe McDermott
• King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove
• Burien Deputy Mayor Krystal Marx
• Burien Councilmember Cydney Moore
• Burien Councilmember Kevin Schilling
• Des Moines Deputy Mayor Matt Mahoney
• De Moines Councilmember Luisa Bangs
• Des Moines Councilmember Traci Buxton
• Des Moines Councilmember JC Harris
• Des Moines Councilmember Anthony Martinelli
• Des Moines Councilmember Jeremy Nutting
• Normandy Park Councilmember Earnest Thompson
• Tukwila Council President Kate Kruller
• SeaTac Deputy Mayor Peter Kwon
• SeaTac Councilmember Clyde Hill
• SeaTac Councilmember Senayet Negusse
• Port Commission candidate Toshiko Hasegawa
• Port Commission candidate Hamdi Mohamed
Thanks to organizations that signed the petition, reached out to their memberships and beyond, hosted information sessions, wrote letters to Port officials, and assisted with media outreach. These organizations include:
Burien People for Climate Action
Duwamish Valley Neighborhood Preservation Coalition
Quiet Skies Puget Sound
South Seattle Climate Action Network
Tahoma Youth Cycling Development Club
The Environmental, Energy and Land Use Caucus of the 34th Democratic Legislative District
West Seattle Bike Connections.
Thanks to nearly 2,400 other community members who signed the petition at KCTreeEquity.org. First signers included nearly 100 people who live in the vicinity of the park who connected through the Next Door social media app. Among the signers is also Jill Kintner, Olympic Medalist in BMX for Team USA – who got her start on the BMX trails in this forest. Members of her family, some of whom helped build those trails, also signed. Hundreds of comments on the petition can be read at https://KCTreeEquity.org. A whole community's love and appreciation for this park shine brightly through this document.
Among others whose actions were essential to the outcome are Russell Stevenson of Northwest MTB Series, who hosts the weekly Wednesday Night World Championships in the park and Dr. Dave Larson, a member of the mountain biking community who has been acting to protect the forest for years and who led tours for Port officials. Members of North SeaTac BMX Club, who hold regular events at the park and actively care for it are also to be thanked for stepping up.
NSTP continues to face threats from potential future development and invasive plant species that are killing trees and dominating much of the forest floor. A comprehensive preservation plan is needed - along with a Friends of the Park group to ensure the plan is a good one and that it's followed.
Removal or decline of any part of our regional network of forests and waterways fragments it, weakening the whole and reducing the protection it provides to all of us from the shared ills of air pollution, climate change impacts, waterway degradation, and more. North SeaTac Park's greenways are an integral part of this regional network and merit regional investment to secure its health and future
For further information and questions – or to help explore the formation of a Friends of the Park or similar group, write to info@KCTreeEquity.org. To join in a Green SeaTac Partnership restoration event in the park, visit https://seatac.greencitypartnerships.org. The Green SeaTac Partnership is led by the City of SeaTac, Forterra NW, and residents and receives funding from the Port of Seattle.
North SeaTac Park is located on the traditional land of the first people of the Seattle area, the Duwamish People, past present, and future. Their contribution and the land itself are honored with gratitude. The park’s land also was once covered with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of homes. Those who lived here were removed in the 1970s and 1980s to accommodate airport operations. Those families planted or preserved the mature trees we benefit from in this park today. Des Moines Memorial Drive South, which borders much of the western edge of the park, is a living memorial to the 355 residents of King County who lost their lives in WWI. The tree shown in this photo is within the area where Lot L06 was proposed.
Stay tuned to ways you can help preserve this 200-acre park by opting into updates via the form below or by writing info@KCTreeEquity.org.
** At approximately 2:16:30 in the videotaped recording of the Port of Seattle’s September 14th meeting, Dave McFadden, Managing Director of Economic Development states (unofficial transcription): "As I look at some of our schematics, I’m struck by the fact that this site (presumably, the 55 acres to be inventoried) is over 2.3 million square feet and some of our light industrial plans represented maybe 300,000 amongst those 2.3 million square feet. And so what we’re talking about is fairly small. But I am a bit concerned about getting squeezed out and operating on one of the smallest footprints nationally as an airport and needing to shorten long-term some of our commercial activities close to the airport."
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