Below, read the text of the Consensus. To sign the Consensus, see info/link above.
CALLING FOR EMERGENCY ACTION AND LONG-TERM SOLUTIONS BY OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS TO DEFEND THE HEALTH OF PEOPLE IN THE NORTH SEATAC PARK COMMUNITY AND WITHIN TEN MILES OF SEATAC INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AS WELL AS THE STABILILTY OF OUR CLIMATE BY PROTECTING THIS COMUNITY’S GUARDIAN FORESTS, WATERWAYS, PARKLANDS, AND TREES
In order to defend the people in the community surrounding North SeaTac Park, and all who live within the ten-mile community surrounding this airport, from the negative health and climate impacts posed by near-term plans for extensive deforestation and green space destruction by the Port of Seattle, the current owner and assigned steward of North SeaTac Park,
Legally-binding securement of North SeaTac Park as a Park in Perpetuity with a permanent prohibition, within the park, to commercial development and tree removal. This may be accomplished by changes in zoning and law, by conservation easement, by transfer or sale of this park land to an appropriate governmental entity, or by a combination of these or other means.
The Port caused the removal by eminent domain of thousands of residents, along with their homes and schools, from the land that this park now occupies. The Port has acknowledged that the creation of the park was “the culmination of a long term and very open planning process to compensate the area’s residents for cumulative airport impacts.” (1) This measure would honor that expressed intent of the Port.
An immediate moratorium on tree removal and green space destruction on public lands by the Port of Seattle within 2 miles of SeaTac International Airport with exceptions only for targeted measures to protect public safety or the health of the surrounding natural ecosystem, or to prevent substantial physical damage to existing private or public property, where these objectives cannot be reasonably achieved through other means.
This call for action responds to the recommendation of Public Health - Seattle & King County (PHS&KC) to increase green space and tree coverage, particularly coniferous trees, within ten miles of SeaTac International Airport in order to reduce human exposure to airport-generated pollutants known to cause disease and shorten lives. PHS&KC has found that, with severity increasing as proximity to the airport increases, lifespans in this area are between 1.7 and 5 years shorter than in the balance of the county; premature births, low birthweights, and childhood learning problems are more common; and rates of cancer and heart, respiratory, cardiovascular,and other diseases are significantly higher. (2)
Furthermore, this call is put forth to safeguard human health in a community where residents experience high levels of environmental health disparities as measured by the Washington State Department of Health. (3)
It holds the Port of Seattle and our greater community accountable to the principles of environmental justice under Presidential Executive Order 12898 as well as to US Department of Transportation Order 5610.2 which requires that activities that will have “a disproportionately high and adverse effect on minority populations or low-income populations” must be avoided or mitigated when practicable. (4, 5) As reported by PHS&KC, “the majority of people in King County identifying as Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander live in communities within 10 miles of the airport”, “a greater proportion of people in these communities are immigrants, and a slightly higher proportion are children,” and the percentage of people in near poverty or poverty increased the closer you are to the airport”, ranging from 37.2% - 24.4% within ten miles of the airport as compared with 16.1% in the balance of the county. These poverty rates are even higher for children. (2)
This moratorium must go into effect immediately in order to prevent the Port of Seattle from implementing its current near-term plans that would result in significant reduction of green space and tree coverage in this community, and must continue until the CARE Plan for the Greater North SeaTac Park Community, as outlined below, or a plan with comparable protections for our community’s health and our climate-stabilizing urban forest, is in place.
A plan for Comprehensive Action to Restore the Ecology of North SeaTac Park and Community (CARE Plan), by the Port of Seattle and other partnering jurisdictions, that is fully funded and professionally managed, in order to restore and maintain for future generations the natural areas within and surrounding North SeaTac Park, including forests and waterways, with emphasis on Tub Lake and its prehistoric peat bog, a type of wetland that is highly environmentally sensitive and increasingly rare in King County.
The plan must include control of invasive weeds and preparation for existing and expected climate impacts such as drought, high heat, and pests.
It must, in a manner and at a scale recommended by experts in urban forestry and public health, propose specific steps to implement the recommendation made by Public Health - Seattle & King County to increase green space and tree coverage, particularly coniferous trees, near SeaTac Airport in order to reduce residents’ exposure to toxics from airport operations. (3)
It must protect and retain existing trees, as large-diameter trees can capture more toxic particulates, store “disproportionally massive amounts of carbon,” and “fulfill a variety of unique ecological roles such as increasing drought-tolerance, reducing flooding from intense precipitation events, altering fire behavior, redistributing soil water, and acting as focal centers of mycorrhizal communication and resource sharing networks.” (6)
It should set a goal of restoring urban tree canopy coverage in this community from its current low averages, for example, of 21% in SeaTac (25% not including the airport), 30% in Burien, and 29% in Des Moines, to 40% or more, as recommended by Forterra NW in three studies that it prepared for the Port of Seattle Airport Community Ecology Fund. (7-9)
And it must include concrete actions to limit, as reasonably possible, development activities of the Port of Seattle within ten miles of the airport to its existing developed footprint. The Port controls sprawling multi-acre, single-level parking lots as well as other already-paved and underutilized properties, where redevelopment with higher density approaches are possible, feasible, and ecologically sound.
*Citations and links to numbered sources 1-9 at https://KCTreeEquity.org/cites