Washington State Senate
Senator Karen Keiser
City of SeaTac
Mayor Jake Simpson
Deputy Mayor Senayet Negusse
Councilmember Mohamed Egal
Councilmember Iris Guzman
Councilmember Peter Kwon
City of Normandy Park
Councilmember Earnest Thompson
City of Tukwila
Councilmember Kate Kruller
Environment, Energy, and Land Use Caucus of the Combined 33rd and 34th District Democrats
… and over 2,000 other community members
Thousands of people once lived on land that now contains North SeaTac Park and extensive acreage of nearby forest. By the 1990s, the FAA and Port of Seattle had used eminent domain to remove the homes, schools businesses, and neighborhoods here to make way for airport expansion that would soon make the area uninhabitable. At the time, residents were told that the park would compensate them for cumulative airport impacts.
In fact, during years of tumultuous negotiations involving multiple lawsuits, the public was reassured that hundreds of mostly-forested acres, shown on this map with dark green shading and labeled North and South Acquisition Areas, would remain as open space for parks, nature trails, and so on. This intention is noted in community plans and King County’s Comprehensive plan.
Cumulative airport impacts have considerably worsened since then. But the Port has been building warehouses and other structures inside these green areas. Current recommendations are for an additional estimated 100+ acres of aviation development here in the near future - including 31.5 acres on forested land inside the park and an additional estimated 75+ forested acres nearby.
This map is excerpted from a brochure on the SeaTac Communities Plan published by the Port and King County in 1976. It was downloaded from the SeaTac Airport Noise and Pollution website at https://seatacnoise.info/sea-tac-communities-plan/ Click on the map to see a larger version.
Trees - especially big old ones, keep vast amounts of pollution out of our lungs and homes. They reduce flooding, cool neighborhoods, raise property values, improve mental health, and so much more.
In the community near SeaTac Airport, where research shows that trees reduce human exposure to aviation pollution that causes a host of health problems including shorter lives, premature births, and learning problems in children, adequate tree canopy is a matter of survival.
Unfortunately, as American Forests reports, lower income areas tend to have fewer trees and SeaTac, which has both one of the highest poverty rates in King County and among the sparsest tree cover, is no exception.
The Port’s proposals to remove much of the area’s remaining tree cover - opposite of the local health department’s recommendation to increase green space and trees here - would grievously harm public health.
These harmful plans reflect the Port’s mission to advance trade and travel at a time when aviation demand is forecast to double. Land to expand on, especially for warehouses and other infrastructure needed to support our ever-ballooning air cargo appetite, is in short supply.
But a second airport, now in early planning stages, is not the answer. It would not remove incentives to destroy Highline forests - but would replicate our suffering elsewhere. That is because the Port and FAA have not adequately adapted to today’s problems. Their missions do not reflect the reality that we can’t accommodate unlimited growth. Their design standards promote sprawling, single-level warehouses and parking lots on previously forested land. And they appear to give scant consideration to other transportation modes.
We envision North SeaTac Park and its surrounding forest restored and protected for the health, well-being and delight of the people and that people in all neighborhoods throughout our region can live within vibrant urban forests where tree-lined corridors connect with parks, forestland, and cool, green spaces to play, relax, and gather. This Consensus, with your support, can bring that vision closer to reality.
The Port of Seattle “states the Park is the culmination of a long term and very open planning process to compensate the area’s residents for cumulative airport impacts. According to the Aviation Division, the Park is the best compatible use of a severely airport-impacted area".
Federal Aviation Administration Compliance Reviews of Airport Noise Land Use & Financial Operations 2016 p. 11.
SeaTac International Airport and the surrounding community for many miles around it are on the ancestral lands and waters of the Salish people of the Duwamish, Green, White, Cedar, and Upper Puyallup rivers, including those who are now members of the Duwamish Tribe and the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe. These tribes and their members have been stewarding these lands and waters since time immemorial. We honor with gratitude the land itself and the members, past and present, of these tribes.