North SeaTac Park is a 200+ acre urban oasis in the City of SeaTac, about four miles south of Seattle. Different maps tell different stories about this park. Here are a few.
This detail is from the Parks and Trails Map for the communities of Burien, Des Moines, Normandy Park, Renton, SeaTac, and Tukwila. To see the map, scroll to the bottom of the linked-to page.
Until the 1970s and 1980s, thousands of people lived on the land where the park now is. They, along with their homes, schools, churches, and businesses, were removed by the Port for airport expansion. As the FAA has noted (see top of page 11 in linked document), residents have long understood from the Port of Seattle that this land would stay in park use to compensate for cumulative airport impacts.
This image, from a July 12, 2021 article in the Seattle Times by Melissa Hellman, covered community opposition to an 11-acre parking lot that the Port proposed to build in North SeaTac Park as part of its Sustainable Airport Master Plan.
Compare this map to the one below which shows the 55-acre parcel inside the park where the Port of Seattle has identified 31 “useable acres” for construction. You’ll see that this park will lose more than half of its popular mountain biking trails if the Port’s plans go through. This map is from Trailforks.
This North SeaTac Agreements map, provided by Port of Seattle Customer Care in a 4/21/21 email to Noemie Maxwell, shows that the park is leased to the City of SeaTac by the Port of Seattle until 2070. That email, was signed by “Brooke,” who noted that the yellow and reddish areas comprise 55 acres that can be removed from the Park, “based on the second amendment to the lease (in 2002) and a development agreement with the City of SeaTac (also 2002), for potential future non-park development.”
The inscription on that part of the map reads: “Port can issue notice to vacate at any time (180 days notice)” The 11-acre airport employee parking lot proposal that was the subject of the community petition was sited within this 55-acre parcel. Currently, as shown below, the Port considers most of this 55-acres “useable”.
North SeaTac Park is shown with diagonal lines on this City of SeaTac zoning map Areas in pale blue, which include the entire park, are zoned Aviation Commercial. This map indicates that the park is leased to the City of SeaTac until 2045 (in contrast to the North SeaTac Agreements map shown above, which gives a date of 2070.) It also omits the 55 acres in the southern portion of the park where the Port can issue notice to vacate at any time on 180-day notice.
The 11-acre proposed parking lot that the Port removed from consideration in August, 2021 was in this parcel. As shown below, the Port considers most of the 55-acre parcel as “usable”.
This figure is from page 18 of a 2016 Port presentation on its Real Estate Strategic Master Plan and shows more detail on what is under consideration for destruction within the 55.7-acre parcel that the City of SeaTac and the Port of Seattle negotiated as an area that could be removed from park use at any time. (see info in City of SeaTac Zoning Map section, above.)
North SeaTac Park and its community are at the geographic center of a ten-mile zone surrounding SeaTac International Airport where evergreen forests are in decline and where Public Health Seattle-King County recommends increasing evergreen, or coniferous, tree coverage to protect residents from airport-generated pollution that shortens lives and disproportionately impacts health.
This figure, from page 4 of a 2020 report by Public Health Seattle-King County, shows three zones: Zone A within 1 mile, Zone B 1-5 miles, and Zone C, 5-10 miles from SeaTac International Airport.
In this community, life expectancies are lower and airport pollution is linked with wide range of illnesses.
Trees capture significant amounts of this airport pollution. They help to stabilize our climate and provide cool refuge during our increasingly hot summers. The City of SeaTac, where the airport is located, is estimated to have a tree canopy of 21%, which is significantly lower than that of neighboring cities or the national average (5-7)