Emailed correspondence to Clare Gallagher, Port of Seattle’s Public Affairs Director for Capital Project Delivery, and Mike Merritt, Senior Policy Advisor for the Port from petition organizer Noemie Maxwell. Sent on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021
Note: The terms SAMP and RESP appear throughout this letter. They refer to the Port’s Sustainable Airport Master Plan and its Real Estate Strategic Plan.
Hello, Ms. Gallagher and Mr. Merritt,
Thank you very much for speaking with me by phone last week. I know your time is at a premium and I appreciate you taking some of it to help me better understand - and communicate to others - the Port's plans.
I've updated the KCTreeEquity.org website to reflect your assurances that there will be no SAMP-related development within North SeaTac Park and that the two of you gave me permission to quote you on that.
I do want to connect with you on remaining questions - as well as share my developing understanding of these issues, as this impacts what I communicate to others.
On pages 17-23 of a 2016 document entitled Real Estate Strategic Plan: Port Commission Study Session, I see 31 acres of development recommended within North SeaTac Park, 13 acres of development recommended on a contiguous property directly south of the park, and an additional 26.2 acres of development recommended close to the park to its south east. All are "raw land" - in other words, full of trees, waterways and other forest elements that would be destroyed by development. That's a total of 70.2 acres in the highly impacted communities and around North SeaTac Park.
A statement appears on page 5 of the Port's 2020 update to its Real Estate Strategic Plan (RESP) that evaluation of North SeaTac properties in the 2016 plan (and that, of course, would include development within North SeaTac Park) are "now under the purview of the Sustainable Airport Master Plan."
This statement and your assurance to me that there will definitely not be any SAMP-related development within the park appear, on a surface level, contradictory.
Questions for your consideration
If you are able to provide a response to the questions below - or refer me to where I might otherwise direct them, I would be appreciative:
How can the public clarify the apparent contradiction between your statement to me that there will definitely be no SAMP-related development proposed within North SeaTac Park - and the statement referenced above from the 2020 update to the RESP that North SeaTac development proposals are now under SAMP purview?
Can the Port provide to the public a clear statement of how many acres of tree loss are proposed in and around North SeaTac Park?
Can the Port provide a clear statement of timeline and public input opportunities related to its Real Estate Strategic Plan? This information may already be available but I haven't found it in my, admittedly, preliminary reading and searching.
Are there other Port plans, proposals, or studies, not related to the SAMP and RESP, that contemplate development in SeaTac?
My current understanding
In addition to asking you for help with these questions, I also want to communicate my current understanding on these matters as they impact what I communicate to others.
Total acreage of tree loss proposed
I may have missed it, but I don't find an exact count of acres of Port-proposed tree loss in SeaTac in publicly available documents. From SAMP and RESP information that I have been able to find, I've come up with a rough estimate of 90+ acres of recommended or proposed tree destruction in and around North SeaTac Park.
That's based on the 70.2 acres I see in the RESP, as indicated above - and a total of an additional 897,000 sq. feet (or roughly 20 acres) of recommended development on forested land - excluding Lot L06 - listed in Figure 4-17 of SAMP Technical Memorandum 6. There is also a concern that the Port may shift the 11 acres of SAMP-removed Lot L06 onto other forested land in our community.
Lack of complete and relevant information provided to the public on matters directly impacting them
I believe that anything even approaching this level of tree loss in our community with already high levels of disproportionate environmental health impacts, lower-than-average tree canopy, and significant waterways already in fragile condition, would have avoidable, profound, and irreparable negative health and ecological impacts in our community and beyond.
Using my browser search feature, I don't find the words, climate, community, health, or tree, in three key documents outlining Port ideas for massive tree destruction in our neighborhoods. These documents are the Port's 2016 RESP presentation, its 2020 RESP update, and SAMP Technical Memorandum 6.
In the SAMP Scoping Information, the other publicly-available document that shows plans involving massive tree removal in our community, the word, tree is likewise absent. The other three words appear only in the context of NEPA or SEPA requirements or as part of the term, community center.
This indicates to my subjective understanding that health, climate, community, and tree / forest impacts are not an integral part of the Port's planning approach in our community.
In terms of concrete outcomes for the public, the absence of these terms in these documents that the public relies upon to understand your plans - and thus, any notice to the public relative to the concepts they name - suggest to me that, vis a vis Port plans in our community, the public hasn't been given complete information on matters affecting property values, quality of life, health, and even survival.
I see an existential threat to the Port here, too. In a world of climate chaos, the Port's mission to advance travel and trade cannot be fulfilled.
Thank you again for your time and, in advance, for whatever information you can provide related to my questions.
Changes made for readability in this email: spelling out an abbreviation, adding a comma, italicizing the words tree, health, community, and climate, and adding the words “in these documents that the public relies upon to understand your plans”
Our park needs long-term, organized community protection from development by the Port of Seattle and invasion by non-native weeds. Set in neighborhoods directly under the flight path of SeaTac Airport, this forest and its trees SAVE LIVES. The 200+ acres of unique ecological and recreational treasures in this urban oasis offer unparalleled educational and community-building opportunities. A Friends group would help in preserving this park and bringing these opportunities to fruition.
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