Airplane noise could return if Burien does not stay vigilant, City Council told
By Jack Mayne
A group fighting the noise of turbo-prop planes over west Burien told the Burien City Council Monday night that the city has won over the Federal Aviation Administration for now – but the arbitrary change may be reversed later by the agency at the behest of the Alaska Air Group because “it is all about the money.”
The Council on April 17 also heard city staff outline changes in the city code about animal care and safety, including a proposal for a city “scoop law.”
Three of the seven members of the Burien City Council were excused from attending Monday night’s meeting. The absent members were Councilmembers Lauren Berkowitz, Bob Edgar and Stephen Armstrong.
Quiet Skies Coalition President Larry Cripe noted the group’s success in reducing noise by getting a change in the light plane takeoff mandates from the Federal Aviation Adminstration (FAA). On April 10 the Northwest FAA regional administrator, KC Yanamura, announced “the immediate cancellation of turboprop aircraft turning to the west over Burien” when planes are taking for toward the north.
Cripe said, “that it appears that our efforts to preserve our environment have succeeded,” but it “is imperative that we remain vigilant and continue to monitor the flight activity to “ensure we do not lose the gains that we have achieved.”
When his group started, he said the group was told that “nothing that could be done to stop the FAA’s arbitrary and capricious decision to change flight paths directly over our city but we the people, by the people, for the people stood up against the outrageous disregard for the law and let our voices be heard.”
The people of Burien provided both financial support and wrote letters of support to change the federal change, Cripe said.
Health, not money
“The FAA assumed that our city had neither the finances nor the stamina to challenge their arbitrary decision,” he said. “They were wrong. We fought the good fight and we prevailed. However, we are not done.”
It cannot be assumed that the FAA, the Port of Seattle, or the Alaska Air Group will “not make another effort that would negatively impact our community.
“For them, it is all about money,” Cripe said. “For us, it is about our health, our environment and our community.”
Cripe said the citizens of Burien trusted Quiet Skies to guide the efforts to curb noise and pollution “on their behalf” and their support for the flight path changes that were made.
“We optimistically hope that the FAA now has a much better understanding of the guidance that defines their operational limitations.”
He also thanked the City Council and city staff for supporting the Quiet Skies efforts.
Burien has filed an appeal aimed at forcing the FAA to provide environmental studies of the flight path changes, but that appeal to the 9th Circuit Court in San Francisco won’t be heard for about two months and may be considered moot now that the FAA has rescinded its flight path changes.
Laura Crandall, a city management fellow, presented a preview of some proposed changes in the city’s animal code, removing old statutory language from the former King County animal control agency and potentially adding some new animal controls and protections.
She said this was preparing for a new animal city code to take effect in 2018 when the new CARES contract goes into effect.
Some increases in pet fees would also be proposed, Crandall said, including restoring original King County pet license fees, while not changing senior or lifetime licenses.
There would be a new “scoop law” that Burien does not have now. It would include owners keeping animal runs and yards clean, cleaning up after a pet on public or private property, and having items to clean up animal waste with all people with pets off their property. There would be fines for violators, she said.
Alley for senior housing
The Council approved the vacation of a “U” shaped alley from Roseberg Avenue so that a developer David Sinnett can develop 160 units of “senior affordable” housing.
Assistant Public Works Director Brian Roberts says the alley has never been developed, and does not contain any utilities. Sinnett will pay the city $68,896, the appraised value of the alley land.
A nearby resident had no problem with the alley vacation but there is a “high volume of traffic” as well as speeders on Roseberg, and he asked for speed bumps to slow traffic.
To meet legal requirements, it was required that a majority of the Council had to vote to approve of the vacation – and all four did.
In other business, the Council passed three proclamations declaring special days. The first was Sikh Heritage Day for April 18, the second and third both for April 22, one declaration as Earth Day and the other as Arbor Day.
The Council also met at 6:30 p.m. for a reception honoring advisory board members and volunteers.