Quiet Skies demands Burien let them help city appeal with FAA over plane noise


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Quiet Skies President Larry Cripe

Walt Bala, former airline pilot and FAA inspector

John Rizzardi, lawyer

To listen to raw audio of Tuesday night’s meeting, click the ‘Play’ button below:



By Jack Mayne
Photos & Audio by Scott Schaefer

The Quiet Skies Coalition says it has been frozen out of participating in a city federal appeal and a possible negotiated settlement with the Federal Aviation Administration about turning some propjet flights over the city – particularly the Seahurst neighborhood.

Quiet Skies leader Larry Cripe told a well attended public meeting Tuesday night (June 6) at Gregory Heights Elementary School that – combined with a new Flying Skies Puget Sound group in Des Moines – much has happened since he first brought loud plane noise issues to the Burien City Council last October.

Quiet Skies and Cripe, in particular, was very mad at Burien City Attorney Lisa Marshall because she was not allowing Quiet Skies to participate or help develop the city’s legal case. The matter is before the Ninth Circuit Court in San Francisco where the city is appealing in the FAA’s possible return of the plane noise.

Interim City Manager Tony Piasecki has supported Marshall’s actions.

Fighting city is difficult
Cripe said Quiet Skies has spent hundreds of hours dedicated to the noise problem, but the city is the real problem.

“Fighting the FAA is easy, fighting our city government has been difficult,” Cripe said. “When we turned the legal process over to the city and brought the (San Francisco law firm to the table) the city took over the case and mistakes were made.”

While the city and residents of Burien won the initial battle of getting the automatic flight turns over Burien stopped, “we may lose the war” because of fears it will renew the left turn of smaller jet passenger planes over Burien.

“I told you then that I will tell you the truth, nothing but the truth as we know it.”

He said two Burien City Councilmembers – Debi Wagner and Nancy Tosta – are working with Quiet Skies, adding that after a private discussion with Tosta, “she has assured me that she is going to get the City Council together” to allow legal case sharing. “We are prepared to work with the city but we have not been allowed” to be fully informed on the case.

The city staff, particularly Marshall, has not shared its legal approach and facts with Quiet Skies, he said.

For citizens who do not understand, Marshall is the city council’s attorney. The Burien City Council hired her – she effectively is the Council’s staff lawyer. Marshall answers to the city manager, but ultimately to the Council.

Interim City Manager Piasecki defended Marshal during a phone call with the B-Town Blog on Wednesday afternoon, noting she is doing her job appropriately as an employee of the City Council.

“Lisa Marshall has been handling this litigation in a very professional manner and she has been working closely with her clients to make sure that the litigation is being pursued aggressively,” Piasecki said.

“We have been as open with Quiet Skies as we can and we plan to be as open and will continue to do so in the future,” he said.

Hope for a change
“I hold out great hope that there is going to be a change” in her sharing with Quiet Skies to “ultimately win the war,” Cripe said Tuesday night. But, if the Council does not pay heed to Quiet Skies, he might feel the need to “call 400 or 500 people back to city hall to make it clear that we want their attention – I will do that.”

John Parness, a local resident and a lawyer, said Tuesday that Quiet Skies asked the Burien City Council to finance an appeal lawsuit with the federal appeals court in San Francisco over the failure of the FAA to conform with the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA). The Council approved the suit by a six to one vote – the lone vote against the move was by Councilmember Bob Edgar. He said he was worried about the cost to taxpayers of such a legal action.

Parness noted that Quiet Skies had originally located Dentons, the San Francisco firm, and had spent $10,000 of its locally raised funds to get the basic facts for the appeal to the FAA decision to make changes in the takeoff patterns over Burien. But Quiet Skies needed the added financial support of Burien.

Lawyer Matthew Adams of Dentons’ at the time said it appeared Quiet Skies and the City of Burien could get the flight paths moderated or changed by challenging the federal agency over failure to conduct environmental studies before such a major change in operations.

Without waiting for the action to be decided in court, the FAA withdrew the mandatory requirement that all smaller jet airliners make a turn over Burien whenever the takeoff and landing pattern was from the south to north, a pattern normal in winter months.

Parness said the belief is that the FAA will reintroduce the deflections of flights over Burien, perhaps in a different form but to the detriment of the city. The agency, he said, withdrew the previous order only because the appeal forced them to realize the failure to study environmental impacts was legally wrong.

“They will go back and redo the process and bring back problems,” Parness said. “We understand we are up against a long-term challenge here.”

Lisa Marshall

‘Shut out’ by Marshall
“If I had it to do over again, I would never have asked the city or the city attorney (Marshall) to fund this thing.

“We lost control of the lawsuit at that point. That was a bad thing. We were shut out; we did not know what was going on.”

“Settlement may or may not be in our best interests,” said Parness.

A woman in the audience wanted to know who could fire the attorney responsible for not informing Quiet Skies. Parness said that was up to the City Council, but he reiterated the problems was with the Burien City Attorney Lisa Marshall, not with the San Francisco lawyer.

“We need to be outraged about this,” the woman said. “I think there is an attorney hired by our City Council who is stonewalling. That should not be acceptable.”

Parness said the best message to the Council was to let Quiet Skies to again become involved.

Meanwhile, the lawsuit remains active but on hold before the federal appeals court, but settlement talks have been held between Burien and the FAA, but Marshall does not share those talks with Quiet Skies, says Parness and Cripe.

“It is extremely frustrating, after spending countless hours to educate the City Council about this issue to be stonewalled by the city attorney (Marshall) particularly, in our opinion, not having the best interests of the city at heart.

“I hate to say that, but based on my experience … it has been very frustrating to deal with city staff,” Parness said, adding the FAA is a complex federal agency that “needs to be held accountable.”

A person in the Tuesday night audience suggested past problems with the airport over the third runway and Cripe said that was an entirely different situation.

FAA pushed Burien overflights
“What we have is a total violation of an arbitrary and capricious decision….” Cripe said. On July 26, 2016, KC Yanamura said in her office at the Renton FAA regional headquarters in a closed meeting at the end of the day with several proposals on the table, she made a statement.

“Look, I am going to make this easy on all of us, I want this traffic over Burien and Seahurst – they don’t have the money or the stamina to fight it,” Cripe quoted a source as to what Yanamura told her staff in that closed-door meeting.

“Now you know why Larry Cripe is pissed off and why I got involved,” he said to audience applause, adding that if she wants to come after me, come after me.”

He said he has tried to get the names of the people in that room that day, but the FAA won’t tell the names.

Such a statement should make everybody in the entire region irate, Cripe said.

The agency is not serving the public it is paid by to serve, it is serving the Port of Seattle, he told the Burien audience.

He also suggested that most of the flights affecting Burien are by planes of the Alaska Air Group, including the prop-jets deflected over Burien, and that people should cut up their Alaska Airline credits cards and stop using them until the company stops abusing the city.

Bradley D. Tilden is president and chief executive officer of Alaska Airlines and Alaska Air Group and graduated in 1979 from Highline High School.

Cripe said the Burien Council needs to tell the city staff to support the suit and noted that Tosta and Wagner, who were at the meeting, you vote to see that Quiet Skies was included in the decision making process.

Send FAA, Port a letter
John Rizzardi, a Seahurst resident and an attorney with the Seattle law firm of Cairncross and Hempelmann drafted a proposed letter that the public can send to the Port of Seattle, the FAA and Alaska Airlines. The letter is available on the Quiet Skies website (download Word .doc of letter here).

”As I said in the meeting, this letter draws a line in the sand, informing the Port, the FAA and Alaska Airlines that there is no permission to increase the frequency of flights over our property. The coalition wants its members and local property owners to make their voices heard by those who are impacting our quality of life.”

The letter he proposes people copy and send says he objects to planes flying over his property.

“Folks, I want you to know that I am drawing a line in the sand about your trespass and I am going to do something about it and the letter explains it in great detail, Rizzardi said.

Quiet Skies Puget Sound
Quiet Skies Puget Sound leader Steve Edmiston told the Burien Quite Skies meeting Tuesday night that his group is about “protecting out quality of life in response to two threats.”

The threats are aircraft noise from new flight paths and procedures and “harm to human health and the environment from aircraft emissions.”

He noted there are more planes, lower flights, louder planes, and flights in different from usual flight paths and later at night and earlier in the morning.

The Port has told its commissioners that “260 more planes (will fly) over your house every day,” and that “the difference between 2013 and 2016 was 94,984 operations. That’s 260 more aircraft going over homes per day.

Edmiston said a Port of Seattle report says it will “triple air cargo volume to 750,000 metric tons in the next five years. The number of international flights will double during the five-year period and the Port says it “will meet the region’s air transportation needs at Sea-Tac Airport for the next 25 years and encourage the cost effective expansion of domestic and international passengers and cargo service.”

He said there is nothing in the Port’s “Century Agenda” about noise or human health, nor is there any “strategy, objective, metric, or priority action for ‘partnering with surrounding communities’” and “nothing about sustaining the human species.”

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Comments

19 Responses to “Quiet Skies demands Burien let them help city appeal with FAA over plane noise”
  1. Erik says:

    Keep up the great reporting for those of us who care, but can’t make the meetings. Certified mail letters sent, making notes for upcoming council elections!

    Rate: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 6

  2. Seahurst resident says:

    I believe it is disingenuous of QSC to put any blame on Lisa Marshall. They wanted the city to fund the lawsuit, so then it becomes the city’s lawsuit against the FAA. The city indicated at the approval that they didn’t want to be just a sugar daddy for QSC.

    QSC should understand that the city has a different role and represents ALL citizens of Burien, including the one of Boulevard Park and North Burien who get the flights instead. QSC is a private citizen initiative and can represent whoever they want to represent, like only the residents of West Burien.

    Rate: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 11

  3. Diane says:

    Lisa Marshall cost Burien millions the last time she was the city attorney, and it looks like we’re going down that path again. But this time it’s a quality of life issue and a property values issue. We need to insist on transparency and access to information.

    Rate: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 8

  4. Captain obvious says:

    Well I have some questions about this.

    Do we know why the pilots are making these turns over burien. Is a safety issue (sun,big trees or obstructions) or they just doing it for what ever reason.

    Also why is a retired Alaska airlines pilot trying to tell us to cut up all Alaskan airlines credit cards and not use the airline.

    Also Mr Cripe or the quite skis group are not getting there way with the city attorney so he threatens to have 400 to 500 people fill the city council meeting.

    Also does anyone know of any work related grievances Larry Cripe may have had with his past employer Alaska airlines.

    It just seems like there something else going on here like Mr Cripe may be looking for pay back for work related issues.

    How can we tell the difference between when the third run way is being used or is it one these plane’s turning over burien. Or does this only really effect the seahurst neighborhood and not the whole city of Burien.

    Rate: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 23

    • seriously? says:

      Seems silly that you are more worried about why a concerned citizen is trying to make a difference than you are that a 70 year old established community has just has just been screwed by the FAA.

      Seahurst, Lake Burien, Gregory Heights and Three Tree Point are a good portion of the City of Burien.

      Rate: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 4

      • Captain obvious says:

        Well the concerned citizen is a ex Alaska airlines pilot that most likely flown over house’s for years​. To retire then complain about plane’s flying over his house. That seems a little silly to me.

        Then this quite skis group is part of a national organization that seems to be a bunch of retired people. That choose to live next to airports around the country. Then sue the FAA which ironically cost them and other tax payers money.

        So I just have a few questions on what Mr Cripe’s over all motive’s are in this situation. So if you find it silly someone is trying to waste your tax dollars for possibly there own greed then that’s on you.

        Rate: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 15

        • Seahurst resident says:

          Mr. Cripe’s home is on the market, so that might just be one motive.

          Rate: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5

        • Seriously? says:

          For reference its spelled QUIET SKIES.

          And when the home you’ve owned for 20+ years (or even 5years) has a drastic change in noise pollution I would hope you are fortunate enough to have an informed neighbor like Mr. Cripe (that knows a few ins and outs of the industry and can help to institute a fight to restore the quiet). I don’t think sitting by and allowing the FAA to steamroll 1/3 of the city is the answer Captain.

          Rate: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

          • Captain obvious says:

            I never said I am completely against this. I just said I have some questions about Mr Cripe’s overall motive’s. I think any tax payer would want to question that when this is costing us all money. Now other parts of Burien have put with noise from airplane’s for years. It’s kinda a part of life around here. So why shouldn’t we ask some questions when part of the most well off financially part of Burien wants the rest of us to fit the bill. For this law suit that may only affect a small part of Burien in the end. A few seconds of noise for a safety buffer zone to keep plane’s in a safe distance from one another.

            Rate: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 8

            • Captain obvious says:

              Oh oops sorry for the spelling error I know that can be just so frustrating to see a word missed spelled that you had to take the time to spell it out in caps lock. Thank you so much I guess my lerning disability got the best of me. I fail to notice my error in spelling. So thank you seriously for pointing out this error I have made. I guess makes my whole argument a failure. I must not ask simple question on the motive’s of something that may cost my taxes to go up. I should just bend over and let it happen.

              Rate: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 9

            • Diane says:

              Capt. Obvious,

              Lake Burien, Three Tree Point, Seahurst and Shorewood actually make up a pretty good chunk of Burien real estate AND a pretty good chunk of the local property tax base. And yes, some other parts of Burien have put up with airplane noise for years. To some extent, property values in those areas reflect that. The residents that live in those areas may not like the noise, but they have always known it was there. For that noise to SUDDENLY manifest itself in an area that has never experienced such chronic pollution because the FAA has decided (along with Alaska Airlines) that this is a time saver and a fuel saver is a huge concern to those of us who suddenly live under a flight path. I can hear the noise right now as I sit in my house with windows closed and the TV on.

              It takes citizens to fight the big guys, and I am glad Larry Cripe and others are willing to do the work to keep this issue alive.

              Rate: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

              • Captain obvious says:

                That’s odd how you say it’s a time saver and fuel saver. But the FAA says there using it as a safety buffer zone to keep the slower plane’s away from the faster plane’s.

                Also like I have said I am not completely against this lawsuit and fighting the FAA. I am just have a few questions on the motive’s of Mr Cripe.

                I don’t see why this has to be a argument to ask a few questions ok just a few questions not the end of world. Ok before spending a lot of money on this.

                Rate: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

                • Diane says:

                  Captain,
                  The FAA can use any excuse it wants, but it’s still a time saver and fuel saver, at our expense.

                  Rate: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  5. steve says:

    stop late night flights over white center and back to Burien, I wake up at night sometimes with airplane noise 107th and 112th .

    Rate: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

  6. LOVE THE NOISE says:

    Grow up people! You live by an airport- and yet you don’t want to hear the planes flying?! Ive lived in the same house in seahurst for the past 25 years and I love the planes that fly over! It’s part of my life and I wouldn’t change it. And yes it is Alaska flying over but that because DELTA ADDED MORE FLIGHTS IN AND OUR OF SEATAC AND THE SMALL PLANES NEED TO GET OUT OF THE WAY FOR THE BIGGER PLANES. Don’t like the noise? Move to Mercer island you don’t have to worry about noise or you home value going down.

    Just wait until they build the 4th runway. Everything on the east side of 1st ave is gone. I can’t wait for more planes to be closer.

    I sit there on flight radar 24 every night watching the planes that fly over seeing where they are flying too.

    Rate: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

    • Diane says:

      My guess is that you are one of the few who enjoys airplane noise as much as you seem to.
      I have lived just north of you for 19 years and have heard airplane noise, for the most part, only when The Blue Angels are in town. AND I LIKE IT THAT WAY!
      Maybe it’s time for the Port of Seattle to seriously start planning another airport to serve this fast growing region. Maybe Delta doesn’t GET to add more flights. Burien does not have to be at the mercy of SEATAC, accepting new swathes of flight paths over large areas of the city.
      Thanks for your kind suggestion, but I have no desire to live on Mercer Island. They have their own issues – like relying on I-90 to get on and off the island, especially with light rail construction starting!

      Rate: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  7. Dave says:

    WARNING: living in a flight path may cause health problems, sleep deprivation, hypertension, lung illnesses and cancer.
    Would someone be willing to give up their health and quality of life for airline profits?

    Larry’s noble and generous sacrifice of time benefits all of us who are unable to fight for ourselves as well as he can. His experience in the industry gives him helpful knowledge. He has nothing personal to gain, nothing more than what he has lost.

    Rate: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

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