On Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, the Quiet Skies Coalition sent out an email to let supporters know that the organization – created in 2016 to fight the Federal Aviation Administration about new overflights in Burien from Sea-Tac Airport – will be dissolving.

Founder Larry Cripe resigned in protest from the City of Burien’s Airport Committee on Dec. 15, 2020, along with former Councilmember Debi Wagner and volunteer Sharyn Parker. They all indicated that the city “was no longer responding” to their volunteer work on airport issues. Nancy Tosta also resigned from her role as Committee chair (read our previous coverage here).

Volunteers on the coalition spent time and money to challenge an illegal procedure implemented in July 2016 by the FAA, turning flights over northwest Burien. Many residents noticed an increase in airplane noise at that time.

The Quiet Skies Coalition challenged the FAA’s action in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals using citizen donations. The City of Burien took over the case and after three years, in November 2019, the appeals court ruled in the city’s favor.

“Our victory in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals prevailing against the FAA was the result of a unique partnership between our city and citizens and is unprecedented,” Cripe said. “Rarely does anyone win against the FAA, especially a small city and group of citizens with limited resources.”

However, on the last day it had to respond to the ruling, the FAA filed a document making the same arguments it had made in court and proclaimed it had met the requirements of the court decision.

The overflights quickly resumed.

“FAA is basically ignoring the court order and continuing to use an illegal procedure,” Cripe added. “The only way to hold them accountable is to launch another expensive and time consuming legal action. In the end, we’d find ourselves with another unenforceable court order.”

Cripe has since moved away from Burien and is now living in downtown Bellevue.

In lieu of the now-dissolved coalition, Cripe encourages those concerned with the FAA’s actions to join Des Moines’ Quiet Skies Puget Sound Facebook page or email Debi Wagner at [email protected] for other updates.

“Again, we want to thank you for your patience, support and help in this process,” Cripe said. “We could not have done any of this without you!”

Quiet Skies Coalition will dissolve, issues 'fond farewell' to Burien supporters 1

Larry Cripe at a Burien City Council meeting in 2016.

Here’s the full email sent out by Cripe on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021:

Dear Quiet Skies Coalition Members, Neighbors and Friends:

It has been my great pleasure to have served as President of Quiet Skies Coalition these past four years. I could not have accomplished all we have done without your help and support. I am writing to you because my wife and I have moved out of Burien and will be dissolving Quiet Skies Coalition.

I want to remind everyone of our accomplishments.

A tremendous amount of volunteer energy, time and money went into challenging an illegal procedure implemented in July 2016 by the FAA, turning flights over the city. The Quiet Skies Coalition immediately challenged this action in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals using citizen donations. The City of Burien took over the case and after three years, in November 2019, the appeals court ruled in our favor.

Our victory in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals prevailing against the FAA was the result of a unique partnership between our city and citizens and is unprecedented. Rarely does anyone win against the FAA, especially a small city and group of citizens with limited resources.

You may be wondering why we still have aircraft flying over our city despite the court victory. On the last day it had to respond to the ruling, the FAA filed a document making the same arguments it had made in court and proclaimed it had met the requirements of the court decision. FAA is basically ignoring the court order and continuing to use an illegal procedure. The only way to hold them accountable is to launch another expensive and time consuming legal action. In the end, we’d find ourselves with another unenforceable court order.

As part of our activities, we have also brought together a broad coalition of individuals, academics, legislators, other groups and cities into conversations about impacts, mitigation, and general information sharing.

Those individuals and organizations are not ceasing their efforts. There is still an upcoming environmental process later this year from the FAA and Port of Seattle on major building projects that are guaranteed to make all the problems worse. The expectation is that we will use the court finding to challenge the Port’s proposed actions. Please watch for news and information from the Quiet Skies Puget Sound Facebook page on this process. There are also people actively working to uncover impacts, research mitigation and ways to hold the industry accountable. Please let Debi Wagner ([email protected]) know if you want to be involved in any activities in the future.

Again, we want to thank you for your patience, support and help in this process. We could not have done any of this without you!

Kindest Regards,
Larry Cripe
On behalf of the entire Quiet Skies Coalition Board