Burien's city council chambers were packed at Monday night's meeting. Photo by Scott Schaefer. Burien’s city council chambers were packed at Monday night’s meeting. Click image to view larger version.[/caption] By Jack Mayne Photos by Scott Schaefer The Burien City Council wants an October meeting between the city, the Port of Seattle and the regional office of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to discuss the recent increase in airplane noise over Burien. The Port of Seattle also told the council Monday night (Sept. 19) that it had not been not told in advance by the FAA about changes that resulted in the latest increase of more and louder noise for city residents. Burien residents crowded the Monday night Council session to express anger and disbelief at its Monday meeting. The Council also approved a separation agreement with Dan Trimble, Burien’s long-time economic development manager.

Councilmembers Nancy Tosta, Debi Wagner and Steve Armstrong grilled Stan Shepherd, Manager, Airport Noise Programs for the Port of Seattle.
Councilmembers Nancy Tosta, Debi Wagner and Steve Armstrong grilled Stan Shepherd, Manager, Airport Noise Programs for the Port of Seattle.
Meet with Feds City Manager Kamuron Gurol said the city has met twice with Sea-Tac Airport’s managing director, Lance Lyttle, and others on the takeoff changes made by the FAA. He said he was working to have a direct meeting with the FAA “in the next days” so he can understand their reasons for the change and see if there are options to the present takeoff dispersal.
BEFORE: Flight pattern from Aug. 26, 2015. Click image to view larger version.
NOW: Flight pattern for Aug. 24, 2016. Click image to view larger version.
“There seems to be a concentration of those flights turning westbound over Burien in the last weeks,” the city manager said. Stan Shepherd, the Port of Seattle’s manager of airport noise programs, said the Port did not “know about this either when … the FAA initiated this back in July” and “it took us a while to identify” why there were a spate of new noise complaints. “It took us about a week before we could figure out what was going on out there,” Shepherd said. Shepherd said that during the warmer months, the wind is from the north and it is from the south during the cooler, rainier periods. Planes must take off and land into the wind, so during warm months more flights take off northward. Such turns used to be further north and disbursed over West Seattle and even Ballard. All prop flights are now directed by the FAA control tower at Sea-Tac to turn west over Burien. The idea is to get the smaller, more maneuverable planes quickly out of the way so that more of the heavier jet airliners can quickly depart, Shepherd said. “That is what I have been told, but I want to make sure you understand, I am not the guy here who can make changes,” he said, noting that is up only to the FAA. Gurol said the recent concentration of the takeoff pattern is what is causing Burien citizen concerns and complaints. “The city was not notified and the Port was not notified so we are all trying to figure out what happened and why,” he said. But Councilmember Stephen Armstrong said he had a hard time believing that the Port did not know of the FAA change. “We were not made aware of this change,” said Shepherd. “They honestly did not communicate that to the Port of Seattle.” FAA controls landings, takeoffs Once a plane is off the ground the Port loses all control of a plane’s flight, then it is totally controlled by the FAA. Shepherd said the change in when planes turn was directed at its personnel only, so there was no notification necessary to the port. All of the people in the Sea-Tac control tower, which directs plane takeoffs and landings, are employees of the Federal Aviation Agency and are, in no way, subject to rules or demands of the Port of Seattle. Shepherd says the Port is “advocating the wishes of the community,” but decisions are totally up to the federal agency. Councilmember Debi Wagner suggested a study of the effects of airport noise on the citizens of the Burien. She said a survey was taken in the 1990s and it reflected citizen complaints that the Port of Seattle had not done enough for noise relief.
Former pilot Larry Cripe speaks at the Burien City Council meeting Monday night. At the public meeting, Cripe asked that residents interested in teaming up email him at [email protected].
Leading the challenge Burien resident Larry Cripe, who first brought the matter of added flights over west Burien, said Monday night that when citizens find out the reason for the change “we are going to be outraged. My biggest fear about what the FAA is doing to us is not going to stop here.” Cripe is a retired Alaska Airlines pilot and said over 80 percent of all airline traffic in and out of Sea-Tac “is conducted by Alaska Air Group.” “The Port makes money every day by the number of flights in and out of Sea-Tac” and that the airport is already just 70 flights more a day “away from meeting max capacity.” “When they get done (with the planned expansion of the airport), they are going to come to us and they are going to say, ‘we need a fourth runway.’” “We, as citizens, deserve to have clear information and not smoke – we are going to hold people accountable and responsible and there is a team and a network that is going to grow, and it is going to grow big. “If I am involved in this thing, we are going to the top of the mountain, folks,” Cripe told the packed council chambers. “I have a lot more facts for our community meeting and it won’t be long from now.” Destroying peace of mind “It has got to stop – 40 to 50 flights are buzzing over my house on Saturday when I am out there trying to play with my kids. It is destroying our peace of mind,” said John Parris of Seahurst, adding that the increase of flights and noise was a “complete surprise” to residents. He said the neighborhood is building a non-profit organization of “citizen activists to work with our leader and we are going to do things … to make this problem solvable.” Parris said they were working to get freedom of information requests for FAA documents “and we are looking into hiring a legal team to help us advise the community of what to do.” A community meeting, which the Council ordered the city staff to set up in October, “is a great idea,” said Parris. He also wanted the city to turn “up the heat on the Port of Seattle, because in my opinion, they know a lot more about what’s going on than has been said tonight.”
“…flights have a direct negative impact on the real estate in these areas” – local Realtor Susan Plecko.
Realtor Susan Plecko said the flights have a “direct negative impact on the real estate in these areas. If these over flights are allowed to continue they will significantly reduce property values … and that, in turn, would reduce the tax income the city receives.” Others commented on the potential damage to overall tax income to the and to damage to wildlife, such as the eagle nesting area near Eagle Landing Park. dantrimble16-500 Trimble cashiered Dan Trimble, Burien’s economic development manager since Nov. 2011, was effectively fired after a series of City Council executive sessions behind closed doors over the past several weeks. The Council approved a “separation agreement” at the opening of their session Monday night. Previous to Monday’s meeting, and several times earlier, the city sent out notices that the “Burien City Council will hold a Special Meeting for the purpose of holding an Executive Session to discuss the performance of a public employee” per state law and “to discuss potential litigation …” After that private meeting, the Council began (10 minutes late) its regular public meeting because state law requires that when “… discharging or disciplining an employee, that action shall be taken in a meeting open to the public. …” The Council introduced and unanimously approved the separation agreement. Deputy Mayor Bob Edgar said that Trimble has been “an untiring advocate of economic development by collaborating with businesses and development communities to bring over $150 million of investment to the city of Burien over the past four years.” Edgar said he would vote for the separation agreement, adding that his “departure will be a loss for the City of Burien. …” Mayor Lucy Krakowiak said she would also vote for the separation agreement and that she wanted Burien residents to know “how much Dan has done for the city.” She said Trimble “turned around Town Square” and brought in the two developers who are constructing the new residential complexes north of the City Hall. Other Council members also wished Trimble well. On Tuesday, the city released a statement that it “will soon begin to recruit for this position and in the interim other city staff are handling those duties. The city appreciates Dan’s service over the last several years and wishes him well in future endeavors.”]]>

Jack Mayne

Senior Reporter Jack Mayne passed away in December, 2021. In his honor we have created the Jack Mayne Journalism Scholarship.

20 replies on “Angry Burien citizens forming group to fight FAA over increases in airplane noise”

  1. I wanted to make one correction to the post. I believe the first map shows the flight paths of turboprop airplanes from August 2015. The second map shows flight paths from August 2016. Also the maps were provided by Stan Shepherd and I was glad to see the proof of what we are experiencing.

    1. I’m with you Eric in asking why this man was fired? What’s up with not giving any reason for his dismissal? Very curious to have so much praise for an employee before giving him the ax. Also, can help but see how it was slid in on this meting about a completely different topic.

  2. Check out the struggles that Bay Areas in CA are dealing with.
    Palo Alto, skypossepaloalto.org
    Los Altos, losaltosneighbors.com
    Santa cruz, etc.

  3. The maps only show flights to the NW as that is where most of the complaints were coming from. It also is only prop planes.
    There were several of us there from south and west with the same complaint – however no maps were provided. Those maps have also been requested as well as maps that include increased jet flights – not just the turbos which are the loudest.
    You will notice the maps provided do not show any flights leaving from the 3rd runway and we all know they do all day.
    It was suggested by the Port the reason for the turbos being directed to the west was to get them out of the way more quickly so the can get more jets into the air.
    Perhaps – but everyone there knows it isn’t just turbos going over our homes – it is also jets.
    It is important that everyone call the noise line to report when your house us rattling from the too low planes and deafening noise. It is not time to be polite and hope it will go away. If we don’t call the airport has a legal right to continue what they are doing – so please CALL.

    1. The Port did the new map after the problems and concerns arose n Burien. Someone in Des Moines needs to ask the port to do a map of the southern areas.

    2. Actually the airport has very few departures from the 3rd runway. They could and probably will as traffic increases.

    1. Boo Hoo is my answer, that area has a per capita income level far above Burien with no ties or reason to be considered in this.

  4. Why was Dan Trimble fired and why are we paying him if he was fired? Why hasn’t this been more transparent? We have a right to more information and Mr. Trimble deserves to leave without negative speculation? Please provide more information.

  5. If smaller airplanes are being directed over west Burien, I am sure it is not just the Port or the FAA or the Airline trying to be malicious to the community. It likely has to do with safety and the volume of air traffic. Better that they are directing the traffic in a different pattern than have to deal with a plane crash.
    I would like to propose that the Port, City of Burien and the FAA provide some kind of trade off to the community. The 3rd runway flight path residents were not compensated IN ANY WAY AT ALL when the flight path started being used. The Port did not offer to buy the homeowners out like with the previous runways.
    Rather than trying to make them stop doing it (that is not going to happen by the way), how about paying for some community improvements that might off set having to deal with noise. Sound proofing more homes would be one thing. Or some sewers would be nice. The fact that northeast Burien is one big cesspool is very troubling. Perhaps homeowners in the area can suggest other ideas as well. As a kid, I lived in a house under the 1st runway flight path and 30 years later, we got the 2nd runway, 25 years after that, the 3rd runway. Air traffic will likely continue to grow as time goes on. Just has happened in the past, the planes will over time, become less noisy and less polluting to the environment.
    If everyone would just stop going places on airplanes and drive their car instead, then the airlines would all go out of business and it wouldn’t be an issue. So the next time you want to take a flight, just drive instead or take the bus. Pile your family into that Greyhound and head off to Disneyland. Ya.

  6. I so agree with many of the comments above and am very thankful for all the people who turned-out and spoke on what the effects of the change in flight path are having on them. I am especially thankful to Realtor Susan Plecko for her statement on how this is devaluing our property.
    Just now, I was looking at the picture of all the people in the council chambers. Here are some things that stood out to me. I see a monitor that appears to have the old Windows XP screen saver on it. Really!?! No up-dating of Windows since then??
    I see an empty row of red seats directly in front of the council, while there are numerous people left standing at the back of the room. I also see an open area that might have provided more seating. Why weren’t more seats brought in and the people made to feel welcome!?! In the back of my mind, I think of tactics to make people feel unwelcome that are sometimes used to discourage people from showing-up. Curious to know what other people see or thought about how the meeting took place.

  7. I think Mr. Cripe is off on his estimate about Alaska Air Group having 80% of the flights. Delta is a major player at SEA. 70 flights short of max capacity is off also. There is no way they are that busy.
    Being a resident under flight path of the third runway I can tell you 2 things for sure. The FAA is not going to change just because some residents complain. The other is it is only going to get worse.

  8. Just curious how much experience does Mr. Cripe have working with the FAA on flight issues. Yes I know he is a pilot but, pilots fly planes they don’t develop the policy’s or procedures. Like bus drivers, they drive buses they don’t make the routes.

    1. Can hardly blame the man or anyone else for not having communications/experience with the FAA when we are told even the port can’t get a civil word/explanation from them.

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