qscmeeting1pano 140 (or so) concerned citizens packed the multipurpose room of Gregory Heights Elementary School for the first Quiet Skies Coalition meeting on Tuesday night, Oct. 25.[/caption]

Former pilot – and now President of Quiet Skies Coalition – Larry Cripe.
Images show the before (left) and after (right) flight patterns over Burien.
Lawyer John Parness points to a map showing how many turboprop airplanes turned west over Burien on June 26, 2016.
An employee of Alaska Airlines (left) spoke at the meeting.

Click ‘Play’ button to hear the raw, unedited audio of the meeting in its entirety (running time: 1:25):
Story by Jack Mayne Photo & Audio by Scott SchaeferIn front of a packed house at Gregory Heights Elementary School Tuesday night (Oct. 25), the newly-founded citizen’s group Quiet Skies Coalition said that it will take donated money to fight the Federal Aviation Administration’s decision to route most turbojet take off noise over Burien. Terry Plumb, a member of the newly created non-profit group made up primarily of Burien residents, said it was formed after the increase in airplane noise in Burien brought about when the FAA in July ordered smaller turbo-prop commuter planes to turn over Burien instead of being widely dispersed further north over West Seattle and even Elliot Bay and Magnolia. Those smaller planes are causing most of the “new” noise over Burien, which has clearly upset numerous residents. Group to fight noise “The mission of the Quiet Skies Coalition is to restore quiet skies to the greater Burien area,” Plumb said. “This can be accomplished by the FAA ceasing the direct flights westbound from Sea-Tac Airport and restoring the flight pattern that was established previously and was altered in July of this year.” Larry Cripe, founder and president of the coalition, said he began getting phone calls about the aviation noise after he brought the problems to the Burien City Council a few weeks earlier. Then he and Burien resident, attorney John Parnass, decided to form a non-profit committee, Quiet Skies Coalition. He said that after some study, and with his background as a retired airline pilot, that the FAA has done “something that is unjust.” The coalition has asked for and received a meeting with the FAA to meet with the group at Burien City Hall on Friday, Nov. 4 “for us to express our concerns and have a dialogue on this and try to get to the bottom of this.” Dialogue with Alaska Air Cripe added that the Burien City Council has been helpful in putting the meeting together. Councilmembers Debi Wagner, Steve Armstrong and Nancy Tosta attended the meeting. “I also reached out to Alaska Airlines … and wanted to start a dialogue with them,” Cripe said, noting that Alaska Air Group, headquartered in SeaTac, is the corporate title of the company that operates Alaska Airlines, Horizon Airlines and, pending federal approval, is buying Virgin America Airline. “Make no mistake, Alaska Air Group is a big company … they make the decisions,” he said. Cripe said getting the relevant information takes a lot of digging, of filing public information requests and assembling the facts to use to dispute the added planes over west Burien. He was asked whether they were just interested in the noise issue, or would they be taking on the health issues of fuel residue dumped over the area, something that many Burien residents have long complained about. “We are concerned about the flight pattern that has be thrust upon us, but that won’t be the end of the matter,” Cripe said, adding they will be concerned about a bigger picture, involving health issues, air quality and other problems. He suggested that other communities around the airport might join in the battle by starting their own similar organizations to battle the airport noise, “fuel dumping” and such. Burien resident and attorney John Parness told the group he had never been involved in something like this until the planes started buzzing over his neighborhood one day, but he thought they’ll go away – “hope is a great deceiver.” “Then I see Larry Cripe on TV one night, up like a ‘lone wolf,’” so he joined the group. Parnass showed the audience slides that showed the former flight pattern with planes taking off and moving north of Burien and dispersing in a wide area from south Seattle up to nearly the ship canal – “the historic” route, the “baseline.” ‘Just Burien, not Medina’ But in late July, Parness said, the FAA, “in combination with whoever” decided “wouldn’t it be convenient to dump all the air traffic on our neighborhood? Wouldn’t that be great because we’re Burien, we are not Medina, we are not rich, we are just Burien. That is what happened.” Parness said they have had discussions with the FAA about this – “dealing with the FAA is like dealing with any federal bureaucracy, what are you going to get from them? You are going to get nothing. You have to be persistent, you have to dig and you have to learn.” He said the reason this was done was that Sea-Tac has “real problems having to do with the growth of air traffic” but not a problem the cities can solve, but residents must be aware of it. Parness said he is a lawyer, but he does not specialize in noise law or the like. But residents do have the right to bring a lawsuit or in other ways fight the problem. “This is not new folks,” he said. “The port authority has been sued many times for disrupting people’s peace and quiet because of air traffic.” The main goal of the group is to explain to people what is going on and to persuade people who have authority to make decision to “do the right thing and not screw with us.” “Then finally if necessary, we’re going to litigate this thing,” Parness said. “I didn’t buy a house – you didn’t buy a house …” to get bombarded with noise. “If they want to do right thing, we’re with them, if they don’t want to do the right thing, we’re against them.” Parness said the FAA believes they have the right, under federal law to send turboprop planes over neighborhoods without any consequences, because they don’t the noise from turboprops is covered by federal regulations. Turbo-props ‘not noisy’ The FAA thinks “turboprops don’t create noise, so you live in this happy bubble of regulations … they think turboprops are exempt from noise regulations – we’re looking into that,” he said. The Port has been sued many times over airplane noise, “often successfully” over noise that people had not previously been subjected to. “We don’t want to sue the Port, but they hope for best…and prepare for the worst.” Parness said the bad news was that the planes were coming over our homes, but the good news is that with all the people involved, he sees reason to believe that a change in the flight patterns over Burien can be obtained. “I tell my clients go get organized and don’t accept promises (and) raise money, raise money, raise money,” he said. Money is to pay for the costs of forming the non-profit group, pay for printing a brochure and also to hire a well-connected public relations person and maybe even an attorney. Parness said the group needs to stay together, raise money for expenses but in the end, he said he feels the people of west Burien have a good chance to prevail.]]>

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

16 replies on “‘Good chance’ to reverse decision to push more airplane noise over Burien”

  1. If lawsuits are contemplated, please be advised of existing State and King County exemptions from noise regulations:
    1. The State of Washington’s WAC that exempts noise from aircraft and aircraft operations from noise regulations:
    • Sounds originating from aircraft in flight and sounds that originate at airports which are directly related to flight operations. Chapter 173-60-050 (3)(b) WAC):
    2. King County Ordinance 14114, Section 11, adopted September 12, 2001: “Sounds exempt at all times.
    • Sounds originating from aircraft in flight and sounds that originate at airports and are directly related to flight operations;”

  2. So what happens if the QSC does the impossible and convinces the FAA to revert to the old routes over White Center? What happens when the citizens of that less affluent part of South Seattle decides that they don’t want to hear airplanes passing over their homes either? Will the QSC move to protect the sound levels in an area that is not Burien? Is this just another tired case of “not-in-my-backyard” local level politics? How come no one could get this level of motivation to do something about the Homeless Crisis? Maybe if Burienites could get as excited as they get about dog parks and jet engine noise for things like rent control and human services there might not have been fifteen people trying to stay out of the rain by hiding under the City Hall/Public Library’s eave.

    1. I agree with everything in your post, pretty strenuously in fact, with the exception of the words “no one.” There are folks on the Burien City Council who are trying to learn about responding to this complex issue in a small municipality with limited resources and there are people living all over Burien who and posting that are dedicating some or all of their work to compassionate and effective responses to homelessness. Would it be nice to have lots more?

      1. Cut off again. Anyhow, I agree we need more engagement, but it’s not true that “no one” in Burien is motivated to try to help.

    2. Airplane noise aside, how about those 15+/-individuals seek help for their potential and or obvious cases of treatable mental illness, treatable substance abuse, treatable employment barriers and or a combination of them all. Why provide for those who fail to better their own situation by multiple free avenues and just continue to expect sanctuary in Burien and free handouts day after day. Call me NIMBY, but don’t call lazy like that menagerie of dysfunction at the Library sleeping and dealing dope daily.

    3. The planes used to fan out over a wide swath of Burien, White Center and West Seattle. Each neighborhood shared in the overall sound impact. The flight path has now been concentrated ONLY over Burien. Asking the FAA to return the traffic to it’s original alignment is not a NIMBY proposal. I don’t live in an affluent neighborhood and am being pounded with brand new plane noise. Please stop dragging this very simple argument down with all this talk about dog parks, homelessness, and rent control. If the port decided to start rolling 18 wheelers down your street all day and night, you would be upset. I would support your complaint and certainly would not blame you for wanting to work to bring a level of peace back to your neighborhood.

  3. Just to point out the obvious: there is no net increase in flights over Burien. Planes that used to go over a different part of Burien now go over the Seahurst neighborhood. The planes go right over my house now, and I don’t like it. However, gathering together as a community to say, “We want those planes to go over the homes of other Burien residents, not our homes,” doesn’t seem like a compelling argument. Also, the sooner the planes get out over the water, the sooner they aren’t over anyone’s homes. I think that if you could show that the new flight paths were impacting Orcas, you would have a more compelling argument.
    Also, I have several neighbors who are always making some sort of damn noise. The planes are the least of it.

    1. If you bought a home under a known flight path, you paid less for your home.
      West Burien residents paid more for their houses, because it wasn’t under a flight path.
      When the FAA changed their flight paths they stole money from these home owners in the form of home values. The Port, Airlines & FAA need to buy these home owners out at pre flight path change prices or go back to their old flight paths.
      They have screwed West Burien residents out of $100’s of thousands of dollars in home values so far.

  4. The FAA goal is simple: increase the effective capacity at the airport. By turning the smaller planes sooner, at a lower altitude of 500 feet, then bigger planes can fly more frequently. So people who live under the original flight paths can well get MORE noise because A) the planes flying over them are bigger and B) there will be more total flight operations. This is not a case of win / lose. It is a case of lose/lose.
    Also worth noting: the Port and FAA have gone through extensive public processes called Part 150. They made a lot of promises during the process. They made a lot of promises during the third runway battle. Remember how the third runway was only going to be used in certain low visibility conditions, when the number of flight operations was above the level where congestion would otherwise occur? They trotted out statistics about how there was “bad weather’ nearly 44% of the time, if I remember the number right. Well, after they created this stat, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics started tracking the actual causes of flight delays. Guess what? Weather was only a cause of a few percent of delays. Moreover, they didn’t break out where the weather occurred: at the origin, en route, or in the Seattle area when landing.
    So the question is do these public processes, and promises, mean anything? If the answer is no , then we always have to ask “what’s next.” We know the Port wants to spend 10 billion or some huge number to build more airport capacity. We know they are all excited when they get a new cargo customer, but don’t mention those flights to Moscow depart at 00:55. In a fully loaded 747. On a weeknight. When does it all end? I am glad someone is trying to hold the Port and FAA to their promises..

    1. Add Amazon “Prime” aircraft to the increase. Just another way Amazon has ruined the local area in a need for greed.

      1. For clarification purposes, those planes already come and go which is a new addition to the problem. Why they don’t use Boeing Field instead of a passenger based airport is a question to ask. Much like Fed Ex and the other freight carriers at SeaTac, why are they there as it adds to the big picture of crowding local airspace.

  5. There is a simple reason why this will have ‘no chance’ instead of a ‘good chance’. ‘Not-in-my-backyard’ means in ‘someone-else-backyard’ and authorities know that too well to not get along with this.
    It would be much better for this organization to spend their efforts on lobbying and promoting with Port and public a secondary airport for smaller planes to offload the growth of Seatac. I applaud the citizen effort to stand up against this nuisance, but it should be done with common sense and a solid well thought through strategy.

  6. The priority for the FAA and the airport should be:
    1 flight safety – taking into account, weather etc.
    2 fuel efficiency
    3 commerce
    4 be good stewards to the community.
    I bought houses in both Burien and Des Moines knowing full well there was an airport and airport traffic. I walked into this with full knowledge. If a coalition needs to form, take on something important. Aircraft are getting quieter with new technology. But for the most part, if you don’t like airport noise, don’t live by the airport.

    1. Maybe you have not listened to the meeting minutes? These 400 Bombardiers fly at a low elevation, can be heard long before you see them and after they fly over homes. It is probably part of the same plan in which the port is cutting thousands of trees to get ready for NextGen technology, thereby increasing the plane traffic significantly.

    2. Matthew, if only my psychic abilities had not been so clouded when I bought my house 22 years ago, I may have foreseen the onslaught I would be subjected to by the FAA and the Port of Seattle two decades later. And no, my house is not near the airport, not then and not now. The new flight paths came to me long after I purchased my home.

  7. This is more about increasing airport capacity, enabling more frequent flights, and allowing the Port to push more planes quicker through our airspace instead of addressing safety.
    NEXTGEN is the program that allows this:
    And in order to do this, these trees have to go:
    So we will can look foreward to more of this:
    And jets going by every 30 seconds causing more pollution and negative impacts:

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