By Jack Mayne Port of Seattle Commissioner Fred Felleman on Monday (Aug. 20) told the Burien City Council “we won’t agree on all the details” of Sea-Tac Airport expansions, but the Port is committed to making a “collaborative, positive forward” effort. To this, Councilmember Nancy Tosta said the increasing size and increased traffic often ends up “creating zones of poverty, increasing zones of poverty around the airport,” Felleman briefed the Burien City Council on the “Sustainable Airport Master Plan,” or SAMP process. He said the major reason he was in Burien was “is to let you know this is your time to weigh in” adding that people “have been very vigorous … but this is the time to stand up and be counted.” Got our attention “You’ve got our attention, so let’s make it work,” Felleman said after a 45 minute presentation by him and Port Commission staff on the ongoing plans to expand operations at Sea-Tac while working with area residents who largely remain concerned about the affects of more flights and operations. Some Councilmembers were concerned the Port does not pay enough attention to Burien and its residents. Councilmember Tosta pointed out that many things the Port could do to better harmonize the airport with the residents. Felleman noted that the diverse population of the entire metropolitan area, and especially Burien, is aided by the Port’s “primary job” to increase opportunity for “a more inclusive economy and having this airport economic engine in your backyard.” “I’m here to find a way that we could discuss ways that the Port and Burien can succeed together?” Felleman said the quality of life and the area’s economy, “people are bustling to get here and that creates this demand to use air travel and, unfortunately, we’ve got but one main major airport. We’d love to have a whole regional setup like other California ports…” ‘Sea-Tac can’t take it all’ “The Port doesn’t think “this is the only place that’s going to absorb all the traffic. We are also involved with the Puget Sound Regional Council Regional Airport Capacity Study. “We recognize that at a certain point in time, Sea-Tac can’t take it all,” Felleman said. “But, in the near term, this is the only date in town. He said the Port was acknowledging that Everett is picking up some of the slack but the maximum capacity is right here. “The question is how do we grow responsibly … in the community,” referring to Burien and cities surrounding the airport. “Obviously the economic benefits are throughout the whole area but the impacts are most closely felt in the surrounding communities.” The Port is “really going to do a rigorous environmental review” of the airport growth plans. “This not going to be something that will be slipped under the table,” he said. “It will be an inclusive, rigorous analysis that is going to look at all the plusses and minuses about doing nothing versus doing everything and something in between,” he said. “It is important for the longterm interest in this area and the health of our environment and out kids into the future.” ‘Zones of poverty’ Councilmembers Pedro Olguin and Tosta quizzed Felleman and other Port staff at the session, but Tosta asked about trusting the Port. “Is there any way to trust that you really are thinking about quality of life, human health, community as opposed to the bottom line of economic growth that the airport supports ends up creating zones of poverty, increasing zones of poverty around the airport,” she said, adding “that’s not good for any of us, it is not necessarily good for anybody in the region and we are seeing that happen across South King County. Tosta said some changes can happen if the Port has “the will.” The Port should “help us, be a neighbor“ on such things as the flight paths, the angle of plane takeoffs and landings, the use of reverse thrust, a potential of a fourth runway “that we think exists now over Burien.” “Those are changes that can happen, there is nothing physical that’s preventing those from happening,” she said. “It’s the will of you at the Port so I guess I’m asking help us, be a neighbor, be a cooperator, work with us to figure out how to rate quality of life as high as you rate economic development.” As Felleman started to answer Tosta, the crowd in he Council chambers loudly applauded. Felleman said to the audience “that’s why you elect those folks,” referring to the Council and added he wanted to do things to “reduce the impacts on your life” and said the Port was not ignoring the health hazards, but are “studying” it and using the “leverage, whatever we have to try to accommodate the communities.” Tosta said “thank you for continuing to try.”

PORT’S NEXT SAMP MEETING IS MONDAY, SEPT. 10 The Port’s next SAMP meeting will be at Highline College on Monday, Sept. 10, and all residents who have concerns about increased expansion, airport noise, pollution and other issues should attend. This free, open meeting will run from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. in the Highline College Student Union building. The SAMP is the blueprint for Airport growth through 2027. Sea-Tac has added 97,000 overflights in the last four years – that’s now 1,140 per day, 416,000 annually. The SAMP proposes (i) no limit on full-time use of the Third-Runway, (ii) another 80,000 annual “Near Term” flights, and (iii) undefined “Phase 2” growth. Scoping ends September 28th.
  • How noisy will it become in Des Moines?
  • What are the risks to our health and the environment?
  • How does the Sustainable Airport Master Plan (SAMP) impact crime, property values, environmental justice, and our quality of life?
  • What health and mitigation studies are underway?
  • What does the global science say today about these risks?
  • What about the growth beyond 2027?
“Please attend – ask questions and request your concerns be addressed in the environmental review!” More information:

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