Neighbors of Sea-Tac Airport feel powerless over airport's sweeping expansion plans
By Gwen Davis
The Port of Seattle has come out with a blueprint for changes at Sea-Tac Airport in the form of the Sea-Tac Airport Master Plan (SAMP) to meet future regional demand. By 2027, Sea-Tac will service 56 million passengers. On Wednesday, the Port held an open house and presentation for people living near the airport, to review the plan and ask questions. Of particular concern is how the plan will significantly increase noise and pollution.
The meeting -- located at the Burien Community Center -- was packed with around 300 people. Another meeting is planned for June 14 at the Georgetown campus of South Seattle College. The final community meeting is set for Bellevue on June 20
Overview of SAMP
Sea-Tac's SAMP plan will work in two phases. The first phase recommends more than 30 projects that will improve efficiency, safety, access to the airport and support facilities for airlines, according to the Port. Highlights of the first phase include a new terminal with 19 gates, and an automated people mover with three stations to connect the rental car facility, new terminal and main terminal. Near-term projects will accommodate 56 million passengers and meet forecasted demand to 2027. Near-term projects will be complete or under construction by 2027. The Port will then participate in a broader conversation, as well as review results from a new regional aviation study. Long-term recommendations will be made at that time.
For more details on SAMP, visit the Port's website.
If you'd like to receive email updates about SAMP you can sign up here and select Sustainable Airport Master Plan.
Neighbors expressed many concerns with the plan during the Q&A section.
How will cargo growth be supported, one person asked? "All along the projections have always been identified that you're going to triple cargo, but there was no mention of cargo growth in the presentation," she said. "Are you still on track?"
The Port spokesperson acknowledged that cargo growth plans have not gone as planned.
"Tripling of cargo was a goal, but we spoke about unconstrained demand at the time," he said. "We realized we can’t meet the unconstrained demand. I need to go back to the memo and get the actual numbers."
One person asked how the airport will be able to handle the additional planned flights -- upping to the the size of JFK Airpot -- given that Sea-Tac doesn't have extra runways that other large airports have.
"How are you going to safely increase that many operations right above our heads?" she asked. "Is it going to be increased flight frequency? There has to be formula because you don’t have the extra runway."
Port officials responded that safety is always the number once concern, and if increased flights don't prove to be safe, they won't be flown.
"If we can't demonstrate safety, everything is off," he said.
He also said he'll have more information about these specifics one the environmental review process comes out.
Other participants asked about equity, and how the Port was dumping problems onto low income people.
"There is a lot of wealth in this county," one person began. "Yet, the communities that are taking the impacts are poor. Our area is going to lose because we don’t have the voice, power and money other neighborhoods have. Do you see anything inequitable or unjust about the situation?
"I’d admit, the ones closest to the airport are getting most impacted," the Port official replied. "But you also have to have a sense of balance. The environmental impact study points to all the jobs that the airport created in SeaTac and Burien. There are also negative impacts, but we have to have sense of balance. The airport is not 100 percent negative impact on the community. One of the challenges we have is to grow responsibly."
But others pointed out that while the airport generates billions in revenue, a "drop in the bucket" of that money goes to helping communities negate the negative environmental impacts of the airport.
Others wondered why SeaTac was forced to accommodate growth, when there are other airports in the region.
"Why can't they can take some of the burden?" an attendee asked. "Jobs are good for this area, but not all the people who work those jobs are actually living here. I’m happy to share the jobs."
A Port official answered that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) looks at where the demand and market is before deciding which facilities to expand.
Open House Materials
- Station 1: Why SAMP?
- Station 2: SAMP body of work
- Station 3: Serving near-term demand
- Station 4: Long-term vision
- Station 5: Environmental review
- Station 6: Sustainability -- The "S" in SAMP
- No. 1: Background Process Goals Objectives
- No. 2: Inventory of Existing Conditions
- No. 3: Air Cargo Market Assessment
- No. 4: Forecasts of Aviation Activity
- No. 5: Facility Requirements
- No. 6: Alternatives
- No. 7: Facilities Implementation and Financial Feasibility
- No. 8: Environmental Effects Overview
- No. 9: Sustainability Plan and Management
The PoS doesn't work for the citizens of King County, the PoS works for the airline industry. The PoS commissioners and employees are nothing more than lying, greedy, corporate scum.