Council approves aviation advisory committee; second airport said needed


By Jack Mayne

The Des Moines City Council unanimously approved a new airport advisory committee to guide the city as Sea-Tac Airport moves forward with massive expansion plans and increases of passenger and freight air traffic.

The 6-0 vote, with Councilmember Melissa Musser excused, came after a period of Council prompted staff consideration and recommendations that concluded with the recommendation for the committee by City Manager Matthew Matthias.

During his presentation, Matthias said his study enforced the opinion of many that a second major airport be considered for siting elsewhere in western Washington.

More flights, more noise
The Council, prompted by public pressure and concerns over huge growth proposals and plans by the Port of Seattle, had recommended the problems needed involvement of all the surrounding cities. Matthias told the Council this need has spurred the creation on May 11 of an Ad Hoc Aviation Advisory Committee and now he was presenting plans for creation of the new group.

He said that Burien and SeaTac have airport advisory committees and the staff reviewed some other groups around the nation. Input was sought from newly formed Des Moines area Quiet Skies Puget Sound.

Matthias said the city has proposed a committee of seven Des Moines resident members, with the city manager serving as chair and that the group would act as advisors to the City Council. Monthly meetings would be held and regular reports made to the Council.

City residents can find an application for membership on the Des Moines city website. Membership will be Des Moines residents who will be appointed by the mayor and approved by the Council. Applicants should be “interested/concerned about aviation impacts,” open-minded and have a background in aviation, science or medical areas preferred and “available to commit significant time on a weekly basis.”

The weekly time commitment is needed because research will be necessary, as “we want to follow best science as we present impacts to the Council,” he said.

Matthias said there should be consideration of partnerships between various groups to research the issues that will come up over time.

The committee charter should provide comments on environmental impacts, frequency of airport operations, health and noise, plus plane ground movement and the FAA and its proposed next generation of controlling takeoffs and landings.

Councilmember Luisa Bangs said that since she works for the airport, she would take up with the Port when she needs to recuse herself from future participation.

Negative impacts
“We have a long history with Sea-Tac airport all the way back to the fight for the third runway, which cost us millions of dollars which we did not win,” Matthias said. “As a result, the impacts that we feared at that time happening now.

“Passenger growth at Sea-Tac has gone from 26.8 million in 2003 to 45.6 million in 2016,” he said. “Aircraft operations have grown from 300,000 in 2012 to 400,000 in 2016.

“So as operations have increased, impacts have increased.”

Despite the benefits of the increases, he said, “a disproportionate amount of impact, negatively affect the jurisdictions in proximity to the airport.”

The city manager said this was unfair and that impacts must be balanced between the entities, with mitigation for local jurisdictions.

“Washington State is the most trade-dependent state in the United States,” Matthias told the Des Moines Council. “Additional demands of globalization require international travel and logistics capacity” but the impact to local communities “must be addressed.”

That is why the city is establishing the airport committee, Matthias said.

Second airport critical
Matthias said the siting and development of a second Seattle area airport has “been discussed as a remedy to the growth at SeaTac.”

He said he believes sustainability is a “constraint, it’s not a consideration.”

“The impact needs to be addressed from where they are now, not going forward later.”

“That is why the siting, development and look at a second airport is critical.”

Washington state government needs to be involved because it could affect the growth of Sea-Tac airport, he said. The local committee can help decided which agency or group needs to be approached for specific needs to better get results.

Climate sustainability
Mayor Matt Pina read a letter for a Bill Adams regarding President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord. The letter endorsed city efforts at promoting sustainability for future generations.

“Protecting our environment has been and will continue to be a paramount concern to the city regardless of actions taken nationally,” the Adams letter said adding a number of other actions the city has taken, including raising the marina bulkhead two feet to accommodate future sea level increases.

Pina then moved and the Council agreed to have the city’s environmental policy be reviewed by the Council’s environment committee to consider additional actions for a sustainable future environment.


Comments

One Response to “Council approves aviation advisory committee; second airport said needed”
  1. JC Harris says:

    It is very difficult to know what to make of this Committee. The area certainly -does- need a second airport. BUT if the city’s -only- strategy is to advocate for a second airport? That’s not much of a strategy IMO. That’s pushing against an open door and rather like a farmer hoping for rain in a time of drought rather than taking -active- steps on his own land.

    A second airport is going to happen with or without the city’s advocacy so I don’t see the point of the city spending any time or effort on this. A second airport will NO reduce operations at the current airport which is what we need and what the city has failed to acknowledge as a goal. The airlines will simply say ‘Thanks!’ and then keep right on adding ‘operations’ at Sea-Tac. Because we have -no- leverage. In fact, they are already two years ahead of schedule in terms of noise and pollution according to the 2018 estimates. Two years ahead of schedule in poisoning our children.

    The only sane strategy is to start fresh. Today. Tell the FAA and Sea-Tac: LESS. Less operations. Less noise. Less pollution.

    A second airport is fine. But what we the real goal is not a second airport. It’s LESS.

    Rate: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

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