City request for Town Hall style Question & Answer sessions refused by Port

The Waterland Blog has learned that – despite requests – the Port of Seattle has refused to allow any public town hall style question and answer sessions at the upcoming Sustainable Airport Master Plan (SAMP) Near Term Projects Environmental Public Scoping Meetings beginning this coming Monday, Sept. 10, 2018.

The requests for a town hall with live questions and answers, and the Port’s denial by airport director Lance Lyttle, are summarized in an attached letter (PDF file) from Des Moines City Manager Michael Matthias.

The letter explains that the residents of Des Moines have been excluded from a town hall style engagement from the Port:

“As we expressed we are concerned that Des Moines residents have not and will not be afforded a “town hall” style question and answer session with Airport representatives. Our concern was that knowledge of the components of the SAMP with explanation by Airport planners and consultants would help inform our resident’s ability to comment on the scoping process with full information and would help avoid confusion.”

Port refuses Federal Way’s request to extend time frame to respond
Federal Way citizens will have just two weeks after this first and only Public Scoping Meeting to comment, with a deadline of Sept. 28, 2018.

We have also learned that the City of Federal Way’s request for an extension of time for citizens to provide comments to the scoping of the SAMP has been refused by the Port. The Port’s refusal is set forth by Arlyn Purcell, the Port’s Director of Environment and Sustainability, in a letter to the City of Federal Way (PDF file). The Port’s refusal appears to limit Federal Way citizens to a window of only two weeks following the Federal Way Sept. 17, 2018, SAMP Environmental Public Scoping Meeting, to comment on the SAMP.

The Port also by e-mail on Friday stated the public scoping meetings are “to allow members of the public to interact with subject matter experts.” While Ms. Purcell’s letter references that the SAMP Scoping Comment period is 60 days, which is greater than the 21-day minimum under law, the letter does not:

It’s possible that the Port doesn’t want a repeat of this Public Comment period from its May 30, 2018 SAMP presentation at the Burien Community Center:

The Port’s SAMP Near Term Projects Environmental Public Scoping Meeting is at the Highline College Student Union this coming Monday, Sept. 10, and since there will be no public comment/Q&A, all those who have concerns or comments MUST submit them either at the meeting via paper, or get them transcribed by a Court Reporter at the event.

The Port has assured us that there will be clear signage indicating where to leave comments.

You can also submit comments online via the Port’s website here:

The event will run from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. Monday in the Student Union/Building 8, located at 2400 S. 240th Street in Des Moines:


2 Responses to “City request for Town Hall style Question & Answer sessions refused by Port”
  1. Steve Edmiston says:

    Great reporting and accountability and transparency thank you Waterland Blog!

    This isn’t the Port rejecting the requests from a few activist citizens, but it is the Port rejecting the requests from two cities representing hundred and thirty thousand residents.

    Sadly, both these Port refusals land squarely in the realm of denying meaningful engagement. Unilaterally dictating how the engagement will occur; refusing to provide the same style of engagement (public town halls) provided to communities north, west, and east of the airport); and dangling subject matter experts to answer questions in order to allow citizen to learn and form comments – but doing so only at the very end of the comment period and refusing to extend the period – does not seem reasonably calculated to create a meaningful opportunity for impacted communities to become educated, ask questions and probe the facts and assumptions; and then participate with comment.

    The Port Commissioners and senior environmental staff continually speak about transparency and partnership with our communities. How’re they doing?

  2. Harry Steinmetz says:

    Of course the Port doesn’t want a repeat of the May 30, 2018 Q&A in the Burien meeting. After answering some innocent questions about the expected increases in the annual number of flights, some citizens armed with calculators were able to figure out that the Port was talking about an increase of 465 flights per day. That’s an additional flight every 3 minute. That’s a lot of noise and pollution.

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