A Letter To Mayor Jimmy Matta

Dear Mayor,

I listened with dismay to council member Krakowiak’s objections to each of your Airport Committee’s resolutions.

Her objection to the first resolution was that the BAC should be reduced to a Citizens Advisory Committee. The fact that it has had the participation of your council is exactly what has given it its unique abilities. Why do you think so many of us showed up tonight to show support? Removing council from the committee takes away much of its strength.

She then objected to the other three resolutions as having no enforcement capability. At the risk of sounding high-falooting, neither did the Declaration Of Independence. There are times when cities need to makes statements of policy and set goals; even if those goals are not achievable today. Some day, the airport communities will have more say with the airport. But it won’t happen if we don’t start today by saying, “This is where we’re headed.”

The last public comment was made by Mr. Steve Edmonds and he remarked on the quality of the BAC members–sentiments on which everyone involved in this issue would completely agree. However, after hearing CM Krakowiak’s comments I almost wish he hadn’t made that particular remark. Because at the end of the day, the test of your city’s Airport Committee will be its ability to keep going regardless of who comes and who goes at city hall. What really matters is that the committee feels the complete support of the council year in and year out. And the only way that happens is by having at least one of your body always in active participation.

Mayor you said that you “don’t have to show up for Airport Committee meetings to be concerned about the pollution and noise from the airport.” Actually, sir, you do. ‘Time’ is that most precious currency you spend to show what you truly value of the city’s business. CM Tosta and former CM Wagner participated so vigorously because they recognize that the airport truly matters.

The airport is terribly expensive for Burien. But because it doesn’t appear on your balance sheet, it’s occasionally good to have a quick reminder of just how expensive it really is. Almost all of the profits from the airport go north and east to Seattle and the East Side. But all of the impacts stay in your back yard and none of those costs to your city get reimbursed. What costs? The lower property values. The higher rates of certain types of crime. The increases in medical bills. The increased rates of various long-term illnesses. Those costs are real. But because they don’t show up on the Burien balance sheet they’re easy to forget.

What can a fully functioning Airport Committee do for you? What can you get if you energetically implement those resolutions? Money for one thing. While everyone else is screwing around at endless meetings, your Airport Committee can be working on a plan to obtain a piece of next year’s Tax Levy. That’s $74 million as of 2019. Those are your tax dollars, of which the airport communities received zero this year simply because no one bothered to ask for it. And there are many more avenues to go down if you can allow them to do their job.

As I said in my public comment. The one thing that has been missing throughout the decades in our engagements with the Port Of Seattle is continuity. We start fighting. Then we stop. Then we start. Then we stop. Over and over. For the past two years your Airport Committee has made a terrific start. Don’t pull the rug out from under them. Make sure they get the city’s full support. What matters most is that you put into place something that will keep going regardless of who wins the next election. You want to be sure that no matter who is on the council, the Port will know that they have someone strong to contend with in Burien. Approving those four resolutions, exactly as written, is the way to do it.


Des Moines

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *