A Letter To Nancy Tosta

Ms. Tosta is a Council Member for the City Of Burien and chairs their Aviation Committee. This letter was hastily started after their meeting tonight. I asked her to consider placing the following item on the agenda for the Committee’s next meeting: “How do we turn our resolutions into legislation?”

Council Member,

I wanted to apologize again for cornering you after tonight’s Burien Airport Committee meeting. I hope you were not too late for your apt. If I’m impatient it’s because I have the strong feeling that the airport communities are already several years behind schedule.

Your committee is the first group I’ve seen among the airport communities that is actually *getting somewhere. But as I said to you, what matters is: How can you take what you’re doing and then evangelise. And I mean that on several levels:

First to other airport committees who aren’t doing the same level of work

Second, how do you get the City Councils (including Burien) to make these issues a real priority–not just during the SAMP but on an ongoing basis.

And then finally, how do you get the State Reps organised and motivated to oppose the Port? Because ultimately? That’s where the real fight for relief will occur.

My idea has been to get the City Of Des Moines (which has the dough) to hire a full time Aviation Specialist–a lobbyist/grant writer. Because there is enough grant money from the EPA to fund such an FTE (full-time employee) given DM’s status as an **EJ Community. My idea was that, for starters, such a person could be everywhere the Port guys are, shadowing their efforts and making sure that every Port message was always being countered with our message. Secondly, this person would rally lawmakers to work together to build a genuine airport community coalition at the State level–something that would be very difficult to accomplish without leadership. And then, over time, once the idea has proven itself, this person’s talents (and costs) could be shared with the other airport communities.

This idea has been greeted with much snickering in DM, but it is my belief that this is an idea we must get to as part of our ongoing relationship: they have their lobbyists and we have ours.

And somehow, one of the airport cities has got to get the ball rolling.

In any event, your second resolution, (Noise) in particular, is brilliant. She is the only other person I’ve run across yet who understands that the Port -could- have gotten more mitigation money from the FAA–simply by asking for it. When I’ve told people simply to read the code, they look at me like I’m nuts. But they never read the code.

That’s what’s wrong with our movement. Most people—including most of our own electeds, are not yet willing to believe how badly the Port treats us. It’s largely a marketing problem.

As I said tonight, SEATACNOISE.INFO will shortly get hold of a whole bunch of records from the Port–including every revision of the ++SAMP work documents. Perhaps these can be of some use.



*As harsh as that may sound, frankly the other cities’ committees have suffered from a myriad of issues such as getting bogged down in minutiae and a general lack of focus. It’s very hard to have a good Committee if you don’t have good leadership on your team and/or if you don’t feel as though you have the support of your government.

**Environmental Justice Community

++This was something I requested way back in May at a SAMP Open House meeting for local businesses. The Port promised to update their web site to start publishing revisions to various key documents in the SAMP process, including engineering drawings so that the public could see how these changed over time. There has been an ongoing issue with the Port where they publish a document, then later on it simply vanishes from their web site never to be seen again. Not cool.

SEATACNOISE is fighting to get copies of all that information and to make sure that the Port makes good on their original promise. We have to be sure that the information the public sees on their web site is transparent. And above all, that means that it hasn’t changed without showing people the complete audit trail.

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