A Letter To Tina Orwall re. Stakeholder Meeting

Tina Orwall is a State Representative For the 33rd District. This letter is in regard to a Stakeholders Meeting she convened at Kent City Hall on August 15, 2019.

Dear Tina,

I wanted to share my thoughts on your Stakeholders Meeting last week.

The Politics

My objection to your support of my opponent is exactly the same as my objection to the way the City has handled the Port. You both seem to see the airport as merely one issue among many.

But with all due respect the airport is not one issue for Des Moines. It is the issue around which all others are revolve. We will never achieve the kind of city we have wanted for decades without an equitable relationship with the Port Of Seattle.

The city governments are the key to achieving that equity. That is why I decided to run. It was never my ‘dream’ to run for city council, but until we have at least one person on each city council who has some expertise and commitment, we will never get where we need to be. And we currently do not.

If you want proof? Just look at which cities have actually accomplished something tangible on airport issues? SeaTac and Burien. These cities share very little in common politically. But the one thing SeaTac and Burien do have in common? Electeds who have at least some skill and commitment. Des Moines has none. Never has.

I cannot emphasise strongly enough how disillusioned affected homeowners are with local government and their aligned groups. The people I’ve documented simply will not work with the current government of Des Moines. They generally view the city’s handling of Sea-Tac Airport as either corrupt or incompetent going back to the ACC. Since then, the city has failed to advocate on their behalf in any regard, hindering many qualified homeowners from getting their Port Packages, rescinding the sound insulation requirements in the building code (originally specified by the FAA to obtain the initial AIP grants), and refusing to advocate for homeowners with Port Package issues. And my opponent has been an active participant in those actions.

We view any of the City’s current efforts as merely ways to appear to be doing something, while not really doing something of near-term value. And in that way, Des Moines behaves just like the Port. No wonder Dave Kaplan found a home there.

And the Quiet Skies people, despite all their great work, are the City Of Des Moines when it comes to airport issues. By being so tightly linked to all those various city-appointed committees, they are not well-thought of by affected homeowners. Again, this is no reflection on their talent, efforts or sincerity. It’s just a fact and the reason I try to keep my distance from the City. All that stuff about second airports and WHO studies is a complete eye-roller for people who can’t see any practical relief in sight. And until the City takes significant steps to regain the trust of these homeowners, it’s challenging to have anyone remotely connected with the current government attempting to speak on their behalf.

In short: it would have been best if your committee was not linked with any city and if you were apolitical for at least the duration of this project. I understand that the boat has sailed on these items, but that was what I was trying to get across when we last met.


One problem with the StART (and the Highline Forum) was/is a constant rehashing of the same materials, complaints and tasks. The whole reason I started SeaTacNoise.Info was because I saw people asking the same basic questions over and over and over. It’s gotta stop. Decision makers at any table have to have at least some baseline of fluency or they shouldn’t be in the room. And by now if everyone doesn’t ‘get’ all the ways the airplanes are annoying they never will so let’s stop sharing our pain and get on with solving the problems.

Second: All the cities as well as StART subcommittees and God knows who else have been engaging in duplicative efforts. Just one example, at your meeting, Ms. Parker described doing real yeoman’s work on AIP Grants for several months. Fantastic. Unfortunately, this is quite similar to work SeatacNoise.Info started on last year so we could track bad contractors and Port malfeasance. Because there is little information sharing (we have tried), we see different groups spending countless hours re-inventing the wheels.

And lastly, what y’all were calling ‘failures’, is not what we call failures. The 174 homeowners we represent don’t have the odd foggy window. We’re talking rust, rotted framing, broken cement–real structural issues. We’re not talking about simply replacing a few doors and windows because they’re out of warranty. We’re talking about serious home renovation. And of course, because these people are often low income, the longer they wait, the worse it gets and the tougher it becomes to sell the place. People end up losing on their biggest investment, simply because the Port Package drags the entire home value down the pan.

All that said, I have no doubt that you will come up with some great solutions.


And speaking of solutions, I have two quick legislative suggestions.

First: keep it simple. Just yank the two lines we suggest from RCW 53.54.030. Do that and we’ll happily take it from there. Just lower that one drawbridge.  What we do not want is some sort of monetary settlement that leaves that code intact. Everyone we represent agrees on that. My guess is that getting some money will actually be the more popular (and politically easier) path. But don’t do that. Fix the code.

Second: recognize that this is a much bigger problem than just the people with outright failures.  As I told you before, most people don’t find out they have mold until they go to sell their home and have an inspection. (Pity the poor buyers who go the ‘no inspection’ route in order to get their first home. They’re likely getting a lot more than they bargained for in Des Moines.) So only then does the seller recognize that they’ve been living in an unhealthy place for years–and then they get to pay $3,000 for remediation! Plus there is no way to vet homes with mold. Many, many homes with seemingly clean-looking Port Packages have mold. (eg. the last four homes that have sold on my street fit this scenario.) In fact, we believe that so many of the original four tranches of Port Packages were so poorly done that virtually every one of them will, sooner or later, develop mold.

But the good news is that there are only a small number of companies that provide mold remediation and they are licensed to do so. So, it might be a good thing if you could create a bit of legislation whereby the Port was required to pay into escrow for a fund equal to the amount necessary to remediate the total number of homes they have modified.  Over time, when a seller’s home is found to contain mold, the remediation company could bill the Port and save the seller from freaking out. And even better news? This incentivizes the Port to make subsequent Port Packages adhere to ever higher standards; because the better the job? The less they have to pay out down the road.

And since prevention being worth a pound of whatever,  it might also be a good thing to throw in a paragraph or three on how the Port should pay for every home to be periodically tested for mold. Again, they could work out a deal with the licensed Restoration companies in King County, perhaps so it would appear to homeowners that the cost was ‘free’.

I hope you’ll see the constructive bits in here and not just some rant. I’m an engineer and finding flaws is just what we do as a part of making things. You have a record of getting important things done for Des Moines, I know you’re sincere and together that makes you the right person for this job. (Or maybe the only person who wants the job right now. :D)



Leave a Reply

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