Washington State RCW Title 53 – Concerning Port Districts

Article Summary:

This link provides information on how the Port Of Seattle is structured and, in 53.54, the Noise Abatement section which controls the Avigation Easements.

Title 53 is chock full of interesting stuff that we believe are worth study because they explain why the Port is so powerful. But when most airport ‘enthusiasts’ focus about it they tend to think mainly about chapter 54. One thing it does is to empower the Port Of Seattle to force homeowners to sign Avigation Easements in order to obtain any mitigation funds. (Or to be more precise, the Port Of Seattle cannot obtain reimbursement for mitigation from the FAA unless the homeowner signs the Avigation Easement.)

Another thing it does is limit mitigation to six miles from the end of the runway and one mile from the center.

Extra Credit: There is also the matter of why issues concerning an airport are placed under a Port District portion of the code, when there was already a completely separate Title of the state RCW set up for Aeronautics (Title 14). Hint: Title 14 talks a lot about ‘Municipal’ airports.

RCW 53.54.020

Investigation and monitoring of noise impact—Programs to conform to needs—”Impacted areas.”
Prior to initiating programs as authorized in this chapter, the port commission shall undertake the investigation and monitoring of aircraft noise impact to determine the nature and extent of the impact. The port commission shall adopt a program of noise impact abatement based upon the investigations and as amended periodically to conform to needs demonstrated by the monitoring programs: PROVIDED, That in no case may the port district undertake any of the programs of this chapter in an area which is more than six miles beyond the paved end of any runway or more than one mile from the centerline of any runway or from an imaginary runway centerline extending six miles from the paved end of such runway. Such areas as determined above, shall be known as “impacted areas”.

[ 1984 c 193 § 1; 1979 c 85 § 1; 1974 ex.s. c 121 § 2.]


For the purposes of this chapter, in developing a remedial program, the port commission may utilize one or more of the following programs:

(1) Acquisition of property or property rights within the impacted area, which shall be deemed necessary to accomplish a port purpose. The port district may purchase such property or property rights by time payment notwithstanding the time limitations provided for in RCW 53.08.010. The port district may mortgage or otherwise pledge any such properties acquired to secure such transactions. The port district may assume any outstanding mortgages.

(2) Transaction assistance programs, including assistance with real estate fees and mortgage assistance, and other neighborhood remedial programs as compensation for impacts due to aircraft noise and noise associated conditions. Any such programs shall be in connection with properties located within an impacted area and shall be provided upon terms and conditions as the port district shall determine appropriate.

(3) Programs of soundproofing structures located within an impacted area. Such programs may be executed without regard to the ownership, provided the owner waives damages and conveys an easement for the operation of aircraft, and for noise and noise associated conditions therewith, to the port district.

(4) Mortgage insurance of private owners of lands or improvements within such noise impacted area where such private owners are unable to obtain mortgage insurance solely because of noise impact. In this regard, the port district may establish reasonable regulations and may impose reasonable conditions and charges upon the granting of such mortgage insurance: PROVIDED, That such fees and charges shall at no time exceed fees established for federal mortgage insurance programs for like service.

(5) An individual property may be provided benefits by the port district under each of the programs described in subsections (1) through (4) of this section. However, an individual property may not be provided benefits under any one of these programs more than once, unless the property is subjected to increased aircraft noise or differing aircraft noise impacts that would have afforded different levels of mitigation, even if the property owner had waived all damages and conveyed a full and unrestricted easement.

(6) Management of all lands, easements, or development rights acquired, including but not limited to the following:
(a) Rental of any or all lands or structures acquired;
(b) Redevelopment of any such lands for any economic use consistent with airport operations, local zoning and the state environmental policy;
(c) Sale of such properties for cash or for time payment and subjection of such property to mortgage or other security transaction: PROVIDED, That any such sale shall reserve to the port district by covenant an unconditional right of easement for the operation of all aircraft and for all noise or noise conditions associated therewith.

(7) A property shall be considered within the impacted area if any part thereof is within the impacted area.

[ 1993 c 150 § 1; 1985 c 115 § 1; 1974 ex.s. c 121 § 3.]

RCW 53.54.040

Fund authorized—Sources.
A port district may establish a fund to be utilized in effectuating the intent of this chapter. The port district may finance such fund by: The proceeds of any grants or loans made by federal agencies; rentals, charges and other revenues as may be generated by programs authorized by this chapter, airport revenues; and revenue bonds based upon such revenues. The port district may also finance such fund, as necessary, in whole or in part, with the proceeds of general obligation bond issues of not more than one-eighth of one percent of the value of taxable property in the port district: PROVIDED, That any such bond issue shall be in addition to bonds authorized by RCW 53.36.030: PROVIDED FURTHER, That any such general obligation bond issue may be subject to referendum by petition as provided by county charter, the same as if it were a county ordinance.

[1974 ex.s. c 121 § 4.]