Residents of Burien City Council, Seattle, sue the FAA on fight path change – and win
Burien is an area affected by Seattle airport, in the US. People there have been badly affected by a new concentrated flight path over them, since June 2016. Residents have got together to fight the changes, and get the noise reduced. In January 2017 the lawyer for Burien City said she had made it clear to the FAA that the city was serious and that if the agency “did not ‘cease and desist by February 10, 2017 and if the FAA did not commit to conduct a full environmental review,’” then the Burien and Quiet Skies Coalition would sue the FAA. They have now done that, and won – and their win is inspiring other cities to make similar moves. The flight path changes were made without any public notice, either to the city or to the Port of Seattle. The FAA had refused to meet the city council to discuss changing the flight plan. Local campaigner Debbie Wagner said: “It’s a huge win, nobody ever beats the federal government.” However, this is a win of a battle – not the war. “You can band together, you can join together and fight and win, but in the grand scheme of things we’re fighting a Goliath that wants to grow even bigger….we are all suffering. We’re suffering now in the present situation, they want to make it twice as bad. I can’t even imagine” she said. Sea-Tac International Airport is expanding, with new buildings etc, and expansion is only going to make the situation worse.
Burien sues FAA to stop flights overhead — and wins
APRIL 17, 2017
BY ANNIE ANDREWS (Q13 Fox.com)
Burien is a suburban city in King County, Washington, United States, located south of Seattle and close to Seattle-Tacoma airport Map
BURIEN, Wash. – Burien residents, with the backing of the city, successfully sued the FAA getting them to change a new flight pattern over their community. The decision was announced this week, and it’s inspiring other cities to make similar moves.
“It started out 15-20 a day,” said Larry Cripe. “We’ve even had as many as 60 flights in one day, turn west.”
That turn didn’t exist, said Cripe, before June 2016. It didn’t exist before the FAA created it last year, and directed commuter flights to use it, without informing neighbors, communities or even the airport.
“It was like the FAA built three new runways, east-west runways, without pouring one foot of concrete,” said Cripe.
“They had done this without any public notice, they hadn’t told the city, they hadn’t told the Port of Seattle,” said Debi Wagner.
Wagner is on the Burien City Council and worked with Cripe to sue the FAA. She said it had to come to a lawsuit after the FAA refused to meet with them to discuss changing the flight plan.
“The FAA dropped the litigation, based on the initial two-page letter,” explained Wagner.
“It’s a huge win, nobody ever beats the federal government,” she said.
Wagner said she is excited, but not overly optimistic. She said they won the battle, not the war.
“You can band together, you can join together and fight and win, but in the grand scheme of things we’re fighting a Goliath that wants to grow even bigger,” she said.
Sea-Tac International Airport is expanding. They broke ground in February on a multimillion-dollar expansion project that will add eight gates for Alaska Airlines in the North Terminal. The Port of Seattle does not control where planes fly, just where they land. The FAA, they said, decides where and how to direct flights.
“It’s already a bad situation, that expansion is just going to make worse,” said Kent Palosaari.
Palosaari is working to engage SeaTac residents to find a solution to the noise and air pollution that comes from the airport and the flight paths. He said Burien’s win is a win for everyone.
“I hope it empowers the other communities that yes, we can do this,’” he said.
Wagner said SeaTac is just one of nearly a dozen communities that are in talks with Burien on what they can do to mitigate air traffic issues. Medina, Lake Forest Park, Shoreline, Beacon Hill, Normandy Park, Des Moines, Mercer Island, Redmond and Federal Way have already met with the city, said Wagner.
“All of these cities, we are all suffering. We’re suffering now in the present situation, they want to make it twice as bad. I can’t even imagine,” said Wagner.
FAA continues to stonewall group over increased Burien airplane noise
A recent meeting with the Federal Aviation Administration regional office in Renton was a bust, and it is time for serious legal action to stop the recently increased noise from planes taking off from Sea-Tac Airport.
The Quiet Skies Coalition in a newsletter to its members Tuesday evening said that a Jan. 24 meeting with the FAA regional office in Renton “was very unproductive.”
“We came fully prepared and hoping that our questions and concerns would be openly addressed,” the group’s President Larry Cripe wrote. “However, the FAA chose to simply re-read what they had already sent us on December 16, 2016 with vague and incomplete responses.”
So the time has come to hire professionals for the job, he said.
“… We strongly believe it is time for us to hire a project coordinator to manage the daily activities as we move forward.”
He said Quiet Skies is writing a job description for a coordinator but it will cost money.
“We will need your financial support to make this happen.”
City of Burien involved
The Burien City Council on Jan. 23 voted to approve up to $70,000 for a legal battle against the FAA.
“We are very grateful to the six Council members for their support,” Cripe said in his newsletter. The lone negative vote was from Council member Bob Edgar who said he was concerned about what “the final monetary impact would be to the city.”
Then Burien City Attorney Lisa Marshall said she had made it clear to the FAA that the city was serious and that if the agency “did not ‘cease and desist by February 10, 2017 and if the FAA did not commit to conduct a full environmental review,’” then the Burien and Quiet Skies Coalition would sue the FAA.
“Over the past six months, your Quiet Skies Coalition committee has been working on your behalf to get us to this point,” Cripe wrote in his newsletter. “We will continue to work with the City to protect our interests.”
Cripe said the Quiet Skies website, quietskiescoalition.net, continues to expand.
Burien residents form ‘Quiet Skies Coalition’ to fight increased airplane noise
By Jack Mayne
A citizens group called the Quiet Skies Coalition has been formed to fight increased airline noise in Burien instigated by the Federal Aviation Administration at Sea-Tac Airport.
The Coalition released a newsletter today (Oct. 3) that said was to “notify you that a citizen committee has been formed to oppose the drastic increase in westbound departures from SeaTac Airport due to changes the FAA has enacted that affect the greater Burien area.”
The new group has been legally incorporated as the Quiet Skies Coalition as a not-for-profit corporation under Washington state law.
The Quiet Skies Coalition is asking residents to “become a part of this opposition” to the increase in prop-jet aircraft turning west over Burien whenever flights take off to the north. That direction is required by the FAA flight controllers whenever with wind comes from the north.
Initially the Quiet Skies Coalition will “be directing our activities toward the Port of Seattle, Alaska Airlines (and the) Federal Aviation Administration.”
The group ways they are beginning “currently fundraising, doing research and forming a preliminary plan and strategy. We will be sharing this with you and seeking your help and opinions in the near future.
The Coalition said it is planning a public meeting to “share input and ideas as well as how you can be a part of this effort.”
The opposition group included in its news release maps that were generated by the Port of Seattle and “illustrate the change in the number and direction of takeoffs over the greater Burien area. As you can see, things have changed dramatically.”
These maps illustrate the direction and number of flights prior to last July and illustrates “the direction and number of flights starting in July and illustrates “our city is now exposed to a major increase in noise from over flights – far in excess of the historic norm for our area.”
The group is headed by retired Alaska Airlines Group pilot Larry Cripe and is seeking “legal options, raising funds necessary to support the community effort, launching our advocacy website and a host of other activities.”
They are soliciting local citizen to join with them and “volunteer your time to raise awareness about the issue, contribute funds, attend public meetings, and engage in letter writing campaigns and so forth.”
They promise a website soon to update the contact information (stay tuned to The B-Town Blog for news when this happens).
‘The Port, Alaska Airlines and the FAA have underestimated our resolve to stop this blatant disregard for us as residents, taxpayers and property owners,” the news release said. “By joining together in this battle, we stand a chance to reverse the decision that has been imposed upon us.
“We are asking each and every one of you to spread the word by whatever methods you can. We need thousands of email addresses in the next sixty days, which is only possible with your help.”
With a list of residents willing to assist them, “We will then be able to communicate and keep everyone informed as to what we are doing as an organization.
“Unfortunately, none of this is going to be achievable without raising funds.”