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Integrity, Inclusion, Innovation. 25-years public service; helped launch Seattle’s Climate Protection Initiative & visit of former VP Al Gore. Work for City of Renton. Launched award-winning Inclusion program; facilitated Renton’s transformation and economic development. MBA; BA, Business Economics
The three most pressing issues facing the Port: 1) managing growth at the airport, 2) supporting Port industries through the development of career pathways, and 3) redeveloping marine terminals to stay competitive
The single most critical issue is managing growth at the airport - the ninth busiest in the nation. Over the next 20 years, the number of passengers is expected to grow by more than 20 million. A hefty capital program is required to serve these millions by adding new terminals and dozens of new gates, including larger ones needed for wide-body jets that fly internationally. We have the opportunity right now to leverage this growth and create jobs that help everyone in our region.
As a Commissioner, I would focus the Port on deeply engaging the community in the planning process. That process is underway, yet the public knows very little about it. The plan that describes how the airport will grow should be informed by a vigorous public process so that, in the end, everyone feels that their voice was heard and that the plan addresses their most serious concerns.
In addition, I would carefully watch the capital budgets to ensure that construction costs do not escalate.
I have the endorsement of the 33rd District Democrats who represent the airport communities. They have already approached me to conduct a Townhall meeting to involve their communities so that we can work together for the future of the airport and our region.
The Port provided infrastructure for electric ground-support equipment at the airport and installed dozens of electric-vehicle charging stations in the parking garage. One big improvement was the addition of pre-conditioned air at every gate at Sea-Tac. This allows airplanes to turn off their auxiliary power units while parked at the gate.
As the Port finishes the Sustainable Airport Master Plan to manage growth over the next 20 years, sustainability must be built into the plan. This can only be done through intentional effort, not by accident. And the Port must be accountable for delivering on that plan. Our environmental footprint cannot grow as fast as passenger volume.
Dining and retail operators at Sea-Tac Airport must also continue waste reduction and recycling programs such as their efforts to reduce waste by donating leftover food to the Food Bank and using compostable utensils.
The Port must ensure that as marine terminals are redeveloped, shore power is included in the design to reduce air pollution. The Port must also continue toward clean-energy sources to power its operations, including solar, wind, and renewable natural gas. And the Port can lead the development of an aviation biofuel system at Sea-Tac Airport, which would be the first in the nation, as well as an important way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality around the airport.
The $15 minimum wage in SeaTac is working for the most part, but there are still challenges with its full implementation. Firstly, the City of SeaTac does not have enough resources to fully enforce the law. While the Port holds contracts with businesses at the airport, it does not have the jurisdictional authority to police compliance with the City’s laws. Despite that, the Port can work harder to encourage all of its airport businesses to live up to the spirit, as well as the letter, of the law.
Many workers at Sea-Tac are employed by contractors, not the airlines themselves, so many are not guaranteed all federal rights to unionize. The Railway Labor Act (RLA) restricts airport workers from striking and other “disruptive activity” in the workplace. And, many employees who are refugees were fearful of taking part in anything that might attract the government’s attention. These inhibiting factors are largely outside of the Port’s control, but it is important that the Port does not add to these already existing barriers.
For dining and retail outlets serving passengers, the Port must require that they meet the $15 minimum wage, as well as aspects of the law related to sick leave.
I would also advocate for the state to establish $15 minimum wage so that we can move towards consistency across different cities and jurisdictions in our region.
Economic growth is happening and must be managed in order to protect the environment. We must protect our working class and family wage jobs while developing career pathways for young and new job seekers. I have worked closely with our legislature and colleges to bring apprenticeship programs that makes it possible to get jobs in manufacturing industries starting at $70,000.
There are sustainable ways to expand capacity at the seaport and the airport without expanding the environmental footprint. For example, the Port’s recent commitment to be carbon neutral or carbon negative in its own operations by 2050 mirrors the greenhouse gas reduction goals of the Paris Agreement. This goal requires the Port to balance economic growth and job creation with environmental concerns.
The move to clean-energy sources to power operations is another key aspect of this balancing act. I will support and expand this initiative as Port Commissioner. The Port can be a leader in green job creation by supporting the solar, wind, and renewable natural gas industries. It can also provide clean-energy jobs by leading the development of an aviation biofuels industry at Sea-Tac Airport.
The marine container cargo business is on the upswing, with higher volumes than any time in the past decade. So far, I would say the partnership of the Northwest Seaport Alliance is successful, especially as a way to keep the Puget Sound region competitive with other seaports like Prince Rupert, B.C. As a way to work cooperatively to market the South Harbor in Tacoma and North Harbor in Seattle to international shippers it works very well.
What needs to be clarified is who is accountable to the people of King County and Pierce County when it comes to responsible management of the seaports. Currently, it is unclear whether the NWSA or the individual ports of Seattle and Tacoma are primarily responsible for the relationships in their counties. People need to know who will engage the stakeholders in decisions related to redevelopment of marine terminals, labor issues, what vessels are allowed to dock, and what should be done with shoreline real estate holdings.
As a society we must work towards a clean-energy future and must wean ourselves from fossil fuels. Unfortunately, this is not going to happen overnight after more than 100 years of growing dependence. One of the results of this is that occasionally we see oil tankers in Elliott Bay. Fortunately it’s not as common a sight as container ships, grain ships, and cruise ships. I would like to see stronger safety measures for the transport of oil and coal via railway so we can avoid the recent incidents that contaminated local waterways.
I would like us to work with the oil companies to use their infrastructure and bring biofuels to the airport. This is the most feasible way to make sure that the carbon emissions from aircraft at Sea-Tac are significantly reduced. Two things I promise as a Port Commissioner: 1) Terminal 5 near West Seattle won’t be developed into a methanol facility, and 2) And as one of the managing members of the Northwest Seaport Alliance I will also influence what happens at the Port of Tacoma so that we uphold our community values of sustainability and environmental protection in the South Harbor as well.
Twenty percent of those who work at the airport also live nearby. These thousands who depend on airport operations for their livelihoods are also experiencing the impacts of growth. There are three primary concerns I have about ensuring the airport is a good neighbor: 1) air quality, 2) traffic congestion, and 3) noise.
Air quality issues must be addressed by a concerted effort to replace jet fuel with sustainable aviation biofuel. This would reduce airborne particulate by 80 percent. Traffic congestion, also a contributor to air quality problems, will require a regional solution that is developed in partnership with airport communities and other government agencies, such as WSDOT and Sound Transit. Noise is another complicated issue that requires close coordination with nearby neighbors, airlines, and the FAA. The Port can play a role in improving quality of life in airport communities by reaching out to these partners and working with them to develop solutions.
I bring experience in all these areas and bring that expertise to the Port. I helped launch Seattle's Climate Protection initiative - the first of its kind in the nation. Throughout my career I have connected with communities and bring people together to find solutions. I have also worked with Renton Municipal Airport and airport communities, including the City of Mercer Island to find solutions for noise, and coordinate with FAA to institute noise abatement procedures.
The airport dining and retail leasing process needs to be improved, standardized, and maintained. Over the past five years, the process has changed at least three times, and, some could say, continuously. The intent may have been to level the playing field for small and minority-owned businesses, but it also added a layer of process that is not easy for any business.
While the current issue with Ivar’s and lease group 3 seems to have been satisfactorily resolved for the moment, it raises questions about consistency, transparency, and fairness. That is not acceptable for a government organization. The Port can do better. Firstly the Port must hire and keep a well qualified director for airport dining and retail operations. In the past three years there have been three people in that position and no consistency of management. Secondly, the Port must make the process easier and more obvious. Other government agencies, such as the Cities of Renton and Seattle, are able to support small and minority-owned businesses and area icons and do it in such a way that it doesn’t lead to conflict.
As long as there are risks to well-paying maritime jobs, I cannot support a new basketball arena in SoDo. There are many places where an arena could be built, but there is only one working waterfront in Seattle. It must be protected so that we protect the family-wage jobs in the maritime industry. Jobs in maritime pay, on average, $70,000 per year – 40 percent more than the statewide average. We also must protect the livelihoods of the drayage truck drivers who transport the containers between the terminal and railyard. They are largely east African immigrants and depend on this daily work to support their families.
If I were to see a solid plan to mitigate the traffic impacts and protect the seaport, then I would not be as concerned. But no such plan has been developed, and, until it is, then we should continue to explore other locations for the arena even if they also require mitigation of traffic impacts
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Peter Steinbrueck is nationally recognized architect, Harvard Loeb Fellow, and former three term Seattle city council member. He is a noted thought leader, consultant and writer on urban policy and innovative strategies for advancing healthy, sustainable cities and walkable, livable neighborhoods.
The core public mission of the port is to create equitable, living wage jobs for the region, where more than one third of local jobs are tied to international trade. To be strong and competitive globally, public policy and investment must align, and the Port needs to the have the full trust confidence of the voters. The Port’s three biggest challenges over the next five years I see are: 1) the rapid growth and expansion of Sea-Tac airport and meeting future demand will controlling pollution and noise, 2) the central waterfront, with the viaduct coming down, the future of shipping, and co-managing the Port’s international Gateway and joint governance under the new NW Seaport Alliance; 3) restoring public confidence I and trust in its financial management and governance. The Port is strategically well positioned to retain and grow market share of international shipping at its terminals but faces serious challenges due to competition from British Columbia at Prince Rupert, our transportation bottlenecks freight mobility and gentrification pressures on the industrial lands. My land use and planning and strategic thinking background will serve the Port leadership well.
The port faces a myriad of issues requiring complex negotiations with business, labor, other governments (esp. with city of Seattle!), environmental remediation, and its community neighbors. Restoring public confidence and trust in the port will be necessary after a long series ethical lapses, financial mis-dealings, illegal pay bonuses, and failed leadership. I represent no special interest with the port, such as organized labor, industry, or a corporate/ business line, and will always be fair and objective in my deliberations with colleagues over contracts and leasing. I have a record of increasing transparency and access to government in my former role on the Seattle City council, such as bringing policy setting and decision making out in the open, regular financial and performance auditing, requiring performance review for head director appointments, and increasing public accessibility to elected officials. I will review the port commission’s code of ethics, internal self-auditing practices, and insist on more rigorous independent auditing of performance and financials.
The Port, through its facilities and operations has a huge environmental footprint. Sea-tac Airport, one of the fastest growing airports in the nation, is also one the biggest generators of carbon emissions in the metro region. Much of the pollution is from jet operations, but also through vehicle trip generation. Studies have shown that even a 50/50 mix of biofuel with conventional jet fuel can dramatically reduce air pollution and ultrafine particulate. As a primary means of reducing its carbon footprint, the Port needs to continue to work with major airlines and airplane manufacturers in the (still experimental) use of sustainable biofuels as a substitute for conventional jet fuel. Trip reduction at SeaTac (by encouraging alternatives to SOV such as light rail) and other Port operations such as on the docks must also be a strong priority. Other areas to concentrate environmental efforts to reduce carbon emissions are with the back-ups of short haul diesel fueled trucks at Port docks and Harbor Island, and providing electrical hook-ups to cruise ships and all other vessels berthed at the Port’s docking facilities.
I think it’s too soon to tell how well its working, but hard-working families are struggling to make ends meet, so yes, I support the $15 minimum wage in general. Disparities between the rich and poor, and the big hole representing the middle continues to grow. This is in part why we have an affordable housing crisis in Seattle and King County. That said, in a recent UW economic study, researchers identified possible unintended consequences we should be aware of, possibly affecting both wage-earners and smaller employers, “MINIMUM WAGE INCREASES, WAGES, AND LOW-WAGE EMPLOYMENT: EVIDENCE FROM SEATTLE.” https://evans.uw.edu/sites/default/files/NBER%20Working%20Paper.pdf
As reflected in the Port’s Century Agenda and goal to become” the greenest port in America,” job creation and economic growth objectives are in no way incompatible with environmental goals for reducing pollution in all its maritime shipping dock facilities, airport, and other operations. As one example, Sea-Tac airport is by far the single largest source contributor to GHGs in the region, 90 percent of which is due to aviation. For the Port, aviation biofuel is key to meeting its goal of reducing aircraft-related emissions at Sea-Tac by 25 percent. The port cannot mandate a change to biofuel for aviation, but is working with Alaska Airlines and Boeing to mix biofuel with conventional aviation fossil fuel. Expanded use of biofuel could significantly reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, Sulphur, soot and other particulates from commercial aircraft.
Yes, it was probably the most important strategic decision made by the two Ports and their leadership in recent years. In the past, cutthroat competition between the two ports for greater share of shipping business was a race to the bottom. Now the ports can streamline modernization of facilities investments, jointly compete better for more market share of international shipping business. The joint governance model between the two ports is still being tested, but so far from observation has been highly successful. The other issue is parity in revenue sharing, particularly where operating and capital improvement costs may vary.
To my knowledge, no oil or coal is shipped through the Port of Seattle’s facilities, and that is not likely to change. The export of coal is a nationwide issue and global climate concern. Interstate transportation of crude oil and coal by railway is federally regulated, and local jurisdictions have no authority over transport. However, there are inherent risks to rail transport of fossil fuels, such as explosions, derailments, contamination, air borne toxic coal dust, etc., that must be acknowledged. These dangers should be mitigated, particularly through densely populated areas and local jurisdictions, through tighter controls and safety provisions, which the subject of a EIS study by the state of Washington. By example, the Port of Seattle can be leader in greening the port, and adopting more sustainable practices has set ambitious environmental goals for climate protection and reducing pollution, and is already actively engaged in sustainability leadership. There is a good opportunity to work more closely with other west coast ports in developing common goals
Keeping up with the growing demand for commercial air transportation in the region is of critical importance to our regional and statewide economy. That said, studies and siting of a second regional airport need to begin now, given the length of time involved in the decision-making process and funding needs for such a critical transportation facility. The Port should be a leader in this effort. The other important aspect of this high rate of growth is increased noise and pollution at Sea-Tac, which is adversely affecting neighboring communities. The Port’s sustainability goal for the airport is to reduce carbon emissions is by 25 percent. To reach this challenging goal will require new investments and incentives in the development and supply of biofuels for aviation use. Fortunately, the port is already partnering with Alaska Air and Boeing in a pilot program to to expand use of aviation biofuel. In other operational areas, continue efforts to fully electrify 650 ground support vehicles should also be a high priority. New noise abatement measures are needed to ease impacts on surrounding communities.
Deeply rooted in our Northwest culture, Ivar’s is a much loved, local legacy business and is considered among the best airport seafood restaurants in the country. I agree that the Port’s airport concessions process, which resulting in the ousting a local legacy business, was unfair, and I joined the Chowder Rebellion in protest of Ivar’s termination at Sea-Tac. The Port has since acknowledged that it made a big mistake in terminating Ivar’s, and has agreed to renew their lease. Our international airport needs to welcome visitors by giving them an authentic shopping and dining experience that showcases some of our best local products and enjoyable dining experiences.
No, I don’t support the proposed sports arena in SODO, whether privately funded or not. It puts Port jobs at risk! Since Hansen’s NBA arena in SODO was first proposed in 2013, I have actively opposed it, along with expansion of other new large scale commercial or recreational uses in the Duwamish Manufacturing and Industrial Center (MIC) that would threat M&I jobs and freight mobility. The MIC is the state’s largest most important industrial center, and under our regional growth management policies (GMA), manufacturing and heavy industrial uses are the highest priority. The MIC is essential to maritime and shipping sector, which provides thousands of stable, living wage jobs and contributes enormously to our state’s trade dependent economy. It is essential for us to fiercely protect this job center against speculative land grabs and gentrification. It appears now, with the Oak View Group’s proposal to renovate Key Arena at Seattle, that the focus has shifted to that location as the city’s preferred venue. I think this is a much better option, but transportation and financing costs remain issues. The Port should have no financial involvement in the funding of a sports arena.