Port neighbors seek full environmental review of Terminal 5 project, while city re-opens time for comments after losing some

You’ve probably seen those signs around Admiral and east Alki. They’re not for a political campaign – they’re for the citizen-advocacy campaign to get the Port of Seattle to change its mind about part of the process leading up to its planned modernization of Terminal 5; the web address on the signs points you to this online petition.

Though Terminal 5 has made headlines in the past several months for the short-term lease that brought in part of Shell’s Arctic-drilling fleet, this isn’t related to that. This has to do with the port’s long-term plan for the sprawling terminal in northeast West Seattle, as reported here more than a year ago – the plan to make it “big-ship ready,” as the phrase goes. Not that the ships that called at Terminal 5 until its closure a year ago weren’t big – but they weren’t as big as the ones that are expected to dominate the business in the years ahead.

Right now, the port says it doesn’t need a full environmental review for the proposal, because ultimately, it contends, the volume won’t be any larger – it’ll just come on bigger, and fewer, ships. Port reps defended that contention when they spoke at the West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s meeting last month (WSB coverage here, including first mention of the neighbors’ petition campaign). Nearby residents cited multiple reasons why they believe a full environmental review – which includes issues such as traffic and noise, not just ecological effects – is warranted.

A new twist since that meeting: The city reopened the comment period on a certain part of the process – the “shoreline substantial development application” – because it lost a month’s worth of citizen comments sent in via the Department of Planning and Development‘s online system. DPD spokesperson Wendy Shark confirmed this to us when we inquired via e-mail:

An upgrade to the Land Use Information Bulletin (LUIB) application was made on June 29. Before the upgrade, comments sent via the link posted in the LUIB were forwarded directly to the Public Resource Center. That didn’t happen after the upgrade. The issue was brought to our attention by members of the public when they noticed that their comments had not been uploaded to our electronic library. We corrected the problem on July 29.

Here’s the revised official notice – if you used the form attached to the previous notice to send in a comment after June 29th, you’ll want to send it again. And if you haven’t commented on it yet, neighbors point out that unless there’s a turnabout on the environmental-impact review issue, it could be your only chance to comment on those impacts. The notice summarizes the project as:

Shoreline Substantial Development Application to allow improvements to existing container cargo facility (Terminal 5). Project includes removal and replacement of portions of pier structure, including crane rails, decking and piling, dredging of approximately 29,800 cu. yds. of sediment, and under pier shoreline stabilization. Project also includes installation of an electrical substation and utility upgrades. Determination of NonSignificance prepared by the Port of Seattle.

That last part is what the neighbors take most issue with – that’s the declaration (read it here, and read the “environmental checklist” here) that they don’t think a full environmental impact review is needed. Even if the terminal’s container volume is the same as before, or even less, many other factors have changed, they point out – population and traffic, for example, and that’s why they think a study is merited.

For now, September 4th is the new deadline for comments on the modernization project – via this form, or via e-mail at prc@seattle.gov.

16 Replies to "Port neighbors seek full environmental review of Terminal 5 project, while city re-opens time for comments after losing some"

  • Jeanie August 16, 2015 (8:56 pm)

    The city’s DPD LOST all those citizen comments?? Brilliant, just brilliant. And they think we can trust them with a half-a-sed environmental impact review? I already signed the petition at terminal5group.com, and I am about to submit my comments.
    The Port is an embarrassment.

    • WSB August 16, 2015 (9:05 pm)

      I should note – The terminal5group.com website on the sign isn’t working at the moment so I just linked directly to the change.org petition in the first paragraph of our story – the site was working when I looked at it earlier in the weekend and it mostly was just a pointer to the petition, anyway. – TR

  • Jim August 16, 2015 (11:08 pm)

    If you email directly to PRC@seattle.gov, be sure to put Project #3019071 in the title.

  • John August 17, 2015 (7:13 am)

    What is the legality of all of those signs being posted on public property?
    Who is responsible for their removal?
    There are still many signs from West Seattle’s losing city council candidates left on public property, now just litter.
    How about a clean-up of other litter as candidates and supporters retrieve their signs?

  • anonyme August 17, 2015 (10:44 am)

    Thank you WSB, as well as the creators of this petition, for bringing this important issue to the people. I believe this project could have devastating environmental consequences which the Port is unwilling to address.

    John, I agree with you re: signs that are left to decay on our public right of way. They should be removed in a timely manner. Ms. Herbold – take note.

  • owen August 17, 2015 (3:02 pm)

    Lisa Herbold advanced to the general election – seems pretty reasonable to me that her signs are up until November.

  • SeattlePerson August 17, 2015 (4:26 pm)

    Go home…you lost this one…The port is a place where vessels are worked…Its always been that way and you knew that when you moved to West Seattle…
    What do you think is going to happen there that has not been happening for decades???

  • Jim August 17, 2015 (4:34 pm)

    SeattlePerson – like many people, you’ve missed the point entirely. The ships can be worked just fine while taking minimal measures to reduce the harm to the neighborhoods.

  • anonyme August 17, 2015 (5:16 pm)

    Posters, signs and flyers are allowed to be displayed for up to 30 days with a 10 day grace period. Signs still remaining this long after the primary are in clear violation of the statute. They certainly are not allowed to remain until the next election in November, and should not be replaced until the beginning of October. You’d think that someone running for City Council would not only be aware of the rules, but eager to see them enforced.

  • John August 17, 2015 (8:10 pm)

    I have been unable to confirm your 30 day plus 10 day waiver.
    Does it apply to commercial, political and social issue (terminal5group.com) signs posted on public property?

  • Bob August 18, 2015 (6:59 am)

    Here is a Facebook page that discusses the some of the issues West Seattle residents maybe facing when Terminal 5 reopens.

  • Robert August 19, 2015 (9:52 am)

    good old seattle? lets move to a industrial area then raise hell about the noise and traffic. when seattle built seatac airport, it was put way out in farm country, then the money-grubbers put housing developments all the way around it. now the port commission wants to use the dock area in west seattle for what it is best for and everybody is squaling about the noise and traffic, next comes the buy-out at rediclous prices???????

  • Thomas M August 20, 2015 (4:21 am)

    It has not always been a place where vessels are worked. Working vessels is a vast improvement of the uncontrolled landfill / dump it was before it was transformed into what was then a modern container shipping facility. Personally it seems like a good spot for a transit center where everything from buses and light rail to water taxis and seaplanes could operate…. and it would have the “parking” to actually provide park AND ride options to everywhere.

  • patricia davis August 21, 2015 (11:36 pm)

    There are close to 200 people now that have signed the petition asking for an Environmental Impact Statement. Thank you to all the people supporting scientific study of the possiblility of ‘liquefaction’ (soil turning into liquid) at Terminal 5 during an earthquake. In turn there could be explosions of the fuels and gases in the area – that could turn into a sudden inferno. Let’s get an Environmental Impact Statement to study it scientifically. Our children and residents deserve that. With regard to the signs: They will be collected and picked up after the comment period ends.

  • innocent bystander September 2, 2015 (5:41 pm)

    It turns out the West Seattle Transportation Coalition is the one distributing the yellow signs, and they are involved in this effort. Why are they meddling in a neighborhood issue? Because time and time again they have discussed in their meeting about how they want to re-purpose T5 for transit and kick out the Port. This goes far beyond the mandate they have set out for themselves in their bylaws.

    There needs to be full disclosure, since all links to real humans on the website have been obfuscated (Pat Davis? I seriously doubt it). I hope WSB makes the call and asks them for comment.

    • WSB September 2, 2015 (6:04 pm)

      IB, the West Seattle Transportation Coalition is NOT the group distributing the yellow signs, nor is it behind the online petition, so whomever told you that either received or is spreading bad information. It’s a group of neighbors who live in the East Admiral area, one of whom is speaking at the Southwest District Council meeting in about half an hour. The name you mention is another of those neighbors who has been vocal. She was among the members of the public at the WSTC July meeting where the group had Port reps talking about the issue – we covered it: https://westseattleblog.com/2015/07/bigger-ships-but-not-bigger-volume-port-of-seattle-talks-terminal-5-at-west-seattle-transportation-coalition – other T-5 neighbors were in attendance as well and pitched their petition at that meeting and also asked questions of the Port reps (as any member of the public is welcome to do at those meetings, and at most if not all community-council meetings we cover) but are not WSTC members or officials. – Tracy

Sorry, comment time is over.