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 Port of Seattle race could shape region’s economic engine A2 • Wednesday, September 28, 2011

By Tom Corrigan Issaquah Press reporter In November, voters in King County, including those in Issaquah, will be asked to choose from among four candidates hoping to serve as commissioners for the Port of Seattle. The port includes both the seaport in downtown Seattle and SeaTac International Airport. According to the port’s annual report for 2010, the port collected $75.6 million in property taxes in 2009. The projection for 2010 was $73.5 million. Those collections come from all King County residents, including those in Issaquah. “The port is an economic engine for the entire county, not just the city of Seattle,” said Charla Skaggs, corporate media officer for the port. Both Skaggs and other port officials said thousands of jobs depend directly and indirectly on port operations. According to what is billed by the port as an independent report released in 2009, the port was directly and indirectly responsible for 190,000 jobs in the Puget

Sound region. Port facilities generated more than $17 billion in revenue for businesses who deal with the port or the port tenants who operate the maritime terminals. All in all, those employers and employees pay about $867 million in state and local taxes. Finally, the 2009 report stated that more than 135,000 people are employed at regional businesses that have cargo moving through the Port of Seattle. Skaggs talked about how plenty of Eastside companies depend on the port for importing or exporting goods and raw materials. She stated port operations create a wide variety of jobs from the longshoremen who load and unload cargo to cruise ship employees. According to Skaggs, an Issaquah resident retunes pianos on cruise ships that stop at the port. Port operations themselves employ about 1,600 people, said Port Commission President Bill Bryant, one of two incumbent commission members up for election this year. All in all, just from its maritime operations, Bryant said about 70,000 families depend on the

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port. Although his opponent in the upcoming election disagrees, Bryant said those jobs are well-paying, familywage positions. He further argued the port Bill Bryant is one of the top five or six job creators in King County, right up on the list with The Boeing Co. and Microsoft. “I think the port is becoming an example of an agency that can create jobs,” Bryant said. “There is no doubt the port is a critical economic engine for the region,” said Dean Willard, an Issaquah resident who is opposing Bryant for the latter’s spot on the port commission. Willard specifically said the port does not do enough to create living-wage jobs, but also was highly critical of the port’s environmental record. “I have observed decisions that are not transparent and not reflective of local values,” Willard said,

Change comes to Issaquah bus routes Oct. 1 King County Metro Transit riders should prepare for changes soon as transportation planners adjust routes between Issaquah and Seattle. Issaquah routes receive some shuffling in the latest service plan from the mass transit agency. Under a service plan starting Oct. 1, Route 211 runs from hospital-dense First Hill in Seattle to the Issaquah Highlands Park & Ride. Metro Transit is also adding trips departing First Hill for the highlands at 3:05 and 5:30 p.m. Route 271 service is also due to increase. Metro Transit is adding trips on the route from the Eastgate Park & Ride to the University District. Riders can board a Route 271 bus in downtown Issaquah. The updated plan calls for buses to arrive at the Eastgate center every 10 minutes — rather than every 20 minutes — from 6-6:30 a.m. on weekdays. Service frequency is also due to increase throughout the day

WHAT TO KNOW King County Metro Transit riders can learn more about route and schedule changes in the Special Rider Alert brochure at Metro Online, www.kingcounty.gov/metro. Call Metro Customer Information at 206-553-3000 to learn more.

and during the evening commute. The agency is urging riders to check updated routes before boarding buses for the weekday morning commute Oct. 3. Issaquah riders transferring buses in Bellevue should prepare for substantial changes after Metro Transit rolls out the updated routes and schedules. County Council members approved the route changes and more than 20 other adjustments

in May. County Executive Dow Constantine proposed the overhaul to accommodate the launch of RapidRide buses. Some Eastside route changes reflect the addition of the RapidRide B Line. The red-and-yellow express buses offer service between Bellevue and Redmond. RapidRide is part of the Transit Now initiative adopted in 2006. The initial RapidRide line between Tukwila and Federal Way is popular among riders. Extending Route 211 to the highlands is possible due to a partnership between Metro Transit and the First Hill Transportation Group — a consortium of Harborview, Swedish and Virginia Mason medical centers. Under the existing arrangement, Route 211 runs between First Hill and Eastgate. Metro Transit updates routes and schedules three times per year to improve service and meet bus riders’ needs.

adding those local values include environmentally sound operations. B r y a n t sharply disagreed, arguing the port’s environmental Dean Willard record is another reason the institution is important to voters and residents in the Puget Sound area. As one example of what he defends as the port’s environmental stewardship, Bryant pointed to what ultimately becomes of contaminated dredging materials the port removes from around its maritime facilities: He said the port legally could dump those materials into Elliot Bay. Instead, the port takes on the added expense of having the materials moved inland. But Willard said an example of how the port has dropped the ball environmentally is its lack of attention to problems with the Duwamish River. He said the port undoubtedly has a shared respon-

sibility for cleaning up the waterway. For his part, Bryant agreed the port has some responsibility for the Duwamish, but said officials are living up to the responsibility. He said the port has supported a plan to restore the river’s habitat, another environmental step he said the organization was not required to take. Another voluntary environmental move, according to Bryant, includes replacing outdated port trucks with newer, more efficient models. By 2015, he said all port trucks must meet certain EPA standards. Willard said Bryant and other board members consistently “talk the talk, but fail to walk the walk.” For example, he again argued the port’s efforts regarding the Duwamish are completely insufficient. Willard backed a protest held downtown Sept. 15 as the Port of Seattle was hosting the American Association of Port Authorities. The group directly mounting the protest is known as Puget Sound Sage. Among other claims, the group charges seaport truck driv-

Minor earthquake shakes areas south of Issaquah

a minor earthquake beneath Mirrormont on Tiger Mountain. The magnitude-2.8 earthquake occurred just before 1 a.m. Aug. 18, about a mile beneath the surface. Scientists said such small earthquakes occur often, and do not indicate a looming, larger earthquake.

Seismologists recorded a magnitude-3.2 earthquake south of Issaquah last week, but the minor tremor did not cause any damage or injuries. University of Washington seismologists said the minor earthquake occurred at 1:22 p.m. Sept. 22. Scientists pegged the earthquake’s epicenter near Lake Desire in rural King County, about eight miles southwest of downtown Issaquah. King County Sheriff’s Office deputies did not respond to any calls related to earthquake-related problems or damage, spokesman Sgt. John Urquhart said. Seismologists at the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, based at the UW, said the temblor occurred about 15 miles beneath the surface. September is National Preparedness Month, and the state Emergency Management Division conducted a statewide drop, cover and hold earthquake drill the day before the Lake Desire temblor. The seismic activity came a month after seismologists recorded

Residents can comment on proposed highlands gas station The city and Issaquah Highlands developer Port Blakely Communities plan to restart the discussion next month about a proposed gas station in the hillside neighborhood. Citizens can comment on the proposal at a City Council public hearing at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 3 in the Council Chambers at City Hall South, 135 E. Sunset Way. Before construction can proceed on a highlands gas station, the council must amend the agreement between the city and Port Blakely to allow such a facility in the neighborhood. The original agreement prohibits a highlands gas station due to concerns about possible groundwater contamination.

DECISION 2011 ON THE WEB Find complete election coverage at www.issaquahpress.com/category/ election through Election Day and beyond.

ers often are forced to work 10- to 12-hour shifts while not receiving health benefits or sick time and earning about $28,500 a year. The other port commission spot on the ballot this year currently belongs to Seattle resident Gael Tarleton. Neither she nor challenger Richard Pope, of Bellevue, responded to repeated requests for comment. Tom Corrigan: 392-6434, ext. 241, or tcorrigan@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

The proposed amendments under consideration Oct. 3 address environmental protection standards and design expectations, and outline regulations, for a highlands gas station. The gas station proposal almost reached the council in December 2009, but Port Blakely executives pulled the request at the last minute. Opponents claim a gas station is a poor fit in a neighborhood touted as “green” and pedestrian friendly. In the past, proponents billed the proposed gas station as a cuttingedge “energy station” featuring alternative fuels and electric-vehicle charging stations.

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