BY Art Thiel 05:24PM 07/16/2012

Thiel: City disputes attorney’s claim about arena

A Seattle attorney and advocate for liberal causes says the proposed SoDo basketball/hockey arena would violate environmental law if the city and county sign a memorandum of agreement with developer Chris Hansen ahead of a study of impacts by  the $490 million project.

In a letter sent to public officials Friday, Peter Goldman said it will be a violation of the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) if a review is not conducted before the MOU is signed.

“SEPA is a stop, look and listen law,” Goldman, a Seattle resident, told the Seattle Times. “Where in the MOU have they reserved the right to protect the public interest if you find something that requires mitigation, something that could be prevented?”

The city claims it has directly addressed the issue in section 21 of the MOU, according to Aaron Pickus, spokesman for Seattle mayor Mike McGinn.

“Section 21 clearly states that there will be no commitment of public financing until SEPA is complete,” Pickus wrote in an email. He said the timeline begins with a vote on the MOU. If approved, the project must go through various permitting and land processes, including SEPA.

After SEPA is completed and an NBA team acquired, a third-party assessment will set a price for the land, which will be purchased by the city. That will be the first large commitment of public dollars to the project.

Goldman runs the Washington Forest Law Center, a non-profit, public interest law firm that offers legal services to protect forests and the environment.

In other arena news, a public hearing, this one combining the county and city councils, is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday at city hall.


YourThoughts

  • Jared

    Seattle, the big city that could, but won’t let itself.

    • Artthiel

       Just like SF and LA and San Diego and . . .

  • Jared

    Seattle, the big city that could, but won’t let itself.

    • Artthiel

       Just like SF and LA and San Diego and . . .

  • Jamo57

    So a city that has been located on Elliott Bay for over 100 years, a city that has grown to X million people (depending on how you want to measure the metropolitan Seattle area) is going to be sued over the environmental impact of a singular construction project in an already fully developed sector of the city?

    We have now entered the silly season.

    Dude, while you’re working on this, someone is probably clear cutting some old growth timber and a freighter or cruise ship headed for the Port of Seattle is dumping raw sewage into the Straight of Juan de Fuca to reduce their sewage charges upon docking.   

    Get a clue.

    • Artthiel

       Goldman believes that doing SEPA after the MOU is signed will give the parties to reasons ignore or downplay the mitigations SEPA will demand, like traffic around the port. The city won’t pay much mitigation, Hansen will pay none — so far. This has a long way to go.

  • Jamo57

    So a city that has been located on Elliott Bay for over 100 years, a city that has grown to X million people (depending on how you want to measure the metropolitan Seattle area) is going to be sued over the environmental impact of a singular construction project in an already fully developed sector of the city?

    We have now entered the silly season.

    Dude, while you’re working on this, someone is probably clear cutting some old growth timber and a freighter or cruise ship headed for the Port of Seattle is dumping raw sewage into the Straight of Juan de Fuca to reduce their sewage charges upon docking.   

    Get a clue.

    • Artthiel

       Goldman believes that doing SEPA after the MOU is signed will give the parties to reasons ignore or downplay the mitigations SEPA will demand, like traffic around the port. The city won’t pay much mitigation, Hansen will pay none — so far. This has a long way to go.

  • Josh

    Isn’t this waste of tax payer money to bring this to court. Obviously those concerns have to be addressed before you build anything now days. Isn’t it called permits. Why would they get permits for something that hasn’t been approved to move forward. I think he’s just trying to get his name out there. What a joke!!

    • Artthiel

       Josh, he doesn’t need the grief. He thinks doing SEPA after the MOU will give everyone an excuse to avoid or downplay the mitigations because the project will be paramount. Insofar as no one knows what the mitigations will be, neither party has said they will pay.

  • Josh

    Isn’t this waste of tax payer money to bring this to court. Obviously those concerns have to be addressed before you build anything now days. Isn’t it called permits. Why would they get permits for something that hasn’t been approved to move forward. I think he’s just trying to get his name out there. What a joke!!

    • Artthiel

       Josh, he doesn’t need the grief. He thinks doing SEPA after the MOU will give everyone an excuse to avoid or downplay the mitigations because the project will be paramount. Insofar as no one knows what the mitigations will be, neither party has said they will pay.

  • mediacracy

    Seattle: wishes it was still Mayberry.

    • Artthiel

       No. Seattle wishes it could follow the rules on this project. But there’s never been a project like this.

      • jp1979

        That being said, I find his timing suspect considering how far along this process has gone.

      • Will

        SEPA is not a goofy stall or dodge … it’s about study, facts, attention to details, safety, protection and the law. Without SEPA … ugly can happen in a heart beat.

  • mediacracy

    Seattle: wishes it was still Mayberry.

    • Artthiel

       No. Seattle wishes it could follow the rules on this project. But there’s never been a project like this.

      • jp1979

        That being said, I find his timing suspect considering how far along this process has gone.

      • Will

        SEPA is not a goofy stall or dodge … it’s about study, facts, attention to details, safety, protection and the law. Without SEPA … ugly can happen in a heart beat.

  • Myk

    This issue won’t go to court…it is just evidence that the Seattle Times will print anything to raise doubt about the arena even if it is factually incorrect. All they need to do is plant seeds…they don’t care if it is grounded in reality.

    • Artthiel

       This has little to do with the Times ed board. It’s one guy with some local cred making news. If they didn’t cover it, they would be criticized for covering it up.

  • Myk

    This issue won’t go to court…it is just evidence that the Seattle Times will print anything to raise doubt about the arena even if it is factually incorrect. All they need to do is plant seeds…they don’t care if it is grounded in reality.

    • Artthiel

       This has little to do with the Times ed board. It’s one guy with some local cred making news. If they didn’t cover it, they would be criticized for covering it up.

  • jafabian

    This isn’t surprising.  Environmental concerns stall almost all major construction projects in the Puget Sound area.  Look how long it took Northgate Mall to be remodeled for example.  Just another step in the process.

    • Artthiel

       Not just Puget Sound. Every city, everywhere — aside from Kabul or Baghdad. Part of the deal now if you want civilization. There’s always Alaska, where zoing codes go to die.

  • jafabian

    This isn’t surprising.  Environmental concerns stall almost all major construction projects in the Puget Sound area.  Look how long it took Northgate Mall to be remodeled for example.  Just another step in the process.

    • Artthiel

       Not just Puget Sound. Every city, everywhere — aside from Kabul or Baghdad. Part of the deal now if you want civilization. There’s always Alaska, where zoing codes go to die.

  • Playhouse

    For the love of Pete, would opponents please start actually reading the MOU — especially if you’re an attorney — before making public comments against it.  How many more times do we have to go through this same dance on (mis)information?

  • Playhouse

    For the love of Pete, would opponents please start actually reading the MOU — especially if you’re an attorney — before making public comments against it.  How many more times do we have to go through this same dance on (mis)information?