Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor: Dec. 15, 2007

Turning our city into a jet ghetto

After reading Jacinda Howard’s article “Airplane rattles Marine Hills” in the Dec. 12 Federal Way Mirror, it brought back the reason why we moved to Federal Way, from Boulevard Park, over 10 years ago.

We lived in Boulevard Park, South Seattle, for over 36 years. Then one day, the Port of Seattle decided to build another runway, more flights closer to our home on 14th Avenue South. Then they decided they needed a third runway. Then came the “port windows” — that was supposed to shut out the airplanes noises. Our windows were only in for a short time before the shaking of the planes flying “low” over our house caused the largest windows to leak. Hence, our move farther southwest, in hopes of avoiding the overhead flyovers.

Now, like the Marine Hills community, we in the Demarwood neighborhood get to hear the same loud noises of these aircrafts, very early in the morning, usually about 3 a.m. Sunday mornings. This started about three years after we moved into our home on 12th Avenue SW, and has been constant ever since.

We did call Stan Shepherd, Port of Seattle Airport Noise Programs manager, and he gave us the runaround like he is doing to those in Marine Hills. Mr. Shepherd is useless when it comes to “noise program manager.” He did nothing for us, here on 12th Avenue SW, and will do nothing for those who are put in the same place we are on 12th Avenue SW. They will not change that particular airline’s route because it is one of the Port of Seattle’s and SeaTac airport’s biggest customers. Also, they don’t give a fig about those who are under the noise. We don’t have enough elected officials that can help us stop the insanity of the Port of Seattle and what they want to do with SeaTac airport. Just ask Stu Creighton.

Then someday, in the future, they will turn Federal Way into a “jet ghetto,” just like they did Boulevard Park, Riverton Heights and MacMicken Heights. Although there are many more upscale neighborhoods in Federal Way, the Port of Seattle will just go about building until it has the whole south end of King County as one big airline industry.

If you think I am kidding, just ask a few of those who fought and lost the third runway — I was one of them. As for those EVA Airways Corporation flight,

they are flying a lot lower than 3,000 feet. So ask the FAA why they are allowing these huge 747-4Es to fly over populated communities that low. Will it take one of these planes to crash into a whole community of homes and kill people before they do something? No, it won’t stop them. They will give you a list of reasons why, but none that will protect our communities. Also ask the FAA why they have a “no flyover order over Mercer Island.” There are no commercial flights in and out of SeaTac that fly over Mercer Island and never will. Even small private airplanes are not allowed.

Being a victim of the Port of Seattle and SeaTac airport in the past, I can tell you one thing: They will do nothing to help the citizens within a 12- to 14-southern mile radius of SeaTac.

As for that EVA Airways Corporation plane, don’t count on them to cooperate, either.

Pat Gee, Federal Way

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A sustainable form of travel:

I recently read Jerry Vaughn’s Dec. 5 Travel Talk article titled “Costa Rica: The gem of Central America.”

The piece illustrates the beautiful scenery of Costa Rica and the superb tourist locations of the country. He mentions a particular mountain range of Costa Rica that “used to be covered in cloud forests” but does not explain what has been happening to these Costa Rican cloud forests to cause their downfall.

Tourism has become the world’s largest and fastest growing industry. Unfortunately, the degradation of natural beauty, economic exploitation and the ignorance of many tourists are threatening the very places we consider visiting on our next vacation. It is most often developing nations who turn to tourism as a way to gain economic stability. However, the money produced by tourism generally profits the tourist’s home country, American or European airlines, and international resorts more than the local people of a host country.

People seem to be drawn to the dilapidated state of developing nations because they are cheap. This seems contradictory because tourists want to visit cheap countries so they may have a nice time without going broke, but the more tourists visiting a concentrated area, the more expensive that area will become.

People want to go to places like Costa Rica to see their cloud forests and beaches with white sand and amazingly blue waters.

What about the local people? What about the delicate ecosystems that are ruined because a five-star resort was built at the base of a mountain that used to have a cloud forest? What about the wildlife that is forced to migrate farther and farther up those mountains because they are disturbed by these tourists who are busy “appreciating” the nature of Costa Rica.

The infrastructure that is necessary to support such tourism is one of the reasons why cloud forests are in danger today. Do people think those roads were always there, leading right up the base of a volcano or hot spring?

I have lived in Costa Rica and witnessed the massive amount of tourists in San Jose, the Caribbean and Pacific Coast, the mountain ranges, the volcanoes and many places in between.

During my time there, I was introduced to the concept of “ecotourism” and have since then been enthralled by its possibilities and sustainable practices. The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) defines it as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the well being of local people.”

Tourism is not going to stop growing and people are not going to stop wanting to visit these exotic, far-off lands of beautiful scenery and cheap fun; therefore, the industry must be made sustainable. Studies have shown that over 75 percent of Americans are willing to pay more for a vacation or tour that practices sustainable policies.

Ecotourism companies work to promote local economies and societies, educate tourists about the places and people with which they come into contact, and support certified eco-lodges as the best option for a place to stay in foreign countries.

Vaughn’s article was accurate in describing Costa Rica as a popular tourist location, but lacked the necessary emphasis that must be put on sustaining such destinations. I encourage tourists everywhere to do some research on their travel companies before choosing one to stick with.

It can be hard and greenwashing has been a big problem recently, but the least we can do is try because without trying, places like Costa Rica cannot maintain their local environments, economically nor ecologically.

Nicole Pressnall,

Seattle University,

International Studies student

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