Community Post

Central District Under Flight Path

I have lived at 15th & Yesler for seven years. Two months ago, I began to see and hear loud, constant airplanes from early morning to late night. The planes are flying North or South right over 15th Avenue South. A search on the Internet led me to a carefully written and researched blog by a Capitol Hill resident.

Also follow the thread in response to the Seattle Times article “Quieter Skies Ahead, Seattle at Forefront of High Tech Plan to Begin Changing Air Traffic, Cutting Noise and Emissions”, 8/30/09

I learned that since 2002, the North-South flow of airplanes descending and ascending from Sea-Tac follows a North-South pattern over Capitol Hill, the Central District and Beacon Hill 70% of the time.

Also since 2002, the planes’ altitudes have become lower and the engine noise has increased.

Finally, the author pointed out that despite this heavy aviation exposure, none of these neighborhoods has received a noise monitor to quantify the frequency, duration and intensity of the noise occurrences so that the Port of Seattle can mitigate the impacts on these communities. Twenty-five noise monitors are found throughout Seattle such as Mercer Island, Hunt’s Point and West Seattle, however, they are not under the Sea-Tac flight paths. The Port of Seattle on behalf of the FAA is supposed to work with neighborhoods to mitigate noise occurrences (Part 150).

My observations show additionally that the flight path has shifted over the Central District from 19th to 12th, 14th and 15th Avenues South.

There is also incredibly an amazing amount of air traffic from private planes to two-prop planes to float planes to 4-prop military planes, all criss-crossing the skies above our neighborhood.

There are Air Lift NW and many other helicopters to and from Harborview Medical Center bringing patients. These fly directly over the Squire Park area day and night.

The commercial flights begin as early as 0500 and don’t often end until as late as 0130 or 0200 the next day, sometimes flights in between.

I often hear loud jet noise which the blogger points out is “engine revving” right overhead in order to stay maintain altitude because the planes are so incredibly low.

Finally, I discovered that in 1994, President Clinton signed Executive Order 12898 ordering all Federal agencies to account for the effects of their actions on minority and low-income communities. The FAA is aware of this order and has a section on it in their Desk Manual.

These observations raise a lot of questions.

The biggest question is why is there so much, constant, noisy and low-flying aviation traffic filling the skies right over these neighborhoods and what can we do about it?

Without a noise monitor, we cannot quantify the frequency, duration and intensity of these noise occurrences.

Without quantification data, there is no recourse to mitigation by the Port ofSeattle and the FAA.

The Central District, Beacon Hill and parts of Capitol Hill are minority and low-income neighborhoods that should come under the jurisdiction of Executive Order 12898 yet we suffer a disproportionate amount of airplane traffic and noise pollution over our neighborhoods compared to other parts of Seattle without mitigation assistance from the Port of Seattle or the FAA.

I am forming the Coalition for Environmental Equality. I am seeking the support of individuals and organizations in Capitol Hill, the Central District and Beacon Hill who are currently affected.

With the support of the Squire Park Community Council, I have invited the Port of Seattle Noise Abatement Office to come to the SPCC quarterly meeting on October 11 to respond to the above observations and work with us in the Central District to achieve mitigation, fairness and environmental justice as mandated by Executive Order 12898.

A good start would be noise monitors for each of these three neighborhoods affected by the current flight path.

Another goal would be for the Port to recognize and redress the current inequalities in noise occurrences affecting these neighborhoods,as mandated under Federal Act 12898 of 1994. Let’s start with Squire Park and the Central District.


Patty Fong

0 thoughts on “Central District Under Flight Path

  1. You make some great points in your post. Hopefully soon, the air noise will be improving according to ‘Stay Tuned for Less Jet Noise in 2013 or 2025’.

    I don’t want to discourage you from forming a coalition to raise awareness about this issue, but you might want to look at some coalitions and organizations that already exist.

    One in particular, Community Coalition for Environmental Justice ( might be interested in helping to organize a campaign around Exec. Order 12898, and use noise pollution as one of the many inequalities that impact specific communities.

  2. We have invited Port of Seattle Noise Abatement officials to come and make a presentation on noise mitigation and answer questions about the airplane freeway over the CD. I plan to invite Port of Seattle candidates to come too. October 10, Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at CAMP.