The local longshore workers’ union plans to appeal a judge’s ruling that an agreement to build a sports arena in Sodo did not violate state environmental laws.
Local 19 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, whose members load and unload cargo at Port of Seattle facilities within blocks of the proposed Sodo arena site, announced this morning that they will ask a Washington Appeals Court for an expedited hearing of the case.
“The ILWU Local 19 believes that the court failed to acknowledge that the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) is a violation of the State Environmental Protection Act (SEPA), which outlines the action the city and and county took to construct an arena in Sodo without an EIS,” the union said in a statement.
A King County Superior Court judge two weeks ago threw out the union challenge to an agreement among Seattle, the county and investor Chris Hansen to build a $490 million state-of-the-art sports and entertainment venue with up to $200 million in public funds.
The union argued that a state-required environmental review should have been completed before the agreement was finalized in October, so that alternate sites and their full environmental impacts could be analyzed.
Attorneys for the union argued that the Sodo location, where Hansen has bought land, threatens freight mobility and the livelihoods of their members. They said the agreement to build the arena names the Sodo site, creating unstoppable momentum for building at that location, regardless of what an upcoming environmental study discovers.
King County superior Court Douglass North rejected the union arguments, saying the agreement clearly says that no final transaction documents, or final government approval to go forward on the project, will be issued until an environmental review is completed. The union sought to void the agreement and force the city to complete the environmental assessments before signing any deal with Hansen.
The Seattle Planning Department is preparing the scope of work for the environmental review that will include the Sodo site, two Seattle Center locations, and a no-build alternative. The impact statement and recommended mitigation is expected to be completed by November.
Hansen and an investment group that includes Steve Ballmer and Peter and Erik Nordstrom have signed a purchase agreement for the Sacramento Kings and have asked the NBA to relocate the team to Seattle for the 2013-14 season. The NBA Board of Governors is expected to vote on that request, and a competing offer from a Sacramento investment group, at their meeting in April.