The State Court of Appeals today rejected a challenge to the Sodo arena brought by Longshore workers. The court upheld a trial court decision from February that found that the agreement between the city of Seattle, King County and Chris Hansen to build a new $490 million arena did not violate state environmental laws.
“The memorandum does not predetermine where an arena will be built or even that an arena will be built at all,” the Division One Appeals Court three-justice panel wrote in its opinion. “Whether the city and county will agree to Hansen’s proposal is a decision expressly reserved until after environmental review is complete. Because there has not yet been a government ‘action’ as that term is defined by SEPA (State Environmental Policy Act), the courts are not a forum for the union’s opposition to Hansen’s proposal.”
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 19 appealed the lower court ruling that held that the agreement couldn’t be finalized until after the environmental review was completed. Attorneys for the union argued that the agreement designated a Sodo site and that the city was proceeding with design review, street vacation and building permits even though the environmental assessment including alternate locations hadn’t been completed.
“Obviously the ILWU is disappointed that the court did not find the agreement was an ‘action.’ It set in motion a huge force to build the arena including Chris Hansen’s attempt to buy a team,” Goldman said.
He said the longshore workers’ fight will now shift to challenging the Draft Environmental Impact Statement released by the city last month.
The longshore workers have argued against the Sodo location saying its proximity to Port of Seattle facilities would increase traffic congestion and threaten their jobs and those of other maritime and manufacturing businesses in Sodo.