October 26th - Public Hearing on Work-Release Facilities Moratorium

The SeaTac City Council passed an ordinance on Tuesday, August 31, 2021, establishing a temporary “moratorium” on creating new work-release facilities in the City. Comments may be sent to: publichearingcomment@seatacwa.gov

Within the rights of local control, SeaTac Municipal Code authorizes “Halfway House” uses within the Office/Commercial (O/CM), Community Business (CB), Community Business in the Urban Center (CB-C), and Regional Business Mix (RBX) zoning designations. “Halfway House” is defined as a “State licensed work/release facilities and other housing facilities serving as an alternative to incarceration” and is recognized as an Essential Public Facility. The City of SeaTac currently hosts approximately fifteen essential public facilities within the SeaTac city limits. Sea-Tac Airport, Interstate 5 and State Route Roadways 518 and 99, Light Rail and Lite Rail Station Facilities, Federal Detention Center are some examples.

Between February 2021 and August 2021, representatives of the City of SeaTac have been actively engaged with the Washington State Department of Corrections, stating concern for sighting a Work-Release Facility at the Sea-Tac Crest Motor Inn at 18845 Int’l Blvd.

On March 26, 2021, the City of SeaTac Mayor Erin Sitterley signed a letter requesting that the Washington Department of Corrections take action to address numerous concerns, including the effect a work release facility would have on SeaTac’s historically disadvantaged Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) community, and further noting that the establishment of a work-release facility will directly conflict and is incompatible with the City’s vision for SeaTac’s Urban Center and conflict with the hospitality industry focus of the Urban Center.

July 20, 2021, the City of SeaTac City Manager Carl Cole, together with the City Managers of the Cities of Burien, Des Moines, and Normandy Park, signed a joint letter to the Washington Department of Corrections again expressing numerous concerns and requesting, in part, that the Washington Department of Corrections take action to address impacts to social equity and the effects of concentrating Essential Public Facilities into a relatively small geographic area.

Responding to each of these letters, the Department of Correction further declined to take any meaningful action to address the stated concerns. On August 17, DOC indicated they would proceed with the evaluation of a work-release facility in SeaTac.

With consideration for the prevention of potential harm to public health, safety, welfare, and peace within our community, the City Council determined that review of ‘Halfway House’ development regulations is necessary to ensure the rules adopted in 1999 serve the good of the community in 2021, ensure compatibility between adjacent land uses, and are consistent within the City of SeaTac Comprehensive Plan. At the August 24 Special Council Meeting, the council voted to adopt an immediate moratorium that can remain for up to one year while a work plan for further study is completed. 

On October 26, 2021, the City Council will hold a public hearing on the moratorium in compliance with RCW 35A.63.220 and RCW 36.70A.390, welcoming comments on the matter.  Written comments sent to publichearingcomment@seatacwa.gov before 2 p.m. October 26 will be accepted and read into the record (up to 5 minutes). If you wish to provide remote oral comments at the hearing, click HERE to access further instructions.  

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