TO: Mr. Alessandro Molina, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 10 Policy Environmental Review Branch Environmental Justice Coordinator
FROM: Julie Seitz and :Dean-Ali-Blackwell :Bey
SUBJECT: To the U.S. EPA re: Environmental and Economic “Injustices”, Equity Inattention, and Potential Civil Rights Violations by King County DPER in WA State
On Thu, Sep 22, 2022 at 4:33 PM Julie Seitz wrote:
Good Afternoon Mr. Alessandro Molina, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 10 Policy Environmental Review Branch Environmental Justice Coordinator,
Thank you for your time on the telephone yesterday on a matter of environmental and economic injustices, equity inattention in community outreach and engagement, and potential civil rights violations in unincorporated South King County, WA State, that involves federal, state, and county government jurisdictions. We appreciate that the federal government’s priorities at the EPA are environmental justice, equity advancement in community outreach and engagement, and civil rights compliance.
Environmental and economic injustices, equity inattention in community outreach and engagement, potential civil rights violations
Our multi diverse community of color, immigrants, refugees, and low income households (including Section 8 housing) on Kent’s West Hill in unincorporated South King County, WA State, has been transgressed by the King County Division of Permitting and Environmental Review (KC DPER) who issued a permit for a 100 foot cell tower in the WRONG zone and without a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) in violation of King County Code (KCC) and WA State cemetery law.
A cell tower per KCC should be no more than 60 feet in a “Neighborhood Business” (NB) zone. King County DPER say they thought the zone of the property was a type of “Industrial” zone (I-P) but now say that was a mistake. However, a tower per WA State RCW can’t be cited here at all because the land is a cemetery and dedicated exclusively for cemetery use. The tower sits TOO HIGH, TOO CLOSE to the multi diverse community of neighborhood residents, cemetery patrons, and visitors. King County DPER sent the residents (cemetery patrons were not notified) to the King County Superior Court, the wrong venue for a correct CUP permit (not obtained), which would have been to the King County Hearing Examiner. Court presented a huge barrier to our marginalized and disenfranchised community and was not overcome. The 100 foot tower sits INSIDE an active burial block with graves and mourners in a 2-acre historic cemetery with intentionally buried human and animal remains (K-9 Officers and other service animals and companion animals). This is the continuously run, active commercial Seattle-Tacoma Pet Cemetery, a King County Landmark and a National Register of Historic Places (NRHP)-eligible property.
We have been administratively opposing this illegal land use action in our marginalized and disenfranchised multi diverse community since 2019. We fight on grounds of law (King County and WA State laws), environmental and economic injustices, and equity inattention in community outreach and engagement.
We learned Tuesday, September 20, 2022, on the U.S. EPA Environmental Justice Community Engagement ZOOM call that we may also have grounds of civil rights violations. The County’s erroneous permit has led to an ongoing battle as cemetery patrons seek to restore the hallowed land and freely express their religions on sacred burial grounds without interference, and as the multi diverse cemetery patrons, residents, and community members at large seek their own safety and exercise their rights for peace and quiet enjoyment, and obtain removal of the desecration and nuisance. The 100 foot cell tower is TOO HIGH, TOO CLOSE to adjacent residences, let alone within 10 feet of an actual grave, if not on top of unmarked graves. (Unmarked graves are common here and the plot map is known to be incomplete.) A Federal Communications Commission (FCC) warning sign on radiofrequency radiation emissions is posted and partly hidden on the base of the tower surrounded by penitentiary-style razor wire all INSIDE an active burial block with graves and mourners. This egregious transgression against our community and our will, that is an illegal non-cemetery use 100 foot cell tower here TOO HIGH, TOO CLOSE in the WRONG zone and place, is a glaring PUBLIC SAFETY issue.
King County is creating further hardships on our community to fight the harm done to us by King County whose government is supposed to protect us. King County has not been forthright and transparent about their errors in this matter in our marginalized and disenfranchised multi diverse community of color, immigrants, refugees, and low income households without us having to discover their errors first, bring their errors to them, and pressure them relentlessly to provide the truth and accurate information. Our discovery is ongoing. We are now pressuring King County to make things right for our community as they are not doing it on their own volition. King County is silent. We wait. They espouse equity and social justice but haven’t put that into practice here. Our transgressed community believes it’s shameful and it discourages our multi diverse, multi racial, and multi ethnic community on Kent’s West Hill, from trusting our County government, which one would hope and think they don’t want as dedicated civil or public servants, and would work diligently and swiftly to restore.
Background materials, ZOOM meeting request
For your information, Theodora Scarato, Ph.D., Executive Director, Environmental Health Trust (EHT), introduced us to the EPA’s White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC). Dr. Scarato has spoken before the King County Council and the King County Executive Office (KCEO) on our matter. EHT published two stories on our matter this year on their website:
LETTER TO WHITE HOUSE ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE INTERAGENCY COUNCIL CALLS FOR ADDRESSING CELL TOWER ISSUES
FCC LETTER TO U.S. REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SMITH ON THE BREAKING OF LOCAL JURISDICTIONS’ RULES, REGULATIONS, CODES AND LAWS IN WIRELESS FACILITIES SITINGS AND COLLOCATIONS
We are sending you background materials per our discussion and request a short ZOOM call with you, myself, and :Dean-Ali-Blackwell :Bey to highlight significant items in our materials on the matter. :Dean :Bey, a community member and an Indigenous American National, is deeply invested in our matter to help our community and was on the U.S. EPA Environmental Justice Community Engagement ZOOM call on Tuesday, September 20, 2022.
Here are a dozen background materials on our matter that involve federal, state, and county government jurisdictions:
- Our land use and environmental attorney David Bricklin to King County DPER: 2022 06 28 Bricklin to Peterson.pdf
- Our land use and environmental attorney David Bricklin to King County KCEO: 2022 07 28 Memo Bricklin to Braddock.pdf
- Our land use and environmental attorney David Bricklin to King County Landmarks Commission (KCLC): 2022 08 24 Bricklin to Steen.pdf
- King County Landmarks Commission (KCLC) decision to designate this property as a King County Landmark: Findings2_SeaPetCem.pdf
- WA State DAHP official determination that this property is eligible for entry in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP): Seattle_TacomaPetCemetery_Kent2.pdf
- WA State DAHP to King County DPER requesting the re-opening of the SEPA Environmental Process: 2020-01 00576_DAHP_Human_Remains_Captain_Kirk_ELEC19-0063.pdf
- WA State DAHP to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requesting the re-opening of the Section 106 (NEPA): 2019-07-05022_103020 FCC.pdf
- WA State DAHP to King County DPER on official determination that this property is a human cemetery according to WA State cemetery law: Letter to County Regarding Cemetery 2021 – Signed.pdf
- Our marginalized and disenfranchised community’s Paper Petition to stop construction of the cell tower project to a) King County DPER, b) the multibillion dollar international corporation telecom builder submitting the 100 foot cell tower permit application in the WRONG zone and leasing a burial block with graves and mourners, c) the multibillion dollar international corporation cell carrier tasking the telecom builder to build the 100 foot cell tower and subleasing a burial block with graves and mourners, d) the multimillion dollar cemetery property owners and their WA State limited liability company in Snohomish County, WA State and e) the multimillion dollar international Canadian-based corporation cemetery business owner/operator who bought the cemetery and cremation business from the cemetery property owners (who had the largest and most lucrative pet cremation business in WA State for at least three decades before the sale): Paper Petition to Stop Construction of Cell Tower Project, KC Permit File No. ELEC19-0063. Residents immediately adjacent to cell tower project. 103 sigs. Door to door. 12.22 – 12.28.2020 excluding 12.25. Updated 04.25.2021. 108 sigs. Redacted.pdf
- 100 foot cell tower in the WRONG zone permit application approved plans by King County DPER: ELEC19-0063 APPROVED PLANS 7-2-2020.COMPRESSED PDF.pdf
- Cemetery property owner’s attorney Gary D. Huff to the King County Executive and the King County Local Services (KCLS) Director on the mistaken zoning issue shortly after the tower for his client was permitted by King County and the WA State Land Use Petition Act (LUPA) appeal period was over (human remains were disclosed in this effort to ultimately reduce property taxes, the cell tower was never mentioned): 09.01.2020 E-mail Letter from Gary D. Huff to Dow Constantine & John Taylor plus emails w_ Jim Chan & others, incl. cemetery aerial view. No mention or show of 100 ft. cell tower project underway. 7 pgs of 57-pg 3.23.2021 KC 2001214 BOE Record for PRA.pdf
- FCC LETTER TO U.S. REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SMITH ON THE BREAKING OF LOCAL JURISDICTIONS’ RULES, REGULATIONS, CODES AND LAWS IN WIRELESS FACILITIES SITINGS AND COLLOCATIONS: FCCResponse03.09.22.pdf
- King County Code Title 21A Zoning https://kingcounty.gov/council/legislation/kc_code/24_30_Title_21A.aspx
- WA State cemetery law Title 68 RCW Cemeteries, Morgues, and Human Remains https://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?Cite=68
Image: A Minor Communications Facility with a 100 ft. cell tower sits inside active Burial Block 13 with graves and mourners at the 2-acre historic Seattle-Tacoma Pet Cemetery est. 1950 (aka Seattle Pet Cemetery), a King County Landmark and a National Register of Historic Places (NRHP)-eligible property. Humans, pets, K-9 Officers and other service animals are buried here. This significant and valuable historic and cultural resource, the cemetery property, is located in a marginalized and disenfranchised community in unincorporated South King County, WA State.
One, KC DPER. We sent a legal letter to the King County Department of Permitting and Environmental Review (KC DPER) on June 28, 2022 asking King County to deny issuing a permit on a new permit application for an antenna modification, ELEC22-0055. See attached legal letter. KC DPER informed us that our legal letter is at the King County Prosecuting Attorney Office (KC PAO). As of today, according to the “Accela Citizen Access” online portal (that King County DPER uses for real time updates), no permit has been issued for this antenna modification application. We hope what the citizens are able to see is accurate. We requested confirmation from Ty Peterson, King County DPER Commercial Product Line Manager, on September 15, 2022, (one week ago) but have not heard back from Mr. Peterson. https://aca-prod.accela.com/KINGCO/Cap/GlobalSearchResults.aspx?QueryText=1522049162
Two, KCEO. Our community, and county, state and national guests, met with and sent a legal letter to the King County Executive Office (KCEO) on July 28, 2022 asking King County to rescind the original tower permit and pay any damages, ELEC19-0068. See attached legal letter. Our attorney sent our legal letter to the King County Prosecuting Attorney Office (KC PAO) who was present at the July 28, 2022 meeting. This is the same King County PAO Senior Prosecuting Attorney Darren Carnell who was consulted by King County DPER on the mistaken zoning back in 2020. King County never brought the error out to our community and the public. We found it out ourselves and brought it up to multiple King County departments and offices across the legislative and executive branches. As of today, we have not gotten a response from KCEO and KC PAO on our request for the appropriate remedy. We followed up a month ago and heard back from the KCEO Chief of Staff on August 24, 2022, ” … our representative from the PAO’s office is working with our staff to get a response to you in writing based on the memo provided by David Bricklin. I hope to have something to you by the end of this week.” It has been a month and no word. The appropriate remedy for our transgressed community, with case law to back it, is to rescind the original tower permit and pay any damages. There is a legal and appropriate place for this non-cemetery use 100 foot cell tower, not here. WRONG zone, TOO HIGH, TOO CLOSE.
News media on our matter
Our news media coverage includes multiple stories on our matter since 2020 to present day on NBC KING 5 TV News, CBS KIRO 7 TV News, The Seattle Times, The Federal Way Mirror, and The Kent Reporter. Plus Yahoo Finance and others, and a few telecom industry rags. Many of these stories were also posted on their various social media sites including Facebook and Twitter.
U.S. EPA support
:Dean-Ali-Blackwell: Bey and I, together with our transgressed multi diverse community, look forward to the support of the U.S. EPA on our matter.
In this email, we are including and copying Mr. Matthew Tejada and Ms. Lilian Sotolongo Dorka at the U.S. EPA Headquarters—Washington, DC, who both presented at the U.S. EPA Environmental Justice Community Engagement ZOOM call on Tuesday, September 20, 2022, Ms. Sheryl Stohs at U.S. EPA Region 10 Policy Environmental Review Branch, and multiple other parties that have been or are involved in our matter in some way.
Cemetery Patron and Point of Contact | Historic Seattle-Tacoma Pet Cemetery, a King County Landmark and National Register of Historic Places (NRHP)-eligible property | Neighborhood and Community Environmental Justice Advocate | Historic and Cultural Preservation Advocate
Cemetery Consumer Advocate | Neighborhood and Community Environmental Justice Advocate
Indigenous American National
Oppose King County Permit File Nos. ELEC19-0063 (original tower construction permit, permit issued July 9, 2020, not operating to our knowledge after over two years??) and ELEC21-0028 (antenna modification, permit expired), and open permit application ELEC22-0055 (antenna modification).
K-9s, Pets and People Over Profit
InterCultural Animal Anecdotes and Art
Matthew Tejada, Director, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Environmental Justice, EPA Headquarters—Washington, DC
Lilian Sotolongo Dorka, Director, External Civil Rights Compliance Office, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of General Counsel, EPA Headquarters—Washington, DC
Sheryl Stohs, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 10 Policy Environmental Review Branch Environmental Justice Grants Coordinator,
Theodora Scarato, Executive Director, Environmental Health Trust (EHT)
Andrew Hays, District Representative to Honorable U.S. Representative Adam Smith (D-09), WA State District Office
Victoria Bautista, Legislative Assistant to Honorable U.S. Representative Adam Smith (D-09), Washington, D.C. Office
Sarah Servin, Chief of Staff to Honorable U.S. Representative Adam Smith (D-09), Washington, D.C. Office
Honorable WA State Representative Tina Orwall (LD-33) and Mary Soderlind, Legislative Assistant to Rep. Tina Orwall
Honorable WA State Representative Jamila Taylor (LD-30) and Preeya Williams, Legislative Assistant to Rep. Jamila Taylor
Honorable WA State Senator Rebecca Saldaña (LD-37), Sponsor of the WA State Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act, SB 5141 – 2021-22. Signed into law by the Governor. Implementing the recommendations of the Environmental Justice Task Force.
Allyson Brooks, Ph.D., Executive Director, Washington State Department of Archeology & Historic Preservation (DAHP)
Teresa Berntsen, Director, Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL)
Beau Perschbacher, Legislative and Policy Director, Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL)
Honorable King County Executive Dow Constantine
Honorable Deputy King County Executive April Putney
Shannon Braddock, Chief of Staff, King County Executive Office (KCEO)
Michael Ocampo-Padilla, External Relations Associate, King County Executive Office (KCEO)
Honorable King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove (KC District 5) and Zoë Mullendore, Policy and Outreach Aide to Councilmember Upthegrove
Darren Carnell, Senior Prosecuting Attorney, King County Prosecuting Attorney Office (KC PAO)
David Bricklin, Land Use and Environmental Attorney, Bricklin & Newman, LLP
Stephanie Sloane, President and Consultant, Sloane Strategic Services and L.F. Sloane Consulting Group