In 2018 the Legislature established the Interbay Public Development Advisory Committee (Committee). The Committee was created to make recommendations regarding the highest public benefit and future economic development uses for the land on which the Washington Army National Guard (Guard) Armory facility (Armory) sits in the City of Seattle, which the Guard has determined is no longer suitable for its operations. The Committee consisted of two legislative members and five non-legislative members with collective experience in:
The Committee was required to:
State Lands Development Authorities (Authorities) are authorized to oversee and manage the development or redevelopment of state-owned property, except for property owned or managed by the Department of Natural Resources, that is within or adjacent to manufacturing industrial centers.
The legislative delegation from a district containing state-owned land that is included within, or is adjacent to, a manufacturing industrial center, may propose the formation of an Authority. To form an Authority, the legislative delegation from the district containing the boundaries of the Authority must submit a written proposal to the Legislature that contains the proposed general geographic boundaries of the Authority; and legislative findings that:
Formation of an Authority must be authorized in statute. An Authority may only be formed in a county with a population of 2 million or greater. Every Authority is a public body corporate and politic and instrumentality of the state of Washington.
An Authority is governed by a board of directors. The initial board must be appointed by the Governor upon recommendation from the state legislative delegation from the district that contains the boundaries of the Authority. The number of persons on the board must be included in the proposal to establish the Authority. The board must include at least one member representing each of the following:
The board may include additional members as may be prescribed in the proposal to create the Authority.
In addition to other applicable provisions of law pertaining to conflicts of interest of public officials, no State Lands Development Authority board member, appointed or otherwise, may participate in any decision on any board contract in which the board member has any interests, direct or indirect, with any firm, partnership, corporation, or association that would be the recipient of any gain or benefit resulting from transactions with the authority. In any instance where the participation occurs, the board shall void the transaction, and the involved member shall be subject to whatever sanctions may be provided by law. The board must frame and adopt a code of ethics for its members, which must be designed to protect the state and its citizens from any unethical conduct by the board.
Powers and Duties.
An Authority has the power to:
An Authority may not levy any taxes or assessments.
An Authority has a duty to:
The State Lands Development Authority Operating Account is created in the State Treasury. Funds in the account may be spent only after appropriation and expenditures may only be used for operating expenses.
The State Lands Development Authority Capital Account is created in the State Treasury. Funds in the account may be spent only after appropriation and expenditures may only be used for capital projects.
Ballard-Interbay State Lands Development Authority.
The Ballard-Interbay State Lands Development Authority (BISLDA) is authorized. The BISLDA's boundaries coextensive with the Interbay property, the state-owned property on which the Guard's Armory currently operates. The BISLDA may exercise its authority in furtherance of projects located only on the Interbay property. The BISLDA is prohibited from selling the Interbay property.
The board of directors of the BISLDA must be composed of the following members:
Board members serve staggered terms and may serve for no more than four years. The initial board of directors must be appointed by the Governor upon recommendation from the legislative delegation from the district containing the boundaries of the BISLDA. After the initial appointments to the board, the board members must develop a list of candidates for open positions and deliver recommendations to the legislative delegation. The legislative delegation must present the list of candidates for recommendation to the Governor for appointment to the board of directors. In developing the list of candidates, the board of directors must consider racial, gender, and geographic diversity so that the board may reflect the diversity of the community.
(In support) The thirty-sixth district contains the National Guard's Armory facility. The National guard has been negotiating its move to North Bend. There are several problems with the current site including risk of natural disaster. Moving the National Guard is a matter of state and regional security. The move will free-up 25 acres of land in the middle of Seattle. This is a unique opportunity which must be considered by multiple stakeholders. This bill facilitates the development of the 25 acres by creating an Authority to take over the property and manage its redevelopment for the public's benefit. The process of the Committee was good. The consultants did come up with some ideas of affordable housing, but they were dismissed as not penciling out. The City of Seattle seemed absent from the discussion. The new Authority is supported but with reservations. Public lands should stay in public hands. There should be a discussion of whose land this is and land sovereignty for indigenous people There is alarm at the lack of a climate analysis in the discussions.
(Other) There are a few concerns with the bill, including a lack of a process for input from state agencies regarding when lands will become vacant or surplus. The members of the board of directors should be appointed by the Governor with input from legislative members. The Department of Defense currently restricts the use of the land and it is appropriate to gain assurance that the restrictions will be lifted. The Armory site itself is 25 acres in a 900-acre manufacturing industrial center. The larger area includes a tangled mess of agencies with competing jurisdictions. The legislation is unclear regarding whether the authority is to maintain ownership of the 25 acres. The authority should be a steward of the area. The legislation should be amended to clarify this. Preservation of industrial land is a core issue. Maximum public benefit is a good goal for the authority and industrial lands do provide public benefit.
(In support) The National Armory property in the Interbay area is 25 acres of land in the middle of Seattle. The National Guard has been negotiating a move from this location to North Bend for years. Relocating the National Guard to North Bend as quickly as possible is a matter of state and regional security and is supported by a bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators. In the case of an emergency, the National Guard could respond to a disaster more effectively if responding from North Bend.
Vacating this property provides an opportunity to repurpose the land in a way that maximizes public benefit with input from multiple stakeholders.
If the bill passes now, it sets the Ballard-Interbay Authority up to be ready to start work as soon as the property is vacated, in approximately 10 to 15 years. This bill does not appropriate funds to the Ballard-Interbay Authority.
An additional Ballard-Interbay board member should be added, focused on cultural space. Cultural spaces include performance spaces, galleries, and libraries and they benefit the entire community.
Equity and diversity should be a priority in the planning phase. A diverse board can fight against systematic racism