KING5: Port Commission rule appears to play favorites at Sea-Tac

Posted by Nick Provenza, Reported by Susannah Frame, December 11, 2012, Seattle Times/KING 5 News

A handful of restaurants at Sea-Tac Airport would receive exclusive, no compete leases worth millions of dollars under a controversial proposal being pushed by the elected officials who run the Port of Seattle. The perks would benefit 11 of the 25 small businesses operating at the airport, raising concerns by Port staff and federal officials that the policy is discriminatory.

Sea-Tac is operated by the Port, a public agency governed by five elected commissioners. Two of those officials — Commissioners John Creighton and Rob Holland -– championed the proposal that would benefit six small business owners who operate 11 food and beverage businesses at the airport.

In addition to the lease extensions, the business owners have also asked for steep reductions in rents. According to financial records analyzed by KING, if the business owners get what they want, the proposal would result in $8 million less in rent payments from the businesses. The lease extensions would also prevent other small business owners from competing for the 11 spaces. The lease extensions would begin in 2017 and last through 2024.

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