Queen Anner announces run for Port Commission

John Kane is fed up with the Port of Seattle's approach to its industrial land.

So the environmental consultant and Queen Anne resident has announced he is running for the Port Commission slot currently occupied by Paige Miller, a Queen Anne resident who is leaving the Port to run for the Seattle City Council. It will be Kane's first foray into politics, he said.

But Kane has a grounding in the industrial issue because he has spent seven years on and is currently chairman of the Ballard Interbay North End Manufacturing and Industrial Center Committee.

BINMIC was set up more than a decade ago as part of the city's Comprehensive Plan, and its goal was to preserve and concentrate industrial growth along the Interbay corridor.

At least that was the idea on the drawing board. According to Kane, the Port is ignoring the spirit - if not the letter - of the plan's requirements with its proposal for redeveloping the North Bay area.

"The clincher on that has been the residential," he said of a Port proposal to allow housing on the site, along with traditional industrial uses and so-called "emerging industrial sectors" such as biotech and world health.

He also slams the Port's recent purchase of the Tsubota property on 15th Avenue West (see story this issue). The Port says it bought the property to improve access to the North Bay, but Kane sees it another way. Having lost money on developing the central waterfront, he says, the Port Commissioners and staff want to "play Monopoly with taxpayers' money."

Port officials have cited a lack of interest from traditional industrial users as a reason for the new approach in North Bay, but Kane and BINMIC committee members don't buy the argument.

"We think that's because there isn't a lot of (Port) interest in finding that kind of tenant," he said. "A small, light-industrial manufacturer would work."

The proposed change in use in North Bay will also set a bad precedent for industrial development in Seattle, according to Kane. Whether that turns out to be the case or not, the change would require amending the Comprehensive Plan, something Kane noted that the Port is trying to do this year.

It's not the first time. The Port, he said, also submitted a proposed amendment to the plan last year to allow for the mixed-use approach in North Bay. But it went nowhere, Kane added. "They're just defying the city."

Kane is owner and president of Kane Environmental, an environmental-consulting company that specializes in, among other areas, environmental assessments for uplands and marine properties, along with environmental cleanup and brownfields-redevelopment projects.

Brownfields are contaminated industrial sites that can be cleaned up and reclaimed for use, he explained, and that's something the Port has to do on a regular basis.

But because of his experience with that endeavor and his time with BINMIC, Kane said he's already used to working with Port staff. Kane also said that, as an entrepreneur and businessperson, he can offer the Port Commission a completely different perspective. "I have some ideas to help the businesses out."

Kane adds economics to his list of concerns. "The uses of taxes is also one of my biggest issues with the Port," he said, adding that the Port of Seattle has the highest tax rate of any port on the West Coast.

Kane also said the tax rate used by the Port has more than doubled in the last two years. "The tax levy needs to be reduced."

Describing his run for a commission seat as a grass-roots effort, Kane said it's still early in the game. But so far, Kane said, he has garnered endorsements from - among others - Ballard Oil, Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel, Pacific Fishermen and Salvan Manufacturing in the South End.

Staff reporter Russ Zabel can be reached at rzabel@nwlink.com or 461-1309.[[In-content Ad]]