Tulalip Tribes: No parking lot on Mukilteo waterfront
Last updated 10/9/2019 at 1:38pm
With the ever-changing landscape of Mukilteo’s waterfront, aside from what’s going on with the new Mukilteo ferry terminal, a frequently discussed topic is the future of Tulalip Tribes-owned land where the old tank farm used to be, east of the new terminal site.
There had been talks between multiple agencies of using that land as a parking lot, but according to the Tribes on Monday, that is no longer in play.
The Tribes obtained the property in 2014 through negotiations with the Port of Everett and Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) “as part of the resolution of claims resulting from the construction of the new ferry terminal at the Point Elliot treaty and usual and accustomed fishing site,” the Tribes wrote in an email to the City of Mukilteo.
Late last year, the Port of South Whidbey announced it was working with Tulalip Tribes to potentially build a parking lot on that plot of land.
Two members of the Port came to the City Council to describe the project, which at the time was considered in its “infancy stage.”
Stan Reeves, the Port of South Whidbey’s executive director, said the port had grant money to pursue the lot, but only if the Port entered a memorandum of understanding with the Tribes, which would give the port control of the site.
Since then, many residents, elected officials both past and present, and others voiced concerns over the project – the main refrain being that the waterfront is a beautiful area that shouldn’t be reduced to asphalt and parking spaces.
According to Tulalip Tribes Chairwoman Teri Gobin, a parking lot on that property is not going to happen.
Both Teri Gobin and Tulalip Tribes Board Vice Chair Glen Gobin attended the Mukilteo City Council’s Oct. 7 meeting, where the City’s Shoreline Master Program (SMP) update was discussed.
In an email to the City and a senior planner from the state’s Department of Ecology dated Oct. 4, the Tribes said it strongly objected to proposed limitations on its property “that could impose conditions which restrict Tulalip’s options on the property in ways which do not apply to the adjoining federal and state government parcels.”
Per the City, the proposed changes to the SMP would implement a 25-foot height limitation in the “urban waterfront” that is also in waterfront mixed use zoning areas. The Tulalip property falls under those categories and, in the letter, The Tribes said they wanted the height restriction on the Tulalip parcel to be 35 feet to create more equity with the new terminal as well as the future new NOAA facility. The Tribes’ letter said the group felt there was an understanding that the height restrictions on the Tribes’ property would be increased to that 35 feet.
“We are perplexed that the City now appears to be rescinding that comment,” the letter reads.
Additionally, there were concerns with shoreline setbacks, which could potentially hinder what could be done with the property and how much space would actually be available for the Tribes’ use.
Glen Gobin spoke first, and noted he felt disrespected with both the process, as well as the length of time he had to wait to speak. The council meeting began at 7 p.m., and the SMP was the seventh item on the agenda (which included four consent agenda pieces, one of which was pulled for discussion), and did not start until after 9 p.m.
He went through the history of the Tribes and the waterfront, as well as the shared history of the Tribes and the City of Mukilteo. He said that the Tribes shouldn’t be restricted with what it can do with the property, as the new NOAA facility and the ferry terminal wouldn’t have the same restrictions the Tribes would have.
Additionally, Glen Gobin said that some ideas tossed around by Mukilteo residents and elected officials for that property, such as a park or an interpretive center don’t have a revenue stream, but cost money to maintain.
After Glen Gobin finished, Teri Gobin spoke and issued a statement that many in town likely have wanted to hear for a while.
“We are not building a parking garage on the property,” she said.
That is also in the letter to the City, which said the Tribes had been working with the Port of South Whidbey to develop a parking lot “as a temporary use,” but has since decided to “abandon it at this time.”
Teri Gobin also said Tribes is not selling the land to anyone.
“This is traditional land to our people,” she said. “It’s where the canoes landed (in the Point Elliot Treaty).”
She said Tribes is purchasing land across the county for the betterment of its future, and said it has many options to consider for the future of that property, such as renting canoes and selling food.
Teri Gobin added that the Tribes wouldn’t do anything to desecrate the waterfront, as “that’s where our home has been. We’re fishing people.” She also said the Tribes isn’t ready to do any sort of development on that land at the moment, but it doesn’t want restrictions from the City that target the Tribes from doing any sort of development on its own land.
But her main point was simple.
“Get the word out – we’re not putting a garage there.”
The SMP discussion was part of a public hearing that will be continued at the council’s Oct. 28 meeting.