Port of Seattle

The Port of Seattle is a government agency overseeing Seattle's seaport and airport. As a special-purpose municipal corporation, its mission is to advance trade and commerce, promote industrial growth, and stimulate economic development[1]. With a portfolio of properties ranging from parks and waterfront real estate, to one of the largest airports and container terminals on the West Coast, the Port of Seattle is one of the Pacific Northwest's leading economic engines.[2]

Port of Seattle
Agency overview
FormedSeptember 5, 1911 (1911-09-05)
JurisdictionGreater Seattle Area
Headquarters2711 Alaskan Way
Seattle, Washington
Employees2,150 (2018)
Annual budget$670 million (2018)
Agency executive
  • Stephen P. Metruck, Executive Director
Child agencies

Its creation was approved by the voters of King County on September 5, 1911, and authorized by the Port District Act. All authority of the Port of Seattle is vested with the five-member Commission in its actions under RCW 53.[3] The Commission, elected by the voters of King County, serve four-year terms to govern the Port, lead all inter-governmental functions, and oversee the Executive Director.[4]



The Port of Seattle was created by the state of Washington in 1911, with a view to regaining public control over the waterfront of Seattle. By Washington State's Port District Act, the port construction plan had to be presented and voted upon before construction could start. One of the biggest factors that swayed the votes in favor of creating the port was the prospect of economic growth.[5] The first Commission Report for 1912 records that: "The Port of Seattle came into existence on September 5, 1911, by a vote of the people of the Port District held on that date in accordance with the Port District Act of March 14, 1911. The work of the commission for the first six months was confined almost entirely to the preparation of projects which were duly approved by the people at a special election held on March 5, 1912."

Development and growth

Port construction began in 1913 with the creation of a home port for the local fishermen; this terminal was completed in 1914 and became the Northern Pacific Fishing Fleet's home of operations. It took over 20 years to get the port up and running due to opposing positions on the board regarding public port legislation, and the balance of economic benefits as against disadvantages. The creation of the Port of Seattle provided facilities for an expansion of shipping trade, later including container shipping, generating increasing economic activity in the area. The Second World War halted much of the global shipping trade and negatively impacted the economy. In 1949 the U.S. Department of Commerce designated a foreign-trade zone in the port.[6]

The port has grown rapidly throughout the years. In 1993 the Bell Street Pier, constructed in 1915, was relocated. Construction began again on the pier in 1988 with the development of the World Trade Center of Seattle. In the early 2000s the Bell Street Pier Cruise Terminal opened, creating employment and economic opportunities in the tourism business. Improvements to security were put in hand following the September 11th attack. As of 2010 the port was continuing to expand as well as create records for cargo holding and efficiency. To mark the centennial in 2011, the Port of Seattle created a historical file with photos and information about the port's and the region's history. Today the port is still a major contributor to the Seattle economy.

Alliance with Tacoma

On October 7, 2014, the Port of Seattle and Port of Tacoma announced an agreement to "jointly market and operate the marine terminals of both ports as a single entity," though they were not merging.[7] Joint operations began with the formation of the Northwest Seaport Alliance on August 4, 2015, creating the third-largest cargo gateway in the United States;[8][9] by the end of the year, it reported more than 3.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units handled by the two ports, an increase of 4 percent.[10]

Long-term impoundment

A Porsche 959 imported by Bill Gates and Paul Allen was stored at the Port of Seattle for 13 years from 1987 by the Customs Service, until regulations were changed to allow vehicles of "historical or technological significance" to be imported with severe limitations on their use.[11] Gates and Allen both helped pass the "Show or Display" law.[12]

Current issues

Recent years have brought significant changes to the Port of Seattle. In 2007, Tay Yoshitani joined the organization as CEO.[13] Just after his tenure began, two significant scandals occurred. The port police department uncovered a significant problem with racist and pornographic emails.[14] After the hiring of a new chief,[15] the organization began to regain its footing, only to be thrust in the spotlight again by former CEO Mic Dinsmore, who claimed a sizable severance had been authorized by the commission. The organization refused to pay and the claim was dropped, though the situation led to an attempted recall of one commissioner.[16]

Finally, in December of that year, the State Auditor's Office issued a critical report on the port's contracting practices (particularly those related to construction of the third runway).[17] The audit report sparked an investigation by the Department of Justice, which was later closed without action.[18]

Newly elected commissioners and CEO Yoshitani implemented a series of reforms, including increased commission oversight of port construction projects and consolidation of the organization's procurement activities into one division to afford better control.

Yoshitani also brought a heightened commitment to environmental practices. The port has many environmental programs, including shore power for cruise ships and a plan to clean up the Lower Duwamish Waterway (in partnership with Boeing, King County, and the City of Seattle).[19]

But increased container and cruise traffic have increased community concerns, just as the new runway did.

In 2012, port commissioners began outreach on the Century Agenda,[20] a strategic plan for the port's next 25 years.[21]

In 2012, the Port became one of the most vocal opponents of the proposal to build a new arena in the Stadium District.[22][23] However the Port has not been able to provide tangible proof or studies to refute what it says will cause issues for its operations, even though the City of Seattle has studied the Ports concerns at length and found them to be lacking in factual data or extensive studies.[24]

In 2015, an agreement to berth Royal Dutch Shell semi-submersible offshore drilling rigs at the Port's Terminal 5 led to protests against Arctic drilling.[25]

Port management

Current Port Commissioners

Position Commissioner[26] Office Took office Term expiry Notes
Position 1 Ryan Calkins January 1, 2018 December 31, 2021
Position 2 Courtney Gregoire Commission President March 15, 2013[27] December 31, 2019 Appointed to unexpired term
Position 3 Stephanie Bowman December 30, 2013 December 31, 2021
Position 4 Peter Steinbrueck January 1, 2018 December 31, 2021
Position 5 Fred Felleman January 1, 2016 December 31, 2019

Former Port Commissioners

This list comes from a book published in 1976 and current (2015 and beyond) events. Research ongoing for the rest of the names and terms.

  • Hiram M. Chittenden – 1912–15
  • C. E. Remsberg – 1912–19
  • Robert Bridges – 1912–19
  • Dr. Carl A. Ewald – 1915–19
  • T. S. Lippy – 1918–21
  • W. D. Lincoln – 1919–32
  • Dr. W. T. Christensen – 1919–22
  • George B. Lamping – 1921–33
  • George F. Cotterill – 1922–34
  • Smith M. Wilson – 1932–42
  • Horace P. Chapman – 1933–47
  • J. A. Earley – 1934–51
  • E. H. Savage – 1942–58
  • A. B. Terry – 1947–48
  • Gordon Rowe – 1949–54
  • C. H. Carlander – 1951–62
  • M. J. Weber – 1954–60
  • Capt. Tom McManus – 1958–64
  • John M. Haydon – 1960–69
  • Gordon Newell – 1960–63
  • Frank R. Kitchell – 1961–73
  • Miner H. Baker – 1963–69
  • Robert W. Norquist – 1963–69
  • Merle D. Adlum – 1964–?
  • J. Knox Woodruff – 1969–73
  • Fenton Radford – 1969–70
  • Paul S. Friedlander – 1970–?
  • Henry L. Kotkins – 1970–?
  • Jack S. Block – 1974–2001
  • Henry T. Simonson – 1974–?
  • Pat Davis - 1985-?
  • Paige Miller - 1988-2005
  • Gael Tarleton – 2008–2013[28][29]
  • Bill Bryant – 2008–2015[30]
  • Rob Holland – 2010–2013[31][32]
  • John Creighton – 2006–2018
  • Tom Albro – 2014–2018

General Managers and CEOs

  • J.R. West – 1933–1935
  • Col. W.C. Bickford – 1935–1945
  • Col. Warren D. Lamport – 1946–1951
  • George T. Treadwell – 1951–1953
  • Howard M. Burke – 1953–1964
  • J. Eldon Opheim – 1964–1977
  • Richard D. Ford – 1977–1985
  • James D. Dwyer – 1985–1988
  • Zeger van Asch van Wijck – 1989–1992
  • Mic R. Dinsmore – 1992–2007
  • Tay Yoshitani – 2007–2014
  • Ted J. Fick – 2014–2017
  • Dave Soike (interim) – 2017
  • Stephen Metruck – 2017–present

Sister ports

See also


  1. "Our Mission | Port of Seattle". www.portseattle.org. Retrieved May 13, 2018.
  2. "The Port of Seattle's Economic Impact" (PDF). Port of Seattle.
  3. "Title 53 RCW: Port Districts". apps.leg.wa.gov. Retrieved May 13, 2018.
  4. "Commission | Port of Seattle". www.portseattle.org. Retrieved May 13, 2018.
  5. Oldham Kit. "Port of Seattle's Commissioners Meet for the First Time September 12, 1911". Historylink.org essay 9726. February 16, 2011.
  6. U.S. Foreign-Trade Zones Board Order Summary, U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, retrieved September 16, 2016
  7. "Ports of Tacoma, Seattle announce alliance". The News-Tribune. Archived from the original on October 12, 2014. Retrieved October 7, 2014.
  8. Garnick, Coral (August 4, 2015). "Seattle, Tacoma ports OK 'bold' alliance in marine cargo business". The Seattle Times. Retrieved February 29, 2016.
  9. Wilhelm, Steve (August 4, 2015). "The Northwest Seaport Alliance just became the third-largest cargo gateway in the U.S." Puget Sound Business Journal. Retrieved February 29, 2016.
  10. "Northwest Seaport Alliance tops 3.5 million containers in 2015" (Press release). Northwest Seaport Alliance. January 21, 2016. Retrieved February 29, 2016.
  11. Stephan Wilkinson (2005). Gold-Plated Porsche: How I Sank a Small Fortune into a Used Car, and Other Misadventures. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-59921-678-2.
  12. "How To Import A Motor Vehicle For Show Or Display". National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. July 7, 2003.
  13. "Tay Yoshitani". Port of Seattle. Archived from the original on February 9, 2013. Retrieved July 16, 2016.
  14. "Port's investigation of its police officers' e-porn called flawed". The Seattle Times.
  15. "Colleen Wilson". Port of Seattle. Archived from the original on February 9, 2013. Retrieved July 7, 2016.
  16. "Report cites Port mistakes". The Seattle Times.
  17. "State audit blasts Port of Seattle". The Seattle Times.
  18. "Investigation of Port of Seattle fraud ends without indictments". The Seattle Times.
  19. "Environmental". portseattle.org.
  20. "Century Agenda". portseattle.org.
  21. "Port of Seattle prepares for stormy sailing in 25-year plan". The Seattle Times.
  22. "Stadium District Study – What & Why". www.seattle.gov. Seattle Office of Planning and Community Development. Retrieved March 18, 2016.
  23. "Proposed arena a job killer, say Port of Seattle leaders". The Seattle Times.
  24. "Seattle Arena Final Environmental Impact Statement Available". buildingconnections.seattle.gov. Retrieved March 18, 2016.
  25. Beekman, Daniel; Garnick, Coral (May 14, 2015), "More protests planned after giant oil rig muscles in", Seattle Times
  26. "Port of Seattle Commission". Port of Seattle. Archived from the original on January 30, 2017. Retrieved January 28, 2017.
  27. Heffter, Emily (March 6, 2013). "Gregoire's daughter named to Port commission". The Seattle Times. Retrieved January 28, 2017.
  28. "Gael Tarleton". Port of Seattle. Archived from the original on November 18, 2012. Retrieved July 16, 2016.
  29. "Notice of Resignation" (PDF). Port of Seattle. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 9, 2013. Retrieved July 16, 2016.
  30. "Bill Bryant". Port of Seattle. Archived from the original on December 7, 2015.
  31. "Rob Holland". Port of Seattle. Archived from the original on February 9, 2013. Retrieved July 16, 2016.
  32. Heffter, Emily (February 13, 2013). "Holland resigns from Port position after story on his problems". The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on March 3, 2015. Retrieved July 16, 2016.

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