ELST Legal Update February, 2019

It’s been awhile so now for some updates on what has been happening behind the scenes related to the ELST. First of all, anyone who commented regarding the Shoreline Substantial Development permit received an email on 1/7/19 from the City of Sammamish stating:

The King County Parks Division has submitted an application for a Construction Permit to the City of Sammamish for the first phase of construction of the East Lake Sammamish Trail Inglewood Hill Road Parking Lot (Phase 1- Lower Wall and Trail Improvements). Phase 1 of the project constructs approximately 480 feet of 18 foot wide trail and 425 feet of retaining wall supporting the new trail. The project is located near the intersection of Inglewood Hill Road and East Lake Sammamish Parkway…. The Land Use Permit phase of the project has concluded and the King County Parks Division was granted a Shoreline Substantial Development Permit by the City of Sammamish Hearing Examiner on February 5, 2018 allowing the project to proceed to the Construction Permit phase.

This does not include the parking lot as funding is not available yet for that part. We expect the permits for the final section of the trail to be filed in late February.

You may remember, on November 7, 2018, the state Shorelines Hearings Board made their decision regarding the Shoreline Substantial Development (SSD) permit for the final segment of the ELST (The SSD permit was not appealed for the Inglewood Parking Lot and section of trail next to it.) The Board remanded the Shoreline Substantial Development Permit Application to the City to approve and issue a shoreline substantial development permit. The homeowners have decided to appeal this decision to the State Superior Court. However, the County will continue to submit their application to the City of Sammamish for the construction permits. The County will ask for an expedited ruling in Superior Court.

King County won the lawsuit filed in 2015 in State Superior Court by a small group of trailside property owners seeking quiet title relief for their homes and other property that King County stated are on public land. Eight of those owners have homes either partially or completely located in the former rail corridor. On December 21, 2018, Judge Shaffer granted King County’s motion for summary judgement. She indicated that King County owns the corridor adjacent to the plaintiffs, that the plaintiffs lack standing to challenge King County’s ownership because their deeds exclude the corridor and that King County has full authority to eject encroachments.

You may also remember the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on Aug. 3, 2018 released its decisions in the Hornish (homeowner’s) case against King County. The panel affirmed the district court’s summary judgment in favor of King County, quieting title to the rail corridor that the Surface Transportation Board had “railbanked” pursuant to the Trails Act. The panel concluded that the County owned one portion of the corridor in fee. In addition, the Trails Act preserved the railroad easement and created a new easement for trail use, and both easements were conveyed to King County. The panel held that the district court properly granted summary judgment to and quieted title in King County because the county possessed the railroad easement and the recreational easement. The panel concluded that the easement was 100 feet wide, with certain exceptions.

At this point, there is nobody to appeal to except the Supreme Court. And Sammamish Homeowners has paid to file the issue with the US Supreme Court. This will be very costly for them to pursue. There is no guarantee that the US Supreme Court will hear their case.

Finally, the County Executive is getting ready to put the (replacement) parks levy ballot measure together which will probably be on the August ballot. It will be important that we advocate for additional money for trails in order to finish the ELST.