Currently there are 3 ELST issues in the court system.
- The City of Sammamish is currently appealing a federal court ruling that the placement of two sets of stop signs along south segment 2A (currently under construction) which will be oriented so that vehicle traffic, rather than trail traffic, stops. The city believes that the stop signs should be oriented so that trail users are to stop. The city appeal does not stop work along the trail and this 1-mile segment is anticipated to be complete by December 2017. We support the federal ruling for the stop signs to remain oriented so that drivers stop, because it is the safest option for people using the trail – especially trail users who are slower to cross, such as children and the elderly or disabled. Orienting stop signs to the roads is also consistent with other locations on the trail and creates predictability, which increases safety for all.
- There are two elements pertaining to a group of trail-side homeowners (SHO) questioning of King County’s ownership of the rail corridor. Per SHO, Count 1 seeks to clarify that all King County acquired was a surface easement to the corridor and not fee title to the land. Since acquiring the corridor in 1998, King County has always asserted that they acquired fee title, or own the land outright. Count 2 is focused on a specific set of 66 lots where no deed or easement agreement was ever executed before the railroad laid track. King County is claiming fee title ownership of the corridor across these 66 lots through “adverse possession”. The SHO Complaint says all King County acquired was a prescriptive surface easement based on what the railroad actually used. In Count 2, SHO will argue that the width of this prescriptive easement is the width used by the railroad and the current interim trail width of 12 feet. This would eliminate the shoulders of 3’ on each side. Both counts were in Federal Court but SHO decided to move Count 2 to the State Court. Their thought is it would be an advantage to them as in the context of Washington state law, Federal Rails-to-Trails laws should not be at issue and of any use to King County. We have contacted legal counsel who noted in doing so, however, Judge Pechman made it clear that King County’s arguments have merit. One of the grounds on which she ruled the case must go back to state court is that plaintiffs (the neighbors) concede that the Trails Act preserves the railroad easement.
The County won the Count 1 case in April 2016. However, the homeowners organization, SHO, has appealed it and the next hearing will be in early 2018.