FoLM vs City of Seattle

Our opening brief in the Court of Appeals was filed on November 16. The city and Marina Management’s briefs are due on December 17. We addressed both the City’s violation of Initiative 42 and the City’s failure to obtain an Environmental Impact Statement prior to putting the legislation approving the lease before council. Our position is very strong. We hope to have a hearing before the appellate court in the spring.

The Friends of Lakewood Moorage had a hearing before Judge Catherine Shaffer on Friday April 6. She admitted in her oral ruling that she was going to rule in our favor with regard to the Citizen’s Initiative 42 argument, but changed her mind during oral argument. We did not have an opportunity to address the city’s surprise argument developed and discussed for the first time during the hearing, so we asked her to reconsider her decision. Judge Shaffer has asked for more briefing.

On May 9, Judge Shaffer denied our motion for reconsideration without comment. FoLM filed a timely appeal, and our opening brief is due on October 19. At a September meeting attended by City Attorney Pete Holmes, Assistant City Attorney Edward Lin, Marty Oppenheimer, Bryan Telegin and Jeannie O’Brien, Pete suggested that Edward Lin agree to a continuance of the deadline for our opening brief, so that there could be time for meaningful negotiation toward an agreed settlement. As of this writing, Edward Lin has not agreed to the extension of the deadline, making us wonder whether the city is serious about a settlement. So we are pushing forward to file the opening brief while we negotiate the settlement, meaning legal fees that will need to be paid even if we settle. Please donate to the legal defense fund if you can.

All we asked was that the city’s Park department be accountable to the public, and explain at a public hearing that they had explored all reasonable alternatives before giving away the moorages for 40 years, and giving up millions of dollars in moorage revenues at a time when they continue to raise our taxes to solve problems they created. So frustrating to have to fight against the city, when they have a bottomless pit of our tax dollars to use against us. Our public meeting on October 9 will be the explanation to the public that Parks won’t hold, and we are prepared to answer any questions about what is in store for the public moorages for the next 40 years.

Summary Judgment Motion – Background Info

The Friends of Lakewood Moorage filed suit on September 7, 2017 to invalidate the lease agreement with Dwight Jones. We tried hard to negotiate with the City before he formally assumed operations of the moorages on January 1, 2018, with no success. We are not giving up. We are moving for summary judgment on April 6, and when we win, Parks will be forced to be transparent with their plans and explain at a public hearing why they gave away our public moorages for 40 years. They will also have to prove that there was no better alternative; that the best they could come up with was this 40 year lease with just 3% return, They will have to explain why bond financing works for golf but not for moorages, They will have to explain how they can “not be in the moorage business,” even though they have been for 65 years and, as recently as 2015-2017, assumed operations for the moorages while returning more money to Parks general fund than they ever received under their concessionaire contracts.

The best claim is one based on Citizen’s Initiative 42, the law that prevents a transfer of park property unless the city can show there is no reasonable alternative and that it doesn’t amount to a change of use. The Lakewood Team offered a reasonable and more practical alternative, one that didn’t deprive the city of revenues and completed repairs in phases with no displacement of tenants and no interruption of revenue stream. Changing the Leschi Sailboat Moorage to a marina for powerboats and yachts is a significant change of use, and contrary to Seattle’s stated policy that Leschi Moorage is a sailboat moorage. The 1986 concession agreement was “intended to be for the benefit of persons using Leschi Moorage to participate in sailboat racing on Lake Washington.”

Seattle Ordinance 125391 authorized 40 years of privatizing public moorages. So many shenanigans by Parks and by the Parks Committee to get this pushed through committee and on to full council for a final vote before the summer recess. Even though we only had 2 days to lobby council instead of the standard 10,  we were successful in getting O’Brien and Herbold to join Bruce Harrell in voting no.

For the first time in the history of Seattle’s lease and concession agreements for the public moorages is language authorizing the “tenant” to bring the leasehold agreement into a bank and use it for collateral for a loan. You might also find it interesting that Parks expects Leschi and Lakewood Moorage to be open for business from dawn to dusk each and every calendar day, and MM LLC “shall provide for meaningful access and use of the Marinas by the general public during business hours.” Parks believes, and Parks Chair Debora Juarez agrees, that providing public access to Ohler’s Island from dawn to dusk every day will somehow correct all the racial and social injustices in the city. Why not consider adding public bathrooms, picnic tables, garbage cans and water fountains all along the 3.5 miles of public Lake Washington shoreline? What better way to level the playing field than to provide toilets to fisher people and picnicking families, whose day spent enjoying Lake Washington would be made that much more comfortable?