Forum Index > Public Lands Stewardship > I think public access took a hit today
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mike
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PostThu Jan 25, 2024 2:35 pm 
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Kim Brown
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Kim Brown
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PostThu Jan 25, 2024 2:42 pm 
Can you give us a two sentence synopsis so we all have an idea why we should read this?

"..living on the east side of the Sierra world be ideal - except for harsher winters and the chance of apocalyptic fires burning the whole area." Bosterson, NWHiker's marketing expert

huron
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altasnob
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PostThu Jan 25, 2024 2:58 pm 
Looks like the property owners won this dispute against King County involving the East Lake Sammamish rails to trails construction: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/eastside/king-county-sues-lake-samammish-homeowners-demands-they-remove-structures-from-public-trail-easement/

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huron
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PostThu Jan 25, 2024 4:13 pm 
Tear the trail out and re-install the railway. That'll fix it.

Waterman
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Waterman
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PostThu Jan 25, 2024 5:06 pm 
This has been going on forever. Not to mention it opens up a can of worms if other property owners decide revisit their portion of rail bed.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference. Robert Frost
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JPH
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PostFri Jan 26, 2024 7:54 am 
I skimmed the PDF and might have missed it. Are they trying to get the trail removed, or just keep the docks? ETA - This article says the trail isn't likely going anywhere. https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/eastside/homeowners-notch-win-against-king-county-in-dispute-that-predates-wa-statehood/#comments

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Kim Brown
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Kim Brown
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PostFri Jan 26, 2024 9:07 am 
catsp wrote:
One reason you may want to read the opinion is so that you can determine for yourself whether these "headline hot takes" (e.g., the thread title, etc.) are the "bad takes" they appear to be (to me). In truth, I'd suggest that like most people who will comment on it, you really needn't bother reading it at all.
Yeah an opinion piece or new article, sure. But to just post a legal pleading - I'm not about to wrangle through that mess only to find out it's not something I'm interested in. So I will just skip it entirely

"..living on the east side of the Sierra world be ideal - except for harsher winters and the chance of apocalyptic fires burning the whole area." Bosterson, NWHiker's marketing expert
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Schroder
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PostFri Jan 26, 2024 9:08 am 
What I don't understand of the ruling is why the trail isn't affected - if the land was sold by the State to the property owners and the right-of-way was for the railroad. Somehow the right-of-way was transferred.

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altasnob
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PostFri Jan 26, 2024 9:13 am 
The way I understand this ruling is that YES, the property owners could say they don't want a bike path going through their property and erect a giant wall stopping the bike path. But both King County and the property owners are saying they won't do that. But the property owners (and future property owners) could do this if they wanted to. With that said, if the property owners did decide to go that route King County could use eminent domain to take their property from them, but King County would have to pay fair market value for the land they seized (which in Sammamish, would be millions of dollars). So for now, the property owners are graciously letting us go across their property on the bike path for free. Who knows how long that will last. And for anyone who thinks this was a terrible court ruling, it would have been way worse if the court went the other way. As the Seattle Times article pointed out: If the Supreme Court had found for King County, Justice Raquel Montoya-Lewis wrote, “Washington could lose many miles of shore lands and tidelands and face countless lawsuits by private owners who paid for land they never received.”

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catsp
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PostFri Jan 26, 2024 12:52 pm 
Schroder wrote:
What I don't understand of the ruling is why the trail isn't affected - if the land was sold by the State to the property owners and the right-of-way was for the railroad. Somehow the right-of-way was transferred.
I would assume that the sale/transfer was made with the RR easement attached.
altasnob wrote:
The way I understand this ruling is that YES, the property owners could say they don't want a bike path going through their property and erect a giant wall stopping the bike path.
I would not think that's correct. It appears that the corridor has been "railbanked," which I assume preserves the easement.

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Sculpin
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PostSun Jan 28, 2024 9:07 am 
Well, I'm interested in the topic, but can't make any sense of the ruling, won't go past the Times paywall, and can't make any sense of this thread (if the state wins it loses? dizzy.gif ). Fortunately, it's supposed to hit 75F here in Napa today, so I think I will go for a hike!

Between every two pines is a doorway to the new world. - John Muir

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catsp
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catsp
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PostSun Jan 28, 2024 9:36 am 
Claiming no expertise, it’s entirely possible I don’t understand this anywhere near as well as I think. But I do routinely stay at a Holiday Inn Express when traveling, which I believe renders me fully qualified to offer a take. This opinion is a nothing burger for most. It’s not about the RR right of way (ROW), nor the continued use of that ROW as an interim trail for recreational use after being railbanked. It is simply a case where King County, in a fit of pique, overreached and attempted to steal land from wealthy landowners with a specious argument. (FTR, ordinarily I’m all for stealing land from wealthy landowners. Mange les riches!) In the Washington Constitution, the State asserted its ownership over the shorelands of the state’s navigable waters. It made an exception for those shorelands previously “patented” to others by the federal government, as to which the State disclaimed all claim to or title in. So it appears that this court opinion is narrow to begin with, as it is only dealing with: (i) these specific shoreline type situations; (ii) where before Washington statehood, the federal government had already made a transfer to someone else. In other words, it doesn’t involve every RR ROW. Indeed, I’d say that it doesn’t really even involve this particular RR ROW qua ROW. There were two alternate “ownership” tracks asserted for this property. In one, the State, having “owned” it since statehood, sold it to a developer, and eventually it was sold into the hands of the current wealthy folks (presumably subject to the ROW). In its effort to steal this land, however, KC argued that the US’s grant of a ROW to the RR (before Washington statehood) fell within the scope of the above-referenced disclaimer, so Washington never owned it. And if the State never owed it, it certainly could not have sold it to the developer, who then sold it on to the current “owners.” (We’re not talking about their entire land purchase, just the portion covered by the RR ROW, which is apparently either 100 feet each side of the track, or “up to” 100 feet each side of the track, depending on who you ask.) According to KC, when Washington (purportedly) disclaimed ownership upon statehood, that meant the RR owned the land/shoreland (even though originally the RR had only been granted a ROW/easement). Since KC had subsequently acquired the rights of the RR after various transfers, KC claimed to be the current rightful owner. The narrow issue resolved in the opinion that started this thread was just whether the ROW granted to the RR fell within the exemption the Constitution provided for lands previously “patented” to another. Though “patented” can apparently have more broad or more narrow meaning depending on the circumstances, it appears that WRT US land ownership, it most often means an actual transfer of ownership. Thus, the ROW fell outside the exception, and the State never disclaimed ownership. (Meaning the line of ownership from the State to the current owners remains intact.) Recommended reading: The most interesting part of this is the historical backstory. So the first part of the parties’ respective briefs where they set this out makes for some very interesting reading IMO (owners’ brief, KC brief). The brief filed by the DNR (in support of the landowners) has some interesting tidbits as well.

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altasnob
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altasnob
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PostSun Jan 28, 2024 9:54 am 
catsp wrote:
It is simply a case where King County, in a fit of pique, overreached and attempted to steal land from wealthy landowners with a specious argument.
I think this is correct. As you pointed out, Washington State Department of Natural Resources filed a brief IN SUPPORT of the wealthy land owners and against King County. Pacific Coast Shellfish Association also filed a brief against King County. I get that the railroad easement still exists after (or regardless of) this decision. But I still don't understand how the bike path is not at risk becuase it's a bike path, and not a railroad. Does the easement protect access for both a railroad and bike path?

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Schroder
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PostSun Jan 28, 2024 9:54 am 
catsp wrote:
This opinion is a nothing burger for most. It’s not about the RR right of way (ROW), nor the continued use of that ROW as an interim trail for recreational use after being railbanked. It is simply a case where King County, in a fit of pique, overreached and attempted to steal land from wealthy landowners with a specious argument. (FTR, ordinarily I’m all for stealing land from wealthy landowners. Mange les riches!)
It seems to be more than that. This may settle some issues of beach and tideland ownership that's been in question for over a hundred years and the court has been avoiding.

Waterman
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catsp
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catsp
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PostSun Jan 28, 2024 12:00 pm 
altasnob wrote:
I get that the railroad easement still exists after (or regardless of) this decision. But I still don't understand how the bike path is not at risk becuase it's a bike path, and not a railroad. Does the easement protect access for both a railroad and bike path?
I believe such use is protected under the "railbanking" mentioned above.

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