King County sues Sammamish again over Lake Trail

King County filed a new lawsuit June 14 against Sammamish over the long-running legal battle over development of the East Lake Sammamish Trail.

This time, it’s over Sammamish’s threat to block construction at two trail/road intersections in the Southern portion of the trail that is now under construction.

Sammamish wants stop signs installed for the trail users. The County wants stop signs installed for the vehicular traffic.

Previous legal fight

The intersections are at the trail and SE 206th, the entrance to the Alexander subdivision; and SE 33th, near the 7-11.

206th Ave. at East Lake Sammamish Trail.

The 206th intersection was part of the previous legal fight over the Southern portion, called Section 2A. The State Shoreline Hearings Board sided with the County after the Sammamish Hearing Examiner after the examiner ruled in the County’s favor. Sammamish appealed this decision.

As the County proceeded to to develop Section 2A, which runs from 33rd to the Issaquah City Limits, it applied for permits at these two intersections while simultaneously filing an objection with the City saying it didn’t agree the permits were required, according to the lawsuit filed in US District Court in Seattle.

The County notes only 15 homes live on 206th.

Farther north, at 33rd St., some three dozen homes use this street. The County projects more than 4,000 trail users for the finished trail.

Safety requires the stop signs for the streets, the County says, and federal law gives the County preemptive authority to the City code to install the traffic control devices. Furthermore, the County contends that as owner of the trail corridor, the City only has an easement to cross the trail with City streets.

After the County dug into easement language, it concluded its position was correct and withdrew its permit applications.

Stop Work orders threatened

In response, the City threatened to revoke the clearing and grading permits and to issue Stop Work orders if the County failed to comply with administrative directives, the lawsuit claims.

City Council Member Ramiro Valderrama was critical of the County’s move.

“They are treating the City just like they treat citizens,” Valderrama told Sammamish Comment yesterday. The County, he said, made promises and then reneged, he charged.

Asked what the City would do if the County refused to Stop Work, he said the police would be called to enforce the order.

Outrageous claim

Setting aside the debate over the stop signs, permits and potential Stop Work orders, the County made one claim in its lawsuit that is outrageous in its chutzpah.

“In the century since the [railroad] assembled the Corridor,” the County writes in the lawsuit, “numerous property owners have built lakeside homes sandwiched into the narrow area between the Corridor and the shore of Lake Sammamish.”

Before Sammamish became a City, the County permitted most of these homes–creating the conflicts it now lays at the feet of Sammamish.

The County asks the Court for a declaratory judgment that the City is violating state and federal law with its recent actions.



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