Dear San Juan County Neighbors and Friends,
PLF Weighs in On Judge Eaton’s Decision San Juan County Superior Court
“Rarely do I see an opinion so bungled and riddled with logical cul-de-sacs as the CSA opinion,” said Brian Hodges, Managing Attorney for the NW Office of the Pacific Legal Foundation, in his summation of San Juan County Superior Court Judge Eaton’s decision signed on June 19th in the case of Common Sense Alliance, et al. v. Growth Management Hearings Board of Western Washington.
In September of 2013, the Pacific Legal Foundation filed an Amicus Curiae Brief in support of the Common Sense Alliance and the P.J. Taggares Company. In his decision, Judge Eaton found that the Growth Board had not erred in any of the issues brought by CSA, Taggares or the Friends of the San Juans (FOSJ).
Yesterday, Mr. Hodges posted his entire comments to PLF’s Blog,“Washington Trial Court Fumbles the Ball in Post-Koontz Case.” Judge Eaton’s decision was the first post-Koontz decision and is “far from the doctrinal clarity we predicted,” said Hodges.
Last year the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District and clarified that an unlawful exactions case falls within the doctrine of unconstitutional conditions.
Mr. Hodges said further, “… the [San Juan County] court upheld a massive land grab without first determining whether the burden of protecting and enhancing the marine environment is properly placed only on those select few shoreline property owners who apply for permits, rather than being spread among San Juan County’s entire population as the Takings Clauses of the U.S. and Washington State Constitutions demand.”
“All a county has to do is shop for a consultant to say that a given buffer is beneficial to the environment and the exactions is lawful. This brings us directly back to CAPR v. Sims (King County) in which Division I of this state’s Court of Appeals said public benefit alone is not sufficient,” said Sandy Mackie.
CSA, Taggares and FOSJ have 30 days to decide whether to file an appeal to the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division I.
Growth Management Hearings Board Seeks Another Hearing
Since late April, CSA has been waiting for the Growth Board’s decision on the matter of whether or not San Juan County has met the Board’s mandates to bring the County’s Critical Area Ordinance (CAO) into compliance with the Growth Management Act. This decision by the Growth Board was to be made within 45 days of April 24. However, late last week, CSA’s attorney Mackie and the other attorneys involved received word that the Growth Board has asked for yet another hearing on the matter of the County’s compliance. The hearing will be in Anacortes on July 10, at 10:15 AM.