On Friday, Judge McDermott presided over the final stages of the K&S lawsuit against the City of SeaTac. The results reflect poorly on the City of SeaTac senior staff, legal counsel, and the planning department. In summary, including jury verdict award, interest, and legal fees, the Kingen family was awarded $18.3 million (a new Washington State record for land use jury verdicts). Additionally, the judge made the unusual recommendation that formal sanctions be made against the City of SeaTac’s attorneys who colluded with SeaTac planning staff in a pattern of deception, dishonesty, and violation of the law in order to destroy the Kingen’s commercial property value so that the City of SeaTac could take their property from the Kingens for the city staff’s own central planning schemes.
A land developer (K&S) owned a piece of Land in SeaTac in 2004. They want to build a parking garage. The Central Planning Staff at the City of SeaTac decide they don’t want a parking garage there, but they keep this to themselves, and keep changing the rules for the property owner. City legal staff goes along with the deception aiding and abetting the scheme. The City decides they want the land for their own project, and they keep this secret too. The City staff also wants to partner with another parking garage company, and they don’t want the Kingens to be their competition. Eventually, after many years of closing every development door to the property owner, the City of SeaTac is able to force the property owner into financial distress. The city uses a straw buyer (“the guy”) to acquire the debt on the property and secretly threaten to bankrupt the property owner. Under financial stress and other pressures, the property owner is forced to lose the property and only realizes that the same SeaTac staff who were denying their permits for six years were the same people who bought their debt, threatened them, and now owned the property.
At that point the property owner wants to discover the truth and attempts to get public records to see what was really happening. The City fails to comply, hides records, can’t find records, delays, etc. The property owner takes years to get enough records to realize the enormity of the original scam played on them and files a lawsuit against the City of SeaTac. The city tries to claim that the statute of limitations has run its course (so sorry, you waited too long to figure out what we did while we were destroying and hiding records from you). After many years and expenses, the case goes before a Jury in Superior Court, and in January the Jury awarded $9.6 million to the Kingen family. Last Friday, the final step in this decade long experiment in central planning empire building by SeaTac staff was closed and after interest, penalties and legal fees were negotiated, the City of SeaTac is on the hook for $18.3 million.
We the People Blog of JULY 12, 2016 by Glen Morgan