Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Another lawsuit filed on Lora Lake

And it keeps getting more interesting by the minute.  Yesterday another group filed suit to preserve Lora Lake.  Here’s the press release issued by Citizens to Defend Affordable Housing:

Citizens to Defend Affordable Housing filed suit today to block demolition of the Lora Lake Apartments.  The suit challenges the issuance of a demolition permit by the City of Burien.  The city’s action relied on the Port of Seattle allegedly having analyzed the economic and social effects of demolition of the housing in its Environmental Impact Statements on the Third Runway.

“The problem”, said Pete Buck of Buck Law Group, the attorney for plaintiffs, “is that the Port never, in any of its documents, made any such analysis.”  The failure appears to stem from the fact that when the analysis was done, the Port assumed that Federal Aviation Administration rules would require demolition of the housing, and that the port would have no discretion in this matter. When it turned out that 162 of the units were outside the mandatory demolition zone, the Port never took that into account, and thus never analyzed the effects of removal of 162 units of affordable housing.  In addition, the Port never took into account the dramatic change in availability of affordable housing in the region since the port first made its decision.

“Our land use laws were passed precisely so that a government could not take this kind of action without analyzing the effect,” said Buck.  “The failure of the Port to analyze what loss of the housing means to the region is a fundamental flaw, and one that must be corrected.  The Port is making a horrible decision based on 10 year old documents that today are totally irrelevant.  We are confident that if the effect and the alternatives are fairly considered, the Port will have no choice but to preserve the housing.”

The plaintiff is an association of persons who have been displaced by loss of housing stock or who have been unable to find affordable housing as well as people who have been involved in saving affordable housing. According to Buck, “each of the plaintiffs is a real person with real and dramatic housing needs, and each person represents thousands upon thousands of similarly situated persons in the region.”

Although the suit does not seek a restraining order, and the trial will be after a scheduled August 9 vote by the Port on whether to demolish the housing, the suit points out that if the Port proceeds to destroy the housing notwithstanding the pendency of the suit, under a precedent recently set by Buck in the case of Bauman v. Turpen, the port is liable to replace the housing – at a cost of $32 million – if the suit succeeds.
“The plaintiffs believe that the port would be much better served to sell the apartments to King County for fair market price and allow them to be preserved rather than take on a liability of $32 million by destroying them,” said Buck.

For more information contact
Peter Buck
Buck Law Group


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