Judge sides with City of Kirkland in PSE substation lawsuit
By MATT PHELPS
Kirkland Reporter Regional Assistant Editor
July 14, 2011 · 3:21 PM
The lawsuit recently filed by neighbors of a controversial Puget Sound Energy substation in Juanita was dealt a blow as a judge threw out the claims against the City of Kirkland on June 24.
The decision states that the neighbors did not exhaust all legal avenues prior to the city’s approval. In particular, the judge deemed the neighbors failed to file a judicial review of the city’s variance at the time of the approval process.
Under the Land Use Protection Act (LUPA), a judicial review of land-use decisions must be sought within 21 days of the issuance of the land-use decision.
“The judge has made it pretty clear in this case that she is not going to make any decision that is outside of her very limited comfort zone, as such she sided with the city and dismissed our claim.” said Michael Heslop, one of the neighbors involved in the lawsuit. “The judge did say that she felt for the homeowners in this case and said that it seemed that we tried to show the city that they were doing was wrong. She also asked the city what options we had regarding this issue. The city, as usual dismissing any accountability, responded, ‘We are not their legal counsel so we can’t comment.’”
The neighbors now plan to take the case through the appellate process.
“They know what they did was completely wrong and illegal,” said Heslop of city staff and officials. “They broke their own ordinances, gave special privilege to PSE, and completely stepped all over the ‘little guy’ they were elected to protect. The city and PSE were betting on the fact that we didn’t have the money to take them to court on a LUPA appeal, so even if what they approved was illegal and devalued our properties, they believe that we shouldn’t be able to fight them. We are hopeful that an appellate court will find otherwise.”
The neighbors state that their lawyer at the time said it would cost around $100,000 to file a LUPA appeal and fight the decision.
“We knew that PSE and the city would fight us every step of the way on a LUPA appeal and unfortunately, we didn’t have the money to go that route, which was what both PSE and the City of Kirkland were gambling on,” said Heslop.
But it will be an uphill journey for the neighbors in their suit against the City of Kirkland.
“This entire process has been disheartening from the start,” said Heslop. “We supplied the City of Kirkland with information showing that they were granting special privilege to PSE, a foreign corporation, breaking their own ordinances, and would be devaluing our properties. Sadly, due to the corruption and incompetence of the city staff and city council they didn’t listen to a word we said and did whatever would make them more money. Mayor McBride even stated, on the record, that she wouldn’t want that facility in her backyard and would be very sad if it was in her neighborhood, yet she still approved it...very sad indeed.”
The neighbors’ lawsuit against PSE will continue.
Contact Kirkland Reporter Regional Assistant Editor Matt Phelps at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-822-9166 ext. 5052.