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Teamsters Union Local 117 v. Port of Seattle

September 16, 1996

TEAMSTERS UNION LOCAL 117, RESPONDENT,
v.
PORT OF SEATTLE, APPELLANT.



Appeal from Superior Court of King County. Docket No: 95-2-01779-7. Date filed: 03/20/95. Judge signing: Hon. Robert J. Wesley.

Authored by C. Kenneth Grosse. Concurring: Walter E. Webster, William W. Baker. WE Concur

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Grosse

Grosse, J. -- The Port of Seattle (the Port) leased property located next to its airport in the city of SeaTac so that SeaTac could operate a park. The Port police union, Teamsters Union Local 117 (the Union), challenged a lease provision allowing the Port and SeaTac to exercise concurrent police jurisdiction over the park. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the Union, determining that the Port lacked statutory authority to arrange for a different municipal corporation to police airport property. We reverse. The Port leased the property to SeaTac and, accordingly, the Port and SeaTac may agree to share police protection responsibilities.

The Port, a municipal corporation, owns and operates the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (the airport). The Port acquired property north of the airport to use for noise abatement, buffering noise between the airport and surrounding neighborhoods.

In 1990, the Port, King County, and SeaTac formally decided by resolution to establish North SeaTac Park on the Port's abatement property.

In January 1994, the Port agreed to lease 205 acres of property to SeaTac for $10 a year. SeaTac agreed to maintain and supervise a park. Effective February 1, 1995, the lease runs 50 years. The Port retained the ability to access the property to facilitate airport operations and SeaTac agreed to comply with applicable airport safety regulations. The property is also subject to all Port ordinances.

Besides responsibility for utility and fire protection, SeaTac also agreed to provide police protection. Paragraph 8(b) of the lease provides:

The City and Port shall have concurrent law enforcement jurisdiction in the Premises, including police patrol services, enforcement [of applicable city and state codes.] Provided, however, the City shall be responsible for E-911 response to the Premises; and provided further, that the Port shall retain primary responsibility for all law enforcement related to airport operations.

On February 1, 1995, the Union asked the trial court to bar the Port from conferring concurrent police jurisdiction on SeaTac and to bar the Port from subcontracting or assigning out any of its police responsibilities. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the Union, voiding the concurrent police jurisdiction lease provision. Noting that the airport is operated solely by the Port and not under a joint operations agreement, the court concluded that RCW 14.08 vests exclusive police jurisdiction in the airport operator and the Port does not have the statutory "authority under state law to arrange for a different municipal corporation . . . to police airport property." The trial court denied the Port's motion for reconsideration. The Port appeals.

When reviewing a summary judgment order, we make the same inquiry as the trial court. *fn1 We affirm a summary judgment only if no issues of material fact exist and if the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. *fn2 On summary judgment, all questions of law are reviewed de novo. *fn3 The interpretation of statutes is a matter of law. *fn4

The Legislature has given port districts and other municipal corporations broad authority to acquire, maintain, and operate airports. *fn5

RCW 14.08.120(2) allows municipal airports "to appoint airport guards or police, with full police powers." RCW 14.08.330 places airports under the "exclusive jurisdiction and control" of the municipality controlling and operating it, providing:

Every airport and other air navigation facility controlled and operated by any municipality, or jointly controlled and operated pursuant to the provisions of this chapter, shall, subject to federal and state laws, rules, and regulations, be under the exclusive jurisdiction and control of the municipality or municipalities controlling and operating it. The municipality or municipalities shall have concurrent jurisdiction over the adjacent territory described in RCW 14.08.120(2). No other municipality in which the airport or air navigation facility is located shall have any police jurisdiction of the same or any authority to charge or exact any license fees or occupation taxes for the operations. However, by agreement with the municipality operating and controlling the airport or air navigation facility, a municipality in which an airport or air navigation facility is located may be responsible for the administration and enforcement of the uniform fire code, as adopted by that municipality under RCW 19.27.040, on that portion of any airport or air navigation facility located within its jurisdictional boundaries.

Relying on the principle that port districts have only the power that the Legislature grants *fn6 and on several statutory construction arguments, the Union contends that under RCW 14.08.330 the Port is the only municipality ...


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