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Sammamish Homeowners v. County of King

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

June 5, 2015

SAMMAMISH HOMEOWNERS, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
COUNTY OF KING, Defendant.

ORDER RE: MOTION TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF STANDING

MARSHA J. PECHMAN, District Judge.

The above-entitled Court, having received and reviewed

1. Defendant King County's FRCP 12(b)(1) & (6) Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Standing (Dkt. No. 9)
2. Plaintiffs' Opposition to Defendant King County's FRCP 12(b)(1) & (6) Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Standing (Dkt. No. 12)
3. Defendant King County's Reply in Support of FRCP 12(b)(1) & (6) Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Standing (Dkt. No. 15)

and all related documents and exhibits, enters the following ruling:

IT IS ORDERED that the motion is GRANTED; the matter is DISMISSED with leave to amend.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the pending motion for leave to file an amended complaint (Dkt. No. 13; filed while this motion to dismiss was still pending) is DENIED.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiffs must file a second amended complaint which addresses the findings herein within 14 days of the filing of this order.

Background

This action concerns a 12.5 mile strip of railroad right of way running between Redmond and Issaquah along Lake Sammamish. The individual plaintiffs are owners of property adjoining the strip (the "Corridor"). The owner of the Corridor (Burlington Northern - "BNSF" - successor in interest to the Northern Pacific Railroad) was granted an exemption to abandon it in May 1998. In September 1998, the Surface Transportation Board, pursuant to the Trails Act (16 U.S.C. § 1247(d)) authorized The Land Conservancy of Seattle ("TLC") and King County to assume financial responsibility for the Corridor, and further authorized the issuance of a Notice of Interim Trail Use for the Corridor, permitting King County and TLC to create a public recreational trail through the former right of way.

King County and TLC have since reached an agreement with BNSF to "railbank" the Corridor (permitting the use of the right of way as a recreational trail while preserving the railroad's right to exercise their rights at a later date). The tracks have been removed from the strip. Plaintiffs claim that Defendant's proposed actions are illegal and have clouded their fee ownership associated with the Corridor. They seek a declaratory judgment, a quiet title ruling and an injunction against the County.

The language of the property deeds of the individual Plaintiffs is at issue here and relevant portions are noted below.

• Hornish Trust: The metes and bounds description describes the eastern boundary of the property as the "westerly line of the Northern ...

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