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Hobbs v. City of Edmonds

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

February 5, 2018

ODELL HOBBS, an individual, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF EDMONDS, a Washington municipal corporation, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          RICARDO S. MARTINEZ CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant City of Edmonds' Motions for Summary Judgment. Dkt. #10. Edmonds argues that all of Plaintiff Odell Hobbs' claims fail for procedural and substantive reasons, and that there is no question of material fact. Mr. Hobbs has failed to oppose this Motion. For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion and dismisses all of Plaintiff's claims.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Mr. Hobbs is the owner of a residence at 22514 93rd Place West, in the City of Edmonds. Dkt. #1 (“Complaint”) at ¶ 10. In November 2014, the residence was damaged by fire. Complaint at ¶ 11.

         Under the Edmonds City Code, if a nonconforming building or structure is destroyed or damaged in an amount less than 75% of the building's replacement cost at the time of destruction, the structure may be repaired, and the building can be returned to its former size, shape, and lot location as existed before the damage occurred. ECDC 17.40.020(F); see Dkt #12-1. If, however, the cost of the repairs exceeds 75% of the building's replacement cost at the time of destruction, it is deemed a “new structure” and must be constructed in full conformance with existing building regulations. Id.

         On January 11, 2016, Mr. Hobbs submitted a permit application with the City. Dkt. #11 (“Bjorback Decl.”) ¶ 4, Ex. A. On it, Mr. Hobbs' developer stated that the scope of work was limited to “Fire repair. Increasing roof pitch to accept comp shingles.” Id. The developer estimated the project's value at $150, 000-below the 75% threshold for a new structure. Id.

         Edmonds then granted a building permit for repairs to portions of Mr. Hobbs house that were damaged by the fire. Bjorback Decl. at ¶ 5, Ex. B. This permit states that “ALL WORK [IS] SUBJECT TO FIELD INSPECTION FOR CODE COMPLIANCE, ” and that all changes in plans and field modifications must be approved. See id. The goes on:

Nothing in this permit approval process shall be interpreted as allowing or permitting the maintenance of any currently existing illegal, nonconforming, or unpermitted building, structure, or site condition which is outside the scope of the permit application, regardless of whether such building, structure, or condition is shown on the site plan or drawing. Such building, structure, or condition may be the subject of a separate enforcement action.

Id.

         On March 16, 2016, upon inspection, Edmonds building inspectors noted an apparent violation of the City's building codes. See Id. Mr. Hobbs' contractor had significantly exceeded the amount of demolition allowed by the permit drawings. A Correction Notice was provided, which gave Mr. Hobbs an opportunity to either revise his plans, or demonstrate his compliance with the existing ones. Bjorback Decl. at ¶ 8, Ex. C.

         The contractor submitted revised plans and a construction estimate to the City of Edmonds. Bjorback Decl. ¶ 9, Ex. D-E. Pursuant to ECDC 17.40.020, the Building Official evaluated the updated construction estimate-consistent with national standards, as well as his own past practice-to assess whether the level of demolition of the house exceeded 75% of the replacement cost of the original house. Bjorback Decl. ¶ 13. And it turned out that the extent of demolition/removal, based upon the information provided, was approximately 84.7%. Bjorback Decl. ¶ 13. This was explained by correspondence and over the phone. See id.

         Despite several requests, neither Mr. Hobbs nor his contractor provided the City with the revised construction estimate. See Bjorback Decl. ¶¶ 10-12. The City's Building Official made several attempts to explain the City's Development Code to Mr. Hobbs in order to move the construction project forward. See id.; Ex. F-G.

         A letter was sent to Mr. Hobbs expressing Edmonds' intent to revoke his permit. Bjorback Decl. ¶ 14, Ex. H. It explained that the demolition exceeded what the City's Development Code would allow, thus, any proposed construction from that point forward would be considered “New Single Family” construction and would require a new building permit and be subject to all applicable requirements for a new structure. See Id. In order to assist and expedite Mr. Hobbs through the review process, Edmonds offered to meet with him and his contractor in order to discuss compliance issues that needed to be resolved in order to move forward with the project. See id. Significantly, this letter closed with the following language:

If you do not contact [the City of Edmonds] by July 15, 2016, you will have waived your opportunity for a pre-deprivation hearing and to challenge [the City's] initial determination that you have reached the 75% ...

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