On November 18th, Surrey Downs neighbors met again to discuss changes that Sound Transit (ST) have proposed to our property CC&R’s. [Explanation of this and other relevant terms is below]. About 60 people attended the meeting and these notes outline the discussion and provide information; however, these are not to be seen as formal minutes. The main topics discussed were:
- Sound Transit Proposal
- Information from an Attorney
- Neighbor’s questions and concerns
- What action to take if any
Starting early October, ST began writing to Surrey Downs homeowners asking them to agree to an amendment of their CC&R’s to allow for High Capacity transit (HCT). ST proposed language that not everyone understands and it is still not clear if the proposal will leave the neighborhood open to further development, often associated with a transit corridor. Surrey Downs has been a single family neighborhood since 1952 and changes to the CC&Rs go to the heart of what Surrey Downs represents.
In the letter, ST offers $300.00 as “just compensation” and the potential reimbursement of attorney and appraiser costs up to $750 per lot. There was discussion regarding other neighborhoods that have been in similar situations and that the $300.00 is not sufficient compensation.
Scott Lampe, as President of the Surrey Downs Community Club (SDCC) and in accordance with the By Laws, established a Special Committee referred to as SDEC (Surrey Downs East link extension Committee) to talk with attorneys and appraisers, to understand the background and share information with homeowners, hence the meeting. Sound Transit have indicated that they will begin further legal proceedings (referred to as Eminent Domain, again explained more below) possibly as soon as January 2016. It is also clear that we do not need to rush into a quick decision. There was no mention of a specific dollar amount that we should ask for at this time. There was discussion and concern over how we might reach a settlement or if we as a neighborhood would need to begin a lawsuit. Those in attendance voiced many concerns and frustrations. Most homeowners have received this package as certified mail although from a show of hands at the meeting, it appears some have still not arrived. Please remember that it was sent as CERTIFIED MAIL and if you are not at home when delivery is attempted, watch for a slip from the USPS saying you have a package for pickup at the post office.
It was clear that the overriding issue is to preserve the CC&Rs so that Sound Transit is only allowed to make specific changes (explained below) pertaining to the rail line, also referred to as High Capacity Transit (HCT). Any language that is adopted needs to be clear that properties now owned by Sound Transit within the neighborhood, would be restricted to single family homes or used to create the new park over the tunnel entrance. Note that ST has already discussed reselling certain lots as construction proceeds. In this manner Sound Transit would not be able to include business or multifamily units within Surrey Downs. So far 35 home owners have signed up with an attorney for representation; he will lead the effort to talk to the lawyers from ST, drafting preferred language for the amendment. If you would like to be part of this group please send your contact details to the attorney listed below.
The important takeaways from the meeting were:
1) DO NOT SIGN the letter from Sound Transit as the language is not clear. We want to preserve the existing CC&Rs.
2) We are stronger as a neighborhood if we stand together as one united group. Please talk to your neighbors as many people are still not familiar or comfortable with this process. Certified mail, tax and legal forms can be very intimidating. Those most at risk are often the least well informed.
3) SDEC will continue to discuss the position with professionals and share information as they can.
For further information stay tuned to this neighborhood website at http://surreydowns.cc or by contacting a board member of the Surrey Downs Community Club (whose email contact details are all on this website).
Finally, remember that neighbors meet on the first Saturday of each month at Tully’s, so we hope to see you all on Saturday 5th December 8:30am onwards. And that the Holiday Party will be held on Friday December 11th, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm, at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, 3030 Bellevue Way.
Published on behalf of the Surrey Downs East link extension Committee (SDEC)
What are CC&Rs?
Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (also called “CC&Rs”) are used by many “common interest” developments, including condominiums and co-ops, to regulate the use, appearance, and maintenance of property. CC&Rs, most commonly drafted and enforced through homeowners’ associations (HOAs), often restrict what homeowners can do on their property. Note that SDCC is not a Home Owners Association but simply a voluntary community club. For example, some CC&Rs do not allow homeowners to hang their laundry out to dry, set lawn maintenance standards, or prohibit home additions or major change to the neighborhood (as in our case). This summary based on http://realestate.findlaw.com/owning-a-home/ccrs.html
What is Eminent Domain?
From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eminent_domain Eminent domain (United States, the Philippines>), compulsory purchase (United Kingdom, New Zealand, Ireland), resumption (Hong Kong), resumption / compulsory acquisition (Australia), or expropriation (South Africa, Canada) is the power of a state or a national government to take private property for public use. However, it can be legislatively delegated by the state to municipalities, government subdivisions, or even to private persons or corporations, when they are authorized to exercise the functions of public character, to wit Sound Transit. Note that Eminent Domain as a legislative process is being used to change our property rights (the CC&Rs) and not to take your property. Sound Transit has already bought all the lots and own the land they need for the project (construction and operation of High Capacity Transit).
What will happen to the lots owned by ST?
The station, rail lines and associated infrastructure will be built on the lots acquired, however, some of the lots will be sold off and some lots will be used to create a new park over the planned tunnel entrance at SE 1st Street and 112th Avenue SE. We want the CC&Rs to remain in effect on any lots subsequently sold or if operation of light rail ceases.
What is SDEC?
Surrey Downs Community Club established a special committee, referred to as the Surrey Downs East link extension sub-Committee (SDEC) who have been very active over the past months. The aims of the committee are to:
- share information with the homeowners by email, door drops, website, meetings (Aug 16, Nov 18)
- protect the single-family nature of Surrey Downs
- seek clarification from Sound Transit on the amendment and process
- identify and seek fair compensation for those affected directly or indirectly.
We have discussed a wide range of issues and perspectives with both Attorneys and an independent Appraiser. Members are: Scott Lampe, John King, Leonard Marino, Joe Rosmann, David Slight and Charlie Fisher, and we recently welcomed Christie Hammond to this committee. We are always open to additional members.
Who is the attorney?
Daryl A. Deutsch at Rodgers Deutsch & Turner, PLLC
Three Lake Bellevue Dr. #100, Bellevue, WA 98005
More information is available on the web:
City of Bellevue and Light Rail
East Main Station and the Area Planning Citizen Advisory Committee Scott, John and Christie are members.
Sound Transit East Link Extension