Sound Transit will begin construction in our neighborhood for the downtown Bellevue tunnel in February and will be holding an open house on Tuesday, Jan. 12 from 5:30-7 pm to present construction activities, schedule and traffic impacts. The open house will be held at the Red Lion Hotel in Bellevue located on 11211 Main Street.
Regarding Sound Transit’s proposed amendment to the neighborhood CC&Rs, representatives from the Surrey Downs Eastlink Committee (“SDEC”) have met multiple times with Sound Transit (ST) since the last update before the holiday period.
UPDATE: Sound Transit have indicated that they will keep the single family constraints on any remainder, surplus or created lots. We believe this meets our first objective of protecting the single family nature of Surrey Downs which was the overwhelming request from homeowners at the meeting in November. A third and final letter from Sound Transit is being delivered this week by courier and mentions this issue.
The next objective was to discuss and consider fair compensation. Thank you to all of you who took time to talk with your neighbors about this. There is a broad range of positions; from homeowners who are against the whole project, some seeking more compensation, to those who support Light Rail with the benefits and impacts it will bring. ST now own all the lots needed for construction and operation of Light Rail and have compensated other individual homeowners for construction and permanent easements. Surplus lots will be sold for building single family residences or passed to the City of Bellevue to create a new park area over the tunnel entrance by Main St and 112th.
SDEC and others have considered the many possible impacts and benefits and discussed these at length. We have also consulted several professionals. Despite all the changes coming from construction, reduced access, traffic and other impacts, we have not yet heard a compelling case for significant compensation for all or most of Surrey Downs homeowners, especially when related narrowly to the proposed change in the CC&Rs.
This leaves us with the final objectives of sharing information (email, website, letters, meetings) and clarifying the amendment “process”.
Sound Transit state again that they would prefer not to initiate eminent domain proceedings against hundreds of homeowners. Most members of the SDEC, as individual lot owners, are now open to signing the proposed ST amendment. Of course, SDEC cannot recommend a course of action for any individual. You must consider the information available, talk to your neighbors, talk to an attorney if you wish, and reach your own conclusion. The SDEC members are available if you have questions, as is the Acquisition Agent named in the ST paperwork.
So what are the Pros and Cons of signing?
There are many points for homeowners to consider, some of which are listed below as information to help you decide.
Outline of next steps: The Process
If you wish to sign, as laid out in the paperwork from ST, you will need to have your signature notarized. Individuals and business (banks, the UPS Store) offer this service. Any reasonable fee can be submitted to ST for reimbursement. The Final Offer Letter dated Dec 30th suggest Sound Transit will only wait “another few weeks”.
What is a surplus lot?
Any land now owned by ST, that will not be used for Light Rail and may be sold as surplus. Unused portions of lots may also be combined. ST does not want to own land or be a landlord and rent property. They will sell these lots probably to builders. We want to ensure that such lots will have Surrey Downs CC&Rs in place.
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?
Eminent domain (United States, the Philippines), compulsory purchase (United Kingdom, New Zealand, Ireland), resumption (Hong Kong), resumption/compulsory acquisition (Australia), orexpropriation (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 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)) Based on information from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eminent_domain
The SDEC has been very active over the past few months. The goals of the committee are to:
- Share information with the homeowners in Surrey Downs
- Protect the single-family nature of Surrey Downs
- Seek clarification from Sound Transit (ST) on the amendment and process
- Discuss and consider reasonable compensation for those affected directly and indirectly by the project.
The Surrey Downs Eastlink Committee members are: Scott Lampe, John King, Leonard Marino, Joe Rosmann, David Slight and Charlie Fisher, and we recently welcomed Christie Hammond to this committee.