05/16/2006: "Court Grants Partial Stay Request -Good/Bad News"
The Washington Court of Appeals recent decision to grant the County Council's request to continue a stay on their decision may be good news for some, and bad news for others; but who it helps or hurts is not clear. The Council had asked for an additional 180 days to their original request for a stay Previous Story to allow time for the Council to pass an ordinance that would satisfy the Growth Management Boards order on ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units). But the bad news for the Council is the decision by the Court to only grant a stay until July 31, which is a shorter time than was requested.
If the Council can continue to move as quickly as they have, they still have a chance to run the ordinance through the process and have it submitted to the State prior to the end of the stay. Previous Story.
But more bad news was included in the Court order for the Council when the Court also stated the Court would accept the new filings of Amicus Curiae briefs of Orcas land owner Margaret Manning Previous Story
, and -really bad news- also one from Clallam County, Previous Story both of which argued that the Court should not extend the stay, and instead they should issue a decision on the appeal that had originally been filed by the County.
Margaret Manning, one of the Orcas property owners, sent an email to the Island Guardian, in which she stated: "We are very pleased with the result. Clearly, the Court is now attuned to the importance of this issue to property owners and taxpayers, not only in San Juan County, but also throughout Washington. The court will not permit the parties to continue much longer to prevent the issuance of clear judicial guidance on the question of ADUs and 'density.' "
Timothy Blanchard, who owns Orcas property with Manning, stated: "At the hearing on the ADU ordinance held April 25, some 85% of the speakers expressed the continued desire of County residents for detached guesthouses -The few speaking in support of the ordinance were "Friends"- Even Councilman Ranker acknowledged the benefit of obtaining clear judicial guidance on what ADUs are allowed under the GMA. Given what we believe to be the substantial micromanagement and interpretation problems inherent in the most recent ADU proposal from the Council, we think it is even more important to continue pressing the Council to allow the court to issue its decision in this matter."
While there is no direct way of knowing the reasons for the action of the Court until -and if- the Court decides to issue a statement, there is speculation the Court has granted the partial extension of the stay requested by the Council, not to help the County pass the proposed ordinance, but rather to grant the Court sufficient time to read the briefs submitted, and then decide if it will issue a ruling on the original County appeal.
Some in county government believe that, based on new State Supreme Court rulings, and current cases before that Court, the Court of Appeals may also be waiting to see what guidance may come from those rulings, before it issues a ruling on the County appeal. In the mean time the County Council is moving forward on the public hearings required by law, and it is expected they will pass the ordinance as soon as possible.