NE Seattle Residents Trying to Keep Public Beach Public

A group of Lake City residents is trying to keep a beach that's been public for 80 years, until two residents claimed it as private property, public.

By Erica C. Barnett July 3, 2014

In a last-ditch attempt to save a longtime public beach from becoming private, a group of Lake City residents is trying to undo a defintive court decision by seeking the city's help.

If the city condemns the small (60-foot-wide) beach that three Lake Washington residents have successfully laid claim to after winning their Washington State Court of Appeals battle 3-0 this week, the beach could become public again.   

In a complicated decision (you can download a PDF here, just scroll down), the Appeals Court ruled that the beach was Keith and Kay Holmquist and Fred Kaseburg's land based on the law that existed in 1932, and that the beach that had been regarded as public—and on which, according to neighborhood resident David Pope, many neighborhood kids learned to swim—was actually the property of the neighboring residents, who can now exclude other neighborhood residents from using the property. 

Although council staffers say the council isn't seriously considering condemning the property, Pope holds out hope. He says that "everybody intended that this beach be a community beach" and that "the way they did it back then was they thought that this entity that had subdivided this lot ... and Fred Kaseburg recognized this and exploited this, and ... the implication is that they can do whatever they want. They can build a fence around it, which they've already said they're going to do. 

"It's the only water access between Matthews Beach and Log Boom Park in Kenmore, the only place where the North End can access the water. ... It's going to be one more area where people are cut off from the lake. It's a shame to see this access disappear.

"I’m focusing as a last, desperate resort on trying to get the city to basically buy it. I hate to see these people get a windfall, but it’s just a matter of trying to protect it for future generations."

City attorney Pete Holmes' spokeswoman, Kimberly Mills, says that in light of the Court of Appeals' decision, the city attorney's office is "reviewing the opinion from the Court of Appeals and considering its options for moving forward in light of the ruling."


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