West Seattle Blog... » West Seattle housing http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Thu, 28 Aug 2014 21:55:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Eviction-fight followup: Jean Barton says, ‘As far as I am concerned, it is still our home’ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/eviction-fight-followup-jean-barton-says-as-far-as-i-am-concerned-it-is-still-our-home/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/eviction-fight-followup-jean-barton-says-as-far-as-i-am-concerned-it-is-still-our-home/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 22:53:28 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=282921

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Jean Barton never did speak at the downtown rally called by housing-justice activists as a followup to the Friday arrests that removed her, her disabled husband, and one of their sons from the Morgan Junction house they long owned, as their foreclosure/eviction fight continues.

The activists, led by the group SAFE (Standing Against Foreclosure and Eviction), gathered this afternoon in Courthouse Park, to which they’d summoned the media; we were there along with regional-TV crews. While they engaged in chants denouncing King County Sheriff John Urquhart for the Friday arrests, Jean Barton arrived on the sidelines, and reporters/photographers converged.

She basically had a news conference steps away from where the advocates continued to shout and chant. She said that husband Byron Barton remains at the Seattle VA Hospital, but she wasn’t sure where she would be staying tonight, as she had been put up in a hotel for a few days but that was ending.

She also said, “As far as I am concerned, it is still our home.” Her lawyer explained that their lawsuit alleging illegal foreclosure (90-page PDF) continues to go through the courts, as does their appeal of the “unlawful detainer” complaint that resulted in their original official eviction exactly one month ago.

It was then announced via bullhorn that the protest would move over to the courthouse next door, where the KCSO is headquartered. Demonstrators marched back and forth in front of its 3rd Avenue entrances, while Jean Barton went inside to request a one-on-one meeting with the sheriff, who, as you can hear in our video, wasn’t there, she was told:

KCSO is charged with carrying out eviction orders regardless of whether they are in the jurisdiction of an agency such as the Seattle Police Department. After they evicted the Bartons on July 18th, the couple went back inside the house. SPD arrived on the scene and could have arrested them for alleged trespassing but did not; the following Monday, Mayor Murray announced he had asked SPD to “stand by” while the case played out in court.

After that, the company that bought the house at a foreclosure auction in April, Triangle Property Development, went to court to seek a “writ of mandamus” which would have ordered the city to take action. Last week, King County Superior Court Judge Mariane Spearman denied that request, saying it would have been an extraordinary action to order the city to do something in which it had discretion, while, she said, Triangle had other avenues available for getting possession of the house.

Then last Friday, KCSO showed up at the Morgan Junction house and carried out a search warrant it had obtained, signed by Superior Court Judge Helen Halpert, citing grounds that it had evidence a crime – trespassing – was happening in the house, and swept in around 8 am, arresting and removing the Bartons. Representatives of Triangle promptly occupied the house, saying they were readying it for a renter who would move in quickly. Byron Barton was reported to have been shuttled between the VA Hospital and Harborview before winding up at the former, and that brings us to what unfolded today. What’s next? We’ll continue watching court files, among other sources, to see.

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ONGOING COVERAGE: In West Seattle eviction fight, sheriff’s deputies remove Bartons again, arresting them for ‘criminal trespass’ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/sheriffs-deputies-say-they-have-evicted-the-bartons-again/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/sheriffs-deputies-say-they-have-evicted-the-bartons-again/#comments Fri, 15 Aug 2014 15:23:53 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=282607 (SCROLL DOWN FOR NEWEST UPDATE – 9:27 pm)

(WSB photos by Patrick Sand)
ORIGINAL REPORT, 8:23 AM: Jean and Byron Barton have been evicted from their former home in Morgan Junction again, according to King County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Sgt. DB Gates. We found her there after getting a telephone tip. This comes four days after a judge declined to order the city to enforce trespassing laws against them (WSB coverage here). They were already gone from the house when we got there; Sgt. Gates says people working for the company that bought the house at a foreclosure auction in April, Triangle Property Development, are in it now.

ADDED 8:37 AM: More information from Sgt. Gates: KCSO went in under auspices of a search warrant, not a new court order for eviction.

She says they “detained three adults for the crime of criminal trespassing,” including one of the Bartons’ grown sons, and that while Byron Barton was taken to the VA Hospital, Jean Barton and their son were taken to KCSO’s Southwest Precinct “for processing.” She did not expect they would be jailed. She said the search-warrant action happened “quickly” and that there were “no issues”; the three were the only people in the house, she said. No protesters (or other media) were there. Advocacy-group signage that had been outside the house for weeks has been removed, and the “no trespassing/video surveillance” sign shown in our photo above is in place. (added) This morning’s action comes one week after the court hearing on Triangle’s petition to force the city to take action, and four weeks after deputies first removed the Bartons from the house, which they re-occupied hours later. Triangle is not a party to the Bartons’ still-pending lawsuit (90-page PDF) against Chase Bank and two other entities, alleging the house was illegally foreclosed on.

ADDED 9:35 AM: The official KCSO news release has just arrived. In it, Sheriff John Urquhart alleges “politics (were) allowed to ride roughshod over the rule of law” prior to this morning’s action. Full text:

This morning just after 8:00 AM Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested 3 people and removed them from the residence at 6548 41st Ave SW. The charges were Criminal Trespass in the First Degree. The persons arrested were not booked and the case will be referred to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for filing of charges. Detectives entered the home with a search warrant as well as consent to search from the owners of the residence.

The arrestees included one man in his 60’s, the man’s wife, and their adult son. The older man was sent via ambulance to the VA Hospital in Seattle due to his health status.

The residence is generally knows as the “Barton house”.

“There are no winners in this situation, not the least of which is Mr. Barton, who is gravely disabled, and was living in extremely unsanitary and therefore dangerous conditions”, said Sheriff John Urquhart. “But Triangle Property Development, the lawful owner of the home, is a victim of bureaucratic inaction and back-and-forth finger-pointing between the City of Seattle and the Sheriff’s Office. That is inexcusable and that’s why I ordered today’s action. When politics is allowed to ride roughshod over the rule of law, everyone suffers. I was not willing to let that continue,” Urquhart added.

Triangle purchased the property on April 11, 2014 at a trustee’s sale after a foreclosure. The occupants and former owners of the residence (“the Barton’s”) refused to move, and subsequently the Sheriff’s Office received an eviction order from Superior Court on June 11, 2014. Before the eviction could be completed, the Barton’s received a stay of the eviction until another hearing could be held. The Barton’s attorney contested the eviction but was denied, and another eviction order was issued on July 3, 2014.

The eviction was finally completed on July 18, 2014. However, that same day the Barton’s, with the assistance of members from SAFE (Standing Against Foreclosure and Eviction), returned to the house and broke in. The Seattle Police Department was called, but they refused to remove the occupants. The following day Seattle Mayor Ed Murray directed the police department to “stand down” and not arrest the Barton’s or remove them from the house.

Since then, according to Mayor Murray’s office, city representatives have been in “almost daily contact” with the Barton’s in an effort to find them suitable housing, as well as health and human services for which they may be eligible. However, according to the city, the Barton’s “have not pursued any of these options while choosing to remain in the home.”

The Mayor’s Office also reports they made a referral to Adult Protective Services due to “observed conditions inside the home.”

On August 8, 2014, Triangle Properties asked King County Superior Court Judge Mariane Spearman to issue a writ ordering the city to enforce the trespass statutes and remove anyone in the residence. The City argued they have no duty to act or to enforce any particular law. Furthermore, the City argued the Sheriff’s Office, under state law, is required to enforce the criminal trespass laws in any city in King County, including Seattle, and said Triangle should demand the Sheriff’s Office make the appropriate arrests, despite the fact that the Seattle Police Department has primary jurisdiction in Seattle.

The City also wrote in their brief to the court, that “The Barton’s, under the circumstances of this case, are guilty of trespass in the first degree.” They also conceded in court that the eviction order was valid and was properly served.

Judge Spearman issued her written response on August 13th, denying the request for a writ ordering the Seattle Police to act. She ignored the City’s erroneous argument that the Sheriff’s Office was required to respond and enforce the criminal statutes inside the city limits of Seattle.

HISTORY: Reportedly the residence has been in the Barton family for over 60 years, and court records show the Barton’s mortgaged their home in 2007, then subsequently refinanced the loan and took out a home equity line of credit, with loans totaling over $650,000. The Barton’s stopped making payments, apparently in 2011, and they defaulted on those loans. The Barton’s filed two lawsuits in Federal Court to stop foreclosure actions. In the 2012 lawsuit Judge John Coughenour dismissed the lawsuit and wrote, “The Barton’s complaint is fatally lacking in both clarity and plausibility,” among other findings. The next year the Barton’s 2nd lawsuit in Federal Court was dismissed by Judge Robert Lasnik, this time with prejudice, and he wrote that this was essentially the same claims dismissed by Judge Coughenour a year earlier.

After the trustee’s sale of the property, the Barton’s filed a lawsuit in state court, asking to void the foreclosure and for damages of $4.8 million and other, miscellaneous amounts. That case is pending with a 2015 trial date expected.

We expect other comment on these developments as the day goes on and will add to this report whenever we get it. On its Facebook page, SAFE, the advocacy group that has supported the Bartons’ attempts to keep the house, has called its members to an emergency meeting later this morning.

10:53 AM: We went back to the neighborhood to see if anything new was happening. We found Jean Barton on the sidewalk, being interviewed by TV crews:

She confirms that Byron Barton is at the VA Hospital, and says she has nowhere else to go, in terms of a place to live.

12:36 PM: As noted in the ongoing comment discussion, we have obtained the search-warrant affidavit that led to this morning’s arrests. The warrant was signed by King County Superior Court Judge Helen Halpert. You can see it here (added) or embedded below:

1:17 PM: SAFE has e-mailed the following statement:

Two weeks ago, SAFE activists held a press conference where they asked the question, “Who runs this town?” Today, Sheriff Urquhart, stepping up to the role of corporate goon, answered the question definitively; property developers do. Thanks to a hastily-obtained search warrant, a mother and her son have been handcuffed, stuffed into a cop car, and taken down to county jail to be held. Byron Barton has been removed against his will from his childhood home and taken to a hospital. The Bartons’ home is now occupied by unknown “renters”.

This was not an eviction; it was a raid against Seattle citizens outside the primary jurisdiction of the King County Sheriff’s Department –an extraordinary move to place a family in jail at the behest of Triangle. The Sheriff’s department forced their way into the Barton home with a search warrant and detectives. Unusually, they did not have an unlawful detainer, which is the specific court document that would have allowed the Sheriff’s department to enact a legal eviction. The current unlawful detainer is under appeal.

The Sheriff issued a contradictory statement about today’s arrests. Sheriff Urquhart said of the arrests that “Triangle Property Development…is a victim of bureaucratic inaction…I was not willing to let that continue.” Does this mean that he will not allow elected officials to interfere with his interpretation of the law?

This is a clear about-face from just last week. At a court hearing regarding the Barton’s case, a representative of the Sheriff’s Department argued that the enforcement of criminal statutes, including trespassing charges, was in fact the purview of the Seattle Police Department, not King County Sheriffs. The Judge agreed. Why has the Sheriff’s Department now gone out of their own stated jurisdiction, and arrested the Bartons as criminal trespassers?

“This is a total violation of civil rights,” the Barton’s attorney Jill Smith said of the forcible eviction and arrest.

At this time, Byron Barton’s whereabouts within the hospital system are unknown. “The helplessness, I’m sure, is overwhelming for him,” Jean Barton said.

Note that while the statement suggests the Bartons were jailed, the King County Sheriff’s Office says they were not booked, and as reported earlier in this story, Jean Barton was back near the home, talking with media, within a few hours. It also should be noted, since the SAFE statement mentions elected officials, Urquhart also is an elected official. Meantime, if you don’t know this from earlier stories, Byron Barton suffered a stroke in 2012 that left him barely able to speak and in need of a wheelchair for mobility, as well as a hospital bed at home.

4:43 PM UPDATE: SAFE’s Facebook page said as of 4 pm that Byron Barton was headed back to try to gain admittance to the VA Hospital; a lawyer for the Bartons was quoted by SLOG earlier as saying he had been turned away there once and then taken to Harborview. We checked with both of those hospitals; the VA said they can’t comment on any patient, and Harborview said they had no one by that name (as of mid-afternoon). Meantime, SAFE’s Facebook page also says the group plans a demonstration against the sheriff Monday afternoon in Courthouse Park.

6:18 PM: Stopping by the 41st/Holly neighborhood yet again around 5 pm just to see if TV newstime had drawn anyone there, our photographer was waved down by Triangle Properties personnel who were still in the house, getting it ready for a tenant to move into immediately. They said other media crews had already come in the house for a look and wanted us to see it too. Here’s our photo of the living room:

Since the only part of the house we’d been in previously was the basement, and that was hours after the Bartons reoccupied the house following the July 18th eviction, we can’t really make a comparison.

9:31 PM: SAFE’s newest Facebook update says that Byron Barton has continued to be shuttled between hospitals and is headed back to the VA to spend the night.

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Bartons’ eviction fight: Judge denies new owner’s request to order SPD to arrest them http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/bartons-eviction-fight-judge-denies-new-owners-request-to-force-spd-to-arrest-them/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/bartons-eviction-fight-judge-denies-new-owners-request-to-force-spd-to-arrest-them/#comments Wed, 13 Aug 2014 18:36:17 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=282408 ORIGINAL REPORT, 11:36 AM: Just in: King County Superior Court Judge Mariane Spearman has rejected Triangle Property Development‘s petition for a “writ of mandamus” which would basically have forced Seattle Police to arrest Jean and Byron Barton for trespassing, as they continue to occupy the Morgan Junction home from which they were evicted last month, three months after Triangle bought it at a foreclosure auction. The judge’s ruling comes five days after a hearing on the issue (WSB coverage here). Judge Spearman wrote that SPD has discretion on whether to make an arrest in a situation like this, and that an “extraordinary” move such as a writ of mandamus is not appropriate for compelling an action in which there is discretion. See the ruling in PDF, or embedded below:

We’re also contacting Triangle Development’s lawyer for comment; the company announced July 29th that it would take the city to court. That was 11 days after sheriff’s deputies – who enforce evictions in King County, whether within city limits or not – removed the Bartons from the house; later that day (July 18th), the couple re-entered it. SPD arrived at the house late in the day, but did not arrest them, and Mayor Murray issued a statement the following Monday saying he had told SPD to “stand by while the latest court proceedings unwind.”

ADDED 12:42 PM: A few other notes – The Bartons themselves were not a direct party in this particular legal action. It was taken by Triangle Development against Mayor Murray and Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole, and is unrelated to the Bartons’ ongoing lawsuit (read it here) alleging that the foreclosure was illegal. If you haven’t read today’s ruling yet, another reason cited by the judge was that Triangle has other options for getting control of the property – including getting the King County Sheriff’s Office to serve another order. Meantime, the mayor has posted a statement about the ruling, saying, among other things, “… the judge decided that SPD acted properly in exercising its discretion over the past three weeks.”

ADDED 4:46 PM: The advocacy group SAFE has sent a statement, which includes Jean Barton’s reaction to the city’s contention that she and her husband are ignoring/spurning housing-related services:

Today, a King County judge ruled that SPD acted properly in not interfering in Jean and Byron Bartons’ civil land dispute regarding their home in West Seattle. The judge has now put the ball in King County’s court, giving Triangle Properties the option to seek a writ against the Sheriff’s department to carry out an eviction that they claim they have already carried out.

The Bartons’ case has now become something of a hot potato, with Triangle passing it to the courts, the city passing the matter to the county, the county passing it back to the city, and now the judge tossing it back to the King County Sheriff’s Department.

Meanwhile, Byron Barton is still in his home of 61 years, in comfortable conditions, under the home care of his wife, while the couple waits for a superior court to make a decision regarding the fraudulent foreclosure practices of Chase Bank and Quality Loan Services, who auctioned the property to Triangle last April. Quality Loan Services has already been reprimanded by Attorney General Bob Ferguson last March for illegal foreclosure practices, and those same practices were used in the theft of Jean and Byron’s home.

“If someone takes your home, and they break the law while doing it, don’t you deserve your day in court before the property is removed from you?” says Randy Whitelock, SAFE Organizer, ”The AG has already gone after QLS publicly, and put a moratorium on foreclosures they’re involved in. They are the criminals, not the Bartons.”

As far as services supposedly offered by the city… “All we’ve gotten are a list of phone numbers, applications for 3 to 5 year waiting lists, and a case worker from the VA who has done nothing. The idea that we’ve turned down resources is ridiculous,” says Jean Barton.

The simple truth is that the city has no adequate resources for putting displaced citizens into stable, permanent housing, an issue that should be addressed by Mayor Murray in his mission to end veteran homelessness in Seattle.

But for now, the Bartons are in their home, awaiting their day in court.

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Barton eviction fight: No immediate ruling at hearing; city offers help, cites ‘alarming conditions’ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/barton-eviction-fight-no-immediate-ruling-at-hearing-city-offers-help-cites-alarming-conditions/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/barton-eviction-fight-no-immediate-ruling-at-hearing-city-offers-help-cites-alarming-conditions/#comments Fri, 08 Aug 2014 22:36:19 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=281944

ORIGINAL REPORT, 3:36 PM: Two developments this afternoon in the case of Jean and Byron Barton, whose Morgan Junction home was foreclosed on, then auctioned off. Three weeks after King County Sheriff’s Office deputies carried out an order to evict them – followed hours later by the Bartons re-occupying the house – the property’s new owners had a court hearing today. Triangle Property Development sought an order to require the city to enforce trespassing law and get the Bartons out of the house; you’ll recall that Mayor Murray had told Seattle Police to “stand by” while legal matters played out. King County Superior Court Judge Mariane Spearman listed to arguments but did not rule immediately. This motion, by the way, did not involve the Bartons’ separate case alleging that the foreclosure was illegal. We had a crew at the hearing, as well as in the hallway outside the courtroom, where Jean Barton joined the SAFE advocacy group in a pre-hearing news conference (added: video of her brief comments):

We will add more details from both parts of the event later.

Meantime, Mayor Ed Murray‘s office forwarded a letter from the city Office of Housing, detailing its efforts to offer the Bartons help with housing, mentioning they have not taken advantage of that help so far. The letter also, toward the end, mentions that city staff visiting the Bartons’ home “observed alarming conditions inside the residence that required them to submit mandatory reports to Adult Protective Services.” Here’s the letter as a PDF – or read it, embedded, below:

They did not elaborate on the “alarming conditions.”

ADDED: In case you’re interested in the legal documents – here’s the Triangle petition:

And the city’s reply:

10 PM NOTE: Still more to add; check back in the early morning.

EARLY AM ADD: After the jump (if you are reading from the main page), co-publisher Patrick Sand‘s notes from the hearing:

Judge Spearman heard from three people – David Lawyer for Triangle, Patrick Downs from the city attorney’s office, and Patty Shelledy, legal adviser to the King County Sheriff’s Office.

Lawyer noted that KCSO carried out the eviction exactly three weeks ago. He talked about all the legal procedures that began in April and led to the eviction in July. He contended that the city admits that the eviction was properly sought and carried out and it is the city’s duty – not their discretion – to have SPD remove the Bartons. At the end he said that Triangle has nothing against the Bartons and they have no interest in seeing the Bartons arrested – they just want the house vacated.

Lawyer hit the point several times that the writ – which he called an extraordinary measure – would only apply to this case and this case only. This was to blunt some of the case law where writs have been issued to enforce citywide issues.

Time is also an issue. Downs said the city wants time to find the Bartons alternatives; the judge pointedly asked – how long will that take? He said he did not know and mentioned that the Bartons had been “reluctant” to take some of the options presented so far (as noted in the letter shown earlier in this report).

Downs had two major points for the city. First, the police have the discretion to arrest. Second, getting people off a certain piece of property falls to the sheriff. He kept referencing the Renter Landlord Tenant Agreement from the state and how it applied to all this. Downs also brought up a case from the WTO where a business owner sued because the police did not remove rioters. Court decision in that said the police have means other than arrest to achieve their means.

All of which kept coming back to discretionary vs. mandatory.

Downs said that the city has discretion in how they wish to handle the matter, but the sheriff does not, so, he contended, it is therefore up to the sheriff. The judge asked if the property wasn’t in fact in the city and Downs said it is and the process of eviction needed to start all over again so the sheriff could remove the Bartons.

That’s when Patty Shelledy got up and said this was becoming “Groundhog Day.” Her contention was that the KCSO did their job and to ask the KCSO to enforce laws inside another jurisdiction flew in the face of state statute and existing agreements between the county and the city. She said this is a politically difficult situation but not a legally difficult one. She wanted to know how many times the city wanted the sheriff to evict so that the current situation could play itself out over and over.

Lawyer concluded saying Triangle only wants the Bartons out. Triangle is not seeking an arrest. The are asking for the writ so SPD can do just that. He said he is aware that the city and the Bartons are talking about alternaitve housing but his firm has not been party to any of that.

The judge ended by asking Downs some questions. Is Triangle the Legal owner? He said yes. She asked if the Barton had a legal right to be in the home? He said he did not know. Then she asked if they are in the house right now. He said yes, in the basement. She asked if the city can find them temporary living arrangements. He said the city is working on it. She asked if he understood that the owner wants a date and can that date be provided? He said he did not know but he knew that the city and the sheriff are trying together on this. She came back around and said – so how much time do you need? He didn’t know. Last, she asked if the Bartons are currently paying rent on the house. No, was the answer from both attorneys and that was that. She said she would take it under advisement and report back to all parties.

In a statement e-mailed after the hearing, the advocacy group that organized the pre-hearing news conference, SAFE, said in part, “Unfortunately, the judge was not given anything approaching adequate information about the Bartons’ case; it was clear that Assistant City Attorney Patrick Downs had not conducted proper research about the Bartons’ case, and it was only in the last five minutes of the hearing that the Judge received the Mayor’s legal response.” (Its full statement is here.)

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Barton eviction fight: Court hearing tomorrow afternoon http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/barton-eviction-fight-court-hearing-tomorrow-afternoon/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/barton-eviction-fight-court-hearing-tomorrow-afternoon/#comments Thu, 07 Aug 2014 21:02:49 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=281859

(July 18th WSB photo: Jean and Byron Barton, center, in the house’s basement, with police and supporters)
Tomorrow afternoon, a King County Superior Court judge will preside over a hearing related to Triangle Property Development‘s attempt to take physical possession of the Morgan Junction house where Byron and Jean Barton are still living, three weeks after deputies evicted them. We know this because the advocacy group that has been campaigning to keep the Bartons in the house has sent word of a protest outside the courtroom before the hearing. Triangle’s court filing – reported here on July 29th – is the latest development in the case; the Bartons also have legal action pending, contending that the house was illegally foreclosed on before being auctioned off last April, which is when Triangle bought it. The Bartons re-entered the house near 41st and Holly shortly after deputies removed them on July 18th, including carrying Byron Barton, who uses a wheelchair; that means Seattle Police could arrest them for trespassing, but a week and a half ago, Mayor Murray told them on July 21st to “stand by” while the case went through the courts.

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Charlestown Court not worthy of landmark status, says Landmarks Preservation Board, again http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/charlestown-court-not-worthy-of-landmark-status-says-landmarks-preservation-board-again/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/charlestown-court-not-worthy-of-landmark-status-says-landmarks-preservation-board-again/#comments Thu, 07 Aug 2014 00:53:52 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=281785

(County archives photo of the building now known as Charlestown Court)
We’re at the Municipal Tower downtown, where the city Landmarks Preservation Board voted this afternoon to reject landmark status for Charlestown Court. The building is proposed for demolition to make way for an 8-unit townhouse project.

This was the second time the Tudor-style 1920s-era brick fourplex at 3811 California SW had been nominated; the last time, in a process that played out 2007-2008, the board said “no,” but development proposals then stalled until the current one, and the city said too much time had elapsed for them simply to refer to that previous vote, so the process needed to start again.

Before today’s presentation about the building, Paul Cesmat said he has owned it since 2007 and declared it has structural issues – “the brick’s not structurally sound, the chimney has issues, this has been pointed out to us … and we have insurability issues … I feel that this building does not meet historical criteria … and it’s not structurally worth saving.” It is wood-framed without concrete backing the brick, he explained in response to a question later.

The presentation focused on changes made to the building, including its windows, contending the changes made over the years affected the fourplex’s “physical integrity.” The photo you see at the top of the story was shown, with the comment “It’s a shame that’s not there any more.” (The nomination document from the June meeting, including photos and history, can be seen as a PDF here.)

In pre-vote discussion, board members said basically that while you could consider it “handsome” or “charming,” it just didn’t “rise” to landmark status.

One “yes” voter was a West Seattleite on the board, Deb Barker, who said “the footprint of this building is so distinctive … not a typical one for West Seattle … and that amazing strong roof line has not changed … a strongly identifiable visual feature from California Avenue SW.” She mentioned a nearby subdivision of “small Tudor buildings” to which this seems to have a relationship. “In my 29 years of driving past this building, it’s always been well-maintained” and eye-catching, Barker added.

Another “yes” voter said that “while it’s not necessarily the most impressive example of the architect’s work, it’s not the most humble or basic, either … I think it holds its own among its peers in the city.” And yet another one said basically that while it might not stand out in a big way now, we’ll miss it if it goes, because this type of building is disappearing around the city.

No one spoke during the public-comment period. Before today’s vote, West Seattle-residing City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen had sent the board a letter supporting designation as a landmark – read it here (PDF) – we received a copy just as the hearing began. It was not mentioned at the hearing, though.

The board did hear from a representative of Gamut 360, the prospective townhouse developer, who read from the minutes of the April 2008 board meeting at which the building was previously rejected for landmark status.

The townhouse project still has to go through the city permit process, including approval of a demolition permit, before construction can begin.

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Followup: New owners of eviction-fight house say they’re taking the city to court http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/followup-new-owners-of-eviction-fight-house-say-theyre-taking-the-city-to-court/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/followup-new-owners-of-eviction-fight-house-say-theyre-taking-the-city-to-court/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 23:28:56 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=280883 (UPDATE EARLY THURSDAY: Advocacy group suggests city continue the hearing; its statement is added to end of story)

(July 18 WSB photo)
A new development late today in the fight over a Morgan Junction house that’s been the subject of a showdown over foreclosure and eviction. Eight days ago, Mayor Ed Murray announced he was telling police to stand by until the circumstances Byron and Jean Barton‘s legal fight over the house was clearer; this afternoon, we received the following announcement from a law firm representing the company that bought the house at foreclosure auction in April:

Triangle Property Development has taken legal action to force Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and the Seattle Police Department to uphold the law by removing the illegal trespassers from a West Seattle house.

The company filed the document, formally called a writ of mandamus, in King County Superior Court more than a week after Murray ordered police officers to stand down rather than remove Byron and Jean Barton from the house, which they had broken into after being legally evicted by King County Sheriff’s deputies. Triangle Property Development bought the house at a foreclosure auction in April, more than two years after the Bartons stopped making mortgage payments.

“Mayor Murray’s refusal to uphold the law is undermining the legal process by preventing a property owner from lawfully using and possessing its property,’’ said Synthia Melton, legal counsel for Triangle Property Development. “The legal issues the mayor refers to in this case have already been determined by the courts. The Mayor’s inaction is supporting criminal trespass, and can set dangerous precedent for how court-ordered evictions will be executed, making it more difficult for law enforcement to perform its job.”

Much of the media coverage surrounding the eviction of the Bartons has been incomplete, misleading or downright inaccurate. Here are the facts of the case:

According to King County property records, the Bartons received the house free and clear from a family trust in 2003 and almost immediately began to use a series of mortgages to turn the value of the house into cash. By August of 2007, the house was pledged to more than $660,000 of debt.

In 2011, the Bartons ceased making payments on their mortgages. In 2012, their lender began foreclosure proceedings, which concluded in April when Triangle Property Development bought the property at auction.

Mindful of Mr. Barton’s disability, Triangle made repeated offers of thousands of dollars of relocation assistance to the family, who refused that help in favor of a series of futile attempts to block the eviction in court.

On July 18, King County Sheriff’s deputies evicted the Bartons from the house despite the interference of protestors, and changed the locks. After the deputies left, the Bartons, along with protestors, broke into the house, committing the crimes of breaking-and-entering and trespass. Since that time, they have illegally trespassed on the property, and protesters have subjected Triangle Property Development employees and officials to harassment and abuse.

The case drew regional media attention back on Friday, July 18th, when King County Sheriff’s Deputies evicted the Bartons, four weeks after a different KCSO employee had declined to evict them because of Byron Barton’s health status. Meantime, we’re following up on this new development – including looking up the latest court documents – and will add whatever reaction we get.

ADDED 12:57 AM THURSDAY: Less than half an hour ago, the advocacy group SAFE sent this statement:

Triangle Property Development, LLC has been pressuring local public officials to displace the Barton family from their home of 61 years. Last week activists with SAFE publicly protested and successfully opposed what they called an immoral eviction of a severely disabled Vietnam Veteran and his family. The five day action culminated in Mayor Ed Murray telling the Seattle Police Department to standby while the Barton’s appeals work their way through court.

This week, Triangle filed a Writ of Mandamus against Mayor Murray and Seattle Police Chief Katherine O’Toole to have Jean and Byron Barton, a disabled veteran who requires extensive, round-the-clock home care to live, arrested and immediately transfer their home at 6548 41st Ave SW in West Seattle to Triangle. This strong arm legal tactic by Triangle is unfortunate because the ownership of the property is in dispute. Their case is in King County Superior Court, and was filed by the Bartons against JP Morgan Chase and Quality Loan Service Corp., challenging the legality of the foreclosure on their home. There is also an appellate action against Triangle’s case of Unlawful Detainer, which resulted in their attempted eviction.

Per paragraph 4.5 in Application for the writ, plaintiff Triangle wants the “Mayor and Chief O’Toole to fulfill their respective duties to protect the peace, and to abate the Bartons’ trespass upon the Property, arresting and taking the Bartons into custody if necessary…”

Triangle is a relatively new company who has already threatened to sue the King County Sheriff’s Department for contempt of court for being hesitant to carry out the Barton eviction and now they are telling the duly elected mayor of Seattle how the law should be carried out. Triangle would prefer to see Byron and Jean in jail.

“The city should make use of their option to request a continuance for the hearing regarding the writ, which is scheduled for August 8th. A continuance may allow the parties to avoid this hearing altogether. That would be a great first step in allowing the Bartons time to work out a satisfactory negotiation,” said Jill Smith, attorney for the Bartons.

This all begs the question of who runs this town? The elected officials of the City of Seattle, or the corporate interests of a property developer?

The mayor has yet to respond to our request for comment, sent after the Triangle statement on Tuesday afternoon.

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West Seattle development: Demolition at 4745 40th SW; 3 new teardown/rebuild plans http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/west-seattle-development-demolition-at-4745-40th-sw-3-new-teardownrebuild-plans/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/west-seattle-development-demolition-at-4745-40th-sw-3-new-teardownrebuild-plans/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 22:01:24 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=278042 Demolition-for-redevelopment notes today:

4745 40TH SW TEARDOWN UNDERWAY: Thanks to Maris for the heads-up on Monday that backhoes had taken up position at the 40th/Edmunds project site. They hadn’t started work by day’s end but this afternoon, they’re taking down the office building on site, former home to businesses including what might be West Seattle’s biggest tech firm, Tango Card. (You’ll recall our story last August about its search for a new WS location, which it found not far away, in Jefferson Square.) 4745 40th SW won final Design Review approval in December (WSB coverage here), and applied for the demolition permit in March. is slated for 150 units and 115 parking spaces, with some live-work units and a relatively small commercial space on the ground floor, adjacent to the future city-park site to its north. (That site in turn will soon be the temporary home of Fire Station 32 while that station is rebuilt on its site in The Triangle at 37th/38th/Alaska.)

THREE DEMOLITION-PERMIT NOTES: From the city files today, all in single-family-house projects:

*1 DOWN, 2 UP AT 4316 SW THISTLE: A demolition-permit application is in for the site of this 106-year-old Gatewood house across from the top of the fabled Thistle stairway, as well as early word of two houses to replace it, pending a lot-boundary adjustment which has a case number but no documents on file so far; county data for the 7,500-sf site does show two lot numbers.

*1 DOWN, 1 UP AT 3426 38TH SW: The permit has just been granted for demolition of this 106-year-old bungalow, with a new house slated to replace it.

1 DOWN, 1 UP AT 4707 14TH SW: A demolition permit is sought for this 85-year-old house on 15,000 sf of land, where records show one new house is planned.

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Landmarks Board votes to formally consider Charlestown Court for landmark status http://westseattleblog.com/2014/06/landmarks-board-votes-to-formally-consider-charlestown-court-for-landmark-status/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/06/landmarks-board-votes-to-formally-consider-charlestown-court-for-landmark-status/#comments Thu, 19 Jun 2014 00:19:26 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=276844 Quick update from the city Municipal Tower downtown: The city Landmarks Preservation Board has just voted to approve the nomination of Charlestown Court, the brick fourplex at 3811 California SW, as a potential city landmark. A consultant hired by its owners – who want to demolish it and replace it with eight townhouses - said they don’t think it merits landmark status, a decision reached by the board six years ago when another demolition/redevelopment proposal was pending. (Since more than five years have passed, city reps explained, a new review was warranted.) Today’s vote sets the stage for a final vote on August 6th.

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West Seattle real estate: 3060 Avalon up for sale again http://westseattleblog.com/2014/05/west-seattle-real-estate-3060-avalon-up-for-sale-again/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/05/west-seattle-real-estate-3060-avalon-up-for-sale-again/#comments Wed, 21 May 2014 23:45:48 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=274108

Nine months after a real-estate/development group bought the 12-unit apartment building at 3060 Avalon Way for just under $1 million, they’ve put it up for sale for more than twice that. The 9,500-square-foot site is listed for $2,552,000, with the listing mentioning renovations since last year’s sale, and also: “With the ability to build up to 65 feet in height on the property. The land value today is approximately the same as the asking price for the apartment building, giving the buyer an opportunity to earn income while processing permits at the City of Seattle.” The building is sandwiched between two sites that have had development proposals in the past few years – apartments at 3062 Avalon (which the DPD site notes were canceled last year) and 104 units of microhousing at 3050, and a few lots east of a project that just won a key approval last week, 100+ apartments at 3078 Avalon.

P.S. If you like stats and numbers, they abound in this background brochure about the 3060 Avalon property, which takes a broader look at the West Seattle and citywide apartment market, too.

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New microhousing rules: Tell City Councilmembers what you think on Monday http://westseattleblog.com/2014/05/new-microhousing-rules-tell-city-councilmembers-what-you-think-on-monday/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/05/new-microhousing-rules-tell-city-councilmembers-what-you-think-on-monday/#comments Fri, 16 May 2014 01:06:42 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=273526 If you feel strongly about microhousing – the new wave of mini-apartments that cluster around shared kitchens, usually one per floor – Monday’s your chance to speak to the City Council’s Planning/Land Use/Sustainability Committee about the proposed new city rules/definitions. The meeting agenda circulated today reminds us of the date, which, as reported here, was first announced last month. Here again is the council memo about the proposal; here’s the agenda. The public hearing is at 5:30 pm Monday (May 19th) in council chambers at City Hall downtown. (WSB photo: First West Seattle microhousing project to open, Footprint Delridge)

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Video: ‘Three-minute teardown’ today in Seaview http://westseattleblog.com/2014/03/video-three-minute-teardown-today-in-seaview/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/03/video-three-minute-teardown-today-in-seaview/#comments Sat, 29 Mar 2014 05:59:32 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=269008

Dan Engel shares that video he recorded today as a house in his Seaview neighborhood was torn down – 6008 44th SW, one of the demolition permits mentioned in our roundup last Saturday. Dan says the 96-year-old, 1230-square-foot house took less than 20 minutes to take down; his video is at six times real time, so the entire demolition (minus cleanup) is shown in about 3 minutes. The house’s planned replacement is shown here.

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West Seattle development: 1606 California SW penciled in for design review http://westseattleblog.com/2014/01/west-seattle-development-1606-california-sw-penciled-in-for-design-review/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/01/west-seattle-development-1606-california-sw-penciled-in-for-design-review/#comments Thu, 09 Jan 2014 07:56:00 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=261351 Add another project to the Southwest Design Review Board‘s schedule for the first few months of 2014: A North Admiral apartment project first reported here last October, 16 units replacing a fourplex and house at 1606 California SW (map), is tentatively set to debut before the board on March 6th. The project site is zoned L(owrise)-3 and is proposed as three stories, with 21 offstreet parking spaces. (It’s not in a frequent-transit zone, so parking is required.) This is the eighth West Seattle project scheduled for design review in the next eight weeks.

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West Seattle history: Long-shuttered ex-market to make way for new house http://westseattleblog.com/2013/12/west-seattle-history-long-shuttered-ex-market-to-make-way-for-new-house/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/12/west-seattle-history-long-shuttered-ex-market-to-make-way-for-new-house/#comments Mon, 30 Dec 2013 00:13:29 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=260413
frakerthen.jpg

Almost exactly six years ago – on New Year’s Day, 2008 – we took a quick “past/present” look at 4808 SW Alaska, thanks to neighbor Bill pointing out its past identity as Fraker’s Grocery. Today, the building is pretty much what it was at the time of that WSB story – vacant and rundown:

But its days are finally numbered. We’re mentioning it today because our latest routine check of city Department of Planning and Development files turned up new applications for demolition and construction permits. A new single-family house is proposed for the site, which was separated from an adjacent lot in a land-use action three years ago. But it’s noteworthy given its history, still hinted at by this shadow of a Coca-Cola sign on the south-facing window:

County records show the market’s former proprietor, Dean Fraker, owned the site until 2001; he died in 2009. It was sold again two weeks ago to a real-estate-investment LLC.

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Happening now: North Delridge prefab townhouses flying into place http://westseattleblog.com/2013/12/happening-now-north-delridge-prefab-townhouses-flying-into-place/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/12/happening-now-north-delridge-prefab-townhouses-flying-into-place/#comments Tue, 03 Dec 2013 21:30:58 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=257970

Across from the 13th hole of the West Seattle Golf Course, in the 2800 block of SW Genesee (map), a crane is lifting three prefab townhouses into place, module by module. We reported on the modules’ arrival back on Saturday; now, the installation is a hot ticket on the cold, shady side of the street:

Of course, we, our fellow newspeople, and the spectators could leave at any time. Not an option for the crew working to make sure it’s all done correctly and safely – no mean feat given the size of the lot:

As noted in our previous story, the dozen or so modules comprising Method Homes‘ 3-unit, 2-building townhouse project were trucked in from the factory in Ferndale and parked along 26th SW west of Delridge Community Center/Park, a temporary staging zone:

The work is scheduled to continue tomorrow, with intermittent lane closures on Genesee while it’s under way.

P.S. For three quick video clips from the midmorning module lift, check out the WSB Instagram feed.

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