Alki sidewalk squabble getting snippier?


This comment just came in below our report on last month’s contentious Alki sidewalk-project meeting; no one will see it on a five-week-old post, so we’re highlighting it here. From someone signing themselves “CS”:

As a property owner on Alki Beach – well, the enforcement of the sidewalk has already begun. We’ve been ticketed twice for parking on the “sidewalk” this past week, although we’ve been parking there without issue for decades. I called Parking Enforcement but their stance is – it was always illegal, and now we’re enforcing it due to public (anonymous) complaint. I called Theresa Casper, the Project Manager for the sidewalk proposal, but she denied having anything to do with it (ya, right). So there is no way for property owners to expect formal notice – if people start complaining – the police will start ticketing. However, our property extends into the water. We have never bothered enforcing the right to prevent people from walking on the beach. But we will now. So – the public can take the sidewalk back – but the property owners will take back the beach they own and you can bet I will be reporting any trespassers on it from now on.

In mid-April, the city told us design was proceeding, for now, on the sidewalk extension that the waterfront property owners are fighting, but hadn’t yet figured out how to handle one homeowner’s question about a process for getting the project stopped; sounds like it’s time for a check back with SDOT.

28 Replies to "Alki sidewalk squabble getting snippier?"

  • Shannon May 7, 2008 (11:45 am)

    oh please! Like the project manager has nothing better to do with her time than call in complaints about illegal parking…give me a break! It is MUCh more likely that it was a disgruntled pro-sidewalk west-seattleite (and rightfully so!).

  • RobertSeattle May 7, 2008 (11:54 am)

    OT, but what are the property line rules for waterfront property in Washington – low water line?

  • Wet Head May 7, 2008 (12:02 pm)

    Mean high tide is my understanding. CS can keep us off his bulkhead but not much more.

  • Mark May 7, 2008 (12:04 pm)

    Sadly, it probably was some busybody instead of the project manager. I disagree with the previous post however I think if the people have been parking that way for decades then why not continue, who does it hurt? You can easily walk around the cars in the photo.

    However you better check with your lawyer before trying to enforce water rights with the shoreline act especailly at the low tide area.

  • RobertSeattle May 7, 2008 (12:07 pm)

    Shorter version:
    “My illegal parking on public property should be allowed… because I own waterfront property”

  • WSB May 7, 2008 (12:12 pm)

    Actually I don’t have the code handy but I believe ownership extends into tidelands in some cases. If you look at “parcel viewer” maps, it stretches way out into what’s usually under water.

  • cami May 7, 2008 (12:14 pm)

    I got a ticket in my driveway a couple of months ago. I live in the Alki neighborhood, but not ON Alki Ave. I think parking enforcement is just picking up a bit.

  • Living in West Seattle since 1985 May 7, 2008 (12:15 pm)

    The bottom line is private outdoor space (a grassy back yard or a beach) is private and the public spaces and parks are for the public to enjoy. Lets just all try to all remember that. Be kind and thoughtful neighbors.

  • Scott B. May 7, 2008 (12:17 pm)

    That sidewalk situation reminds me of the “pocket parks” issue. It’s not quite the same deal with alley easements where there is no alley, but it’s similar.

    It’s the City’s property, even if individuals have been using it.

    Personally, I think there should be a sidewalk there since the City, pedestrians, and bicycle riders want it.

  • Mark May 7, 2008 (12:25 pm)

    Come to think about it I agree with Cami I have seen alot of parking enforcement where it’s never been before. Just our city and it’s insatiable greed for revenue

  • rjb May 7, 2008 (12:45 pm)

    Wow. Passive agressive much?

  • karen May 7, 2008 (1:09 pm)

    Actually, the property rights depend on the property. If it’s privately owned, the rights extend to the low tide mark. However, not all waterfront properties have ownership of the tidelands. A great place to look at public/private shoreline access is: They have a map that shows shoreline ownership and it’s pretty interesting. However, those that do own rights to the shore can tell you to stay off.

  • Wet Head May 7, 2008 (1:40 pm)

    Sounds like we need web access and/or a lawyer to take a walk on the beach.

  • Chris May 7, 2008 (1:41 pm)

    I feel for the homeowners…left over odd plating from the days of old beach houses. I walk on the sidewalk on the other side of the street just fine, thank you. A bunch of nosy busy bodies in my opinion. An expensive, unneccessary waste of tax dollars.

  • Lisa May 7, 2008 (1:48 pm)

    That is a selfish and entitled attitude. Beach front owner…you got some bad Karma coming your way if you don’t lighten up. Take back your beach it is yours after all. Then, sit on your private beach front and enjoy the kindness and good will you are spreading throughout your neighborhood and community.

  • shihtzu May 7, 2008 (2:10 pm)

    All I know is there needs to be sidewalks there. When are they going in?

  • Cruiser May 7, 2008 (2:11 pm)


    SideWALK, WALK…get it??? Not park:) What about blind people? wheelchair bound?

    Bet you were the kid who took his ball home when getting ass kicked in a game right?

  • Mark May 7, 2008 (2:16 pm)

    Don’t the police have something better to do?

  • CMT May 7, 2008 (2:28 pm)

    I think the police are getting more aggressive in ticketing. In front of our daycare, I had a meter maid lurk around the corner to see if I was going to park a couple of feet into the (barely used) bus zone while I ran in to pick up my child. Yes, I was parked illegally and thus, the ticket was legitimate, but it was pretty aggressive. Others I know in W. Seattle have had similar experiences recently.

  • Wet Head May 7, 2008 (2:39 pm)

    I’m not trying to hijack the thread, but the beach access issue is important too. We probably need a lawyer with expertise in the area to clear this up, but it seems like we’ve been confusing ownership and access. Judging from the property records, CS probably does own the land well out into the water, but that doesn’t necessarily indicate he can exclude anybody from below the mean high tide mark. A public easement may exist, giving us the right to thumb our noses at CS. Lawyers out there?

  • beachdrivegirl May 7, 2008 (3:55 pm)

    Waterfront property owners own the beach infront of their house in Washington state and this mark is from my experience the lowtide mark. This is the same reason why some property owners are albe to build such large houses on the waterfront that go from edge to edge of their property.

  • Perspective May 7, 2008 (5:24 pm)

    Global Warming, War, Famine, and Sidewalks.

  • Michael May 7, 2008 (5:32 pm)

    Tx for the good laffs, WSB.
    Seeing as there’s pretty much a sign on the first house by the beach that says “No public beach,” Mr. anonymous property owner, anyone on “your” beach is probably a fellow property owner. Report yrselves crazy. Hope you have fun.

  • Will on 56th May 7, 2008 (5:36 pm)

    I believe the shoreline act doesn’t allow anything built below mean high tide. Some of the properties in this area are below this because of grandfathering previous bulkheads. If you look at homes build in that area after the Shoreline Management Act became law, their bulkheads are further inland.

    I do not know what tideland rights are but some organizations have said that ordinary citizens have a right to cross. Native Americans have harvest rights in tidelands but seldom try to use them.

  • Eric B May 7, 2008 (5:58 pm)

    The actual ownership of the beach (tidelands) is incredibly variable. When Washington State was first formed, all tidelands were public. Then the State sold a bunch of the coastline, leading to a rather difficult state of affairs where one homeowner could own only to the ordinary high tide mark (or occasionally the a surveyed line), but their neighbors could own to the extreme low tide mark. I do not know of a publicly available resource where one can find out who owns the beach in front of their property and who does not. In any case, I think it behooves everyone to be kind and thoughtful — property owners need to understand that the law is difficult and kindly inform people if they are trespassing, while users must be aware that the beach may indeed be privately owned and to treat it as you would expect others to treat your yard.
    For more information, I recommend the WA Dept. Fish and Wildlife Shellfish Tidelands Page.

  • CMP May 7, 2008 (6:42 pm)

    I haven’t paid much attention to this issue, but I run by here quite often and have never pondered the need for a sidewalk. I can’t even imagine having one there and hope that it would stay that way. Just cross to the south side of the street and let those people park where they way to. And stay off their beach front property already…is Alki Beach really not big enough that you have to hang out in front of someone’s home in their “yard”?

  • Alki May 8, 2008 (11:58 am)

    I run by here often and I really dislike not having a sidewalk. It seems silly to me that sometimes I have to run around the cars or sometimes partially in the street. For safety reasons, I think it’s important to have a sidewalk, more important than having a personal parking space. I also feel it’s sad that you feel you have to “get back” at people by taking back the beach–because of this specific reason.

    That attitude is really disappointing to me. I realize you are upset but if you can muster some grace, that might be appreciated by the entire community.

  • Gary Ogden May 8, 2008 (12:28 pm)

    look into the “Public Trust Doctrine” regarding acces/egress to tidelands.

Sorry, comment time is over.