Friday, October 12, 2007

State Supreme Court Strikes Down Bainbridge Island's Moratoria on Shoreline Development

In an important decision that came down October 11th, a divided court found that the City of Bainbridge Island improperly invaded the state government's exclusive power to regulate shoreline development.
"J.M. JOHNSON, J. -- Today, we review the Bainbridge Island City (City) Council's adoption of rolling moratoria, which imposed a multi-year freeze on private property development in shoreline areas. The City denied the processing of permit applications for more than three years. There is no state statutory authority for the City's moratoria or for these multiple extensions. Clearly, this usurpation of state power by the local government disregards article XVII, section 1 of the Washington Constitution, which expressly provides that shorelines are owned by the state, subject only to state regulation. The City is not authorized to adopt moratoria on shoreline development arising out of its police powers under article XI, section 11 of the Washington Constitution, which limits local government to regulation 'not in conflict with general laws.' Thus, we affirm both the trial court and the unanimous Court of Appeals decision invalidating the ordinances."