With the end of the year approaching, I wanted to make sure and send out a quick update ahead of our closure for the holidays. It looks like we might get a small blast of wintry weather later this week. While they are not calling for much snow or ice (if any). you should be aware that boat lift canopies don’t need much additional weight on them to start having problems. If you are going to be out of town, it’s a good idea to have someone check for you should we get any extreme weather.
The North Shore Bridge project remains on schedule. Bracing under the bridge has been removed and Lakewood Bay is slowly but surely approaching full pool. The temporary dam is scheduled to be removed in early January. We will make sure and let you know as soon as the passage is back open.
There have been a couple of developments in the ongoing lake access litigation. As a reminder, the current litigation started in 2013 when two individuals sued the City of Lake Oswego and the State of Oregon over resolution 12-12. That ordinance codified existing park rules regarding lake access from the city parks abutting Lakewood Bay. The plaintiffs’ three claims were all dismissed on summary judgment. The dismissal was upheld by the Oregon Court of Appeals. The Oregon Supreme Court reviewed the decision and upheld the dismissal of two of the claims, but sent the case back to the trial court to determine if Oswego Lake and Lakewood Bay are navigable for title.
The trial court agreed to separate the case into two trials. In phase I, the trial would only consider the navigability claim. If the court were to find for the plaintiffs on the navigability question, the second trial would examine the reasonableness of the City Ordinance. The phase I trial was held in March. In May, the assigned judge issued a ruling finding that the original Sucker Lake was navigable for title and that the lake-bed, as it existed at the time of statehood, is owned by the State. The court further ruled that even though the LOC owns the remainder of the lake-bed and all of the banks, an access right remains, even in Lakewood Bay.
As we prepared for phase two of the trial (reasonableness of the city ordinance) our lawyers received discovery from the plaintiffs which disclosed for the first time that the plaintiffs had private meetings about the case with the assigned judge when she was serving as a state legislator. Our attorneys and the City’s attorneys filed motions to recuse the trial judge from the case on the ground that those contacts were not disclosed to us. Those motions were granted, and a new judge was assigned to the case. Almost immediately, our attorneys filed a motion to vacate the findings and conclusions from phase one of the trial. All hearings on that motion were postponed due to the fact that the plaintiffs petitioned the Oregon Supreme Court to intervene and reinstate the judge they had met with. The plaintiff’s petition was recently denied by the Supreme Court.
Our motion to vacate the earlier ruling was heard earlier today. If our motion is successful, the issues from phase I and phase II likely will be litigated in a combined trial of about two weeks sometime in 2023. If it is not successful, the trial will continue with phase II. The Judge indicated that she expected to rule on our motion by the end of the year.
I hope you enjoy the Holidays. If there is any way I can be of service to you, please let me know.