Court Ruling May Suppress Public Interest Challenge to Keeping “Mistake on the Lake”

Posted on June 21, 2018

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Murphy recently ruled that our foundation, along with several former governors, and former Secretary of State Ralph Munro, do not have “standing” to challenge the city of Olympia’s approval of the Views on 5th project. This project would renovate the nine-story “Mistake on the Lake” as part of a one hundred and thirty-eight unit apartment complex and build two new buildings on the block. If built, we would endure this grossly mis-located structure for the next fifty years.

We brought suit in Superior Court to block the project. We never got a full hearing on the merits of our case because the judge agreed with the city and the developer that only adjacent property owners could challenge the city’s approval. The effect of the judge’s decision is that once the city gives approval, the public interest can have no voice or impact on this kind of land use decision.

We believe that the protection of the views to and from America’s most magnificent capitol campus setting is a matter of great public interest, far beyond adjacent property owners. The foundation board, along with other plaintiffs, is now considering whether to appeal this denial of our right to be heard to the court of appeals and/or the Washington State Supreme Court. We would appreciate hearing from you as to whether we should appeal. Also, it will be helpful if you can suggest other organization that may want to join in an appeal. Any appeal must be filed by July 11th.

Please visit the site and take a look at the work done to remove the outside walls of the structure. This will provide a glimpse of what the area could be if the entire structure were removed. Once the judge declined to allow our suit to go forward, the local developer, and the California-based Russian financial backers (as noted in The Olympian), quickly moved on partial deconstruction of the building.

It very difficult to understand why the city permitted this project to go forward in a high risk earthquake liquefaction zone that is also ground zero for predicted sea level rise. Moreover, it is very troubling that once the city decides on a project there may be no opportunity for review by the courts of possible city errors if requested by groups or individuals raising important public interest concerns.