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Bremerton, City of v. Sesko

Citation: 30 ELR 20403
No. No. 23150-6-II, 995 P.2d 1257/(Wash. Ct. App., 02/28/2000)

The court holds that property owners operated two illegal junk-yards in violation of a city's zoning laws and that such operation constituted a nuisance. The city planning commission determined that the properties were nuisances, and the commission's decision to uphold the city's cease and desist orders became final rulings. Thereafter, two separate trial courts found the two separate properties at issue to be nuisances. The court first holds that the property owners failed to show either how the city zoning code conflicts with the state's shoreline management act or under what theory the inconsistencies between the shoreline management act and the city zoning code prohibit the city from enforcing its zoning code. The owners offered no relevant authority supporting its argument that the zoning code and the shoreline act are inconsistent. Further, although the shoreline act shall constitute use regulations for the various shorelines of the state, the act does not state that such programs shall be the exclusive land use regulations of lands located on the shoreline.

The court next holds that the trial courts correctly applied the doctrine of collateral estoppel to preclude relitigation of the issues of whether the properties at issue were junkyards and therefore nuisances. The issues—whether the properties were junkyards—were identical, the zoning commission made a final judgment on the merits, and the parties were the same. Further, the property owners suffered no injustice because they received the opportunity to persuade the commission of their position. In addition, the facts satisfy the tests for application of collateral estoppel to an administrative body. The commission was acting within its competence when it made the factual decision that the owners violated the zoning code by operating junkyards. And the procedural differences between the commission and the trial court did not unfairly deprive the owners of adequate opportunity to litigate this issue.

The full text of this opinion is available from ELR (5 pp., ELR Order No. L-181).

Counsel for Respondent
Glenna L. Malanca, Ass't City Attorney
City Attorney's Office
239 4th St., Bremerton WA 98337
(360) 478-5252

Counsel for Appellants
William J. Sesko
Law Offices of William J. Sesko
3536 Arsenal Way, Bremerton WA 98312
(360) 377-0697