Chapter 12.16
STREET VACATIONS*

Sections:

12.16.010    Petitions – Initiation – Survey requirements – Preliminary findings.

12.16.020    Hearing time fixed – Petition and resolution methods.

12.16.030    Public notice, petition and resolution methods.

12.16.040    Council may not proceed if property owners object.

12.16.050    Report, investigations and recommendations to city council.

12.16.060    Criteria for council decision.

12.16.070    Deleted.

12.16.080    City council decision.

12.16.090    Granting – Conditions.

12.16.100    Appraisals – Classes of right-of-way for purposes of appraisal – Call for appraisal – Payment required.

12.16.110    Amount of compensation by class of right-of-way – Payment required.

12.16.120    Trade in lieu of compensation.

12.16.130    Waiving compensation – Other governmental agencies, entities, jurisdictions.

12.16.135    Title to vacated street or alley.

12.16.140    Vested rights not affected.

12.16.150    Notice to county auditor.

* Prior ordinance history: Ord. 1452 and prior code § 9-1301.

12.16.010 Petitions – Initiation – Survey requirements – Preliminary findings.

A. Who May Initiate. Vacation of public rights-of-way or easements may be initiated by two methods:

1. The owners of more than two-thirds of the property abutting the portion of the street or alley sought to be vacated may file a properly completed petition with the city clerk.

2. The city council may initiate a vacation by resolution in accordance with the procedures described in Chapters 35.79 and 35A.47 RCW.

“Abutting property,” for purposes of this procedure, means property which touches, adjoins, or is contiguous to the street or alley, or portion thereof, sought to be vacated.

B. When Petitions May Be Filed. The city council may, by resolution, limit the times of year or months during which it will accept petitions for right-of-way vacations.

C. Form. All petitions shall be in such form as may be prescribed by the city and shall be in substantial conformance with the statutory form set forth in the annotations to RCW 35.79.010. At a minimum, the petition shall contain a full and correct legal description of the property sought to be vacated, the street addresses of abutting properties, and the typed or printed names and signatures of property owners.

D. Fees and Associated Costs. Any petition for vacation of a previously dedicated right-of-way shall be accompanied by the established application fee in the current unified fee schedule. Petitioner(s) shall also be liable to the city for all actual expenses incurred in processing the petition in excess of the normal costs intended to be covered by the petition fee, including legal and engineering fees. At the time a petition is accepted as valid, the city clerk shall provide the petitioner with an estimate of such additional expenses as may then be anticipated by staff. If the petition for vacation is approved and additional fees and costs are assessed pursuant to this chapter, including payment of all or a portion of the appraised value of the property, such payments shall become due and payable according to the provisions herein. Failure to meet any payment deadline will nullify the petition.

E. Sufficiency of Signature. Prior to forwarding the petition to public works staff for findings, the city clerk or designee shall certify the sufficiency of signatures on the petition following these guidelines:

1. Where property is subject to a mortgage or deed of trust, the signature of the buyer shall be sufficient.

2. In the case of ownership by partnership or corporation, the signature of any officer authorized by the bylaws or resolution of the partners or board of directors shall be sufficient when evidenced by a copy of the section of bylaws or resolution granting such authority.

3. Where property is subject to a lease, the signature of the lessor shall be required.

4. In the case of property subject to a life estate, the signature of the holder of the life estate shall be sufficient.

5. The signature of an owner, as determined by the records of the county assessor, shall be sufficient without the signature of his or her spouse.

F. Representation by Abutting Property Owners. On receipt of a petition for vacation and confirmation that signatures thereon are sufficient as provided at subsection (E) of this section, the city clerk shall forward the petition to public works staff for confirmation that these signatures represent ownership of more than two-thirds of the property abutting the right-of-way or easement requested for vacation. Any petition failing to meet this criterion shall be returned to petitioner(s) by the city clerk, along with a brief explanation of this determination. Petitioner(s) shall have 15 days from the date the petition is returned to respond with a revised petition. If no response is received within that time, the petition shall be null and void, and the petition fee refunded.

G. Referral to Public Works Director – Survey Requirements. The city clerk shall notify the public works director of all proposed vacations. It shall be the duty of the public works director to determine whether the location and legal description of the proposed vacation of the street or alley proposed for vacation are sufficiently known to the city so that an accurate legal description of the proposed vacation may be made, and so that the location of the property proposed for vacation can be known with certainty. If the public works director determines that these matters are not known or are not accurately known, then the city shall notify the petitioner(s) of the necessity of having an accurate, professional survey of the property marked upon the ground and an accurate legal description of the proposed vacation to be furnished to the city. The city shall not proceed with processing the vacation until such a survey has been done and the legal description received.

H. Preliminary Findings. Upon confirmation that the petition meets criteria in subsections (E) and (F) of this section, or on receipt of a council-initiated vacation proposal, the public works director shall, in cooperation with the community development director, prepare preliminary findings on the following:

1. Whether the street, alley or parts thereof abut any body of salt or fresh water, and if so, whether the vacation is being requested for port purposes, boat moorage or launching sites, viewpoint, recreational or educational purposes or other public use;

2. Whether the right-of-way is needed or contemplated for future public use;

3. Whether the request for vacation was initiated to correct a condition created by the applicant in violation of city ordinance; and

4. Whether the vacation will maintain or create straight and continuous right-of-way lines on at least one side for the full block.

Based on the above criteria, staff may forward the petition to the council with one of the three following written recommendations:

a. Deny the petition;

b. Set a public hearing to consider the petition; or

c. Return the petition to petitioner for modification prior to further action. (Ord. 2714 § 1, 2008; Ord. 2474 § 1, 2000; Ord. 2106 § 1, 1993)

12.16.020 Hearing time fixed – Petition and resolution methods.

Upon receipt of a petition meeting minimum requirements for signatures and property ownership described in BMC 12.16.010(E) and (F), as well as preliminary findings listed at BMC 12.16.010(H), the public works director shall forward the petition and findings to the city council for consideration at its next regular meeting. For both petition- and council-initiated vacations proposed for public hearing, council shall adopt a resolution setting a time for the hearing which is not less than 20 nor more than 60 days from the date of passage of the resolution. (Ord. 2714 § 1, 2008; Ord. 2474 § 1, 2000; Ord. 2106 § 1, 1993)

12.16.030 Public notice, petition and resolution methods.

A. At least 20 days prior to the hearing on the proposed street or alley vacation, the city clerk shall issue a single written notice of hearing which shall be:

1. Posted in Blaine City Hall;

2. Posted in three conspicuous places on that portion of the street or alley sought to be vacated, or at a nearby location that can be viewed by the public; and

3. Published in the official newspaper for the city of Blaine.

B. In addition to the general posting and publication, the city clerk, at least 15 days prior to the date fixed for the hearing, shall mail hearing notices directly to owners of all property abutting upon any street or alley or any part thereof sought to be vacated. This mailing shall be by certified or registered mail with a return receipt. (Ord. 2714 § 1, 2008; Ord. 2474 § 1, 2000; Ord. 2106 § 1, 1993)

12.16.040 Council may not proceed if property owners object.

In all cases, the city shall be prohibited from proceeding further with the process if 50 percent or more of the abutting property owners file written objection to the proposed vacation with the city clerk prior to the time of hearing. (Ord. 2714 § 1, 2008; Ord. 2474 § 1, 2000; Ord. 2106 § 1, 1993)

12.16.050 Report, investigations and recommendations to city council.

Upon resolution of the city council to set a public hearing to consider a petition, all requests for street vacation, whether by petition or by council initiation, shall be submitted to the public works director or his/her designee who shall coordinate staff preparation of a report and recommendations to the city council. The staff shall investigate and report on at least the following:

A. Ownership of the property abutting on the street or portion thereof sought to be vacated. Proof of ownership of abutting property by the title insurance or certificates shall be required, such proof to be furnished by, and at the expense of, the petitioners upon request of the city clerk.

B. Whether and in what respect the public may be benefited or harmed by the vacation. This evaluation shall include the following considerations:

1. Whether there is a compelling reason for the vacation request;

2. The benefit to the public to be realized through this vacation;

3. Whether the right-of-way is contemplated for any future public use;

4. Whether the vacation is in conflict with the general purpose and objectives of the city’s comprehensive plan for land use, transportation, utilities, drainage, parks, trails and open space;

5. Whether the substitution of an alternate way would be more useful to the public;

6. Whether future changes in conditions may increase public use or need;

7. Whether the public benefit of the area’s use is insufficient to justify the cost of maintenance.

C. What effect the vacation will or may have upon property served or which might be served by said vacated street, including the following considerations:

1. How property or properties may be directly benefited or adversely affected by the proposed vacation; and

2. Whether there is at least one alternate mode of ingress and egress meeting city standards for emergency services available to all abutting owners, even if less convenient than the existing right-of-way.

D. The relationship of said right-of-way to existing and planned streets and highways, including the following considerations:

1. Whether it would affect the street pattern or circulation in the immediate area or the community as a whole;

2. Whether other portions of the subject street or alley have already been vacated;

3. Whether said right-of-way has been opened or constructed and, if so, to what standard;

4. Whether the vacation will maintain or create straight and continuous right-of-way lines on at least one side for the full block.

E. How the subject property became a public right-of-way, and the classification of the right-of-way for the purposes of appraisal per BMC 12.16.100.

F. Whether any utilities now exist in said right-of-way, or whether such right-of-way may be reasonably necessary for future utility uses and, if so, provide recommendation on necessary utility easements to construct, repair and maintain utilities and services.

G. The necessity or desirability of the city retaining easements or the right to exercise and grant easements for emergency vehicle access and construction, repair and maintenance of public utilities and services, or for nonmotorized access over the land sought to be vacated. (Ord. 2714 § 1, 2008; Ord. 2474 § 1, 2000; Ord. 2106 § 1, 1993)

12.16.060 Criteria for council decision.

A. The city council shall not vacate any street, alley or parts thereof if any portion thereof abuts any body of salt or fresh water except as provided for in RCW 35.79.035. Consistent with this provision, the street ends of G Street, H Street, Martin Street, Clark Street, Boblett Street and Cherry Street lying west of Peace Portal Drive shall be maintained from this day forward as public access and view corridor reserves.

B. The city shall not vacate any previously dedicated right-of-way unless, upon all the facts presented in public hearing, it concludes that:

1. The vacation will provide a public benefit or be for a public purpose; and

2. The right-of-way to be vacated is not contemplated or needed for future public use; and does not conflict with the general purpose and objectives of the city’s comprehensive plan for land use, transportation, utilities, drainage, parks, trails and open space; and

3. Vacation of the right-of-way will not adversely affect the street pattern or circulation of the immediate area or the community as a whole; and

4. There is at least one alternate mode of ingress and egress meeting city standards for emergency services available to all abutting owners, even if less convenient than the existing right-of-way; and

5. Provision has been made for utility easements where needed for the right to construct, repair and maintain public utilities and services; and

6. The vacation will maintain or create straight and continuous right-of-way lines on at least one side for the full block. (Ord. 2714 § 1, 2008; Ord. 2633 § 1, 2006; Ord. 2474 § 1, 2000; Ord. 2106 § 1, 1993)

12.16.070 Deleted.

Deleted by Ord. 2474. (Ord. 2106 § 1, 1993)

12.16.080 City council decision.

At the conclusion of the public hearing, the city council may take the following action:

A. Pass a motion of intent to vacate all or a portion of the requested vacation stating that the city council shall, by ordinance, grant the vacation with no conditions; or

B. Pass a motion of intent to vacate all or a portion of the requested vacation stating that the city council shall, by ordinance, grant the vacation by means of an ordinance to be effective upon payment of fees and satisfaction by the applicant of all other stated conditions within specified time periods; or

C. Pass a motion denying the proposed vacation. (Ord. 2714 § 1, 2008; Ord. 2106 § 1, 1993)

12.16.090 Granting – Conditions.

If the city council decides to grant all or a portion of the vacation, such action shall be made by ordinance with such conditions or limitations as the city council deems necessary and proper to preserve any desired public use, benefit or interest, such as, but not limited to, reserving within the portion of the street or alley which is vacated (A) easements for access, construction, repair and maintenance of public utilities, (B) easements for trails, and (C) easements for other public needs. (Ord. 2714 § 1, 2008; Ord. 2106 § 1, 1993)

12.16.100 Appraisals – Classes of right-of-way for purposes of appraisal – Call for appraisal – Payment required.

A. Determination of appraised value shall be made by appraisal by a state-certified general real estate appraiser of the portion of the right-of-way to be vacated with valuation based on current fair market value. Such appraisals shall take into account any retained right of the city for future use which would restrict the private use of the property. For purposes of appraisal, all properties within the city primarily used or reserved for use as public ways, including streets and alleys, are declared to be within one of two classes:

1. Class I: Real property on which the city holds fee simple title or which was acquired at public expense; or

2. Class II: All other real property dedicated as right-of-way or public easement.

B. Call for Appraisal – Payment Required. In the case of Class I or II properties, once the city council has made findings in favor of granting the vacation request, it may adopt a motion to approve the petition conditionally, thereby directing the petitioner to secure an appraisal of the subject property by a city-approved appraiser within 60 days of council action following the public hearing. And an original appraisal shall be forwarded to the city clerk along with a signed quitclaim deed. Within 30 days of receipt by the city clerk, the petitioner(s) shall be advised of the required payment for the vacation per BMC 12.16.110, recording fees, costs associated with the real estate excise tax affidavit, and any additional costs. Failure of applicant to pay fees by the specified deadlines will nullify the petition. (Ord. 2714 § 1, 2008; Ord. 2106 § 1, 1993)

12.16.110 Amount of compensation by class of right-of-way – Payment required.

A. The amount of compensation required to be paid to the city as a condition precedent to the vacation of a public way shall be determined according to the following criteria:

1. Class I property shall be considered a sale of a capital asset and shall be compensated for at 100 percent of its appraised fair market value.

2. A right-of-way over Class II property shall be compensated for in the amount of 50 percent of the appraised fair market value of said property.

B. Upon notification that the amount of required compensation has been established, the petitioner(s) shall have 60 days to deposit such amount, together with other costs of processing not previously paid, with the city treasurer. Upon notification by the city treasurer of the receipt of all sums due, the city council shall, in accordance with its prior motion of approval, adopt an ordinance vacating Class I, II or III property. All funds received as compensation pursuant to this chapter shall be deposited in the city’s street fund or such other fund as the council may designate. (Ord. 2714 § 1, 2008; Ord. 2106 § 1, 1993)

12.16.120 Trade in lieu of compensation.

In lieu of payment of monetary compensation, petitioner(s) may grant or dedicate to the city for street purposes real property useful for that purpose where the property to be acquired by such exchange has a fair market value equal to or greater than the amount of cash compensation that would otherwise be required. The city shall not be obligated to accept such an exchange and the decision of the city council on the acceptability of the alternate property offered shall be final. (Ord. 2714 § 1, 2008; Ord. 2106 § 1, 1993)

12.16.130 Waiving compensation – Other governmental agencies, entities, jurisdictions.

Where vacation or transfer of a public way is applied for by or on behalf of a nonprofit entity or another governmental agency, entity or jurisdiction, or where the city council finds that approval of the vacation provides substantial public benefit, it may waive any compensation except filing fees normally required by this chapter. A transfer or vacation of property on which compensation has been waived under this section shall be accompanied by a covenant providing that the city shall be compensated at current fair market value at the time of any future sale or lease of the subject property by such other governmental agency, entity or jurisdiction. (Ord. 2714 § 1, 2008; Ord. 2106 § 1, 1993)

12.16.135 Title to vacated street or alley.

Title to any street or alley vacated by provisions of this chapter shall belong to the abutting property owners, one-half to each, unless:

A. The property owner wishes to convey by quitclaim deed their reversionary interest in their half of the right-of-way to the property owner across from them. A reversionary right exists where a right-of-way was dedicated on a plat or where the city owns fee simple interest to the right-of-way.

B. A property owner wishes to convey, by lot line adjustment, their underlying fee interest in their half of the right-of-way to the property owner across from them. A fee interest exists if the right-of-way was created by a document and overlays an existing boundary line of the fee owners. (Ord. 2714 § 1, 2008)

12.16.140 Vested rights not affected.

No vested rights shall be affected by the provisions of this chapter. (Ord. 2714 § 1, 2008)

12.16.150 Notice to county auditor.

A certified copy of the ordinance vacating any right-of-way, quit claim deed, real estate excise tax affidavit, and any other required documents shall be filed by the city clerk with the county auditor. (Ord. 2714 § 1, 2008; Ord. 2106 § 1, 1993)