Mayor Ed Murray said the city will offer $400,000 for lake access at the end of Northeast 130th Street, or try to take it through eminent domain.
The long battle is continuing over a 60-foot-wide beach lot where Northeast 130th Street dead-ends into the Lake Washington shoreline.
The latest salvo came Thursday from Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.
He has ordered that the city cut a deal with the two owners adjoining the lot on each side. Then it can revert to public use as lake access.
The opening offer will be $400,000, says a spokesman for the mayor.
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The owners will have 30 days “to agree with the terms, counter-offer, or decline,” says the mayor’s announcement.
And if those negotiations fail, Murray plans to ask the City Council for an ordinance to wield that special hammer reserved for government agencies — eminent domain.
To put the $400,000 in perspective, a nearby unbuildable lot on the same street — Riviera Place Northeast — is currently offered for sale at $119,950.
If a lot is buildable, an assessment of $600,000 for the land is not unusual, considering the million-dollar-plus homes on that street.
Keith Holmquist lives on the north side of the lot in question. He works in fire- and water-damage restoration.
Fred Kaseburg owns the property to the south of the lot. He is a patent attorney who formerly practiced real-estate law.
A sales deal with the city would be split between the two.
Holmquist says about the mayor’s announcement, “I don’t have an answer right now. I haven’t seen anything in writing. I have to explore my options, what recourse we have.”
Holmquist has acted as the spokesman for the two property owners.
“Is this the best use of public funds?” he asked.
He says there is beach access nearby at places like Matthews Beach and Log Boom Park in Kenmore.
“What fueled this is that a couple of people decided that was an inconvenience for them,” says Holmquist. “So they pushed the city. Whatever they did, they pushed the right buttons.”
The lot had been publicly used for 82 years as beach access.
Then, due to inept document handling back in 1932, ownership went recently to Holmquist and Kaseburg. The city fought them in court, and lost.
In March, the two put up a chain-link fence and security cameras, recently replaced by a more aesthetic wooden fence.
But a sign still warns, “Private property. No trespassing.” Another sign punctuated, “WARNING. Security Cameras in Use.”
That led to a social-media campaign led by Dave Pope, a neighbor and retired graphic designer.
Pope started a Facebook page, helped organize attendance at a City Council meeting with plenty of “Save the Beach!” signs, and even left color chalk for people to write messages by the lot.
The Burke-Gilman Trail runs right above the lot, and Holmquist and Kaseburg were greeted by messages such as, “GREED.”
The two called the cops a couple of times after finding bags of dog poop on their property.
On their Facebook page, those wanting the beach public again were gleeful on Thursday.
One person wrote, “my kayak and i can barely wait.”
A man wrote to Pope, “Most of us would just shrug and walk away and curse and then stress that the beach was taken, then grumble about it for the rest of our lives. However YOU had the courage to do the right thing and to start the fight alone.”
But will the mayor’s $400,000 uppercut knock the other side down?
Maybe, who knows. There are still a few more rounds left.