On October 2, 2013, the Washington State Supreme Court denied review of a Court of Appeals opinion that affirmed a zoning decision by the City of Tacoma, allowing the Court of Appeals opinion and the City’s zoning decision to stand.
In Northshore Investors, LLC v. City of Tacoma, 301 P.3d 1049 (2013), the Court of Appeals found that a developer’s land use petition challenging the City’s decision under the Land Use Petition Act (LUPA) was not timely because the developer had not served the petition on the City within 21 days after the decision was issued. The Court of Appeals found that the City’s final decision had been issued when the City Council orally announced its decision to adopt, without modification, the findings and conclusions that had been previously prepared by the City’s Hearing Examiner. The Court rejected the developer’s argument that the decision was not issued until several days later, when the City mailed a notice describing the City’s decision. As a result, the developer’s LUPA petition was untimely and the Court of Appeals lacked jurisdiction to review it. This decision is yet another example of Washington courts’ strict application of LUPA’s 21-day appeal period.
It is also a reminder to land use practitioners in Washington that, if there is any doubt about when a land use decision had been issued, you should assume that the LUPA deadline will fall on the earliest possible date, and you should file and serve your LUPA petition accordingly.