City Issues

It’s been about two months since plans were submitted to the City of Seattle and we’re finally nearing approval. The Department of Planning and Development has really been scrutinizing the hell out of everything, probably because the amount of applications flowing through right now are minimal. The fine folks at Build have dutifully made all of the “clarifications” and modifications the city has requested and we’re entering the home stretch.

As part of the extra scrutiny, we had to do a little more geotech reporting at a cost of $350 and structural engineering at a cost of $2,642.50.

More troubling, however, is a contract the city wants me to sign not only absolving them of any liability related to damage that may occur to my property (because it is near an “environmentally sensitive” zone) but actually indemnifying them against claims made by others for issuing me a permit.

Initially, even the first clause scared me but I’ve been advised that they are still culpable for negligence. So for instance, if they run a sewer line such that it dumps 10,000 gallons of water right onto my property causing the entire cliff to collapse, I can still seek damages. We may need to clarify language around this though.

The second clause is more concerning though. It essentially says that even if a neighbor sues the city for issuing me a permit, I must pay to defend the city and also pay any judgements or penalties against the city, if there are any. That seems extremely onerous to me, especially since I have no control over what sorts of crazies might want to sue the city. At least when I indemnified the family who sold me the house, it was for a very specific situation that I knew had a 99.9% chance of not mattering… not to mention, I quickly nullified my liability by having the only potential litigious party sign a litigation waiver.

Because of this latest issue, I’ve decided to seek the advice of a real estate attorney, recommended to me by a friend. It’s probably a good time to get to know a good real estate attorney anyway, since there will be plenty of contracts to execute moving forward. Hopefully, I’ll have an update on the situation soon.

Costs accrued during this stage:

Structural engineering services$1,705.00
Printing/Reprographic Fees$630.00
Additional geotech work$350.00
Structural engineering services$1,937.00
Printing/Reprographic fees$101.00
Printing/Reprographic fees$33.00

2 Responses to “City Issues”

  1. KP Says:

    I believe the city was sued by upset neighbors over another Magnolia Bluff home in the 2000-01 time frame and may have instituted this policy after that. It makes no sense to me that you should have to indemnify them for their actions or negligence in issuing your permits.

  2. Mike D. Says:

    KP: According to my attorney, I guess this goes back even further than 2000-2001. I think around 1994 or so, some family built on a bad slope in or around Capitol Hill and they were actually injured when their own house slid or something. They ended up suing the city. I’m ok with saying *I* will never sue the city for letting me remodel, but full indemnification seems like overkill.