LETTER: Brett Fish shares his latest encounter with the Sewer District

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The B-Town Blog nor its staff:]

The Southwest Suburban Sewer District called the Normandy Park Police on me today (Thursday, May 16) for “destruction of District property.” Here’s the story:

B-Town Blog readers suggested putting up considerable resistance to the sewer district’s continued abuse of my property as a shortcut. Not being able to afford legal counsel and going up against the all mighty sewer district one must proceed with caution.

Their latest legal position is since they’ve always abused the road it gives them the right to continue doing so. It’s called “prescriptive easement” if the landowner doesn’t complain at least every 6 years or a statute of limitations kicks in. We have been through at least 6 general managers since their inception and have to start over with each new one or sue their socks off for breach and abuse, not something we want to do having supported their very existence and beginnings since the 1950’s.

Since they aggressively insist on abusing the original compost-only access easement for every day all district business and refuse to CEASE & DESIST, the upper gate was closed and chained but not locked after each and every vehicle passed through. If they want to abuse the compost only access easement for their own personal shortcut they are going to have to suffer the extreme inconvenience of opening the gate for every passage. Some employees were kind enough to close it after they passed through against the direct orders of the general manager.

They responded by installing a cable and padlock at the base of both halves of the metal gate to keep them open. This takes away access control of my private property. I cut away and “destroyed” two three inch pieces of shrink wrap, unbolted the assembly, reassembled the contraption and closed the gates.

Very shortly after, the District called the Normandy Park Police to report “destruction of District property” requiring a Police response. Normandy Park has a Police Department that rivals Beverly Hills. I’m embarrassed that they had to respond to such a trivial and frivolous complaint by the District.

So, let’s compare the losses. Their loss, estimated at $1.00-2.00 for a total of 6 inches of shrink wrap.

The affects property value loss from the sewer district highway they forced on us or be condemned, the giant unwanted heap of clay they dug up on their property during the road construction and forced us to take or face condemnation, the destruction of my family home since 1938 with over $250,000 worth of damage from their clay sliding down the hill dragging our home with it, no environmental studies or “as-built” drawings, a crushed drain and finally the incredibly arrogant misuse of the compost only road with 25-60 vehicles per day.

Our loss: too much for one family to bear. The sewer district is putting the rate payers at considerable risk of loss with this continued arrogance. They want to keep taking what is not theirs to take.

– Brett Fish

Upper Gate May 16, 2013-001
Upper Gate May 16, 2013-002
Upper Gate May 16, 2013-005
Upper Gate May 16, 2013-006
Upper Gate May 16, 2013-007
Upper Gate May 16, 2013-008

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12 Responses to “LETTER: Brett Fish shares his latest encounter with the Sewer District”
  1. Brett Fish says:

    It is important to know that the Sewer District has won many well deserved awards from the Department of Ecology for the quality of their work helping keep Miller Creek and Puget Sound healthier.

    Their office staff and plant employees have always been friendly and professional.

    Top management’s direction and enforcement of the easement restrictions to the employees for road use compliance is clearly the issue. It’s a bad habit escalating into a show of the District’s legal might. There is NO justification for this municipal harassment and abuse of power.

    They have their own original entrance since the early 1960’s for all non-compost traffic.

    • Brett Fish says:

      Update 5.23.13
      In an apparent effort to deliberately antagonize me into doing something they can call the Police for this morning, 32 trucks and cars, sometimes seconds apart, bumper to bumper, criss-crossing came through in just the first 4 hours this morning. Could be a record day at this rate.

      Only 2 were permitted compost trucks by their original 1986-87 easement.

      Deliberate? They checked the gate at 11:46 am to probably see if anything happened. The upper gate is mitigation on my property for their abuse of the “highway” they put through— so who really owns the upper gate?

      The Southwest Suburban Sewer District historically can’t seem to honor their agreements for long, even the most basic elements. Attorneys have all told me it was a HUGE mistake to give them a temporary license.

  2. Brett Fish says:

    District Retaliation:

    Ron Hall May 17, 2013
    General Manager
    Southwest Suburban Sewer District

    Please instruct your employees to immediately remove the chain locks on the gate posts that were installed this morning Friday, May 17th or they will be removed shortly.

    These gate post locks and chains clearly signal the Districts intent to continue willful and abusive use of the compost access easement for general District business. It will not be tolerated.

    News media is being contacted.

    Brett Fish

  3. Mike says:

    Did you complain every six years? It seems to me that if you complained to each of the general managers that would cover it. If your document is legal, it seems like a judge would issue them a cease & desist order. Put your own lock on the gate and a person there to let the “truck traffic or emergency traffic” have access. Turn the rest back. Sounds like a big hassle but how else are you going to put an end to the abuse? It needs to be brought to a head before it can be resolved.

    • Brett Fish says:

      Yes Mike, to each and every manager. Some were very responsive, others distracted from their own internal battles. It was mostly verbal in past years but within the last 12 years there is just enough paper trail to cover the reset of the 6 year clock. Thank you for your on-going thoughts and ideas.

      This could be ended so quickly if I could afford a Columbia Tower attorney. Justice costs.

      • Mike says:

        Have you done a free consultation with an attorney to see how much it would cost to go before a judge to get a C&D order Brett? It seems like that would be a good first step. If you did sue the district for damages wouldn’t that be on a contingency fee?

  4. Brett Fish says:

    District response:

    From: Ron Hall
    To: Brett Fish
    Sent: Friday, May 17, 2013 9:15 AM
    Subject: Re: District Retaliation-chain locks on gate


    The District will continue to follow the January, 2013 agreement that you signed.

    (NOTE:The January 14, 2013 agreement was terminated April 5th, never finalized, was breached and abused on numerous occasions, a courtesy 30 day notice was issued March 5th. Your April $200/month payment check was returned to your offices on May 2nd.)

    Any attempt to damage or destroy District property will give no other choice but to call the police and press charges.

    The gate will be closed at the end of the work day.

    Ron Hall

  5. Rebekah LaSala says:

    Hello. Brett Fish is undergoing a battle that is one of personal honor and honoring of his land and the memory of his father and the connection to his land. The facts speak for themselves.

  6. Brett Fish says:

    Battle for Privacy Against the Southwest Sewer District Continues:
    For 4 days in a row, the District has locked the upper gate on my property open. The upper gate was installed as mitigation to prevent general access through our property.

    This raises the question of who owns the upper gate. It was installed for our protection and privacy. Landscaping, plantings and a wood gate were also installed-Do they own these as well? Seems they shouldn’t get to pick and choose which ones are theirs such as denying the huge unwanted clay pile they deposited on our property and the damage it has caused yet the upper gate is suddenly their property to control.

    They also claim the reason that their expired temporary license is still valid giving them the right to continue abusing our property as a shortcut is that I reside here-WRONG, that I am the caretaker-CORRECT, that I am the majority owner-WRONG.

    The General Manager takes his walking orders from the Commissioners who get their direction from their big and expensive hired law firm at ratepayer expense. Just a thought.

  7. Having grown up in the same area, my heart goes out to a dear friend and classmate, Brett Fish who, as Rebekah has mentioned, is only protecting what his family worked so hard for in the 50′ . His Father’s articles in the Highline Times were the highlight of my family’s weekly reading.

    How is one can purchase property, build a home, raise a family and lose it to the Sewer
    District fifty years later?

    Nancy Raume Carr

  8. Chris Friedt says:

    I think it is criminal for the sewer district to put you through that kind of harassment, your house has been like a second home to all of us and the house has always been in good shape until the sewer district started messing things up. It was a place you could go and let loose and not worry about getting run over by a vehicle or put up with traffic on a constant biases. Don’t let them bully you off your property.

    Chris Friedt

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