Burien resident John White has filed a lawsuit against the City of Burien, seeking to prevent the demolition of the Eagle Landing Park staircase, claiming that doing so would further destabilize the hillside and violate a grant agreement with the state.
White, who owns property adjacent on the north side of the park and its stairs, filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court this week. He alleges that the city’s plan to remove the stairs – which have been closed to the public since 2014 due to safety concerns – will exacerbate erosion problems and potentially cause a landslide.
His lawsuit also claims that the demolition would violate a condition of grant funding the city received from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) to purchase the park in 2002. That grant required the city to keep the beach open and accessible to the public. If the stairs are demolished, access to the beach would not be possible.
As we previously reported, the city announced that the park would be closed for demolition starting the week of Nov. 27, depending on weather. However, recently the city updated White that the contractor was planning to conduct their onsite prep work this week, beginning Monday, Dec. 18, 2023. They would then break for the holidays and watch for an acceptable weather window to do the bulk of the demo and removal work in January.
“The City of Burien has failed to adequately maintain and protect Eagle Landing Park and further failed to make the Park and its beachfront accessible to the public,” the lawsuit states.
The city announced in November that it would demolish the stairs at a cost of $800,000–$1 million or more. City officials said the stairs are unsafe and cannot be repaired.
The lawsuit argues that there are other, less expensive solutions that would not destabilize the hillside or violate the grant agreement. He suggests that the city could repair the broken bulkhead at the base of the hillside, which he believes is contributing to the erosion. White has made numerous public claims that most of the flights of the stairs are in acceptable condition, and has even offered to use his pile driving expertise to help repair them.
White is a renowned expert in pile driving, holds numerous patents, and serves as CEO of Antaeus Foundation Equipment, a company that specializes in that industry. His machines have been used on major projects worldwide, like the 35-mile bridge from China to Macau – the longest in the world..
He is seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent the city from demolishing the stairs until the lawsuit is resolved.
We reached out to the city for a response, but they said they don’t comment on pending litigation.
White is being represented in this lawsuit by Burien lawyer John Kannin.
- Eagle Landing Park is a 6.27-acre park in Burien’s Seahurst neighborhood, with a popular beach.
- The city acquired the park in 2002 with a grant from the RCO.
- The stairs were built in 2005 but were closed in 2014 due to safety concerns. They were very popular with residents and visitors and served as the only beach access at this park.
- In the fall of 2020, the Burien City Council approved funding for a capital project to remove the stairs.
Key points of White’s lawsuit:
- The city’s plan to demolish the stairs will destabilize the hillside and potentially cause a landslide.
- The demolition would violate the RCO grant agreement.
- There are other, less expensive solutions that would not have these negative consequences.
- The city will have to respond to the lawsuit.
- A judge will decide whether to grant a temporary restraining order.
- The lawsuit will eventually go to trial unless the parties reach a settlement.
- Download a PDF of White’s lawsuit here.
- View the City of Burien’s website on Eagle Landing Stairs.
- Read our extensive previous coverage of this issue here.