Watch Out for WA LUPA Legislation
LUPA was enacted to provide a uniform, expedited appeal procedure to provide a consistent, predictable, and timely judicial review. To this end, Washington case law has established that LUPA procedural requirements are strictly construed, lending stability to the development process.
Substitute House Bill (SHB) 1781 reverses Washington case law by allowing for liberal construction of the requirements of the statute “to promote justice and facilitate the decisions of cases on the merits.” A petitioner no longer needs to exhaust administrative appeal remedies if they show good cause, which under the bill includes lack of or inadequate notice.
Under this language, it is hard to imagine any LUPA petition regarding a neighboring development could be dismissed on a procedural basis. Developments will remain vulnerable to uncertainty and expense of the appeal process and could be challenged when the petitioner learns of the development, including when clearing/building begins.
Furthermore, SHB 1781 increases the appeal period to 30 days after notice of the decision, and specifies that notice must be sent to each party of record and any person who filed a quasi-judicial appeal. The 30-day appeal period does not begin until the agencies’ rules governing notice, including positing or mailing of the final decision, have been completed or notice has otherwise been made available.
We believe this bill will bring a significant increase in LUPA petitions with a corresponding leap in legal costs, uncertainty, and delays for developers. SHB 1781 is sponsored by Representatives Pollet, Fitzgibbon, Hansen, Doglio, Dolan, and Riccelli. If you have thoughts about the bill, you might consider reaching out to the sponsors and/or letting your own representative and senator know how you would like them to vote on it. We will continue to monitor this bill.