UW Wins on a Technicality

From Save the Reactor:

On April 14, 2016, King County Superior Court Judge Suzanne Parisien issued an order granting the University of Washington its motion for summary judgment in its lawsuit against defendants City of Seattle and Docomomo WEWA, and intervenors Historic Seattle and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.

We are obviously disappointed in Judge Suzanne Parisien’s decision which did not rule on all the substantive issues of the case. Instead, her Memorandum of Opinion states that the University is not an “owner” as defined in the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance, and as such, did not bother to rule on the other issues. This “technicality” is somewhat farfetched because in what other scenario would the UW say it’s not an “owner”? The University clearly owns the Seattle campus. It voluntarily submitted a landmark nomination for Husky Stadium (which was not nominated by the Landmarks Preservation Board). The UW complies with the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance when it seeks Landmarks Preservation Board approval for work on its buildings at Sand Point Naval Air Station Historic District. And UW Tacoma is located in a designated local historic district. Is the UW not an owner in those cases?

As a public institution the University of Washington needs to be a good neighbor within the city. There are alternatives to demolishing the National Register-listed Nuclear Reactor Building and there is at least one alternative site for its proposed Computer Science and Engineering II building. Of course, this case is not just about the Nuclear Reactor Building. There are broader implications and impacts related to the entire campus and to any property the University owns.

The University need not be so afraid of external efforts to recognize and honor its heritage and legacy.

We are reviewing our options at point. Just know that our advocacy efforts will continue.

Read the judge’s Memorandum of Opinion here

Recent media coverage on this issue:

The Seattle Times



Photo: Oral arguments in King County Superior Court, April 1, 2016; source: Eugenia Woo