Snohomish County v. Anderson, No. 60791-5

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Washington
Writing for the CourtUTTER; ANDERSON
Citation881 P.2d 240,124 Wn.2d 834
PartiesSNOHOMISH COUNTY, The Snohomish County Council, Councilmembers Elizabeth McLaughlin, William Brubaker, Peter Hurley, Ross Kane and Karen Miller, and Robert J. Drewel, Snohomish County Executive, Dean Williams, Snohomish County Auditor, and Seth R. Dawson, Snohomish County Prosecutor, Respondents, v. Archie ANDERSON, Jim W. Misich, Debbie Walcker, Judy L. Setzer, Wade A. Boze, Mike Heminger, Terry Laxton, Barbara M. Miller, John Stokes, and David R. Montgomery, Defendants, Donald L. GRAHAM, Benjamin C. Sams, John R. Gintz, Ed Husmann, Floyd Ryan, David Pesznecker, Reginald H. Morris, Robert Strahm, Kenneth F. Spann, Keith P. Zylstra, Alvin L. Weston, Stacy Labish, Roger L. Finley, Harris A. Saltness, Judy Inderlied, and Darrell R. Harting, Appellants.
Decision Date06 October 1994
Docket NumberNo. 60791-5

Page 834

124 Wn.2d 834
881 P.2d 240
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, The Snohomish County Council,
Councilmembers Elizabeth McLaughlin, William Brubaker, Peter
Hurley, Ross Kane and Karen Miller, and Robert J. Drewel,
Snohomish County Executive, Dean Williams, Snohomish County
Auditor, and Seth R. Dawson, Snohomish County Prosecutor, Respondents,
v.
Archie ANDERSON, Jim W. Misich, Debbie Walcker, Judy L.
Setzer, Wade A. Boze, Mike Heminger, Terry Laxton,
Barbara M. Miller, John Stokes, and
David R. Montgomery, Defendants,
Donald L. GRAHAM, Benjamin C. Sams, John R. Gintz, Ed
Husmann, Floyd Ryan, David Pesznecker, Reginald H. Morris,
Robert Strahm, Kenneth F. Spann, Keith P. Zylstra, Alvin L.
Weston, Stacy Labish, Roger L. Finley, Harris A. Saltness,
Judy Inderlied, and Darrell R. Harting, Appellants.
No. 60791-5.
Supreme Court of Washington,
En Banc.
Oct. 6, 1994.

[881 P.2d 242]

Page 835

Patterson, Rowley & Schwimmer, Inc., P.S., Robert C. Rowley, Smith Law Firm, Douglas J. Smith, Everett, for appellants.

Page 836

Seth Dawson, Snohomish County Prosecutor, Thomas Herrick Robertson, Deputy, Everett, for respondents.

Christine O. Gregoire, Atty. Gen., Tommy Prud'homme, Asst., Olympia, for State.

UTTER, Justice.

This action arises from an attempt by Snohomish County citizens to subject a Snohomish County ordinance to a referendum. The Snohomish County Council (County or Council) commenced an action against the citizens seeking and successfully securing a declaratory judgment the ordinance was not subject to a referendum. The citizens appeal two trial court rulings collectively granting the declaratory judgment and rejecting all but one of their counterclaims. The first ruling dismissed three of the counterclaims, holding the citizens lacked standing and the issues were neither justiciable nor ripe for review. The second ruling granted summary judgment to the County on its claim for declaratory relief as well as on all but one of the remaining counterclaims. We accepted accelerated review of the trial court's granting of declaratory relief to Snohomish County and disposed of that issue in favor of the County in Snohomish Cy. v. Anderson, 123 Wash.2d 151, 868 P.2d 116 (1994). The trial court's disposition of several remaining issues are affirmed on this appeal.

RCW 36.70A.210 requires various counties, including Snohomish County, to adopt a county-wide planning policy. This requirement is part of the State's Growth Management Act (GMA) and provides:

The legislative authority of a county that plans under RCW 36.70A.040 shall adopt a county-wide planning policy in cooperation with the cities located in whole or in part within the county ...

RCW 36.70A.210(2). A county-wide planning policy is defined as:

... a written policy statement or statements used solely for establishing a county-wide framework from which county and city comprehensive plans are developed and adopted ...

Page 837

RCW 36.70A.210(1). In early 1993, pursuant to this statutory obligation, the Council adopted a county-wide planning policy in the form of Snohomish County Ordinance 93-004. Shortly thereafter, several Snohomish County citizens signed a petition seeking to subject the ordinance to a referendum and delivered the petition to the Snohomish County Auditor. The County responded by seeking a declaratory judgment that the ordinance was not subject to a referendum. The defendants answered the claim and filed several counterclaims.

On June 22, 1993, Judge Joanne Alumbaugh granted a motion by the County to dismiss some of the counterclaims for lack of justiciability, lack of ripeness, and lack of standing 1 and denied two motions for reconsideration. On July 26, 1993, Judge William Howard granted the County's motion for summary judgment on its claim for declaratory[881 P.2d 243] relief and on several of the remaining counterclaims. 2

We accepted accelerated review of Judge Howard's finding that Ordinance 93-004 was not subject to a referendum and affirmed that component of his decision in an order dated October 7, 1993 and an opinion filed in January 1994. Snohomish Cy. v. Anderson, supra. We now review the remaining challenges.

The citizens ask us to consider whether the trial court erred by: (1) refusing to reach the merits of the citizens' "affirmative defense" alleging RCW 36.70A.210 is an unconstitutional delegation of power to the County; (2) dismissing their counterclaim that the 1991 amendment to the GMA is unconstitutional; (3) dismissing their counterclaim that Ordinance 93-004 is unconstitutional; (4) ruling in favor of the County on their counterclaim that writs of mandamus should have been issued; (5) ruling in favor of the County on their claim Snohomish County improperly expended public funds; (6) ruling in favor of the County on their counterclaim Snohomish County violated their civil rights; or (7) granting Snohomish County's motion for summary judgment on the

Page 838

issue whether Ordinance 93-004 is subject to a referendum. We conclude none of these actions constitutes reversible error.

As a preliminary matter we note that after briefing was completed by all parties the County moved to submit additional evidence reflecting the fact a Council member had resigned. We deny the motion. In addition, Appellant Morris's motion to strike an argument contained in the County's response brief, see Reply Brief of Appellants Husmann, Labish, Pesznecker and Morris, at 26, is denied. See RAP 17.4(d) (party may include in a brief only a motion which, if granted, would preclude hearing the case on the merits). The denial of Morris's motion in any case is inconsequential since we do not reach the challenged argument.

I.

The citizens seek to reverse the trial court's refusal to reach the merits of one of their "affirmative defenses" to the County's complaint for a declaratory judgment that Ordinance 93-004 was not subject to referendum. See Amended Joint Br. of Appellants, at 15-19. Their contention that the trial court erred by refusing to determine whether RCW 36.70A.210 constitutes an unconstitutional delegation of power to the County is a contention without merit. An affirmative defense is a "matter asserted by defendant which, assuming the complaint to be true, constitutes a defense to it". Black's Law Dictionary (6th ed.1990), at 60.

The citizens argue that the unconstitutionality of a statute relied upon by a plaintiff provides a valid defense to the application of the statute. However, the case cited for this proposition is not controlling. In State ex rel. Eastvold v. Yelle, 46 Wash.2d 166, 279 P.2d 645 (1955), the Attorney General sought a warrant in a condemnation proceeding. The statute pursuant to which the warrant was sought was deemed unconstitutional because it would have permitted condemnation without a judicial determination as to just compensation. The warrant seeking condemnation without judicial determination of just compensation was therefore

Page 839

denied. Thus, in Eastvold, there was a direct correlation between the relief sought and the defense asserted. In contrast, there is no such direct correlation between the affirmative defense asserted by the citizens and the issue whether Ordinance 93-004 is subject to a referendum. Proof that RCW 36.70A.210 is an unconstitutional delegation of power to the County in no way secures or guarantees the citizens' right to subject the ordinance to a referendum. The trial court did not err by declining to reach the merits of this "defense".

II.

The citizens also claim...

To continue reading

Request your trial
26 practice notes
  • City of Sequim v. Malkasian, No. 74987-6.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • July 13, 2006
    ...power; the citizen that conducted that referendum campaign defended the proposed measure); Snohomish County v. Anderson, 124 Wash.2d 834, 881 P.2d 240 (1994) (Snohomish County residents attempted to subject a Snohomish County ordinance to referendum; the Snohomish County Council brought sui......
  • Stevens Cnty. v. Stevens Cnty. Sheriff's Dep't, 37467-0-III
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • November 16, 2021
    ...of a statute by means of a declaratory judgment must be justiciable before it will be considered." Snohomish County v. Anderson, 124 Wn.2d 834, 840, 881 P.2d 240 (1994). The four elements for establishing a justiciable controversy are well-settled and include: "(1) . . . an actual, present ......
  • King County v. Taxpayers of King County, No. 65062-4
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • December 23, 1997
    ...at best debatable. Unlike other referendum proceedings which this court has reviewed, e.g., Snohomish County v. Anderson, 124 Wash.2d 834, 881 P.2d 240 (1994) and Whatcom County v. Page 645 Brisbane, 125 Wash.2d 345, 884 P.2d 1326 (1994), King county did not initiate a declaratory judgment ......
  • Ino Ino, Inc. v. City of Bellevue, VU-BELLEVU
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • September 23, 1997
    ...if a party's rights under the federal constitution Page 146 or federal law are violated. Snohomish County v. Anderson, 124 Wash.2d 834, 881 P.2d 240 (1994). We affirm the trial court's decision that the requirements on distance, lighting, closing hours, and disclosure of personal informatio......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
26 cases
  • City of Sequim v. Malkasian, No. 74987-6.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • July 13, 2006
    ...power; the citizen that conducted that referendum campaign defended the proposed measure); Snohomish County v. Anderson, 124 Wash.2d 834, 881 P.2d 240 (1994) (Snohomish County residents attempted to subject a Snohomish County ordinance to referendum; the Snohomish County Council brought sui......
  • Stevens Cnty. v. Stevens Cnty. Sheriff's Dep't, 37467-0-III
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • November 16, 2021
    ...of a statute by means of a declaratory judgment must be justiciable before it will be considered." Snohomish County v. Anderson, 124 Wn.2d 834, 840, 881 P.2d 240 (1994). The four elements for establishing a justiciable controversy are well-settled and include: "(1) . . . an actual, present ......
  • King County v. Taxpayers of King County, No. 65062-4
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • December 23, 1997
    ...at best debatable. Unlike other referendum proceedings which this court has reviewed, e.g., Snohomish County v. Anderson, 124 Wash.2d 834, 881 P.2d 240 (1994) and Whatcom County v. Page 645 Brisbane, 125 Wash.2d 345, 884 P.2d 1326 (1994), King county did not initiate a declaratory judgment ......
  • Ino Ino, Inc. v. City of Bellevue, VU-BELLEVU
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • September 23, 1997
    ...if a party's rights under the federal constitution Page 146 or federal law are violated. Snohomish County v. Anderson, 124 Wash.2d 834, 881 P.2d 240 (1994). We affirm the trial court's decision that the requirements on distance, lighting, closing hours, and disclosure of personal informatio......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT