Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

One year later, SK Northwest denied again

Posted by on April 19th, 2007 at 3:14 pm

“A trail corridor must be provided to address transportation impacts.”
-Bureau of Development Services.

The Portland Bureau of Development Services has issued another denial for SK Northwest. It’s been one year since I first broke the story of the company’s plans to develop a facility along the Willamette River, just south of OMSI.

SK Northwest — a dealer of personal watercraft, ATVs, and Segways — did not want to allow a trail to be built along the property, even though the lot sits right in the middle of a major trail gap that could connect the popular Springwater Corridor and Eastbank Esplanade trails.

In their 22-page decision (download PDF here), the City says the proposed building would “increase demand on existing transportation facilities” including “conflicts between vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians.” They say a trail is necessary to help alleviate the impacts the new development would create.

Their opposition to the trail, however, was just one of the many problems with their proposal. They also were not able to satisfy the city’s Greenway develop criteria, and ran into trouble with stormwater and emergency access issues.

Proposed development area.
Click to enlarge graphic

Their initial proposal was very controversial and touched off a firestorm of opposition in the form of letters, emails, and phone calls to the Bureau of Development Services. This response from the community (only two out of 127 responses was in support of the proposal) led to BDS’s decision last June to deny the application.

SK Northwest’s lawyers then appealed the decision, but BDS denied their appeal.

Last month, they tried again but BDS held their ground, and on Monday, they rendered yet another denial of SK Northwest’s proposed development.

Here’s an excerpt from their official decision:

“…a trail corridor must be provided to address transportation impacts and the specific requirements (of various city bureaus) must be satisfied.”

Is this a fatal blow to SK Northwest’s plans? Stay tuned.

More info:

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Attornatus_Oregonensis April 19, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    SK Northwest is te perfect example of how the legal system is frequently abused by people with more money than sense.

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  • Evan Manvel April 19, 2007 at 6:25 pm

    Under Oregon law, BDS is not allowed to make its decision based on volume of testimony — it’s a decision made on the merits of the application and whether it meets the criteria, not whether it’s popular.

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  • John Boyd April 20, 2007 at 8:28 am

    How on earth does this outfit not understand that recreators traveling through their recreation-oriented business could only be a plus?

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  • Helen Wheels April 20, 2007 at 9:32 am


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  • Logan 5 April 20, 2007 at 9:43 am

    I don’t understand how protecting property is “abusing” the system. If I owned a nice chunk of land on the Willamette, I wouldn’t go down so easily either. He’s just following the legal process that WE all approved and keep in place. I wonder if he’ll be able to file a M37 claim.

    And SK is not really the ones to blame here. According to material I read earlier, the terms of the sale of that lot dictate that the purchaser has to fight against the trail. Those terms were set by the guy who owns the adjacent lot who I believe is the operator of that tourist boat.

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  • Jonathan Maus April 20, 2007 at 9:46 am

    Yes Logan 5, you’re right. The man behind this is the owner of the property, Wayne Kingsley…who I interviewed as part of my coverage of this story.

    The owner of SK Northwest, who I also interviewed, says he’s just an innocent bystander, but doesn’t he have the option to not enter into this project and find a different location?

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis April 20, 2007 at 11:23 am

    Logan 5, the applicants before the PBD in this matter are abusing the system because it is well-settled law that public entities can require easements across private land for public-use trails. In short, there is no viable legal argument against such a requirement, but the applicants are forcing extensive expenditures of public money by flooding the PDB with irrelevant testimony and other information in a mis-guided attempt to place their own interests ahead of those of the greater public good. No doubt they hold the mistaken and historically inaccurate belief that private property rights are absolute, much like the rest of the M37’ers. They also have no basis for an M37 claim. Whatever happens with that property, when it is developed I am quite certain it will contain a public-use trail. Thankfully, Oregon’s system is still well-enough designed that private capital cannot simply leverage its resources to subvert the public’s enjoyment of our resources.

    Jonathan, there must be some confusion about who the applicants are. You say in #6 that SK Northwest claims to be in innocent bystander, but in the story you say, “SK Northwest … did not want to allow a trail to be built along the property.” The latter statement states that they have taken a position and also suggests some involvement in the process. This seems contradictory; am I missing something?

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  • Jonathan Maus April 20, 2007 at 11:27 am


    This matter is confusing. The owner of SK is the applicant, Shawn Karambelas. The owner of the lot is Wayne Kingsley.

    Karambelas claims that Kingsley requires him to fight the trail as a condition of sale.

    I said SK claims to be an innocent bystander because they act like they have no power in the situation to do anything but oppose the trail.

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  • Klixi April 20, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    Last year I was relieved to find out SK lost this battle – and each day as I rode the Springwater in to work I kept my eyes peeled for construction starting on linking the 2 paths. I never saw it. I think this ruling is great, but when are they gonna link the trails?!?! It’s been far too long already. If they’re not going to link the trail then just let SK do what they want.

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis April 20, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    Jonathan, I cannot find any logic in why a seller (Kingsley) would impose such a condition on a buyer (Karambelas). Perhaps there is some relevant detail of the deal that we don’t know, but I can’t imageine what it could be. Also, I think it’s disingenuous for someone to go before a public administrative/judicial forum and espopuse a legal position and then disclaim that position once leaving the forum. If I were a decision-maker, such behavior would not engender much confidence that the applicant was arguing a considered position in good faith. As a member of the public, it makes me suspicious, and as a psychologist it makes me wonder whether Karambelas is perhaps schizophrenic. There must be some relevant detail here we don’t know. But I don’t think it changes the conclusion that the applicants are wasting public money.

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  • Elljay April 20, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    I suspect part of Kingsley’s reasoning is that he doesn’t want to be forced to build the trail across his Portland Spirit property. I do not recall where he stated his concern, maybe in the appeals records, but it had to do with concern for the safety of his patrons having to cross a busy bike path to get to/from his fleet of cruise vessels.

    (as an aside, he seems to have no problem with his Jetboat clients crossing the path up by OMSI…)

    If the Hanna proposal develops with the path, and the SK development is forced to build it as a condition of development, Kingsley’s Spirit property will need to accommodate the path as well, possibly through a condemnation process, to finish the “missing link.”

    Karambelas also expressed concerns for the safety of path users and his employees when he plans to use forklifts or other equipment to transport watercraft between upland and water. (again forgetting the precedent of the Portland Boathouse and the public dock…has there ever been a bike vs. rower/kayaker crash there?)

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  • Disco D April 20, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    Not that I could imagine in right minded person being interested in a segway, but if you were wouldn’t the trail RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR DOOR be a good place to testride one?

    Actually, aren’t those segways banned/starting to become banned on sidewalks anyway (if not, they should be). That springwater trail might be one of their only options anyway.

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  • Colin April 20, 2007 at 4:09 pm

    SK Northwest may not have a legal basis for fighting the trail as the law stands NOW, but the US Supreme Court seems to be in the mood to change their minds recently (namely over abortion rights). Maybe they want to make it harder to build bike paths, too. Wouldn’t be the first time:


    I don’t know the facts of the case, but I assume the city’s conditions meet the Dolan test. Maybe three years from now, we’ll be talking about the SK Northwest test.

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis April 20, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    Anything is possible and certainly all this irrelevant testimony is for the purpose of setting up such an appeal. But it would be extremely difficult for the Court to disturb recent precedent that falls well within the broader takings jurisprudence. Moreover, the Roberts court has recently restricted the right against takings, moving in the opposite direction of what SK Northwest hopes for here. I’d say there is a greater chance that a meteor destroys the entire property than of the Court ruling in SK Northwest’s favor. Still, I hope they keep appealing for the sake of full employment for lawyers and so they will get what they deserve: a large legal bill with nothing to show for it.

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  • gabrielamadeus April 20, 2007 at 6:41 pm

    Klixi, just to clarify, If this land allowed the trail to be extended, the ross island gravel company still holds some more waterfront next to it, further impeding the process. One step at a time, I guess. (correct me if I’m wrong on this)

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  • Burr April 20, 2007 at 10:02 pm

    Elljay – The Portland Spirit doesn’t board at the east side property, it boards in Waterfront Park on the west side of the river between the Morrison and Hawthorne bridges, by permit from the city, which even lets them take their private motor vehicles onto the Waterfront Park Bike Path to the boarding area. The east side Portland Spirit dock is only for employees servicing the vessel.

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  • Elljay April 23, 2007 at 8:11 am

    Burr, I’m only repeating information from public statements made by Mr. Kinglsey or his representatives.

    You are right re: the Spirit, itself, for commercial tours, but the company operates other vessels that sometimes board on the east side for private charters. Last summer, we boarded there for a wedding event on the Crystal Dolphin.

    When I was on the original advisory committee for the Portland Boathouse, Kinglsey or one of his reps was a participant as well. At the time, they had some pretty big plans for their eastside land to become a hub for Willamette and Columbia River tours. They are probably trying to keep these plans alive.

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