Class action suit filed against city over sign code

Business owners along Pacific Highway South filed a class action lawsuit against the city of Federal Way on Thursday, saying the city failed to compensate them for signs they removed under the city’s sign code.

Jet Chevrolet, Kuecker Ltd. Partnership, Clerget Management Corp., Davco Enterprises, Inc. and Beatrice Rhodes are representing the class which, according to the plaintiffs, could comprise as many as 580 members.

The plaintiffs argue that when the city required them to remove their signs under the 1990 sign ordinance, it should have compensated them under the state Scenic Vistas Act of 1971.

The plaintiffs now are seeking just compensation under the Act.

City officials said they haven’t received the suit yet, and couldn’t comment on the class action.

Assistant City Manager Derek Matheson said last week the city provided just compensation by giving business owners a generous amortization period. The city gave 10 years from the time the sign code was originally passed for business owners to come into compliance.

City Attorney Bob Sterbank said city officials are reviewing the lawsuit.

A city ordinance and state statute require a person seeking compensation to file a claim with the city prior to filing a lawsuit. To date, none of the plaintiffs has filed such a claim, Sterbank said.

Des Moines attorney Drake Bozarth, who is representing the plaintiffs in association with , filed the class action just days after the city was dealt a blow by the state Court of Appeals.

In the 3-0 decision, the court ruled that the city must compensate business owners Harry Horan and David Rhodes if they are forced to remove their signs.

The city has the option to take their case to the state Supreme Court. Sterbank said last week that city officials are reviewing their options.

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