Kalama City Council approves street vacation to fix 50-year-old property problem | Local

The Kalama City Council Thursday approved vacating a portion of undeveloped right-of-way and a boundary line adjustment to fix a mistake from the 1970s that had left a private home on public property. 

Michael and Cheryl Thomas requested that the city vacate an undeveloped right-of-way off China Garden Road, which is part of the property they purchased more than 30 years ago not knowing it was technically public property. The couple and the Kalama School District also requested a boundary line adjustment so the couple’s sheds are no longer on school district property. 

The home on the 500 block of China Garden Road was constructed in 1971 after an agreement made the year before between the former property owner and the school district to swap the undeveloped right-of-way for private property owned by the school district, according to city documents. 

The Thomases purchased the home in 1989 and didn’t find out about the situation until 2019 when the school district’s surveyors discovered it while establishing the western boundary of the new elementary school site, according to the staff report. 

John Floyd, city planner, said there is a public water line that runs through the property but it hasn’t otherwise been used for public purposes. 

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The Kalama code requires street vacations to go in front of a hearings examiner and hearing was held in January. The hearings examiner and staff recommended transferring the land from public right-of-way to private property in exchange for an easement for the water line.