November 2nd, 2012 | by MARTIN CIZMAR News | Posted In: Environment

Oswego Lake Lawsuit Now in State Court

The State of Oregon is now being sued along with the City of Lake Oswego

news1_lakeo.wideaIMAGE: thomasjamesillustration.com
The fight for public access to Oswego Lake has changed venues.

A lawsuit seeking to open Oswego Lake to the public tossed from federal court earlier this month was re-filed in Clackamas County Circuit Court earlier this week.

As with the federal lawsuit, plaintiffs Mark Kramer and Todd Prager are demanding the city of Lake Oswego stop blocking public access to the lake in the center of Oregon’s wealthiest city. However, the new suit also names the state of Oregon as a defendant, according to attorney Thane Thienson.

Because the state has sovereign immunity in federal court, the state could not be sued there. But because the plaintiffs say the state owns the lake, federal judge Ancer L. Haggerty ruled the suit could not move forward without naming the property owner as a party. 

As WW has reported, the state has long claimed ownership of the lake, but a powerful homeowners group known as the "Lake Corp." uses a complex system of easements to thwart access from the privately controlled shoreline.

However, as WW demonstrated in May, the water remained accessible through a set of stairs going from a city park into the water. (You can still land a seaplane on it.)

But with the Lake Corp's top brass looking on, the city passed an odd law making it a crime to use public stairs in a public park to access public water. The plaintiffs say the city has an obligation to allow its citizens to use the lake—an issue that will now be decided by state courts.
 
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