Clackamas County wasting taxpayer money on driveway threats
I recently received the fourth letter from the North Clackamas Parks & Recreation Department since April stating that they are going to send the police and block my driveway, which has been used to access our property since 1955. I'm hoping you will be willing to support me by contacting the government officials and letting them know that you disapprove of this bullying and waste of taxpayer funds.
My friend Brandy and I bought the old Wikman Estate at 13730 S.E. Arista Drive in February in order to protect it from being divided and developed and rather bring it back to its full glory because it is one of the most idyllic pieces of land I've ever seen in the city. We have invested $300,000 in restoring it, and our driveway is important to the property.
We first were contacted by the North Clackamas Parks & Recreation Department in April via a frantic call saying we were illegally driving across the Trolley Trail. When I pointed out that that was our driveway and the only access to the property, I was told no cars were allowed to drive across the trail and that we had to stop use immediately. I was horrified that I might've made such a large oversight when we purchased and hastily researched other options. During my research though, I found that several other driveways cross the trail and that the county had actually built ours for us and labeled it with a county sign as our private driveway. When I pointed out that the accusations they made were false and that they actually had been the ones who had built the driveway, they acknowledged that I was correct, but told me they still didn't want me to be able to use it. When I asked why they were threatening to do this to me, but no one else who had the same type of access, their only reply was that they had to protect the public safety on the trail.
In the following months, they continued to send threatening letters with dates that they were going to send the police to block our driveway, but the dates passed and they never did anything. We continued to research the driveway and the history and believe that we had gained a prescriptive easement over the land long before the county acquired the land for the trail. We had to request the county records four times: We were told that not one document was found after our first request, the second request was ignored and they said we had never made one, the third request resulted in a demand for prepayment of $14,070 before copies would be provided and then they finally handed over the 30 or so pages of records two weeks later. In the records, there was a letter to Roy Wikman from the NCPRD in 2012 stating that the new upgraded driveway that they were building to maintain the Wikmans' access to their property would "... ensure the safety of trail users and traffic in and out of [their] property while also retaining [their] ability to legally access [their] home." They wanted Roy Wikman to give them part of a different easement in trade, which he refused to do because they had no leverage, and they gave up and built his new driveway anyway, which is clearly marked by "ROAD X-ING" signs and has great visibility for drivers and pedestrians. They then allowed the Wikmans to use their upgraded driveway for the rest of their lives, but came after me and my partner two months after purchasing from their estate. They are now stating that it is the most dangerous crossing of the Trolley Trail, although there have been no safety incidents or accidents, and other crossings don't even have stop signs to alert drivers that they're about to drive across a pedestrian trail.
This month, we sued the NCPRD asking a judge for a temporary restraining order because they refuse to negotiate or tell us why they are discriminating against us. We have an easement for ingress and egress that does not cross the trail that we are willing to develop, but they will not allow us to use it. No one at the county is allowed to speak with me anymore, including the county commissioners. The only alternative access they are saying they will allow would require tearing down several mature trees, moving a fire hydrant and routing all traffic to the house via Lindenbrook Court. When we pointed out that this would detrimentally impact the value and privacy of the property, not to mention the residents of Lindenbrook Court, they said they didn't care.
Therefore, it would mean the world to me if you would reach out to one or more of the following officials to convey your support of our position:
Also, thank you to all the neighbors who came here recently and saw the result of six months of blood, sweat and tears that we put into restoring this beautiful property.
Toni Mikel is a co-owner of the property at 13730 S.E. Arista Drive in Oak Grove.