Tim Ramis, former Tigard city attorney, dead at 71
Well-known Portland-area attorney Tim Ramis died Oct. 13 at age 71 after a battle with cancer.
Ramis served as Tigard's city attorney for years. Tigard eventually hired Shelby Rihala away from his law firm, Jordan Ramis PC, in 2017.
In 1994, Ramis represented Tigard before the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Dolan v. City of Tigard.
City officials attempted to compel A-Boy Plumbing & Electrical Supply to dedicate a portion of its property for a public greenway and biking trail, as a condition of approving the owners' request to make improvements to their store. The owners sued, arguing the condition of approval was unfair.
The Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals sided with Tigard. So did the Oregon Court of Appeals, and then the Oregon Supreme Court.
But then the U.S. Supreme Court took up the case. After hearing oral arguments on March 23, 1994, the nation's high court found in favor of A-Boy's owner, Florence Dolan, overturning the decision by LUBA and the Oregon courts.
"The city's goals of reducing flooding hazards and traffic congestion, and providing for public greenways, are laudable, but there are outer limits to how this may be done," concluded Chief Justice William Rehnquist, writing the majority opinion for the court.
The Dolan decision is now considered a "landmark case," setting a precedent that limits the circumstances under which a municipality can compel a private property-owner to make public improvements.
Beyond the Dolan case, Ramis represented Tigard and advised the City Council on countless other matters, from 1981 well into the 2010s.
Toward the end of Tigard's decades of contracting with Jordan Ramis PC, Rihala increasingly took over the duties of city attorney, although Ramis continued to appear at public meetings from time to time. The Tigard City Council voted to create a new staff position for a city attorney in 2017, and it immediately offered Rihala the job.
That move came at the request of then-city manager Marty Wine.
"We greatly value the services of Shelby Rihala, and also of Tim and the Jordan Ramis team, in providing (legal) services," Wine remarked at the time.
Ramis and his firm long specialized in planning and land-use issues and other matters related to local government. In his 46 years as a lawyer, Ramis personally provided services as city attorney in not only Tigard, but also West Linn, St. Helens, Dundee and other cities throughout the greater Portland area.
"During his long tenure, he received numerous accolades, including Portland Area Lawyer of the Year in Land Use and Zoning Law," West Linn Mayor Jules Walters said at an Oct. 18 West Linn City Council meeting. "In his personal time, Tim was an avid tennis player and adoring father."
Jordan Ramis released a statement in memory of Ramis last week, noting the indelible mark he left on the legal community during his career.
"Always the consummate gentleman, Tim was known for his calm, articulate and collaborative approach, frequently acting as the voice of reason when working through difficult challenges," the statement read in part.
Reached by email, Rihala told Pamplin Media Group: "Tim was an exceptional attorney, inspiring mentor, and unwavering father. I learned a lot from him in the years we worked together and am at the City of Tigard because of him.Â He certainly leaves a legacy andÂ I send my heartfelt condolences to his family."
The Tigard City Council is set to take up a resolution honoring Ramis when it next meets Tuesday, Oct. 26.
"Tim was a kind, innovative and committed public servant dedicated to helping city leaders be successful by providing dependable advice and planning," the draft resolution states in part. "Tim Ramis and his law firm contributed 36 years of dedicated legal counsel to elected officials and city leaders through some of the most pivotal changes and periods of growth within the City of Tigard. He made many friends along the way and helped launch successful careers for many new legal associates around the Metro region."
Tigard Mayor Jason Snider and City Councilor Liz Newton plan to attend Ramis' memorial service, representing the city, according to a staff report accompanying the draft resolution.
"Tim was truly a pioneer in providing legal services to local governments," Snider told Pamplin Media Group in a statement. "He believed that every local jurisdiction in Oregon deserved access to the best legal counsel available and built a new business model to make it happen.Â His decades of service to Tigard and many other local governments will not be forgotten, and his work leaves a legacy of positive impacts for future generations all over Oregon."
Editor's note: This story has been updated Friday, Oct. 22, with comment from Tigard's mayor and city attorney.
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