On May 15, 2018, Boss Rambler Beer Club co-founder Kate Molletta and her landlord, Katie Sayers, received some good news from Bend Senior Planner Aaron Henson.
Henson explained in an email that as long as the application to convert Sayers’ snowboard shop on Galveston Avenue to a brewery tasting room did not also include a request for a waiver or modification of public improvement standards, it would be processed without notice to their neighbor, Mikel Lomsky.
The application to create Boss Rambler, which opened this spring at 1009 NW Galveston Ave., hinged on the use of a parking lot directly behind the building. It’s owned by Lomsky, who also owns the neighboring building that houses Bronx Pizza and Sunriver Brewing. Although tenants on the block of Galveston between Federal and Columbia streets have shared the parking since 1996, Lomsky didn’t want it used by a brewery.
“Basically it is the city saying that Lomsky cannot challenge our … application which is killer news,” Molletta said in an email to Sayers.
Sayers replied, “I did see it! It’s great news that he won’t be notified! I’m sure he could still attempt to fight it … but I’m soooo hopeful that he just will let it go!”
Lomsky did not let it go. He filed a $3 million lawsuit in November against the entities that own Boss Rambler and the property, as well as the city of Bend. This spring he put up a fence that blocks access to five of the shared parking spaces behind Boss Rambler’s building, according to a filing in the lawsuit. On Monday, Deschutes Circuit Judge Walter Miller said Lomsky could amend his lawsuit to include punitive damages. He’s seeking $8 million.
In the meantime, Lomsky is asking the city to reverse the decision that allowed Boss Rambler to move forward. Miller ruled recently that since Lomsky bought the lots that had provided shared parking, the easement recorded in 1996 between previous property owners is no longer in effect.
The judge set Sept. 5 as a hearing date on whether the city should revoke its approval.
The city granted Boss Rambler an exemption to land use standards based on the 1996 parking easement, Lomsky’s attorney Martin Hansen said. Now that the easement is invalid, it wouldn’t be unusual for the city to revoke the permission.
“I don’t think the city’s going to do that,” said Megan Burgess, an attorney for Boss Rambler and its landlord. She said she’s never seen a case outside of the usual land use appeals process in which a city reversed its decision after a business had opened.
And Boss Rambler contends that the right to shared parking was established other ways.
“We are confident that at the end of this litigation, the Court will reaffirm Boss Rambler’s rights to use the parking lot behind its building,” attorney Kristin Asai in the Portland office of Holland & Knight said in an email.
In an earlier court filing, Boss Rambler’s legal team pointed out the shared parking had been in effect for 15 years before Mtn. Life Properties, the entity that owns the Boss Rambler building, bought its property. Sayers, who represents Mtn. Life Properties, expected the easement to continue, the attorneys noted. Finally, they point out that Lomsky continued to allow shared parking, even after he bought the lots behind his and Sayers’ buildings in January 2017.
Burgess said she would not have expected the parking dispute to turn into a lawsuit, based on a letter from one of Lomsky’s attorneys in March 2018 that said the shared parking agreement was in effect. The lawsuit also warned that Lomsky would oppose using the parking to meet city requirements for a new bar.
The lease that Boss Rambler’s owners signed in August acknowledges the potential for a lawsuit over the parking. Then in October, Molletta again emailed Sayers with an update on the dispute with Lomsky.
Lomsky’s attorney had notified Boss Rambler that he would not allow its customers to park on his two lots. “Our lawyer confirmed, through her own digging, that they do have a right to argue … and therefore does not leave us much a leg to stand on in terms of the parking running west of the salon.”
— Reporter: 541-617-7860; firstname.lastname@example.org