A court battle has begun after the city of Kent filed motions in King County Superior Court to declare the crime-ridden Phoenix Court Apartments a public nuisance.
Three motions were heard Sept. 8 in King County Superior Court, according to a Sept. 11 email from Kent City Attorney Tammy White. Those were the city’s motion for a preliminary injunction, the city’s motion for an order of contempt and the defendants’ motion to quash and/or revise the commissioner’s order.
After hearing argument from attorneys, White said the court denied the city’s motion for an order of contempt and elected not to rule on the defendants’ motion to quash, finding a ruling wasn’t needed since the temporary restraining order lapsed on Sept. 8, the date of the motion.
“The court reserved her order on the city’s motion for a preliminary injunction, and later asked the parties to prepare additional briefing on the authority of the court to enter a mandatory preliminary injunction,” White said. “That briefing is due this Wednesday (Sept. 13), and some time after that briefing is submitted, the court will render its decision.”
The city filed the public nuisance suit Aug. 15 after over a year of insisting that ownership improve the safety of the apartment complex, according to an Aug. 16 city media release.
The Phoenix Court Apartments, 23913 111th Pl. SE, have been a hotbed of criminal activity, from shootings to stolen vehicles to drug dealing.
The crime stats so far in 2023 (through Aug. 7) include three homicides, 22 shots fired calls, 11 verified shootings, 23 stolen vehicle recoveries, 576 computer-aided dispatch calls and 124 case reports, according to Kent Police stats listed in the complaint.
The suit is filed against Kenton Ridge; Michael Kwan, the governing member of Kenton Ridge and his wife, Margaret Kwan; and Allied Residential, a Renton-based company that manages the apartments.
The lawsuit seeks a number of remedies from the King County Superior Court, including requirements that ownership:
Evict tenants that engage in criminal conduct or host guests who engage in criminal conduct.
Allow existing tenants to vacate their apartment without penalty and in some cases receive relocation assistance from the owner of Phoenix Court.
Complete the security fencing and gate surrounding the property, ensure the entrance code is changed regularly and ensure the fence is kept in good repair.
Improve the safety of the complex by: installing security cameras at each building; improving facility lighting; maintaining a 24/7 security presence; enforcing parking restrictions; maintaining regular office hours in a visible location; immediately repairing damaged windows, doors, and otherwise maintaining the property to code; securing any empty units; and holding tenant safety meetings.
Kent Mayor Dana Ralph said the goal of the suit is to get the attention of the property owner, to have swift action taken, and that Phoenix Court will be a safe place for its residents and the greater community.