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April 2001

Creekside Owners Protective Association (C.O.P.A.) formed

On March 29th at Little Lake City Hall, concerned Thornton Creek property owners and neighbors gathered to formally create a new organization, to be known as the Creekside Owners Protective Association (or "C.O.P.A."). This was a followup to the first organizing meeting held in February, which was convened to address the issue of whether SPU or Seattle Parks had plans for public trails along creek lands. In addition to choosing a name, this organizing meeting completed the process by officially enrolling members, voting to approve drafted bylaws and electing its officers. Officers are Skip Knox, Pres.; Irv Berteig, 1st V.P.; Garth Douglass, 2nd V.P.; Fran Martiny, Treasurer; Renee Spoelhof, Secretary.

In attendance were owners, neighbors and businesses representing diverse parts of the Thornton Creek watershed, from its northern origins in Shoreline, to residents on the south fork and other tributaries that all eventually merge and empty into Lake Washington at Matthews Beach. While many were concerned about the potential for public trails through their back yards, other issues included access to Seattle's recently drafted Watershed Action Plan (WAP), the impact of changes from neighboring properties, pollution from Lake City Way runoff, controlling beaver damage, and notification of City inspections on private property.

C.O.P.A.'s purpose, as quoted in the newly adopted bylaws, is to be "a grassroots organization of people living within the Thornton Creek watershed who are committed both to preserving the health of the creek and to protecting the rights of the riparian owners of Thornton Creek and its tributaries."

Why Organize? 
Seattle will spend aproximately $50,000,000 in the Thornton Creek watershed to rectify water quality problems on both public and private lands.  New city regulations are being drafted regarding what homeowners can do or will be required to do on their property.  Seattle passed a $198,000,000 parks levy last fall, a portion of which is to acquire and improve public trails.  The City has attempted to build trails through Thornton Creek backyards in the past. Creekside owners need a formal organization to stay abreast of city plans for trails and regulations affecting our property.

Urgency: Why Now? 
Some may ask "Why the sudden rush to organize?"  Answer:  the City of Seattle is presently drafting a "Watershed Action Plan" (WAP), required by law to make the waters of the Thornton Creek System fishable and sustainable (Federal Clean Waters Act 1992), along with the fact that Coho Salmon were just listed on the Endangered Species Act this year. The City is scrambling to finish the WAP and public hearings are being held (see

We riparian owners will be the focus of new laws and the spending of millions of dollars.  We will need a strong unified voice at these hearings to insure that our interests do not get overlooked, dismissed, or run over. Whether as a creekside property owner or as a concerned neighbor, your support is needed.

You can join as a charter member by making a check out to "Creekside Owners Protective Association" or "C.O.P.A." for $15.00 as first year's membership dues, and send it to C.O.P.A. at P.O. Box 27133, Seattle, WA 98125-1533.