SALE OF HOUSES OR OTHER IMPROVEMENTS ON LAND PURCHASED IN CONJUNCTION WITH ACQUISITION OF RIGHTS OF WAY.
Sales of houses or other buildings to be removed from land purchased for highway rights of way would not be legal under the provisions of chapter 185, Laws of 1937. The Department of Highways may advertise such property for sale in any additional manner which, in its opinion, the interests of the state require, such advertisements to be supplemental to any offers of sale made by the Department of Public Institutions. It is suggested that such additional advertisement be arranged in liaison with the Department of Public Institutions.
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March 27, 1952
Honorable William A. Bugge
Director of Highways
Olympia, Washington Cite as: AGO 51-53 No. 271
Dear Mr. Bugge:
Your letter of March 20th states a situation which arises in connection with the disposal of houses and other buildings acquired by the Highway Department in connection with acquisitions of rights of way. To clarify the matter, we will quote your letter in part:
"Past practice has been to forward Application for Authority to Sell or Exchange State Property to the Department of Institutions, Division of Purchasing, for their disposal of the improvements under Chapter 7, Laws of 1921, and Chapter 176, Laws of 1935. No advertising of such sales has been made, as it is not provided for under that law. In addition to description and location of the improvements offered for sale, we have furnished the Division of Purchasing a list of prospective bidders we have been able to compile. In some cases only one or two interested parties can be found. As a result, [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] the Division of Purchasing has been sending copies of their notice of sale and call for bids to the names we supply, plus whatever additional they have in their records. As no advertising has been made in local papers, we are confident that many people who might be interested in bidding are not aware of the sale.
"It is felt that if the Department of Highways was authorized to advertise and sell such improvements separate from the real property under the provisions of Chapter 185, Laws of 1937, the public would be better informed of the sale and the department would receive a greater return from the sales.
"* * *
"Kindly submit your written opinion as to the legality of our accomplishing complete sale of improvements under Chapter 185, Laws of 1937."
It is our conclusion that sales of houses or other buildings to be removed from land purchased for highway rights of way would not be legal under the provisions of Chapter 185, Laws of 1937. It is our further conclusion, however, that the Department of Highways may advertise such property for sale in any additional manner which, in its opinion, the interests of the state require, such advertisements to be supplemental to any offers of sale made by the Department of Public Institutions. It is suggested that such additional advertisement be arranged in liaison with the Department of Public Institutions.
A reading of section 1 of Chapter 185, Laws of 1937, would indicate that it deals only with real property and the improvements thereon which have been or are now in use and which are no longer necessary for highway purposes. Such act can have no application to the property covered by your request. Your request concerns buildings and houses which will be removed and severed from the real estate, and such property has the nature of personal property. In addition, we assume that the houses will be removed from property which has never been used for highway purposes. Therefore, Chapter 185 can have no application.
[[Orig. Op. Page 3]]
The ordinary method of the disposition of unnecessary personal property is through the Purchasing Division of the Department of Public Institutions. In fact, you point out that you presently dispose of such property in that way. You state that under the present system no advertising is made in local papers and other methods used which would reach prospective bidders and otherwise be of great benefit to the state in assuring livelier interest in the offerings of such property. We see no reason why the department cannot accomplish its purposes under the present statutory method of disposing of such personal property. In addition to the ordinary methods of the Division of Purchasing in offering such property or giving notice thereof to prospective bidders, the department might well request publication of notice in local newspapers. The department might erect suitable signs in the dwellings themselves and otherwise give wider publication to the fact that the property is for sale. By agreement, the charges made by newspapers for such additional publicity could be sent for payment to the Department of Highways even though the actual arrangement and detail of the publication were made by the Division of Purchasing.
Your letter indicates a laudable purpose to procure the best price for the property for the benefit of the state. Any reasonable devices and expenditures used to promote this purpose would, in our opinion, be entirely proper. In fact, if the benefit of the state would be as you think it is, it would seem your duty and that of the Department of Public Institutions to see that such additional publicity is given to such sales through any reasonable liaison between the Department of Highways and the Department of Public Institutions.
Very truly yours,
DON CARY SMITH
Assistant Attorney General