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September 7, 1972
Honorable John C. Merkel
Kitsap County Court House
614 Division Street
Port Orchard, Washington 98366
Cite as: AGLO 1972 No. 70 (not official)
This is written in response to your recent letter requesting an opinion of this office as to whether the words "owner or owners" as used in RCW 58.17.165 (relating to plats and subdivisions) include contract vendors, mortgagees and lien holders.
We believe that this question is answerable in the affirmative.
RCW 58.17.165 codifies the provisions of § 30, chapter 271, Laws of 1969, Ex. Sess. ‑ a comprehensive act relating to plats and subdivisions ‑ and provides in material part as follows:
"Every final plat or short plat of a subdivision or short subdivision filed for record must contain a certificate giving a full and correct description of the lands divided as they appear on the plat or short plat, including a statement that the subdivision or short subdivision has been made with the free consent and in accordance with the desires of the owner or owners. If the plat or short plat includes a dedication, the certificate shall also contain the dedication of all streets and other areas to the public, and individual or individuals, religious society or societies or to any corporation, public or private as shown on the plat or short plat and a waiver of all claims for damages against any governmental authority which may be occasioned to the adjacent land by the established construction, drainage and maintenance of said road. Said certificate shall be signed and acknowledged [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] before a notary public by all parties having any interest in the lands subdivided." (Emphasis supplied.)
It is a fundamental rule of statutory construction that an act of the legislature such as this is to be read in its entirety in determining legislative intent. State ex rel. Tarver v. Smith, 78 Wn.2d 152, 470 P.2d 172 (1970); Dando v. King County, 75 Wn.2d 598, 452 P.2d 955 (1970). With this in mind we have above underscored not only the portion of RCW 58.17.165 which you have noted in your letter but, as well, the final sentence of the first paragraph of the statute which, in our opinion, makes it clear that the previous reference to "owner or owners" covers ". . . all parties having any interest in the lands subdivided." We further note that this definition of the phrase "owner or owners" generally accords with the meaning which the courts have attributed to the term "owners" in connection with eminent domain proceedings. See, e.g., Swanson v. United States, 156 F.2d 442 (9th Cir. 1946); and United States v. Bransen, 142 F.2d 232 (9th Cir. 1944).
Thus, in summary, we read RCW 58.17.165, supra, as requiring every final plat or short plat of a subdivision or short subdivision filed for record to contain a certificate signed and acknowledged by "all parties having any interest in the lands subdivided" attesting that the subdivision or short subdivision has been made with the free consent and in accordance with the desires of those parties ‑ all of whom are to be regarded as the "owner or owners" of the lands being subdivided.
It is hoped that the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
Philip H. Austin
Deputy Attorney General