Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGLO 1974 No. 71 -
Attorney General Slade Gorton


A port district is authorized by RCW 53.08.010 to acquire property rights by lease.

                                                                    - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                                    July 23, 1974

Honorable Don L. Talley
State Senator, 18th District
1583 Mt. Pleasant Road
Kelso, Washington 98626                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1974 No. 71

Dear Senator Talley:
            This is written in response to your recent letter inquiring as to the legal authority of a port district to acquire property rights by lease.  In our opinion such a district may do so.
            As you have pointed out, the governing statute is RCW 53.08.010 which reads as follows:
            "A port district may acquire by purchase, for cash or on deferred payments for a period not exceeding ten years, or by condemnation, or both, all lands, property, property rights, leases, or easements necessay for its purposes and may exercise the right of eminent domain in the acquirement or damaging of all such lands, property, and property rights, and may levy and collect assessments upon property for the payment of all damages and compensation in carrying out its purposes, and such right shall be exercised in the same manner and by the same procedure as provided for cities of the first class insofar as consistent with this title, and in connection therewith the county treasurer shall perform the duties of the treasurers of such cities."
            Although you have expressed concern that so much of this statute as authorizes a port district to ". . . acquire . . . leases . . ." deals only with the acquisition of existing leases ‑ i.e., existing leasehold interests already owned by someone else ‑ it does not  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] appear to us that this portion of the statute is determinative of your question in any event.  As you will note, RCW 53.08.010 also authorizes a port district to acquire by purchase or condemnation, or both, property or property rights ‑ and most certainly, the acquisition of a leasehold interest by a port district as the original lessee would constitute an acquisition of property rights.  Accord, the general principle referred to in numerous prior opinions of this office that power to purchase property includes the lesser power to lease in the absence of anything in the particular statute to the contrary.  See, 10 McQuillin, Municipal Corporations, 3rd ed., § 28.10; also, the following previously-issued opinions of this office, copies of which are enclosed:  Opinion No. 2110 to the Supervisor of Municipal Corporations dated June 4, 1928; informal opinion to the King County Prosecuting Attorney dated April 6, 1948; and informal opinion to the Okanogan Prosecuting Attorney dated July 16, 1952.
            It is hoped that the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
Attorney General
Deputy Attorney General