Kari values the unique and diverse challenges and opportunities facing cities and other public sector agencies and strives to attain her clients’ goals in a collaborative, highly professional manner. She enjoys helping city leaders solve problems and improve the lives of the residents they serve. Her clients appreciate her thorough approach and ability to quickly assimilate information and relate to their issues. She is dedicated to achieving successful outcomes through her enthusiasm and ability to effectively navigate complex situations. As a Member of the firm’s Municipal practice group, her practice focuses on all areas of municipal law, with an emphasis on land use, condemnation, employment and labor law, and local finance and taxation matters. For over twenty years, Kari has served as general and special counsel advising numerous cities on a variety of issues with excellent results. Prior to joining OMW, she was the in-house City Attorney for the City of Mercer Island. Prior to that, she represented numerous Puget Sound cities with the Kenyon Disend PLLC firm and was also in-house at the City of Tacoma.

Born in Vancouver, Washington, Kari received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Washington in 1993 and her J.D. from the University of Oregon School of Law in 1997, where she was the Operations Editor of the Oregon Law Review. In her free time, Kari enjoys travel, sporting events, walking her two dogs and socializing with family and friends.

Practice Areas

Association Memberships

  • Washington State Bar Association
  • Washington State Association of Municipal Attorneys

Education

  • J.D., University of Oregon School of Law, 1997
  • B.A., University of Washington, Political Science, cum laude, 1993

Professional and Community Activities

  • Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC) – serves as a Director on the Board of Directors

Representative Experience

  • Thompson v. City of Mercer Island, 193 Wn. App. 653 (2016) – The City of Mercer Island successfully defended its approval of a preliminary short plat application by two challengers, arguing that one failed to exhaust administrative remedies and the other lacked standing. In a Land Use Petition Act appeal, Division I of the Washington State Court of Appeals agreed with the city’s lack of standing arguments and held the city’s motion to dismiss was timely.
  • PSE, Inc. v. Bellingham, 163 Wn. App. 329 (2011) – Taxpayer utility, PSE, protested the city’s imposition of utility tax on certain revenue streams. Finding in the city’s favor, Division I held that PSE’s gross revenues from selling electric light and power to customers living within Bellingham – including revenue from sales of steam, late payment fees, billing initiation charges, and connection and reconnection charges – were subject to city utility tax even though taxpayer defined such activities as “non-utility.”
  • Tukwila Sch. Dist. No. 406 v. Tukwila, 140 Wn. App. 735 (2007) – Successfully defended school district’s action challenging a city’s storm and surface water utility charge as an unlawful tax, seeking a declaratory judgment and tax refund. Consistent with the city’s position, Division I held the primary purpose of the charge was to regulate runoff, supporting a finding that the charge was a regulatory fee, not a tax.
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