The County is in the process of consolidating county code enforcement procedures into a new Title 5 ” Code Compliance”. This code was to be considered by the County Commissioners in a work study session on May 14 2014 which has been postponed until June. The proposed code was published by the County online, and has subsequently been removed. For ease of reference we have posted it here: New Code Enforcement Chapter 05142014
Kitsap Alliance has noted several significant issues with this document that need to be addressed. The following Summary was presented to Commissioner Steissguth in a meeting on 20 May. We will post more information on Title 5 in future articles with more details.
County Code Compliance Issues
1. What is the problem that we are trying to solve?
Nuisance Code already exists (Kitsap County Code 2.116),
- What is the magnitude of the problem? Is the problem so severe that it requires restriction of citizens’ rights?
- The proposed action criminalizes all violations of county codes.
2. Eliminates Grandfathering
“The landowner shall be responsible for bringing property, structures and their uses into compliance with applicable County codes when purchasing or taking possession of property, structures and their uses.” (5.30.010)
Authority of the Code Compliance Officer “The Code Compliance Officer may investigate alleged or suspected violations of the Kitsap County Code, of county regulations, or of permits or authorizations issued thereunder, based upon reports of citizens, referrals by other governmental agencies, or discovery by county staff.
The Code Compliance Officer is furthermore authorized to investigate any uses, activities or conditions which are inimical to the public health, safety and welfare, including any use, activity or condition which is defined by statute, ordinance or the common law to constitute a public nuisance. The Code Compliance Officer shall have the discretion to initiate enforcement action based on the conditions extant and the general welfare and public good.”
5.40.040 Right of Entry “Where it is necessary to make an inspection to enforce the provisions of this title, or where the Code Compliance Officer, other authorized County staff, or County agents has reasonable cause to believe that there exists ·in a structure or upon a premises a condition, which is contrary to or in violation of this title, the Code Compliance Officer, other authorized County staff, or County agents are authorized to enter the structure or premises at reasonable times to inspect or to perform the duties imposed by this title, provided that if such structure or premises be occupied that credentials be presented to the occupant and entry requested.
If such structure or premises be unoccupied, the Code Compliance Officer, other authorized County staff, or County agents shall first make a reasonable effort to locate the owner or other person having charge or control of the structure or premises and request entry. If entry is refused, Kitsap County shall have recourse to the remedies provided by law to secure entry.”
- Grants more authority to Code Compliance officer’s for Building Code violations than granted to the Sherrif’s office
- Not in conformance with state Landlord Tenant Law http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=59.18.150
- Requires search warrant to enter to investigate based on …“sworn testimony before the judge, establishing probable cause that a violation of a state or local law, regulation, or ordinance regarding rental housing exists and endangers the health or safety of the tenant or adjoining neighbors. In addition, the affidavit must contain a statement that consent to inspect has been sought from the owner and the tenant but could not be obtained because the owner or the tenant either refused or failed to respond within five days…”
4. Administrative Law shifts the Burden of Proof from the County to the Property Owner
- All costs borne by the property Owner
- Filing fee for the Hearing Examiner is $500
- Hearing examiner may assess the costs of abatement in addition to penalties where responsible parties fail to abate identified conditions and the county is forced to take action.
- Provides that penalties may be doubled for individuals with repeat violations or patterns of habitual code violation.
- Rapidly Runs up fees
- Establishes that penalties for non compliance may be assessed for each violation and for each day the violation remains in existence.
- Penalties not to exceed generally $1,000 per day per violation and may be established or modified by the hearing examiner.
If you would like to contact one of the Kitsap County Commissioners to let them know what you think about this or any other subject, click here.