Kitsap County Proposes New Compliance Code Title 5

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)

3.Warrantless Search

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.

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9 responses to “Kitsap County Proposes New Compliance Code Title 5

  1. Whitney Turrieta

    Will you please post contact information for the commissioners who will be deciding on this and perhaps some suggestions or guidance for those of us who oppose it? Or are you prevented from including a call to action? Thank you!

  2. Our rights just dwindle and dwindle.

  3. Is there any update on this?

  4. As a minor side note, the county code listed in paragraph 1 should be Kitsap County Code 9.56, vice 2.116. KCC 9.56 defines public nuisances, KCC 2.116 provides the procedure for the investigation of suspected violations and enforcement of other ordinances.

  5. Whitney Turrieta, anyone can look up who the County Commissioners are and they are very responsive to input. They also have regular public meetings which you an also look up.

  6. Pingback: Oct 2: Title 5 Code Compliance Townhall meeting | Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners

  7. I just had somebody send me this about how the County is back peddling their Title 5 proposal: I am a homeowner in Manchester and have recently been made aware of the proposal to enact a new ordinance (known as Title 5 Code Compliance). The people who are publicizing this (primarily members of the Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners [KAPO]) are making some pretty startling claims. Foremost among these is the claim that structures that were legally built at the time of their construction (legally meaning that they were permitted and constructed according to building codes that were in effect at that time, or were built at a time when no permit was required) could subsequently be found to be out of compliance based on current and future building codes. One example being given publicly is that a home legally built at a time when framing with 2x4s was allowed could now be found out of compliance because current code requires framing with 2x6s instead. (For the record, I don’t actually know that framing with 2x6s is required now, that’s just the story they’re telling.)

    I think it’s pretty obvious that many homeowners like me would have a real problem with having our homes that were legally built declared out of compliance because they don’t meet current building codes. However if KAPOs objection to the ordinance is that current building codes would be applied to structures that were illegally built in years past then that’s an entirely different matter.

    I would appreciate some clarification.

    Thank you in advance for your assistance.

    TODAY’S REPLY:

    You recently contacted Kitsap County with some concerns about a new code compliance chapter (See Below). Let me begin by saying unequivocally, that the information that you describe below is absolutely false. It is incredible to me and I am responsible for making changes to the ordinance. I cannot control the information that is provided by KAPO or any other entity and am frequently amazed at the spin that is put on things. The changes that we propose (or will take up again after the first of the year) are designed to do just a few things – combine the existing code compliance sections of county code into one chapter, implement an administrative hearing process to hear contested cases, provide for a method to implement voluntary compliance agreements for any violation and to provide a penalty for non-compliance that is not a misdemeanor or infraction.

    Hope this helps and please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.

    • As a property owner in Pierce County, this exact nightmare came to my door. I am a good citizen, work and volunteer in the community and I keep my house in Tacoma very nice. Someone complained about me I guess, because the city won’t even tell me who complained and about what, and next thing I knew my front door was boarded up with a number to call city. Long long story, lawyers do nothing for you by the way…its all in the city code. City told me my downspout needed reinstalled and the dryer vent cover put back on house AND my back deck ( that no one can see from street unless you get on a ladder) needed 2012 code compliant handrails! The story gets worse…but to end and make this short, no one is grandfathered and county or city ( in my case), can run you into the ground. My home is built in early 1900’s and city even said that I needed to change my windows! This really hurts or seniors and of course, working class people like me are punished. I am a Realtor and this code stuff is no joke! Im glad I had the energy and gumption to figure out what happened and it comes down to the legislature allowing municipalites to pass this and act on it.

  8. Find below this is the jist of the above reply. Obviously these defensive comments came from a county employee. An employee or appointee who is directly involved in the “authoring” of these contested additions and changes to code enforcement authority.

    These are the expressed goals:

    “Combine the existing code compliance sections of county code into one chapter.” THIS IS GOOD. Easier to find rules/regs when enforcement stuff is in it’s own separate section. I was surprised that this has taken as long as it has.

    “Implement an administrative hearing process to hear contested cases”
    NOT GOOD. Those adjudicating such contested cases will essentially permit county to have “direct deposit” into county general fund. Certainly is not an unbiased trying of fact of general fund stands to be enriched by rulings against alleged offenders. Keep the admin hearing process at it’s current level of authority/expertise.

    Provide for a method to implement voluntary compliance agreements for any violation. THIS IS REDUNDANT. Why create a new model for something that is presently in effect with how code enforcements complaints are handled. This falls right after hearings examiner being given authority that may not meet constitutional smell test, as our county prosecutor suggested. Again, it takes court of first resort out out of the equation which leads me to believe a benefit to county general fund is the underlying purpose/goal. Again, this appears to create a conflict of interest and does not sound unbiased.

    Provide a penalty for non-compliance that is not a misdemeanor or infraction. THIS IS REDUNDANT. Code Enforcement already has the ability to request fine/penalty for cases proven up to be in favor of County. SOME cases do rise to misdemeanor level. County just has to take it’s case to District Court. Sounds like side-door effort to pump up the general fund again. Such a path/flow of adjudication still creates a conflict of interest. A process that certainly disfavors the alleged offender. Hearing Examiner finds guilt and assigns penalty and/or fine. proceeds are another direct deposit into county general fund.

    Seems to many that something that is broken with effective nuisance ordnance is trying to be fixed by these proposed changes. Why not just fix the nuisance ordnance so it is more effective and stick to creation of a code chapter that nicely organizes and combines code enforcement “stuff” in its own section? Why not KEEP IT SIMPLE?

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