Chapter 5.52


5.52.010    Definition.

5.52.020    Permit and license – Required.

5.52.030    Permit and license – Application.

5.52.040    Permit and license – Investigation and issuance.

5.52.050    License fees.

5.52.060    Exhibition of license.

5.52.070    Exemptions.

5.52.080    Partial exemptions.

5.52.090    Bond required.

5.52.100    Revocation of permit and license – Causes – Notice of hearing.

5.52.110    Revocation of permit and license – Appeal.

5.52.120    Duty of sheriff to enforce.

5.52.130    Records.

5.52.140    Violation – Penalty.

5.52.010 Definition.

A “canvasser” or “solicitor” is defined as any individual, whether resident of the county of Whatcom, or not, who by telephone or traveling either by foot, wagon, automobile, motor truck, or any other type of conveyance, from place to place, from house to house, or from street to street, taking or attempting to take orders for sale of goods, wares and merchandise, personal property of any nature whatsoever for future delivery, or for service to be furnished or performed in the future, whether or not such individual has, carries or exposes for sale a sample of the subject of such sale or whether he is collecting advance payments on such sales or not; provided, that such definition includes any person, who, for himself, or for another person, firm or corporation, hires, leases, uses or occupies any building, structure, tent, railroad box car, boat, hotel room, lodginghouse, apartment, shop, or any other place within the county for the sole purpose of exhibiting samples and taking orders for future delivery. (Prior code § 4.16.020).

5.52.020 Permit and license – Required.

It is unlawful for any solicitor or canvasser as defined in Section 5.52.010 of this chapter to engage in such business outside the corporate limits of any city or town in Whatcom County without obtaining a permit and/or license therefor in compliance with the provisions of this chapter. (Prior code § 4.16.010).

5.52.030 Permit and license – Application.

Applicants for permit and license under this chapter must file with the Whatcom County sheriff a sworn application in writing (in duplicate) on a form to be furnished by the Whatcom County sheriff, which shall give the following information:

A. Name and description of the applicant;

B. Permanent home address and full local address of the applicant;

C. A brief description of the nature of the business and the goods to be sold;

D. If employed, the name and address of the employer, together with credentials establishing the exact relationship;

E. The length of time for which the right to do business is desired;

F. The place where the goods or property proposed to be sold, or orders taken for the sale thereof, are manufactured or produced, where such goods or products are located at the time the application is filed, and the proposed method of delivery;

G. The fingerprints of the applicant and the names of at least two reliable property owners of the state of Washington, who will certify as to the applicant’s good character and business responsibility, or, in lieu of the names of references, such other available evidence as to the good character and business responsibility of the applicant as will enable an investigator to properly evaluate such character and business responsibility;

H. A statement as to whether or not the applicant has been convicted of any crime, misdemeanor, or violation of any municipal ordinance, the nature of the offense and the punishment or penalty assessed therefor; and

I. At the time of filing the application, a fee as set forth in the Whatcom County Unified Fee Schedule shall be paid to the Whatcom County sheriff to cover the cost of investigation of the facts stated therein, if applicant is unknown locally, and not a bona fide resident of Whatcom County. (Ord. 93-080 Exh. J; Ord. 90-62 (part); prior code § 4.16.030).

5.52.040 Permit and license – Investigation and issuance.

A. Upon receipt of such application the Whatcom County sheriff shall cause such investigation of the applicant’s business and moral character to be made as he deems necessary for the protection of the public good.

B. If, as a result of such investigation, the applicant’s character or business responsibility is found to be unsatisfactory, the county sheriff shall endorse on such application his disapproval and his reasons for the same, and shall notify the applicant that his application is disapproved and that no permit and license will be issued.

C. If, as a result of such investigation, the character and business responsibility of the applicant are found to be satisfactory, the county sheriff shall endorse on the application his approval, execute a permit addressed to the applicant for the carrying on of his business applied for, and upon payment of the prescribed license fee, deliver to the applicant his permit and issue a license. Such license will contain the signature of the county sheriff and shall show the name, address and photograph of the licensee, the class of license issued, the kind of goods to be sold thereunder, the amount of fee paid, the date of issuance and the length of time the same shall be operative, as well as the license number and other identifying description of any vehicle used in such soliciting or canvassing. The county sheriff shall keep a permanent record of all licenses issued. (Ord. 90-62 (part); prior code § 4.16.040).

5.52.050 License fees.

A. The license fee which shall be charged for such license, shall be as set forth in the Whatcom County Unified Fee Schedule and shall be assessed on a calendar year basis. The fee, however, for January to July 1st, or any part of said period, or from July 1st to December 31st, or any part of said period, shall be 60 percent of the annual license fee; provided, that one temporary 30-day license may be issued on payment of a fee as set forth in the Whatcom County Unified Fee Schedule. The temporary 30-day license fee may, however, apply on a current, annual or semi-annual license that may be issued thereafter at the same rate provided in this subsection; provided the temporary 30 days occur during the same annual or semiannual period for which the total fee is paid.

B. None of the license fees provided for by this chapter shall be so applied as to occasion an undue burden upon interstate commerce. In any case where a license fee is believed by a licensee, or applicant for license, to place an undue burden upon such commerce, he may apply to the county sheriff for an adjustment of the fee so that it shall not be discriminatory, unreasonable, or unfair as to such commerce. Such application may be made before, at, or within six months after payment of the prescribed license fee. The applicant shall, by affidavit and supporting testimony, show his method of business and the gross volume or estimated gross volume of business and such other information as the county sheriff may deem necessary in order to determine the extent, if any, of such undue burden on such commerce. The county sheriff shall then conduct an investigation comparing applicant’s business with other businesses of like nature and shall make findings of fact from which it shall determine whether the fee fixed by this chapter is unfair, unreasonable or discriminatory as to the applicant’s business, and shall fix as the license fee for the applicant an amount that is fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory, or, if the fee has already been paid, shall order a refund of the amount over and above the fee so fixed. In fixing the fee to be charged, the county sheriff shall have the power to base the fee upon a percentage of gross sales or any other method which will assure that the fee assessed shall be uniform with that assessed on businesses of like nature, so long as the amount assessed does not exceed the fees as prescribed in subsection A of this section. Should the county sheriff determine the gross sale measure of the fee to be the fair basis, he may require the applicant to submit, either at the time of termination of applicant’s business in the county of Whatcom, or at the end of each three-month period, a sworn statement of the gross sales and pay the amount of fee therefor; provided, that no additional fee during any one calendar year shall be required after the licensee shall have paid an amount equal to the annual license as prescribed in subsection A of this section. (Ord. 93-080 Exh. J; Ord. 90-62 (part); Ord. 88-58; prior code § 4.16.050).

5.52.060 Exhibition of license.

Solicitors and canvassers are required to exhibit their licenses at the request of any citizen. (Ord. 90-62 (part); prior code § 4.16.070).

5.52.070 Exemptions.

This chapter shall not be construed as applicable to insurance men, advertising salesmen or salesmen calling on the retail or wholesale trade and, to encourage the dissemination of news and information, it shall not be construed as applicable to daily newspaper salesmen, whether subscriptions are taken, or not. (Ord. 90-62 (part); prior code § 4.16.120).

5.52.080 Partial exemptions.

Whatcom County residents representing local religious organizations selling Bibles, religious books or religious literature, are exempt from the payment of any fees under the terms of this chapter, but all such persons are included in, and subject to, the other provisions of this chapter. (Ord. 90-62 (part); prior code § 4.16.130).

5.52.090 Bond required.

Every applicant, not a resident of Whatcom County, or who, being a resident of Whatcom County, represents a firm that does not have a permanent place of business in the state of Washington, shall find with the county sheriff a surety bond running to the county of Whatcom in the amount of $1,000, with surety acceptable to, and approved by, the county sheriff, conditioned that the applicant shall comply fully with all the provisions of the ordinances of the county of Whatcom, and the statutes of the state of Washington, regulating and concerning the business of solicitor and guaranteeing to any citizen of the county of Whatcom that all money paid as a down payment will be accounted for and applied according to the representations of the solicitor. Action on such bond may be brought in the name of the county to the use or benefit of the aggrieved person. (Ord. 90-62 (part); prior code § 4.16.060).

5.52.100 Revocation of permit and license – Causes – Notice of hearing.

A. Permits and licenses issued under the provisions of this chapter may be revoked by action of the county sheriff after notice and hearing for any of the following causes:

1. Fraud, misrepresentation, or false statement contained in the application for license;

2. Fraud, misrepresentation, or false statement made in the course of carrying on his business as solicitor or as canvasser;

3. Any violation of this chapter;

4. Conviction of any crime or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude;

5. Conducting the business of soliciting, or of canvassing, in an unlawful manner or in such a manner as to constitute a breach of the peace or to constitute a menace to the health, safety, or general welfare of the public.

B. Notice of the hearing for revocation of a license shall be given in writing, setting forth specifically the grounds of complaint and the time and place of hearing. Such notice shall be mailed, postage prepaid, to the licensee at his last known address at least five days prior to the date set for the hearing. (Ord. 90-62 (part); prior code § 4.16.100).

5.52.110 Revocation of permit and license – Appeal.

Any person aggrieved by the action of the sheriff in the disapproval of a permit or license as provided in Section 5.52.040 shall have the right of appeal to the Whatcom County executive. Such appeal shall be taken by filing with the county executive’s office, within 14 days after notice of the action complained of has been mailed to such person’s last known address, a written statement setting forth fully the grounds for the appeal. The county executive shall set a time and place for a hearing on such appeal and notice of such hearing shall be given to the appellant in the same manner provided for in Section 5.52.100 for notice of hearing on revocation. The decision and order of the county executive on such appeal shall be final and conclusive. (Ord. 90-62 (part); prior code § 4.16.110).

5.52.120 Duty of sheriff to enforce.

It shall be the duty of the sheriff or any deputy sheriff of the county of Whatcom to require any person seen soliciting or canvassing, and who is not known by such officer to be duly licensed, to produce his solicitor’s license or canvasser’s license and to enforce the provisions of this chapter against any person found to be violating the same. (Ord. 90-62 (part); prior code § 4.16.080).

5.52.130 Records.

The county sheriff shall maintain records for all licenses issued and keep reports of all convictions for violation of this chapter. (Ord. 90-62 (part); prior code § 4.16.090).

5.52.140 Violation – Penalty.

Any person violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished by a fine not to exceed $100.00, or by imprisonment in the county jail for a period not to exceed 60 days. (Ord. 90-62 (part); prior code § 4.16.140).