Chapter 5.06


5.06.010    Definitions.

5.06.020    Business license required.

5.06.030    Exemptions.

5.06.040    Disclaimer of city liability.

5.06.050    Application review and inspection required.

5.06.060    Business license fee – Due date and expiration.

5.06.070    Business license – Posting.

5.06.080    Licenses not transferable.

5.06.090    License – Denial, suspension or revocation.

5.06.100    Appeal.

5.06.110    Violations– Penalties.

5.06.010 Definitions.

For the purpose of this chapter, the following definitions shall apply:

A. “Business” includes all activities including vocations, occupations, professions, enterprises, establishments, industries, services, and all other activities that are conducted for profit or benefit within the city limits.

B. “Person” includes any individual, firm, partnership, company, corporation, association, receiver, assignee, trust, estate, joint venture, group, joint stock company, society or any group of individuals acting as a unit or otherwise.

C. “Licensee” includes any business granted a business license in the city.

D. “Premises” includes all lands, structures and places, and/or personal property either affixed to or otherwise used in connection with any such business.

E. “City” is the incorporated city of Blaine, Whatcom County, Washington.

F. Engaging in Business.

1. The term “engaging in business” means commencing, conducting, or continuing in business, and also the exercise of corporate or franchise powers, as well as liquidating a business when the liquidators thereof hold themselves out to the public as conducting such business.

2. This section sets forth examples of activities that constitute engaging in business in the city, and establishes safe harbors for certain of those activities so that a person who meets the criteria may engage in de minimis business activities in the city without having to pay a business license fee. The activities listed in this section are illustrative only and are not intended to narrow the definition of “engaging in business” in this subsection. If an activity is not listed, whether it constitutes engaging in business in the city shall be determined by considering all the facts and circumstances and applicable law.

3. Without being all-inclusive, any one of the following activities conducted within the city by a person, or its employee, agent, representative, independent contractor, broker or another acting on its behalf, constitutes engaging in business and requires a person to register and obtain a business license.

a. Owning, renting, leasing, maintaining, or having the right to use, or using, tangible personal property, intangible personal property, or real property permanently or temporarily located in the city.

b. Owning, renting, leasing, using, or maintaining an office, place of business, or other establishment in the city.

c. Soliciting sales.

d. Making repairs or providing maintenance or service to real or tangible personal property, including warranty work and property maintenance.

e. Providing technical assistance or service, including quality control, product inspections, warranty work, or similar services on or in connection with tangible personal property sold by the person or on its behalf.

f. Installing, constructing, or supervising installation or construction of, real or tangible personal property.

g. Soliciting, negotiating, or approving franchise, license, or other similar agreements.

h. Collecting current or delinquent accounts.

i. Picking up and transporting tangible personal property, solid waste, construction debris, or excavated materials.

j. Providing disinfecting and pest control services, employment and labor pool services, home nursing care, janitorial services, appraising, landscape architectural services, security system services, surveying, and real estate services including the listing of homes and managing real property.

k. Rendering professional services such as those provided by accountants, architects, attorneys, auctioneers, consultants, engineers, professional athletes, barbers, baseball clubs and other sports organizations, chemists, consultants, psychologists, court reporters, dentists, doctors, detectives, laboratory operators, teachers, and veterinarians.

l. Meeting with customers or potential customers, even when no sales or orders are solicited at the meetings.

m. Training or recruiting agents, representatives, independent contractors, brokers or others, domiciled or operating on a job in the city, acting on its behalf, or for customers or potential customers.

n. Investigating, resolving, or otherwise assisting in resolving customer complaints.

o. In-store stocking or manipulating products or goods, sold to and owned by a customer, regardless of where sale and delivery of the goods took place.

p. Delivering goods in vehicles owned, rented, leased, used, or maintained by the person or another acting on its behalf.

4. If a person, or its employee, agent, representative, independent contractor, broker or another acting on the person’s behalf, engages in no other activities in or with the city but the following, it need not register and obtain a business license.

a. Meeting with suppliers of goods and services as a customer.

b. Meeting with government representatives in their official capacity, other than those performing contracting or purchasing functions.

c. Attending meetings, such as board meetings, retreats, seminars, and conferences, or other meetings wherein the person does not provide training in connection with tangible personal property sold by the person or on its behalf. This provision does not apply to any board of directors member or attendee engaging in business such as a member of a board of directors who attends a board meeting.

d. Renting tangible or intangible property as a customer when the property is not used in the city.

e. Attending, but not participating in, a trade show or multiple vendor events. Persons participating at a trade show shall review the city’s trade show or multiple vendor event ordinances.

f. Conducting advertising through the mail.

g. Soliciting sales by phone from a location outside the city.

5. A seller located outside the city merely delivering goods into the city by means of common carrier is not required to register and obtain a business license; provided, that it engages in no other business activities in the city. Such activities do not include those in subsection (F)(4) of this section.

The city expressly intends that engaging in business include any activity sufficient to establish nexus for purposes of applying the license fee under the law and the Constitutions of the United States and the state of Washington. Nexus is presumed to continue as long as the taxpayer benefits from the activity that constituted the original nexus generating contact or subsequent contacts. (Ord. 2914 § 1 (Exh. A), 2018; Ord. 2733 § 1, 2009)

5.06.020 Business license required.

Person(s) or businesses intending to engage in business within the city limits shall register with the city and pay a licensing fee. Registration will be made through the State of Washington Master License Services in coordination with the city. Application is made by filing a completed master business application and appropriate addendum forms, and paying all related fees due. Business license fees are set in the unified fee schedule.

A. If a person or business is transacting the same type of business at two or more separate locations within the city, a separate application must be filed for each location, and a separate license acquired for each specific location.

B. If more than one business is located on a single premises, a separate license shall be required for each separate business.

C. Businesses located outside the city that perform services within the city limits shall apply and pay for a business license.

D. Contractors located outside the city limits who intend to work within the city limits shall apply and pay for a business license prior to obtaining permits for a specific project. (Ord. 2733 § 1, 2009)

5.06.030 Exemptions.

Threshold exemption: to the extent set forth in this section, the following persons and businesses shall be exempt from the registration, license and/or license fee requirements as outlined in this chapter:

A. Any person or business whose annual value of products, gross proceeds of sales, or gross income of the business in the city is equal to or less than $2,000 and who does not maintain a place of business within the city shall be exempt from the general business license requirements in this chapter. The exemption does not apply to regulatory license requirements or activities that require a specialized permit;

B. All governmental entities, including public and private schools;

C. Any person or organization registered with the state of Washington as a not-for-profit entity or organization which is exempt from the city license fee payment requirement of this chapter;

D. The casual sale of personal property where the person conducting such sale is not regularly engaged in the business of selling items of personal property (for example, garage sales);

E. Participants of a city-organized or city-sponsored event. (Ord. 2914 § 1 (Exh. A), 2018; Ord. 2733 § 1, 2009)

5.06.040 Disclaimer of city liability.

A. The issuance of a license does not shift responsibility from the licensee to the city, nor does it constitute the creation of a duty by the city to indemnify the licensee for any wrongful acts against the public, or to guarantee the quality of goods, services or expertise of a licensee.

B. The granting of a business license shall in no way be construed as permission for or acquiescence to a prohibited activity or other violation of the law. (Ord. 2733 § 1, 2009)

5.06.050 Application review and inspection required.

Applications for business licenses shall be subject to review by the community development services department and the police department and approved prior to being granted a business license. (Ord. 2733 § 1, 2009)

5.06.060 Business license fee – Due date and expiration.

A. The license required by the terms of this chapter will expire on the date established by the Master License Service and shall be renewed on or before that date to continue conducting business in the city of Blaine.

B. Failure to renew the license by the expiration date shall result in a late renewal penalty fee being charged by the Master License Service, as authorized by RCW 19.02.085. Failure to renew within 120 days after expiration of the license shall result in cancellation of the license to conduct business in the city of Blaine, and require reapplication for the license.

C. The license fees required by this chapter may be prorated to accommodate matching the license expiration date established by the Master License Service. Total fees due for both new applications and license renewal include the handling fees charged by the Master License Service, as authorized by RCW 19.02.075. (Ord. 2733 § 1, 2009)

5.06.070 Business license – Posting.

The license provided for herein shall be posted in a conspicuous place in the place of business of the registrant. (Ord. 2733 § 1, 2009)

5.06.080 Licenses not transferable.

A. Business Licenses Are Not Transferable. A new license shall be required when ownership of a business is sold or transferred.

B. When a licensed business undertakes a change in use or type of business, prior to initiating the change, the licensee shall file with the city a notification of change in business form for review and approval by the city. (Ord. 2733 § 1, 2009)

5.06.090 License – Denial, suspension or revocation.

A. A business license may be denied, suspended, or revoked by the city whenever the licensee or any of its officers, directors, agents, owners or employees fails or has failed to:

1. Comply with applicable local, state or federal laws; or

2. Maintain the licensed premises or business activity in compliance with applicable health, building, fire, or safety laws, ordinances, or regulations; or

3. The license is being used for a purpose different from that for which it was issued.

B. The finance director shall, by certified mail, give written notice to:

1. The applicant of denial of a license; or

2. The licensee of suspension or revocation of a license.

C. Written notice shall include a summary of the complaints, objections and information considered by the city and the reason(s) for the action.

D. Notice shall be mailed to the address provided to the State of Washington Master License Service. (Ord. 2914 § 1 (Exh. A), 2018; Ord. 2733 § 1, 2009)

5.06.100 Appeal.

A. Upon denial of the application, the notice of denial and a copy of the appeal procedures set forth in this section shall be sent to the applicant.

B. Any person aggrieved by the action of the city in denying, refusing to renew, suspending or revoking any license under this chapter shall have the right to appeal such action to the city council, by filing a notice of appeal with the finance director within 15 business days of the date of the written decision of the action from which the appeal is taken. If the decision of the city is timely appealed, the action shall be stayed unless continued operation of the business would cause imminent risk of harm to public health, safety or welfare.

C. Upon receipt of a notice of appeal, the finance director shall schedule a date for a public hearing of such appeal no sooner than 15 calendar days, or later than 45 calendar days. At least 15 calendar days prior to the public hearing, notice of the public hearing shall be mailed to the appellant, shall be posted on the city website, mailed to the city’s newspaper of record, and mailed to all parties who have filed with the city clerk a written request for notice of the hearing.

D. The city council shall hear testimony, take evidence, and may hear oral argument and receive written briefs during an open public hearing. The city council may establish a schedule for proceedings and establish any other procedures it deems reasonable to assure a fair hearing.

E. The decision of the city council is final.

F. In the event the applicant or licensee does not follow the procedures above or established by the city council within the required time periods, the license shall be denied, suspended or revoked and that action shall be final. (Ord. 2914 § 1 (Exh. A), 2018; Ord. 2733 § 1, 2009)

5.06.110 Violations– Penalties.

Unless otherwise indicated, violation of this chapter shall be enforced pursuant to Chapter 1.28 BMC, General Penalty. (Ord. 2733 § 1, 2009)