Chapter 8.14


8.14.010    Purpose and findings.

8.14.020    Definitions.

8.14.030    Duties of the code enforcement officer.

8.14.040    Unfit or improperly maintained structures or premises.

8.14.050    Substandard structures.

8.14.060    Uniform Code for the Abatement of Dangerous Buildings.

8.14.070    Enforcement.

8.14.010 Purpose and findings.

The city council of the city of Blaine finds that unkempt, unsafe, unsanitary and otherwise improperly maintained premises and structures, sidewalks and easements within the city, in addition to the obvious hazards which these conditions pose to the public health, safety and welfare, adversely affect the value, utility and habitability of property within the city as a whole and specifically cause substantial damage to adjoining and nearby property. A property which is inadequately maintained may substantially reduce the value of adjoining property. If there are a number of properties that are unkempt, unsightly and dangerous, the habitability and economic well-being of the city as a whole are materially and adversely affected. This chapter conveys to the city administration, in accord with the procedures set out below, all necessary and proper powers to remedy unfit, improperly maintained or substandard structures or premises as they are described or found to exist and to charge the costs of such action to those responsible, and against the properties themselves. This chapter is an exercise of the city’s police power, and it shall be liberally construed to effect this purpose. Nothing herein is intended to limit or establish a condition precedent on the city’s exercise of its authority to proceed with an action under Chapter 35.80A RCW or similar statute allowing for the condemnation of blighted property. (Ord. 2868 § 1 (Exh. A), 2015; Ord. 2223 § 2, 1995)

8.14.020 Definitions.

Unless specifically defined below or unless context clearly requires a different meaning, terms used in this chapter have the meaning given them by the currently adopted edition of the International Building Code and the Uniform Code for the Abatement of Dangerous Buildings. Gender and number are interchangeable.

A. “Abandoned” refers to any property, real or personal, which is unattended and either open or unsecured so that access may be gained without damaging any portion of the property, or which looks like no person is presently in possession, such as disconnected utilities, accumulated debris, uncleanliness, disrepair and, in the case of chattels, location.

B. “Boarded-up structure” means any structure having exterior openings which are closed by extrinsic devices or materials designed or calculated to be in place indefinitely, giving to the structure the appearance of nonoccupancy or nonuse for an indefinite period of time.

1. The materials used to board up the entry points to the structure shall consist of one solid piece of wood, which is to be painted to match or complement the building.

2. The materials used to board up the entry points to the structure shall not consist of multiple pieces of scrap wood.

C. “Code enforcement officer” means any employee or agent, designated by the director of community development services or the city manager, whose duty it is to enforce codes and ordinances enacted by the city.

D. “Dangerous building” is a structure in which:

1. Structural deterioration is of such degree that:

a. Vertical members list, lean or buckle to the extent that a plumb line passing through the center of gravity falls outside the middle third of its base, or

b. Thirty-three percent of the supporting members show damage or deterioration; or

2. The cost of restoration exceeds 60 percent of the value of the structure; or

3. Fire or other calamity has caused damage to the extent that restoration cost exceeds 30 percent of the value of the structure, and it has remained vacant for six months or more.

E. “Hearing examiner” means the Blaine hearing examiner and the office thereof established pursuant to Chapter 2.58 BMC.

F. “Nuisance” for purposes of this chapter, relating to the maintenance of property, is the unreasonable or unlawful use by a person of their real or personal property, or the unreasonable, indecent or unlawful personal conduct which materially interferes with or jeopardizes the health, safety, prosperity, quiet enjoyment of property or welfare of others, offends common decency or public morality, or obstructs or interferes with the free use of public ways, places or bodies of water. Nuisances also consist of the specific violations set forth in BMC 8.10.020.

1. A nuisance consists in doing an unlawful act or omitting to perform a duty, or suffering or permitting any condition or thing to be or exist which act or omission, condition or other thing either:

a. Disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, welfare, repose, health, or safety of others;

b. Offends decency;

c. Is offensive to the senses;

d. Unlawfully interferes with, obstructs or tends to obstruct or renders dangerous for passengers any land or water area accessible to or capable of being viewed by the public, including without limitation any stream, water body, shoreline, public park, parkway, square, right-of-way, sidewalk, street or highway in the city of Blaine;

e. In any way renders other persons insecure in life or the use of property; and/or

f. Obstructs the free use of property so as to essentially interfere with the reasonable and comfortable use thereof.

2. The term includes:

a. A nuisance defined by statute or ordinance;

b. A nuisance at common law, either public or private;

c. An attractive nuisance, whether in or on a structure or an unoccupied lot and whether realty, fixture or chattel, which might reasonably be expected to attract children and constitute a danger to them; including, but not limited to, abandoned wells, ice boxes or refrigerators with doors and latches not openable from the inside, shafts, basements or other excavations, abandoned or inoperative vehicles or other equipment, structurally unsound fences, or other fixtures, lumber, fencing, vegetation or other debris; and/or

d. Abandoned, vacant or occupied property which has become detrimental to health or safety because of a natural or artificial condition on the property.

3. In determining whether a nuisance that is not specifically named in this definition exists, the code enforcement officer will consider whether the conditions:

a. Injure or endanger the health or safety of others;

b. Unlawfully interfere, obstruct, tend to obstruct or endanger the passage of any stream, park, parkway, square, street, sidewalk, easement or way;

c. Render others insecure in life or use of property;

d. Obstruct the full use of property so as to essentially interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property;

e. Violate any provision of this chapter; or

f. Are unlawful or illegal.

G. “Owner” means any person having ownership interest in the real estate in question as shown upon the records of the Whatcom County auditor, or who establishes his interest before the code enforcement officer. For purposes of giving notice, the term “owner” also includes any person in physical possession.

H. “Structure” means any building, dwelling, mobile home, factory-built house, or other structure or part thereof, built for the support, shelter, enclosure or convenience of persons, animals, chattels or property of any kind.

I. “Value of structure” is the most recently determined value of a structure as specified in the Whatcom County assessor’s records. (Ord. 2868 § 1 (Exh. A), 2015; Ord. 2507 § 2, 2002; Ord. 2223 § 2, 1995)

8.14.030 Duties of the code enforcement officer.

For the purposes of this chapter, the powers and duties of the code enforcement officer include:

A. Investigation of all structures and premises which he/she has reasonable grounds to believe may be unfit, improperly maintained or substandard;

B. Preparation, service and posting of complaints against structures or premises believed to be in violation;

C. Conducting administrative hearings and rendering decisions based on written findings; and

D. Doing all things necessary and proper to carry out and enforce this chapter. (Ord. 2868 § 1 (Exh. A), 2015)

8.14.040 Unfit or improperly maintained structures or premises.

A. In reaching a judgment that a structure or premises is unfit or improperly maintained, the code enforcement officer shall consider whether any of the following conditions exist:

1. Dilapidation, disrepair or structural defects as defined at Section 302 of the Uniform Code for the Abatement of Dangerous Buildings;

2. Disrepair;

3. Structural defects;

4. Defects or conditions increasing the hazards of fire, accidents or other calamities;

5. Inadequate drainage;

6. Nuisances as defined in BMC 8.14.020; or

7. Rodent or other pest infestation.

B. If any of these or other conditions are found to exist to an extent that is dangerous or injurious to the health, safety, or general welfare of the occupants of the structure or premises, or of the occupants of neighboring structures or premises, or of other residents of the city, the code enforcement officer may in his/her discretion order the structure or premises vacated, closed, repaired, altered, improved, cleaned or cleared so as to remedy the condition. If a structure has been determined to be dangerous as defined at BMC 8.14.020, the code enforcement officer may in his/her discretion order the structure demolished or removed and the land suitably restored or the premises improved. The code enforcement officer may order the property immediately vacated and secured as completely as possible pending such action.

C. Any effort to correct deficiencies of which written notice have been given or prior to the hearing prescribed in BMC 2.54.070 by a party in interest creates a presumption that the structure or premises can be reasonably repaired or improved. Failure to accomplish such correction is grounds for the code enforcement officer to order demolition of a structure or improvement of a premises. If by reason of any of the above conditions a structure is unfit for use, but no public necessity is found by the code enforcement officer for its immediate demolition, the code enforcement officer may take other action, such as causing the property to be vacated, closed, repaired, altered, cleaned, cleared or otherwise improved in a manner which will promote the public health, safety or general welfare. (Ord. 2868 § 1 (Exh. A), 2015; Ord. 2223 § 2, 1995)

8.14.050 Substandard structures.

A. In reaching a judgment that a structure is substandard, the code enforcement officer shall determine whether it violates pertinent building or other uniform codes so as to create one or more of the following conditions:

1. Structural unsoundness;

2. Improper sanitation;

3. Improper safety;

4. Improper weatherproofing;

5. Defective or hazardous wiring, plumbing or heating or ventilating equipment, including vents and piping, which:

a. Did not conform with law applicable at the time of installation, or

b. Has not been maintained in a good condition, or

c. Is not being used in a safe manner;

6. Fire hazard, including any building, device, apparatus, equipment, combustible debris, or vegetation which may cause fire or explosion or provide ready fuel to augment the spread or intensity thereof; or

7. Rodent or other pest infestation.

B. If these or similar conditions are found to exist, the code enforcement officer, in his/her discretion, may order the structure vacated, closed, repaired, altered, cleaned, cleared, improved or otherwise brought into compliance with current codes, and may order the property immediately vacated and secured as completely as possible pending such action. (Ord. 2868 § 1 (Exh. A), 2015; Ord. 2223 § 2, 1995)

8.14.060 Uniform Code for the Abatement of Dangerous Buildings.

All provisions of the most current version of the Uniform Code for the Abatement of Dangerous Buildings are incorporated by reference herein. The provisions of this chapter are intended to supplement and not amend provisions of the Uniform Code for the Abatement of Dangerous Buildings. (Ord. 2868 § 1 (Exh. A), 2015)

8.14.070 Enforcement.

Enforcement procedures and penalties resulting from violations of this chapter shall be administered pursuant to Chapter 2.54 BMC. (Ord. 2868 § 1 (Exh. A), 2015; Ord. 2507 § 2, 2002; Ord. 2223 § 2, 1995. Formerly 8.14.090)