Chapter 14.130
CODE ENFORCEMENT

Sections:

14.130.010    Purpose.

14.130.020    Definitions.

14.130.030    Penalties.

14.130.040    General provisions.

14.130.050    Service of documents.

14.130.060    Right of inspection.

14.130.070    Stop work order.

14.130.080    Notice of violation.

14.130.090    Voluntary compliance.

14.130.100    Civil penalty.

14.130.110    Notice of noncompliance.

14.130.120    Appeal.

14.130.130    Compliance.

14.130.140    Collection.

14.130.150    Abatement by the city.

14.130.160    Abatement by the city – Unfit dwellings, buildings, and structures.

14.130.170    Abatement – Vegetation and debris.

14.130.180    Other recourse.

14.130.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to establish an efficient system of enforcing city regulations that will enable violations to be promptly resolved whenever possible, while providing appropriate penalties and a full opportunity for alleged violators to have a hearing to contest the violations. It is the express and specific purpose and intent of this chapter to provide for and promote the health, safety and welfare of the general public and not to create or otherwise establish or designate any particular class or group of persons who will or should be especially protected or benefited by the terms of this chapter. (Ord. 1610 § 5, 2019; Ord. 988 § 2, 2003).

14.130.020 Definitions.

A. “Code enforcement documents” means documents related to code enforcement, including but not limited to notices of violation, notices of civil penalty, stop work orders, and notices of noncompliance.

B. “Code official” means an official designated by the mayor or designee identified to enforce the provisions of the BLMC, or any law enforcement officer. (Ord. 1610 § 5, 2019).

14.130.030 Penalties.

A. Violations may be enforced by issuing notices of violation, recording notices of noncompliance, civil penalties, and/or criminal penalties.

B. The penalties listed in this chapter may be imposed in conjunction and do not preclude application of other penalties, sanctions, or rights of action provided by law.

C. The civil penalty shall be $1,000 for each day the violation has been documented by the city.

D. Any violation of this title shall constitute a misdemeanor.

E. The penalties assessed in this chapter are in addition to any investigation fees provided in the building code.

F. Payment of a penalty does not relieve the violator of the duty to correct the violation.

G. Each day a violation is documented shall constitute a separate offense.

H. The presence of a violation on a property shall constitute prima facie evidence that the owner of the property is the violator. However, this shall not relieve or prevent enforcement against any other responsible person. (Ord. 1610 § 5, 2019; Ord. 988 § 2, 2003. Formerly 14.130.020).

14.130.040 General provisions.

A. In the event a conflict exists between the enforcement provisions of this chapter and the enforcement provisions of any international or uniform code, statute, or regulation that is adopted in the Bonney Lake Municipal Code and subject to the enforcement provisions of this chapter, the enforcement provisions of this chapter will prevail, unless the enforcement provisions of this chapter are preempted or specifically modified by said code, statute, or regulation.

B. Responsibility for violations of the codes enforced under this chapter is joint and several, both as to duty to correct and to payment of monetary penalties and costs, and the city is not prohibited from taking action against a party where other persons may also be potentially responsible for a violation, nor is the city required to take action against all persons potentially responsible for a violation.

C. In computing any period of time prescribed or allowed by this code, the day of the act, event or default from which the designated period of time begins to run shall not be included. The last day of the period so computed shall be included unless it is a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, in which event the period shall run until the end of the next day which is neither a Saturday, Sunday, nor legal holiday.

D. Any person who intentionally intimidates, obstructs, impedes, or interferes with any lawful attempt to serve a notice of violation, stop work order, or emergency order, or intentionally obstructs, impedes, or interferes with lawful attempts to correct a violation, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

E. A violation does not become legal by lapse of time. The responsibility established in subsection F of this section runs with the land and shall be binding on all parties having or acquiring any right, title, interest, or any part thereof the site, including the grantee, heirs, successors, and assigns. Every successive owner of the property or premises shall assume this duty and responsibility.

F. Every property owner has a duty to: maintain property in a lawful manner and free of violations; exercise reasonable diligence to ensure that the property remains free of violations; and ensure that no other person can cause or contribute to a violation on the property. It is not a defense to this chapter that other persons may have caused or contributed to the violation.

G. The city of Bonney Lake prioritizes code enforcement issues as listed below in descending order of priority:

1. Enforcement of life, health, and safety violations;

2. Stop work orders for nonpermitted activity;

3. Violations within critical and shoreline areas;

4. Monitoring and enforcement of permit and approval conditions;

5. Other violations of the development code. (Ord. 1610 § 5, 2019).

14.130.050 Service of documents.

A. Service of code enforcement documents shall be accomplished by one of the following methods of service; provided, that criminal charges shall be served as provided by applicable law:

1. “Personal service” is accomplished by handing the document to the person subject to the document or leaving it at his or her last known dwelling house or usual place of abode with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein or leaving it at his or her office or place of employment with a person in charge thereof. Personal service may also be accomplished by the hearing examiner or his or her assistant handing any order, ruling, decision, or other document to a person prior to, during, or after a hearing.

2. “Service by mail” is accomplished by sending the document by regular first class mail to the last known address of the person subject to the document. The last known address shall be an address provided to the city by the person to whom the document is directed. If an address has not been provided to the city, the last known address shall be any of the following as they appear at the time the document is mailed: the address of the property where the violation is occurring, as reflected on the most recent equalized tax assessment roll of the county assessor, or the taxpayer address appearing for the property on the official property tax information website for Pierce County; the address appearing in any database used for the payment of utilities for the property at which the violations are occurring; or the address of the person to whom the documents are being sent that appears in the Washington State Department of Licensing database.

3. “Service by posting” is accomplished by affixing a copy of the document in a conspicuous place on the subject property or structure, or as near to the affected property or structure as feasible, with at least one copy of such document placed at an entryway to the property or structure, if an entryway exists.

4. “Service by publication” is accomplished by publishing the document as set forth in RCW 4.28.100 and 4.28.110, as currently enacted or hereafter amended.

B. If service is accomplished by personal service, service shall be deemed complete immediately. If service is accomplished by mail or posting, service shall be deemed complete upon the third business day following the day on which the document is placed in the mail or posted. If service is accomplished by publication, service shall be deemed complete upon the publication of the document as set forth in RCW 4.28.110.

C. No additional proof of service beyond the requirements in this chapter shall be required by the hearing examiner or other entity. Any failure of the person to whom a document is directed to observe a document served by posting or publication shall not invalidate service made in compliance with this section, nor shall it invalidate the document. (Ord. 1610 § 5, 2019).

14.130.060 Right of inspection.

The code official may inspect buildings, structures or premises for compliance with Chapter 8.20 BLMC and BLMC Titles 14 through 19 as allowed by law. (Ord. 1610 § 5, 2019; Ord. 988 § 2, 2003. Formerly 14.130.040).

14.130.070 Stop work order.

The code official may order any activity stopped if:

A. A required permit was not obtained;

B. The work violates the development code or any permit condition;

C. The permit was based on erroneous information submitted by the applicant; or

D. The work has become a hazard to life or property due to weather or other conditions. (Ord. 1610 § 5, 2019; Ord. 988 § 2, 2003. Formerly 14.130.050).

14.130.080 Notice of violation.

Whenever, upon a reasonable belief by the code official, a violation exists, a code official may issue a notice of violation to the landowner(s), containing the following:

A. The street address, parcel number(s), or description of the building, structure, premises, or land in terms reasonably sufficient to identify its location;

B. A description of the violation(s);

C. A reference to the title, chapter, and section of the BLMC, regulation or written order which has been violated, if applicable;

D. A description of the action required to abate the violation, which may include corrections, repairs, demolition, removal, request for an inspection to demonstrate that the violation does not exist, or any other appropriate corrective action, and a deadline by which voluntary abatement must be completed;

E. A statement indicating that civil penalties may be assessed for failure to take corrective action by the required deadline;

F. A statement indicating that failure to respond to the notice of violation or failure to attend any hearing shall result in the violation being deemed committed without requiring further action by the city;

G. A statement indicating that payment of a civil penalty does not relieve the person or entity named in the notice of violation of the duty to abate the violation, and that failure to abate may result in the issuance of additional notices of violation and/or criminal charges, with additional civil and/or criminal penalties;

H. A statement that the city’s preferred approach to the resolution of the violation is to obtain voluntary compliance as provided in BLMC 14.130.090 which allows the property owner to enter into either a work plan not to exceed six months or a voluntary correction agreement to provide additional time to voluntarily abate the violation;

I. A statement that a notice of violation is appealable to the hearing examiner under the provisions of BLMC 14.120.020 and 14.130.120. (Ord. 1610 § 5, 2019).

14.130.090 Voluntary compliance.

A. The code official shall attempt to secure voluntary correction prior to issuing a notice of civil penalty, recording a notice of noncompliance with Pierce County, and/or pursuing criminal charges; provided, that voluntary correction efforts are not required if:

1. An emergency exists; or

2. A repeat violation occurs.

B. In attempting to secure voluntary compliance, the city shall contact the alleged violator, explain the violation, and request correction within a specific time frame.

C. If the alleged violator needs six months or less to resolve the violation, the city and the alleged violator can develop a work plan to resolve the violation. The work plan shall describe the work to be performed, include a statement that failure to adhere to the work plan may result in civil penalties or criminal charges in accordance with BLMC 14.130.030, and a statement that the city may abate the code violation and assess costs against the owner or property if the work plan is not followed.

D. If the alleged violator needs more than six months to resolve the violation, the city and the alleged violator can enter into a formal voluntary correction agreement. A voluntary correction agreement will generally contain the following information:

1. The name and address of a person responsible for the violation;

2. The street address or description sufficient for identification of the building, structure, premises, or land upon or within which the violation has occurred or is occurring;

3. A description of the violation and a reference to the code provisions that have been violated;

4. A statement indicating what corrective actions are required and a deadline by which the corrective actions must be completed to the satisfaction of the code official;

5. An agreement by the person in possession and control of the property that the city may inspect the premises as may be necessary to determine compliance with the voluntary correction agreement;

6. An agreement by the person responsible for the violation and/or the owner(s) of the property on which the violation has occurred or is occurring that, if the terms of the voluntary correction agreement are not met, the city may enter the property, abate the violation, and recover its costs and expenses as provided in this chapter;

7. An agreement that, by entering into the voluntary correction agreement, the person responsible for the violation waives the right to a hearing before the hearing examiner under this chapter regarding the violation, any penalty, and/or required corrective action; and

8. A statement indicating that additional enforcement measures may be taken as allowed by this chapter, including issuance of notice of violation, with each violation constituting a separate offense subject to civil penalties and/or criminal charges, for failure to comply with the voluntary correction agreement.

E. An extension of the deadline for voluntary correction, or a modification of any required corrective action, may be granted by the code official if the person responsible for the violation has, in the opinion of the code official, shown due diligence or made substantial progress in correcting the violation but unforeseen circumstances have rendered correction unattainable within the original deadline. (Ord. 1610 § 5, 2019; Ord. 988 § 2, 2003. Formerly 14.130.060).

14.130.100 Civil penalty.

The code official may issue a civil penalty in the amount of $1,000 for each day the violation has been documented by the city for failure to comply with the provisions of Chapter 8.20 BLMC and BLMC Titles 14 through 19 or any term of a voluntary correction agreement, work plan, or notice of violation. The notice of civil penalty shall include:

A. The street address, parcel number(s), or description of the building, structure, premises, or land in terms reasonably sufficient to identify its location;

B. A description of the violation(s);

C. A reference to the title, chapter, and section of the BLMC, regulation or written order which has been violated, if applicable;

D. A description of the action required to abate the violation, which may include corrections, repairs, demolition, removal, request for an inspection to demonstrate that the violation does not exist, or any other appropriate corrective action, and a deadline by which voluntary abatement must be completed;

E. A statement indicating the amount of the civil penalties that have been assessed for failure to take corrective action by the required deadline and that the payment of the civil penalties is due within 15 days;

F. A statement indicating that payment of a civil penalty does not relieve the person or entity named in the notice of violation of the duty to abate the violation, and that failure to abate may result in the issuance of additional civil and/or criminal penalties;

G. A statement that a notice of civil penalty is appealable to the hearing examiner under BLMC 14.120.020 and 14.130.120. (Ord. 1610 § 5, 2019; Ord. 988 § 2, 2003. Formerly 14.130.070).

14.130.110 Notice of noncompliance.

A. In conjunction with the assessment of civil penalties, the city may record a notice of noncompliance with the Pierce County auditor against the property on which a violation has taken place.

B. The notice of noncompliance is to notify interested parties, lenders, and subsequent purchasers that a violation(s) exists on the property and the amount of the civil penalties assessed; provided, that:

1. Prior to recording a notice of noncompliance, the city shall provide written notice to the owner of the city’s intent to record the notice of noncompliance. Notice shall be delivered either personally or by mailing a copy of such notice.

2. The notice of noncompliance shall recite that the documented violations stay with the property and correction becomes the responsibility of subsequent property owners.

3. When the civil penalty assessed for the violation has been paid and the violation has been remedied to the satisfaction of the city (i.e., final inspections have occurred and final approvals have been granted), the city shall record a notice of compliance. The owner shall be responsible for paying the cost of recording the notice of noncompliance and the notice of compliance before the notice of compliance is recorded. (Ord. 1610 § 5, 2019).

14.130.120 Appeal.

A. Civil penalties and notices of violation may be appealed to the hearing examiner. Refer to BLMC 14.120.020 for the appeal deadline, procedure, and fee. The appeal of a notice of violation may contest that a violation occurred and/or the corrective action ordered. Failure to appeal the notice of violation waives the right to contest that a violation occurred or the corrective action ordered during an appeal of the civil penalty.

B. The hearing examiner shall conduct a hearing consistent with Chapter 2.18 BLMC and shall:

1. Prepare findings regarding whether a preponderance of evidence shows that the violation occurred and the required corrective action is reasonable;

2. Accordingly affirm, vacate, or modify the particulars of the notice of violation; and

3. Affirm, vacate, or modify the assessment of civil penalties. The hearing examiner may reduce civil penalties based on the following considerations:

a. Whether the violation was a first violation;

b. Whether the violator showed due diligence in correcting the violation;

c. Whether the penalty is more than necessary to:

i. Neutralize any profit enjoyed by the violator as a result of the violation;

ii. Make the public whole for environmental or other damages suffered as a result of the violation;

iii. Recompense the city for the costs of enforcement; and

iv. Other relevant factors.

C. Repealed by Ord. 1610.

D. Repealed by Ord. 1610.

E. Any appeal of the hearing examiner’s determination must be filed with superior court pursuant to Chapter 36.70C RCW. (Ord. 1610 § 5, 2019; Ord. 988 § 2, 2003. Formerly 14.130.080).

14.130.130 Compliance.

Once the property owner has addressed the violation identified in the notice of violation and requested an inspection by the code official to confirm that the violation has been addressed, the code official shall issue a letter to the property owner stating either that the violation has been addressed or what additional actions are required to address the violation. Once the code official determines that the violations have been resolved, the code official will issue a notice of compliance to the property owner consistent with the requirements of BLMC 14.130.110(B)(3). (Ord. 1610 § 5, 2019).

14.130.140 Collection.

A monetary penalty constitutes a personal obligation of the person to whom the notice of civil penalty is directed. Assessed penalties shall be paid to the city within 15 days from the date of service of the notice of civil penalty. The city may take all legal means to collect penalties. (Ord. 1610 § 5, 2019; Ord. 988 § 2, 2003. Formerly 14.130.100).

14.130.150 Abatement by the city.

A. The city may abate a violation, including any resulting environmental damage, if:

1. The violation occurs on public right-of-way or city-owned land;

2. A public safety emergency exists; or

3. A competent authority authorizes such abatement.

B. The costs of abatement shall be billed to the person responsible for the violation and/or the owner, lessor, or tenant of the premises, and shall become due and payable to the city within 15 days. The costs of abatement shall include direct and indirect personnel costs; attorney’s fees; hauling, storage and disposal expenses; costs incurred hiring and supervising contractors; and other actual costs.

C. To recoup abatement costs, the city may file a lien or tax lien as provided by law against the property on which the violation occurred.

D. If an illegal sign or portable structure is located on public property or presents an immediate hazard to the public safety, the code official may impound such sign or structure without notice. Recovery of said sign or structure shall be subject to payment of a fee of $100.00 or the city’s actual cost in removing and storing the sign or structure, whichever is higher. No cause of action shall be maintained against the city for damage to signs or structures impounded in accordance with this subsection. (Ord. 1610 § 5, 2019; Ord. 988 § 2, 2003. Formerly 14.130.110).

14.130.160 Abatement by the city – Unfit dwellings, buildings, and structures.

A. The city of Bonney Lake finds that there exist in its territorial limits unfit dwellings, buildings, and structures as defined in RCW 35.80.010.

B. The hearing examiner may determine that a dwelling, building, structure, or premises is unfit for human habitation or other use if conditions exist in such dwelling, building, structure, or premises which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of such dwelling, building, structure, or premises, the occupants of neighboring dwellings, or other residents of the city of Bonney Lake. A dwelling, building, structure, or premises is dangerous or injurious when, among other situations, it is vacant for an extended period and persistently or repeatedly becomes unprotected or unsecured, or is currently or frequently occupied by unauthorized persons for illegal purposes, or the owner or occupant(s) of the structure have not provided minimum safeguards to protect or warn occupants in the event of fire, or contains unsafe equipment, or is so damaged, decayed, dilapidated, structurally unsafe, or of such faulty construction or unstable foundation that it presents a danger of structural collapse or fire spread to adjacent properties.

C. The hearing examiner shall serve as the public officer as defined in RCW 35.80.020, except that the code official shall provide all administrative functions such as preliminary investigations and the serving of notices. The code official shall have the power to investigate the dwelling and other property conditions in the city and to enter upon premises, with consent of the occupant, for the purpose of making examinations when the code official has reasonable grounds for believing they are unfit for human habitation, or for other use; provided, that such entries shall be made in such manner as to cause the least possible inconvenience to the persons in possession, and the code official shall obtain an order for this purpose after submitting evidence in support of an application which is adequate to justify such an order from a court of competent jurisdiction in the event entry is denied or resisted.

D. Except for the code official’s functions listed in subsection C of this section, the hearing examiner shall have all the powers and follow all the procedures identified for the board or officers in RCW 35.80.030.

E. In determining the fitness of a premises, the hearing examiner shall reference Chapter 8.20 BLMC and the building codes adopted pursuant to Chapter 15.04 BLMC, or any other pertinent provision of the development code, in accordance with RCW 35.80.030(1)(d) and (e).

F. The city council shall serve as the appeals commission identified in RCW 35.80.030(1)(g), complying with the procedures stated therein.

G. In accordance with RCW 35.80.030(1)(h), the cost of abatement by the city shall be assessed against the real property upon which such cost was incurred, which assessment the county treasurer shall enter upon the tax rolls against the property for the current year. If the city sells any materials from the premises as provided in RCW 35.80.030(1)(h), it shall do so in accordance with Chapter 2.70 BLMC. The assessment shall constitute a lien against the property which shall be of equal rank with state, county and municipal taxes.

H. Any person affected by an order issued by the city council pursuant to subsection F of this section may petition to the superior court as provided in RCW 35.80.030(2). (Ord. 1610 § 5, 2019; Ord. 1108 § 1, 2005; Ord. 988 § 2, 2003. Formerly 14.130.120).

14.130.170 Abatement – Vegetation and debris.

A. As authorized in RCW 35.21.310, the city may order a property owner to remove all vegetation growing or which has grown and died and/or debris which is a fire hazard or a menace to public health, safety or welfare.

B. The notice shall be issued by a resolution adopted by the city council after not less than five days’ notice to the owner, which shall describe the property involved and the hazardous condition, and require the owner to remove the vegetation and/or debris.

C. If the owner does not comply with the notice of abatement within 90 days, the city may cause the vegetation and/or debris to be removed and the cost incurred by the city shall become a charge against the owner of the property and a lien against the property pursuant to RCW 35.21.310. (Ord. 1610 § 5, 2019).

14.130.180 Other recourse.

In the event of a violation, the city may also:

A. Revoke, place further conditions on, or suspend processing of permits pertaining to the violator or the premises on which the violation occurred;

B. Deny utility extensions to the premises;

C. Revoke or withhold the violator’s business license; or

D. Pursue any other recourse available under law. (Ord. 1610 § 5, 2019; Ord. 988 § 2, 2003. Formerly 14.130.130).