Chapter 2.06
CIVIL ENFORCEMENT CODE

Sections:

2.06.010    Title.

2.06.020    Purpose.

2.06.030    Definitions.

2.06.040    Violations declared to be civil infractions.

2.06.050    Notice of infraction – Content.

2.06.060    Notice of infraction – Procedures for response.

2.06.070    Notice of infraction – Hearing procedures and rules.

2.06.080    Civil penalties assessed.

2.06.090    Failure to respond to or sign a notice of infraction a misdemeanor.

2.06.100    Collection of penalties.

2.06.110    Civil penalties – Director’s authority.

2.06.120    Abatement.

2.06.130    Remedies cumulative.

2.06.010 Title.

This chapter shall be known as the Cowlitz County Civil Enforcement Code and shall be codified as Chapter 2.06 CCC. [Ord. 01-022, § 1, 2-12-01.]

2.06.020 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to provide uniform procedures for the enforcement of specific county chapters with infraction authority. [Ord. 01-022, § 1, 2-12-01.]

2.06.030 Definitions.

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

“County” means Cowlitz County, Washington.

“Director” means county department head or elected official that administers any land use ordinance with infraction authority.

“Land use ordinance” means any of the following ordinances or resolutions of Cowlitz County, as they now exist or as they may hereafter be amended, and as codified in the Cowlitz County Code: No Shooting Areas, Chapter 10.20 CCC; Outdoor Public Shooting Range Development Standards, Chapter 10.22 CCC; Junk Vehicles, Chapter 10.27 CCC; Regulation of Sexually Oriented Businesses, Chapter 10.44 CCC; Private Roadways, Chapter 11.36 CCC; Solid Waste, Chapter 15.30 CCC; Manufactured Home/Mobile Home Placement Code, Chapter 16.08 CCC; Gas and Oil Pipelines, Chapter 16.10 CCC; Development in Drainage Courses, Chapter 16.20 CCC; Floodplain Management, Chapter 16.25 CCC; Surface Mines, Chapter 16.35 CCC*; Land Use Ordinance, Chapter 18.10 CCC; Wrecking Yard Ordinance, Chapter 18.16 CCC; Planned Unit Development, Chapter 20.30 CCC; Urban Subdivision, Chapter 20.25 CCC; Short Subdivision, Chapter 20.35 CCC; Large Lot Subdivision, Chapter 20.40 CCC; Mobile Home Parks, Chapter 20.45 CCC; Temporary Dwelling Permit Code, Chapter 18.44 CCC; Rural Subdivision, Chapter 20.50 CCC; Campground and Recreation Facilities, Chapter 20.55 CCC; Commercial and Industrial Binding Site Plan Code (BSP), Chapter 20.60 CCC; Critical Areas, Chapter 19.15 CCC. The term “land use ordinance” also includes future county ordinances that adopt the provisions of this chapter.

“Person” means any human being, organization, corporation, partnership, or governmental unit, and includes any of their agents or representatives. [Ord. 01-022, § 1, 2-12-01.]

*Chapter 16.35 was repealed by Ord. 95-166. Provisions for surface mines are found within Chapter 18.10 CCC, the Land Use Ordinance.

2.06.040 Violations declared to be civil infractions.

A. Any violation of a land use ordinance as defined in CCC 2.06.030 is a civil infraction and a public nuisance, unless otherwise stated, and is subject to enforcement action under this chapter as well as any other means provided by the law. Neither an adjudication that a person has committed an infraction, nor payment of any penalty, shall relieve the violator from compliance with the provisions of the land use ordinance violated.

B. A civil infraction proceeding is initiated by the issuance of a notice of infraction. A notice of infraction can be issued by a director, a designee of a director, or a law enforcement officer. The issuance of a notice of infraction represents a determination that an infraction has been committed. The determination will be final unless contested as hereafter provided.

C. A notice of infraction may be served either personally or by mail. Personal service may be made by any person authorized to serve process in civil cases. Service by mail may be made by any person authorized to issue a notice of infraction, or by the Cowlitz County District Court. Service by mail shall be made by mailing the notice by certified mail, return receipt requested. The notice of infraction shall be filed with the Cowlitz County District Court promptly after it is issued. [Ord. 01-022, § 1, 2-12-01.]

2.06.050 Notice of infraction – Content.

A notice of infraction shall include the following:

A. A statement that the notice represents a determination that an infraction has been committed by the persons named in the notice and that the determination shall be final unless contested as provided in this chapter;

B. A statement that an infraction is a noncriminal offense for which imprisonment may not be imposed as a sanction;

C. A statement of the specific infraction for which the notice was issued;

D. A statement of the monetary penalty established for the particular infraction;

E. A statement of the options provided in this chapter for responding to the notice and the procedures necessary to exercise these options;

F. A statement that at any hearing to contest the determination the county has the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the infraction was committed, and that the person may subpoena witnesses including the person who issued the notice of infraction;

G. A statement that at any hearing requested for the purpose of explaining mitigating circumstances surrounding the commission of the infraction, the person will be deemed to have committed the infraction and may not subpoena witnesses;

H. A statement that the person must respond to the notice as provided in this chapter within 15 days;

I. A statement, which the person shall sign, that the person promises to respond to the notice of infraction in one of the ways provided in this chapter;

J. A statement that it is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment for a person to fail to sign a notice of infraction or to fail to respond to a notice of infraction as required. [Ord. 01-022, § 1, 2-12-01.]

2.06.060 Notice of infraction – Procedures for response.

A. Any person who receives a notice of infraction shall respond to such notice as provided in this section within 15 days of the date of the notice.

B. If the person determined to have committed the infraction does not contest the determination, the person shall respond by completing the appropriate portion of the notice of infraction and submit it, either by mail or in person, to the Cowlitz County District Court. A check or money order in the amount of the penalty prescribed for the infraction must be submitted with the response. When a response which does not contest the determination is received an appropriate order shall be entered in the Court records.

C. If a person determined to have committed the infraction wishes to contest the determination, the person shall respond by completing the portion of the notice of infraction requesting a hearing and submitting it, either by mail or in person, to the Cowlitz County District Court. The Court shall notify the person in writing of the time, place, and date of the hearing, and that date shall not be sooner than seven days from the date of notice, except by agreement.

D. If a person determined to have committed the infraction does not contest the determination, but wishes to explain mitigating circumstances surrounding the infraction, the person shall respond by completing the portion of the notice of infraction requesting a hearing for that purpose and submit it, either by mail or in person, to the Cowlitz County District Court. The Court shall notify the person in writing of the time, place, and date of the hearing.

E. If any person that is issued a notice of infraction: (1) fails to respond to the notice of infraction within 15 days as required by this section; or (2) fails to appear at a hearing requested pursuant to subsection C or D of this section, the Court shall enter an order assessing the monetary penalty prescribed for the infraction. [Ord. 01-022, § 1, 2-12-01.]

2.06.070 Notice of infraction – Hearing procedures and rules.

Infractions under this chapter shall be heard and determined by the Cowlitz County District Court. Procedures for infractions under this chapter shall conform generally to the Infraction Rules for Courts of Limited Jurisdiction.

A. Any person receiving a notice of infraction may be represented by counsel. Each party to an infraction case is responsible for costs incurred by that party. No costs or attorney fees may be awarded to either party in an infraction case.

B. An attorney representing the county may, but is not required to, appear at any infraction proceeding under this chapter.

C. A hearing held for the purpose of contesting the determination that an infraction has been committed shall be without a jury.

D. The Court may consider the notice of infraction and any other written report made under oath submitted by the person who issued the notice in lieu of that person’s appearance at the hearing. The person named in the notice may subpoena witnesses, including the person who issued the notice of infraction, and has the right to present evidence and examine witnesses present in court.

E. The burden of proof is upon the county to establish the commission of the infraction by a preponderance of the evidence.

F. After consideration of the evidence and argument, the Court shall determine whether the infraction was committed. Where it has not been established that the infraction was committed, an order dismissing the notice shall be entered in the Court’s records. Where it has been established that the infraction was committed, an appropriate order shall be entered in the Court’s records.

G. A hearing held for the purpose of allowing a person to explain mitigating circumstances surrounding the commission of an infraction shall be an informal proceeding. The person may not subpoena witnesses. The determination that an infraction has been committed may not be contested at a hearing held for the purpose of explaining mitigating circumstances. After the Court has heard the explanation of the circumstances surrounding the commission of the infraction an appropriate order shall be entered in the Court’s records. There may be no appeal from the Court’s determination or order. [Ord. 01-022, § 1, 2-12-01.]

2.06.080 Civil penalties assessed.

A. A person found to have committed an infraction shall be assessed a monetary penalty of $1,000 for each violation. Any monetary penalty imposed by the Court is payable immediately, except that: (1) the Court may suspend all or a portion of the penalty on the condition that the person correct the violation within 30 days; and (2) if the person is unable to pay the penalty immediately, the Court may grant an extension to a specified date. Any willful failure to pay the penalty by the time required is a misdemeanor.

B. The monetary penalty for a second violation of the same land use ordinance within three years shall be double the penalty set forth above. The monetary penalty for a third violation of the same land use ordinance within three years shall be triple the penalty set forth above.

C. There shall be an additional penalty of $100.00 for failure to respond to a notice of infraction. [Ord. 01-022, § 1, 2-12-01.]

2.06.090 Failure to respond to or sign a notice of infraction a misdemeanor.

Any person willfully violating a written and signed promise to appear in court or to respond to a notice of infraction pursuant to this chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor regardless of the disposition of the notice of infraction; provided, a written promise to appear in court or to respond to a notice of infraction may be complied with by an appearance by counsel. Failure to sign a notice of infraction is a misdemeanor. [Ord. 01-022, § 1, 2-12-01.]

2.06.100 Collection of penalties.

Civil penalties under this chapter may be collected in the same manner as other penalties, fines, or assessments imposed by the Cowlitz County District Court. [Ord. 01-022, § 1, 2-12-01.]

2.06.110 Civil penalties – Director’s authority.

After a notice of infraction is issued but before any court hearing, a director may suspend all or a portion of a civil penalty, on the condition that the defendant agree in writing to correct the violation by a specified date. If the defendant complies with the agreement, the director shall so notify the Court, and the Court shall dismiss the notice of infraction. [Ord. 01-022, § 1, 2-12-01.]

2.06.120 Abatement.

Whenever the county deems it necessary, it may take all appropriate measures to abate any violation of a land use ordinance. The costs of such measures shall be a joint and several obligation of all persons responsible for the violation. The county may recover its abatement costs through an appropriate legal action against any and all such persons. [Ord. 01-022, § 1, 2-12-01.]

2.06.130 Remedies cumulative.

Notwithstanding the existence or use of any other remedy, a director may seek legal or equitable relief to enjoin any acts or practices or abate any conditions which constitute a violation of any land use ordinance. All remedies specified herein are cumulative and nonexclusive and a director may seek any other remedy available at law or equity in responding to a violation of any land use ordinance. [Ord. 01-022, § 1, 2-12-01.]