Chapter 5.40
NUISANCES

Sections:

5.40.020    Purpose and intent.

5.40.040    Definitions.

5.40.060    Public nuisance defined.

5.40.080    Specific public nuisances declared.

5.40.100    Rodent and vermin control.

5.40.120    Retainage of accumulated material – Permit required.

5.40.140    Snow and ice removal.

5.40.160    Notice to abate public nuisance.

5.40.180    Appeal.

5.40.200    Summary abatement of immediate danger.

5.40.220    Abatement by city – Lien authorized.

5.40.240    Superior court action for abatement.

5.40.260    Remedies not exclusive – Enforcement.

5.40.280    Enforcement of ECC 5.40.080(G).

5.40.300    Violation – Penalties.

5.40.020 Purpose and intent.

The purpose of this chapter is to create and maintain a safe and healthy environment for the citizens of the city of Ellensburg by proscribing those nuisances that contribute to injury, illness, devaluation of property, and the incidence of crime, or which affect the rights of the greater community. The presence of litter, debris, trash, abandoned buildings, overgrown vegetation, waste, unsanitary conditions, rodents and other hazards and undesirable conditions affects not only the neighbors in the immediate vicinity of these conditions, but also detracts from the entire community. As such, these conditions require measures by the property owner or other responsible person to correct these conditions to protect the public health, safety and welfare. It is the intent of the city council to establish standards to define public nuisances for enforcement by the city. [Ord. 4736 § 1, 2016.]

5.40.040 Definitions.

“Abate” means to take whatever steps are deemed necessary by the director to ensure that the property complies with applicable nuisance ordinance requirements. Abatement may include, but is not limited to, rehabilitation, demolition, removal, replacement or repair.

“City” means the city of Ellensburg, Washington.

“Code compliance officer” means the city employee, or regular or specially commissioned officer, so designated by the community development director for the city and appointed by the chief of police.

“Days” will be counted as business days when five or fewer days are allowed to do an act required by this chapter. “Days” will be considered calendar days when more than five days are allowed to do an act required by this chapter.

“Director” means the city’s community development director or his/her designee.

“Graffiti” means unauthorized markings, inscriptions, words, figures, designs or other inscribed material visible from premises open to the public, that have been placed upon any property through the use of paint, ink, dye, or any other substance capable of marking property.

“Hearing examiner” means the city of Ellensburg hearing examiner, as provided by Chapter 1.70A ECC as adopted or hereafter amended.

“Nuisance” means the unreasonable or unlawful use by a person of 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.

“Person” means any individual, association, partnership, corporation or legal entity, public or private, and the agents and assigns of such individual, association, partnership, corporation or legal entity.

“Person responsible for a nuisance violation” means the person who caused the violation, if that can be determined, and/or the owner, lessor, tenant or other person entitled to control, use and/or occupancy of the property, including any public rights-of-way abutting a person, firm, or entity’s property where the nuisance violation occurs.

“Vegetation” includes all grass, weeds, vines, brush, shrubs, bushes, or trees, whether growing, diseased, hazardous or dead.

“Vehicle,” for the purposes of this chapter, means a conveyance for transporting people, animals or goods, and shall include all-terrain vehicles, automobiles, boats, buses, campers, farm vehicles, mopeds, motorcycles, motor homes, recreational vehicles, scooters, snowmobiles, tractors, trailers, trucks, and wagons. [Ord. 4736 § 1, 2016.]

5.40.060 Public nuisance defined.

A public nuisance consists of doing an act, or omitting to perform a duty, or permitting an action or condition to occur or exist which:

A.    Unreasonably annoys, injures or endangers the comfort, repose, health or safety of others;

B.    Is unreasonably offensive to the senses;

C.    Unlawfully interferes with, obstructs or tends to obstruct, or renders dangerous for passage, any stream, public park, square, highway, public trail, or public right-of-way in the city;

D.    Unlawfully interferes with, damages or pollutes habitat areas, critical areas, stormwater drainage system open spaces, restoration sites, groundwater, creeks, lakes, wetlands, wetland buffers, and similar areas;

E.    Interferes with the comfortable enjoyment of life and property; or

F.    Creates or permits the existence or continuance of any of the specific nuisances identified in this chapter. [Ord. 4736 § 1, 2016.]

5.40.080 Specific public nuisances declared.

The following specific acts, omissions, places and conditions are declared to be public nuisances, including the erecting, maintaining, placing, depositing, allowing, leaving or permitting to be, in or upon any public or private real property, building, structure, premises, public right-of-way or park any one or more of the following:

A.    Excavations, including cesspools, sumps, pits, wells, shaft, storage tank, cistern or any other similar conditions, which are not secure, constitute a concealed danger, are not made inaccessible to children or the general public, or threaten the public health, safety or welfare.

B.    The discharge of sewage, human excrement, or other wastes in any location or manner, except through systems approved for the conveyance of such to approved public or private disposal systems.

C.    Overgrown or unkempt vegetation, which shall be maintained as follows:

1.    No owner of property within the city shall allow the overgrowth of vegetation, or allow the accumulation of any such vegetation which has died, on any lot, parcel, or tract of real property within the city limits, including parking strips and/or nontraveled portions of the public right-of-way abutting upon private real property, and which may pose a fire hazard or endanger the public health, safety, or welfare.

2.    Trees and shrubs shall not overhang the public sidewalk by less than nine feet measured from the sidewalk level. Trees and shrubs shall not overhang the public street and alleys by less than 12 feet measured from the street or alley level. Grass and weeds shall not be allowed to attain a height of over one foot on private property. The owner and/or the occupant of private property shall be responsible for compliance with these requirements. The owner and/or the occupant of property abutting a public street shall be responsible for compliance with these requirements upon abutting parking strips and/or the nontraveled portions of public rights-of-way abutting upon private property.

D.    Filthy, littered or trash-covered premises, such as:

1.    Animal parts or wastes including manure, excreta, bones, meats, hides, skins or any part of any dead animal left or handled in or on the premises in such a way so as to create an offensive odor, attract flies or rodents, or cause pollution of runoff or groundwater.

2.    Storing or dumping of any poisonous or hazardous waste, material or substance:

a.    In violation of federal, state or local law;

b.    That may cause contamination of soil, groundwater or surface water; or

c.    So as to allow uncontrolled access to it by any animal or person.

3.    Storing of flammable material, including old rags, tires, boxes, paper, wood, or chemicals, in violation of Chapter 3.03 ECC.

4.    Storing outside, longer than 30 consecutive days, any of the following items so that they are visible from any public right-of-way: furniture designed and constructed for indoor use; batteries; wheels; tires; machinery, appliances or electronic devices; component parts of machinery, appliances or electronic devices; vehicular component parts; unused household goods or hardware; or medical supplies or devices.

5.    All abandoned or discarded refrigerators, freezers, stoves or other large appliances, whether located outside or within any unoccupied or abandoned building or other structure.

6.    All places used, maintained or appearing as a dump, junk yard, scrap yard, salvage yard, impound yard, wrecking yard, or automobile or machinery disassembly yard not licensed and located within a land use zone allowing such use, or which is operating outside of specific conditions set forth for the operation of such businesses.

E.    Fences, walls, hedges and retaining walls that are not maintained in a structurally sound or sanitary condition so as to endanger the public health, safety or welfare, or which obstruct or obscure the view of traffic or traffic control devices, pursuant to the sight triangle requirements of the city’s public works standards.

F.    Any building or structure determined to be a dangerous building pursuant to the Uniform Code for the Abatement of Dangerous Buildings as adopted by reference in ECC 3.01.080.

G.    Burning of refuse or any other material in such a manner as to cause or permit to be cast upon private or public property the smoke, ashes, soot, gases or offensive odor arising from such burning to pollute the air or become discomforting or annoying, or to injure or endanger the health of any person or neighborhood.

H.    Any building or structure that has been constructed or modified without a permit; or the construction of any building or other structure within the public right-of-way.

I.    The parking of an apparently inoperable vehicle, as defined in ECC 5.52.040:

1.    Within the public right-of-way for longer than 48 consecutive hours.

2.    On private property in a location visible from the public right-of-way, except under the following circumstances which are not a public nuisance:

a.    The apparently inoperable vehicle is parked within a completely enclosed structure; or

b.    No more than one apparently inoperable vehicle is parked outside or in a carport.

J.    All forms of graffiti.

K.    The operation of any business in a residential zone not permitted under the land development code or operating in violation of state, county or city laws or regulations, or that involves the regular coming and going of commercial vehicles.

L.    Use of a vehicle within the public right-of-way or on public property for living purposes or storing of materials or goods.

M.    Allowing any refuse, gravel, sand, dirt, shavings, sawdust, or other substance to fall from any vehicle onto any public street or right-of-way.

N.    Any marijuana business, facility or operation that does not have both a license issued by the State Liquor and Cannabis Board pursuant to Chapter 69.50 RCW, and a city business issued pursuant to Chapter 6.54 ECC. This includes, but is not limited to any marijuana production, processing, retail, or research business, facility, or operation.

O.    Growing, keeping, processing, producing and/or selling marijuana in a manner that is not in compliance with RCW Title 69, Chapter 314-55 WAC and/or Chapter 15.370 ECC.

P.    Operating any medical marijuana cooperative that is not registered with the State Liquor and Cannabis Board or otherwise not in compliance with the requirements of Chapter 69.51A RCW and/or Chapter 15.370 ECC. [Ord. 4736 § 1, 2016.]

5.40.100 Rodent and vermin control.

A.    Buildings or Premises Containing Rodent, Insect or Vermin Harborage and/or Infestation. Rodent, insect or vermin infestations shall be promptly exterminated by methods that ensure the public’s health, safety and welfare. Owners shall take preventative measures to protect buildings and premises from future infestations.

B.    Protection of Food from Rodents and Vermin. All food products or other goods, including food and feed for animals and birds, shall be so protected as to prevent rodents or vermin from gaining access. [Ord. 4736 § 1, 2016.]

5.40.120 Retainage of accumulated material – Permit required.

It is unlawful and shall be deemed a nuisance for any person or persons to pile, heap, accumulate or mass earth, gravel, rocks, sand, fill material, construction waste or other similar matter, totaling 20 cubic yards or more, or for any person or persons to maintain or keep such material, unless the material is for sale or is intended for use and is used within 60 days of its accumulation; provided, the accumulated material may be retained for a period of up to one year by permit issued by the public works and utilities director or her/his designee. Conditions of the permit shall include but not be limited to sloping, grading, mowing and spraying to provide a neat and clean appearance, free from hazards and weeds. A fee of $25.00 shall be charged for the issuance of a permit. [Ord. 4804 § 4, 2018; Ord. 4736 § 1, 2016.]

5.40.140 Snow and ice removal.

A.    Parking Lots.

1.    Duty. No person, firm, company or corporation, nor the agent, representative or employee of any person, firm, company or corporation, shall plow or otherwise clear a parking lot of snow and ice and thereafter place, throw or deposit that snow or ice on any street, alley or sidewalk.

2.    Penalty. A violation of this subsection shall be a civil infraction, as provided by Chapter 7.80 RCW, and deemed to be a Class 1 civil infraction under RCW 7.80.120(1)(a). The maximum penalty and the default amount for a Class 1 civil infraction is $250.00, plus statutory assessments. A violator may also be required to pay restitution, as is contemplated by RCW 7.80.120(4). Each day in which any violation shall continue or occur shall constitute a separate offense.

B.    Sidewalks.

1.    Legislative Policy. Accumulations of snow and ice on public sidewalks within the city of Ellensburg are detrimental to the public health, convenience, safety and welfare of the citizens of the city and to visitors of the city. It is reasonable and necessary that persons owning, occupying, or having charge of premises or property adjacent to sidewalks make all reasonable efforts to clear the sidewalks which they control of snow and ice in a prudent fashion so that those public rights-of-way remain accessible and safe for their intended use. This section is for the benefit of the general public and no specific duty to particular persons is created hereby.

2.    Duty. It shall be the duty of the owner, occupant, or person having charge of any building, residence, premises or real property located within the city adjacent to or fronting upon any public sidewalk to remove or cause to be removed, by 9:00 a.m. on every day after snowfall, snow and ice from said sidewalks to their full improved width. In the event snow and ice accumulates so that it is not practical to remove, the owner, occupant, or person having charge shall by the time specified above disperse traction-aiding material upon said sidewalk, and shall as soon thereafter as the weather permits, thoroughly clear such sidewalk.

3.    Penalty. Any person who violates this subsection shall be assessed the penalty and default amount for a Class 4 civil infraction, in an amount not to exceed $25.00, not including statutory assessments. Each day in which any violation shall continue or occur shall constitute a separate offense. [Ord. 4736 § 1, 2016.]

5.40.160 Notice to abate public nuisance.

A.    Whenever the code compliance officer shall have knowledge of a public nuisance, he/she shall cause the owner or responsible person to be notified to abate the same.

B.    The notice shall contain the following information:

1.    A description of the act, omission, condition or thing constituting the public nuisance;

2.    A direction that the owner or responsible person shall abate the same within 20 calendar days after service of the notice; and

3.    A description of the manner in which the abatement is to be accomplished.

C.    The notice may be served upon the owner and/or responsible person either by personal service or by mailing by both registered mail, return receipt requested, and by ordinary mail. If notice is given by mail, notice shall be deemed given three days after the date of mailing. [Ord. 4736 § 1, 2016.]

5.40.180 Appeal.

A.    Any person notified to abate a public nuisance may appeal the determination of the code compliance officer to the hearing examiner. Appeal shall be made by filing a notice of appeal with the city clerk within seven days after the giving of notice to abate, which shall set forth the grounds for the appeal, and shall include the address to which further notices are to be mailed.

B.    The hearing examiner shall set a hearing on the appeal for a date as soon as may be practical in the circumstances, and notice of the hearing shall be given by mail at least 10 days prior to the date set. Further action on the abatement shall be stayed during the pendency of the appeal before the hearing examiner.

C.    The hearing examiner shall hear and determine the appeal in a public hearing, and shall make its findings, conclusions and order in writing, which shall be final and conclusive unless a petition for review shall be filed in the county superior court within 30 days after the findings, conclusions and order are issued by the hearing examiner. [Ord. 4736 § 1, 2016.]

5.40.200 Summary abatement of immediate danger.

Whenever any condition or use of property reasonably appears to the code compliance officer to constitute an imminent or immediate danger to the health or safety of the public, upon approval of the director the code compliance officer shall have the authority to summarily abate the nuisance, upon such notice as may be practical in the circumstances, or without notice if the circumstances warrant it. The expenses of such abatement may become a civil debt against the owner or the responsible person and shall be collectible in the same manner as any other civil debt owing to the city or as otherwise provided in this chapter. [Ord. 4736 § 1, 2016.]

5.40.220 Abatement by city – Lien authorized.

A.    Whenever a notice to abate a public nuisance has been given in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, and 20 days have elapsed from the date of the notice or from the date of the order of the hearing officer, if appealed, without the owner or responsible person having accomplished the abatement, the city may at its option proceed to abate the public nuisance.

B.    In all cases of summary abatement pursuant to ECC 5.40.200 and abatement under subsection (A) of this section, the city’s costs of abatement, including labor, materials and reasonable value of city equipment employed, shall be a civil debt owing to the city jointly and severally by all owners or responsible persons to whom notice to abate was given, for which the city shall have a lien. In the event sums due the city under this subsection shall not be paid forthwith, or in the event the owner cannot be found, a notice of claim of lien shall be filed and recorded in the name of the city. The notice of claim of lien shall be in the same form, and recorded with the same filing officer, and be enforced and foreclosed as provided by law for liens for labor and materials as provided in Chapter 60.04 RCW, as the same exists or may be amended at or after the effective date of the ordinance codified in this chapter. [Ord. 4736 § 1, 2016.]

5.40.240 Superior court action for abatement.

A.    As an alternative to abatement by the city, the city may commence an action in superior court for abatement of the public nuisance.

B.    In all such actions, the judgment of abatement shall include the city’s reasonable costs and expenses incurred in abating the public nuisance, including the fees of expert witnesses and reasonable attorneys’ fees. [Ord. 4736 § 1, 2016.]

5.40.260 Remedies not exclusive – Enforcement.

A.    The remedies prescribed in this chapter are in addition to all other remedies provided or authorized by law. The enforcement official or his or her designee may enforce the provisions of this title through any enforcement provisions in Chapter 1.80 ECC or any other applicable provision of the Ellensburg City Code or state law.

B.    If the owner or responsible person fails to comply with the notice to abate provided in ECC 5.40.160 within the time provided, or if the condition appears to constitute an imminent or immediate danger to the health or safety of the public, police officers may enforce the provisions of this title criminally or otherwise regardless of any civil actions or proceedings. [Ord. 4736 § 1, 2016.]

5.40.280 Enforcement of ECC 5.40.080(G).

It shall be the duty of the fire marshal to enforce ECC 5.40.080(G). Any violation of ECC 5.40.080(G) may be summarily abated by the fire marshal or by anyone whom he may authorize for such purpose. Such abatement may be in addition to the penalties provided in this chapter. [Ord. 4736 § 1, 2016.]

5.40.300 Violation – Penalties.

A.    Anyone who violates or fails to comply with any provision of this chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. Each occurrence, or separate day or portion thereof during which any violation of this chapter occurs or continues, constitutes a separate violation of this chapter, and if found guilty, shall be subject to a fine not to exceed $1,000, and/or to imprisonment not to exceed 90 days, or to both such fine and imprisonment. Each day shall be a separate offense.

B.    In order to discourage public nuisances and otherwise promote compliance with this chapter, the director or his or her designee may, in response to field observations, determine that violations of this chapter have occurred or are occurring, and may utilize any of the compliance provisions contained in Chapter 1.80 ECC. [Ord. 4736 § 1, 2016.]