Chapter 1.22
ABATEMENT OF PUBLIC NUISANCES

Sections:

1.22.010    Purpose.

1.22.020    Definitions.

1.22.030    Abatement by the county.

1.22.040    Removal of evicted personal property and/or solid waste placed onto public access.

1.22.050    Additional enforcement procedures and nuisances.

1.22.010 Purpose.

This chapter provides the conditions which constitute a public nuisance, and provides for abatement where premises, structures, vehicles, or portions thereof are found to be unfit for human habitation, or unfit for other uses, due to dilapidation, disrepair, structural defects, defects increasing the hazards of fire, accidents or other calamities, inadequate ventilation and uncleanliness, inadequate light or sanitary facilities, inadequate drainage, or due to other conditions which are inimical to the health and welfare of the residents of Lewis County, or any violation under the Lewis County Code declared or defined as a public nuisance. [Ord. 1181 §1, 2003].

1.22.020 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless a different meaning is plainly required:

(1) “Abate” means to repair, replace, remove, destroy or otherwise remedy a condition which constitutes a nuisance under this chapter or under any chapter of the county code by such means, in such a manner, and to such an extent as the director determines is necessary in the interest of the general health, safety and welfare of the community.

(2) “Act” means doing or performing something.

(3) “Building” means any constructed structure consisting of a minimum of three sides and a roof and the premises thereto.

(4) “Director” means the director of the department of community development, the director of the department of public works, or the director of the department of health and social services, or their authorized designee, or any designee of the board of county commissioners or board of health, empowered to enforce a county or board of health ordinance or regulation.

(5) “Department” means the department of community development, the department of public works, or the department of health and social services.

(6) “Development” means the erection, alteration, enlargement, demolition, maintenance or use of any structure or the alteration or use of any land above, at or below ground or water level, and all acts authorized by a county regulation.

(7) “Nuisance,” “violation” or “nuisance violation” means:

(a) Doing an act, omitting to perform any act or duty, or permitting or allowing any act or omission, which significantly affects, injures, or endangers the comfort, repose, health or safety of others, is unreasonably offensive to the senses, or obstructs or interferes with the free use of property so as to interfere with or disrupt the free use of that property by any lawful owner or occupant; or

(b) The existence of any of the following conditions:

(i) Premises containing visible accumulations of trash, junk, litter, boxes, discarded lumber, ashes, bottles, boxes, building materials which are not properly stored or neatly piled, cans, concrete, crates, empty barrels, dead animals or animal waste, glass, tires, mattresses or bedding, numerous pieces of broken or discarded furniture and furnishings, old appliances or equipment or any parts thereof, iron or other scrap metal, packing cases or material, plaster, plastic, rags, wire, yard waste or debris, salvage materials or other similar materials, except that kept in garbage cans or containers maintained for regular collection. Nothing in this subsection shall prevent the temporary retention of waste in covered receptacles;

(ii) Dangerous structures including, but not limited to, any dangerous, decaying, unkempt, falling or damaged dwelling, or other structure, or as defined under Chapter 15.05 LCC and the International Building Code;

(iii) Any hulk, junk or abandoned vehicle, as defined in Chapter 8.05 LCC or Chapter 46 RCW, or any part thereof which is wrecked, inoperable or abandoned, or any disassembled trailer, mobile home or house trailer, or part thereof;

(iv) Vehicle sales or repair lots or the storing of extensively damaged vehicles if the vehicles are visible from public property or a public right-of-way and the vehicles are not stored or parked upon a driveway or in connection with a state or locally licensed scrap processor or licensed vehicle sales, repair, hauling, dismantling, or towing business or are not part of land use or development approved under the county code. “Extensive damage” includes but is not limited to broken windshields and missing tires. A “driveway” is defined as the roadway leading from the public right-of-way to a garage, covered parking area, or home;

(v) Attractive nuisances, as defined as any nuisance in this subsection which is detrimental to children, whether in or on a building, on the premises of a building, or upon an unoccupied lot, which is left in any place exposed or accessible to children including, but not limited to, unused or abandoned refrigerators, freezers, or other large appliances or equipment or any parts thereof, abandoned motor vehicles; any structurally unsound or unsafe fence or edifice; any unsecured or abandoned excavation, pit, well, cistern, storage tank or shaft; and any lumber, trash, debris or vegetation which may prove a hazard for minors;

(vi) Obstructions to the public right-of-way including, but not limited to, use of property abutting a public street or sidewalk or use of a public street or sidewalk which causes any obstruction to traffic or to open access to the streets or sidewalks. This subsection shall not apply to events, parades, or the use of the streets or public rights-of-way when authorized by the county. This section includes the existence of drainage onto or over any sidewalk, street or public right-of-way, and the existence of any debris or plant growth on sidewalks adjacent to any property, and any personal property and/or solid waste that has been placed onto a public right-of-way pursuant to a court-ordered eviction per Title 59 RCW which has not been removed after 24 hours;

(vii) Illegal dumping including, but not limited to violations of state and local solid waste or litter regulations, and dumping of any type by any person on public or private property not designated as a legal dump site;

(viii) Dumping in waterways including, but not limited to, dumping, depositing, placing or leaving of any garbage, ashes, debris, gravel, earth, rock, stone or other material upon the banks, channels, beds or bars of any navigable water, or the felling of any tree or trees, so that the same shall in whole or in part project within the high water bank of any navigable watercourse, or the casting, placing, depositing or leaving of any logs, roots, snags, stumps or brush upon the banks or in the bed or channel of any navigable watercourse, unless otherwise approved by the appropriate governmental agency;

(ix) Any unwholesome or offensive chemical stored in such a manner as to create a substantial risk of injury to public health;

(x) Any pit, basin, hole, mine, well, or other excavation which is unguarded and dangerous to life;

(xi) Any fence or similar structure that is in such disrepair so as to be in danger of collapsing or falling and causing a danger to persons;

(xii) Any combustible or explosive substance or material stored in such manner as to create a substantial risk of combustion or spread of fire; and

(c) Any act or omission that is defined as a nuisance by state or county law, including but not limited to LCC 6.05.020 (prohibited activities of dogs), LCC 6.05.050 (dangerous animals), LCC 8.05.100 (abandoned vehicles), LCC 8.15.140 (solid waste), LCC 8.30.090 (litter), LCC 8.35.010 (nuisances on highways), LCC 8.40.040 and LCC 8.40.279 (on-site sewage), LCC 8.45.030 (solid waste), LCC 15.25.110 (mobile homes), and LCC 15.45.500 (stormwater runoff).

(d) Notwithstanding subsections (7)(a) through (c) of this section, all conditions, actions, omissions, or the permission of any actions or omissions meeting the requirements and provisions described in the right to farm ordinance, Chapter 17.40 LCC, as hereafter amended, or that are allowable under a state or local license or permit shall not constitute nuisance under this chapter.

(8) “Omission” means a failure to act.

(9) “Person” means any individual, firm, association, partnership, corporation or any entity, public or private.

(10) “Person responsible for the violation” means any person who has an interest in or resides upon or occupies the property where the alleged violation is occurring, whether as owner, tenant, occupant, trustee or otherwise.

(11) “Premises” means a building or part of a building and the appurtenances thereto, grounds, and facilities of the building.

(12) “Vehicle” means every device capable of being moved upon a highway and in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway. Motorcycles shall be considered vehicles for the purposes of this chapter. Mopeds and bicycles shall not be considered vehicles for the purposes of this chapter.

(13) “Vehicle sales or repair lot” means a parcel(s) whereupon vehicle dealer or manufacture business or vehicle repair business is conducted which is regulated by the provisions of Title 46 RCW, and is subject to local land use regulation by a department.

(14) “Violation” means a violation that constitutes a nuisance under this chapter or under any chapter of the Lewis County Code. Each day or portion of a day during which a violation occurs or exists is a separate violation. [Ord. 1181 §1, 2003].

1.22.030 Abatement by the county.

(1) The county may seek to abate and permanently enjoin a condition which constitutes a nuisance under this chapter or under any chapter of the county code, and, using any lawful means, may enter upon the subject property and remove or correct the condition that is subject to such abatement or injunction. The prosecuting attorney’s office for the county may seek such judicial process as it deems necessary to effect the removal or correction of such condition.

(2) Summary Abatement. Whenever any nuisance causes a condition, the continued existence of which constitutes an immediate threat to the public health, safety, or welfare, or to the environment, the county may summarily and without prior notice abate the condition. Notice of such abatement, including the reason for it, shall be given to the person responsible for the violation as soon as reasonably possible. If the person responsible for the violation is a tenant, notice of such abatement shall also be given to the landlord or owner of the property where the violation is occurring. No right of action shall lie against the county or its agents, officers, or employees for actions reasonably taken to prevent or cure any such immediate threats, but neither shall the county be entitled to recover any costs incurred for summary abatement, prior to the time that actual notice of same is provided to the person responsible for the violation.

(3) Recovery of Costs and Expenses.

(a) The costs of correcting a nuisance under this chapter, or under any chapter of the county code, which is the subject of a warrant of abatement or of a contempt order for violation of a permanent injunction against such nuisance shall be billed to the person responsible for the nuisance and/or the owner, lessor, tenant, or any other person entitled to control the subject property.

(b) The costs of correction shall include “incidental expenses,” which may include, but are not limited to, personnel costs, both direct and indirect and including attorney’s fees; costs incurred in documenting the violation; towing/hauling, storage, and removal/disposal expenses; cost associated with service and enforcement of warrants, actual expenses and costs of the county in preparing notices, specifications, and contracts associated with the abatement and in accomplishing and/or contracting and inspecting the work; the costs of any required printing and mailing, and interest at the rate of 10 percent per annum on the costs of abatement incurred by the county.

(c) Costs of correction shall become due and payable to the county treasurer within 15 calendar days of the date of mailing the billing for abatement.

(d) All costs of correction assessed by the county create a joint and several personal obligation in all persons subject to a warrant of abatement or of a contempt order for violation of a permanent injunction against such nuisance.

(e) All such costs and expenses shall constitute a lien against the affected property, as set forth in subsection (5) of this section.

(4) Interference. Any person who knowingly hinders, delays or obstructs any county employee acting on direction of the director and in furtherance of a court order in the discharge of the county employee’s official powers or duties in abating a nuisance or correcting a violation of a permanent injunction under this chapter or under any chapter of the county code, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment not exceeding 90 days and/or a fine not exceeding $1,000.00. In addition, any such person knowingly hinders, delays or obstructs any county employee in furtherance of said duties shall be liable for incidental expenses to the county arising from such, including but not limited to personnel costs, both direct and indirect and including attorney’s fees; costs incurred in documenting the violation; all actual expenses and costs of the county in remediation of such hindrance, and delay or obstruction associated with the abatement or injunctive action. All such costs and expenses shall constitute a lien against the real property of said person, as set forth in subsection (5) of this section.

(5) Lien - Authorized. The county shall have a lien for any monetary penalty imposed, the cost of any abatement proceedings under this chapter or under any chapter of the county code, and all other related costs against the real property on which the monetary penalty was imposed or any of the work of abatement was performed. The lien shall run with the land, but shall be subordinate to all previously existing special assessment liens imposed on the same property and shall be superior to all other liens, except for state and county taxes, with which it shall be on a parity.

(a) The director shall cause a claim for lien to be filed for record within 90 days from the later of the date that the monetary penalty is due, the work is completed, or the nuisance abated or corrected.

(b) The claim of lien shall contain sufficient information regarding the notice of abatement, as determined by the director, a description of the property to be charged with the lien and the owner of record, and the total amount of the lien.

(c) Any such claim of lien shall be verified by the director, and may be amended to reflect changed conditions. [Ord. 1181 §1, 2003].

1.22.040 Removal of evicted personal property and/or solid waste placed onto public access.

Once personal property and/or solid waste belonging to an evicted tenant has been placed onto public right-of-way pursuant to a court-ordered eviction per Title 59 RCW, the evicted tenant/owner of the personal property and/or solid waste or his/her designee shall have 24 hours to remove said personal property and/or solid waste from the public right-of-way. Notice of such removal after 24 hours shall be given to the evicted tenant/owner of the personal property and/or solid waste or his/her designee, or if unavailable, posted on the property. If, after 24 hours, the evicted tenant/owner or his/her designee has not removed the personal property and/or solid waste from the public right-of-way, the property shall be deemed a nuisance, and the landlord/property owner or his/her designee shall remove the personal property and/or solid waste for proper disposal within 48 hours of issuing notice or the county shall seek to abate the nuisance, pursuant to LCC 1.22.030, to be billed to the landlord/property owner or his/her designee. [Ord. 1181 §1, 2003].

1.22.050 Additional enforcement procedures and nuisances.

The provisions of this chapter and its definition of “nuisance” are not exclusive, and may be used in addition to or in conjunction with other enforcement provisions, civil or criminal, or nuisance definitions provided for under the Lewis County Code. [Ord. 1181 §1, 2003].