Chapter 18.82
HEARING EXAMINER Revised 8/22 Revised 12/22

18.82.000    Chapter Contents


18.82.020    Purpose.

18.82.040    Hearing examiner selection. Revised 8/22

18.82.060    Qualification and removal.

18.82.080    Improper influence, conflict of interest, and appearance of fairness.

18.82.100    Organization, rules.

18.82.120    Authority. Revised 12/22

18.82.140    Applications.

18.82.160    Effect of decision.

18.82.180    Report of department.

18.82.200    Public hearing.

18.82.210    Hearing postponement.

18.82.220    Hearing examiner’s decision.

18.82.240    Rezones - Recommendations. Revised 12/22

18.82.020 Purpose

The purpose of this Chapter is to:

A.    Separate the land use regulatory function from the land use planning process.

B.    Ensure procedural due process and appearance of fairness in land use regulatory hearings and decisions.

C.    Provide an efficient and effective land use regulatory system which integrates the public hearing and decision-making processes for land use matters.

D.    Provide for consistency and predictability in land use decision making and the application of policies and regulations adopted by the City.

E.    Establish clear and understandable rules governing the land use decision-making process.

(Ord. 5517 §1, 1995).

18.82.040 Hearing examiner selection Revised 8/22

A.    The Hearing Examiner shall be selected by the Council. At least once every four years, the City Council will conduct a selection process for the Olympia Hearing Examiner. The selection process will be conducted as deemed appropriate by the City Council.

B.    The Hearing Examiner may be retained on a professional service contract for a term and on conditions determined appropriate by the Council. The Hearing Examiner contract may provide that the Examiner may retain the services of officials to hold hearings as are needed to render aid and advice regarding technical or specialized issues that may be presented to the Examiner. Said contract may also provide for Hearing Examiner(s) pro tem to serve in the absence of the Hearing Examiner on such terms and conditions deemed appropriate by the Council.

(Ord. 7322 §1, 2022; Ord. 7187 §3, 2019; Ord. 5570 §36, 1995; Ord. 5517 §1, 1995).

18.82.060 Qualification and removal

Hearing Examiners shall be appointed solely with regard to their qualifications for the duties of their office and will have such training and experience as will qualify them to conduct administrative or quasi-judicial hearings on regulatory enactments and to discharge the other functions conferred upon them. Hearing Examiners shall hold no other elective or appointive office or position with the City of Olympia. A Hearing Examiner may be removed from office for cause by majority vote of the Council as recommended by the Joint Committee.

(Ord. 5517 §1, 1995).

18.82.080 Improper influence, conflict of interest and appearance of fairness

A.    No City official, elective or appointive, shall attempt to influence the Hearing Examiner in any matter officially before the Hearing Examiner so as to constitute misconduct of a public office under RCW 42.20 or a violation of the Appearance of Fairness Doctrine. No member of the Council shall participate in any proceeding on appeal from a Hearing Examiner’s decision if to do so would constitute a conflict of interest or violation of the Appearance of Fairness Doctrine.

B.    The Hearing Examiner shall conduct all proceedings in a manner to avoid conflicts of interest or other misconduct and to avoid violations of the Appearance of Fairness Doctrine. If such conflicts or violations cannot be avoided in a particular case, the Hearing Examiner shall assign a Hearing Examiner pro tem to act in the Hearing Examiner’s absence.

(Ord. 7187 §3, 2019; Ord. 5517 §1, 1995).

18.82.100 Organization, rules

A.    The Office of the Hearing Examiner shall be under the administrative supervision of the Hearing Examiner and shall be separate from the Department.

B.    The Hearing Examiner shall be empowered to adopt rules for the scheduling and conduct of hearings and other procedural matters related to the duties of the Hearing Examiner’s office. Such rules may provide for cross examination of witnesses. Further, such rules shall provide for recording of the proceedings and for compliance with the State, Federal and City laws which may govern such a proceeding.

C.    In rendering a decision, the Examiner is hereby authorized to take judicial notice of all duly-adopted rules, ordinances, standards, plans, regulations, and policies of the City of Olympia and other public agencies.

(Ord. 7187 §3, 2019; Ord. 5570 §36, 1995; Ord. 5517 §1, 1995).

18.82.120 Authority Revised 12/22

The following cases are within the jurisdiction of the Hearing Examiner under the terms and procedures of this Chapter.

A.    Short plat modification, variance requests or appeals.

B.    Shoreline development permits and permit rescissions.

C.    Shoreline development variances.

D.    Preliminary plat applications.

E.    Preliminary plat approval extension requests.

F.    Rezone and Master Planned Development applications.

G.    Preliminary plat modification requests.

H.    Planned residential developments.

I.    Conditional use permits.

J.    Zoning variances.

K.    Appeals of zoning interpretations.

L.    Administrative appeals.

M.    Appeals of the requirements of the Engineering Design and Development Standards, including deviation request decisions made under Chapter 1 of such Standards

N.    Applications for density bonuses.

O.    Removal of density bonus conditions.

P.    Critical area reasonable use exception.

Q.    Site plan and home occupation application referred by staff.

R.    Preliminary short plat or binding site plan applications referred by staff.

S.    Concept design review.

T.    Detailed design review.

U.    Building and grading permits.

V.    Engineering and other construction permits.

W.    Permits and other matters associated with and consolidated with applications for the above project approvals.

X.    Appeals of Community Planning and Development Director’s denial or cancellation of a multi-family housing final certificate of tax exemption.

Y.    Subdivision improvement deferral agreement.

Z.    County homeless encampments.

AA.    Appeals of Drainage Manual Administrator decisions.

BB.    Development Agreements associated with a pending development permit application requiring Hearing Examiner review.

(Ord. 7342 §3, 2022; Ord. 7110 §10, 2017; Ord. 6771 §2, 2011; Ord. 5718 §3, 1997; Ord. 5713 §2, 1997; Ord. 5570 §36, 1995; Ord. 5539 §19, 1995; Ord. 5517 §1, 1995).

18.82.140 Applications

Applications for permits or approvals within the City of Olympia shall be presented to the Department. The Department shall accept such applications only if applicable filing requirements are met. The Department shall, in coordination with the Hearing Examiner, be responsible for assigning a date for and assuring due notice of public hearing for each application, which date and notice shall be in accordance with Chapter 18.78, Public Notification.

(Ord. 5517 §1, 1995).

18.82.160 Effect of decision

A.    If any of the permits or approvals require or include a rezone or Master Planned Development, then the decision of the Hearing Examiner as to all such permits or approvals shall constitute a recommendation to the City Council; otherwise, the decision of the Hearing Examiner shall be final subject to appeal to the Council pursuant to Sections 18.75.080 and 18.75.100.

B.    The Department may prescribe a reduced fee schedule for master applications reflecting cost savings realized through unified processing of more than one permit.

(Ord. 6140 §37, 2001; Ord. 5539 §20, 1995; Ord. 5517 §1, 1995).

18.82.180 Report of department

The Department shall coordinate and assemble the reviews of other City departments and governmental agencies having an interest in the subject application and shall prepare a report summarizing the factors involved and the Department’s findings and recommendations. At least seven (7) calendar days prior to the scheduled hearing the report shall be filed with the Hearing Examiner and copies thereof shall be mailed to the applicant and made available for public inspection.

(Ord. 5517 §1, 1995).

18.82.200 Public hearing

Prior to rendering a decision or recommendation on any application, the Hearing Examiner shall hold at least one (1) public hearing thereon, except as otherwise provided for in this code. Notice of the time and place of the public hearing shall be given as provided in Chapter 18.78, Public Notification. If none is specifically set forth, such notice shall be given at least ten (10) days prior to such hearing per OMC 18.78.040. Such hearing may be held jointly with that of any other state or local agency so long as such joint hearing is not prohibited by statute, sufficient notice is given, and the necessary information to hold the hearing has been received.

(See RCW 36.70.110.)

(Ord. 6886 §32, 2013; Ord. 5570 §36, 1995; Ord. 5517 §1, 1995).

18.82.210 Hearing postponement

After written notice of the public hearing date has been mailed to interested parties, such hearing shall not be postponed except for good cause and only with the consent of the Hearing Examiner. Any request for such postponement shall be for a specific period and be submitted in writing to the Department and duly forwarded with the Directors recommendation to the Examiner for consideration. If good cause is presented, the Examiner shall postpone such hearing to a date certain and shall order that all costs of new notice of such hearing shall be paid to the City by the party requesting that the hearing be postponed.

(Ord. 5570 §36, 1995).

18.82.220 Hearing examiner’s decision

Within fourteen (14) days of the conclusion of a hearing, unless a longer period is agreed to in writing by the applicant, the Hearing Examiner shall render a written decision which shall include at least the following:

A.    Findings based upon the record and conclusions therefrom which support the decision. Such findings and conclusions shall address any and all specific issues raised by the staff, the applicant, or any party of record. Such findings and conclusions may also set forth the manner by which the decision would carry out and conform to the City’s or County’s Comprehensive Plan, other official policies and objectives, ordinances, land use regulatory enactments and, in the case of preliminary plats, in conformance to Chapter 17.04 of this code. In lieu of original findings and conclusions regarding uncontested matters, the Examiner may adopt findings and conclusions recommended by the staff, the applicant, or any party of record.

B.    A decision on the application, which may be to approve, deny, or approve with such conditions, modifications and restrictions as the Hearing Examiner finds necessary to make the application compatible with its environment, the Comprehensive Plan, other official policies, objectives, and land use regulatory enactments.

C.    A statement that the decision is final.

D.    The City Manager, on behalf of the City, is authorized to appeal or seek review of a decision of the Hearing Examiner in Superior Court pursuant to the provisions of chapter 36.70C RCW and any other applicable legal authority.

(Ord. 6514 §8, 2007; Ord. 5570 §36, 1995; Ord. 5539 §21, 1995; Ord. 5517 §1, 1995).

18.82.240 Rezones –Recommendations Revised 12/22

The Hearing Examiner shall make any decision regarding a rezone, a Master Plan Development, or a development agreement associated with a pending development permit application requiring Hearing Examiner review, with or without conditions, in the form of a recommendation to the City Council. The City Council shall consider such recommendation at a regular public meeting. In the alternative, the Council may consider the recommendation at a public hearing with notice given as provided by this Chapter. In either case, the scope of Council review is as provided in Sections 18.75.080 and 18.75.100 of this Chapter. The evidence, record, and arguments before the Council is limited solely to those brought before the Hearing Examiner. A copy of documents will be provided to the Council by paper or electronically. A copy of arguments will be presented to the Council or provided electronically. No new evidence, record or arguments of any type is allowed before Council. The staff report, recordings if any, and attachments, including those on the internet, to Council will solely provide the evidence, record, and argument that was presented to the City Hearing Examiner on the proposed rezone that does not require a Comprehensive Plan amendment.

(Ord. 7342 §4, 2022; Ord. 7013 §5, 2016; Ord. 6140 §38, 2001; Ord. 5570 §36, 1995; Ord. 5539 §22, 1995; Ord. 5517 §1, 1995).