Chapter 8.08
PUBLIC NUISANCES Revised 1/17 Revised 2/18 Revised 3/18

Sections

8.08.010    Purpose and Intent. Revised 1/17

8.08.020    Enforcement Authority.

8.08.030    Definitions. Revised 1/17

8.08.040    Public Nuisance Defined.

8.08.050    Specific Public Nuisances Declared. Revised 1/17 Revised 2/18 Revised 3/18

8.08.060    Landowner Responsibility. Revised 1/17

8.08.070    A Nuisance Does Not Become Legal by Prescription. Revised 1/17

8.08.080    Notice of Violation and Abatement. Revised 1/17

8.08.090    Civil Penalties. Revised 1/17

8.08.100    Notice of Non-Compliance. Revised 1/17

8.08.110    Appeals. Revised 1/17

8.08.120    Order of the Hearing Examiner.

8.08.130    Cooperative Abatement Agreements.

8.08.140    Cost Recovery.

8.08.150    Special Assessment

8.08.160    Additional Remedies.

8.08.170    Criminal Penalties.

8.08.180    Entry.

8.08.190    Severability.

8.08.010 Purpose and Intent. Revised 1/17

A.    It is the purpose and intent of this Chapter to provide for the protection of the health, safety, and general welfare of the citizens of Pierce County by proscribing nuisances and establishing a procedure for the abatement of nuisances where efforts to achieve voluntary compliance have failed. The remedy provided in this Chapter shall be in addition to, and not in lieu of, other civil or criminal remedies provided by State law and/or the Pierce County Code (PCC).

B.    It is the purpose and intent of this Chapter to eliminate the effects of accumulated solid waste, accumulated damaged and inoperable vehicles and vessels, unpermitted septic/sewage systems, and unpermitted motor vehicle salvage, storage, or repair sites. These conditions create blight, depress land values, generate health hazards, damage the environment and wildlife habitat, provide breeding grounds for pests such as rodents, hornets, and mosquitoes, attract illegal dumping of other solid waste and hazardous substances, lead to criminal behavior, and detrimentally affect the health and safety of communities and neighborhoods in rural and urbanized areas of unincorporated Pierce County.

C.    It is the purpose and intent of this Chapter to remove unpermitted buildings or structures, to rectify unpermitted development activities which damage environmentally sensitive areas of Pierce County including wetlands and shorelines, and to provide an alternative enforcement remedy where the landowner fails to comply with the terms of a cease and desist order or notice and order to correct or decision of the Pierce County Hearing Examiner.

D.    It is the purpose and intent of the County Council to declare that abatement of public nuisances from private property is a governmental purpose for which public funds may be spent as determined appropriate and necessary by the Executive.

E.    It is the further purpose and intent of this Chapter to hold the landowner responsible for the costs of abatement of nuisances that exist on his/her property.

(Ord. 2016-56s § 2 (part), 2016; Ord. 2008-61 § 3 (part), 2008)

8.08.020 Enforcement Authority.

The Pierce County Executive or designees, the Director of the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department or designees, and any law enforcement officer are authorized to enforce this Chapter. (Ord. 2008-61 § 3 (part), 2008)

8.08.030 Definitions. Revised 1/17

"Abate" means to act to stop an activity and/or to repair, replace, remove, or otherwise remedy a condition where such activity or condition constitutes a violation of this Chapter.

"Apparently Inoperable" means any vehicle that does not appear to comply with requirements for vehicles used on public streets with regard to brakes, lights, tires, safety glass or other safety equipment.

"Building" means any structure where person(s) reside, work, or congregate, including recreational vehicles, trailers, and mobile homes.

"County" means Pierce County.

"Extensively Damaged" means any vehicle that has visible damage to, or is missing, a minimum of three of the following parts or components:

1.    Frame;

2.    Axle;

3.    Surface panels;

4.    Doors;

5.    Fender;

6.    Window or windshield;

7.    Headlight or front signal light;

8.    Taillight, brake light, or rear signal light;

9.    Engine;

10.    Transmission;

11.    Wheels or tires;

12.    Steering wheel;

13.    Radiator;

14.    Battery;

15.    Any other major mechanical or electrical equipment; or

16.    Visible damage or a lack of any other similar component identified by a public official when observing the vehicle.

"Hearing Examiner" means a Pierce County Hearing Examiner or Deputy Hearing Examiner.

"Junk Vehicle" means a motor vehicle meeting at least three of the following requirements:

1.    Is three years old or older;

2.    Is extensively damaged;

3.    Is apparently inoperable; or

4.    Has an approximate fair market value equal only to the approximate value of the scrap in it.

"Landowner" is broadly defined to include a person(s) who legally owns real property and/or the person(s) shown on the last equalized assessment roll as the taxpayer for real property and/or any person in possession or control of property including an occupant, a builder or business operator who is developing, building, or operating a business on the property, or a person who has responsibility for maintaining the property.

"Person" means a natural person, joint venture, partnership, association, club, company, corporation, business trust, or organization, or the manager, lessee, agent, officer, or employee of any of them.

"Property" means any building, lot, parcel, dwelling, rental unit, real estate, or land, or portion thereof, including property used for residential, commercial, or other purposes, and including abandoned or unused property.

"Public Official" means any person(s) designated by the Pierce County Executive or the Director of the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department to carry out the purposes of this Chapter, and any law enforcement officer.

"Solid Waste" has the same meaning as in RCW 70.95.030(22) including but not limited to the following items: bagged or loose household garbage, containers of household liquids or hazardous wastes, old or unused furniture, furniture parts, machinery or appliances, household fixtures, tires, batteries, mattresses, construction debris, rotting or scrap lumber, paper and/or cardboard, rubber debris, scrap metal, vehicle parts, hardware, yard debris as defined in RCW 70.95.030(28), cut brush or wood, dead or decaying plant materials, animal carcasses or animal waste, junk vehicles, or derelict vessels. "Solid Waste" also includes: any material or item kept, placed, stored, stockpiled or managed in a manner that does not preserve its value; any material or item for which a landowner would need to pay for its removal, recycling or disposal; and any material or item stockpiled for recycling but the market for the material or item is unavailable or insufficient.

"Solid Waste Handling" has the same meaning as in RCW 70.95.030(23).

"Vehicle" shall include, but not be limited to, automobiles, motorcycles, trucks, buses, motorized recreational vehicles, campers, travel trailers, boat trailers, utility trailers, or other similar devices capable of moving or being moved on the public right-of-way, and shall also include parts of vehicles, but shall not include devices moved by human or animal power, or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.

"Vessel" has the same meaning as in PCC 8.88.040. (Ord. 2016-56s § 2 (part), 2016; Ord. 2008-61 § 3 (part), 2008)

8.08.040 Public Nuisance Defined.

A public nuisance consists of performing an unlawful 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; or

B.    Unlawfully interferes with, obstructs or tends to obstruct or renders dangerous for passage any lake, or navigable river, bay, stream, canal or basin, or any public property, open spaces, parks, or public right-of-way in the County; or

C.    Renders other persons insecure in life or in the use of property; or

D.    Creates, maintains, or permits the existence or continuance of any of the specific public nuisances identified in this Chapter.

(Ord. 2008-61 § 3 (part), 2008)

8.08.050 Specific Public Nuisances Declared. Revised 1/17 Revised 2/18 Revised 3/18

The following specific acts, omissions, places, conditions, and things are hereby declared to be public nuisances and are per se violations of this Chapter:

A.    The discharge of sewage, human excrement, or other wastes in any location or manner, except through approved means of sewage disposal which are constructed and maintained in accordance with the regulations of the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and/or the Pierce County Planning and Public Works Department.

B.    Any residence, business, or place where people congregate, reside, or work that does not have an adequate and lawful source of potable water as required by State or local regulations.

C.    Any residence, business, or place where people congregate, reside, or work that is not serviced by a sewage disposal system constructed and maintained in accordance with the regulations of the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and/or the Pierce County Planning and Public Works Department.

D.    Any poisonous material or poisonous thing on any property accessible to any animal or person.

E.    Unsecured hazards accessible to and posing a danger to minor children, animals, and any person with, or regarded as having, a sensory, physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities, which include, but are not limited to: unused, abandoned, or discarded refrigerators, freezers, or large appliances, or any unsecured or abandoned excavation, pit, mine, cistern, storage tank, or shaft.

F.    Property where solid waste has accumulated or is handled, stored, treated, processed, or buried except for properly permitted solid waste handling sites or facilities that are operated and maintained in full compliance with the terms of any permit, license, statute, regulation, or ordinance regulating such activity and solid waste securely stored in receptacles or containers designed to prevent threats to human health or safety or to the environment until such solid waste enters a solid waste handling system.

G.    Property used or maintained for the purpose of dismantling, salvaging, storing, or repairing of machinery, metals, or vehicles except where the landowner has obtained all licenses, permits, and approvals necessary to conduct such activity on the property.

H.    Property used or maintained for the purpose of dismantling, salvaging, storing, or repairing of machinery, metals, or vehicles where the landowner is not in compliance with the conditions set forth in any permit, license, statute, or ordinance regulating such activity.

I.    Property where one or more abandoned or derelict vessels, junk vehicles, or vehicle or vessel parts are accumulated, dismantled, parked, placed or stored unless the abandoned or derelict vessels, junk vehicles, or parts thereof pose no threat to human health or safety or to the environment, and are:

1.    Completely enclosed within a building sited, constructed and maintained in full compliance with the terms of any permit, license, statute, regulation, ordinance or order regulating such activity; or

2.    Stored or parked in a lawful manner on private property in connection with the legal business of a licensed dismantler, motor vehicle wrecker, licensed vehicle dealer, junk, salvage or wrecking yard, which is operating in full compliance with the terms of any permit, license, statute, regulation, ordinance or order regulating such activity, including the property fencing and screening provisions in RCW 46.80.130.

J.    Any building or structure where construction was commenced and then ceased and the building or structure was left unfinished, or any building or structure that has been constructed or modified without required permits.

K.    Any property or vehicle that has been found contaminated and declared unfit for use by a local health officer pursuant to RCW 64.44.030.

L.    Any violation of any of the following in the Pierce County Code: Title 17A, Construction and Infrastructure Regulations – Site Development and Stormwater Drainage; Title 17B, Construction and Infrastructure Regulations – Road and Bridge Design and Construction Standards; Title 17C, Construction and Infrastructure Regulations – Building and Fire Codes.

M.    Any violation of any of the following in the Pierce County Code: Title 18, Development Regulations – General Provisions; Title 18A, Development Regulations – Zoning; Title 18B, Development Regulations – Signs; Title 18D, Development Regulations – Environmental; Title 18E, Development Regulations – Critical Areas; Title 18F, Development Regulations – Land Divisions and Boundary Changes; Title 18H, Development Regulations – Forest Practices; Title 18I, Development Regulations – Natural Resources Lands; Title 18J, Development Regulations – Design Standards and Guidelines.

N.    Any violation of Title 20 PCC, Shoreline Management Use Regulations.

O.    Property maintained in violation of the terms of a permit or authorization issued by the Pierce County Planning and Public Works Department, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, or the Pierce County Fire Prevention Bureau.

P.    Property maintained in violation of the terms of a written order issued by the Pierce County Planning and Public Works Department, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, or the Pierce County Fire Prevention Bureau.

(Ord. 2017-12s § 2 (part), 2017; Ord. 2016-56s § 2 (part), 2016; Ord. 2015-25s § 2 (part), 2015; Ord. 2008-61 § 3 (part), 2008)

8.08.060 Landowner Responsibility. Revised 1/17

Every landowner has a duty to: maintain his or her property in a lawful manner and free of public nuisances; exercise reasonable diligence to ensure that his or her property remains free of public nuisances; and ensure that no other person can cause or contribute to a public nuisance on his or her property. It is not a defense to this Chapter that other persons may have caused or contributed to the nuisance. (Ord. 2016-56s § 2 (part), 2016; Ord. 2008-61 § 3 (part), 2008)

8.08.070 A Nuisance Does Not Become Legal by Prescription. Revised 1/17

A nuisance does not become legal by lapse of time. The responsibility established in PCC 8.08.060 runs with the land and shall be binding on all parties having or acquiring any right, title, interest, or any part thereof of the site, including the grantor, heirs, successors, and assigns. Every successive owner of the property or premises shall assume this duty and responsibility. (Ord. 2016-56s § 2 (part), 2016; Ord. 2008-61 § 3 (part), 2008)

8.08.080 Notice of Violation and Abatement. Revised 1/17

A.    Whenever, upon a reasonable belief, a public nuisance exists in violation of this Chapter, a public official may issue a Notice of Violation and Abatement to the landowner(s), containing the following:

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

2.    A description of the violation(s);

3.    A reference to the title, chapter, and section of the Pierce County Code or Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department regulation or written order which has been violated, if applicable.

4.    A description of the action required to abate the public nuisance which may include corrections, repairs, demolition, removal, or any other appropriate action, and a date by which voluntary abatement must be completed;

5.    A statement that the person to whom a Notice of Violation and Abatement is directed may request an administrative hearing to be conducted by the Hearing Examiner. Such request (Notice of Appeal) must be in writing and must be received by the public official within 14 days after the Notice of Violation and Abatement has been issued.

6.    A statement that the costs and expenses of abatement incurred by the County may be assessed against the person(s) named in the Notice of Violation and Abatement and further that failure to pay said costs may result in a lien for the costs of abatement being assessed against the property.

B.    The Notice of Violation and Abatement shall be served by any one or combination of the following methods:

1.    By both first-class and certified mail with a 5-day return receipt requested to the last known address of the landowner of the property; or

2.    By posting the Notice of Violation and Abatement in a prominent location on the premises in a conspicuous manner which is reasonably likely to be discovered; or

3.    By personal service upon the landowner.

(Ord. 2016-56s § 2 (part), 2016; Ord. 2008-61 § 3 (part), 2008)

8.08.090 Civil Penalties. Revised 1/17

The provisions of this Section are in addition to and not in lieu of any other penalty, sanction, or right of action provided by law. When a person fails to comply with a Notice of Violation and Abatement, the County may issue a civil penalty as follows:

A.    The County may issue a civil penalty in an amount up to $1,000 for each violation.

B.    Each day that the public nuisance is maintained in violation of the terms of a Notice of Violation and Abatement shall constitute a separate violation.

C.    The County shall impose the penalty provided for in this Section by sending written notice by certified mail with return receipt requested or by personal service to the person incurring the penalty. Such written notice shall describe the violation with reasonable particularity and shall order appropriate corrective action(s) to be taken within a specified time period.

D.    If the penalty is not appealed, the violator will have up to 30 days after the date of the notice to pay the penalty, unless a longer time period is granted by the issuing Department.

E.    The payment of the civil penalty shall not excuse the violation or allow the public nuisance to continue.

(Ord. 2016-56s § 2 (part), 2016; Ord. 2008-61 § 3 (part), 2008)

8.08.100 Notices of Non-Compliance. Revised 1/17

The provisions of this Section are in addition to and not in lieu of any other penalty, sanction, or right of action provided by law. The County may record a Notice of Non-Compliance with the Pierce County Auditor against the property on which a violation of this Chapter has taken place. A Notice of Non-Compliance is recorded on the title to notify any interested parties or lenders that a violation exists on the property provided that:

A.    Prior to recording a Notice of Non-Compliance, the County shall provide written notice of intent to record to the owner. Notice shall be delivered either personally or by mailing a copy of such notice by regular first class and certified mail to last known address of the owner. If the owner's address is unknown, the notice shall be mailed to the taxpayer as shown on the Assessor's records.

B.    When any monetary penalty assessed for the violation has been paid and the violation has been remedied to the satisfaction of the County (i.e., final inspections have occurred and final approvals have been granted), the County may record a Notice of Compliance. The owner shall be responsible for paying the cost of recording the Notice of Non-Compliance and the Notice of Compliance before the Notice of Compliance is recorded.

(Ord. 2016-56s § 2 (part), 2016; Ord. 2008-61 § 3 (part), 2008)

8.08.110 Appeals. Revised 1/17

A.    Within 14 calendar days after issuance of a written notice or decision under this Chapter, the landowner may submit a written notice of appeal, along with the required appeal fee, at the Pierce County Development Center.

B.    The appeal shall be heard by the Pierce County Hearing Examiner as an appeal of a non-land use matter pursuant to PCC 1.22.080 B.2.

(Ord. 2016-56s § 2 (part), 2016; Ord. 2008-61 § 3 (part), 2008)

8.08.120 Order of the Hearing Examiner.

A.    Unless mutually agreed to by the appellant and the Hearing Examiner, the order of the Hearing Examiner shall be served upon the person to whom it is directed, either personally or by mailing a copy of the order to such person at his/her last known address as determined by the designated public official.

B.    The Hearing Examiner, in affirming the public official's Notice of Violation and Abatement, may assess administrative costs and/or costs related to the abatement of the nuisance.

C.    The appellant may file a request for reconsideration of the Hearing Examiner's decision pursuant to PCC 1.22.130.

D.    If no written request for reconsideration has been received by the public official within seven working days of the date of the order of the Hearing Examiner, the order shall be considered final unless appealed to a court of competent jurisdiction pursuant to PCC 1.22.140.

(Ord. 2008-61 § 3 (part), 2008)

8.08.130 Cooperative Abatement Agreements.

The public official and the landowner may enter into a cooperative abatement agreement which includes a right of entry agreement and an agreement regarding the recovery of costs of the abatement. (Ord. 2008-61 § 3 (part), 2008)

8.08.140 Cost Recovery.

A.    In addition to the other remedies available under this Chapter, a public official may charge the costs of abatement to the landowner(s) who received the Notice of Violation and Abatement or to the landowner(s) who were found personally liable for the costs of abating the nuisance by an order issued by the Hearing Examiner if an appeal was filed. The costs are due and payable 30 days from mailing of the invoice. The costs shall be paid to the Department to which the public official is assigned.

B.    If more than one landowner has been issued a Notice of Violation and Abatement or more than one appellant was found personally liable for the costs of abating the nuisance by an order issued by the Hearing Examiner, each party shall be jointly and severally liable for the costs of the abatement.

C.    For purposes of this Section, "costs" shall include but are not limited to:

1.    Personnel costs, both direct and indirect, including all attorney's fees and costs incurred in the investigation, documentation, and abatement of the nuisance;

2.    Repair, demolition, hauling, clean up, storage, disposal, and environmental mitigation expenses;

3.    Actual expenses and costs of the County in preparing notices, specifications, and contracts, and the costs of any required printing or mailing;

4.    Actual expenses and costs of the County in accomplishing, contracting, or inspecting the abatement work.

D.    Any salvage value proceeds resulting from the abatement of the property shall first be applied to the costs of abatement. Any remaining such monies shall be paid to the landowner as shown on the last equalized assessment roll.

E.    The County may impose a special assessment for the costs of any abatement proceedings under this Chapter and all other related costs against the real property on which the nuisance was found or any of the work of abatement was performed.

(Ord. 2008-61 § 3 (part), 2008)

8.08.150 Special Assessment.

Pursuant to RCW 36.32.120(10), all costs incurred by Pierce County for the abatement of any nuisance defined by any statute or ordinance shall be a special assessment upon land or premises on which the nuisance is situated and this assessment shall constitute a lien against the property which shall be of equal rank with state, county, and municipal taxes. (Ord. 2008-61 § 3 (part), 2008)

8.08.160 Additional Remedies.

When it appears to the public official, or Prosecuting Attorney, that the remedies provided by this Chapter are not sufficient to abate the nuisance, the Prosecuting Attorney may also pursue temporary and permanent injunctive relief, a warrant of abatement, and an order for costs and fees in Superior Court under Chapter 7.48 RCW. The provisions of this Chapter are in addition to and not in lieu of any other penalty, sanction, or right of action provided by law. (Ord. 2008-61 § 3 (part), 2008)

8.08.170 Criminal Penalties.

It shall be a misdemeanor, punishable as prescribed in PCC 9.02.010, for any landowner to knowingly create or maintain a public nuisance on his or her property or to knowingly omit or refuse to perform any legal duty relating to the removal of a public nuisance. Each calendar day that a public nuisance remains unlawfully upon property shall constitute a separate offense. (Ord. 2008-61 § 3 (part), 2008)

8.08.180 Entry.

Using any lawful means, the public official may enter upon the subject property and may remove or correct the condition that is subject to abatement. The public official may seek such judicial process as the public official deems necessary to effect the abatement. (Ord. 2008-61 § 3 (part), 2008)

8.08.190 Severability.

If any provision of this Chapter or its application to any person or property is held invalid, the remainder of this Chapter or the application of the provision to other persons or property is not affected. (Ord. 2008-61 § 3 (part), 2008)