Chapter 8.68
FAIR HOUSING REGULATIONS

Sections:

8.68.010    Short Title.

8.68.020    Declaration of Policy.

8.68.030    Definitions.

8.68.040    Unlawful Discriminatory Practices.

8.68.050    Practices Not Prohibited.

8.68.060    Adjustment and Settlement of Complaints.

8.68.070    Community Development Agency to Adopt Rules and Procedures.

8.68.010 Short Title.

This Chapter may be cited as the "Pierce County fair housing ordinance." (Ord. 84-102 § 1 (part), 1985; Ord. 81-120 § 1 (part), 1982; prior Code § 10.34.010)

8.68.020 Declaration of Policy.

It is the policy of Pierce County, through fair, orderly and lawful procedures, to promote the opportunity for each person to obtain decent, safe and affordable housing without regard to race, color, religion, sex, marital status, national origin, or the presence of sensory, mental or physical handicap. This policy is founded upon a recognition of the right of each person to have access to adequate housing of the person's choice. It is recognized that the denial of this right because of race, color, religion, sex, marital status, age, national origin, or the presence of any sensory, mental or physical handicap is detrimental to the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the County and constitutes an unjust deprivation of rights. It is further recognized that such an unjust deprivation of rights is within the power and proper responsibility of government to protect. (Ord. 84-102 § 1 (part), 1985; Ord. 81-120 § 1 (part), 1982; prior Code § 10.34.020)

8.68.030 Definitions.

A.    "Age" refers to persons 18 years of age and older and otherwise legally able to contract.

B.    "Agency" means the Community Development Agency of Pierce County.

C.    "City" means the Executive Director of the Human Rights Department of the City of Tacoma and the Tacoma Human Rights Department staff.

D.    "Charging party" includes any individual alleging on his/her own behalf to have been personally aggrieved by an unlawful discriminatory practice.

E.    "Conciliation" means a written settlement generally providing full relief for the charging party after a determination of reasonable cause has been accepted. Such agreement requires the signatures of the respondent and a city representative. The charging party may also be signatory to such an agreement.

F.    "Housing accommodation" means any building, structure or part thereof which is used or occupied, or is intended, arranged or designed to be used or occupied, as a residence, home or place of habitation of one or more human beings, including a mobile home or a trailer and any land for sale, lease or use as a site for a building, structure, or part thereof intended or designed to be used or occupied as a residence, home, or place of habitation of one or more human beings, including a mobile home park or a trailer camp.

G.    "Marital status" includes being married, separated, divorced, widowed or single.

H.    "Negotiated settlement" means a signed agreement between the charging party and the respondent in a particular case prior to a finding on the merits of the charge. The city may also be signatory to such an agreement. A negotiated settlement should not be taken as evidence that the respondent has or has not engaged in any unlawful discriminatory activity.

I.    "Person" includes one or more individuals, partnerships, associations, corporations, organizations, cooperatives, legal representatives, trustees, and receivers or any group of persons; it includes any owner, lessee, proprietor, manager, agent or employee, whether one or more natural persons; and further includes Pierce County and any political or civil subdivisions thereof and any agency or instrumentality of Pierce County or any political or civil subdivision thereof.

J.    "Reasonable cause" means that a determination has been made that the evidence produced by the city staff's investigation is adequate to support a reasonable conclusion that unlawful discrimination has occurred or is occurring. Such determination allows for the continuance of the administrative process including, but not limited to, attempts at conciliation.

K.    "Religion" includes all aspects of religious observance and practice, including belief.

L.    "Respondent" includes any person or entity against whom a complaint or charge of unlawful practice is filed with the city.

M.    "Sensory, mental or physical handicap" means any condition or characteristic that renders a person a "handicapped person." A "handicapped person" should be defined as any person who:

1.    Has a sensory, physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities;

2.    Has a record of such an impairment; or

3.    Is regarded as having such an impairment.

(Ord. 84-102 § 1 (part), 1985; Ord. 81-120 § 1 (part), 1982; prior Code § 10.34.030)

8.68.040 Unlawful Discriminatory Practices.

A.    Discrimination in Housing Accommodations. It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for an owner, lessee, sublessee, managing agent of, real estate broker, real estate salesperson, or any other person having the right to sell, rent or lease any property, or any agent or employee of any of these:

1.    To refuse to sell, rent or lease, to offer for sale, rental or lease, or otherwise deny or withhold any housing accommodation to or from any person, or to refuse to negotiate for the sale, rental or lease of any housing accommodation to any person because of race, color, religion, sex, marital status, national origin, age or presence of sensory, mental or physical handicap;

2.    To represent that housing accommodations are not available for inspection, sale, rental or lease when in fact they are so available or otherwise deny or withhold any housing accommodations or any facilities of housing accommodations to or from any person because of race, color, religion, sex, marital status, national origin, age or presence of sensory, mental or physical handicap;

3.    To discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions or privileges of the sale, rental or lease of housing accommodations or in furnishing of facilities or services in connection therewith because of the person's race, color, religion, sex, marital status, national origin, age or presence of sensory, mental or physical handicap; or

4.    To print, circulate or post or cause to be printed, circulated or posted, any advertisement or sign, or use any form of application for the purchase, rental or lease of any housing accommodation, or make any record or inquiry in connection with the prospective purchase, rental or lease of any housing accommodation, which expresses directly or indirectly any limitation, specification or discrimination as to race, color, religion, sex, marital status, national origin, age or presence of sensory, mental or physical handicap.

B.    Discriminatory Representation by Real Estate Brokers or Real Estate Salespersons. It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for any real estate broker or real estate salesperson, or any agent or employee thereof, for the purpose of inducing a real property transaction from which such person, that person's firm, or any of its members may benefit financially, to represent that a change has occurred or will or may occur in the composition with respect to race, color, religion, sex, marital status, national origin, age or presence of sensory, mental or physical handicap of the owners or occupants in the block, neighborhood or area in which the real property is located. It shall also be an unlawful discriminatory practice to represent directly or indirectly that this change will or may result in undesirable consequences in the block, neighborhood or area in which the real property is located, including, but not limited to, the lowering of property values, an increase in criminal or antisocial behavior, or a decline in the quality of schools or other public facilities.

C.    Retaliation. It is an unlawful practice for any property owner, real estate broker or agent thereof or financial institution to expel, penalize, or otherwise discriminate against any person because that person has opposed any practice forbidden by this Chapter, whether or not such practice in fact exists, or because that person has filed a charge, testified or assisted in any proceeding under this Chapter.

(Ord. 84-102 § 1 (part), 1985; Ord. 81-120 § 1 (part), 1982; prior Code § 10.34.040)

8.68.050 Practices Not Prohibited.

A.    Nothing in this Chapter shall prohibit a religious organization, association or society, or any nonprofit institution or organization operated, supervised or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association or society, from limiting the sale, rental or occupancy of dwellings which it owns or operates for other than a commercial purpose to persons of the same religion, or from giving preference to such persons, unless membership in such religion is restricted on account of race, color, sex or national origin. Nor shall anything in this Chapter prohibit a private club not in fact open to the public, which as an incident to its primary purpose or purposes provides lodging which it owns or operates for other than a commercial purpose, from limiting the rental or occupancy of such lodgings to its members or from giving preference to its members.

B.    This Chapter does not require that an owner make accessible any housing accommodation which is not otherwise physically accessible to the physically or sensorially handicapped unless so required by a federal, state, city or county statute, ordinance or regulation.

C.    This Chapter shall not prohibit the owner, lessee, sublessee, managing agent, real estate broker, real estate salesperson, or any other person having the right to sell, rent or lease property or any agent or employee thereof of housing accommodations from requiring the same financial obligations of all prospective tenants regardless of their race, color, religion, sex, marital status, national origin, age or the presence of any sensory, mental or physical handicap. Discrimination in the amount or manner of payment of said financial obligations shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice.

D.    Housing accommodations in which there are common lavatory or sleeping facilities, shared by any number of persons, may give preference on the basis of sex in offering and providing those accommodations to the public.

(Ord. 84-102 § 1 (part), 1985; Ord. 81-120 § 1 (part), 1982; prior Code § 10.34.050)

8.68.060 Adjustment and Settlement of Complaints.

A.    Initiation of Review of Violation. Review of alleged violations of this Chapter shall be initiated by filing a written, notarized complaint alleging that an unlawful discriminatory practice has occurred or is occurring. Such complaint shall be filed with the city, which has entered into an interlocal agreement with the County to act as its agent in reviewing the complaints, and shall be filed no later than six months after the occurrence of the alleged prohibited activity. The city shall conduct a prompt investigation of the complaint. During the course of the investigation, the city may attempt to resolve the dispute between the charging party and the respondent by means of a negotiated settlement. If, upon the completion of such investigation, it is determined that insufficient evidence exists to support a reasonable finding that an unlawful discriminatory practice has occurred or is occurring, such determination shall be filed in writing with the Agency and the case shall be administratively closed. If a determination of reasonable cause is found, however, the city shall attempt to mediate and resolve the dispute between the charging party and the alleged violator by means of conciliation.

B.    Administrative Closure. The charging party may file a request with the Agency for reconsideration of the city's decision to administratively close its case. Upon receipt of such a request, the Agency shall independently review the record compiled by the city to determine if reasonable cause exists. If the Agency finds such reasonable cause to exist or that this record is substantially incomplete or inadequate, it shall return the case to the city for further action.

C.    Conciliation Failure. If the complained-of prohibited activity cannot be eliminated through conciliation, the city's finding of reasonable cause shall be reported to the Agency, accompanied by a recommendation by the city either to take or not to take the unresolved case to a public hearing before the County Hearing Examiner, based upon the city's evaluation as to which course of action will best effectuate the purposes of this Chapter. Cases not recommended for hearing before the County Hearing Examiner may be administratively closed by the Agency. Cases recommended for hearing shall be forwarded by the Agency to the office of the County Hearing Examiner after review by the Prosecuting Attorney's Office.

1.    The case in support of the Agency's finding of reasonable cause shall be presented at hearing by a County representative; provided, however, that the charging party may retain independent counsel and submit testimony and be fully heard.

2.    The respondent shall have the right to file a written answer to the charge and to appear at the hearing with or without counsel, submit testimony and be fully heard, and to examine and cross-examine witnesses.

3.    The Hearing Examiner shall not be bound by the strict rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law or equity. The testimony taken at the hearing shall be under oath, and shall be recorded.

4.    If, upon all the evidence presented, the Hearing Examiner finds that the respondent has not engaged in an unlawful discriminatory practice, the Hearing Examiner shall issue an order dismissing the complaint.

5.    If, upon all the evidence presented, the Hearing Examiner finds that the respondent has engaged or is engaging in an unlawful discriminatory practice, the Examiner shall issue an order which shall effectuate the purposes of this Chapter. Such order shall require the respondent to cease and desist from such unlawful discriminatory practice and to take such affirmative action as is necessary to effectuate the purposes of this Chapter. An order may include the selling, renting or leasing of a housing accommodation or housing accommodations upon equal terms and conditions and with equal facilities, services and privileges; and any other order which, in the judgment of the Hearing Examiner, will effectuate the purposes of this Chapter and is warranted by the facts presented at the hearing, including a requirement for report of the manner of compliance. The Hearing Examiner may, in addition to other relief authorized under this Chapter, award the complainant up to $1,000.00 for loss of the right or rights secured by this Chapter. Such orders shall also include terms requiring performance of such action within 30 days after receipt of notice by the respondent of the entry of such order.

D.    Civil Violation. A respondent who has not complied with the terms of an order mandating relief as described above within 30 days of receiving notice of the entry of such order shall be deemed guilty of a civil violation against Pierce County and shall be liable to the County in an amount not to exceed $100.00 to be levied by the district Court of Pierce County for each day in excess of the 30 days provided for in this Chapter on which such respondent has failed to comply with an order rendered by the Hearing Examiner or to seek Superior Court review of such order.

E.    Appeal from Orders of Hearing Examiner. Any respondent or charging party aggrieved by a final order of the Hearing Examiner may obtain a review of such order on the record by the County Council by filing with the Clerk of the Council, within 30 days from the date of receipt of such order, a written petition praying that such order be modified or set aside. The Hearing Examiner shall then cause to be filed with the Council a tape recording and summary of the entire record of the proceedings, including the pleadings, testimony and order. The County Council shall have jurisdiction to grant to any party such relief as it deems just and equitable. Council review of an order of the Hearing Examiner shall be recorded on tape and in accordance with the Permanent Rules of the County Council. Filing of a petition seeking Council review of an order of the Hearing Examiner shall operate as a stay of such order.

F.    Council Decision is Final. The decision of the County approving, amending or rejecting a decision of the Examiner is final and conclusive unless within 30 days from the date of the resolution setting forth the Council's decision an aggrieved party files an appropriate action in Superior Court for purpose of review of the Council decision, and serves all necessary parties.

G.    Court Enforcement of Orders. The Agency may petition the Superior Court of Washington for Pierce County for enforcement of any order of the Hearing Examiner or of the Council which has not been complied with during the 30-day period of performance prescribed in such order. The Agency, through the Prosecuting Attorney or his Deputy, shall certify and file in Superior Court a transcript of the entire record of the proceedings, including the pleadings and testimony upon which such order was made and the findings and orders of the Hearing Examiner or Council. Within five days after filing such petition in Court, the Agency shall cause a notice of the petition to be personally served upon all parties or their representatives. Such review shall be in accordance with the provisions set forth at RCW 49.60.260.

(Ord. 84-102 § 1 (part), 1985; Ord. 81-120 § 1 (part), 1982; prior Code § 10.34.060)

8.68.070 Community Development Agency to Adopt Rules and Procedures.

The Community Development Agency shall prescribe such additional rules and procedures not inconsistent with the provisions of this Chapter as may be necessary to implement the enforcement procedures contained in this Chapter. (Ord. 84-102 § 1 (part), 1985; Ord. 81-120 § 1 (part), 1982; prior Code § 10.34.070)