4-8-100 APPLICATION AND DECISION – GENERAL:

A. PREAPPLICATION MEETING:

1. When Required: A preapplication meeting prior to formal submittal of a development application is required if a waiver of submittal requirements is requested or a proposed project is within the Airport Influence Area; a preapplication meeting is recommended for all other projects. (Amd. Ord. 4777, 4-19-1999; Ord. 4788, 7-19-1999; Ord. 5100, 11-1-2004; Ord. 5759, 6-22-2015)

2. Purpose: The meeting is not intended to provide an exhaustive review of all potential issues. Preapplication review does not prevent or limit the City from applying all relevant laws at the time of application submittal. The purposes of a preapplication meeting are:

a. To acquaint an applicant with the requirements of the City’s development regulations and other applicable laws.

b. To provide an opportunity for the City to be acquainted with a proposed application prior to review of a formal application. (Amd. Ord. 4794, 9-20-1999)

3. Preapplication Submittal Requirements: Preapplication meeting submittal requirements are available through the Department.

4. Waiver of Formal Application Submittal Requirements: An applicant may submit a written request for a waiver from formal application submittal requirements under RMC 4-8-120, Submittal Requirements – Specific to Application Type, which may be considered during a preapplication meeting.

B. SUBMITTAL OF FORMAL APPLICATION:

Applications, except appeals, shall be filed with the Department.

C. LETTER OF COMPLETENESS:

1. Timing: Within twenty eight (28) days after receipt of an application, the Department shall provide a written determination that the application is deemed complete or incomplete according to the submittal requirements as listed in RMC 4-8-120A, B or C, and any site-specific information identified after a site visit. In the absence of a written determination, the application shall be deemed complete.

2. Incomplete Applications:

a. Notice of Incomplete Application: If an application is determined incomplete, the necessary materials for completion shall be specified in writing to the contact person and property owner.

b. Notice of Complete Application or Request for Additional Information: Within fourteen (14) days of submittal of the information specified as necessary to complete an application, the applicant will be notified whether the application is complete or what additional information is necessary. The maximum time for resubmittal shall be within ninety (90) days of written notice.

c. Time Extensions: In such circumstances where a project is complex or conditions exist that require additional time, the Administrator may allow the applicant, contact person and/or property owner additional time to provide the requested materials. When granted, extension approvals shall be provided in writing. (Ord. 5676, 12-3-2012)

3. Additional Information May Be Requested: A written determination of completeness does not preclude the Department from requesting supplemental information or studies, if new information is required to complete review of an application or if significant changes in the permit application are proposed. The Department may set deadlines for the submittal or supplemental information.

4. Expiration of Complete Land Use Applications: Any land use application type described in RMC 4-8-080 that has been inactive and an administrative decision has not been made or has not been reviewed by the Hearing Examiner in a public hearing shall become null and void six (6) months after a certified notice is mailed to the applicant, contact person and property owner, unless other time limits are prescribed elsewhere in the Renton Municipal Code or other codes adopted by reference.

5. Extension of Complete Application: A one-time, one-year extension may be granted if a written extension request is submitted prior to the expiration date identified in the certified notice and the applicant, contact person or property owner(s) has demonstrated due diligence and reasonable reliance towards project completion. In consideration of due diligence and reasonable reliance the Administrator shall consider the following:

a. Date of initial application;

b. Time period the applicant had to submit required studies;

c. Availability of necessary information;

d. Potential to provide necessary information within one (1) year;

e. Applicant’s rationale or purpose for delay; and

f. Applicant’s ability to show reliance together with an expectation that the application would not expire. (Ord. 4587, 3-18-1996; Ord. 4660, 3-17-1997; Ord. 5605, 6-6-2011; Ord. 5676, 12-3-2012)

D. NOTICES TO APPLICANT:

The applicant shall be advised of the date of acceptance of the application and of the environmental determination, if applicable. The applicant shall be advised of the date of any public hearing at least ten (10) days prior to the public hearing. (Ord. 3454, 7-28-1980)

E. ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION:

The Administrator shall issue decisions within the time frames established in RMC 4-8-080, Permit Classification.

F. REPORT BY THE DEPARTMENT FOR PUBLIC HEARING:

1. Report Content: When an application has been set for public hearing, if required, the Department shall coordinate and assemble the comments and recommendations of other City departments and government agencies having an interest in the subject application and shall prepare a report summarizing the factors involved and the Department findings and supportive recommendations.

2. Report Timing: 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 shall be made available for use by any interested party for the cost of reproduction. (Ord. 3300, 3-19-1979; Amd. Ord. 3592, 12-14-1981)

G. PUBLIC HEARING:

The following shall apply to public hearings held by the Hearing Examiner:

1. Hearing by Hearing Examiner Required: Before rendering a decision or recommendation on any application for which a public hearing is required, the Hearing Examiner shall hold at least one (1) public hearing thereon.

2. Constitutes Hearing by Council: On applications requiring approval by the City Council, the public hearing before the Hearing Examiner, if required, shall constitute the hearing by the City Council. The Hearing Examiner shall have the power to prescribe rules and regulations for the conduct of hearings under this Chapter subject to confirmation by the City Council, and to administer oaths and preserve order.

3. Hearing Rules:

a. Scope of Rules: These rules apply to all hearings that are required by the Renton Municipal Code to be held before the Hearing Examiner and shall serve as guidance when the Hearing Examiner is given the duty to conduct hearings on other subjects. The criteria for consideration of land use decisions are found in chapter 4-9 RMC.

b. Organization Representative Required: When a group of people, organization, corporation, or other entity, participates in a hearing, one person is to be designated to be its representative and inform the Hearing Examiner in writing of the name, address and telephone number of that designated representative. The rights of such participant shall be exercised by the person designated as the representative. Except as otherwise provided in these rules, notice or other communication to the representative is considered to be notice or communication to the organization.

c. Powers of Hearing Examiner: The Hearing Examiner shall preside over the hearing. The Hearing Examiner shall have all of the authority and duties granted to the Hearing Examiner in state statutes, the City code, and other City ordinances. Included in the duties of the Hearing Examiner are the following: to conduct fair and impartial hearings, to take all necessary action to avoid delay in the disposition of proceedings, and to maintain order. The Hearing Examiner has all powers necessary to that end, including the following:

i. To administer oaths and affirmations;

ii. To rule upon offers of proof and receive evidence;

iii. To regulate the course of the hearings and the conduct of the parties and their agents;

iv. To consolidate matters under consideration for hearing whenever the interests of justice and efficiency will be served or as required by the City code;

v. To question any participant at the hearing;

vi. To hold conferences for settlement, simplification of the issues, or any other proper purpose;

vii. To require briefing on legal issues;

viii. To consider and rule upon all procedural and other motions appropriate to the proceedings; and

ix. To make and file decisions and recommendations.

d. Conflict with State Law or Procedural Due Process: These rules of procedure are adopted to supplement the requirements of the Renton Municipal Code, state law and procedural due process. In the event that there are any conflicts between these rules and the provisions of the Renton Municipal Code, state law or procedural due process, the provisions of the Renton Municipal Code or procedural due process shall prevail.

e. Nature of Proceedings:

i. Frequency: Hearings before the Hearing Examiner shall be held at the time and place specified in the notice of hearing. Each matter shall be noted to commence at a particular time. Once commenced, a hearing may be continued by the Hearing Examiner for good cause.

ii. Format: The format for a hearing will be of an informal nature yet designed in such a way that the evidence and facts relevant to a particular proceeding will be easily ascertainable by a reviewing body. The format will allow development of a record consistent with these rules.

iii. Site Visit: Site visits may be helpful in understanding evidence that has been or might be presented at a hearing. When deemed necessary by the Hearing Examiner, the Hearing Examiner may inspect the site before or after a hearing. If the Hearing Examiner intends to conduct a post-hearing inspection, he or she shall ensure that the parties have an opportunity to be heard concerning the visit.

iv. Record of Hearing: Hearings shall be electronically recorded and such recordings shall be a part of the official case record. No minutes of the hearing will be required, except that the list of witnesses testifying and exhibits offered and/or entered shall be maintained throughout the proceedings. Written transcripts of recorded proceedings are the responsibility of the person desiring the transcript at his or her own cost. Any transcript must be provided to the City Clerk and the Renton City Attorney at no cost.

v. Computation of Time: In the computation of any period of time prescribed or allowed in any manner by the Hearing Examiner or Renton Municipal Code, the day from which the time period begins to run shall not be included. When the last day of the period so computed is a Saturday, Sunday or a City-recognized holiday, the period shall run until the end of the next following business day.

vi. Filing and Service:

(a) Filing occurs when documents are submitted to the Hearing Examiner Clerk at the Renton City Clerk’s Office. Documents may be submitted by mail, personal delivery, fax, or email. Filing is complete upon receipt, except that filing by email and fax must be confirmed during regular business hours. Courtesy copies may be sent directly to the Hearing Examiner. Service by mail will be deemed complete if postmarked two (2) days before the due date.

(b) Documents required to be served on another party of record may be delivered personally, transmitted by facsimile or email, or sent by regular mail. Service must be complete by 5:00 p.m. on the day it is due. In the case of regular mail, service will be deemed complete if postmarked two (2) days before the due date.

(c) Except for final decisions, every party of record represented by another person and every participant represented by another person consents to service on the representative.

(d) At least seven (7) calendar days prior to the hearing, the staff member assigned to the matter shall file a written analysis (“staff report”) with the Hearing Examiner, along with all documents from the file he or she determines are required for review of the matter. The staff report and an identification of the documents shall be mailed to the applicant and to the appellant(s), if different from the applicant. Any party may inspect the Department’s file and submit additional documents to the Hearing Examiner.

vii. Communications with Hearing Examiner: Any written or verbal communication, made directly or indirectly with or by the Hearing Examiner that occurs outside of the hearing and in the absence of other participants is an ex parte communication. Ex parte communications are prohibited, except those communications regarding written submissions that are copied to all other parties of record or procedural matters. If an ex parte communication is prohibited by these rules and is recognized after it occurs, a written statement of the communication shall be made or the statement shall be disclosed during the hearing with an opportunity for parties of record to respond.

viii.  Appearance of Fairness: Proceedings before the Hearing Examiner are quasi-judicial in nature and therefore the appearance of fairness doctrine applies. At the commencement of the hearing or prior to commencement, if known, the Hearing Examiner and parties of record are required to disclose any fact that may affect the ability of the Hearing Examiner to issue a fair and impartial decision.

ix. Hearing Examiner Pro Tem: In the event the Hearing Examiner is unable to serve, a “Hearing Examiner Pro Tem” will be selected as determined by the City. The Hearing Examiner Pro Tem shall have the same authority as the Hearing Examiner.

x. Termination of Jurisdiction: The jurisdiction of the Hearing Examiner ends when the Hearing Examiner issues a final decision or recommendation in the matter and the time limit for all appeals has been exhausted. All prehearing orders and non-final decisions and recommendations of the Hearing Examiner are subject to reconsideration and correction.

xi. Consolidation of Appeal Hearing with Permit Hearing: When an appeal hearing is consolidated with a permit hearing, the Hearing Examiner may segregate testimony in the hearing into appeal and permit testimony. The format for each of the segregated portions of the testimony may individually follow the formats applicable to permit and appeal hearings, as required below.

f. Features Common to All Hearings:

i. Recording: Hearings shall be electronically recorded and the recordings shall be made a part of the record. Copies of the electronic recordings shall be made available on request upon payment of the costs of reproduction.

ii. Evidence: Technical rules of evidence will not be applied. The key requirements for evidence will be relevance and reliability. Relevant and reliable evidence will be admitted if it possesses probative value commonly accepted by reasonable persons in the conduct of their affairs. The Hearing Examiner may take judicial notice of facts generally known or capable of accurate and ready determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned. Personal attacks shall not be tolerated, unless it is demonstrated that there is no other manner in which relevant evidence can be presented.

iii. Exhibits: Documents, photographs and physical evidence will be admitted as exhibits as determined by the Hearing Examiner and each will be assigned an exhibit number.

iv. Staff Report or Analysis: Any staff report or staff analysis produced will be admitted as an exhibit in the hearing.

v. Testimony – How Presented: Testimony may be presented orally, in writing, or both. Persons giving expert testimony shall be subject to questioning by both parties of record and by the Hearing Examiner. When testimony is presented only in writing, the Hearing Examiner has discretion to leave the record open for written responses by any party of record. The Hearing Examiner is granted discretion to allow or disallow testimony by telephone or other means that can be heard or reviewed by all parties of record.

vi. Limits on Testimony: The Hearing Examiner may impose reasonable limitations on the nature and length of testimony. In so doing, the Hearing Examiner shall give consideration to:

(a) The expeditious completion of the hearing.

(b) The need to provide all parties of record a fair opportunity to present their cases.

(c) Accommodating the desires of members of the public to be heard, when public testimony is taken.

At the Hearing Examiner’s discretion, irrelevant or unduly repetitious testimony may be excluded. If all testimony cannot be presented in the time available, the hearing will be continued.

vii. Burden of Proof: For an application to be approved, a preponderance of the evidence presented at the hearing must support the conclusion that the application meets the legal decision criteria that apply, and the applicant shall have the burden of proof. The City shall have the burden of proof in a code enforcement hearing. For an administrative decision to be reversed or modified, the appellant has the burden by a preponderance of the evidence to show that the legal decision criteria are not met by the proposal as approved. In appeals of procedural matters under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), the determinations of the responsible official shall be entitled to substantial weight.

viii. Expert Testimony: Affidavits, declarations or letters containing expert opinion will generally be admitted without the presence of the expert absent objection from the parties of record. Objections must be made at the time the written expert testimony is made known to the objecting party. Upon the submittal of a timely objection, the Hearing Examiner may continue the hearing to require the expert to appear and be available for cross-examination.

ix. Filing of Papers: All written submissions made in advance of hearing shall be filed with the Department, marked for the attention of the Hearing Examiner.

x. Closure and/or Continuation of Hearing: At the close of the testimony, the Hearing Examiner may close; continue to a date and time certain; continue to a tentatively scheduled date and follow with notice of date and time certain to all attending parties; or close the public hearing pending the submission of additional information on or before a date certain. The Hearing Examiner may reopen proceedings, as allowed by law, for good cause any time prior to the issuance of the decision or recommendation.

xi. Application Dismissal: Until a final action on the application is taken, the Hearing Examiner may dismiss the application for failure to diligently pursue the application after notice is given to all parties of record.

g. Format of Permit Hearings:

i. The public hearing will be informal in nature, but organized, so that testimony and evidence can be presented efficiently. The hearing shall include at least the following elements:

(a) An introductory outline of the procedure by the Hearing Examiner.

(b) Testimony by the City staff which shall summarize the written staff report and provide any additional exhibits or other information the staff believes should be brought to the Hearing Examiner’s attention. The staff presentation shall include a recommendation for approval, approval with conditions, or denial.

(c) Testimony by the applicant and the applicant’s witnesses.

(d) Testimony from others wishing to be heard.

(e) Rebuttal testimony and closing argument from staff.

(f) Rebuttal testimony and closing argument from the applicant.

(g) Any participant in the hearing may present his or her testimony through witnesses; provided, that such witnesses, including expert witnesses, must be personally present to so testify unless permission has been granted in advance by the Hearing Examiner to present such testimony by telephone.

ii. Testimony for Organizations: Whenever the views of any formal or informal organization are to be presented, the organization shall designate a representative with authority to coordinate the presentation and to speak for the group. Any communications with the organization by the Hearing Examiner or by any party of record during the course of proceedings shall be through the designated representative.

iii. Requiring Further Information: When the Hearing Examiner concludes that further information is necessary to reach a decision, the record may be kept open to allow time for such information to be supplied. When appropriate, an opportunity to reply to such information shall be provided to the parties of record specified by the Hearing Examiner, either in writing or through further hearings.

iv. Content of the Record: The record of a permit hearing shall include at least the following:

(a) The application.

(b) The staff report, when one has been prepared.

(c) All documentary or physical evidence received and considered, including all exhibits filed.

(d) Electronic recordings of the proceedings and/or an accurate written transcription thereof. (Ord. 5675, 12-3-2012)

H. HEARING EXAMINER’S DECISION:

The following shall apply to permit applications for which the Hearing Examiner is charged with issuing a final decision:

1. Form and Substance of Hearing Examiner’s Decision/Recommendation: The Hearing Examiner’s decision or recommendation shall be in writing and shall contain findings of fact and conclusions of law supporting the result reached. Any conditions included as part of an approval shall be set forth. The Hearing Examiner’s decision and/or recommendation shall contain a statement advising parties of their appeal rights.

2. Standard Decision Time: Unless the time is extended pursuant to this Section, within fourteen (14) business days after the record closes, or of the date set for submission of additional information pursuant to this Chapter, the Hearing Examiner shall render a written decision, including findings and conclusions.

3. Decision Time Extension: In extraordinary cases, the time for filing of the recommendation or decision of the Hearing Examiner may be extended for not more than thirty (30) calendar days after the conclusion of the hearing if the Hearing Examiner finds that the amount and nature of the evidence to be considered, or receipt of additional information which cannot be made available within the normal decision period, requires the extension. Notice of the extension, stating the reasons therefor, shall be forwarded to all parties of record in the manner set forth in this Section for notification of the Hearing Examiner’s decision.

4. Conditions and Decision Options and Criteria: The Hearing Examiner may approve or deny or provide a recommendation to the City Council regarding the application or appeal before him or her. In any decision or recommendation which allows a project, the Hearing Examiner may impose reasonable conditions supported by the record. Public testimony is encouraged in all permit hearings but the Hearing Examiner is concerned not with the popularity of the proposal, but with whether it conforms to criteria for approval under the applicable code provisions. The Hearing Examiner decides matters on the merits, based on the preponderance of the evidence.

5. Decision Final: The decisions and/or recommendations of the Hearing Examiner are final unless appealed or a reconsideration is requested and granted. Failure of the Hearing Examiner to follow these rules shall not serve as a basis for invalidation of the decision, but the Hearing Examiner is expected to apply these rules to the best of his or her ability.

6. Who Receives Copies of Decision/Recommendation: The Department will maintain a copy of the Hearing Examiner’s decision or recommendation, available for public inspection, in the official file of each application or appeal. The parties of record will receive a copy or notice of the Hearing Examiner’s decision or recommendation. The person mailing the decision shall prepare an affidavit of mailing, in standard form, and the affidavit shall become a part of the record of the proceedings. In the case of applications requiring City Council approval, the Hearing Examiner shall file the decision with the City Council members individually or the City Council Liaison at the expiration of the appeal period for the decision. Any other person may receive a copy upon request upon payment of the costs of reproduction and postage as allowed by the Public Records Act, chapter 42.56 RCW, as it exists or may be amended.

7. Correction of Hearing Examiner’s Decision/Recommendation: Technical defects in the Hearing Examiner’s decision or recommendation may be corrected any time prior to the end of the appeal period, but no such correction shall operate to lengthen the appeal period.

8. Termination of Jurisdiction: The jurisdiction of the Hearing Examiner terminates upon the end of the appeal period for a decision or recommendation.

I. RECONSIDERATIONS:

1. When a reconsideration request has been submitted to the City Clerk before the appeal period has expired, the matter and appeal period shall be held in abeyance pending the outcome of the request for reconsideration. When a request for reconsideration is filed with the City Clerk, the City Clerk shall notify all parties of record to the decision. Notice shall be sent within five (5) calendar days via U.S. Postal mail by the City Clerk, or on the date the request is received if electronic transmittal (email) had been previously approved or agreed to by the parties. A fourteen (14) calendar day appeal period shall commence upon the issuance of a reconsideration that reverses the original decision.

2. In order to request reconsideration, the person must have been made a party of record to the decision.

3. A party of record to a decision who asserts the decision was based on erroneous procedure, error of law or fact, or error in judgment may make a written request for reconsideration by the decision maker (e.g., Administrator, Hearing Examiner, City Council). Any such request for reconsideration must be made within fourteen (14) calendar days after the written decision has been rendered. The request shall set forth the specific errors and any arguments for reconsideration, limited to the evidence in the administrative record unless authorized by chapter 36.70B RCW, relied upon by such appellant, and the decision maker may, after review of the record, take further action as deemed proper by said decision maker. The decision maker may request further information from the applicant, which shall be provided within ten (10) calendar days of the request. Reconsideration cannot be requested for shoreline permits, including but not limited to: Shoreline Substantial Development Permits, Shoreline Conditional Use Permits, and Shoreline Variances. All appeals of shoreline permit decisions shall be reviewed by the State of Washington Shorelines Hearings Board pursuant to RCW 90.58.180. (Ord. 5917, 12-10-2018)

4. The written decision on the request for reconsideration shall be transmitted to all parties of record within ten (10) business days of receipt of the request for reconsideration or receipt of the additional information requested, whichever is later.

5. Each party of record to a decision shall be limited to one request for reconsideration.

J. APPEALS:

See RMC 4-8-110. (Ord. 5675, 12-3-2012)

K. EXPIRATION OF DECISION:

The City declares that circumstances surrounding land use decisions change rapidly over a period of time. In order to assure the compatibility of a decision with current needs and concerns, any such decision must be limited in duration, unless the action or improvements authorized by the decision is implemented promptly. Any application or permit approved pursuant to this Chapter, with the exception of Type IV, V, and VI permits, shall be implemented within two (2) years of such approval unless other time limits are prescribed elsewhere in the Renton Municipal Code or state law. Any application or permit which is not so implemented shall terminate at the conclusion of that period of time and become null and void. The Hearing Examiner may grant one extension of time for a maximum of one year for good cause shown. The burden of justification shall rest with the applicant.

L. EXPIRATION OF LARGE SCALE OR PHASED PROJECTS:

For large scale or phased development projects, the Hearing Examiner may at the time of approval or recommendation set forth time limits for expiration which exceed those prescribed in this Section for such extended time limits as are justified by the record of the action.

M. COUNCIL ACTION:

1. Council Action Requires Minutes and Findings of Fact: Any application requiring action by the City Council shall be evidenced by minute entry unless otherwise required by law. When taking any such final action, the Council shall make and enter findings of fact from the record and conclusions therefrom which support its action.

2. Adoption of Hearing Examiner’s Findings and Conclusions Presumed: Unless otherwise specified, the City Council shall be presumed to have adopted the Hearing Examiner’s findings and conclusions.

3. Applications to Be Placed on Council Agenda: Except for rezones, all applications requiring Council action shall be placed on the Council’s agenda for consideration. (Ord. 3454, 7-28-1980; Ord. 5853, 8-7-17)