Chapter 18.100


18.100.010    Intent.

18.100.020    Purpose.

18.100.030    Applicability.

18.100.040    Remedies not exclusive.

18.100.050    Public nuisance.

18.100.060    Initiation of enforcement action.

18.100.070    Notice of violation.

18.100.080    Notice of violation – Effective date and content.

18.100.090    Monetary penalties for notice of violation.

18.100.100    Compliance plan.

18.100.110    Reduction of monetary penalties.

18.100.120    Effect of existing violations on permit applications.

18.100.130    Appeal.

18.100.140    Appeal hearing procedures.

18.100.150    Extension of compliance date.

18.100.160    Stop work order.

18.100.170    Emergency order.

18.100.180    Method of service.

18.100.190    Collection of financial obligations.

18.100.200    Penalties for violations by a professional.

18.100.210    Suspension and revocation of a permit.

18.100.220    Tampering with posted documents.

18.100.230    Abatement.

18.100.240    Liens – Generally.

18.100.250    Liens – Filing and recording.

18.100.260    Liens – Foreclosure.

18.100.270    Duty not creating liability.

18.100.280    Misdemeanor/gross misdemeanor.

18.100.290    Divisions of land.

18.100.010 Intent.

Except where indicated, the primary intent of all enforcement actions described in this chapter is to educate the public and to encourage the voluntary correction of violations. Civil and criminal penalties will be used when necessary to ensure compliance with the provisions of this code. Criminal charges will be brought only when civil remedies have failed to ensure compliance. (Ord. 3-2018 § 1; Ord. 9-2013 § 1A)

18.100.020 Purpose.

The purpose of the enforcement procedures found in this chapter is to establish a fair and efficient system to enforce the building, land use and development codes of San Juan County for the benefit of the public health, safety and welfare, the environment, and not for the benefit of any particular person or class of persons. To achieve this purpose, this chapter provides procedures for:

A. Prompt assessment of penalties when necessary to prevent future violations;

B. In most cases, efficient and effective notice and opportunities to correct violations;

C. Progressive monetary penalties proportionate to the violations;

D. Appeal of a notice of violation, stop work order, or suspension or revocation of a building permit; and

E. Abatement and remediation of violations. (Ord. 3-2018 § 2; Ord. 9-2013 § 1B)

18.100.030 Applicability.

This chapter applies to violations of any provision of SJCC Title 18; Chapters 13.08, 15.04, 15.12, 16.36, 16.45 and 16.55 SJCC; and the regulatory provisions of any adopted subarea plan or activity center. Violations include but are not limited to:

A. Failure to obtain required permits or authorizations;

B. Failure to comply with the terms or conditions of a permit or authorization;

C. Failure to comply with the above rules or regulations;

D. Failure to comply with a stop work or emergency order issued under this chapter; or

E. Intentional misrepresentation of any material fact in any application, plan, or other information submitted to obtain a land use permit, building permit, or other authorization. (Ord. 9-2013 § 2)

18.100.040 Remedies not exclusive.

The remedies set forth in this chapter are not exclusive, and do not limit or restrict the authority of the director or the prosecuting attorney to seek compliance, impose or seek penalties, or remedy or abate violations in any manner authorized by law. (Ord. 9-2013 § 3)

18.100.050 Public nuisance.

Violations of SJCC Title 18 and Chapters 13.08, 15.04, 15.12, 16.36, 16.45, and 16.55 SJCC and the regulatory provisions of any adopted subarea plan are determined to be detrimental to the public health, safety and welfare, and are public nuisances. (Ord. 9-2013 § 4)

18.100.060 Initiation of enforcement action.

A. The director is authorized to enforce the laws and regulations as set forth in this chapter.

B. The director may call upon law enforcement, fire, health, public works, or other appropriate County departments to assist in enforcement.

C. The sheriff and all officers and officials charged with enforcement of the law are authorized to enforce and assist in the enforcement of the provisions of this code.

D. Whenever the director has a reasonable belief, based on facts investigated, that a violation as defined in SJCC 18.100.030 has occurred or is occurring, the director may initiate any of the following enforcement actions against the person(s) responsible for the violation:

1. Issuance of a notice of violation;

2. Issuance of a stop work order;

3. Issuance of an emergency order;

4. Initiation of action to abate a public nuisance pursuant to state law; and/or

5. Referral of the matter to the prosecuting attorney for enforcement.

E. In all cases, the property owner shall be named as a responsible party in an enforcement action. In addition to the property owner, any other person reasonably believed to be responsible for a violation shall be named as a responsible party in an enforcement action.

F. The County may seek legal or equitable relief at any time to enjoin any acts or practices that violate County code, or abate any condition that constitutes a nuisance. (Ord. 3-2018 § 3; Ord. 9-2013 § 5)

18.100.070 Notice of violation.

A. Every violation of the regulations listed in SJCC 18.100.030 is subject to a notice of violation. Separate notices of violation are not required.

B. A notice of violation represents a determination by the director that a violation has been committed and monetary penalties shall be assessed. The determination of a violation is final and the person(s) named in the notice of violation shall correct the violation by the date stated in the notice of violation, unless the notice of violation is appealed, withdrawn, or amended.

C. The notice of violation may list corrective actions suggested to remedy the violation.

D. A notice of violation shall be withdrawn by the director if at any time it is determined that it was issued in error.

E. A notice of violation may be amended at any time in order to correct clerical errors or to cite additional authority for a stated violation. An amended notice of violation shall contain all information required in SJCC 18.100.080.

F. When an administrative or judicial appeal is pending, additional notices of violation may be issued at the same location for new or additional violations. (Ord. 9-2013 § 6)

18.100.080 Notice of violation – Effective date and content.

A notice of violation shall be made on a form determined by the director and shall contain the following:

A. The name and address of the property owner and, if known, any other person(s) identified as responsible for the violation;

B. The tax parcel number of the property where the violation occurred or is located and, when available, the street addresses;

C. A statement of each standard or requirement violated, with a concise description of the violation(s);

D. The date the violation was first identified by, or to, the director;

E. The specified remedy or cure necessary to satisfy the notice;

F. The performance date as established by the director, and at least 45 days after date of service, by which time the specified remedy or cure must be completed. This performance date may be extended by the director in accordance with an agreed upon compliance plan or with demonstrated justifiable cause;

G. The amount of any monetary penalty assessed or that will accrue pursuant to SJCC 18.100.090;

H. A statement of the process for administrative appeals;

I. A statement that failure to file a timely and complete appeal may constitute a waiver of all rights to appeal the notice of violation;

J. A statement that a lien for any monetary penalty imposed and the cost of abatement may be claimed by San Juan County; and

K. The signature of the director, code enforcement officer, or inspector issuing the notice of violation. (Ord. 9-2013 § 7)

18.100.090 Monetary penalties for notice of violation.

A. A notice of violation will specify a monetary penalty that shall be imposed if the violation is not remedied or cured, or a compliance plan is not agreed to, within the time specified in the notice of violation.

B. The monetary penalty for operating or advertising an unpermitted vacation rental is $2,300 on the date the notice of violation is issued and $100.00 each consecutive day of operation thereafter.

C. Except for penalties for operation of an unpermitted vacation rental covered in subsection (B) of this section, Tables 8.5 and 8.6 shall be used to determine the monetary penalties assessed for the violation(s) identified:

Table 8.5: Monetary Penalties
for Notice of Violation

Period of Violation

Monetary Penalty per Period

Day 1 to Day 45


Day 46 to Day 60

Add $1,000 (=$1,500)

Day 61 to Day 90

Add $1,000 (=$2,500)

Each Week Thereafter

Add $1,000

Table 8.6: Monetary Penalties for Violations of Stop Work Orders and Emergency Orders


First Violation

Repeat Violations

Stop Work Order



Emergency Order



D. Monetary penalties shall be assessed and accrue from the compliance date specified in the notice of violation or its written extension(s).

E. If a notice of violation is stayed pending an appeal, and the notice is ultimately upheld, the monetary penalties will accrue as of the date determined by the hearing examiner.

F. Payment of a monetary penalty assessed under a notice of violation shall not relieve the person(s) named in the notice of violation of the duty to correct, cure, abate, or stop the violation(s). (Ord. 3-2018 § 4; Ord. 9-2013 § 8)

18.100.100 Compliance plan.

A. At any time during the pendency of an enforcement action, the director and the responsible party may develop a mutually agreeable compliance plan and compliance date. The compliance plan shall establish a reasonable and specific time frame for compliance. No further action shall be taken if the terms of the compliance plan are met.

B. The director may extend the time for compliance issued in a notice of violation upon finding that substantial progress toward compliance has been made or upon written request by the responsible party for good cause shown. An extension of time may be revoked by the director upon a finding that the conditions at the time the extension was granted have changed, or the person(s) responsible fail to meet performance benchmarks specified in the extension. If the extension of the compliance date is revoked, a new compliance date shall be set.

C. The compliance date established by the director shall be reasonable, based on, but not be limited to, consideration of the following criteria:

1. The type and degree of violation(s) cited in the notice of violation;

2. The stated intent, if any, of a person responsible to take steps to comply;

3. Procedural requirements for obtaining permits to carry out corrective actions;

4. The complexity of corrective action, including seasonal consideration, construction requirements, and the legal rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants;

5. Any other circumstances beyond the control of the party responsible; and

6. Any other circumstances that justice reasonably requires. (Ord. 9-2013 § 9)

18.100.110 Reduction of monetary penalties.

A. The director may reduce any monetary penalty assessed after the director determines that the violation has been corrected.

B. The person(s) named in the notice of violation has the burden of proof that the violation has been corrected and the date of correction.

C. The director shall base the decision to reduce a monetary penalty on an evaluation of individual circumstances, including, but not limited to, the severity of the violation, the public interest being protected, the cooperation of the person responsible for the violation, and the permanence of the impact of the violation.

D. Nothing in this section shall obligate the director to reduce any monetary penalties. (Ord. 9-2013 § 10)

18.100.120 Effect of existing violations on permit applications.

Application(s) for development permit(s) (SJCC 18.20.040) or project permit(s) (SJCC 18.20.160) will not be accepted and/or issued for any lot, tract or parcel of land following the issuance of a notice of violation regarding activity occurring on that lot, tract or parcel of land, unless the identified violations are corrected prior to application, when the permit is required to obtain compliance, or where an enforceable compliance plan to resolve the violation(s) has been entered into. (Ord. 9-2013 § 11)

18.100.130 Appeal.

A. Upon service of a notice of violation, stop work order, or the suspension or revocation of a permit, the person(s) named in the notice of violation, stop work order, or the suspension or revocation of a permit shall have 45 calendar days from the date of service to file an appeal. The appeal shall be delivered to the director by U.S. mail or personal delivery during department business hours on or before the deadline for appeal, and the required administrative fee as set by County council must be paid at the time of delivery to the director for the appeal to be accepted.

B. An appeal authorized by this section must be in writing and must contain the following:

1. A concise statement of the grounds for appeal, including the facts or evidence upon which the appeal is based. The statement shall include at least one of the following:

a. The person named in the notice of violation, stop work order, or the suspension or revocation of a permit is not responsible for causing the violation and is not the property owner; or

b. The cited violation or condition did not occur.

2. The name, mailing address, and daytime telephone number of the appellant, or the appellant’s representative, together with the signature of the appellant or the appellant’s representative.

3. A copy of the notice of violation, stop work order, or the suspension or revocation of a permit being appealed.

C. Enforcement of a notice of violation and any penalty accruing shall be stayed pending appeal(s).

D. Any number of notices of violation, stop work orders, or the suspension or revocation of a permit can be included in the same appeal on the same project within a timely period. (Ord. 9-2013 § 12)

18.100.140 Appeal hearing procedures.

A. When the director receives an appeal contesting a notice of violation, stop work order, or the suspension or revocation of a permit, the appeal shall be promptly transmitted to the hearing examiner.

1. The appeal may be dismissed without a hearing if the hearing examiner determines it is untimely, incomplete, frivolous, or beyond the hearing examiner’s jurisdiction.

2. The hearing examiner shall hold a hearing on the appeal within 90 days of receipt of the appeal, unless the appeal is withdrawn by the appellant, or is dismissed or the time is extended by order of the hearing examiner.

3. The director shall notify the person contesting the notice of violation, in writing, of the time, place, and date of the hearing at least 21 days prior to the date of the hearing.

B. The director has the burden to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that:

1. The person named on the notice of violation is the responsible party for causing the violation or is the property owner; and

2. The violation listed on the notice of violation occurred.

C. The hearing shall be an open record hearing conducted in accordance with the San Juan County hearing examiner rules and procedures.

D. The hearing examiner shall consider the evidence and testimony presented at the hearing and, based on this information, shall reverse or uphold the notice of violation, in whole or in part. (Ord. 9-2013 § 13)

18.100.150 Extension of compliance date.

After the hearing examiner has issued a final order specifying a compliance deadline, an appellant may request a revision of the hearing examiner’s decision to request additional time beyond the hearing examiner’s specified deadline to correct a violation if all the following conditions are met:

A. The request must be received by the department at least 30 days prior to the compliance date.

B. The request for extending the time for correction of the violation must include:

1. Evidence of substantial progress toward compliance;

2. Evidence that correction of the violation was commenced promptly, but full compliance was prevented by a condition or circumstance beyond the control of the appellants; and

3. Evidence of another extraordinary circumstance representing good cause.

C. The director shall promptly forward the request, along with any comments, to the hearing examiner for a decision.

D. Once granted, an extension may be revoked, after notice and opportunity for a hearing, for bad faith or where the hearing examiner determines that the request was based on inaccurate information. (Ord. 9-2013 § 14)

18.100.160 Stop work order.

A. Whenever a continuing violation of this code will materially impair the County’s ability to secure compliance with this code, or when any person is proceeding in defiance of permit or code requirements, the director may issue a stop work order.

B. Upon service of a stop work order, the work subject to the order shall cease until the order is resolved.

C. A stop work order shall be on a form determined by the director and state the reason(s) for the order and the conditions under which the cited work will be permitted to resume.

D. A stop work order is subject to appeal as set forth in SJCC 18.100.130. (Ord. 9-2013 § 15)

18.100.170 Emergency order.

A. Whenever the director becomes aware of a condition or activity in violation of this code that endangers public or private property, creates an immediate hazard, or threatens the health and safety of the occupants of any premises or members of the public, the director may issue an emergency order.

B. The emergency order shall state the reason for the emergency order and the conditions that must be remedied.

C. Upon service of an emergency order, the cited activity shall cease and any unsafe or dangerous condition shall be promptly remedied.

D. An emergency order is not subject to administrative appeal. (Ord. 9-2013 § 16)

18.100.180 Method of service.

A. A notice of violation, stop work order, emergency order, or the suspension or revocation of a permit shall be served upon the responsible person(s) by any of the following methods:

1. Personal service on the person(s) named, or by delivering the document at that person’s usual abode to a person of suitable age and discretion who resides there; or

2. Service by certified mail to the address maintained with the County tax records for the subject property, or to the address of the place of business of the person(s) responsible. Service by mail shall be presumed effective upon the third business day following the day upon which the document was placed in the mail.

3. If a mailing is returned and was not delivered, a copy of the document shall be posted in a conspicuous place in or about the structure or property affected by such mailing.

B. In addition to subsection (A) of this section, a stop work order and emergency order shall also be posted in a conspicuous place on the property where the violation is occurring. Service of a stop work order and/or emergency order is effective on the date of posting. (Ord. 9-2013 § 17)

18.100.190 Collection of financial obligations.

A. Financial obligations means monetary penalties and cost of abatement.

B. The County may assign the collection of financial obligations to a collection agency, or commence a civil action in any court of competent jurisdiction to collect financial obligations.

C. The County shall add a reasonable fee to the outstanding debt for the collection agency fee incurred or to be incurred as a result of the use of the collection agency. No debt may be assigned to a collection agency until at least 30 days have elapsed from the time that the County attempts to notify the person responsible for the debt that the debt may be assigned to a collection agency.

D. When appropriate or helpful to obtain enforcement, the prosecuting attorney may convert a final order into a judgment. (Ord. 9-2013 § 18)

18.100.200 Penalties for violations by a professional.

A violation of the regulations listed in SJCC 18.100.030 by a contractor, excavator, tradesman, or other professional, who by the nature of their profession knows, or is reasonably expected to know, or is responsible for obtaining and/or verifying that a permit(s) or approval is required prior to the work, shall be subject to a civil monetary penalty to be imposed by the director in the amount of $1,000. The director is authorized to reduce such monetary penalty for good cause shown, otherwise the penalty shall be assessed regardless of whether the violation is cured or remedied. (Ord. 9-2013 § 19)

18.100.210 Suspension and revocation of a permit.

A. The director may temporarily suspend or permanently revoke any permit approved by the director for failure to comply with any condition of approval or applicable provisions of the County code related to the permit.

B. Before initiating the suspension or revocation of a permit, the director shall serve a notice of violation and afford the permit holder the time set forth in the notice to correct the violation.

C. The procedure for suspension or revocation of a permit is initiated by the director and requires the permit holder be given an opportunity to be heard before the decision maker who granted the permit.

D. The person(s) named on the notice of violation may appeal the suspension or revocation as provided by this chapter.

E. If the suspension or revocation is appealed, unless otherwise authorized by the director, all construction shall be suspended until the appeal is decided. (Ord. 9-2013 § 20)

18.100.220 Tampering with posted documents.

A. It is a violation of this code to tamper with, remove or deface any sign, notice, complaint, or order required by or posted in accordance with this code.

B. Any sign, notice, complaint, or order required by or posted in accordance with this code shall not be removed without authorization of the director. (Ord. 9-2013 § 21)

18.100.230 Abatement.

A. In addition to any other judicial or administrative remedy provided by this chapter or by law, the County may seek to abate any condition that constitutes a public nuisance.

B. Each successive owner of property is liable for abatement procedures in the same manner as the owner at the time the nuisance was created.

C. The County shall carry out abatement procedures in accordance with Chapter 7.48 RCW.

D. The cost of abatement, including administrative costs incurred as a result of the abatement, may be levied as a special assessment on the land or premises on which the nuisance is situated. This assessment shall constitute a lien against the property which shall be of equal rank with state, County, and municipal taxes, pursuant to RCW 36.32.120(10). (Ord. 9-2013 § 22)

18.100.240 Liens – Generally.

A. The County shall have a lien for any civil penalty imposed or for the cost of any abatement work done pursuant to this chapter, or both, against the real property on which the civil penalty was imposed or any of the abatement work was performed.

B. The civil penalty and the cost of abatement are also joint and several personal obligations of all persons in violation. The director or the prosecuting attorney, on behalf of San Juan County, may collect the civil penalty and the abatement work costs by use of all appropriate civil legal remedies.

C. Any lien imposed by the County under this chapter shall be subordinate to all existing special assessment liens previously imposed upon the same property and shall be paramount to all other liens, except for state and County taxes, with which it shall be on a parity. (Ord. 9-2013 § 23)

18.100.250 Liens – Filing and recording.

A. The director shall cause a claim for lien to be filed for recording in the auditor’s office after the date the civil penalty is due or after the date of completion of the abatement work performed, pursuant to this chapter.

B. The claim of lien must contain the following:

1. The authority for imposing a civil penalty or proceeding to abate the violation, or both;

2. A brief description of the civil penalty imposed or the abatement work done, or both, including the violations charged and the duration thereof;

3. A legal description of the property to be charged with the lien;

4. The name of the known or reputed owner, and, if not known, the fact shall be alleged; and

5. The amount, including lawful and reasonable costs, for which the lien is claimed.

C. The director shall sign and verify the claim.

D. The claim of lien may be amended in case of action brought to foreclose the lien, by order of the court, as long as the interests of third parties are not detrimentally affected by the amendment.

E. The auditor shall record the claim or lien.

F. No lien created by this chapter binds the property subject to the lien for a period longer than three years after the claim has been filed unless an action is commenced in the proper court within that time to enforce the lien. (Ord. 9-2013 § 24)

18.100.260 Liens – Foreclosure.

A. The lien provided by this chapter may be foreclosed and enforced by a civil action in a court having jurisdiction.

B. All persons who have legally filed claims of liens against the same property prior to commencement of the action shall be joined as parties, either plaintiff or defendant.

C. Dismissal of an action to foreclose a lien at the instance of a plaintiff shall not prejudice another party to the suit who claims a lien. (Ord. 9-2013 § 25)

18.100.270 Duty not creating liability.

No provision or term used in this chapter is intended to impose any duty upon the County or any of its officers or employees, as long as they are acting within the scope of their authority, which would subject them to damages in a civil action. (Ord. 9-2013 § 26)

18.100.280 Misdemeanor/gross misdemeanor.

A. Any person who willfully or knowingly violates any provision of this chapter or any regulations described in SJCC 18.100.030, or aids or abets such violation, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

B. Any person found to be in violation of the County shoreline master program is also guilty of a gross misdemeanor. (Ord. 9-2013 § 27)

18.100.290 Divisions of land.

A. Review of Sales. The County assessor shall notify the director of any possible violations of this code. To prevent the recording of any instrument or conveyance for a parcel or parcels divided in violation of Chapter 18.70 SJCC, an official declaration shall be signed by the seller or his or her agent at the time a real estate excise tax affidavit is completed. Forms shall be made available in the County treasurer’s office and shall state that one of the following applies to the proposed land division:

1. This instrument or conveyance does not constitute a division of land;

2. This instrument or conveyance constitutes a division of land or a boundary line modification but is exempt from the requirements of the San Juan County land division regulations, under Chapter 18.70 SJCC; or

3. This instrument or conveyance constitutes a division of land or a boundary line modification which is regulated by and has been reviewed and approved under terms of this code.

B. Compliance Form. A compliance form signed by the director shall be included with the affidavit if subsection (A)(3) of this section applies.

C. Development of Illegally Divided Land. For land that is illegally divided, no application for a building permit, sewage disposal permit, or other land use permit or exemption for any lot, tract, or parcel of land divided in violation of state law or of this code will be granted without prior approval of the director. Approval will only be given if the applicant demonstrates all of the following:

1. The applicant did not know, and could not have known by exercising reasonable care in purchasing the land, that the lot, tract, or parcel had been part of a larger lot, tract, or parcel divided in violation of state law or this code;

2. The County environmental health manager has certified that the proposed means of sewage disposal and water supply on and to the lot, tract, or parcel are adequate and that the water supply and sewage system do not interfere with existing or planned water or sewage facilities in the vicinity;

3. The County engineer has certified that the proposed lot, tract, or parcel of land is served with an adequately designed means of access, and with adequate drainage facilities, none of which interferes with existing or planned public or private road and drainage facilities in the vicinity;

4. The proposed development will not adversely affect the safety or health of adjacent property owners; and

5. The planning director has certified that the proposed land division and development conform to the policies and directives of the Comprehensive Plan.

D. Illegal Land Division Public Nuisance. Any illegal division of land is unlawful and a public nuisance.

E. Recovery of Damages. Each purchaser or transferee receiving land that was illegally divided may recover his or her damages from any person, firm, corporation, or agent involved in the transaction, including any amount reasonably spent as a result of inability to obtain any development permit or spent to conform to the requirements of Chapter 18.70 SJCC. Such purchaser, transferee, or lessor may, as an alternative to conforming his or her property to these requirements and pursuant to Chapter 58.17 RCW, rescind the sale, transfer, or lease. (Ord. 9-2013 § 28)